The problem: Thanks to my father’s genetics, I am tall and thin. What’s not apparent is I also inherited his penchant for high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes. Therefore, I exercise regularly and watch what I eat. I have been called every name in the book: “Stick,” “zipper,” “bag of pretzels.” Apparently, people think this is OK. While it’s hurtful, I’ve never called anyone out on it.
While on a cruise recently, a woman I’d never met said, “And that’s why I hate you,” when discussing what I ate for dinner. I blurted out this was just as hurtful as fat shaming. I even gave her examples of the name-calling. Crickets at the table after that.
Going forward, is there a response to better deal with these comments? I don’t want to sound rude, but I’d like the truly obnoxious to know their comments are not OK.
Low road: Tell her those crickets at the table are high in protein and low in calories.
High road: While this seems to be about you, it is likely less about your genes and more about the speaker’s jeans. Your frustration is understandable. But to avoid getting bent into a pretzel when it happens again (which is likely), I’d challenge your notion that these filter-challenged people are “truly obnoxious.” More likely, they’re truly insecure. People with confidence in their bodies, no matter the size or shape, don’t say these sorts of things. People who don’t like their bodies, no matter the size or shape, do say these things.
It’s tempting to chastise or challenge, but a compliment is likely more effective food for thought. Smile and say, “What are you worried about? You look good!”
Send questions about life’s little quandaries to email@example.com. Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at startribune.com/highroad