Fat Shaming and now.....HEALTH Shaming Obese People?

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  • TheWiseCat
    TheWiseCat Posts: 297
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    So I got stopped this morning by one of my coworkers. This lady is in her 50's and is about 105 lbs. soaking wet, and I'm not exaggerating. She can wear kid's clothing. She wanted to know about my progress, what I'm doing, etc. (I'm actually getting kinda sick of explaining this to people, but I was nice, of course.)

    I told her I was 266 when I started, and now I'm down to 219.6. Her first question was, "How far are you wanting to take this?" I told her that with my height and age, a healthy weight range would be around 115 - 135 lbs. I told her I just want to fall within a normal BMI range.

    Here comes the kicker: She asks me, "Do you think you can even get down to that kind of weight? I probably looked at her like she had two heads. What do you say to that? "I'm almost up to 50 lbs. down. So, yes.... I think I can do it two more times, thanks for asking!" I was nice of course. I like this coworker and we've shared a lot over the years. But, she's not the first to ask me that.

    What's the reasoning behind asking a fat chick if she thinks she can lose that much? Weight loss is done the same way for me as it is for anyone else. Yes, as people lose weight the metabolism slows down and weight loss becomes slower and more difficult the closer someone comes to their healthy BMI.... But that's happens to everyone!

    We talk about fat shaming a lot on the forums...so why is it I'm starting to feel health shamed? What's the skinny-mind thinking?

    I'm obese, so I'll always be obese?
    I wasn't made or meant to be thin?
    That I don't have motivation or willpower?
    I'm not educated enough to make good choices?

    I'm not horribly offended, but the constant questions surrounding how much I "THINK" I can lose is starting to make things awkward. I don't think.... I know. The formula of eating less and moving more is proven. Unless my body can defy science, YES... I know I can get myself down to a healthy BMI.

    I can't tell if she was speaking with a bad tone or something, but her words seem fine. It doesn't sound like shaming at all. It sounds like a curious uninformed person wanting to get the scoop from ground zero. If anything, I think it's actually nice of her to to inquire and care. Now if she said it snarky or with some ***** attitude, that's different. Just the words themselves though aren't shaming at all. I think you are overreacting.

    Edited to add: I've read some of the other replies too and they are taking offense to things that don't sound offensive. I am fat and I would say a lot of these things. Not because I was shaming or negative, but because I was curious, interested, social or just a person who speaks freely. This makes me think of all the people who cry "bully" because someone disagrees with them or critiques their behavior.


    Edited to also add: I wish people asked me that **** and showed interest. I would consider it a compliment .
  • Celeigh12
    Celeigh12 Posts: 763 Member
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    I have used those kinds of comments to fuel my commitment. Someone believing I can't do something just makes me want to do it more!
  • 1ConcreteGirl
    1ConcreteGirl Posts: 3,677 Member
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    First - You are doing incredible Second - Believe it or not - she's jealous - yes, every time she sees you and notices you have lost more weight, she's threatened. It's just the way some people are, she may be 105 weight wise, but she a long way to go to resolve some rather personal issues. You handled the situation perfectly, with self-assurance and class.... let's be friends, I could use some. Carmela

    I completely disagree with this.

    First off, she wasn't shaming you at all, but I understand your confusion here.

    The "she's jealous" defense is a lot of people's first thought about any critical or negative thing anyone might say about them, and it shows a bizarre level of assumption and lack of introspection.

    I doubt she is jealous at all. She's at a healthy weight and sees you losing weight. She's curious how you're doing it, which is a natural response. Then when she hears how much you're trying to lose, she simply cannot imagine you being able to BE that small, because the person she sees in front of her and has always known doesn't fit inside a mental box that size.

    When I started losing weight, my sister asked, "BUT HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DO IT?!" Like as though my gaining weight were an enternal sentence of doom that I was trying to get out of. She wasn't jealous. It just challenged her preconceptions.

    Good job making people question their own perceptions.
  • sunnysmile
    sunnysmile Posts: 1,192
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    I think you should pat yourself on the back for all that you have and are accomplishing. Sometimes people say insensitive things when they could mean to be supportive but don't know what to say or how it sounds to others, sometimes people are uncomfortable with change around them, sometimes they are jealous, who can completely define someone else's motives. I can tell by your conviction and what you wrote that you won't let anyone derail you from your own goal and that is what matters. One thing I've learned overtime is that it is helpful to stop someone in their tracks when they interfere in your business, or say something annoying. you can reply in a way that turns the tables on them and reflects the thought back to them. For example, someone says so "do you think you can accomplish that" could have a reply such as "Mary (insert name), you and Sally (and whoever else said that stupid sentence to you) are so supportive of me, of course I'll succeed" and then smile and walk away. If this is not a good mantra then figure one out that works for you but puts the emphasis back on the person who spoke to you. If you repeat the same phrase to all of them they will eventually start telling you "we know you're going to succeed, we're here to support you"

    Let me know if you give this a try. It's pedantic but can be effective with the right phrasing.

    And I look forward to seeing your continued success, as I am also on this journey.
  • whierd
    whierd Posts: 14,026 Member
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    No need to get upset. She is likely just a bit ignorant and thinks you are too "big boned" to get down to that weight range. You are doing a great job, so just keep it up.
  • Pixi_Rex
    Pixi_Rex Posts: 1,676 Member
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    Generally speaking 13 people will shame you if your feet are terrible.... I suggest taking the time to Rue the day..
  • TheWiseCat
    TheWiseCat Posts: 297
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    First - You are doing incredible Second - Believe it or not - she's jealous - yes, every time she sees you and notices you have lost more weight, she's threatened. It's just the way some people are, she may be 105 weight wise, but she a long way to go to resolve some rather personal issues. You handled the situation perfectly, with self-assurance and class.... let's be friends, I could use some. Carmela

    I completely disagree with this.

    First off, she wasn't shaming you at all, but I understand your confusion here.

    The "she's jealous" defense is a lot of people's first thought about any critical or negative thing anyone might say about them, and it shows a bizarre level of assumption and lack of introspection.

    I doubt she is jealous at all. She's at a healthy weight and sees you losing weight. She's curious how you're doing it, which is a natural response. Then when she hears how much you're trying to lose, she simply cannot imagine you being able to BE that small, because the person she sees in front of her and has always known doesn't fit inside a mental box that size.

    When I started losing weight, my sister asked, "BUT HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DO IT?!" Like as though my gaining weight were an enternal sentence of doom that I was trying to get out of. She wasn't jealous. It just challenged her preconceptions.

    Good job making people question their own perceptions.

    I like you. Your brain muscle is delightful.
  • TrishLG
    TrishLG Posts: 173 Member
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    From now on, just say that you are making healthier choices and getting more exercise. Thank you for asking.
  • ItsCasey
    ItsCasey Posts: 4,022 Member
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    It's just hard for some people to wrap their minds around because you're talking about more than 100 lbs that you want to drop. That's difficult for people to understand, especially really small people who have probably never battled a weight problem.

    I weighed 250 lbs when I first started trying to lose weight, and my sister assured me I'd never be "tiny." Less than two years later, she said to me "I can't believe how tiny you are."

    So this woman may not "get it" right now, but she will eventually. I'd bet she's not trying to shame you. You will probably get similar comments as you continue losing. My grandmother warned me a number of times about anorexia as I was losing weight. She wasn't trying to hurt my feelings or discourage me from losing weight. She's just never had a serious weight problem, so she doesn't understand.
  • ShreddedTweet
    ShreddedTweet Posts: 1,326 Member
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    I don't think she was fat shaming you, you've lost 50lbs and congratulations on that but if she's a slim person who has never been overweight she probably has no concept of how much weight you have to lose or how hard that is to do.

    I've never been overweight, 50lbs to me seems like it would be very difficult to lose, if someone told me they had to lose three times that I might ask whether that was possible, purely because it seems impossible to me. I would have to work VERY hard to lose 5lbs for example.

    Don't immediately assume she's shaming you, honestly until I came on this site there was a lot I didn't know about how people lose weight, how long that might take etc. Give her the benefit of the doubt.
    And best of luck on your future weight loss x
  • Annerk1
    Annerk1 Posts: 372 Member
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    I know this was offered with good intentions, but I disagree that you should tailor your responses to what someone else wants/needs to hear.

    If you quote the number at them that you're aiming at, and ANYONE expresses incredulity at your goal of reaching a healthy BMI, then just dismiss their opinion. It matters NOT ONE BIT.

    If you were aiming at a BMI that was in the underweight range, then perhaps someone who cares about you might express concern. But a healthy weight shouldn't be considered to be unrealistic for you simply based on your starting point.

    We have members who have hit their goals, reached healthy BMI's, who had starting points further than yours. They can, you can, don't listen to negative nellys.

    How many people really know what a healthy body weight is though? My idea of healthy weight on a person might be very different from someone else's idea of healthy weight for that same person, particularly if we have different perspectives based on different heights and shapes and have no idea of how much lean muscle they have..
  • BinaryPulsar
    BinaryPulsar Posts: 8,927 Member
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    I don't think she was fat shaming you, you've lost 50lbs and congratulations on that but if she's a slim person who has never been overweight she probably has no concept of how much weight you have to lose or how hard that is to do.

    I've never been overweight, 50lbs to me seems like it would be very difficult to lose, if someone told me they had to lose three times that I might ask whether that was possible, purely because it seems impossible to me. I would have to work VERY hard to lose 5lbs for example.

    Don't immediately assume she's shaming you, honestly until I came on this site there was a lot I didn't know about how people lose weight, how long that might take etc. Give her the benefit of the doubt.
    And best of luck on your future weight loss x

    Right, for a person that has only ever needed to lose 5 or 10 pounds that alone seems like a really challenging thing to do because when a person has less weight to lose, it needs to go a lot slower and can not be indiscriminate weight loss (losing muscle). They don't necessarily realize that when there is a lot of weight to lose, it goes more quickly until the person gets closer to their goal weight. It's just a lack of experience and of curiosity and of having her perceptions be challenged. As a small person she is probably also accustomed to hearing people talk about how being at her size is so difficult and out of reach and about people feeling pressure to reach "unrealistic expectations", so she is used to being very cautious not to place any unrealistic expectations on others or to assume that others can or even want to be at her weight, since it was probably not a choice for her, but just the way she has always been when leading an active, healthy lifestyle. People probably tell her it is genetic. Being a small person comes with it's own set of cautions in how to approach the subject with others based on things they have heard from others. It's a learning process and each person feels comfortable with a different response and she doesn't always know what response they want.
  • cuterbee
    cuterbee Posts: 545
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    People sometimes are absolutely clueless in their response to others, especially if they've never been in your shoes. The worst I've encountered was a person who tried to "comfort" me after my brother died...and then proceeded to say something she thought was well-meaning but was actually breath-takingly cruel.

    I am sure this lady wants the best for you and doesn't realize that what she is saying is actually not supportive. The best you can do if you don't want to educate people like this (which can harm the relationship if they get defensive) is to ignore it and go on.
  • likitisplit
    likitisplit Posts: 9,420 Member
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    Would you feel differently about her comment if you found out that she's actually 120 pounds?
  • CrazyTrackLady
    CrazyTrackLady Posts: 1,337 Member
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    So I got stopped this morning by one of my coworkers. This lady is in her 50's and is about 105 lbs. soaking wet, and I'm not exaggerating. She can wear kid's clothing. She wanted to know about my progress, what I'm doing, etc. (I'm actually getting kinda sick of explaining this to people, but I was nice, of course.)

    I told her I was 266 when I started, and now I'm down to 219.6. Her first question was, "How far are you wanting to take this?" I told her that with my height and age, a healthy weight range would be around 115 - 135 lbs. I told her I just want to fall within a normal BMI range.

    Here comes the kicker: She asks me, "Do you think you can even get down to that kind of weight? I probably looked at her like she had two heads. What do you say to that? "I'm almost up to 50 lbs. down. So, yes.... I think I can do it two more times, thanks for asking!" I was nice of course. I like this coworker and we've shared a lot over the years. But, she's not the first to ask me that.

    What's the reasoning behind asking a fat chick if she thinks she can lose that much? Weight loss is done the same way for me as it is for anyone else. Yes, as people lose weight the metabolism slows down and weight loss becomes slower and more difficult the closer someone comes to their healthy BMI.... But that's happens to everyone!

    We talk about fat shaming a lot on the forums...so why is it I'm starting to feel health shamed? What's the skinny-mind thinking?

    I'm obese, so I'll always be obese?
    I wasn't made or meant to be thin?
    That I don't have motivation or willpower?
    I'm not educated enough to make good choices?

    I'm not horribly offended, but the constant questions surrounding how much I "THINK" I can lose is starting to make things awkward. I don't think.... I know. The formula of eating less and moving more is proven. Unless my body can defy science, YES... I know I can get myself down to a healthy BMI.

    Why do people feel they have the right to get into other people's health business? I really think the whole "right to say whatever I want" thing has gotten out of hand. MYOB, folks!

    I also want to add that, in my opinion, having close relationships with co-workers tends to lead to these kinds of situations. I have a new teaching partner and we used to text each other a lot, until words were exchanged that could have been better stated in person. I no longer text him. Also, I keep our working relationship strictly professional. I have enough of a support system outside and away from my workplace, that I do not want or need anyone I work with knowing too much about my private life. It causes less drama and doesn't blur the lines between work and home life.

    However, I understand I am probably one of very few people out there who feel like this.Many people find their closest friends at work. I respect that, too.