Author Topic: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin  (Read 15535 times)

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LadyPekoe

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Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
« Reply #45 on: November 17, 2010, 04:26:13 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.  
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GoldenGemini

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Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
« Reply #46 on: November 18, 2010, 12:47:29 AM »
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.


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phoenix

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Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
« Reply #47 on: November 18, 2010, 01:41:07 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.

Just Lori

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Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
« Reply #48 on: November 18, 2010, 07:59:24 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.

TurtleDove

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Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
« Reply #49 on: November 18, 2010, 09:08:22 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."

Hanna

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Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
« Reply #50 on: November 18, 2010, 08:19:26 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.


ShadesOfGrey

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Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
« Reply #51 on: November 18, 2010, 08:27:02 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. 
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BuffaloFang

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Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
« Reply #52 on: November 18, 2010, 08:43:17 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.

Rohanna

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Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
« Reply #53 on: November 18, 2010, 08:58:37 PM »
If the worst thing that happens to me at a reunion is that everyone keeps complimenting me, I will indeed consider myself "lucky" :)
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Raintree

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Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
« Reply #54 on: November 19, 2010, 03:07:13 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.

Hanna

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Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
« Reply #55 on: November 19, 2010, 05:40:48 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!?"


Rohanna

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Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
« Reply #56 on: November 19, 2010, 10:31:26 PM »
Well those remarks would seem to be more calculatedly mean to me, and not just wording that I could misinterpret.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. ~ Jack Layton.

kareng57

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Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
« Reply #57 on: November 19, 2010, 11:57:04 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.

Emmy

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Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
« Reply #58 on: November 20, 2010, 09:50:52 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.

Betelnut

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Re: You are so lucky to have stayed so thin
« Reply #59 on: November 20, 2010, 07:07:43 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.

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