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Saved 5/02/10 to Group Therapy

What do I say when someone keeps calling themselves fat?


There is someone in my life who I don't see very often, but every time I see her she makes comments about her weight. I can tell that she feels really bad about it because she talks about it A LOT-- in a way that she is jokingly making fun of herself. Since she is overweight (but she is trying to lose weight), I think it would be so fake to just say oh you're not fat, or something like that. But I don't know what to say. I feel like she takes it as an insult if I laugh awkwardly at her self-depreciating jokes, but I just really don't know what to say (because many times anything you say concerning weight can be taken as an insult). What can you say in this situation?

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Bubbles12 Bubbles12 2 years 3 days
Putting ourselves down is something women do socially to support what Pat Heim, social research scientist called "The dead even rule". Any woman who seems uppity is subject to other women bringing her down a peg (or more) so we reflexively say these little self-deprecating things to show we're part of the group. That said, weight issues can be a major deal. Some women really are in a lot of pain and are bringing it up for comfort in a really awkward, no-win for you way. When women do this to me repeatedly or with some actual emotion I say: "I am not sure what to say to that. I could argue you're not and discount your feelings or I could agree and essentially be calling you fat. Either would just be rude. Feeling fat can be so painful. Is something up you want to talk about?" Generally that stops it dead in it's tracks if it's an annoying tick, or it opens up a real conversation.
isc98118 isc98118 2 years 4 days
I think taking the focus off of weight is the best approach here. I would say 'it hurts me and makes me uncomfortable when you say unkind things about yourself'. Someone said this to me once and it changed my self-talk.
4 years 5 weeks
I would tell her that self improvement is a long hard road but at least she has undertaken the journey, offer her encouragement, or to be her workout buddy. Point out to her that her self bashing isn't making her situation any better, and it would be more helpful to her self esteem if she would try to find good things about herself.
Skeptic52 Skeptic52 4 years 16 weeks
You technically don't have to say "you're not fat", but you can help her to feel more beautiful by telling her what is beautiful about her...at whatever weight. Maybe she has great hair or a beautiful smile or she's really smart or funny. Just be sincere. She will probably brush it off to be modest, but it will make a difference. Women are pressured so much to have the perfect body, they need to be reminded that other qualities get noticed too. Hopefully, she'll get to her goal weight eventually and feel good about her body too, but she'll be glad that you were there to appreciate the other good qualities too and support her. You can't change how she feels about herself overall, but you can help her to see that people do notice all the other great qualities she has.
lanwa lanwa 4 years 17 weeks
Maybe ask her why she thinks she's in the state she's in now....she could be a compulsive overeater- andperhaps an O/A 12 step program might help her. Tell her to go to a meeting-they're FREE and everywhere on the planet. Or suggest that only she can change her life-ask her what she wants to do? complain? or make a change?Or maybe she's just venting...
MudFlap MudFlap 4 years 18 weeks
In your post (OP) you said that you don't see her very often. Okay, try seeing her even less often. The next time you see her, invite her to the gym or ask her if she would like to train for a marathon. Tell her that a marathon training group is a great way to meet healthy people (and it is) and those healthy habits just might 'rub off' on her. If she's truly a pain..... to her to lose weight or shut the Hell up. (tough love -- not for everybody -- works for guys)
joriss joriss 4 years 19 weeks
I think its her way of releasing her stress on how fat she is. She knows that and she just want your opinion about it. Gave her some comforting words and advise.
luisamapacha luisamapacha 4 years 19 weeks
I dated a guy like this and it was really annoying, especially because he never lost any weight. The next time she brings it up, turn her joke into a more serious conversation. Ask how she likes the gym she joined, or if she's found a class she really likes. Ask if she's been tracking her weight or just going by the way her clothes feel. You can also compliment her efforts. Say "I think it's awesome you're getting into better shape. I think we could all use more exercise."
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 4 years 19 weeks
I'd just smile and say nothing. Just like when my friend, who has the messiest house I've ever seen, apologizes for the mess whenever I come over and acts like she's been too busy to clean, when I know she just watches TV all day long.
hexentanz hexentanz 4 years 19 weeks
Just ignore her. She is looking for a response and will not like either one.
4 years 20 weeks
Just ask her "what are you doing about it?" Tell her to be honest... If she's doing nothing, then remind her that that means that nothing will change. If she's working at it, then tell her to hang in there and that you don't want to hear her be mean to herself while she's waiting for the pounds to drop.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 4 years 20 weeks
Buy her a Slim-Fast.
4 years 20 weeks
I have this same problem with a regular customer at my cafe. Every time she comes in she makes some sort of remark about her weight, loosing weight, she's being"bad" by eating a brownie, or something like that. She makes me and my other customers uncomfortable, so much so a unintentional rude remark was made to her by another customer and started an argument in the middle of the Cafe! sheesh...I just smile now
lemuse20 lemuse20 4 years 20 weeks
Just don't say anything about it at all. There's no sense in stating the obvious, instead - say something positive about her. Maybe she has pretty eyes? A great sense of humor? A special talent in something?
inlove23 inlove23 4 years 20 weeks
I agree meeshee. I would just be like stop worrying
boredgourdless boredgourdless 4 years 20 weeks
You write that she is trying to lose weight and get healthy. Shedding pounds, especially when you have a long way to go, is very hard. She may be feeling discouraged about her progress. I would listen and ask if she wants to go to the gym sometime, or do any healthy activities. My very best friend was obese throughout our childhood and into our mid-twenties. I've learned that constant commenting about weight means that she is thinking about it, a lot, and she may need some encouragement.
meeshee meeshee 4 years 20 weeks
don't say "you're not fat," just say in a lighthearted manner "oh, stop it." you're not indirectly telling her anything except to stop talking about her weight and you're not lying by saying she isn't fat. tell her top either stop it or stop talking about herself like that. it's encouraging without lying as well! that's what i say with my friends who are overweight and they do stop talking about it.
dootsie dootsie 4 years 20 weeks
For the love of God, women, please stop talking about how fat you are. And please stop saying "Ohhhh, you're not fat" or sharing your own "I'm so fat" stories when someone else says it. It's toxic. The next time she says it, tilt your head to one side and say, "You know, you talk about that a lot. Have you considered talking to a therapist about this? I think you're lovely, but you clearly you are having a hard time seeing in yourself what I see in you."
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 4 years 20 weeks
There is no easy way to respond to this. Maybe something like, "There are more important qualities that make someone special" or something along those lines? I know it's cliche to say that true beauty comes from within, but I don't really know what other kind of verbal response is appropriate. Perhaps encourage her to find ways to feel good about herself by suggesting activities that build a person's character. I've always been more inclined to be healthiest when I'm feeling good about myself. If you love yourself, you want to take care of yourself (physically and mentally). Personally, I've usually taken the route that glowingmoon has and given them a comforting look, but there isn't really anything you can say. She is searching for some kind of validity, but she will not find that through constant self-deprecation while she waits for someone to say that she isn't. If she is very overweight, it's obvious to her and everyone else. She doesn't need to constantly vocalize it. She needs to find other ways to feel good about herself rather than fishing for a compliment.
seraphimm seraphimm 4 years 20 weeks
Really, people? When was a woman's insecurity about weight and appearance so unheard of? I don't agree with the advice that you should ignore her. You seem genuinely concerned, and that's why she's desperately reaching for your help. The more she throws out hints of self-hate, the more you need to encourage and motivate her to who she aspires to be. Not just a physically healthy human being, but confident and strong-minded woman. Also, I don't think it matters how close you are to this person. If you are a caring person, you do what's best for your friend. If you have to wonder if you're close enough to care, don't even bother. Why be friends with someone you don't care below the surface of a convenient, superficial friendship? It's up to you what you can imagine will help her, as we don't know her personally. Is she the type to come to a kickboxing class if you asked her to join? Would she be interested in becoming gym buddies? Morning walks together?
b1uebunn b1uebunn 4 years 20 weeks
She's probably doing it to avoid someone else saying (or since you're adults, thinking) it first. Especially for the poster who went hiking with a morbidly obese friend--she felt bad. She felt bad that she's dragging you down and looking sweaty and ridiculous. She is almost apologizing. It's horrible. So sad. I'd suggest a proactive, friendly approach. "Do you want to go on a walk together?" etc type stuff. If she's a close enough friend, you can say that you noticed she's upset about her weight, and while you're her friend no matter what she looks like, you want to support her in her endeavors. Offer to be a buddy. Even if she doesn't take you up on it, she will appreciate the gesture.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 4 years 20 weeks
My advice is to just jump right in. When she makes a self deprecating remark about her weight. If the moment is right and it's just you two alone just say... honey you know I care about you and I can't help but noticing that you don't seem happy with your weight when you make remarks like that about yourself. If you ever want to talk or you need support just let me know. That is IMO a simple and safe segue to actually having a friendly supportive conversation about it with her.
JoeTyndall JoeTyndall 4 years 20 weeks
OP, I am in the minorty here, but if she is a really close friend, I think it would be good to sit down and talk to her, and also find ways that you can comfort her and encourage her in a tender way to both lose weight and not complain so much.
dikke-kus dikke-kus 4 years 20 weeks
Don't say anything about her weight of course. As a friend I might ask her to work out with you. Maybe you could invite her to the gym you attend? Just a thought. I try to do things for friends. I try to take action. Talking about it will do nothing and make her feel worse.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 4 years 20 weeks
Generally, I'm silent on that matter. I just look at them gently, and say nothing. I don't ignore them, as I generally don't ignore people. My silence and gentle look are my responses.