Question Re: What to Say?

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-19-2003
Question Re: What to Say?
Tue, 03-02-2004 - 12:28pm
Here's my situation:

One of my co-workers, who is a very lovely person, a good friend and about 80 pounds overweight, comes by my office every morning to chat. Every morning she tells me how fat she feels, "do I look ok?", "are these pants too tight?", etc. Seriously this happens every stinking morning.

I tell her she looks fine. *Every morning*.

Is there any tactful way to say "please don't ask me if you look ok every morning"?? (BTW: I would feel the same way about these questions if she were skinny/average/whatever. I just find these inquiries to be annoying across the board when they're asked all the time.)

I know she *wants* to lose weight, she just doesn't have the motivation to do so. We talk about it a lot and I go to a Pilates or yoga class with her once a week b/c she's the type of person that needs a "gym buddy" in order to follow through.

She is one of the nicest people that I know. I don't know if her morning "stop bys" are to hear me say she looks Ok and give her a bit of confidence to go about her day or what. But honestly, she doesn't look ok. I know she knows this. So why does she ask me to tell her something that she knows is false?

Any suggestions? Should I just keep my mouth shut and put up with the daily routine? :)


iVillage Member
Registered: 11-12-2003
Tue, 03-02-2004 - 12:54pm
You won't like my answer!
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Tue, 03-02-2004 - 1:21pm
An overweight person can still look professional and well-groomed, you know. Trust me, no one who is 80 lbs. overweight is unaware that that she is overweight. However, feeling that she looks as good as she can under the circumstances will go a long way toward giving her confidence in her appearance, and without that she will have even more trouble finding the resolve to get into better physical condition.

If you think that overweight people always look ugly and unkempt simply by virtue of their size, then do your friend a favor and tell her that the question makes you uncomfortable because you feel that you have to lie about what you think. Of course, be prepared to lose the friendship, because she will take that response as shallow, which it is. (I think that finding excess weight unnattractive is a legitimate issue in a lover, but if you don't have to touch it, you shouldn't judge anyone on it.)

What you may be missing in all this is that her body might not be the issue; the issue might be grooming/fashion. If all she wants is some honest grooming feedback, then give it; tell her she ought to retire that particular pair of trousers, or a sweater that doesn't fit well, or a blouse that is the wrong color. Conversely, if her haircut or the color she's wearing is flattering, then say so.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 03-02-2004 - 1:44pm

Yeah, beat her to the punch.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-19-2003
Tue, 03-02-2004 - 1:56pm
Yes, I *know* an overweight person can look professional and well-groomed. I never implied any different. However, she's not asking me whether her shoes match her outfit or if the colors clash - she's asking me if her pants are too tight, if her sweater is too tight, if I can tell that she's unbuttoned the top button of her pants under her blouse b/c the waistband is digging into her stomach.

She generally initially asks "does this look ok?" and when I say yes (assuming she's asking whether it's office appropriate) she then follows up with one of the above questions regarding the *fit* of the outfit. I tell her it looks fine b/c I'd feel like an absolute b*tch saying "yes, those pants are too tight" or "yes, that outfit makes you look fat." To me, that's not the same thing as saying "yes, a brown shoe would look better with the outfit" or "yes, the red blouse clashes with your pants."

I'm a big fan of honesty, but there are some circumstances where lying is the better option. I just hate being put in this position on a daily basis.

AND - I *clearly* said in my post that these questions would bother me REGARDLESS of the size of the person asking them. NOWHERE did I say that I think "that overweight people always look ugly and unkempt simply by virtue of their size." I think everyone can look great if they pick the right outfit for their body type.

>>What you may be missing in all this is that her body might not be the issue; the issue might be grooming/fashion.<<

Trust me, I'm not missing anything. She is a friend and she discusses her weight issues with me very frequently. Her weight, not her fashion consciousness, is the issue. IMO, the former is much more sticky.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-18-2003
Tue, 03-02-2004 - 2:03pm
My response would most likely be soemthing to the effect of "You know? I really don't care what you look like. You're my friend because of who you are, not what you look like."

Choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color.  Choosing your socks by their character makes no sense and choosing your friends by their color is unthinkable.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-16-2003
Tue, 03-02-2004 - 2:05pm


Being overweight does not mean she can't look good!

Wearing clothes that are too tight or don't look right is another issue.

I would skip over the "Do I look fat?" questions and comment strictly on how her clothes look/fit and maybe give some helpful suggestions if needed.


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-19-2003
Tue, 03-02-2004 - 2:25pm
You're right, I don't like your answer! :)

I'm a big fan of honesty too, but sometimes I think it's not the best option. I don't necessarily agree with the "if she's really my friend she'll want to hear it" philosophy.

People ask things all the time that they *know* the answer to, they just want validation for their choices/a confidence boost, etc. So they ask a friend these questions b/c they know (most likely) the friend will tell them what they want to hear.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-19-2003
Tue, 03-02-2004 - 2:30pm
But doesn't addressing the "fit" issue really address the "fat" issue?

For example, if she asks me if her pants are too tight and I tell her "yes, they are a bit snug" - wouldn't someone who is sensitive about their weight take this as a slam against their size? Like I am saying she's too big to wear those pants?

I guess I just feel like I'm walking on eggshells with this issue . . . and maybe there is no "tactful" way to say anything.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-19-2003
Tue, 03-02-2004 - 2:31pm
I like that response.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 03-02-2004 - 2:35pm
Maybe you should tell her the truth if a pair of pants are to tight or a blouse is unflattering. Saying a pair of pants is to tight is not the same thing as calling her fat or making unflattering comments about her weight. Anyone can wear pants that are to tight whether they are overweight or not.