Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Double Standard

One of the most often things I hear from others that have lost weight is that friends and coworkers will say, "Don't lose too much weight now!". This drives me crazy. Whose business is it anyway except maybe those closest to us, like our family? And who decides what losing too much weight is? Making the comment like "You're getting too skinny!" is the same as "You're getting too fat!" Neither is nice. And I find it especially insulting coming from someone who's never been fat.

Of course no one wants anyone to go anorexic, but no one wants anyone to go "obese" either. What kind of person comments to someone else that they are getting fat...."Gee, you've gained some weight, don't gain too much now." In fact, rarely, if ever, does anyone comment about weight gain, but it's complimentary to notice weightloss. My favorite is "Wow, you've lost a ton of weight". Does anyone know what a backhanded compliment this is? Why can't we just say, "You look great!" Or, "What have you been doing, you look better than ever!"

Is it more rude to notice and comment on someones weight gain or is it more rude not to say something? Is there a nice way to show concern? I can't think of a comment that would come across as caring and not insulting or embarrassing. So many times when I notice someone significant weight gain I do feel as if I want to say something, but only to try and it ever appropriate? Where's Dear Abbey when I need her?


Roland said...

When someone's gaining a lot of weight, it's hard. People have to want to help themselves. No matter what mysterious "fat gain mechanism" one believes in, the bottom line is that if one wants to reverse it, they can.

Sometimes they ask if you're there for them. Invite them to lunch and lead by example, but let them start any conversations on the subject.

Roland said...

On "losing too much weight." After losing 75 pounds, I was asked by some of my IT consulting customers if I was okay. They only see me every few months, and over the course of a year, they'd watched me go from 235 down to 175. Each time, it was a big change to their eyes. They thought maybe I had cancer or something. It was hard for them to bring up, but one of them did it in a classy way. I appreciated the concern.

They did not say "don't lose too much," though. :)

They did say "keep up the good work," and several asked me how they could lose weight too. It seems that not many people have seen someone go on a diet, lose weight, get down to a weight that appears to be "done," and then even keep it off.

People who say "don't lose too much" are likely feeling guilty about their own body issues, not yours. One person's weight loss success is a annoying poke to them.

Maribel said...

I don't think commenting on weight loss is meant to be a backhanded compliment. It's one of those "dammed if you do and dammed if you don't" things. I've had people obviously notice my weight loss but not say anything for fear of insulting how I looked before. It's like telling someone they look nice one day and in your head you think "did I look like crap yesterday?". Part of it is learning how to take a compliment and not read in to it. I'm sure there are some people who are being catty, but I think that's the minority. Personally, I can't be bothered with people being crappy...if someone is purposely doing it, then they have issues they need to work on. I just happen to be the person they're projecting their unhappiness on and I can't take it personal.

I think there is so much confusion on what is healthy and fit and what is "skinny". The images we are bombarded with are sold as "healthy", but in reality they aren't. Take the Sport's Illustrated Swimsuit edition. I look at those models and, yes, they are beautiful, but they don't look healthy to me. I don't see any muscle definition. But it's being sold as "sexy", "beautiful", "hot". We are being TOLD what to THINK is beautiful. It doesn't take in to account different body types and shapes. I look at women athletes, and that is what impresses me. Their strength and commitment. I could go on and on and on about this!

As for commenting on someone's weight gain...well, I'm pretty sure they KNOW they've gained weight. More likely than not it's probably due to other reasons. I guess if you'd want to show concern maybe starting with figuring out what the problem is that led to the gain (stress at work, stress at home, etc.)

Diana said...

My favorite one is; "when are you due?"
Thank goodness that never happened to me back in the day, but it has happened to someone whom I was standing right next to and I felt so horrible for her, I even wanted to crawl into a hole, I can't imagine how she felt.
It's sad that being obese has become somewhat of the "norm" and when we lose a lot of weight we're automatically put into the "you must have cancer-you're too skinny" category.

Fatguy said...

I've lost 80 lbs. If I lose another 100 lbs, I'd still be chubby. I'm actually hearing "don't lose too much". One even said, "well, geez, how much are you trying to lose?". Long way to go, but I just chalk it up to them liking people fatter than them to make them feel good. Someday they'll have to look towards someone else!

Rebecca Todd said...

Regarding "you've lost a TON of weight!": in reality, maybe our fat selves were physically bigger than we thought. Part of being overweight and staying that way involves denial of how fat I really am. I've started kettlebell training this year with a bodyweight loss goal of about 20 lbs. I've lost 12 lbs so far, but have gotten a couple of "HOW MUCH HAVE YOU LOST??!!" comments - because my body has changed so much. I don't like those comments betcause of the implication. That is not a gracious comment. But I get it. I was in denial before.

Tracy Reifkind said...


After I wrote this post I spent 3 hours afterwards in yoga reflecting....bottom line is that unless you are closely related to someone it's best to let people live their own lives and as you and I say, live by example.

We don't have to go out and find people to help, they'll find us.

As far as being concerned if someone is sick. I've had a similar experience myself. A gentleman at my yoga studio lost a significant amount of weight, but I thought he looked great....I asked his wife what his motivation was and it turned out he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and became a vegan.

Occasionally I see someone that appears to be a true anorexic, I see many exercise anorexics in yoga and at the Club and I admit I, myself, need to move past the judgements.

Tracy Reifkind said...


the backhanded compliment comes in the word "ton" My response? "yep, I lost a TON!"

I guess my own experience comes mostly at yoga. I know how much better my practice would be the lighter I am and I see so many committed to Bikram yoga but not seeing the connection of being lighter as a means of improving their practice (or stronger for that matter).....easier said than done, otherwise I'd be a few pounds lighter myself.

Tracy Reifkind said...


About one month AFTER I had Gabriel, my youngest son, someone asked me at the gym if I had had my baby "yet"....can you imagine? That's not even a valid question! what do you mean exactly? (asshole!)

Tracy Reifkind said...


The comment "don't lose too much" is really what motivated this of my clients had her hairdresser tell he to be careful and not get "too bulky" after her biceps started getting a really nice shape! "F you" I would wish you had biceps like mine!

I understand being a "hater" (Maribel reminds me of this point)

Tracy Reifkind said...

Rebecca T,

Well, I don't now about you but I was fully aware of how fat I was! Still, using the word "ton" is not nice. As I mentioned "you look great!" is sufficient.

But hey, I'm not perfect either! I say stupid sh!t all the time!