My Driver’s License Tells My Weight-Loss Story

April 28, 2015 | By | Comments (24)

Illustration: Sarah Wilkins

The TSA agent looked at my driver’s license, and he looked back at me. He looked at my driver’s license again, and then again, at me. He gently shook his head and said, “I didn’t think this was you at all.”

I smiled and nodded. “I have to renew in November. It’s been a while.” I knew what he was trying to say, and he, possibly better than anyone, had done it in a way that was tactful but clear: I don’t look like the girl in the driver’s license anymore.

My hair is the same. It is curly in the photo. It was curly that day he checked my boarding pass and ID at the Birmingham airport. I was wearing a bulky sweater in the license photo and a light blouse in real life. Those aren’t the things he was talking about, however. It’s my face.

Fifty pounds makes a big difference. Some days, I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything, and then there are the days I look at photos of me from a year ago, and I know: It’s been a hard battle, but I’ve done really well so far.


Not that driver’s license photos are ever flattering, but this one is particularly awful–and a definite encouragement as I move forward in my weight-loss journey.


That TSA agent said what many of my friends and family members have tried to say, some in not such artful ways. They’re all compliments, I know, but some of them just aren’t delivered in such a way as to suggest that intention at first.

A friend I hadn’t seen in about three years told me a few weeks ago, “Man, you’re so beautiful! You’ll definitely get a husband now.” Gee, thanks. I never knew overweight folks only got married if they lost weight.

My chiropractor, bless his heart (I’m Southern, y’all). He still hasn’t figured it out. Every time I go for an adjustment, he says, “Something’s different. New makeup? New shirt?” Every shirt is new to you. I don’t see you enough for it not to be.

My grandmother, after not seeing me for about two months. “Your pants are too big.” I know, Nanny. Thanks.

When you lose weight, people notice. And some people even comment. It’s almost a human experiment at this point. When I know I’m seeing someone who hasn’t seen me in a while, I just wait. Don’t roll your eyes! They mean it from the heart.

I asked our Facebook fans to share their experiences with strange, funny, or downright rude comments they’ve received after a recent weight loss. Here’s what a few of them had to say.

I am in my 60s and was chitchatting with a long-time acquaintance who noticed I had lost weight. “You look great, Barbara … and the best thing, YOU are thinner, but your lips are still pretty full.” Not sure if it was a compliment or not, but I took it as one, albeit left-handed, as they say. I think she was referring to the fact that as we age our lips (and eyebrows and hair) tend to thin. — Barbara Brito-Trujillo

After losing 40 pounds my good friend finally noticed and said, “That outfit makes you look slimmer.” — Susan Wyrostek

I went for a mammogram, and immediately after, the nurse/technician (who has never met me before) says, “Oh, I see you’ve lost quite a bit of weight.” Lol. — Angela Orentas

It’s good to know I’m not the only one who has had her share of cringe-worthy comments/compliments. They’re funny, for sure, but here’s the truth about them: I love hearing almost every single one of them. (Not you, friend who asked me if I had weight-loss surgery. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but no, I did not.) And anyone who has lost weight does, too.

Compliments are a sign that you’re doing something right. They’re an indication that the people you see every day can tell you’re changing your life and getting healthier. Whether they know it or not, people who compliment you are your cheerleaders, and just like high school, some are better than others. On any weight-loss journey, we need all the cheerleading we can get!

Tell us: What funny, odd, or strange compliments have you received about your recent weight loss?




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  8. Monica

    Ha, this happens to me too. I had to renew my driver’s license, picture and all, just 2 months before having a gastric sleeve. The license pic was at my highest weight 360lb my head looked like a basketball. Now I am down to 235 but still have the same license and get a few double takes whenever I have to use it. I guess I should get a new one. Congrats to your success.

    May 15, 2015 at 3:16 pm
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  10. Joan B

    I think weight should never be discussed. Each time I see a family member they have to tell me how much better I look. My favorite one is…I bet you have tons more energy and can do more. I know that you are still going to lose more! I have lost 63 pounds. Yes, I know I look different. However,do you have to comment at all!

    May 2, 2015 at 7:57 am
  11. hdhvhs

    A doctor at the hospital asked me after losing 90 pounds “how did you look before?” It was, like, you’re still a whale, how could you have possibly had another 90 pounds on you? I know he may have not meant it that way, but it came out horribly wrong. I finally had the ideal weight. But paid it big time with paralyzed legs because of dropping the weight too fast 😦 regained 40 pounds and am now fighting to get them off once again, but hopefully slower. Although I’ve lost 20 pounds in 7 weeks. I try to slow down a little.

    May 1, 2015 at 5:49 pm
  12. Effective Diets

    […] My Driver's License Tells My Weight-Loss Story | Cooking … Not that driver's license photos are ever flattering, but this one is particularly awful–and a definite encouragement as I move forward in my weight-loss journey. —. That TSA agent said what many … […]

    May 1, 2015 at 12:00 pm
  13. Cyndi

    after losing 3 pant sizes someone said “you were prettier when you were heavier”. Uhhhh….thanks?

    May 1, 2015 at 11:38 am
  14. Nadia Nabulsi

    I have lost 92 lbs so far. 231 starting weight and now I’m 139 currently. The thing that annoys me the most is that it’s the topic of conversation EVERY time there is a family gathering. Like, i’m grateful for the compliments. Thank you. But every. time. Really?! Then somehow it’s important for everyone to tell me what they are doing, what they are eating, how healthy they are as well.

    I also have some more fat I want to lose in my midsection and I can healthily be between 104-136 lbs according to my height. So, when I mention that I want to lose more, it’s omg, ew, don’t get too skinny…

    May 1, 2015 at 9:56 am
  15. Dawn

    I recently lost 70 lbs do to the bariatric surgery! I feel amazing, no more major health issues but when people coment on my weight I get insecure. I love how people all of a sudden start saying things like “your so beautiful now” as if I wasn’t before…”how do you like the new you?” Ummm… I never changed just my dress size. “My all time favorite is “I never thought I’d see the day when you were skinnier than me.” Some people just don’t know how to say “you look good, how do you feel.”

    May 1, 2015 at 9:37 am
  16. Lisa

    My father-in-law asked my husband if he was proud of his new, skinny wife.

    May 1, 2015 at 5:15 am
  17. Jen

    I have lost about 100 lbs in the last 6 months the comments that are annoying me are people saying I’m getting skinny, I still have at least another 50lbs to lose, and the comment of you are looking so healthy.

    May 1, 2015 at 2:55 am
  18. sam

    Yes after my weight loss iwent to meet friend and when I left her aunt said well your friend hv lost her wt she ws looking very slim but she hv lost her face freshness as well her face was looking so dull,whn my frnd told me this iwas like, come on yar..,

    April 30, 2015 at 11:03 pm
  19. Kristen C.

    “You’re too skinny. You should eat more.”


    “You better watch what you eat or you’re going to get fat again.”

    Sometimes in the same day, sometimes by the same people. Family is the worst.

    I can count on one hand people I know that have a degree in Nutrition, are Board Certified in Nutrition Support, or have gone from 300 pounds to 150. I have done all 3, so I don’t need “help” when it comes to what I put in my mouth!

    April 30, 2015 at 10:20 pm
  20. Nancy

    I had a friend that I hadn’t seen in a while, and he looked slimmer, so I said how good he looked. I found out later he had cancer and it wan’t a choice to lose weight. He has since passed away. Be careful!!

    April 30, 2015 at 9:43 pm
  21. adrianne

    my weight loss to me was private, I shared it only with my husband and parents. However after losing around 50lbs it became noticeable, and no longer has private of a journey. I was very uncomfortable in my new body, so even when people noticed it wasn’t always positive for me. They would ask how I did it, and say how nice I looked, which I always think “did I look horrible before and no one told me?” It was and is always an akward conversation. I appreciate when peoe say encouraging words, and I try to remember it’s with good intentions.

    April 30, 2015 at 8:59 pm
  22. Rhonda

    I had a weight loss of nearly 30 lbs and dropped three sizes-went from 195 lbs. to 166 lbs. received a lot of compliments and a few weird responses.

    1. Something looks different about you.
    2. I can really see it in your face.
    3. You are looking good lady—What are you doing?
    4. I overheard an miserably bitter coworker comment “I can only tell her stomach is gone but she looks the same otherwise.” Keep in mind she is 6’3 and 320 lbs. 😆

    April 30, 2015 at 8:46 pm
  23. Dianna Roae

    I’ve lost about 70 lbs now and a coworker still whispers to me “wow you look thinner” like its a secret. She’s even mouthed the words to me. This happens all the time. Even when it’s just the two of us in the lunchroom. It’s odd.

    April 30, 2015 at 8:45 pm
  24. Lisa

    It’s the comments that were not said directly to me that I remember. Said to my mother-in-law, at a picnic, I had lost about 20-25 lbs in 5 months. ” Is everything ok? Lisa has lost a lot of weight.”

    April 30, 2015 at 8:38 pm

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