In Briefs: Commenting On Weight of Others

ZOË RICE: I know you may “boo hoo” and take out your tiny violins, but I recently lost 4 lbs–only 4 lbs!–from changing my workout routine, and if one more person tells me to eat more or asks me not to lose any more weight (and mind you I’m not trying to and I eat plenty) or makes a “too thin” comment I will snap. It’s weight in general. Not just overweightness. It’s an obsession, both in hollywood and in “normal life.” Not humor, I know, but oy it’s driving me crazy lately!

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: I agree that your weight is your goddamn business and no one else’s, unless you corner them and ask for their opinion. Even then it’s dicey. I remember going to a lifesaving body image workshop in college where the instructor discussed the amazing concept that it was inappropriate to comment on someone else’s weight. I think that is really true– thinner or fatter, it’s no one else’s business. I have always felt weird when people have commented on my body as though they’re saying, ‘nice haircut’ or ‘new jeans?’.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Isn’t “New jeans?” just another way of saying, “You’ve lost weight!” My mom lost a lot of weight about ten years ago, and her least favorite compliment was when someone would say, “You have lost a TON of weight”, because she felt retroactively judged. And I don’t blame her!
When friends of mine obviously lose weight, I’ve found “You look terrific” to be more than sufficient. And I wonder still if they walk away thinking I’ve just been a bit too direct about their weight loss.

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: Still, when I have coworkers who constantly tell me I look skinny, I tell them in turn that they look skinny, since I know it’s something they probably consider to be a compliment, since they use it as one. So I’m probably perpetuating the cycle.

ZOË RICE: I think “You look terrific” is great. TPP New Years resolution to only say You look terrific instead of skinny? Or even better–”You look so healthy. I can see how the nutrients from fruits and vegetables and whole wheat and grains have enlivened your complexion and added extra years to your life. Those years look amazing!”

And Howard, jeans are in their own category. The right ones are just plain magical. There’s a whole book series about it.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Molly’s right. The cycle must end. When someone tells me I look skinny, I’m going to up the ante by saying, “You look emaciated” or possibly, “Are you dying?”

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: Or, “Only next to you!”

ZOË RICE: Just answer “It’s the tapeworm. I named him Toby.”

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: Or, “Depression.”

I once wrote a satirical magazine article called “Sad Yourself Thin!” I talked about how chocolate cake doesn’t taste all that delicious when you’re busy contemplating the futility of existence.

ZOË RICE: “Cancer.”


HOWARD MEGDAL: This is an open forum for all kinds of jokes. No apologies needed.

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: I would like to note that two very popular recent books had female main characters who were overweight, and both of them got skinny by the end of the book by GOING CRAZY.

In “She Comes Undone”, by Wally Lamb, the protagonist was in a mental institution, and pictures mold growing on food in order to make herself lose a substantial amount of weight.

In “Good in Bed”, by Jennifer Weiner, the protagonist loses a ton of weight by having a nervous breakdown and WALKING AROUND A LOT FOR AWHILE.

What. The. Hell.

ZOË RICE: “Concentration camp.”

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: “Pooping a lot.”

HOWARD MEGDAL: Regarding the two books- is it a recommended weight loss technique? Or more like a silver lining?

“Pooping as we speak.”

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: I personally felt like the authors in each case needed to end on a happy note, which had to involve skinny protagonists. Which was kind of too bad.

ZOË RICE: May I unleash my inner Don Draper and remark that Molly has touched on quite an ad campaign? “Laxatives: More fun than going crazy. Or cancer.”

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: “Poop Yourself Thin!”

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