You just don’t.
Many people have asked me, “So Nabeelah, did others treat you differently when you lost weight?”.
Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
When I was closer to my highest weight, I remember sales associates would merely glance at me and continue on with their work. Other times, if I was forced to go to a social event, people were less likely to approach me except of course the aunties with no filters.
Once I had an aunty tell me “You’ll look slimmer in a saree. Kameez suits slender women.”
And there were other times I had aunties tell me straight up, “Beti, you are getting too fat.”
It was the worst when they would literally decide to shame me in a crowded room. I usually smiled and made some lame excuse of not having the time to care about myself because of school and work. But, their comments would replay in my head for days…
When I think back to that time, I wish I defended myself but knowing our culture, I would be considered as unappreciative of an honest comment. It was their way of “helping” me realize something that was totally obvious.
When I was at a healthy weight by eating clean and lifting weights, I felt great. I was more positive and confident which I think really showed.
Shopping at this time was very different, sales associates were more likely to approach me, which made me feel more acknowledged. In fact, I felt more acknowledged by the general public. People just seems more kinder and more willing to help if I looked lost or they needed help. I think when I was overweight, others probably thought I was lazy, disgusting, and maybe rude or perhaps I made myself look unapproachable because I lacked confidence because felt intimidated by others.
I also had more a lot more friends. When I started going back to visiting family, attending weddings and events, I met lots of people and made many new friends. I think because I was more confident and smiling at everyone, people felt more welcomed to approach me.
And the aunties? The aunties were GREAT. I think it was the first time in my life, an aunty said something actually nice to me. Many complimented how I looked and asked me my “secret to losing weight” and proceed to introduce me to their friends, and offer a seat at their table.
It was great to hear compliments from people, but if I was looking to get approval from others then I was never going to be happy. I needed to love myself and be happy about my body first and far most and only take in the compliments and criticisms as a grain of salt!