Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Does Your Family Comment on Your Weight?

My family is full of overweight people, on both sides.  (Of the family I mean, not like they are overweight on both sides of their bodies.  Because that would be weird.  If they weren't I mean.  Oh, never mind.)

And my step-monster never hesitates to comment about my weight.  Or anybody else's for that matter.  Sometimes she'll just blatantly say, "Wow, you've put on some weight!"  Which is not helpful.

I mean really?!  When has anyone ever said this to anyone and gotten the response of, "Have I?  Oh my goodness, I had no idea!  Thank you so much for pointing this out to me.  Now I can take steps to remedy the situation.  You are so helpful!"

It's not helpful.  It's hurtful.  And it makes me want to eat another cookie.

Sometimes it's more subtle.  Like she'll slowly look me up and down and then ask, "So are you still walking every day?"  Or like the last time I saw her, when she gave me the once over then said, "Your DAD has lost a lot of weight!"

Which, really?  If he had, I couldn't tell.  But whatever.

Anyway, so I've been aware that this woman has been putting me, and others, in our places for years based on weight.  I've determined in the last year or so that the reason she must do this is that she has a lot of faults, but she's always been thin.  She's not the smartest person, or the richest, or most beautiful, or the most well liked.  But she's thin.  So she must feel a confidence boost by bringing up the issue of weight whenever she gets the chance.

What I hadn't been conscious of, until our Thanksgiving celebration the other day, is that my mom's side of the family does this too.  I swear, we hadn't been with my grandparents two minutes before Grandpa brought up the fact that a particularly heavy member of the family has lost 30 pounds.  And then he immediately launched into a story about my obese uncle sitting in a chair and breaking it.

Now, okay, that's kind of a remarkable story.  But honestly, it hit me then that this side of the family too is obsessed with weight.  Yet the majority of the people in the family are overweight.  So whatever Grandpa is trying to accomplish with pointing all this out, it's not working.  Well, I mean, unless his goal is to make all his progeny overweight.

Which proves my point that really, it's not helpful, and it's not appropriate, ever to talk about anyone else's weight.  It doesn't accomplish anything.  The person already knows he or she is overweight.  And telling them about it (or telling everyone else about it) only serves to make the person feel worse.  Which probably will make them eat more.

It's given me a lot to think about.  Like do I talk about people's weight?  If I do, what is my motivation?  Is it even okay to talk about people losing weight?  Because doesn't that imply that they needed to?  Doesn't it imply that they were somehow less than before they got their act together and lost the weight?

I mean, it seems like a compliment on the surface.  "Wow you've lost a lot of weight!  You look great!"  But does it mean they looked bad before?

Either way, I've been pondering the implications of 39 years spent in a family which is largely overweight (no pun intended) yet contains several members hell bent on putting everyone else down for their obesity.  I haven't quite figured out what to do about any of it, but I figure just being aware of it is progress.


Wyatt said...

Oh, the crazy relatives! Why is it, that the older they get, their mouths have no brakes? We have a few of those, that have to comment on weight, hair loss, height, clothing, etc. In through the eyes and out the mouth.
Don't let them bring you down. Just smile and cut them off mid- sentence. I always say, "that is such a pretty scarf" or "where did you get those earrings." It really throws em, because they don't see it coming!
It also works when they start to tell you all their health problems...hahaha!

Wyatt's Mom

FourJedis said...

I'm always amazed (in a bad way) with others' ability to make people feel badly on a regular basis. My dad said that to me once when I came home from college and had packed on the weight, but I told him it really hurt my feelings, and he got the point. Have you talked to her about it? So incredibly hurtful, but there must be something she is insecure about and finds some kind of solace in making you feel badly. Hang in there. Have a happy thanksgiving.

Karen Peterson said...

It's sort of like that in my family. Only, my relatives don't talk about weight when people are around. Just when they're not. Unless it's to compliment someone about lost weight. Which always makes me feel awkward because, like you say, did I look bad before?

Brian said...

Sometimes you have to be the one that sets the good example. One of my sisters (not mentioning which one) is overweight but I'd never tell her that, she's gorgeous!

Hilary said...

My family, on my dad’s side, is extremely over weight. My mom’s side is very thin. So I have been conscious of weight and weight conversation for all of my life. When my parents got married, my dad told her that his mother would never have wanted him to marry her, because she must have been a “sick girl” due to her size. Hearing both sides growing up, I find all the “weight talk” cruel. I am very thin, and I find it offensive when people ask me if I eat, or various questions about my weight. I am sure I would feel the same way if I took after my dad’s side. I try to avoid any weight talk unless I am really close with the person and know that the conversation is wanted or appreciated (like telling someone how great they look after losing weight – I feel that is a passive aggressive sort of insult)

Anonymous said...

I am not anonymous just can't find the right URL to post I am from Blogher. That was me - overweight in the past and family commenting on my weight. AND it is me commenting on my son's weight. AND I need to get over it. He is depressed and he is using food as his vice for stuffing his feelings. THAT is what makes me sad. He has been to counseling several times and he learned over the summer living apart from home that he can't continue with his unhealthy ways but he won't accept help from us whether it be a dietician etc. My new mantra is "I need to get over it" We just don't want his obesity to get in the way of his getting a job when he graduates from college next May. He is in a field of work where he needs to be physically fit otherwise he might be seen as a liability for the company. Pray for me not to make comments. Patty

Anonymous said...

I'm sick, with disease that makes it hard to eat (Crohn's) and what I hear most often from people is, "You *must* be feeling better! You've lost weight and you look great!"

It makes me feel really bad.

The Skinny Doll said...

I'm wondering if we're related!!! My mother is the VERY SAME! "are you still swimming/using your treadmill/going to weight watchers?" (there's a lot more you could choose from but these three seem to top the list... My monster-in-law is much more to the bone with the insults and when I read your... "Have I? Oh my goodness, I had no idea! Thank you so much for pointing this out to me. Now I can take steps to remedy the situation. You are so helpful!"... it cracked me up ... I DID say this to her, (well not those exact words but you know!) in the sweetest tone and she was floored! I'm finding with age comes sickly sweet sarcasm and if she's not going to use the breaks on HER big mouth then I'm not using mine! I think you're right ... its the only thing they think they can do better than you.. bless...

Mrs. Yeater said...

Oh, the joys of supportive family... Dripping sarcasm, for you literal minded folks. My family, too, tends toward the heavy side- at least on the paternal side, which makes it that much more perplexing that they would be the ones to make such a big deal out of everyone ELSE's weight and size. My own Father decided to tell me when I was seventeen (great time for self-esteem boosters) that if I would walk more my butt would not be as big. I was stunned. Even for him, that was pretty insensitive. For once in my life I told him how much I did not appreciate that comment. I politely explained that, as it was MY bottom, it was my prerogative to bemoan its size. He, as my Father and a man, was not entitled to such freedoms. I have found that calm, icily polite responses tend to get the job done. The only time I make comments about someone's loss of weight is when they have expressed their efforts to lose weight. I never bring it up if a personal gains weight. Uncalled for and uncouth.

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I think it needs more turbinado. said...

Ugh, I know what you mean.

When went from thick to thin everyone & their mother thought I was anorexic. I was barely out of the "overweight" threshold for my height!