Say What? Coping With Comments About Your Weight

How to deflect criticism and accept compliments

By Charlene Laino
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic

Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

It was the first time her mother had met her intended. The lights were low in the restaurant, music playing.

The waiter put down a basket of bread -- and her fiance pulled it beyond her arm's reach.

"My mother saw what a control freak he was," reports the now-50ish writer, who asked that her name not be revealed. "It took me longer to see it and break the engagement." (Incidentally, she weighed only 125 pounds, but her fiance had already made remarks about her little tummy.)

Whether they're wordless or spoken loud and clear, comments about weight and weight loss can sting -- even when they're given with the best intentions. Just about everyone who has struggled with weight has moments that stick in memory.

A few of the worst offenders we heard about:

  • The father who described his overweight daughter, age 10, as a "grotesque baby elephant." Some years later, the same woman's mother said, "I guess you're more acceptable now that you're older."
  • The doctor who inquired, "Are you too fat to have sex?" (As one member pointed out on the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic message boards, "obese" -- not "'fat" -- is the correct medical term.)
  • The networking friend who said, "I am shocked that you, as a lawyer, have not gotten your weight under control. I would never recommend you for a job."
  • The boss who saw fit to break the news that "you'd be so much prettier if you lost a little weight."
  • Normal-weight friends who ostentatiously say to waiters: "I'm doing the low carb thing, so no roll for me, please." (One overweight woman reports that a waiter turned to her after one of these little announcements and said, "You just don't care, huh?")
  • The guy who said, "Guess if we ever went out, it would be to the gym first thing, huh?"

Where Do They Get Off?