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People Can Smell A Boor Du Jour A Mile Away

Hello! I wanted to submit a story about an incident that occurred last week.

A bit of background first. The company I work for provides lunch for employees daily as a benefit. This is beneficial for us because it means lunch is free and we needn’t go out; and for them because it means we generally work whilst eating our lunch.

Due to limitations caused by my Celiac Disease, I cannot always eat the lunch provided. There are many options, but sometimes none of those options are suitable or even something to make an entire meal out of. On those days, I have a snack instead of lunch (I keep my own snacks at my desk) or I walk over to the large, chain organic store down the street from the office to grab a sandwich. Their meat is safe for me to eat, and gluten free bread is one of their options so it’s a nice treat from time to time when I’m tired of salad.

On this particular day, I have waited in line patiently so that I can place an order. When my turn comes, I mention my need for the gluten free bread and then give my selections. The man behind the counter is sympathetic and we strike up a friendly conversation about how wonderful the other breads look and how I wish I could have some. As we do, a man having a loud conversation on his cell phone steps up behind me. I do my best to ignore his phone call even though I can clearly hear the person on the other side of the conversation. He is asked where he is, and he says he’s at the store.

“I’m ordering one of my healthy sandwiches. Whole grain and hummus. Yep, that’s all. So healthy, right?”

I see the man making my sandwich smirk slightly but he doesn’t look up.

“Yeah, I know, I mean, I’m watching what I’m eating,” said as he suddenly leans forward toward my ear and says, loudly enough for several people to hear, “…unlike SOME people here.”

I am taken aback by the sheer audacity and rudeness but say nothing, hoping that he was referencing someone else he and his phone companion know and the lean was an accident. But it was not to be. “There’s this chick in front of me ordering this massive sandwich. No one needs that much food, but SHE especially does not. I mean, really!”

I say nothing, though I am sorely tempted to turn around and say to him, just as loudly, “Hasn’t anyone ever told you that an ounce of pretension is worth a pound of manure? You look like you could be rid of about 200lbs of it.” However, I do not. I will not fight rudeness with rudeness. I am, however, very self conscious now thanks to this man’s assumption and passive aggressive attempt at weight-shaming.

The man making my sandwich has paused, a look of incredulity on his face. He then looks at me and says, loudly enough for the man to hear, “I know the gluten free bread is really, really small. It makes a normal sandwich look huge when, really, it would be fine on normal bread. I’m sorry that, due to your health, you can’t have the normal stuff ma’am.” He then hands me my sandwich, and I thank him and head back to the office.

But I wonder, what in the world makes people think this sort of behavior is acceptable? Who are you to criticize the food choices of a stranger, when you don’t know why they’re making them? Maybe, like me, they haven’t much choice. Not to mention the fact that you would do it in such a horrible way. If I was smaller, would he have said the same things?

As I stated above, I said nothing, but is that the right thing? What, if anything, is the right thing to say in such a situation? 0717-13

This is a classic example of how people are not stupid and need no help in recognizing rude boors.   In other words, we really do not need to respond to rude boors to make sure everyone in hearing distance knows, for certain, that this is a boor.   Boors are their own walking advertisements if we let them and Mr. Cell Phone Guy does a spectacular performance as the store’s boor du jour.   The employee got it and did as much as he could within his role of serving to mitigate the awkwardness.

If one must say something, the ornery side of me might have whipped out my camera phone, started recording and said, “Oh, PLEASE!  Repeat that again!   I need to submit this to Etiquette Hell and let it go viral,”   or,  “Smile!   You’re going viral!”   All done with an appropriately thrilled demeanor as if I had just stumbled onto a gold mine.

{ 74 comments… add one }
  • Marozia July 22, 2013, 3:15 am

    I know that there is an epidemic of obesity in a lot of countries, but that still does not give any person any right at all to make snide remarks about someone else’s lunch choices, coeliac disease or not.
    Good Marozia would have just ignored the remark and shrugged her shoulders.
    Evil Marozia would have told this – err…gentleman to MYOB but with a sprinkling of cruder language.

  • Cherry July 22, 2013, 3:21 am

    Wow, this hits on so many of my peeves – passive agressiveness, weight shaming and making a comment that was neither asked for nor desired. Oh, and someone who won’t get off their phone while being served! This guy is just a winner on every level.

    When he leaned in to make his snide remark “I’m watching what I’m eating”, a possible response could have been “Shame you aren’t watching your volume. You do realise everyone can hear how rude you’re being?”

    The best thing to do to a passive agressive person is to confront them. PAs are cowards who don’t have the guts to directly say what they’re thinking, they can’t stand being called out. Stay completely calm. An “excuse me?” or “Would you like to repeat that?” can work wonders.

  • Louisa July 22, 2013, 3:48 am

    The guy might get a sharp shock but relapse when nothing goes viral. I find the oldie “I bet your mother is proud of your manners” sometimes induces a near-normal sense of reflection or shame.

  • Weaver July 22, 2013, 7:44 am

    I completely agree with Admin on the first part of her advice. People like the man behind you do nothing but display themselves as rude idiots. All within earshot will identify him as such and roll their eyes accordingly, or, like the sandwich-maker, make an attempt to defend you.

    However, can we please stop this plague we seem to have developed as a society to whip out our phones and start recording as a first port of call when it comes to shaming devices? For one thing, it’s hardly practical when you’re standing in a queue, juggling your wallet in one hand and waiting for your order with the other. And frankly, I think it’s pretty tacky. I think it would be better, if you feel you’ve got it in you, to turn and give him a pointed look, and maybe bring out the “interesting assumption” line.

  • Mae July 22, 2013, 7:59 am

    I will never understand why people feel the need to comment on a complete stranger’s food choices. Why is it any of their business?? Weight-shaming is just another form of bullying.

    Evil me would have been tempted to turn around and say something about loudly using a cellphone while others were trying to order lunch but I would have resisted. Like OP, E-hell has taught me to resist the urge to fight rudeness with rudeness.

  • The Elf July 22, 2013, 8:46 am

    What is it with people commenting on other people’s food choices? You’re eating too much! You’re not eating enough! Your selections are unhealthy! Damn, girl, put some meat on your bones!

    And in most cases (“O” in the rudest polite guest story being the exception) it’s women who are the targets of this kind of criticism. I’ve run into it a few times, but thankfully only a few. The last time was a checkout clerk who thought it necessary to comment on me buying hard-boiled eggs instead of buying raw eggs and hard-boiling them. It’s your business, why? After that I asked my husband if anyone, other than his parents and I, have ever commented negatively on what he’s eating. To put this in perspective – he’s a big guy who looks tough. I’ve seen him order a huge meal where everything in it has been fried and I’ve seen him order a simple, healthy salad. Not one word, ever.


  • Lauren July 22, 2013, 9:32 am

    What an idiot! He was just annoyed at having to stand in line and, like a toddler, acted out in the only way he could. You should have treated him like a dog, shouted “No! Bad boy!” and shook your finger at him. His mother obviously never corrected him, so now it’s our job (by our, I mean all of society’s) to correct him. If he apologizes you should give him a small treat as reinforcement.

  • Carolyn July 22, 2013, 9:46 am

    Another sad example of women’s bodies being seen as public property. Yes, obese men are harassed too but it never seems to reach the insane levels as it does for women. There are many people like this guy who act like they are *personally offended* by a woman’s appearance if it doesn’t meet their standards. Too ‘fat’ or too ‘skinny’ and appearing in public? The audacity!

  • Cat July 22, 2013, 9:46 am

    If he feels free to make comments to an unseen listener on his phone, perhaps you could say loudly say grace to your unseen Higher Power when you receive your sandwich, “I thank you, Lord, for providing food that I, even with my disease, can still enjoy. Most of all, I thank You that I am not related to a rude boor who talks on his phone in public, making rude comments about total strangers. Amen”
    Even if you have no interest in religion, it’s fun to convert for a few seconds to make a point.

  • Wild Irish Rose July 22, 2013, 10:05 am

    I have a daughter who is unbelievably petite. As in Size 0. No joke. And she eats like you would not believe. Still, people feel the need to express their concern that she might have an eating disorder. The same thing used to happen to me when I was her age–I was very thin, but not to the point of emaciation. And I would occasionally hear the words “anorexic” or “bulimic” applied to me. Not true! And my daughter is not anorexic or bulimic either. So it goes both ways–if your weight is perceived to be too high or too low, some jerk is going to say something.

    And I’m with Weaver. Leave your phone out of it. (Frankly, I’m tired of phones. There is always someone wanting to share a lot of stuff I’m not interested in, and because I don’t have a cell phone, I can never figure out how to use them.)

  • Lisa July 22, 2013, 10:11 am

    I agree with Weaver about the use of cell phones as a defense mechanism; what is that really going to accomplish.
    Miss Manners often suggests something as simple as an icy stare with the implication that you could not have possibly heard what you thought you heard.
    Silence, not meeting aggression with aggression, can be golden.

  • twik July 22, 2013, 10:13 am

    It was once thought that bullying arose from deep-seated feelings of inferiority – bullies, it was thought, make other people feel bad to compensate for feeling bad themselves.

    Nowadays, it’s believed to be much more complicated. Bullies often have a very good opinion of themselves – so high, in fact, that they will attempt to show their status in public by intimidating or abusing “lesser” mortals. Because that just proves how cool they are. It’s a public dominance display, just as catcalling women in public is not an actual attempt to seduce them, but to show that the catcallers are so high-ranking they can make sexual demands on anyone.

  • The Elf July 22, 2013, 10:34 am

    You got it, Twik. A public dominance display is the perfect way to describe bullying. That display can result from feelings of inferiority or insecurity, or it could just be someone naturally being a righteous Glass Bowl. These people are not worth a moment’s thought, much less actually responding to it.

  • lakey July 22, 2013, 10:40 am

    Wow, the food police strike. There are people who have become incredibly sanctimonious when it comes to food, alcohol, and tobacco. Also, hummus is very calorie dense. I love it, but it certainly isn’t healthier than lean meat. Depending on how it is made, a lot of it has a high percentage of fat.

    The administrator is right. Anyone within earshot knew he was a jerk.

  • lakey July 22, 2013, 10:53 am

    I wouldn’t consider this behavior passive-aggressive. I would consider it intentionally and overtly insulting.

  • Ashley July 22, 2013, 10:58 am

    I hate when people comment on food choices. It’s my body, I choose what I put in it. I’ve gotten snide comments too. My place of employment has one employee at each store so since I’m the only employee at this store, it’s hard for me to shut everything down for more than ten minutes to have a proper lunch “break”. So whether I run across the street and get something to go, or bring lunch from home, I wind up eating at my desk, and customers who come in on their lunch breaks do sometimes catch me eating. One day I had managed to get across the street and get myself a sandwich and fries. I ate them, threw away the wrappers, then started on a granola bar from home as dessert. A customer came in and rather than “Hello!” or any standard greeting, the first words out of his mouth were “I hope that’s not all you’re eating for lunch” as he pointed at the granola bar I was trying to shove off to the side so I could help him.

    I’m glad that the clerk attempted to defend OP the way he did. I can only hope the guy heard him and learned maybe not to be so judgmental.

  • UK Helen July 22, 2013, 11:29 am

    Oh, but you were (a) enjoying yourself and (b) holding up His Highness with your chatting to the sandwich maker and by basically just being there in front of him in the queue! How dare you? Don’t you know how wonderful and important he is? Get out of his way!

    Personally I’d recommend looking surprised, then looking him up and down as if appraising his body with mild amusement and derision.

    As long as he’s not your boss or an important customer, of course.

    Actually, once I passed a man on the stairs at work and he gave me the smug, appraising once-over, like he had the right and his opinion of my body mattered to anyone. We hadn’t met but I knew who he was (a visitor to the company) and I loved the look on his face when I walked into a meeting an hour later, as the engineer who was to advise him on his product! It had so obviously been a powerplay, but it turned out he didn’t have the power he’d thought he did.

  • Library Diva July 22, 2013, 11:54 am

    Twik’s comment is very insightful — I never thought of it that way before.

    I also agree with the comments many have made about refraining from recording it on a cell phone. While the threat of doing so can be powerful, and while it certainly is tempting, I’d ask anyone who’s tempted to remember the cautionary tale of the woman who tweeted a photo of two men who were making remarks at a conference that she found offensive. The men in question were not talking to her, but to each other (nor were they talking about her, or about anyone in particular). One of the men lost his job over it — but so did she. Her job was as a “brand ambassador” for a tech company, and her tweet and subsequent blog post caused such a firestorm that her bosses felt she would no longer be effective in her role. So remember this whenever you’re tempted — the offender is not the only one who can get hurt.

  • knitwicca July 22, 2013, 11:54 am

    I absolutely agree that it is time people stopped commenting on others’ food choices and weight.

    I am genetically thin. I have been the recipient of “Girl, you need to eat something”, “you need some meat on those bones” and, my personal favorite, “If you would eat something you would look like a normal person”.

    For the record, the only comment I have ever made about someone else’s food choices is “Wow! That smells wonderful!”

  • manybellsdown July 22, 2013, 12:00 pm

    @Wild Irish Rose – that was me until about age 24. The first time in my life I hit 110 lbs, I was 6 months pregnant. I was significantly underweight but capable of downing an entire large pizza in 5 minutes. And I was accused of anorexia quite a few times. My go-t0 response was “If you think that, how about you buy me lunch?”

  • SJ July 22, 2013, 12:03 pm

    And, what if you didn’t have celiac disease? He’d still be a boor. What if you were two hundred pounds heavier? He’d still be a boor. What if you ordered ten sandwiches to eat by yourself? He’d still be a boor.

    He must have some deep-seated issues if he needs to gripe at a total stranger about their food choices.

    I’d rather be like you, OP, than anything like him no matter how “healthy” he is.

  • June First July 22, 2013, 12:03 pm

    If he is close enough to see your food selection, maybe he would be close enough to hear you say to the employee, “Doesn’t it just always amaze you what people will say on their phones in public? They know we can hear them, right?”
    Or maybe to the offender, “Excuse me, I don’t mean to embarrass you, but everyone can hear your conversation.”

    But the Miss Manners icy stare is always excellent, too.

    Plus…hummus and bread?? Ick. I’d need some veggies to break that up.

  • Kirst July 22, 2013, 12:09 pm

    I don’t understand how “small bread” makes a sandwich look big.

  • Calli Arcale July 22, 2013, 12:22 pm

    I’m with Weaver too. Fat shaming is wrong, whether it’s misdirected (as in this case) or not, but shaming in *general* is wrong too. A guy like this is pretty set in his ways; shaming him is not going to make him change his ways, and we probably all know that. When we do this, it’s just an opportunity for those of who believe we are better than him to indulge in the same sort of self-aggrandizing denigration of others. Oh sure, when the person is a boor, mockery feels like it’s not wrong because, well, they deserve it! But just because someone else was ill-mannered to you does not justify being ill-mannered in return. That perpetuates the cycle rather than ending it, and gives them the fight they might well be looking for. (The old expression “don’t feed the trolls” comes to mind.) Better to seize it as a teachable moment for any onlookers, which is precisely what that wonderful deli worker did, and display all the grace and decorum that he was incapable of.

  • Ripple July 22, 2013, 1:17 pm

    @Kirst – In a deli where they are making sandwiches by hand, they give you a certain amount (by weight) of meat, cheese, toppings, etc. If the bread is smaller than typical sandwich bread, then the meat and cheese may be folded more often, making the height of the sandwich look bigger. Without a visual comparison to typical bread, this can make a “small sandwich look big.”

  • Rap July 22, 2013, 1:34 pm

    “I don’t understand how “small bread” makes a sandwich look big.”

    Because it looks like you have more stuff *inside* the bread. Technically, if you use a big fluffy roll for your sandwich, the insides (the good stuff) like the meat and the cheese and pepperonis and italian yummy stuff are more stealthy, whereas on that glutien free bread, it looks like you have a mound of good stuff between two thin slices of bread. You’re really not getting more – the stores etc don’t use different amounts, it just looks like you’re eating more of the good stuff.

    The jerk in the story was equating seeing more of the sandwiche’s fillings with getting more.

  • holly firestorm July 22, 2013, 1:34 pm

    He sounds like a total a-hole. The loud cell phone conversation alone is bad enough, but to criticize your food choices right behind you…crazy! But, why were you taking up time chatting while there was a line behind you? Doesn’t that strike you as a tiny bit rude, too?

  • Woohoo July 22, 2013, 2:25 pm

    I agree with Admin–don’t give this man another thought cause everyone–EVERYONE–knows what a rude boor he is and when you say nothing in return–it makes you look like the reigning queen of awesomeness! (But not sure how the part about your work providing free lunch has much to do with the story?)

  • Anonymous July 22, 2013, 2:31 pm

    @Kirst–I think the OP meant that the gluten-free bread was smaller than the gluten-full bread, but all the meat and vegetables were celiac-friendly, in that it wasn’t cross-contaminated with anything containing wheat. So, smaller bread, plus the same kind/amount of meat and vegetables, would result in the meat and veggies overflowing from the sandwich, and looking “greedy,” even if the OP’s sandwich had less food altogether than there would be in a non-celiac sandwich. Does that make sense?

  • AIP July 22, 2013, 2:59 pm

    Who else wants to lay bets that this eejit had a pot belly or more than one chin?

    The OP responded absolutely appropriately in line with etiquette guidelines and the sandwich maker is a star. HOWEVER, this cretin pulls this nonsense because he knows he can get away with it.

  • FeatherBlade July 22, 2013, 3:44 pm

    I have to admit that I would have been sorely tempted to give the boor two raised eyebrows, and a perfectly serious “That’s a terrible pick-up line. You really need new material.”

    • admin July 22, 2013, 5:47 pm

      Oh, my. I think you win for best retort.

  • Dee July 22, 2013, 3:48 pm

    I think recording him with your phone would be passive aggressive and involves the other innocent customers. It may be someone’s right to use a camera phone but it is my right to not have to be photographed/recorded without my permission. I don’t understand why the server felt the need to “feed” the boor by addressing the boorish accusations. That only resulted in rewarding the boor for his gross interruptions and invasion of privacy. I also don’t understand why the server couldn’t have addressed the actual problem with a strong and decisive “Excuse me, sir, please remove your phone conversation outside. You are making the customers uncomfortable and distracting me from doing my job.” And then everyone, including the server, waits quietly while staring at the boor until he leaves. And hopefully never comes back. There was a recent study done that showed that retail establishments that do not firmly address boorish behaviour, whether such behaviour is directed at staff or customers or both, risk the loss of the legitimate business of their good customers. I know I, for one, do not like shopping anywhere that I don’t feel safe or defended by the business. Even if it’s not the business’ fault the experience leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I am reluctant to return in fear that that boor, or another one, may also return while I’m there. The world revolves much better if everyone displays a polite spine. It’s also a great teaching moment for polite spines in development.

  • Miss-E July 22, 2013, 3:59 pm

    @Twik – excellent point. I have this funky knitted hat that looks like a lion (yes, the kind you usually see little kids wearing but it was a gift and I love it). I was on the subway one day when some girls (~16) passed by. One said “nice hat” and the others laughed and laughed. I turned, unperturbed, and said (Valley-girl style) “Ashley, I am like so going to like tell that girl I like her hat but like I really don’t! Oh-em-gee, Melissa! You are so badass!” I got some laughs and the girls slunk off at the next stop.

  • Ergala July 22, 2013, 4:16 pm

    We are a gluten free family as well OP so I sympathize with you big time. Those slices of gluten free bread sure are tiny! In this case I’d be so tempted to turn around and enlighten the boor with a break down of how much worse his sandwich is on regular bread. Where the wheat comes from, how much sugar is added, the fact it is probably a GMO product oh and what THAT stuff will do to your body AND the environment. Oh and is he getting cheese on his sandwich? Perhaps mention exactly how “healthy” that cheese really is. I’m armed to the teeth in preparation for people who make comments on what we eat or my weight. I eat healthier than the thin people in my life but I am still over weight. Get over it society. Not everyone is FAT because of FOOD.

  • FerrisW July 22, 2013, 6:45 pm

    I never understand people who comment on others food choices. I’m overweight and I’ve frequently heard ‘do you really need all that food’ or ‘looks like you’ve got enough to feed an entire family there’, even when I was eating perfectly reasonable and standard portions. I’m losing weight at the moment (down 40lbs!) and as such my lunchtime meals are much smaller and healthier than before. I’m still overweight, but now the comments are ‘is that all you’re eating’ type statements.

    Bodyshaming of women is far too prevalent these days. OP, I hope you you don’t let the boorish man’s words get you down, as I know from personal experience that a strangers words can haunt you, even when you know you shouldn’t listen to them. In your situation, what I normally do is just give the offender a look that makes it clear what I think about their opinion, and walk away.

  • Liliane July 22, 2013, 6:58 pm

    Ugh, I hate it when people decide to comment on other people’s food…

    I honestly never really noticed how much it tends to happen! But then I put on some weight (I’m another naturally skinny one, only thanks to a series of medications can I even hope to look healthy) and I started noticing…people aren’t telling me I should eat more, they aren’t telling me to get some bacon-loaded fat-dripping burger instead of a (much tastier) salad, they aren’t looking at me like something’s wrong with me anymore. And I never realized it UNTIL I put on that weight.

    Now just wait, I’ll probably start getting the fat comments… *sigh*

  • The Elf July 22, 2013, 7:10 pm

    Kirst: “I don’t understand how “small bread” makes a sandwich look big.”

    Is it me, or is this statement really about manscaping? It can’t just be me.

  • OP July 22, 2013, 8:07 pm

    @holly firestorm

    Just to be clear, I wasn’t taking up extra time chatting with the man making my sandwich. We were talking whilst he made my sandwich, in between him asking me about condiments and other things, which is fairly normal. He was working at the same time, so no extra time was taken up, and he was asking me about things I can and cannot have. The man behind me in line was waiting for the next available attendant to help him — there were about 3 working if I remember correctly. 🙂

    Thanks for the positive comments everyone! Eating out with these limitations is hard enough without adding someone being a jerk to the mix!

  • MichelleP July 22, 2013, 8:37 pm

    @hollyfirestorm, the OP was not at all rude. She states clearly that they were chatting while he was making her sandwich. It never ceases to amaze me that whenever anyone posts anything on this, there is someone who will find some way to say they were rude. In this case there was absolutely nothing the OP did wrong.

    I’ve always been overweight, and there have been several instances where strangers have made comments on how much I was buying/eating. Now that I’m older, I’ve come up with clever but polite comebacks. This site has helped a lot.

  • NostalgicGal July 22, 2013, 10:35 pm

    OP hang in there. I don’t have celiac but I sure have my issues with allergies, food restrictions and food I would literally starve first before I’d eat… I’m siding with you didn’t do wrong and your sandwichmaker was stellar.

    I have defaulted to if it’s a real boor, and it involves food or my physique (which still looks like I’m preggers, thin arms and legs and a gut) “Excuse me? The only person in this world that can comment about my weight or what is going in my face is my doctor, and I know for a fact you are not him. I’d gladly trade you for a week.” add a good icy stare to it if needed at that point, and turn back to whatever I’m doing.

    Nobody is going to shame me about what I can eat, have to eat, or choose to eat. Nobody is going to rip me down for how I look. I know how I look and why I look that way. I want that part to be different but that isn’t going to happen overnight. If I wanted their opinion I would have plainly ASKED them, and if I didn’t, then I don’t care. So hang in there, OP. You can do it too. 🙂

  • Angela July 22, 2013, 10:45 pm

    I’m shocked at all of the comments mentioning judgmental comments about food choices. I can’t imagine ever telling another person what he or she shouldn’t eat, unless I knew it had an ingredient to which that person was allergic.

  • Elle July 23, 2013, 12:52 am

    My step-sister’s daughter used to be very overweight and had gastric bypass surgery which helped her loose it all. You would think that she would be more sensitive to people that are overweight, but it is now the reverse. She will take pictures of any overweight people she see’s in her day to day interactions and post them on Facebook with all sorts of rude comments, or make fun of them in public. One of her friends recently reminded her of how sensitive she had been in public, and all the comments that she endured from strangers. This was her response: “Yep sure do and I did something about it cause I wasn’t happy with myself and how I looked”.
    She had surgery compliments of the Ministry of Health,( which is no longer available unless absolutely necessary) because she could not loose that weight with healthy eating and exercise, which she did not want to do. I do think that one day karma will bite her on the butt and she will get a reality wake up call. I really wish that people would stop obsessing over other’s people’s weight and eating habits, mind their own business and be more compassionate.

  • Gabriele July 23, 2013, 5:17 am

    I am overweight and I have to deal with various people who think they are ‘helping’ me with their comments.
    Something I have observed in some people is that I think they’re afraid of being overweight themselves. Perhaps they were, and have lost it, or have ‘fat person’ self image…

    I interviewed for a job one time and the woman (she had me come in at lunch so she was the only person there) had been told by her boss to interview me. She wasn’t really overweight but I could tell I made her very, very uncomfortable and she couldn’t stop herself from chewing on her fingernails (which were very, very short, but manicured) and I was trying to get out of there since I knew I wasn’t going to get the job (she showed me a file folder 5 inches thick full of resumes) and she was talking and talking so it was difficult to leave.
    I felt very sorry for her, hoped she was getting professional help for her weight issues but I could tell by things she was saying (insulting but I don’t think she recognized that) that while I was comfortable with my size, she wasn’t.
    For some larger people, it can be a power issue. I worked briefly for a man and you know the expression ‘he likes to throw his weight around’? He’d come through the door stomach first and a temper to match and yet since I’d seen him under other circumstances I knew he’d suffered from being ‘the little fat boy’ since he was young. He turned his weakness inside out but eneded up no happier. I’ve seem the same thing in women.

    Something that bothers me is that women who are taking anti-depressants and birth control pills can have a very difficult time keeping weight off and much to easy to gain it in the first place (any info on the two medications will mention this, esp. together) so women who are being responsible for their mental/emotional and reporductive health can be judged on their appearance. Two daughters of friends are in this situation and of course I would not tell anyone ‘this is why they’ve gained weight’ because it’s not the business of the person criticising them but I do say that there are so many reasons other than what people assume that ssumptions only reflect poorly on them….I guess I’m supposed to be more understanding and tell the young women ‘don’t make my mistakes’ or something like that…

    When I have flown I have always made arrangements to buy an extra seat (this is to Europe) so I am comfortable and don’t inconvenience anyone else. Even that offends people…who assume that the company is giving me the extra seat for free. This is one time when I will confront people and let them know that if they want extra room, and seat, etc. then they should inform the airline and they can arrange to buy two seats for one person as I have.

    If a person comments on what I eat I remind them that they’re not paying for it, I am, and it is my choice. If they don’t want to see me eat, they can ask for another table. It’s not the amount of food, it’s that an overweight person is eating it. I pity them that they are so hung up on such appearances and that their lives are so empty that they have to involve themeselves in the lives of strangers just to get through the day.

  • Green123 July 23, 2013, 6:07 am

    I’ve always been a fan of turning round to the offending boor, looking them up and down for a few moments in a slightly disparaging way and then saying ‘Wow. Your mother must be SO proud’, and then walking off.

  • Lo July 23, 2013, 9:50 am

    Gabriele, you said:

    “Something I have observed in some people is that I think they’re afraid of being overweight themselves. Perhaps they were, and have lost it, or have ‘fat person’ self image…”

    I think this is absolutely right on. Even people who are throwing it under the guise of “helping” or “caring” are usually secretly repulsed, afraid, embarrassed, and a lot of that comes from their own poor self image. And I think that’s why some people make these comments– they’re reaction has nothing to do with the person their hurting and everything to do with needing to reassure and distance themselves from someone who makes them uncomfortable for no appropriate reason.

    Before I was overweight I couldn’t wrap my head around this mentality. One of my good friends who is obese and totally comfortable with her body has heard some of the coldest, vilest, meanest things from absolute strangers. It’s like people register her self-confidence and mentally react with “how dare you!” because if they weighed as much as she does they would be afraid to leave their own homes. They don’t have the self-esteem to cope in a world where fat people are punished by society for being fat. And they don’t see themselves as part of the problem.

    I recently had a very dear and well meaning person say something thoughtless, when I dismissed my own weight gain as something I was concerned about but couldn’t do much about so I’d come to accept it as part of life. (mine’s a perfect storm of genetics and medication) The person responded with, “Well you don’t have to accept that.”

    Pardon me, but I absolutely do have to accept that. If I don’t accept it I won’t be comfortable in my own skin. I won’t buy clothes that fit. I won’t bother to eat healthy and take care of myself because I won’t care enough about my body to do so. And if I only eat healthy because I’m ashamed of being fat then I’m fighting a losing battle.

  • MichelleP July 23, 2013, 9:57 am

    @Angela, honey I could tell you some stories. The sad part is that they’re true. Thank you for your kind words; I wish everyone would read this site and think before they speak!

    One example: I was 18 working at Mcdonald’s. On my break I was being rung up by one of the managers, getting my employee discounted meal. I don’t care for potatoes, especially french fries, so I usually get two small sandwiches. I ordered the chicken patty sandwich and the $1 cheeseburger. She looked at me and said, “You gonna eat both of those?” Being young, and her being my boss, I couldn’t think of a thing to say. I was so humiliated.

  • Ergala July 23, 2013, 10:44 am

    Gabriele I don’t like to fly for that reason (other than my absolutely insane fear of flying). I had to fly Spirit last year and I swear those seats are not made for a normal person. My husband who weighs around 120 lbs soaking wet even had a hard time getting comfortable in his seat. How I managed to squeeze into my window seat and latch the seat belt is beyond me. But I can tell you that from now on I am shelling out the money for the “large” seats up front.

  • kingsrings July 23, 2013, 3:20 pm

    A good way to tell if someone is naturally or unnaturally very thin is if their bones are showing or sticking out. Naturally very thin people don’t have that, as their bone structure is smaller.

    Unfortunately with more awareness of good health comes some people who have appointed themselves as the Food and Weight Police. I’ve had to deal with them, too. They claim they do it because they simply care about my health. It’s still not their concern. It’s just another way for someone to be a busy-body. And it especially seems to come from those who lost a great deal of weight or who became healthier as a lifestyle change. They feel that this now entitles them to be the Food and Weight Police for everyone else, too, since they did it for themselves. Ugh.

  • Kirst July 23, 2013, 3:35 pm

    The Elf, I have no idea what you mean by manscaping either. Genuinely don’t understand how small bread makes a sandwich look big, or what you mean. I think the heat is getting to me. We’re not used to it in Scotland.

  • Miss-E July 23, 2013, 5:24 pm

    @Elle – I have a coworker who sounds like your step-sister’s kid. He HATES overweight people. He literally cannot stop himself from commenting and criticizing (never to their faces). We used to have a manager who was a BBW…she hasn’t worked with us for three years and he STILL talks about her and makes fun of her weight.

    The really messed up thing is that he’s just one of those naturally skinny (read: scrawny) guys who eats terribly and never gains weight. He isn’t some health nut whose criticisms are based on his own obsession; he’s makes fun of fat people he sees in McDonalds…while he’s there buying four Big Macs! He’s nearing his thirties and I can only hope that karma gets him when his metabolism changes.

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