One of the things that happens when you are fat in a fatphobic society is that people who are under the mistaken impression that their beeswax is located on our bodies, plates, shopping carts etc., make inappropriate comments about our bodies, food choices, shopping carts etc.
One of the options that I often suggest to counter this is replying with a personal inquiry of your own. For example, if someone says “Do you really need to eat two of those?” I might respond with “How are your bowel movements?” and when they look at me surprised I say “I’m sorry, I thought we were asking each other inappropriate personal questions.” Today one of my readers (who asked to remain anonymous but gave permission to share her story) wrote me to say that she used the technique successfully:
I was just at my local grocery store, buying groceries and the cashier spent a lot of time looking at my items, ringing them up, rolling her eyes, and then announced rather loudly. “What … umm… interesting food choices you seem to be making today.” (I am not telling you what I was buying, because what I am buying shouldn’t matter to anyone who isn’t paying for it, right?) I didn’t miss a beat and replied “I think you’d do better with a little less eyeliner.” She looked shocked and I smiled and replied, “I’m sorry, I though we were exchanging inappropriate personal comments.”
So awesome, I tip my hat to you reader!
There are a couple of things to remember about this technique. First I try to pick something that people are going to think is too personal, but I am careful not to engage in body shaming – I think it important not to do to someone else exactly what I don’t want done to me. Also, I’m prepared for them to answer – if they say “My poop is great, thanks for asking!” I say “Thanks for sharing that with me, it’s good to know that your bowel movements are an ok topic of conversation for us. My food choices are not, please respect that.”
Obviously it’s not right for every situation, but I think it’s a good tool for my “Dealing with Fatphobic Bullshit” toolbox. Have your own examples? Leave them in the comments!
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12 thoughts on “Fun With Inappropriate Personal Comments”
A colleague at work told me with much concern in the lunchroom, in public, “It only takes a little effort to lose weight.” I replied with a little rhyme I had written… “You may think I’m overweight, you might think I should be thinner, but that does not give you the right to tell me what to have for dinner.”
I like it!
“It only takes a little effort to peruse an etiquette book and discover which conversation topics should be avoided as they are insulting to others.”
Perhaps your colleague isn’t aging well. That’s usually my take when folks get ‘in your business’ like that.
I’d probably say “Oh, that’s great for you! How much did you lose?”
Which is not making the world a better place, nor me a better person, but it amuses me.
“Oh, so you think *I* should lose it. Actually, I am currently putting a little effort into squatting my bodyweight/singing a good high c/brushing up on my infinitesimal calculus/learning Welsh/training for Ironman, and I wouldn’t wish to interrupt that for something even easier, I’d get lazy.”
Mine might be overly specific because it has to do with my friend Roger who is like this ridiculous ultra athlete (he runs 100 mile races in one day…there is no possible way that is healthy) but if you like it please use it! We were the only two “out” queer kids who grew up around Navy bases in the 80s so we’ll always have a bond but his comments can be very insensitive. I went to see him finish a race once and as he came into view it was very clear that he had tortured his body so much by running for 20 hours strait that he had poop running down his legs.
So maybe a year after this race we a group of us former Navy brats had taken a group trip to Hawaii and he said:
“Simon, you have put on a lot of weight, I just worry about you buddy”
So I replied with
“I may have put on weight, but at least my bowels can wait!”
I wish I could say that put a stop to his concern trolling forever but at least it stopped the conversation from going any further that night!
I just say: “So, how’s your sex life? Are you using birth control? Let me tell you what I think you should do with your uterus. Do you have a few minutes?”
Of course, this is if I’m speaking to a woman. I guess if it’s a guy, I would day, “So, how’s your prostate?”
I haven’t ever actually used this technique, but it’s certainly nice to have it waiting in my back pocket in case of need!
As A type 2 diabetic with allergy to wheat, I’ve had a lot of changes I. My eating patterns over the years. None of it made a damned bit of difference in my weight (except for those months that a med I took caused chronic diarrhea and I pooped away much of my life). So anyhow, I have great fun eating with other teachers at lunch and weirding them out. I figured out a long time ago that my biggest meal should be lunch, I just feel better having it in the middle of my day. So imagine me with generous portions of beef and veggies, big glass of milk and a couple fistfuls of gf cookies or other snacks while all those around me are eating a single yogurt or tiny portions of less attractive foods. Someone always says something…to which I always reply, I eat this way by doctors orders. Sometimes I add, “he did make me give up beer, though….I drink scotch instead. Less impact on my blood sugar.
Hahaha! For me it’s breakfast. “Well, I can have this big breakfast that you think is a bad idea for fat ol’ me, or I can be a horrible dragon until lunchtime, eat a big lunch, and fall asleep. 🙂 “
I’m a big tall woman – I often get asked how tall I am (which really pisses me off). I like to counter with “How much do you weigh?”, which tends to shut people up, because yeah, DUH, IT’S A PERSONAL QUESTION AND HOW ABOUT WE MIND OUR OWN UNDERPANTS, HUH? Thanks Regan. I’m going to expand my responses to bowel movements and eyeliner! 🙂
My husband is extremely tall and gets asked this all the time as well. It enrages me. He is much more generous and asks the stranger “how tall are you?” They always look at him as though he is the one asking a stupid question.
One of my college buddies was quite tall. When people asked him his height, he’d say, “I’m six-foot-nine-and-a-half. How short are you?”
He had a shirt that read, “No, I don’t play basketball. Do you play miniature golf?”