And when it all became too much. When I was finally ‘the right size’ but my life was falling apart around me, I had no one to turn to.
I couldn’t tell those same people who told me “well done, keep going” that I needed help.
So I slowly recovered, and my weight returned, and the compliments disappeared.
My weight continued to fluctuate throughout my 20s and my 30s, through job losses and friend losses and anxiety and depression.
I’d love to say that I grew to love my body, that I became the poster girl for body positivity. But the truth is I learnt to become confident despite my body.
I worked really hard and created a career for myself where I got (almost) the same opportunities as people in smaller bodies than me.
I found friends who didn’t talk about weight and diet and bodies so much. They talked about ideas.
I started to love other parts of myself. I could make people laugh. I had bloody great hair. I could keep all my indoor plants alive. I was writing for a living.
But occasionally the questions came. Maybe on a trip home, or when I caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen for a while, or when I bumped into a colleague in the kitchen.
“Have you lost weight?”
“You look like you’ve lost weight. You look great!”
An off-handed comment that immediately brought my body and its “worthiness” back into the room.
Every time someone commented on my body, it reminded me they were looking at it. Assessing it. Making a value judgement about it.
I knew the people asking the questions or giving the compliments usually meant well. They too were a product of our society’s obsession with diet culture and weight.
But I wished they knew how much one little comment could undo me. And I wished I knew how to tell them that.
Then last week, Jonah Hill posted something on Instagram.
The 37-year-old actor has been in the spotlight for two decades now and his weight has often been the focus.
When he loses or gains weight, millions of people have an opinion on it.