In our modern Western society, fat=bad, and weight loss if you are fat=good. I myself have tried to lose weight, and I am sure most females of all races and ages have also done the same more than once. Most of the time, when someone finally succeeds in losing their excess weight, we congratulate them and tell them how good they look, which they do, especially in pictures.

But in person I would dare say that at times seeing close friends, acquaintances, or family lose weight has created some cognitive dissonance for me. Imagine my shock to see a college friend of mine (she used to be a healthy size 12) who had moved away for awhile and moved back to my city to get married, who was now a gaunt size 6-8. And when I say gaunt, I mean gaunt, as in shriveled. When I asked her about it, she shrugged and said that she lost weight for her wedding. To her credit she never gained it back, but it took me several months to get used to seeing her as a wisp of her former self.

I am not saying this because I am jealous; rather I just think that some people look better with meat on their bones. I felt the same way when my dad had to lose weight because of his diabetes. Somehow, when he got skinnier, he just didn’t look the same any more. His cheeks were a bit sunken and he, like my college friend, both slouched, which made them look even emaciated.

Traditionally, in Chinese culture, being chubby meant that you were prosperous, and it was a good thing. Wives were expected to feed their husbands well and husbands were expected to put on some girth, unless he was a hard-laboring peasant. Nowadays, that view has mostly been abandoned, even though some may still compliment a man’s wife for feeding him well.

I wonder if I am the only person who reacts this way to others’ weight loss. I think if someone loses weight and exercises, so that their body is toned, they look much better than someone who lost weight but has no muscle tone. Also, in my observation, the person who lost weight seemed like an overall happier person (i.e., more cheerful) before rather than after they lost weight. I would welcome your thoughts on this subject.