Etiquette Hell

Etiquette School is in session! => Complete Silence => Topic started by: Baxter on November 17, 2010, 07:14:58 AM

Title: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Baxter on November 17, 2010, 07:14:58 AM
My SIL just got back from her mumble mumble year school reunion.  She said all night that old friends kept on coming up to her and saying "Oh how lucky you are to have stayed so thin". 

Every time someone said it, SIL said inside her head she was thinking "yes because I exercise every day & haven't eaten butter in 15 years" but outwardly she smiled.

She had to use a lot of silence to stop herself from being rude - it worked.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: jayhawk on November 17, 2010, 11:04:27 AM
Your SIL did great.  I would certainly have given her a pass for, "Well, luck had nothing to do with it.  Have you tried the carrots with the bean dip?"
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Shoo on November 17, 2010, 11:08:33 AM
Whether your SIL realizes it or not, those little mumbles inside her head show a distinct judgmental attitude on her part.  I don't really give her all that many points for staying silent.  I think it's the least she could have done.

Why does she have to say that to herself at all?  Can't she just say thank you?

Not everyone who has gained weight since high school is a sloth who doesn't exercise and eats butter every day.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Two Ravens on November 17, 2010, 11:10:59 AM
Whether your SIL realizes it or not, those little mumbles inside her head show a distinct judgmental attitude on her part.  I don't really give her all that many points for staying silent.  I think it's the least she could have done.

Why does she have to say that to herself at all?  Can't she just say thank you?

Not everyone who has gained weight since high school is a sloth who doesn't exercise and eats butter every day.

I agree.  Why was she so upset?  Would a "Thanks, I try to work out." been so awful?

Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Visiting Crazy Town on November 17, 2010, 11:13:11 AM
Why was the statement rude ?  I would have thought that they were just complementing her  on maintaining her figure which is not easy , unless they said it in some rude sarcastic way

Shay
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: PeasNCues on November 17, 2010, 11:13:45 AM
Whether your SIL realizes it or not, those little mumbles inside her head show a distinct judgmental attitude on her part.  I don't really give her all that many points for staying silent.  I think it's the least she could have done.

Why does she have to say that to herself at all?  Can't she just say thank you?

Not everyone who has gained weight since high school is a sloth who doesn't exercise and eats butter every day.
POD.

They were trying to compliment her. I agree calling it "lucky" when it is the result of hard work is not good at all, but that doesn't mean she has a right to judge either.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Deetee on November 17, 2010, 11:17:54 AM
Whether your SIL realizes it or not, those little mumbles inside her head show a distinct judgmental attitude on her part.  I don't really give her all that many points for staying silent.  I think it's the least she could have done.

Why does she have to say that to herself at all?  Can't she just say thank you?

Not everyone who has gained weight since high school is a sloth who doesn't exercise and eats butter every day.
I think you are taking a mental comment by the SIL that was directed inwards and twisting it to hurt your feelings. This wasn't about anybody else. The SIL keeps herself thin by excerising every day and watching her diet closely. Other people are ascribing her body shape to luck. She knows it was/is hard work to keep at weight/level of health that makes her happy. She never said anything about what steps other people need to take.

edit to say IF her mental comment was "Maybe if you exercised every day and never ate butter you could be so lucky, that would be judgemental (though we aren't the thought police so it's hard to prosecute for thoughts)
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: cbcb on November 17, 2010, 11:19:19 AM
She, personally, is thin because of her working out and diet choices. Not because she is "lucky". Her knowing these facts behind her own thinness isn't making any assumptions about anyone else.

They are just as rude as are people who say "aren't you lucky to have such a great job" to someone who worked hard for their job. Luck had nothing to do with it.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Two Ravens on November 17, 2010, 11:20:44 AM
Whether your SIL realizes it or not, those little mumbles inside her head show a distinct judgmental attitude on her part.  I don't really give her all that many points for staying silent.  I think it's the least she could have done.

Why does she have to say that to herself at all?  Can't she just say thank you?

Not everyone who has gained weight since high school is a sloth who doesn't exercise and eats butter every day.
I think you are taking a mental comment by the SIL that was directed inwards and twisting it to hurt your feelings. This wasn't about anybody else. The SIL keeps herself thin by excerising every day and watching her diet closely. Other people are ascribing her body shape to luck. She knows it was/is hard work to keep at weight/level of health that makes her happy. She never said anything about what steps other people need to take.

I think the question is why the sister felt she had two choices: be silent or be rude.  She could have politely told people she works out a lot.  She could have just said "Thank you." Her internal dialogue sounds resentful and annoyed.

Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Shoo on November 17, 2010, 11:21:26 AM
She said she had to stop herself from being rude all night.  Why is that?

Maybe it's just the wording in the OP.  Or maybe I'm taking it wrong.  But the impression I got from the OP is that the SIL was mentally comparing herself and her habits to those she suspected in those who complimented her.  Sort of like, if you exercised every day and gave up butter, you'd be thin too.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Two Ravens on November 17, 2010, 11:25:36 AM
She said she had to stop herself from being rude all night.  Why is that?

Maybe it's just the wording in the OP.  Or maybe I'm taking it wrong.  But the impression I got from the OP is that the SIL was mentally comparing herself and her habits to those she suspected in those who complimented her.  Sort of like, if you exercised every day and gave up butter, you'd be thin too.

Right, which is sadly not true.  There are plenty of people who work out and eat well and still can't be as thin as they were in high school.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Shoo on November 17, 2010, 11:27:39 AM
So perhaps a little clarification is needed.  What, exactly, was SIL so peeved about? 

Was it that other people assumed she was just lucky and didn't have to work to keep her figure?  If so, I still don't understand being peeved about it.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Hanna on November 17, 2010, 11:28:16 AM
Because she felt it would be rude to point out that she worked hard to get that way.

Because so many people (as evidenced here) believe that when you point out that you worked hard to achieve <thing they haven't acheived> that you are somehow passing judgement upon them.

It doesn't take mentally comparing oneself to others to be offended by the idea that one is just "lucky" when indeed one is busting their own tail to get what they want.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Skoffin on November 17, 2010, 11:30:24 AM
Maybe we just took different interpretations to the information given to us. I read the "oh you're so lucky to have remained thin" comment as being done in a sarcastic manner as any time I have received such a comment it has been done with snarky undertones. Nevermind how I got that way, or that I lost a lot of weight due to a long-term illness.

The whole 'lucky' bit kinda dismisses all the effort the friend goes to to remain healthy.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Hanna on November 17, 2010, 11:30:41 AM
She said she had to stop herself from being rude all night.  Why is that?

Maybe it's just the wording in the OP.  Or maybe I'm taking it wrong.  But the impression I got from the OP is that the SIL was mentally comparing herself and her habits to those she suspected in those who complimented her.  Sort of like, if you exercised every day and gave up butter, you'd be thin too.

Right, which is sadly not true.  There are plenty of people who work out and eat well and still can't be as thin as they were in high school.
And there are others that can eat a stick of butter weekly and not gain a pound.  But obviously that is not the case of the SIL. And she wasn't the one making comments and assumptions about other people's habits.  I think it's interesting the comments here are focused on judging her, instead of pointing out that it is terribly rude to talk about someone else's body.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Two Ravens on November 17, 2010, 11:31:22 AM
Because she felt it would be rude to point out that she worked hard to get that way.

Because so many people (as evidenced here) believe that when you point out that you worked hard to achieve <thing they haven't acheived> that you are somehow passing judgement upon them.

It doesn't take mentally comparing oneself to others to be offended by the idea that one is just "lucky" when indeed one is busting their own tail to get what they want.

Why would it be rude?
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Hanna on November 17, 2010, 11:35:04 AM
Because she felt it would be rude to point out that she worked hard to get that way.

Because so many people (as evidenced here) believe that when you point out that you worked hard to achieve <thing they haven't acheived> that you are somehow passing judgement upon them.

It doesn't take mentally comparing oneself to others to be offended by the idea that one is just "lucky" when indeed one is busting their own tail to get what they want.

Why would it be rude?
I'm not sure it would be, but she obviously felt so.  Perhaps because many would take that to mean they aren't putting in any effort or they would look that way as well.  We all know that isn't necessarily true, but still people may construe it to mean that.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: cbcb on November 17, 2010, 11:35:17 AM
Because she felt it would be rude to point out that she worked hard to get that way.

Because so many people (as evidenced here) believe that when you point out that you worked hard to achieve <thing they haven't acheived> that you are somehow passing judgement upon them.

It doesn't take mentally comparing oneself to others to be offended by the idea that one is just "lucky" when indeed one is busting their own tail to get what they want.

Why would it be rude?

It could very well be taken that way, and because of the exact same assumptions that posters are making here - that her saying why she personally is thin is somehow a judgement on others. Her response could be taken as rude, regardless of the fact that the person commenting on her body and assuming she's "lucky" is actually the rude one.


I'm really surprised that anyone would see that comment as a compliment that she should just smile and accept!
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: TurtleDove on November 17, 2010, 11:41:17 AM
I'm with the posters who believe the "lucky you are thin"  commenters were out of line.

I do not believe it would be rude for the SIL to, in response, explain exactly what she does to stay thin. It is not a judgment on anyone else; it is a statement of fact that "luck" has nothing to do with it and hard work and discipline, at least for the SIL, does.

That said, as evidenced by some of the comments on this thread, anything weight related or any statement that a person has some control over her weight seems to offend some people, even when no offense is intended and certainly would not be universally assumed.

I believe that if a person comments on another's body, it is not rude to correct any incorrect assumptions made by the commenter.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: BuffaloFang on November 17, 2010, 11:45:34 AM
I find it a bit...offensive for lack of a better word...when people tell me I'm lucky to be thin as well.

I work VERY hard to stay thin.  My body naturally tends towards bulkier, especially since I'm short.  When people tell me it's luck, it invalidates all of the work I do to maintain the body I want.  As a PP stated, it could be the same as saying to someone who struggled and sacrificed to become a manager that they're "lucky" or to a student with straight-A's that they're "lucky". (not to say that there aren't people who ARE just lucky, but how do you know?)

I think generally commenting about other peoples' bodies is just a horrible idea all around. You don't know if they're naturally thin, if they work out 3 hours a day to get that way, if they have medical issues, etc.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Hanna on November 17, 2010, 11:48:00 AM
I do not believe it would be rude for the SIL to, in response, explain exactly what she does to stay thin. It is not a judgment on anyone else; it is a statement of fact that "luck" has nothing to do with it and hard work and discipline, at least for the SIL, does.
Honestly, I think this would be tiresome for the innocent bystander.
It may not be rude, but could make her sound like she's lecturing or being defensive.
I think silence or a smile and "I wish it was all luck!" and beandip would be best.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: rashea on November 17, 2010, 11:52:50 AM
Let's say the SIL understandably wanted to counteract the statement that she stayed thin by "luck". That's like saying you became a doctor by luck to me, it's really invalidating.

Stranger: Oh, you're so lucky you stayed thin.
SIL: Thanks, I work out a lot and try to eat right
Stranger: (does that mean she's judging me for gaining weight and if I just worked out more I would be skinny. )

So, SIL was put in the awkward position of potentially hurting someone else by correcting the interesting assumption that she was "lucky" or not correcting it and feeling lousy about that.

And I realize luck plays a part of it, since some people are not lucky enough to be born with a metabolism that means exercise and eating right will keep them thin. But then, generally we don't encourage people to comment on the advantages and disadvantages of birth statuses.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: NutMeg on November 17, 2010, 11:53:15 AM
This is such an odd touchy topic isn't it? Everyone has their own story, and brushing it off as luck OR hard work kind of sweeps each person's individual situation under the rug.

For example. I am the same weight that I've been for about 7 years. My diet and exercise have fluctuated a LOT in those seven years, my weight hasn't. You could say I am lucky to maintain this weight, and you'd be right. However, I also work out at least 7 times a week. I'm a commuter cyclist who bikes at least 50 km a week and swims 2 - 2.5 km a week. I guess I wouldn't be offended if someone said I'm lucky to be this weight, because I know that if I were to stop exercising I would probably loose a couple pounds of muscle mass rather than gaining. But I'd be irritated that I wasn't getting credit for it!
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: TurtleDove on November 17, 2010, 11:59:06 AM
Hanna, I wasn't saying the SIL *should* correct the incorrect assumptions. I merely said I do not believe she would be rude if she did.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: hobish on November 17, 2010, 12:06:27 PM

I think getting all up in arms because someone says you are “lucky” for something is kind of dramatic. Usually when people say something like that they are expressing a compliment – they’re not literally ascribing it to luck. It’s like getting upset because someone doesn’t give you the specific compliment you want, which is special snowflakey and, yes I will say oversensitive, in my book.

She really could easily have said, “Thank you, I try to hit the gym regularly. How have you been?” No tongue biting required.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: BuffaloFang on November 17, 2010, 12:25:56 PM
But that's the thing, it doesn't sound like a compliment.  It sounds like you're dismissing countless hours of hard work to luck, whether you mean it that way or not.  I'm actually not sure how else you could take, "You're so lucky to....".  Would "You're so lucky you're a doctor" or "you're so lucky your clothes match" be taken any differently? 

It's not that you want a specific compliment, it's that you'd rather they not say anything at all if they're going to give you a back-handed compliment like that.

People should just stop commenting about other people's bodies.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Midnight Kitty on November 17, 2010, 12:42:42 PM

I think getting all up in arms because someone says you are “lucky” for something is kind of dramatic. Usually when people say something like that they are expressing a compliment – they’re not literally ascribing it to luck. It’s like getting upset because someone doesn’t give you the specific compliment you want, which is special snowflakey and, yes I will say oversensitive, in my book.

She really could easily have said, “Thank you, I try to hit the gym regularly. How have you been?” No tongue biting required.

I agree with hobish.  It's a slightly awkward compliment.  I have been "lucky" to keep my figure, too, and get comments from people I haven't seen in years.  There's nothing rude in replying, with a smile, "Luck had nothing to do with it.  I exercise and eat healthy food, and I feel great! What are you doing these days?  Do you still enjoy XYZ?"

I can't help hearing Mae West's reply when someone complimented her on something valuable by saying, "Goodness that's a ###!"  Mae's reply was, "Goodness had nothing to do with it."  (I wish I could remember the whole quote, but you get the idea. ;))
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Deetee on November 17, 2010, 12:50:16 PM
I agree with what other posters have said. The reason SIL felt she couldn't say "It's not luck. I've worked really hard at it" is exactly the same reason people posting here automatically judged the SIL for thinking "It's not luck. I've worked out every day and never eat butter".

Even though SIL is talking only about herself other people will assume she is talking about them and will be hurt.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Two Ravens on November 17, 2010, 01:08:14 PM
I agree with what other posters have said. The reason SIL felt she couldn't say "It's not luck. I've worked really hard at it" is exactly the same reason people posting here automatically judged the SIL for thinking "It's not luck. I've worked out every day and never eat butter".

Even though SIL is talking only about herself other people will assume she is talking about them and will be hurt.

For me, I don't think it is that.  I mean, I don't feel judged by either.  I just wonder why she is so resentful at receiving an awkward compliment that she cannot just say "thank you" or bean dip. To me, this is not an insult worthy of silence and a fake smile.  Why does she care if people she hasn't seen in X many years think she is lucky.  I mean, these are not people she sees regularly. The "never eats butter" sounds weird too.  Like she is trying a bit too hard to rationalize the fact that she is still thin. IDK, it just sounds off.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Deetee on November 17, 2010, 01:26:21 PM
I agree with what other posters have said. The reason SIL felt she couldn't say "It's not luck. I've worked really hard at it" is exactly the same reason people posting here automatically judged the SIL for thinking "It's not luck. I've worked out every day and never eat butter".

Even though SIL is talking only about herself other people will assume she is talking about them and will be hurt.

For me, I don't think it is that.  I mean, I don't feel judged by either.  I just wonder why she is so resentful at receiving an awkward compliment that she cannot just say "thank you" or bean dip. To me, this is not an insult worthy of silence and a fake smile.  Why does she care if people she hasn't seen in X many years think she is lucky.  I mean, these are not people she sees regularly. The "never eats butter" sounds weird too.  Like she is trying a bit too hard to rationalize the fact that she is still thin. IDK, it just sounds off.
I think it's like what others have said. Telling someone they were lucky to compte at the olympics, win a gold medal, be a doctor, win an election, write a best selling novel in some ways dimishes the incredible amounts of hard work, dedication, time and effort that went into it.

For all of those things there is also an element of luck, so for your own peace of mind it's nice to convert it to "You're so lucky to win a gold medal at the olympics" as "You were so lucky to be born with natural skill and incredible drive to a supportive family with the financial resources to support your dream."

Now I'm not trying to say being thin is like competing at the Olympics, but while there is some luck it is something we generally have control over. Some people might work out incredibly hard 7 days a week and eat carrots all day and barely budge a pound. Others might live on cheetos and pop but stay skinny. But the vast majority of us will lose weight if we eat less and excerise more and gain weight when we eat more and watch A-Team reruns.


Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: RitaKAustinTX on November 17, 2010, 01:31:33 PM
If I, personally, were at a social event and different people repeatedly commented on my weight in any way (snarky, complimentary, you're big, you're small, whatever)- I would have to stop myself from being rude as well.

(thankfully reading e-hell has given me lots of good phrases to use to avoid being rude when I want to be and I HOPE I'd be smart enough to remember them in this imaginary instance)

Haven't I read here repeatedly that commenting on weight (even in a positive light) is always a bad idea unless you are very very close to the person?

SIL can think whatever she wants in her head. She exhibited polite behavior by staying silent and that's all we can expect out of anyone. "What an interesting assumption" might also have worked in this situation- but as PPs have pointed out already- saying ANYTHING in response other than complete agreement could have potentially (not necessarily) been seen as snarky or fake modesty ("oh no, I'm so not thin!" for example).

The safest choices were silence or complete agreement- and if SIL can't agree that she is "lucky-" then silence it is!
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: hobish on November 17, 2010, 01:45:34 PM
But that's the thing, it doesn't sound like a compliment.  It sounds like you're dismissing countless hours of hard work to luck, whether you mean it that way or not.  I'm actually not sure how else you could take, "You're so lucky to....".  Would "You're so lucky you're a doctor" or "you're so lucky your clothes match" be taken any differently? 

It's not that you want a specific compliment, it's that you'd rather they not say anything at all if they're going to give you a back-handed compliment like that.

People should just stop commenting about other people's bodies.

But it isn’t a back-handed compliment. You are taking a simple well-intentioned statement far too literally. Do you really think that what people are really trying to say is, “All your hard work and perseverance was for naught. You got what you did because you have better circumstances than most.” Really?
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: cbcb on November 17, 2010, 01:51:50 PM
I think that when people say lucky then, yes, they are implying that person had some advantage to getting where they are. It is somewhat backhandedly (and probably unintentionally) insulting. They could choose a phasing such as "Congratulations on..." or "Good for you for..." or "Look at you..."

I'd never say "Lucky you for getting into medical school!" It's an insulting "compliment" and much nicer is something like "That's awesome you got into medical school!"
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: audrey1962 on November 17, 2010, 01:53:45 PM
I can't help hearing Mae West's reply when someone complimented her on something valuable by saying, "Goodness that's a ###!"  Mae's reply was, "Goodness had nothing to do with it."  (I wish I could remember the whole quote, but you get the idea. ;))

"Goodness, what beautiful diamonds." West replies, "Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie."
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: jillybean on November 17, 2010, 01:54:45 PM
I think that when people say lucky then, yes, they are implying that person had some advantage to getting where they are. It is somewhat backhandedly (and probably unintentionally) insulting. They could choose a phasing such as "Congratulations on..." or "Good for you for..." or "Look at you..."

I'd never say "Lucky you for getting into medical school!" It's an insulting "compliment" and much nicer is something like "That's awesome you got into medical school!"

POD.  If I saw someone from school I hadn't seen in years and thought they looked fabulous, I'd just say, "You look fabulous," not comment on how lucky they are to look fabulous.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: TurtleDove on November 17, 2010, 01:56:31 PM
But it isn’t a back-handed compliment. You are taking a simple well-intentioned statement far too literally. Do you really think that what people are really trying to say is, “All your hard work and perseverance was for naught. You got what you did because you have better circumstances than most.” Really?


I think various threads on this board (and elsewhere) have proven that some people can be extremely touchy about anything having to do with body size, and have a tendency to interpret any comment about anyone else's size or fitness/eating habits as a judgment against them personally. How often do we read letters to the editor that say, "Yeah, such and such celebrity lost 50 pounds/the baby/weight but I could too if I was paid to look good/could afford a personal trainer/had a personal chef."  Such comments are intended to negate the fact that the celebrity did, in fact, put work in, and "excuse" the fact that the writer did not lose 50 pounds/the baby weight when the article they are writing about has nothing to do with the writer at all.  

On this board, there is a consistent backlash by some posters against any statement that a person has some control over their size and fitness, usually coupled with "diet and exercise do not work for everyone."  It is this backlash that the SIL was likely trying to avoid by remaining silent.  In my opinion, she should not have to remain silent if she does not want to.  I would probably have simply smiled and said thank you (as some posters in this thread suggested), but if pressed I would absolutely explain all the work and dedication I put in.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Two Ravens on November 17, 2010, 02:01:15 PM
I think that when people say lucky then, yes, they are implying that person had some advantage to getting where they are. It is somewhat backhandedly (and probably unintentionally) insulting. They could choose a phasing such as "Congratulations on..." or "Good for you for..." or "Look at you..."

I'd never say "Lucky you for getting into medical school!" It's an insulting "compliment" and much nicer is something like "That's awesome you got into medical school!"

POD.  If I saw someone from school I hadn't seen in years and thought they looked fabulous, I'd just say, "You look fabulous," not comment on how lucky they are to look fabulous.

I don't think anyone would disagree that this would be a better way to phrase it.  But that does not mean the people who use the word "lucky" are trying to deny that the person did any hard work.

I mean, if a friend got concert tickets, and I reply "You lucky duck!,"  I am in no way trying to negate the fact that my friend went and spent time and money getting the tickets.  That's reading alot into the word.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: jillybean on November 17, 2010, 02:06:36 PM
I think why it sticks in my craw is because I've been in situations in my life where I've worked very hard to achieve something and people have put it down to luck and I think it was to make themselves feel better because they could have done the same thing if they had been motivated to but they weren't and it made them feel better to think it was just luck on my part.  Yes, people do do that.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Deetee on November 17, 2010, 02:08:41 PM
I posted earlier defending the SIL ( a stance I still firmly support).

I just wanted go on a slight tangent to add my comments on the term lucky. It can be a bit loaded, but most of the time, I don't think people mean "lucky". Unless they are referring to winning the lottery, everything has an element of luck and an element of work associated with it.

Often times people who are doing well will refer to themselves as lucky and it's a nice way to recognize that someone who was equally talanted and worked as hard may not end up with the same rewards.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: TurtleDove on November 17, 2010, 02:08:50 PM
I think why it sticks in my craw is because I've been in situations in my life where I've worked very hard to achieve something and people have put it down to luck and I think it was to make themselves feel better because they could have done the same thing if they had been motivated to but they weren't and it made them feel better to think it was just luck on my part.  Yes, people do do that.

POD.  Again, I would probably have handled the situation as the SIL in the OP did by remaining silent, but it would truly bother me to have other people assume that various things I have worked for are attributable to "luck."  It seems like sour grapes to me.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Jan74 on November 17, 2010, 03:01:52 PM
Add me to the people who think this is a mean-spirited compliment. "You look great!" would be much better than "You are so lucky to have stayed so thin". This is the looks equivalent of "Must be nice to have money for that!"
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Midnight Kitty on November 17, 2010, 03:07:10 PM
I can't help hearing Mae West's reply when someone complimented her on something valuable by saying, "Goodness that's a ###!"  Mae's reply was, "Goodness had nothing to do with it."  (I wish I could remember the whole quote, but you get the idea. ;))

"Goodness, what beautiful diamonds." West replies, "Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie."
That's it, audrey!  Thank you.  It was driving me nuts and dozens of famous quote websites didn't help.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: MrsJWine on November 17, 2010, 03:08:39 PM
There are some people who can work their tails off and/or eat strictly controlled (yet healthy) diets, and the weight hardly budges.  That doesn't mean it isn't annoying when someone attributes your hard-earned fitness to luck.

The same good be said of so many things.  It just seems like weight is such a hot topic that it's hard to discuss it in the same way.  I mean, fill in the blank:  Some people are born into money, and some people win the lottery.  That doesn't mean it isn't annoying when someone attributes your hard-earned wealth to luck.

It would annoy me, too, if I were the OP's SIL.  It wouldn't have anything to do with me judging the other person.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: BuffaloFang on November 17, 2010, 03:17:36 PM
Often times people who are doing well will refer to themselves as lucky and it's a nice way to recognize that someone who was equally talanted and worked as hard may not end up with the same rewards.

Well, I think that's exactly the issue.  When people attribute their own successes to luck, it's to minimize theit own achievement so they don't seem like they're bragging.  But to minimize someone else's achievements for them seems a bit rude and dismissive.

Edited to add that I don't disagree that some level of luck goes into everything, but you don't go around saying, "Well, you're lucky you weren't hit by falling airplane shrapnel." either.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: gollymolly2 on November 17, 2010, 03:25:53 PM
Often times people who are doing well will refer to themselves as lucky and it's a nice way to recognize that someone who was equally talanted and worked as hard may not end up with the same rewards.

Well, I think that's exactly the issue.  When people attribute their own successes to luck, it's to minimize theit own achievement so they don't seem like they're bragging.  But to minimize someone else's achievements for them seems a bit rude and dismissive.


I totally agree.

Some people are thin because of hard work.  Some people are thin despite eating twelve deep fried big macs a day.  Some people are not thin despite hard work.  Some people are not thin because of eating twelve deep fried big macs a day.  I don't think it's polite to comment (1) on anybody's size or (2) on what someone has done or not done to be at that size (with the caveat that sometimes there are appropriate situations, like if a good friend takes up running and losing 100 pounds - but as a general rule with acquaintances, just don't comment).

And describing someone else's "success" as lucky is really annoying, whether it's about looks, size, health, happiness, family situation, job, marriage, wealth, whatever.  When you say a person is lucky to have X, you're implying that they haven't done anything to deserve or earn X.

Finally, it's not rude to have ANY kind of thought in her head.   She can literally be thinking "I'm lucky I'm not a fat ugly loser like you, jerk!!!!" and while I wouldn't describe that as a pleasant or kind reaction, I don't think the act of thinking can ever be rude, no matter what the thoughts are.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: LadyPekoe on November 17, 2010, 03:26:13 PM
To me, this comment isn't any different than if I looked someone over, gave them a big smile, and said (insert something insulting about bigger folks).  I'm not amazingly thin but I am 5'5 and 120 and I can tell you that people feel no need not to comment when you are slender.  

They are really lucky they didn't come across any snarky folks that day--in my pre-Ehellion days I would have made some sort of comment that would have been very inappropriate.  
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: GoldenGemini on November 17, 2010, 11:47:29 PM
I have been both painfully thin and painfully un-thin. 

If someone said "Wow! You still look like you did in high school!" I think I would take it as a compliment, unless tone of voice told me different.  However, if someone told me I was "lucky" it grates a bit.  Even though I don't actually do much to look like I am still in high school.  It just happens. (Oh, so I guess I AM lucky!)

OTOH, a friend of mine is going to the US for a month long holiday and I said "Oooh, lucky you!"  I did NOT mean she somehow magically acquired the tickets and money, and had done nothing for it. And she knows that.

I don't think anything is wrong with smiling and saying "I wish it was luck", IF you want to respond.  I would try to think the best of people, and that they are attempting to compliment you.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: phoenix on November 18, 2010, 12:41:07 AM

But it isn’t a back-handed compliment. You are taking a simple well-intentioned statement far too literally. Do you really think that what people are really trying to say is, “All your hard work and perseverance was for naught. You got what you did because you have better circumstances than most.” Really?


Wait, how can you assume that it wasn't meant a back-handed compliment?  None of us know what people are thinking, so we can't say for sure how it was meant.  But I can tell you, sometimes using "lucky" like that definitely is.  It's a classic passive-aggressive maneuver.  Siblings, parents with children etc often use that phrase to diminish and belittle family members in a classic PA way.  It's hard to defend precisely because it can easily be dismissed as being a compliment.  It took some serious soul-searching to realize that my mother's constant referring to any success of mine as "wow, you're sure lucky" was part of why I never felt recognized for my hard work.

It's not that people literally think  it's luck.  It is, however, a shortcut to dismiss or not have to recognize someone's hard work.  Even if it isn't an intentional slight, that's how it comes across to many people.  It's right up there with answering someone saying "I got that job I wanted!" with "wow, who did you play scrabble with?"  It's meant as a joking way to congratulate someone about pulling off a big feat, but it comes across as dismissive and belittling.

It can be meant innocently enough, but a lot of slurs are that way.  It's polite to realize how what you say comes across to other people, not defend it as "that's not how it was meant."  Nobody else knows what you meant or thought, they can only judge by what you say.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Just Lori on November 18, 2010, 06:59:24 AM
I think that attributing your success completely to your hard work is just about as misguided as attributing it all to luck.  Life is a mixture of circumstance and actions.  Am I lucky that I graduated from college?  Well, that would discount the hours I opted to study instead of go out drinking with friends.  But I can also attribute at least some of the accomplishment to luck.  I was lucky to be born to parents who put a priority on school and good grades.  I was lucky to find a school with an enormous financial aid package.  I was lucky to have friends who sat me down at age 20 and helped me realize that alcohol and I are not a good match.  I was lucky to run into the young woman at the library who gave me a crash course in world politics and possibly made the difference between passing and failing a final exam.

I don't think there's anything wrong with the woman in the OP saying, "Thanks.  I've been lucky enough to find a good diet and exercise program that works for me."  That opens the door to, "Oh really?  Tell me more," or "Wonderful.  I'm going to get some bean dip."  Either way, she gets to acknowledge that it's not all luck, while the person commenting doesn't have to endure an implication that she'd be thin, too, if she'd just get off her tush and exercise.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: TurtleDove on November 18, 2010, 08:08:22 AM
I think the point is that there is no inherent implication about the commenter at all if the SIL says, "actually, I work exercise every day and never eat butter."
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Hanna on November 18, 2010, 07:19:26 PM
But it isn’t a back-handed compliment. You are taking a simple well-intentioned statement far too literally. Do you really think that what people are really trying to say is, “All your hard work and perseverance was for naught. You got what you did because you have better circumstances than most.” Really?

I think the lesson here is to pay attention to the language we use. It really doesn't come off as well-intentioned to many people when one dismisses their efforts. We can say "oh, but they shouldn't take it that way" but that fact is that many people *do* find it insulting.

Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: ShadesOfGrey on November 18, 2010, 07:27:02 PM
I think it's a little ridiculous to take a "you're so lucky" comment as PA or a backhanded compliment when you have no other bad intentions or history of that sort of behavior from someone. It's a common enough comment, and partially true enough, as JustLori says, that it can be said with no mal intent at all.  And etiquette requires us to think the best of people until *proven* otherwise, at least.

So, in this case, it's a way over-reaction to be upset or think it's PA in the absence of any other behavior. 
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: BuffaloFang on November 18, 2010, 07:43:17 PM
I guess the best analogy I can think of would be "You're so lucky you have such well behaved children."

Yes, luck has something to do with it.  Sometimes despite the best upbringing your children may go haywire, and sometimes children turn out well despite questionable upbringing.  But to attribute it to luck with someone you don't know is just weird and slightly dismissive of the effort and time you spent teaching your kids to behave.

I think that's why people say, "Your children are so well behaved!" or "What well behaved children!"

Regardless of what is "meant" the literal way to construe such a compliment is offensive, so perhaps people should stop saying it.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Rohanna on November 18, 2010, 07:58:37 PM
If the worst thing that happens to me at a reunion is that everyone keeps complimenting me, I will indeed consider myself "lucky" :)
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Raintree on November 19, 2010, 02:07:13 AM
If the worst thing that happens to me at a reunion is that everyone keeps complimenting me, I will indeed consider myself "lucky" :)

Yeah no kidding. I don't think those people meant any harm. Nobody came up to me and said that at my 25-year reunion. Seemed like EVERYONE had stayed slim, apart from maybe 2-3 people. Mind you, I wouldn't dream of approaching them and saying what rotten luck it was that they'd gained weight.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Hanna on November 19, 2010, 04:40:48 PM
If the worst thing that happens to me at a reunion is that everyone keeps complimenting me, I will indeed consider myself "lucky" :)

Yeah no kidding. I don't think those people meant any harm. Nobody came up to me and said that at my 25-year reunion. Seemed like EVERYONE had stayed slim, apart from maybe 2-3 people. Mind you, I wouldn't dream of approaching them and saying what rotten luck it was that they'd gained weight.
But maybe if someone did say this to you, you would get that it really isn't a flattering thing to hear.

Or how about:

"Wow, your husband seems terrific. How did you land such a great guy?"
Or, "It's so wonderful you are so successful. That's sure not what I was expecting!!!"
"You look amazing! Who does your work?"

Not everyone may ascribe ill-will to people that make these kinds of remarks, but I can assure you it is pretty darn rare that someone says these types of things and doesn't have some part of them that actually knows better. It's either a socially inept person, a rude one, or someone that smacks themselves in the head later and things "Why on earth did I say that!?"

Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Rohanna on November 19, 2010, 09:31:26 PM
Well those remarks would seem to be more calculatedly mean to me, and not just wording that I could misinterpret.

Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: kareng57 on November 19, 2010, 10:57:04 PM
If we're talking about people she hasn't seen in 15 or 20 years and is not likely to see again for about another 15 - I think she could be overanalyzing this.

My take on it is that people are saying "you look great!" and are maybe not expressing it the best way.  I certainly believe you when you say they she has been diligently watching her diet and exercising, that's great.  She also likely has classmates who have been doing the same but despite that have still gained 40 pounds.  It's what happens.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Emmy on November 20, 2010, 08:50:52 AM
Quote
And describing someone else's "success" as lucky is really annoying, whether it's about looks, size, health, happiness, family situation, job, marriage, wealth, whatever.  When you say a person is lucky to have X, you're implying that they haven't done anything to deserve or earn X.

I do agree with this.  I had somebody comment that my fiance at the time was such as wonderful guy (true) and I was lucky.  I couldn't help but to feel insulted, like the person implied that I must have been lucky to get somebody so wonderful (and not that I also had wonderful qualities he liked).

I do agree with the other poster who said luck plays a certain role in our life.  The truth is everybody will not get equal results if they put in equal amounts of work and effort into something.  Some people are born smarter, more athletic, better looking, richer, more charming, ect.  However, it would be rude to automatically attribute something that may or may not have involved a lot of hard work to luck (such as maintaining one's figure for years).

Just giving a compliment such as 'you look great' would be much more appropriate.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Betelnut on November 20, 2010, 06:07:43 PM
I'm actually slightly skeptical of the story.  I find it sort of hard to believe that every person that commented on her weight used the term "lucky" which, most people seem to feel, would be a weird way to comment on weight in the first place.  Perhaps a couple of people did say the word "lucky" but every person?

I don't really know how to feel about the phrase "you're so lucky" because so much of it would depend on context and tone.

Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Rohanna on November 20, 2010, 06:27:38 PM
Well, luck/lucky also has two main, slightly different meanings. It can mean "things happening entirely by chance" or it could mean "having/bringing good fortune".

So I'd kind of take "You're so lucky to have stayed so thin" in that context to mean, you've had the good fortune to be someone who has been able to keep off weight. Some people don't try and gain,some people do try and fail, some people don't try and stay the same, and some people do try and stay the same or better (following me? :P). If I said, You're so lucky- I would be meaning it to say, You're so lucky you're in the latter two catagories somewhere (note: I wouldn't say it, I'd say something more generic like "You're looking great").
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Spoder on November 20, 2010, 08:41:31 PM
Well, luck/lucky also has two main, slightly different meanings. It can mean "things happening entirely by chance" or it could mean "having/bringing good fortune".

So I'd kind of take "You're so lucky to have stayed so thin" in that context to mean, you've had the good fortune to be someone who has been able to keep off weight. Some people don't try and gain,some people do try and fail, some people don't try and stay the same, and some people do try and stay the same or better (following me? :P). If I said, You're so lucky- I would be meaning it to say, You're so lucky you're in the latter two catagories somewhere (note: I wouldn't say it, I'd say something more generic like "You're looking great").

ITA. It's also a plain fact that women's bodies tend to 'thicken' and put on weight as they get older, as a result of hormones/child-bearing. Even the women I know who have stayed in good shape very very rarely have figures as trim and lithe as when we were in highschool.

Staying slim IS at least partly attributable to our genetics, which we have zero control over, as is staying wrinkle-free or not going gray. I personally know quite a few people who stay slim without much effort at all. I've also heard (many) people say that they met their husbands through lucky coincidences (nobody thinks that an entire successful marriage is based on luck, unless they're silly). On the other hand, I've never heard of a single person who became a doctor without trying much, so it's not a very good analogy.

Personally, I don't think it's polite to comment on people's bodies in such a specific way, either. I would stick with 'You're looking great!' However, I think it's a slight overreaction to get miffed at a clumsily-worded compliment. People aren't usually trying to say 'lucky you!' in the sense of 'Everything's been handed to you on a silver platter!'. I think it's borrowing trouble to get upset about it.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: BuffaloFang on November 20, 2010, 10:15:58 PM
But many people manage to stay slim despite their genetics due to ridiculous amounts of hard work.  So I still find it insensitive to say "lucky" regardless.

What if someone was thin because they lost a lot of weight due to cancer?  Wouldn't "you're so lucky" be horribly rude at that point?

I think if a comment can be misconstrued, it's best not to say it.

Being an etiquette board, I don't know why we're so willing to wave this off as, "Well, that's not how it was meant despite the fact that literally, that's exactly what it means" and label the offended people as "oversensitive" and "special snowflakey".    I know that I, at least, have learned from this board many things that I thought were innocuous could actually be hurtful or rude to other people.  As a result, I now make a conscious effort not to do those things.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Spoder on November 20, 2010, 10:36:03 PM
But many people manage to stay slim despite their genetics due to ridiculous amounts of hard work.  So I still find it insensitive to say "lucky" regardless.

What if someone was thin because they lost a lot of weight due to cancer?  Wouldn't "you're so lucky" be horribly rude at that point?

I think if a comment can be misconstrued, it's best not to say it.

Being an etiquette board, I don't know why we're so willing to wave this off as, "Well, that's not how it was meant despite the fact that literally, that's exactly what it means" and label the offended people as "oversensitive" and "special snowflakey".    I know that I, at least, have learned from this board many things that I thought were innocuous could actually be hurtful or rude to other people.  As a result, I now make a conscious effort not to do those things.
Actually, I don't disagree with you, especially the bolded. There are certainly better ways to phrase it and it's not something I ever say myself.
I just think people can be a little quick to take offence where none is meant. There has to be a balance between not saying things that are likely to offend people, and constantly self-editing because just about anything you say might offend somebody.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: MrsJWine on November 20, 2010, 10:40:49 PM
But many people manage to stay slim despite their genetics due to ridiculous amounts of hard work.  So I still find it insensitive to say "lucky" regardless.

What if someone was thin because they lost a lot of weight due to cancer?  Wouldn't "you're so lucky" be horribly rude at that point?

I think if a comment can be misconstrued, it's best not to say it.

Being an etiquette board, I don't know why we're so willing to wave this off as, "Well, that's not how it was meant despite the fact that literally, that's exactly what it means" and label the offended people as "oversensitive" and "special snowflakey".    I know that I, at least, have learned from this board many things that I thought were innocuous could actually be hurtful or rude to other people.  As a result, I now make a conscious effort not to do those things.
Actually, I don't disagree with you, especially the bolded. There are certainly better ways to phrase it and it's not something I ever say myself.
I just think people can be a little quick to take offence where none is meant. There has to be a balance between not saying things that are likely to offend people, and constantly self-editing because just about anything you say might offend somebody.

I wouldn't be offended, but it would irritate me.  And if I heard it 40 times in one night, it might be more than just irritation.  It's like a stone in your shoe, or a piece of hay stuck in your sock; it's tiny and insignificant, but if you're walking for more than ten minutes, it's crazymaking. 

I haven't experienced this with weight comments, but I have on other things that are a mixture of hard work and luck.  I had a good outcome partly because of DNA, but I also know that I worked my tail off to achieve it, and it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't worked so hard.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Spoder on November 20, 2010, 10:42:47 PM
^^  True, MrsJWine. I concede the point.  :)
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Rohanna on November 20, 2010, 11:30:02 PM
I agree that it's clumsy wording, but I think that it's not helpful to ones peace of mind to always think of the worst interpretation of a clumsy compliment- sometimes they are well meant and it takes someone else pointing out that it probably wasn't meant negatively to see it. :)
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Aeris on November 20, 2010, 11:56:40 PM
I think this is one of those things where:

1) It can be misconstrued, so it's probably best to use different phrasing when saying it yourself

2) If someone says it to you, it's best to give the person speaking the benefit of the doubt that they didn't mean it as an insult
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Rohanna on November 21, 2010, 12:05:30 AM
POD ^^ :)
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Spoder on November 21, 2010, 12:07:34 AM
Nice summary, Aeris!  ;D
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Danismom on November 22, 2010, 05:58:09 AM
While SIL doesn't know if it was really meant good naturedly (as she can't know what is in the head of the speaker), it might make for a more peaceful evening if she takes it positively.  However, I certainly understand how grating it would be to hear over and over.  My best suggestion is that she come up with a humorous response to pull out for in the future.  Something funny will encourage her to see things in a positive light and help gloss over the awkwardness of the comment/compliment.

Clueless: You're so lucky to have stayed so thin...
SIL: I wish it was all luck.  I've forgotten what real butter tastes like (said like she was remembering a family member at a funeral)...*wink*
I'm not doing such a great job coming up with something funny either, but you get the idea.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Rohanna on November 22, 2010, 11:26:55 AM
Or, "I wish it was just luck, it's been a lot of work!".
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Midnight Kitty on November 22, 2010, 04:13:04 PM
It's sad to see real butter getting the bum rap here.  Due to my family history of cancer, I won't go near artificial shortening.  I stick with bacon grease and real butter (or oil when appropriate) and use small quantities.  I'd miss real butter something fierce.  In fact, life might not be worth living without real butter and bacon grease.  I'd happily cut out half the steak just to have real butter on the potato and bacon grease on the crispy potato skin. >:D

I like the suggested answers where she says mournfully, "I wish it was luck; I miss butter."  Humor deflects the unintended insult. ;D
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Hanna on November 22, 2010, 04:18:09 PM
I don't understand all the "Oh, just think the best of these types of comments". It isn't as if the SIL pulled out her pearl handled revolver and challenged anyone to a duel.
She was polite when it happened and then told the OP about it later.

If no one ever did this, we wouldn't have much to discuss at eHell now, would we?
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Aeris on November 22, 2010, 04:21:08 PM
I don't understand all the "Oh, just think the best of these types of comments". It isn't as if the SIL pulled out her pearl handled revolver and challenged anyone to a duel.
She was polite when it happened and then told the OP about it later.

If no one ever did this, we wouldn't have much to discuss at eHell now, would we?

Well, I honestly think the comments are more clumsy than *rude*, so I don't see the point in getting worked up about them if the intentions were probably good.

But secondly, I'm not exactly clear on how the SIL actually responded. I was under the impression she responded with 'complete silence', which seems OTT for a clumsy compliment.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Hanna on November 22, 2010, 04:30:50 PM
I don't see any evidence of the SIL getting worked up.  Seems like people are kinda worked up here in the thread at the idea that people find the comments obnoxious.

I think someone commenting on a person's figure does call for complete silence, really.  I sure never know what to say if someone starts talking about my body.  Even when well intended that's pretty uncomfortable for many of us.
Title: Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
Post by: Spoder on November 23, 2010, 04:41:06 AM
I don't understand all the "Oh, just think the best of these types of comments". It isn't as if the SIL pulled out her pearl handled revolver and challenged anyone to a duel.
She was polite when it happened and then told the OP about it later.

If no one ever did this, we wouldn't have much to discuss at eHell now, would we?

Well, I honestly think the comments are more clumsy than *rude*, so I don't see the point in getting worked up about them if the intentions were probably good.

But secondly, I'm not exactly clear on how the SIL actually responded. I was under the impression she responded with 'complete silence', which seems OTT for a clumsy compliment.

Agreed. As the title of this folder suggests, complete silence is a good response for 'insults and ugly comments'. I don't think an inept attempt at a compliment really comes into that category.