Yes. It Is Rude To Tell Someone They Are Overweight

Rude Questions for Overweight People

Anyone who has a blog probably smiles sometimes at the search terms people use to find their blog. I get a lot of crazy search terms like “dentist, hot tea, summer jumping, funny things to talk to fat people about,” etc.

One term that keeps coming up is this: “Is it rude to tell someone they are overweight?

My simple answer to this is: “Yes.”

Yes, it is rude to tell someone they are overweight, unless you are a doctor talking to a patient. They probably get a pass although I personally never wanted to talk about my weight with my doctor or anyone else.

I personally had people tell me I was overweight when I weighed over 250 pounds. They would ask me if I knew I was overweight. And then they would share with me their ideas on how I could stop being overweight. (Really.)

Each time someone told me about my weight I politely nodded, smiled, and tried not to show how much he or she had hurt my feelings. You see – I already knew I was overweight. I knew exactly what I weighed and what size I wore. I didn’t need anyone to tell me about my weight.

It’s one of those questions that drove me crazy and bothered me most right after this question: “When are you due?” I cannot even tell you how many times someone asked me how much longer I had until the baby came when I wasn’t even pregnant at all.

It was very hurtful and even though I knew they did not mean to hurt my feelings – they still did.

It was hard to get over, although there was an upside in the end. I think having to answer those questions or listen to someone share how I should lose weight made extra sensitive to other people’s weight problems.

As a side note, I never ask a woman when she is due unless she first tells me she’s pregnant. I obviously never, ever tell someone they are overweight or give them unasked for advice. I know how awful that feels and never want to inflict that kind of pain on anyone.

Are you ever surprised how free people seem to be when it comes to talking about someone else’s weight? Diane

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Comments

  1. I completely agree with you…it’s not right tot ell somebody they are overweight. 99% of the times people know when they are overweight and they are struggling to get that sorted so it’s rude to point it out. Though if it somebody very close to me instead of saying they are overweight I will ask them if they have time to join me when I am exercising because I need company…just a way of getting them to exercise :)

  2. I’ve heard that you should never ask a woman if she is pregnant unless you can actually see a baby coming out of her.

    I’ve never told someone they were overweight or given unsolicited advice, but I was very thoughtless once in that I had just auditioned for a show and had a few months until rehearsals started, and commented to one of the other women about how I had that time to try to lose some weight. I was only thinking about myself, not her at all, but I realised later that she was a lot more overweight than I was and it was a bit insensitive of me. As if it was important for me/us to be skinny to do this show, which could have made her feel I didn’t think SHE was thin enough. But I wasn’t thinking about her weight at all! And also I know it annoys me when people thinner than me talk about “oh, I’m so fat, I need to lose so much weight.”

    (PS we ended up making a great comedy team as aging strippers in the musical “Gypsy”, our weight was irrelevant.)
    Natalie recently posted…Les Liaisons DangerousesMy Profile

  3. People are so funny. Like they think we dont see that we are overweight. Duh. I have had a TON of people tell me how to lose weight. I feel like I know so much about losing weight that I could write a book. All I need is some person telling me how the stupid cabbage diet works or tell me to eat grapefruit. Yada yada yada. At this point in my life I think I would tell someone that their advice is not needed. It comes with age doesnt it? At least for me it did.

  4. I had the same thing happen to me too ! Someone asked me if I was pregnant when I wasn’t ! Uggh! How insensitive! I too! since then have not asked anyone EVER how far along they are! I don’t how much anyone weighs is anybody else’s business! People are really insensitive that way!
    Sheetal@mefatfree recently posted…Sick TalkMy Profile

    • I can’t even tell you how often that happened to me. After multiple times I would sometimes lie and say, “Oh yes – the baby is due in ________________.” It was easier on me and the other person.

  5. I also never ask anyone when they’re due. When I was much heavier than I am now, someone I know quite well looked at me and said, “At LEAST you have a tan.” um. what? ouch.

    Della

  6. Debra Davis says:

    And to comment on people being underweight, have acne, dandruff, a limp, etc. if you are not complementing then don’t say anything. It is rude to be critical of someone’s appearance. That goes for people that don’t dress the way you do or the way you think they should, tattoos, piercings.

    • It is rude to comment on someone’s appearance, etc. I believe in the old adage: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” That applies to weight and every other thing you listed.

  7. I’m constantly flabbergasted that people think it’s ok to remark on other’s weights. I, to this day, do not understand why they think they have a right to judgement about it. They comment on being too thin, too heavy, and then speculate about their habits (Oh, she must starve herself, oh she must eat ALL DAY!) and then somehow take it upon themselves to save those poor souls by saying something. In the end, my only conclusion about this rudeness is that it is solely about the person making the comment. That person has some sort of deep need to judge others and find them wanting, or to put themselves as some sort of beacon for the other person and they desperately want them to look to them for guidance. It’s ego. Horrible ego. No matter how many times they say that they just want everyone to be healthy, it’s not about “everyone” it’s about them and their ego.
    Kyra recently posted…Cold and TrainingMy Profile

    • I don’t understand it either. Weight seems to be the one of the last “acceptable” areas of discrimination and so many people feel free to make unkind remarks.

      • Yes, weight discrimination in the job market is very serious. Even though it could be considered a disability depending on whether it affects your life, heavy people have a tougher time getting a job. In part because of a perception that if you are heavy/fat you are lazy, stupid, dirty…..there aren’t good words to describe a fat person.

  8. Doctors must inform patients about their medical conditions! It would also be useful if they either suggested treatments or offered a referral to someone who could be more helpful for the person.
    Dr. J recently posted…Diet Soda Drinkers Consume More CaloriesMy Profile

  9. Rude … and pointless. If opening your mouth isn’t going to achieve anything, why are you doing it again? (Kyra’s hit this nail on the head, methinks.)

  10. Once a number of years back, I had a DR (who was bigger than me at the time) tell me that I probably was a few pounds overweight – not sure why she felt the need to do that because other than after having my first son, I’ve never really been close to overweight.
    Kim recently posted…Some Friday FavoritesMy Profile

  11. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. It actually happened today. I was picking up books and dvd’s from the library. I requested several workout dvd’s that I wanted to try. The guy behind the counter was scanning them out for me and he said “These should help you.”. I was like huh? He said “You know, lose weight? Because you are big. *Insert big hand motion here*”. Really?

    The only thing that annoys me more is when someone who clearly doesn’t need to lose any weight says they are fat. Ugh.
    Molly, from FitBegins recently posted…Weekly Weigh In: 1-24-14My Profile

    • That’s terrible. I still cannot believe how free people feel to comment on someone else’s weight. I’m so sorry that happened to you.

      I’ve had lots of friends who were thin and often complained about how “fat” they are. I always wonder if they are trying to get a compliment or just feel insecure.

  12. YES!! Even well-meaning friends seem to want to have “The Talk” where they think they have all sorts of new ideas to help. Sometimes I wish I had a shirt that says, “Yes, I’m fat…I’m working on it!” And even then some people would probably comment :)
    Jen recently posted…Biggest Loser Makeover Week – Review/ReflectionMy Profile

    • I hated “the talk” from friends. It ended up being awkward and depressing. After it would happen to me I’d promptly head over to the nearest fast food restaurant for a treat.

  13. You have to be real careful. Saying something this about someones weight is a moment that can change your relationship forever. You would be thinking “what did he/she mean by that?”. “How overweight am I?” “Do people really see this?” Losing weight is slow, steady progress. A moment like this may make you panic, take you off a proven method, and reach for a quick fix that doesn’t work. You need to be strong.

  14. I had someone ask me one time how I was feeling. At first I thought it was nice of her to notice me sniffling in the front row, but then I realized she had be confused with one of my very pregnant co-workers. I didn’t really know what to say in the moment and wanted to escape the room as soon as possible. But there I sat, in the front row, not hearing a word that was spoken for the rest of the seminar.

    I find it very difficult to talk publicly about all things involving weight. Even when people compliment me, I don’t want to respond. I think asking someone else how much weight they’ve lost is also kind of rude. If I tell you I’ve lost 70 pounds and I’m still as huge as I am…that’s a level of transparency that I’m simply not ready for.

    • Congratulations on the weight loss Jenn! I completely sympathize with being asked about pregnancy. There are no words to express how awkward it feels.

      I understand not being comfortable with sharing details of your weight loss with people because you never know how they will react or whether they will be supportive. I often felt funny asking for low calorie dressing when I weighed 280 pounds and was in the process of losing weight. I wondered what the server thought.

  15. There is another side to this rude behavior that people may not realize. I hate when people give me this ‘compliment.’

    “Oh my God, you must have lost a thousand pounds.”

    Thank you, no, I did not weigh half a ton.
    Jane~ recently posted…Update January 20, 2014My Profile

  16. People never cease to amaze me Diane & many times in a not nice way.. :(
    Jody – Fit at 56 recently posted…Abdominal Talk & Are you on Instagram? Readers, I need to know for a GiveawayMy Profile

  17. When I was at my heaviest a year ago, sometimes I would get little patronizing remarks when I was checking out at a store. I remember it happening a handful of times at GameStop (multiple stores across multiple states). And it was always the same little phrase, “hey, big guy, how can I help you?” This still makes me angry. You are just going along minding your own business and when someone says that to you, they may as well of slapped you. 65 lbs down it isn’t happening now but that is almost more depressing.

  18. Yep…rude it is…
    Lynn recently posted…Detoxifying my life….My Profile

  19. Anni Hart says:

    Yupe, it’s rude … even to your own child

  20. I think venues like FB have to some extent loosened lips more than they ought to be. I am amazed at what gets said on open media sites, and how being able to get away with saying it there empowers people to be rude in person. Maybe rude people have always been rude, but it seems more prevalent to me today.

  21. Totally not OK to tell someone they are overweight. Like you, I knew I was overweight…just had to look in the mirror. My new pet peeve is people still commenting on my weight telling me I’m too skinny. I’m not at all and that has been confirmed by both my PCP and cardiologist. I even had one friend ask me if I were bulimic. Really?
    Not sure why people feel free to give advice on our weight. Stop!

  22. I had a lady tell me you know I hate to bust your bubble but you have got fat! Hurt my feelings feelings but some people are just thoughtless and rude.