Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

It’s interesting to get the reactions of people who haven’t seen me since I started this weight-release program. Generally, the reaction is positive. “You look great!” Or better yet, “What’s the name of your website?”

But it hasn’t all been good.

I was recently in New York, where I visited with a friend that I hadn’t seen since last August. Now, I don’t weigh that much less than I did last time I saw him, but I have more muscle and less fat, so I look smaller. I should have known things weren’t going to go well when he and Michael were talking on their cell phones (on different corners of the same street) trying to locate each other.

“You see a woman in orange?” Michael asks incredulously. “That’s KJ!”

I look up and wave and my friend does a double take.

He hugs Michael first (most of my friends do!) and then turns to me. “What happened to you?”

I laughed awkwardly. “I got tenure and the weight of the world simply fell from my body,” I tried.

He shook his head. He shook his head several times over the weekend when he looked at me, until he finally said, “Don’t lose any more weight. I don’t like skinny women.”

Wow! Where was he while I was still looking?

Then, back at home, my friend at work comes up behind me and says. “You look great. Your butt looks big again.”

Excuse me?

“It looked too small before. But that your waist is smaller, you’ve got back again. It looks good. Sexy.”

Well, okay. I guess.

Then my sister, who opened up a picture that I sent of my trip down the runway in my new slinky black dress, wrote back (my personal favorite). “You look marvelous. But go eat some KFC! Seriously.”

Again, keep in mind that my BMI is 21.9, which is in the dead center of normal. I am not even close to being too thin or too skinny.

Over the next few weeks, as I continue to experiment with maintenance — so far so good, by the way — my next project will be to determine what beauty is in my own eyes. Ironically, or interestingly enough, a young woman asked me to speak on a panel hosted by “The Beauty Initiative,” on campus.

I’m hopeful that having an external deadline where I have to take a public stand will help motivate my internal dialogue about a decision that should be (at least within healthy limits) intensely personal.

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