Thursday, 19 February 2009


Recently I was eating lunch with somebody and she told me a story. She started off by telling me: 'I did something naughty at work today'. That had me interested. Anyway, she had been hosting an event for work, and a woman kept on pressuring her to distribute some flyers about something or other she'd been putting together. They only exchanged one or two sentences in the whole evening, but my friend had got a distinctly aggressive vibe off this woman. The next day, the woman called to enquire about the flyers and a couple of minutes into the call surprised my friend by asking her 'do you eat anything?'. She continued to tell her that, not meaning to be rude but she was concerned for my friend's health and thought she ought to put on a few pounds, because she didn't look at all healthy, and it's important to eat, even if you want to be thin.

For a few moments my shocked friend floundered and replied with justifications of her weight, that she is very active, does lots of exercise, feels entirely comfortable at this size and, not that it was any of this woman's business, but she'd been going through a pretty hard time lately. Then came the 'naughty' line:

'Not meaning to be rude or anything, but you're probably carrying a few too many pounds, and although I genuinely understand that it may feel hard to lose weight, I'm of course only concerned for your health.'

Now there were a few moments silence before the woman burst into a thousand and one apologies for any offence she had caused and begging my friend to promise that she was forgiven. My friend accepted her apologies.

I was a little taken aback by my friend's confrontational response, but I suppose it really does highlight the point about criticising other people's weights. And it certainly worked, because it showed this woman (who apparently has a track record for such behaviour) that such comments really aren't acceptable. Of course, if you really are seriously concerned for a friend's health that is a different matter, but I find it hard to accept any other sort of comment as anything but false.

Look at the constant scrutiny of the weight of young female celebrities, such as Mischa Barton. 6 months ago her cellulite was splashed across gossip mag covers which are now displaying images of her dangerously thin and gaunt face. So it is evident that this sort of scrutiny has a forceful impact on its objects. And I can think of no other reason for it existing other than the jealousy of other women. Doesn't seeing that starlet having put on an ounce of weight give you just a teensy bit of sick satisfaction? Doesn't seeing her then looking strangely skeletal provoke a tiny spark of jealousy, which you then have to disguise with the correct amount of disapproval?

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe the female sex as a whole really is deeply concerned about the collective weight of their fellow womenfolk. What do you say?


  1. Oh I agree with you. Yesterday a collegue (one OBSESSED with food/fat/calories/diets) said to me 'if I ate the same as you I would be not just fat but obese'

    I am in no way excessive! Just that I am not scared to have a slice of cake if i fancy it. This made me think perhaps I should cut back or that its my fault I'm not skinny... I don't know, just really upset me

  2. Weight is such a personal issue, and making it public can be immeasurably harmful. I hate the media scrutiny of weight, and feel that it feeds comments like the one this woman made to your friend. She likely felt justified because such open discussion of others' weight is prevalent - although I doubt there was any real concern there. She just wanted to provoke.

  3. I agree completely! I think its sad when people pay so much attention to others weight. You can never know the exact circumstances behind weight gain, lose (stress, exercise, family genes, etc.) It is unfair that women are so scrutinized and especially by their own kind.

  4. Additionally: You should strive for a healthy lifestyle with indulgences and a healthy relationship with food, exercise, and daily living. Nobody should make you feel guilty for that.

  5. Sorry- only one more comment i promise (I keep thinking of more things!) I am super proud of your friend for saying that to the lady. I would never have the guts to do that! :) I applaud her.

  6. Paula, please feel free to leave as many comments as you wish! You have raised some really interesting points, especially about the guilt. Anyway, in my opinion guilt is a wasted emotion.

    Sal - as always, the font of body issues knowledge! By the way, I loved your post today and would have said so if you left the comments open ;)

    Sarah - god no, I think that is a wonderful attitude and by the looks of it one which suits your body perfectly! xxx

  7. I am so with you, they like pointing out every pound gained and lost--and it's sick!
    Your friend's confrontational approach is mildly shocking, but I feel she was provoked and it is good that she put the other woman in her is such a fine line between showing concern and being nosy...common courtesy and rules of proper behavior is really disappearing though. People will say anything lately.

  8. I don't think that response is naughty at all. The original comment was totally inappropriate and the woman got back what she gave out. It would be one thing to express concern about weight loss if you're a dear friend, but to just randomly confront someone? For all she knew, the skinny woman could have cancer.

  9. OMG weight is such a touching matter. I've always struggeled with that. Kids can be sooooo cruel and make scares into us for life.
    I still look for myself and see that I'm too fat, despite some people say to me that I'm not too.

    Hope you'll have a great weekend dear.


  10. i am naturally pretty slim and have been taunted and harassed about it all my life- being labeled anorexic by kids and adults alike. it was SO damaging and i just had to learn to rise above it.
    now, i am older (27) and everyone is filling out except me, i get women checking my shopping trolly in the supermarket and ALOT of fake 'oncern' like your friend experienced.
    i am absolutely going to use your friend's tactic next time i get some nosey lady asking whether i eat or not. it ALWAYS stems from jealousy when they enquire about something so personal. and it NEVER comes from a good friend- always someone you have just met and can't help themselves by judging you by your weight and then putting you down a bit so they don't feel so crap about themselves.

  11. i totally agree with what your friend said. i suffer from the same jealousy and intrusion in to my personal life and eating habits by nosey women and i am so going to use her response next time i am confronted like that.
    it's not on!
    those comments are ALWAYS covertly aggressive- and are uncalled for! and they are ALWAYS are back handed compliment.
    that woman was sly in her efforts to make your friend feel less than attractive. xx

  12. I am sorry that for some reason your first comment did not come through, Lady Worthington.
    Please do use that tactic, what you have gone through sounds dreadful! xx

  13. oh sorry! i commented twice! i didn't think it worked the first time. haha.
    oh thank you pretty face. love your blog.
    it's right up my street.