Relationships are based on a variety of things. Some are positive; some are not. One not-so-great relationship is based on “my fat friend makes me feel better about myself.”
Feeling good about ourself shouldn’t be predicated on how we compare to others. It should be focused entirely on who and what we are. Ideally it should be the qualities that really matter, not physical appearance.
That’s what should matter, but we know it’s not always the most important thing. Appearance counts because all humans are a little shallow and some are a lot shallow.
What happens when the friend who used to make her friend feel superior turns the table on her? At first she didn’t notice it, but eventually it dawns on her that her fat friend isn’t as fat as she used to be. It causes a little alarm, but since the fat friend is still somewhat fat, it’s probably temporary and soon she’ll be back to her fat, normal self.
That’s not what happens. The fat friend (I’ll call her Karla) keeps losing weight and her friend (I’ll call her Ellen) starts to realize that this is serious. Karla is politely refusing to share buckets of greasy, buttered popcorn when the two go to the movies. Sometimes she even declines a movie invitation because, “tonight is Zumba night.”
When they dine out together Karla (who’s now only slightly fatter than Ellen) pushes the bread basket away. Ellen, hoping to entice her to have some bread, grabs some, dips it in the olive oil and pops the hunk in her mouth, all the while saying, “this bread is sooooo good. Have some!” She won’t quit. Multiple refusals from Karla only result in multiple bread hunks and olive oil eaten by Ellen.
Ellen goes on to try to get her formerly fat friend to order like she used to before this whole fitness kick kicked in. Her efforts fail and the only person eating too much at meals in restaurants is Ellen. Karla orders what she wants off the menu and often has much of it boxed up to take home for future meals.
She’s created healthy routines for herself that are enhancing her lifestyle as well as her body.
She’s getting empowered and reinforcing her healthy routines by participating in group support meetings. Meanwhile Ellen has been pushing food on Karla. When Karla says, “no thank you,” Ellen shoves it into her own mouth trying to make a point to Karla. Karla gets the point all right – Ellen isn’t the good friend Karla used to think she was!
Karla hasn’t stopped going to the movies or dining out with Ellen, but she’s no longer the self-esteem booster she used to be.
Ellen continues to desperately tip the scales (literally and figuratively) back to the way they used to be. Karla is steadfast. She likes her new routines, she loves the results. She cares about Ellen but she doesn’t let Ellen’s subtle attempts at sabotage make her feel guilty or give into Ellen’s futile attempts to regain her former place as the “slim friend.”
Advice for Ellen:
Stop trying to make Karla get fat again. Your self-esteem has nothing to do with Karla’s weight. Why not join Karla and establish some healthy routines too? Support Karla and yourself and you’ll discover that nothing boosts your sense of self-worth more than doing that!