Another day and I’m on the receiving end of this remark.
This time I was in a café and had just finished downing a pot of tea and a slice of flapjack. I was offered a second slice of cake by a volunteer in the charity-run café and when I politely declined the response I received was “No wonder you’re so slim.”
My reaction, as is generally the case, was to chuckle, but then, as always I’m left thinking about the responses I could have given.
I also think about how being “slim” is different from being “fat”; if I was someone that appeared to be overweight and was politely offered a second slice of cake then perhaps the person offering is doing so because they consider a larger person to be better satiated with more food than a slim person, or if a person who is thought to be fat agrees to a second slice of cake then the thought might be “no wonder you’re so fat.”
Other comments I receive are along the lines of “It’s not like you have to watch what you eat,” which I have come to learn is nonsense. Slim people can still suffer from a poor diet or over-eating sugary confectioneries; they can still get Type-2 Diabetes and heart disease. They can also carry too much abdominal fat or visceral fat; it might just not be obvious.
Usually I receive such comments from clients who sometimes offer me biscuits or even cake with tea or coffee while I tend to their computer issues; I rarely turn down the nice offering of a slice of cake (or even a whole one – I kid you not), but if I turn down a second slice or don’t eat enough* biscuits, that’s when comments about my slimness are made. Such comments are pretty much made by older women (as was the case today). It seemed odd on this occasion to hear it from a member of staff at a café.
*How many are enough biscuits? I personally think two is the polite amount when faced with a saucer, packet or box-full. Last week a client held out a saucer containing two yummy-looking biscuits and I assumed she was handing me the saucer when she asked me if I ate biscuits. It was then a confusing situation when she seemed surprised that I replied in the affirmative, her reply was something along the lines of “I’m surprised that you eat biscuits considering you’re so slim/thin” and seemed to almost snatch the saucer away from me while I swiftly redirected my pincering fingers to taking just one of the biscuits, leaving her the other. Had she actually brought in the saucer with the two biscuits on for herself and was just politely offering me one, I wondered.
Such comments as “No wonder you’re so slim” are, I accept, made in good taste, “skinny,” I think, is generally more likely to be offensive, but such comments make me consider then about the first impression I make on people upon them seeing me; they must immediately think: “Gosh, he’s thin,” and then it’s not until the topic of food comes up that a “complementary” statement is made. Complementary, in that it complements what they are thinking; maybe it’s meant as a compliment also, but mostly I think it’s just a throw-away remark that all too easily slips out.
Personally I would think two slices of cake would be too much for anyone; anyone who has considerations about their health or not wanting to appear greedy. I could usually quite easily down two slices of cake, and people would probably be quite shocked at how much I can actually eat (I generally try and stick to only amusing family with such feats.”
I think about people who have eating disorders in the range of not eating enough where any comment about their appearance can be taken negatively and lead to a harmful response. For me I returned home from my little cycling trip to consume two bacon and egg rolls which I was considering having for my lunch anyway before I received the comment about my appearance/figure; now I’m just left thinking about what replies I can give next time:
- It’s OK, I’m fat on the inside.
- It’s OK, I cycled here.
- Skinny parents.
- It’s all relative.
- Yes, I rarely eat.
- I have a medical condition.
- I have an eating disorder.
- Yes, I hear that a lot.
- Good luck trying to fatten me up [it’s like some people try to].
- Feel free to buy me a meal.
…I’m thinking some of these might make good t-shirts.
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