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“You’ve got such a pretty face… but”

20th June 2008

“You’ve got such a pretty face… but”

I love Jeopardy but I could never be a contestant. I’m not exactly quick on the draw and I often think of the answer five minutes later. It’s the same thing with insults. I think of the most fabulously clever and brilliant retort to jerks who think it their personal obligation to let me know how much space I take up or how sexually unattractive I am to them — after the fact.

My one moment of reflexive shining glory came about two years ago. I needed to make a return at a home store so my shopping-weary husband opted to wait in the car. I was nearing the store entrance when I crossed two jock kind of guys in their young 20s. I haven’t had strangers issue weight-based insults in a long time, but I had a feeling these idiots would say something and sure enough, after I passed them they called out some kind of fat sexual innuendo. Without missing a beat, I replied “Right, and I’m sure you both have dicks the size of peanuts.” Victory! I can’t take credit for the retort; it’s a line said by Julia Roberts in Notting Hill (one of my absolute favorite movies). My husband says I’m the worst Buddhist ever, but while sometimes it’s better to rise above ignorant people and not stoop to their level, other times it feels oh-so-good and empowering to show them that you aren’t cowed by them and that their behavior is unacceptable.

Now Joy Nash has come to rescue of those of us with slow mental reflexes with her new Fat Rant: Staircase Wit.

I especially love this line: “Fat hate is one of the only forms of prejudice in which the people who are subjected to it feel they are getting exactly what they deserve.” (Meowser said nearly the same thing here, too. Great minds and all…)

You can check out Joy’s previous Fat Rant installments here, here and here.

Can you think of some other good replies to weight-based insults? Post your best ones here and maybe we can start a repository for us all to draw on so that we have just the right thing to say to those idiots in the future.

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This entry was posted on Friday, June 20th, 2008 at 10:04 am and is filed under Body Image, Body-Affirming, Fat Bias. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

There are currently 35 responses to ““You’ve got such a pretty face… but””

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  1. 1 On June 20th, 2008, The Bald Soprano said:

    I live in Germany, and apparently, it’s still ok to ask people in job interviews about plans to have children soon (I have been told so; I won’t experience it for myself for a while yet). I’m assuming, since I have developed the faux-pregnancy belly, that I may get asked about that, and I have been planning to reply with what turns out to be basically a german translation of one of the lines in this video– “Nicht schwanger, nur dick” –literally “Not pregnant, just fat.”

  2. 2 On June 20th, 2008, Meowser said:

    Rachel, for the record, Joy asked me permission to quote that line, and I gave it to her. She credited me at the end of the video. (Squee!)

  3. 3 On June 20th, 2008, barefeet said:

    I loved this new Fat Rant. Joy’s stuff is always so inspiring. But I have to object to one line. Its exactly the one that you pointed out as a favorite. “Fat hate is one of the only forms of prejudice in which the people who are subjected to it feel they are getting exactly what they deserve.”

    This isn’t true. And its a really destructive idea, too. Almost all prejudices create this type of suffering. There is internalized sexism, where we really believe that as women we are weak and should base our value on how pretty we are in the world. There is internalized racism, where people of color believe that they can’t get anywhere because of their heritage. Internalization of prejudices faced in the world is everywhere. If women didn’t believe deep inside that we really are the lesser sex, no-one would be able to keep us down. We are 51% of the population! My opinion is that this aspect of prejudice, where we believe that we deserve what is we get is present everywhere.

    Lets not pit the FA movement against people who are fighting other prejudices by dismissing a very real part of the problem.

  4. 4 On June 20th, 2008, Karin said:

    Kind of OT, but Bald Soprano, I live in Germany, too, and I think every woman between the age of 19 and 35 has to answer this question at least once, irregardless of size. But I have used the “not pregnant, just fat” answer before – it works like a charm. I also love the “I’m not pregnant, but the night is young” answer – I’ll try to keep that in mind. :o )

  5. 5 On June 20th, 2008, Rachel said:

    I thought so, Meowser. But I wanted to point that out and give you even more credit. Fabulous line!

    Barefeet: I don’t think Joy and Meowser were being exclusive in that fat discrimination is the ONLY form of prejudice in which people conspire in their own marginalization. Rather, I think they are making the point that many social justice movements have made great gains in getting those they advocate for to realize the injustices they confront, whereas fat people continue to believe that since fatness is a “lifestyle choice,” they have no one else to blame but themselves for being treated badly. I don’t think Joy or Meowser are pitting the FA movement against any other movement, but rather are trying to draw parallels to those other movements so we can build on them and collaborate with them. After all, what good does it do any one group to make social justice gains when other groups remain marginalized and oppressed?

  6. 6 On June 20th, 2008, Meowser said:

    Barefeet, what I specifically meant is that pretty much across the board, if you tell a fat person that they suck for being fat and that no sane person would ever want to be like them in a million years, you can guarantee that unless they are Fatospherians they will nod sheepishly and hang their heads in shame. You won’t even get an argument, and even those of us who HAVE an argument pull our punches a lot of the time in order to keep the peace. A fat person fighting back — or someone coming to their defense — against overt, in-your-face prejudice is such a rare occurrence that most people are actually shocked by it.

  7. 7 On June 20th, 2008, Meowser said:

    Also, please note that I said, “ONE of the last,” not “THE last.”

  8. 8 On June 20th, 2008, nuckingfutz said:

    I remember a few weeks back, Joy was asking people for fate hate comebacks on her WordPress blog and her MySpace blog (she’s my “friend” [/geekiness]). She did mention that it was for a new project, so I think it would be safe to assume that she was talking about this video.

    I love this video just as much, if not more than, the first one. And the first one is really what led me to the Fatosphere, so it holds a special place in my fat little heart. It made my day – I decided to check the feed while I was waiting for my kids to finish getting ready for school, and there it was waiting for me. Put me in a great mood all day. :)

    I’m not much help with the comebacks, though. The last person to make a fat-hate comment to me was a 15 year old boy who I’ve been having some trouble with (had to call the police 3 times ‘cuz of this boy). He called me fat and I said “So? Your mother is, too.” And I didn’t just say that to be mean, she really IS fat, too. I was trying to point out to him that what he was saying to me could be just as easily said about his mother. I wondered how he would react if somebody else said those things to his mother. I didn’t get into all of that with him, of course, but that was my thought behind it. He didn’t say anything, so I walked away. Before him, I honestly can’t remember the last time anybody outright SAID anything to me like that. I’ve gotten some nasty-ass LOOKS from a LOT of people, but I can’t remember any of them having the balls to actually say anything.

  9. 9 On June 20th, 2008, Gerald said:

    dude, joy nash is so effing rad

  10. 10 On June 20th, 2008, Teri said:

    I like to paraphrase Calamity Jane from Deadwood, “Like you’re an Adonis!” “Limp dick,” works surprisingly well I’ve found, but I haven’t yet used it in real life only online. Make sure you’re not within striking distance, though, when using comebacks. I once almost got my ass kicked in high school after getting harassed by another student and responding with, “You’re no prize!” The only thing that saved me was that some adults walked passed the other end of the hallway. It infuriates me to this day (I’m 36) that he felt it was his right to a) tell me how fat and ugly he thought I was and b) expect that I would meekly accept it. Happy Friday, y’all!

  11. 11 On June 20th, 2008, Bree said:

    I agree that fat hate is an acceptable prejudice in the sense that many fat people agree they should be discriminated against. You can’t change skin color, and if you are born with a disability or become disabled for whatever reason, you can’t change that either. You’d be hard pressed to find a POC or a disabled person saying “Yes, I deserve to be ridiculed and scorned,” but you will find plenty of fat people who will agree with their tormenters. As long as we have those who agree with the haters, the hate will be considered acceptable.

    Fat people also do not have many outside groups who will speak up for us and support us when others make public comments in newspapers saying we should be shot, and when people like Rachel Moss take pictures without permission, blot out faces, and say hateful things for all the world to see on the Internet. If she had done that at the AFRAM Festival (a festival held in Baltimore every June that celebrates African-American culture), there would be outrage from all sides. But there is no outside outrage when fat people are villified. The majority thinks we deserve it. And it’s scary.

    Anyway, this video rocked. Since it’s on YouTube, I doubt many will actually take Joy’s advice to heart and leave tons of comments that will use up all the Sanity Watchers points for the day, but like I’ve said before, they have the problem, not us fatties.

  12. 12 On June 20th, 2008, Marste said:

    My favorite comeback to any insult, fat-based or otherwise, is to stop dead in my tracks, look at the other person for a beat and calmly say, “Your mother would be so proud of you.” Invoking the almighty “Mother” pretty much always shuts people up.

  13. 13 On June 20th, 2008, GeekGirlsRule said:

    Ugh. I’m pretty quick on the uptake, but I still get the Staircase Wit occasionally. I have, however, come up with a few standards.

    In response to “You’d be so pretty if you lost the weight” my response is usually, “And you’d be a lovely person if you weren’t such an asshole.” You have to smile while you say it though, if you can imitate their expression, all the better.

    With guys I’ve found it’s really just more effective to look them up and down slowly, snort derisively like “You’ve GOT to be kidding” and walk away.

  14. 14 On June 20th, 2008, Rachel said:

    I wish Joy Nash were around when I was in my early 20s. I used to get unsolicited comments all the time from people on the street. I never knew anything clever to say. Still to this day, I’m wary of passing large groups of young guys. They’re the ones who most often made fun of me.

    There was an archived discussion group list on clever comebacks to fat comments I stumbled across once on the net. I tried to find it when Joy posted for material info for this video, but I couldn’t find it again. Anyone know what I’m talking about?

  15. 15 On June 20th, 2008, Beulah said:

    This video actually made me cry. I’m sitting here like an idiot, wiping tears off my face! Thank you both, Joy and Rachel, for posting this. I really needed it.

  16. 16 On June 20th, 2008, Stef said:

    Rachel@14, here is the archived list of comebacks (scroll down the page). Joy used some of them (“The night is young”).

    http://cat-and-dragon.com/stef/fatfaqs/size.html

  17. 17 On June 20th, 2008, Rachel said:

    Stef: That’s the one! Thanks!

  18. 18 On June 20th, 2008, Sherie S said:

    I have also been trying to collect “come backs” on my myspace blog:
    http://tinyurl.com/6qfom3
    The more the merrier!!! We can’t have too much amunition! If anyone who is a myspace member wants to one more place to post their wit, please do so!

    I also agree that taking the “high road” is not the most effective. I think a stinging come back can make them twice about doing it again to someone else!

  19. 19 On June 21st, 2008, Quiwi said:

    I know from plenty of practice that one of the more effective comebacks don’t necessarily take a lot of wit. If someone tries to make a fat joke, I’ll respond with a “Damn right I’m fat, that ain’t new to me! That’s how I know what you just said was weak as hell, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard them all. There really isn’t much for you to say about my fat ass that I haven’t heard before. Fail.” Of course,everyone can do their own variation of that, that’s just one of my favorites.
    The point I think was made before is that one of the things rude people hate the most is when their stupidity backfires. Making comebacks are actually pretty easy, once you realize that you already have control of the situation the moment an asscleft opens their mouth. How so? Because insults WILL NOT work if they are not allowed. I forgot who (Eleanor Roosevelt?) said something along the lines of “No one can insult you without your permission” (misquote, I know, hopefully someone can correct me on that), but it is absolutely true. Anyone can spew stupidity, but it’s always useless without acknowledgement.
    By the way, Bree, are you from B-more, too? If so, good point about the AFRAM thing. Knowing how Baltimoreans are, if someone went online and clowned on the people attending AFRAM, BELIEVE that hell and sand will be raised.

  20. 20 On June 21st, 2008, Jackie said:

    I was reading the list of comebacks. It reminded me of an experience my dad said he had with one of his employees. The employee said, “You know, you are the kind of guy I would’ve made fun of/bullied when I was in high school.” My dad just said to him, “And now, I’m your boss.”

  21. 21 On June 21st, 2008, MrsDrC said:

    My favorite response to a man is to simply hold up my pinky finger.

    As for verbage, I think I’ll be wealding “I’m not obligated to make you feel better by feeling bad about myself” a LOT.

  22. 22 On June 21st, 2008, Mindy said:

    Great video! It was Joy’s first Fat Rant that really helped me to change how I look at myself, how I dress myself, and how to be comfortable in my body. I still have some issues, but I’m sooo far ahead of where I was a year ago. :)

    I have been asked when the baby was due. I was asked by someone who didn’t mean to be mean, she just didn’t think. I simply said, “No baby, I’m just fat.” I wasn’t nasty because I knew she was embarrassed (someone in the office where I work) and I just let it go, but maybe she won’t make that assumption again in the future.

    I haven’t used it, but I’m determined that the next person who comments on my being fat will get me saying, with a shocked face, “Oh my God! Really? I had no idea! Thanks so much for telling me!”

  23. 23 On June 21st, 2008, Liza said:

    I was waiting in line for a restaurant the other day and this woman was walking toward the line, so I just pointed her toward the end – a lot of people had been confused about which end of this line was which and I was being proactive. Her reply was “yeah, I’m not going to cut in front of you” so I said “a lot of people have tried already.” To which she said, “I know you’re hungry, but…” (I didn’t wait to hear the end) and I replied “Yeah, because I’m fat OBVIOUSLY my only motivation is hunger. How original.”

    It felt good.

  24. 24 On June 22nd, 2008, Cassandra said:

    I don’t like being called “curvy” by people I don’t know because I take it as an insult. I am naturally curvy, even at lower weights — but I don’t need strangers pointing that out… because curves are so often linked to FAT or problem areas. I am naturally an hour glass shape, even at lower weights, and I can’t control having curves…

    “You’ve got child bearing hips.” — I hate this one because once again, it links to be curvy for me. I can’t help the fact I have wide hips, but that doesn’t mean I need it pointed it out!

    “Big boned”… I say my arse… because it is often a nice way to mean you are fat — at least that is the way I take it. I have a natural medium build and just can’t get stick thin. Big boned?? You can’t see my bones, I am so fat, so why even say it??? That phrase just doesn’t really make sense to me.

    Okay, I am done ranting now and I feel better (smile).

  25. 25 On June 22nd, 2008, sleepless said:

    I instantly responded with “No, I’m just fat” to a classmate a good 10-12 years ago, to the “I hear you’re pregnant?” question. (I hadn’t seen her for a few years since we left university). I had put on perhaps fifteen pounds?. I felt a little bad afterwards (and we chatted a little later) because she is actually a nice girl, but it just sort of came out without hesitation or planning. Oops.

  26. 26 On June 22nd, 2008, Jackie said:

    Cassandra, I don’t know if you’d want to say this. If I were you, and someone pointed out that I was curvy, I’d want to say “That’s right, I’m a woman. I have curves. Or have you been staring too long at those teenage girls in magazines, who are thin and flat, like the boys you fantasize over?”

  27. 27 On June 23rd, 2008, Cassandra said:

    Jackie — Good point and thank you for sharing, but I am just not that self-confident with my body. I hate having curves most of the time! I always wanted more of an athletic build, but my body just doesn’t develop that way.

  28. 28 On June 24th, 2008, Bree said:

    Quiwi, I live in Havre de Grace, which is 30 miles north of Baltimore. And you’re right about the hell that would be raised if AFRAM got Rachel Mossed. It’s one of the biggest festivals the city has; you’d be a moron to ever stir stuff up there.

  29. 29 On June 30th, 2008, Liza said:

    To add to my earlier comment…I just realized that it may look like I was overreacting because I was waiting at a restaurant when the person mentioned hunger. But it was very much in her tone of voice why she selected hunger for me instead of saying “I know you’ve been waiting in line a long time” or something like that (which would have made her just regular bitchy instead of fat hate bitchy).

    I do love to do the “how original!” thing or the “I’m fat? I had no idea! Thank you for finally telling me!” thing. Probably because I’m incredibly sarcastic. To me, saying “how original” dripping in sarcasm is more fun than just telling someone they’re stupid or an asshole. It has less of the knee-jerk reaction that people who just want a rise out of you are looking for, and it actually requires some thought to comprehend, which makes you come out looking like a smarter person. And it gets the same message across.

  30. 30 On July 1st, 2008, Jeanne said:

    I was just asked if I was pregnant this weekend at the baby shower of a close friend. I was in shock and responded, “No.”

    The woman replied, “Well you look it” as she patted my belly.

    I said, “That was where my son was 7 years ago and no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get rid of it.”

    Afterwards, I wished I had replied, “Well, I’m not and apparently at a size 4, I’m just fat.”

    When I told my personal trainer about the incident, he suggested the following replies:
    “Can you run a mile?”
    “How many pushups can you do?”

  31. 31 On July 10th, 2008, Francesca said:

    My favorite response to any comments like that is just a “wtf” look – raised eyebrow and such and then just replying, “And?” I think I must use that once a month for political discussions and general idiotic statements. You’ve got to get the attitude right for it – I like it cause I don’t have to think about it or waste my time or energy on something that doesn’t deserve it.

  32. 32 On December 8th, 2008, Holiday Eating 101: How to negotiate the holidays when you have an ED » The-F-Word.org said:

    [...] gain. Humor is a great way to diffuse an awkward and tension-filled moment, so be sure to check out these clever quips from Joy Nash. And don’t be afraid to be honest — “Wow, that was a rude [...]

  33. 33 On December 9th, 2008, Erika said:

    My favorite was “Oh my gosh! I was about to say the same thing to you! Do you get that often? How funny!” That’s got to be the best one.

  34. 34 On February 19th, 2011, Bringing sexy back « The Owlery Chronicles said:

    [...] a “but” – as if they felt they had to compliment me despite my weight –  “But you’ve got SUCH a pretty face!” or “You have such a pretty face, if you just lost 20 lbs you’d be a knockout!” It [...]

  35. 35 On February 19th, 2011, Weighty Thoughts « The Owlery Chronicles said:

    [...] a “but” – as if they felt they had to compliment me despite my weight –  “But you’ve got SUCH a pretty face!” or “You have such a pretty face, if you just lost 20 lbs you’d be a knockout!” It [...]

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