The great ones

You look great.
I know what that means.
With rare exception,
great is polite for wow, 
you’re not fat anymore.
I don’t pretend to believe
that it really means great,
sexy, pretty.  Desired by the beholder.
There are other ways to say that,
unaccompanied by that particular tone,

(If it were true, someone
would have already said it.
I might even believe it.)

The strictures of being polite
dictate no questions– no asking:
how did I do it,
what’s my secret–
none of that stuff that’s the lifeblood
of supermarket tabloids.
And the surprise is so great,
great, there’s that word again,
another word meaning large,
that few think to ask–
something so drastic,
different from the great assumed
by the knee-jerk.  The radical ones,
they might ask, wow, are you okay?
(One of them did.  It still makes me cry.)

I’m not great,
I suppose I would say
to anyone who would either
dare to be rude (I would rather
that, frankly, than white lies
that smell like bullshit).
I suppose I would say no,
in a small voice
that is not as small
as exclamations about how great I look
make me feel.

I know how I look now,
(more or) less.
I’m only eye-catching
when I haven’t been seen,
not in a while.
And isn’t that the whole story,
whether or not I’ve been seen?
Seen myself, let myself be?
I’d rather not look.
If I fit my clothes,
make it up stairs,
can carry my baggage
wherever I go,
then whether or not I
mind the reflection
matters even less than what
you, oh great ones,
think about whether
you’ll have what I’m having.

(Crushing depressions are not the
recommended treatment for becoming slender.)


3 thoughts on “The great ones

  1. Jenn @ Juggling Life

    Anorexia is also not the recommended treatment for becoming slender–nor is losing weight because of the stress of having a daughter with anorexia. I have come to abhor the fact that we all are so focused on “thin” as a metaphor for health and beauty when it is so clearly not.

  2. Lysa

    Wow — I love this. Really, really, really love this. And while I don’t look “great” anymore (I did, for a while, but, meds), I can totally relate. And will stop saying it to others. Thank you for this. It made me cry.

    1. She Curmudgeon Post author

      (hugs) The ups and downs of meds and other silent causes of weight gain and loss (aren’t they all silent?) are hard– hard to talk about in the first place, hard to ask about and not worry about hurting/stepping on toes– and it’s so hard to find a way to tell someone something complimentary without resorting to the same old cissexual, male-gaze oriented all-purpose defaults. I’m trying to learn to say– “you look really lovely today,” or “I really like your earrings/necklace/other clothing item/accessory” (useful for men & women) or “how are you? you seem well-rested/happy today” knowing that even the latter can be loaded because gosh knows, we crazies are good at putting on fronts.

      I like to hope that the asking how they are and the not assuming, but saying that it seems to me… makes it okay, and just keep my fingers crossed. Because I think random people and coworkers and friends all deserve compliments, not just for work well done or things well done in friendship, but just for things related to their mere existence. Shallow stuff matters.


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