Journalist Kate Baily wonders why more women don’t come out and tell their fat friends that they look like Shamu and need to speed dial Jenny Craig. In an article in The Daily Express, she cites a recent study of 3,000 women in which one in five revealed she secretly thinks her best friend is fat but would never dare say so. Baily writes:
So it seems we can’t even rely on our best friends to tell us when it’s time to quit the cupcakes.
Am I the only one who thinks that’s a crying shame? Whenever I watch TV diet programmes I am amazed that nobody has actually sat down with morbidly obese Jenny and had a word with her.
In that same un-cited study, Baily notes that one in four women “plucked up the courage” to tell a friend she should lose some of her fat ass — thus demonstrating nothing more than 25 percent of women are friends with a jerk — and of the friends in question, 12 percent “went mental” and one in five ended the relationship. Baily wonders:
Isn’t that just a little, well, neurotic for grown-up women with jobs and families? Shouldn’t we just be able to come right out and say, ‘You look like a badly trussed chicken in those jeans – go on a diet immediately’?
Right. I’m willing to bet that Kate Baily doesn’t have all that many friends.
So, why don’t more women point out their gal pals’ flab? Uh, duh. It’s because A: friends don’t police their friends’ weight or food choices and make them feel bad about themselves; B: your friend is a big girl (no pun intended) and can make her own decisions about what’s best for her and her health; and C: most fat people already know they’re fat, and therefore don’t need nor necessarily want their “friends” to hammer that point home or to offer up unsolicited weight-loss advice. And should your fat friend ever want that advice, it’s not as if women’s magazines, television commercials, news outlets and even the White House aren’t already mass-churning out weight-loss tips and diet plans complete with fatalist warnings on how you and your fat ass are at risk for any number of so-called obesity-related diseases and are Public Enemy No. 1 to both the environment and national security.
And if it’s a case of emotional/compulsive overeating, binge eating or other eating disordered behaviors, focusing on a friend’s weight isn’t all that constructive or healthy. Anyone who’s struggled with an eating disorder will tell you that it’s not about the weight — it’s about emotional issues, psychological and/or physical trauma, a need for power or control, etc… — and that weight is but a symptom of much larger issues at-hand. Telling a friend with disordered eating issues that they “need to go on a diet immediately” is not only counterproductive in that it puts the focus on the symptom and not the cause, it’s also downright rude, callous and virtually irrelevant. It’s a little like telling your unemployed friend who’s on public assistance that their clothes are shabby and unfashionable and that they need to go on a Saks shopping spree immediately. As well, Kate Baily suffers from the culturally-driven delusion that not only is fat always unattractive, but that it’s always unhealthy — not to mention, that it’s always malleable. When I was actively eating disordered, I received copious compliments about my weight loss that only spurred a disorder that damn near killed me. Now that I’ve regained some of the weight I’ve lost, I’m much healthier and happier for it — something a true friend would already know.
A few of my more health-conscious friends and I discuss healthy foods and recipes and fitness and so forth, but weight rarely factors into these conversations because not only is it not all that high on our priority list, it’s also vapid and boring. As part of my own commitment to recovery, which includes taking the pledge to end fat talk, I actively seek to surround myself with people who respect me enough to not infantilize me by asking if I really need that second helping and who have far more interesting things to talk about than their daily carb intake. You?