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Rant: insults directed to image before weight loss/ obtuse relatives

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Old 07-25-2012, 12:31 PM   #1
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Angry Rant: insults directed to image before weight loss/ obtuse relatives

Urgh I can't understand why some compliments exit people's mouths with a pricking sour aftertaste. An example: "Your face is so much smaller now! You used to be SOOOOOOOOOOO fat and out of control!" (paraphrased/translated)

Well, that obese body was mine, I think I'm clearer than anyone else regarding the fact I had to lose weight, WHICH IS WHY I DID!! Gosh. And the person living in that body is me, with the same intellect, talents and capabilities. But no, the culture I'm in views weight gain as a terrible vice. Despite the fact that I'm in college and working part-time to support myself and ease the family burden, despite receiving good grades and attaining a scholarship, I was obese and viewed as the smart but fat girl who is a terrible failure at controlling her eating. The capable but ugly sister.

Every single time when when I return to my parent's birth country, my weight and appearance is always the first thing to be blurted out of my obtuse relatives' mouths would be, "you look fatter than you did last year!", "did you put on weight?", "you put on a lot of weight in this year huh?". And then following all these 'concerned questions' will be round after round of food-pushing. Seriously, just make up your mind.

Will be back this year to visit them again (routine). I already know what they will say. "Oh you lost so much weight! you were as fat as a -insert animal of choice- when I last saw you!", "you look so much better now! Now be careful of what you eat, otherwise you will be as big as fat as you had been", "You must have listened to our advice to lose weight right?"


If not for this strict asian familial hierarchy, I would have marched up and ask them to shut the heck up. I was already an achiever, even at my highest weight. And my weight loss was not for them, but for myself. I hate hate hate it when people insult your past self "since you are slim now". So insensitive and ill-informed. Low EQ. I am what I am now because I had a past, and my past experience shape me to be who I am now, the 'past' and 'present' selves are not segregated entities but different phases of the same, complex individual. I lost weight, not my identity.

Okay end of rant, I feel much better after letting off the steam. Do you get angry when people insult your past self?
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:42 PM   #2
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Yes. And I get angry when people insult their OWN past selves too!

Fat me IS me. I'm just smaller now. If you didn't want to talk to me then because I was fat, don't bother now.
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:59 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by TheGreenerSide View Post
"You must have listened to our advice to lose weight right?"
This is what bugs me the most... like they are trying to take credit for the work YOU did, like they were your main motivation... Grr!
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Old 07-25-2012, 01:04 PM   #4
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It is strange that people think it is OK to make remarks about our weight. Evidently they must think we have no feelings. We know all about our weight and are dealing with it as best we can, we do not need to be reminded that we are/were fat. I have no answer for this other than try to ignore their
ignorant remarks.
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Old 07-25-2012, 02:40 PM   #5
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This is what bugs me the most... like they are trying to take credit for the work YOU did, like they were your main motivation... Grr!
Yeah, but even HERE, you see folks reinforcing that belief by encouraging folks to use verbal abuse as motivation. When someone is treated like dog crap because of their weight and posts about it, at least 1/3 of the responses carry that message.

And if that advice actually worked, the abusers really could legitimately take some of the credit?

But the truth is, it doesn't work. It only makes the overweight person feel worse about themselves, and less capable of changeing. Because if you even half believe that you're lazy, worthless, crazy or stupid - you're going to act that way.

And while some subcultures accept more direct and vocal expression of the abusive criticism, it's just as prevalent in the American-wide culture. Although it's considered "too rude to say" in many families, they can convey exactly the same message with a single look - and the devastation is just as severe (if not worse, because you can't argue well against the look - the person will just deny thinking what you knew they were thinking).

For example, I've been obese since kindergarten, and the family on my mother's side (polish/german) was very free with comments. Mostly they weren't aggressively critical. Instead, there was the sad-eyed sympathetic look, the shaking of heads, and the sweet voice delivering the message, "you have such a beautiful face, but if you don't slim down, you'll never find a husband...." or other great wisdom, served with a big dish of sympathy.

I HATED it, and yet I discovered there's much worse. My husband's mother has only SAID something about hubby's and my weight a couple times (one was a real doozy of a letter, letting us know how much our fat was hurting HER). She is appaled that my family will directly criticise, because she thinks that's "abusive and rude," and yet what she does is so much worse, because you can't directly FIGHT what hasn't been said. She's the queen of the "backhanded compliment."

She conveys a bigger punch to the gut with her indirect comments than my family with the direct criticism.

In my family, I can address the criticisms directly. I've tried it all. Direct confrontation (only causes an argument that lasts forever) - Education about what obesity really is like (sometimes sinks in, but usually I'm told I'm wrong and don't know nearly as much as I think I do), and finally just refusing to discuss the matter and walking away calmly when they start (works great to my face. Behind my back they'd all say "Colleen's so touchy, you can't say anything to her without her getting mad and walking away."

I was really angry when my sister first told me this, and then I realized that I didn't care what they said about me behind my back, as long as they didn't say it to my face. I also had to tell everyone I didn't want to HEAR what others said about me behind my back - and for some had to start walking away when they decided they'd tell me anyway.

Ultimately you can't control others opinions or prevent them from speaking them, but you don't have to respect the opinion or let it hurt you. Sometimes the best way to deal with them is to say what YOU want to say back (even if you can only do it in your own head).

A response that I found kept the peace AND made me feel great was to seem to agree without lying. A smile and outwardly saying "you could be right about that" while thinking "in an alternate universe where cats rule the world and a flying pig is president."
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Old 07-25-2012, 02:51 PM   #6
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Can you, within your culture, just ignore them and change the subject?
"How nice to see you. How are your grandchildren?"
or
give as good as you get?
"Yes, I was fat. I see you have gotten more wrinkled. Have you bought any cremes for that?"
or smother them with sarcasm?
"How wonderfully perceptive of you. I never knew I was fat. Thank you for telling me. I am going to have to completely adjust my perception of myself and remember that FAT is the most important thing about me!!"

Well, only the first suggestion.
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:50 PM   #7
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Froggy - I'm dying, lol. I'd love to see someone's reaction to that last one!

I think it also depends on who makes the remark; I cringe as soon as two of my great aunts enter the room. You KNOW they are going to make some smart comment. "oh, you've lost weight.... Do you find it hard to maintain?" may seem innocent enough, but knowing that I've lost and regained before, it rubs me raw.

However, there are friends of my parents that I know reasonably well... They speak plainly - "you've lost a ton, you look good" - it would drive me nuts coming from those aunts, but coming from someone else I know, knowing there's no malice behind it, it doesn't bother me.

Some people are just @$$3$. At least there's a cure for fat ;-) there's no cure for being an @$$.
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:12 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by k8yk View Post
Yes. And I get angry when people insult their OWN past selves too!

Fat me IS me. I'm just smaller now. If you didn't want to talk to me then because I was fat, don't bother now.
Yes!! I feel bewildered when people insult their past self because of poor body image. "Fat me" was the motivated chick who kick-started the journey of weight loss in the first place, for that I am proud of myself! And wouldn't you have to love yourself enough to even begin taking care of your body? I sure was disappointed with myself and my eating habits and attitudes before, but I will never hate myself. I did not become a "new" person. I became stronger.


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Originally Posted by EricAnn View Post
This is what bugs me the most... like they are trying to take credit for the work YOU did, like they were your main motivation... Grr!
I agree.. Man this extends beyond the family and it is terrible. I was working part-time as a clinic assistant in a factory and I had 2 colleagues who were very sweet. (long story ahead) And we had a cleaner who was responsible for cleaning up the area every day before closing time. So anyway, we call her 'Auntie" and my colleagues will chat with her when she comes (we call almost every older person "auntie/uncle" as a way to show politeness, regardless of the lack of blood relationship").

My colleague, H, was 4 years older than me but was the youngest there so the Auntie has always called her "xiao mei" (youngest sister/ endearing term for girls much younger than you are)

H said jokingly "Auntie, I'm not the xiao mei anymore! She's younger than me!" (gesturing towards me)

Now for the apex of the story. She replied "She's not xiao mei! She's pang mei mei! (fat younger sister)"

I was very hurt to say the least. And that came after I have lost 6 kg!! (~13 lbs) My other colleague, E, defended me and said "Eh Auntie! She has already lost a lot of weight!" To which the Auntie said "Not enough" and went on and on about how they had a colleague who was overweight and they teased him. And how he asked them to continue to call him "fatty" so that he will stay motivated to lose weight and he eventually did lose the weight.

Insults form a terrible psychological abuse. The auntie had to cheek to say "hey don't be angry" when I remained silent. The only appropriate response here will be "Nevermind, it's OK" (as if I took it as a "joke").

Hope that I'll never see her again. I can't imagine how smug she'll be if she sees me and think that she was a great motivating force which led me to START losing weight (completely untrue). Then again, if I ever see her again and she make those remarks, I should probably educate her nicely (as much as possible).

As kaplods said, verbal abuse does NOT work. And I do agree that indirect comment/disapproving looks can hurt as much as abrasive words do. Sometimes we get both together and it's like a blinding flash of lightning followed by the deafening thunder. Terrible that we have to deal with this sort of behaviour. Gah.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaplods View Post
Ultimately you can't control others opinions or prevent them from speaking them, but you don't have to respect the opinion or let it hurt you. Sometimes the best way to deal with them is to say what YOU want to say back (even if you can only do it in your own head).

A response that I found kept the peace AND made me feel great was to seem to agree without lying. A smile and outwardly saying "you could be right about that" while thinking "in an alternate universe where cats rule the world and a flying pig is president."
I like this method. I shall use it to keep my cool the next time I meet them. Thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by froggydawgy View Post
Can you, within your culture, just ignore them and change the subject?
"How nice to see you. How are your grandchildren?"
or
give as good as you get?
"Yes, I was fat. I see you have gotten more wrinkled. Have you bought any cremes for that?"
or smother them with sarcasm?
"How wonderfully perceptive of you. I never knew I was fat. Thank you for telling me. I am going to have to completely adjust my perception of myself and remember that FAT is the most important thing about me!!"

Well, only the first suggestion.
Haha!! froggydawgy I love your suggestions!. My aunts and uncles mostly don't have grandchildren yet but they have better things to do with their children than to make hurtful comments. They may be old but they sure ain't mature. (I hope the children don't take after them). As for my grandma, I will just let it slide since she's so old already.

As for the second suggestion, I REALLY LOVE IT!!! I would use it but I would be immediately disowned by my parents so nope haha.

Hm for the last one huh, I actually think that it MAY work. If it gets really bad then I'll tweak it and use it in a way such that I won't be disowned haha.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dancingirl81 View Post
Some people are just @$$3$. At least there's a cure for fat ;-) there's no cure for being an @$$.
Heh I totally agree. There are just people who are incredibly dense and rude! I wish compliments were delivered in a civilised manner, with no insults attached!! Oh and those who don't even give back-handed compliments, they just go straight in for the attack and mockery. Oh well, I lose my fat, but they have yet to lose their ugly personality.

Wow this is such a long rambling reply haha! Thanks for sharing your experiences with me!
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Old 07-26-2012, 01:10 AM   #9
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Another option that works with some people is to say calmly (not in an angry or whining voice), "I'm not sure if you realize how much these comments hurt me."

The usual response from relatives (at least in my family) is "you're too touchy/sensitive/melodramatic....."

Then I pull out the "You're probably right, but I'm going to ask you to stop anyway, because it doesn't help me, and only hurts me and makes me not want to be around you, which hurts me every more, because I love you so much and I want to enjoy spending time with you."

If you can put enough sincerity in it, only the grinchiest of relatives will keep at it (they may forget and bring the topic up again, but I just pull out the script and use it again).

If they keep at it, or come back at it a little while later, instead of "Are you trying to hurt me?" I say, "I told you this hurts me, so I can only assume that you want to hurt me for some reason. Why?"

I can't promise you it will work on everyone, but it's worked well for me if I could keep the tone "just right." If I sounded angry or frustrated, then I was the disrespectful daughter, granddaughter, niece... and I didn't understand that their hurtful comments were for my own good.... But if I sound sincere, sad and bewildered (why would you want to hurt me when I love you soooo much?) it usually got them off my back, at least for a little while.

With some who wouldn't stop I would have to leave the room, and I'd say something (again in that sad, bewildered, I love you, voice) like "I know you mean well, but I really can't take this kind of talk, it upsets me too much."

And when they tell me I'm "too sensitive" I agree with them "you're probably right, but it's how I feel and I just can't deal with this right now," and I'd go home (or to my bedroom if I was living at home).

This is the only thing that worked with my mother, because I think she really did and does feel it's her duty to point out every failure and shortcoming I ever had, even when she knows I'm well aware of them. As if only her telling me is going to save me from making the same dreadful mistakes over and over (and instead her picking makes me even less willing to change, because I'm so MAD at her, that I want to do the opposite of what she says just for spite).

I had to be really, really creative in getting my mom to lay off. And even now, it's only partially successful. I do a lot of changeing the subject. "You're probably right, I'll work on that, excuse me I'll be right back, I have to use the bathroom (to pound my head against the wall a few times).

I could also be a little more directly confrontational than I think you'ld be comfortable with (and wouldn't cause a family incident), but I found that the direct confrontation didn't work and just caused arguments that escalated into an all-out battle of insults (not pretty).

I did learn thought that what I WANTED to say in THE WAY I wanted to say it, usually didn't work. The "I love you, and I know you love me, so I'ld like you to try it this way..... and if you think I SHOULD be able to listen to this for my own good, I'll agree but tell you I'm unfortunately not able to do that right now, so if you keep at it, I'm going to have to leave because I don't want to say or do anything disrespectful or hurtful....."

With a little practice, you do learn what works best with each problem family member to get them as quickly off your back as possible, and while I'm ashamed to admit it, I have even resorted to throwing another relative under the gossip bus (the worst of the nasty comments in my family are always about the family members who aren't present).

Regardless of how you choose to deal with it, you have to remember that this isn't really ABOUT you. And it's only hurtful if you believe or respect the opinions. If you can cultivate the attitude (and convince yourself that it really is 100% true) that the person doesn't have any clue what they're talking about - then the comments eventually stop hurting (it's like hearing the senile relatives talk nonsense, or accuse you of doing something horrible, because they mistake you for your mother or aunt - or their mother or aunt).

If you believe what they say is nonsense, it can't hurt you (of course the trick is learning to see it as nonsense). I find it helpful for me to drown out their words by saying to myself in my head "yada, yada, yada or blah, blah, blah."

Sometimes they do catch on and say "Are you listening to me," and then I'll say sincerely, "yes you were telling me how fat and ugly I was/am," (again sweet, non-accusing voice).

Sometimes this actually seems to create a spark of recognition on their part that they might have been too harsh, and I'll get a half-baked apology (not an apology for saying those things, but an apology that I was "so sensitive" as to misunderstand that they were done "for my own good." But of course "the you're probably right," comes in handy.

And just a tip, switch up the wording a bit every time you have to use it. If you use the exact same wording such as "you're probably right" they may l "catch on" that you're dismissing what they're saying and you will probably be accused of being disrespectful.

So find ways to agree or partially agree in any way you're comfortable.


I know it's kind of sad to feel the need to be so manipulative, but all is fair in love, war, and family politics.

Or you can be like my hubby and virtually disown your family and find ways to avoid seeing or speaking to them except on the holiday and family gatherings his wife (me) persuades him to attend (not a very popular choice in any culture).
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Old 08-10-2012, 10:18 PM   #10
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Well, I have to share a happy-funny-sweet story that's only loosely related to this thread. Maybe it will help to cheer us up about the insensitivity of some people... Not all family commentary is offensive.

A few years ago, my cousin, a very precocious then-four-year-old, came to visit my family. She lives several hours away, so I worried that she wouldn't remember me since it had been a little more than a year since we'd seen one another and she was so young, but she did. She was delighted to see me, bouncing up and down. She ran up to me, hugged me, grinned and said:

"My goodness, you've put on little weight haven't you?" in this perfectly sophisticated voice.

After a moment of utter shock, I looked at her cheerfully expectant face and realized she thought she'd said something terribly clever and complimentary.

My whole family cracked up. I couldn't stop laughing.

Somehow, having a cherub of a little girl who's trying so hard to sound like one of the grown-ups say that took the sting out of it. I still love that she was so pleased with herself, so certain that she'd just delivered a comment that would make me happy.

(Her mother, of course, looked completely mortified for the ten seconds it took me to start laughing my head off.) Kids.
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Old 08-11-2012, 03:23 AM   #11
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I used to live in Singapore...I remember sitting with my father at a hawker center and these 2 old ladies were commenting on how I was so fat and I looked like a little pig (either they assumed I couldn't understand them or they just didn't care).

It's so annoying and hurtful though how people put so much value on weight. Growing up in that kind of environment really screwed me up. I honestly wasn't that big but as soon as moving to America I binged constantly and blew up so huge. I still have so many issues with how I see myself it shocks the people who actually know about it.
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Old 08-30-2012, 01:02 AM   #12
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Im a guy 6'0 320, when I left my previous job I was 355. Now I am walking everyday for an hour building up my body for at least a light jogging form. In my expirience family will always say something because they are concerned, if your friends keep calling you fat then they are not your friends. If strangers call you fat don't even pay them any attention. People tend to project their own insecurities onto you. I have met two girls thats were about 120 pounds and they told me straight to my face, "I think I need to lose weight." Imagine how I felt a 300 pound guy sitting next to 120 pound girl that says she is too fat. I think I could have lifted her with one arm. Long story short, if you are happy with yourself then ignore people that bring you down, if you are not happy with yourself then do something about it. Do not surround yourself with people that will keep you down, you have the power to chose your own life. I walk every day and sweat and heave, not even pant, I sound like im about to fall over and I get stares but who cares? Let people stare, let them say something. Are they in control of you? Do they pay your rent? Do they feed you? Do they pay your bills?

p.s. I had relatives that would call me fat but I would sit quietly and laugh on the inside because half of them were losing or on the way to losing their hair, they all were having issues in their lives that they wouldn't want to discuss so the only thing they had left was a discussion on my weight. Some of the things my grandmother would tell me, about family fueds and divorces and problems with kids, its like if I wasn't there to enterntain them noone would have anything to talk about.
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Old 08-30-2012, 11:02 AM   #13
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I love your attitude !
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Old 11-11-2012, 11:29 AM   #14
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I literally had someone pinch my waist and (facial) cheeks while commenting on how much weight I'd lost. I'm a good sport about a lot of things but this really bugged me.
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Old 11-11-2012, 11:53 AM   #15
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If I every say to my brother that I've lost weight, he says "Have you looked behind you? I found it." But he is saying it in good humor and is a big character... so I just laugh. Especially since I have almost no butt... my excess weight is for the most part "front and center."

But in response to your question... yes it is irritating... but some people are just incredibly thick and insensitive. Best to just consider the source and brush it off IMO
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