“Well you don’t need to lose weight anyway”

I’m not sure why this is a socially acceptable thing to say to people, but apparently it is.

I hear it often enough.  I don’t try to provoke it – I never bring up weight in conversation – yet it happens regularly.  And I don’t know how to respond.  And it’s awkward.

No, I don’t need to lose weight.  Really, I could do without losing any, if I want to stay healthy.  And I have no intention of losing weight.  Why so many people assume this is a thing I would be concerned with causes me mild confusion, to be honest.

It’s awkward for three main reasons:  Firstly, the person who says it, seemingly is concerned with weight and weight loss.  I don’t know what to say to them.  I have no desire to discuss their weight or my own.  It’s a touchy subject for a lot of people.  Secondly, it happens a lot if I make reference to that one bit of exercise I may have done that week or month.  I arrive into work all red, and explain that it’s because I’ve cycled in, so people get that I don’t normally sweat that much, and I’m told I don’t need to lose weight.  I wasn’t trying to lose weight.  I was mostly just trying to get to work, ’cause I didn’t have a car, and didn’t feel like walking 10k to get there.  That and being healthy and getting fresh air is always nice.  But now I almost feel bad for exercising.  Thirdly, it brings up everyone’s weight issues.  The person who says it may be thinking about their own efforts to lose or gain weight.  I’m reminded about the weight I lost over the past year, from stress and the like.  I don’t need to be reminded about stress and the like.  I’m trying to forget about stress and the like.

People often compliment others on their weight loss too.  Not to make a massive generalisation, but a lot of the time, all of this is done by women.  The problem here is, you have no idea why they lost that weight.  They may have exercised a lot, and eaten really well, and they might be grateful for recognition of their success at becoming healthier, yeah.  (Though I still think it’s risky because it might be promoting the idea that they should be a certain weight, in order to look good, which is not the intention.)  Or they might have had a fairly tough time recently, causing them to lose their appetite.  Anxiety, depression, stress and much more can cause rapid weight loss.  If you want to compliment someone on how much they’re struggling, then sure, compliment them on their weight loss, and how great that look now that they’re wasting away.  Otherwise, maybe don’t.

I’m not intentionally skinny.  I haven’t been dieting at all, or even exercising half as much as I should.  I just have a light build.  And I’m unusually tall, for a girl.  So my weight, which isn’t actually that low, is spread out over a decent amount of space.  But people have felt the need to comment on this since I was little.

To me, it just seems roughly as ridiculous as casually bringing up the fact that someone is morbidly obese.  Rude, awkward, and generally unpleasant.  When are we going to stop placing all this emphasis on being skinny?  Being skinny should not be a goal.  Being healthy should be.  If you are skinny, you’ll probably spend a lot of time feeling a tad awkward or guilty about it, because people comment on it all the time.  Today I was told “you’ve a great figure”, which was lovely, but I don’t know how to respond, like do I just say “haha yeah genetics are great” or do I do the classic Irish thing and claim to be obese (spoiler: no).  Other times people just say “oh my god you’re so skinny”, to which I don’t really know what to say, short of just apologising (I haven’t tried this method), and if it’s a very unfortunate day, this pretty much equally skinny person will refer to themselves as fat.  I don’t have time to spend my days telling women they’re not fat.  They have access to mirrors and weighing scales, they should be able to figure out that they’re not fat for themselves.  Not that they’d believe me anyway, because disagreeing with someone saying they’re fat is generally just sort of polite, unless you’re their doctor or something.

This may not be the greatest problem to face the world of 2016, but it is annoying.  It’s usually unintentional, but it promotes a negative idea about how people should look, and for that reason, it makes me uncomfortable.  You decide if you need to lose weight.  Aside from your GP, I wouldn’t really let anyone else weigh in too much on that decision.

I was right to be terrified about erasmus…

It turns out my fear was justifiable.  I’ve spoken almost entirely in English so far (I got here yesterday).  It’s a nightmare.  I need to avoid it, but can’t.  Maybe after orientation and all that I’ll be able to settle in properly and actually speak French as much as I’d like to.

So far, it’s been nowhere near enough – an occasional question or encounter with university staff or shop assistants, but basically nothing else.  Which has made me realise that my French is terrible now.  I can barely ask basic things, and attempting to hold a conversation just fries my brain.  I keep speaking Spanish by accident (things like ‘bueno’ and ‘gracías’, mainly, as well as normally saying ‘y’ instead of ‘et’).  I hope that doesn’t last.

I don’t want to forget my Spanish or the tiny bit of an Argentinian accent I may have picked up when saying certain phrases, but I don’t want to keep letting Spanish get in the way of learning French.  Quel cauchmar.

My pronunciation is terrible too.  I just don’t remember how you’re supposed to pronounce things in French  – vowels, the letters ‘c’ and ‘j’, and even where to put the emphasis in a word.

Basic vocabulary too, grammar – you name it, I’ve probably forgotten it.

Everything is really expensive as well.  So that’s awful.

On a happier note, it’s quite sunny.

I am a native English speaker, I swear!

I think this blog could be a good way of keeping track of my deteriorating English if (I mean when) I continue to post regularly. It’s already gotten quite bad just from spending five months in Argentina (yeah that’s a thing I did, I might write about it later…). Since I’ve gotten home there have been so many occasions where I literally couldn’t get across exactly what I was trying to say, couldn’t think of a particular word that I needed, or just directly translated phrases I’d learned in Spanish into English, which ends up sounding a bit weird because although they make sense, we don’t use those exact phrases.

That and actually speaking in Spanish accidentally a few times. Now I don’t mean blurting out whole sentences in Spanish, but a few phrases now and then, like “ay díos” or “¡díos mio!”* if something goes wrong, or annoys me, or “¿qué sé yo?”** pretty much if anyone asks me a question ever. It’s nice that I picked up these phrases, and remember them, but it would be handier if I didn’t use them when meant to be speaking English…

And then there’s the hand gestures. I’ve attempted to teach one or two to friends from home, and one even caught on for a while, but I’m not sure I’m going to succeed in making them a permanent part of Irish culture just yet. Sometimes I find myself doing them and almost have to grab my hand and lower it back down into a more regular, motionless state so I can converse like a normal Irish person again.

Now France is going to influence how I communicate too, and if I manage to avoid speaking English a lot there then my English will surely get even worse. I don’t want to be awful at English, but I like to think that if my English is getting bad then surely my other languages are improving, right? …But then I find words I don’t understand in other languages and look up their meanings only to find that they’re the same in English, and realise I may need to work on improving my English for once.

But I thought I was a native speaker?!

* = “oh god” or “my god!”
** = “what do I know?”