My husband is a big guy. He’s 6’6. More than one stranger has asked him if he is a former NFL player. (He is not.)
My husband and I work for the same company, but in different departments. While I was at work (my husband had taken the day off, so he was not there), a man who we both know who does not work for the company but who we have contact with frequently (due to the nature of our jobs) said to me completely out of the blue, “What have you been feeding your husband? He’s eating good.” I just stared at him until he continued, “He needs to work out more.” I then gave him a tight smile and walked away, appalled.
I probably should have said something, like, “Actually, according to his doctor, his body fat percentage is a lot lower than what you would expect for a man of his size. And he works out at the gym 5-6 days a week, weightlifting for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours on some days and doing cardio on the others. The guys at the gym are trying to get him to do the power lifting competition, as he can lift, shrug and bench press massive amounts of weight. He’s built like his grandfather who lived to be 89. So, please mind your own business. And please stop implying that I’m pumping him full of fatty foods like a farm animal.” I was so, so angry. Why on earth would you think it’s appropriate to tell someone that his/her spouse is fat and that s/he needs to work out more? 0206-17
There are times in life where the comments and opinions of people not worth living in your brain and heart should be ignored. It’s like you know the truth and it’s a secret you gleefully keep from them because it really is none of their business to know anything at all. There are times I chuckle to myself thinking, “You keep right on believing that, Miss Rude Person. I know better and the truth is so much more interesting.”
I did have a somewhat similar experience in the wellness center locker room last week. A total stranger asked me as I was preparing to leave if what I was wearing was a mumu. I answered that yes, it was but that native Hawaiians call it a “mu’umu’u”. She promptly replied, “Well, if you did some hula you would lose that fat.” I paused for a moment and replied, “Snowbird Bento was the first runner up in the 2001 Miss Aloha Hula competition (the “olympics” of hula) having lost the title by one point, she is a well respected kumu (teacher) hula and she was and is a quite large woman. Much larger than me.” Silence.
It was astonishing to me that a stranger felt compelled to comment about my need for a specific exercise after I had just spent over an hour exercising. I wasn’t about to go into a litany of every exercise I do six days a week so that she could feel justified in being a nosey busybody.
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Yeah….I get that too. My spouse has phenylketonuria. He can’t metabolise a protein called phenylalanine. He’s on a low protein diet and has special medical foods he must eat as the phenylalanine has to be taken out. It’s no use saying ‘can he be vegan/vegetarian?’, because NO HE CAN’T (sorry for shouting). Vegetables contain protein and he cannot live on them forever, i.e., on a good day if he’s budgeted, he can have 1/4 of a Brussel sprout/1/2 a banana. Consequently, if you take the protein out of food, to replace it fat and sugar are used and he is overweight. Doing heavy workouts causes fat to go and proteins to be elevated, so that’s not for him. He loses weight slowly and must be careful with that.
I have been very patient with people and their questions about Phil’s diet, and never rude to them.
Believe me, I sympathise with the OP and Admin withe their experiences. A cold silence always does the trick.
I thought the most offensive part was that despite engaging with you at your office, this guy assumed you do all the cooking are directly responsible for your husband’s appearance. Such an absurd comment on so many levels. This guy thinks your husband has gained weight or perhaps he was trying to knock him down a peg, who knows. Certainly if this man truly believes your husband looks heavy, then citing statistics and the exercise regime will not change his view. If you do feel like there is any truth to the comment, then perhaps it is worth considering. Otherwise, I wouldn’t give it a second thought.
Yeah, I think my answer would have been “he’s an adult; I don’t feed him.”
Yes, I found the ‘woman cook, man eat’ assumption far more offensive than the assertion that Husband is heavier than average!
I have never been able to understand that attitude. My husband and I worked together for awhile. Before we were dating and married we sent several years there, so we were both known to most people in the company. When our relationship became common knowledge, we started getting told things like that my husband should make me be more outgoing (like he is) or that I should get my husband to eat less junk food, since my diet is relatively healthy. While it’s true that some aspects of our lifestyles influence each other, it isn’t because we “make” each other act or behave a certain way. If my husband changes his diet, that’s something he did and it isn’t my fault/accomplishment.
A semi-well known writer I know started dating another writer, and people would ask his girlfriend if she could take messages for him, etc. as if she were his secretary. It was disgusting.
Honestly, there are so many offensive parts of that exchange that I have a hard time picking out the most offensive. The sexist assumptions (both that she does the cooking and he eats whatever is put in front of him? The fat-shaming? The assumptions of food and exercise and health? The insult to husband’s intelligence (that he is incapable of taking charge of his own body)?
I mean, hard to pick which is worst. They’re all bad.
“I then gave him a tight smile and walked away, appalled.” is actually the best response, IMHO. No need to engage such absurdity. Another good response would have been a long pause followed by a change of subject.
I would go with the more “blank look” approach before leaving. Smiling mean he’s done something to you.
Yes, that part about OP “feeding her husband” wrong was pretty awful.
My advise: Icy stare, let the silence sink in for a moment and then ask: Do you think that is an appropriate comment, regardless of wether we’re in a professional setting or not?
Don’t dignify him with a response where you defend your husband. Letting him know it’s such a nonsense comment it doesn’t need defending will have more impact.
Best response: no response. Nothing so loud as a dud hitting the ground. My .02.
To be honest, I stopped reading your explanation of your husband’s size about half a sentence in and I imagine that this man would have tuned you out as well.
People want to say rude things for a reaction and to get in your head. By letting this comment still bother you, he wins.
Yeah, I would have just ignored the rude person.
I’m also curious that it is OK to point out that someone else is large. Because that’s what is being done with the Snowbird Bento example. Why is it wrong for a stranger to point out your size but OK that you’re pointing out someone else’s size?
In the Snowbird Bento case, the point wasn’t to point out that she was large, but to illustrate that being large doesn’t mean you can’t also be fit and in shape (as the person who she was talking to seemed to believe). There is nothing wrong with being heavy; there is something wrong with judging a person’s health and ability based on their weight.
I have nothing to add to this. I completely agree with CW.
I’ve gotten to the point where if someone says some really rude or sexist or whatever (someone I could e in contact with on a semi regular basis not strangers ) I’ll say that’s rude or sexist or racist. Because it is and then walk away.
My husband is also a really big dude, at 6’4″ and 280lbs. He and I like to mean-joke with one another, like “I don’t even like you. You’re lumpy and you smell awful. Like salty garbage and flea market.” it’s just the nature of our relationship.
I had someone comment to me on some recent weight gain of my husband (he had lost 50lbs for our wedding and gained it back pretty much immediately) and I responded with “yeah, he is a big fat gross monster. I have been thinking about divorce.” and walked away. My husband thought it was hilarious, and ms. Nosey felt so uncomfortable she hasn’t made any comments since!
This sounds like me and my husband!! When I was pregnant we joked that we had a prenup that said if I got too heavy, he’d leave me. I obviously needed to gain weight carrying a child but the reactions from other people were priceless!
Our boys were both very high maintenance, right from day one. When we were new parents and completely overwhelmed and hysterical, we had an agreement – whoever leaves the relationship has to take the baby with them, and thus we were both too petrified to leave. And that that’s why we didn’t divorce. Some people thought it was funny and some people thought we were serious. I kinda think we were serious, actually, but I’m not sure. “Cuz it’s all kinda blurry, and PTSD and all that.
We decided to have a second child (we originally wanted lots of kids but that changed about three days after we became parents) to at least give the firstborn the impression he was not so awful we never wanted to do it again. So, we had another who was at least as challenging as his brother (if not more) and then threw in the towel, and when they later asked why we didn’t have more we told them they were way too much to handle and we never wanted to do it again. So much for best intentions.
The kids have turned out well and we love them to pieces and have (mostly) not regretted having them. But employing gallows humour meant the difference between kinda crazy and full-on nuts. Even if it did raise eyebrows from those who couldn’t relate.
‘We decided to have another to at least give the firstborn the impression he was not so awful we never wanted to do it again”
That is literally the best sentence regarding procreation ever. I have one child and am unlikely to have another. When being harassed by everyone from my dental hygienist to my banker I’ve found myself saying things like “well we like this one so much we can’t be bothered to risk a dud” and so forth. Really, I’ve had far too many opportunities to test out different snarky responses. But if strangers are really so invested in my personal (and highly emotional) childbearing decisions, then I should get a laugh at their expense. Better than crying.
As I commented farther down, I am shocked at the boors people are encountering, and that you are harassed by others about your reproductive plans is just appalling! The statement I made in my comment, that you quoted, was something my husband and I talked about but never had to actually state to others in response to a question. I’ve helped run support and education groups and had many conversations with others about our family plans but never, NEVER because I was asked about them! Who ARE these people who ask such personal questions or make such insulting remarks about a person’s appearance?!?
I love this!
There are guys who are fat and then there are guys who are big. And people often confuse one for the other.
Also, while some people may have a genuine concern for your health with you being overweight, my money is on that by butting in they feel superior.
If my husband was 6’6″, I think I’d have said, “You’d better take that up with my husband. He just loves people who tell him what to do while criticizing me.”
My dd likes to knit. In high school once, a snooty girl walked up to her as she was knitting a scarf. “You know,” the girl said, “You don’t have to spend all your time knitting. Boutique X sells perfectly good handmade scarves for only $50.” DD answered, “Yes, they do.” What dd didn’t tell the girl was that she was the one knitting the scarves that the boutique sold.
And it’s a great secret to relish, too.
that is so awesome.
Such awful, rude people! The body shamers. They automatically assume anyone who doesn’t fit their view of “fit” is a lazy slob. Even worse are the ones who say they are worried about your health/want you to be healthy and site statistics about how weight causes _____ (fill in the blank).
First of all, people who are overweight know it. They don’t need you to tell them. Second, you don’t know the person, don’t know their medical history or anything about them besides your opinion. Keep it to yourself. If you are not their doctor advising them on any weight issues, you have no right to comment on their weight. You would surprised how easy it is to mind your own business.
OP, I worked with a man who was 6’6″, and one day, as he was standing beside me while we were working an office machine, (I’m 5’2″) his height was really obvious because of comparison to me, I guess, because someone walked by and said “Wow, how tall ARE you?” He promptly answered, “I’m five foot eighteen.” The person said, “Oh,” and walked on by without even realizing what he’d just heard. Your husband might want to try that answer sometime.
When will people understand that personal remarks to non-intimates are not appropriate, and in the workplace, foolish as well? OP, silence and a long cold look can do wonders. And you are not responsible for how your husband eats anymore than your husband is responsible for your diet. (Yeah, that stood out to me as well.) This guy was just all wrong, in every way.
My husband is a Type I (juvenile) diabetic, so we use stevia sweetened drinks and lots of non-starchy veggies, that sort of thing. I can’t tell you, as a smaller-built person, how many times I get questioned as to why I’m buying or eating “diet” or “rabbit” food, because “it’s not like you need it”, and that I need to “lighten up and eat real food.” Once in a while I will break down and say that my husband is a diabetic, but usually I refuse to answer, just look at the offender. Of course, one time when I did say that my husband is a diabetic, the person then asked, “Oh, so he’s fat?” My husband is and has always been thin, as are many Type I diabetics.
Your comment reminds me of a photo I just saw, of gymnast Simone Biles standing next to Shaquille O’Neill. He’s 7 feet something; she’s 4 foot 9. She literally barely came up to his waist but it was such a great photo of the two of them!
I get the ‘how tall are you’ quite often and I take it as a compliment. I’m a 6ft tall women who likes to wear heels. On any given day i am bewteen 6′ amd 6’6″. Since height isn’t something anyone can control, it is rarely said to be rude. People comment on weight becauss they assume heavy = lazy, unhealthy, slobby, and there is an incorrect moral supperiority complex with skinny = active, healthy, neat. And think that their input will be the magic words the person needs to hear to turn their lives around.
Happened to me once, except the comment was about one of my children! I’d recently separated from my husband and the kids and I had moved into an apartment complex that was in walking distance from a local discount grocery store. So I’d walk there on weekends with a couple of large bags and stock up. One day I was coming out of the store with two large bags, mostly produce, which of course I put on the bottom of my bags, along with milk and juice. Then the more fragile items like cereal and a bag of chips on the top. This man, whose son had been on a swim team with mine a few years before, creeped up on me from behind and startled me by asking, “WHAT DO YOU FEED YOUR CHILD?” I guess to him I looked like I was carrying two giant bags filled with chips and cereal. Which is still no reason to say anything, but it wasn’t even true! I turned around and he repeated, “WHAT do you feed your child?” My son was very tall (over 6 ft in middle/junior high school) and a bit overweight at the time… I just stared. Then it finally dawned on the person that he was being a boor and he added “because he is so tall!” I thanked the man for his concern, mentally added him to my list of people to avoid, and walked back home. Really I cannot think of any response to these comments other than total silence.
I’m reading your comment, Goldie, and others, about what incredible things people have said and I can not think of a time when I’ve witnessed such appalling acts. I can’t help but wonder where everybody lives that they encounter boors like this. And the OP’s boor says, “He’s eating GOOD?!?” Did he have one eye in the middle of his forehead and hairy knuckles scraping the ground, too? Who ARE these people?!?
I just can’t imagine giving any response but shock, and walking away shaking my head. I’m not sure there is anything one could say to a person who is clearly unable to form intelligent thoughts. That this seems to happen frequently is … frightening …
I cannot speak for everyone. In my case, this guy was part of our immigrant community, where, for a lot of people, the culture growing up was that everyone stayed in your business and you were more than welcome to stick your nose into theirs, and all of it was perfectly normal. OTOH, people who kept to themselves and established boundaries were considered suspicious. Most people (my parents, myself, my ex-husband and former in-laws) didn’t buy into that culture, but a lot did. Also, when you’re at your kids’ school functions and sporting events (in this case, a swim team) you meet people from all walks of life. Lastly, this guy specifically was apparently holding a grudge from several years before, when my son beat his at a swim meet (I think?) I wasn’t there, but my parents were, and told me how upset this man was. I think it’s a very odd grudge to hold, but he’s not me. Like I said, when you’re out at this kind of events, you meet people you wouldn’t socialize with otherwise, and you do end up socializing with them, because you’re all trapped in a room together for several hours every week!
Looking at the comment, I realize it’s missing an important comma. I had recently separated from my husband (comma), AND the kids & I had moved to an apt. I did not separate from the kids! Apologies for not paying attention before I hit Send!
The Admin’s response was brilliant! I’ll have to keep this in mind:
Once, years ago, my sisters in law were trying mightily to get us to enroll our daughter in a certain afterschool program. Great. Wonderful. Except for three issues:
1. We live about an hour from them. So yeah, two hours on the road for each practice, which got to be daily during the heat of competition.
2. I had just given up my job in order to take care of my aged mother during school hours (she had moved in with my sister).
Even more importantly….
2. My daughter was not even vaguely interested.
Anyway, when I kind of snorted at their suggestion and said, “Yeah, in my spare time.” My sister-in-law responded, “Why? You don’t do anything.”
Oh, if I had only had the Admin’s thought of the “secret knowledge” at the time…..
My nephew and I were talking one day about how much his mother, my SIL, loves to swim and how much trouble she was having finding a pool where she could take the grandkids (his child included) and swim with some degree of privacy. His bright idea was she should build a pool in her backyard. The problem with that besides the expense is that she works 2-4 days a week at a country club about 45 minutes away from her home as a massage therapist and in her “spare time” takes care of the grandkids ( his child included), takes care of her mother and father (checks in on them daily, goes to dr. appointments with them, runs errands for them), takes care of my brother (her DH and in many ways as much trouble as the kids due to many factors), takes care of another child who is like a grandchild to her, goes to people’s houses and does massages (she has several regulars), takes care of the house and yard and somewhere in all this tries to fit in sleep (precious little) and preparing meals, eating,etc. And taking care of a pool is not just dump in some chemicals and hope for the best. She has no time to take care of a pool on top of everything else, and a pool boy would be an added expense. When I pointed out all this to him, he did have the good grace to be quiet.
A rule of thumb is to never comment negatively on someone’s appearance and make sure your compliments are things that the person can change. ‘Love the shirt, hair, makeup, or anything else’. But complementing physical features of strangers is fraught with danger. those unusual eyes might be a mild genetic defect or from an early brain injury, that majestic height might be from a glandular disorder, their weight loss might be a lost pregnancy or drastic illness or familial distress, etc etc etc. And don’t comment to that person’s friends about their physical features, they are not zoo animals to be examined. Just stick to ‘nice shirt’ if you don’t know them well enough. It is safe and you still say they look lovely!
Boors gonna boor, rudiea gonna rude. Best to work on your calm, winning smile and have a few stock responses: “Why does that concern you?” “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.” And my favorite for the body shamers: “Oh! Where did you earn your medical and nutritionist’s degrees?”
Regarding the whole “I probably should have said…”
It would be kind of rich to tell someone to mind their own business at the end of a rant describing your business in extreme detail. Rude strangers don’t need to know his work out routine and his doctor’s opinions on his body fat percentage.
Ah, yes. The food police. First, this stuff is none of their business. Second, a large part of our health, including heart health, is genetic. I come from a family where there is almost no heart disease. Everyone’s body is different. People who comment on issues like eating habits and weight have no idea how sanctimonious and judgmental they are.
When someone makes a comment to me that crosses the line, I tend to respond with silence. I think that OP’s walking away without saying anything is a good way to go. Maybe the person will get the message that what he said isn’t worth a response.
It occurred to me recently that when I lost a lot of weight right before my wedding, a lot of people in my life took the time to congratulate me and tell me how awesome I was. But that wasn’t especially warranted. Most of my calories during that time came from the sugar sodas I refused to give up, and I lost weight due to restricting other foods – I wasn’t working out. Nowadays I do work out and have cut out sugar sodas, so I’m probably at least somewhat healthier, but I’m a lot heavier. Weight doesn’t tell the whole story.
A friend of mine worked at company with good pay and great benefits, so he helped get his wife employed there as well. The wife has a very obvious overbite that she doesn’t seem to have a problem with(think overbite with teeth that protrude outward). A coworker upon seeing friend’s wife, commented to him that now since wife has a dental plan with new job that she can get her teeth fixed. Friend, who is never at a loss for words, said that he just walked away fuming and amazed at the cheeky lout who he thought was a friend. People try to elevate themselves be stepping on others. They’re always sizing you up, my dad can whip your dad mentality, ergo I am better than you.
The first time I went to a new dentist, the hygienist said, “Oh, you have such healthy teeth! But it’s too bad you didn’t get braces. Your smile would be much prettier.” I told her that I liked my smile the way it was, and then I found a new dentist.
I’ve had to do the icy stare reaction a lot lately in response to insulting political pronouncements. No one has a crystal ball and it’s best keeping politics out of most conversations nowadays. Seriously, sometimes it’s best NOT knowing the thoughts rattling around in other people’s heads.
I’d say you win. That rude person now has his rudeness exposed in public where a bunch of Internet strangers can judge the living daylights out of his comment.
Sometimes I wonder if we should just call them out, i.e: “Why would you think saying something so rude to me is appropriate?”
Then, if necessary, a further response, i.e.: “Why would you think I would care to hear your opinion?”
The cold icy stare until they squirm or walk away is the best.
My DH has a huge bone frame and is 6′ and he is quite heavy just because of that combo. I’ve met guys with an average build even more massively framed than his. One comment he used when someone commented about his ‘winter weight’ was “Oh, are you going to cook for me then? Buy my groceries and prepare my meals?”
You can be ‘fit but fat’… in good shape, strength, flexibility, endurance, and be ‘carrying a bit extra’.
Admin, I don’t agree with when someone commented about your size, deflecting it by mentioning someone else’s size. I know of Snowbird Bento, amazing talent, and it doesn’t matter what size she is.
I actually prefer highly formal responses in situations like this, such as “How kind of you to take an interest,” or for the stranger, “I beg your pardon?” I find that the extra-clueless sometimes need the overt demonstration that they’ve overstepped. Sometimes, though, I’m just so flabbergasted that nothing will even come out!
A friend of mine years ago had Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was on chemo and radiation. Because of this, she had lost weight and had been average weight before the treatments. One day, she was in the dressing room of a local pool and a woman said to her, “Oh, you’re so thin! I wish I could lose weight and look like you.”. My friend said she normally let things like this just roll off of her, but on that day it just wasn’t happening. She replied to the woman, “I call it my cancer diet–chemo and radiation.” and walked out of the room before the woman could do anything besides look at her with her jaw dropped.
I like to tell people I have a highly contagious strain of amoebic dysentery if they say I have lost weight.
Rude to comment on his size, but I’d be even more offended by the implication that it was my doing. I’ve been subjected to this before. Years ago, when I was quite young, I moved in with my boyfriend. He then gained a lot of weight. If I went to the grocery store alone, I came back with healthy food. If he came with me, the cart was loaded up with potato chips and soda pop and no amount of arguing would stop him. He also stopped going swimming (we met at a swimming pool, doing laps) or any other exercise and mostly played computer games. I tried to get him to come out and do active stuff with me. People (like his mother and other family members) would say to me in a serious voice, “He’s getting very fat, you know.” (In a tone that suggested that I needed to do something about it). Yes, I knew, and I didn’t like it either. but how was this my fault?
I ended that relationship, not because of his weight, but because I couldn’t deal with someone who just wanted to sit around playing computer games on weekends instead of going out and doing things. But I don’t miss that family nagging me about his weight either.
So similar to a friend of mine! She shops healthy and has a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol. He smothers everything in butter, will order a massive iced chocolate with ice cream and cream if we are out having a coffee and eats mostly pies and chips. He works only night shift now, and goes to the all night bakery for his break every night. He sits alone playing video games all day when he is awake, and the rest of the time he is asleep. He has gained at least 50kg over the last few years. I have never said anything to either of them though, he knows he is overweight.
And Miss Aloha Hula is beautiful!
OP, a silent stare and a tight smile was EXACTLY the right response. Let all the awkwardness fall on the rude person.
By being defensive, we let the rude person know that their words hit the target. By being bemused to the point of not knowing what to say lets the rude person know that he’s said the equivalent of “There are chickens in my jockey shorts!” The response is to back away slowly.
I still remember the stranger who topped me in the middle of a busy mall to tell me how terrible I looked waering brown. Hello – Did I ask your opinion of my clothing?
“He needs to work out more.”
“You need to shut up more.”
I know, I know … retaliatory rudeness. But seriously, who *does* this?
Well I like this response, even if it is rude.
Rude to comment on someone’s weight.
Rude to comment on someone’s spouse’s weight.
Also . . . a little sexist to imply that your husband’s weight is somehow your responsibility.
I really hate that people think it is okay to comment on someone else’s body. I KNOW I am fat, and yes I am doing something about it, thanks for asking with your thinly disguised concern. People just want to sound righteous or tell you about some fad diet they have been on. I find it rude to comment on other people’s bodies.
In many Pacific Island cultures it is complimentary to tell people they are fat, as it is a sign of good food, health and wealth.
This is true, about the culture differences.
Being fat is good in some places and bad in others, and that just means that there is no universal standard of beauty.
If someone tells you that you are fat (or that your spouse is fat), you can just shrug and say, “So?” because it truly is a non-issue.
Add in the fact that there are plenty of healthy fat people and unhealthy thin people, and that clearly shows that fat does NOT equal unhealthy, and thin does NOT equal healthy, and even if healthism were not a heinous form of bigotry, it wouldn’t even be accurate, anyway, and there are very few reasons for anyone to comment on another person’s weight.
Reason 1: “Mmmmmm, I find you very attractive and being X size is actually a turn-on for me,” because we are 1) allowed to have personal preferences and 2) allowed to express those personal preferences IN THE RIGHT CONTEXT. Don’t shout out your personal preferences on the street (that’s street harassment), but if you’re already dating, and your date asks, “What attracted you to me in the first place?” or “Do you like the way I look tonight,” or some such question, it is perfectly fair and reasonable to express the personal preference that is in play.
Reason 2: Doctor saying to patient – You have X condition, and need to monitor your weight daily, because rapid weight change, up or down, is a symptom that the condition is out of control, and you’ll need to visit the emergency room. Currently, everything seems to be clear, so let’s get you on the scale and establish a baseline.
That’s pretty much it.
If you notice that someone you care about has had a rapid weight change, you don’t comment on the weight change. You ask, “How are you these days? Are you well?” with an expression meant to convey that you actually want to hear the answer, whatever that may be, and are prepared to sit down for at least five minutes to chat.