Sunday, January 24, 2010

Heavy Women Vs. Thin

I met someone this week who is around my age and probably weighs fifty pounds more than me. I didn't even think about it much. Until she was nasty to me for no reason. I asked myself, "Am I being rude"? "Did I say something offensive"? (She did) After the conversation ended, I realized what her problem was: she was mean to me because I am thin and she is not.

So I am telling the story of the mean girl to some people this morning and they beg to differ. But I cannot tell you how many times I have been in this situation. Yeah, so studies show that thinner women may have a better salary, make heavier women feel worse about their bodies, get more attention, yadda yadda. Why would they want to be nice to us?

It is slightly infuriating to be the victim of insults and put downs because the other person is so insecure with their own body image. I have had people tell me that they notice their "heavy-set female co-workers" are extra condescending to them on days when their thin bodies are more noticeable.

So I ask the sister psychologist "Don't you think it makes sense that someone I meet in a "competitive" setting who is around my age and heavy is going to be a b#$%h to me"? "Yes, absolutely", she replies.

Just this week, I received a message from an old friend. The last line stating, "PS you look nothing like Arlene, you skinny b*tch. (love)" (Arlene was some heavy-set Italian woman she told me I looked like when I danced in college....)

There is a stigma with skinny. The next adjective following is a bad word. Think Parisian women. I am not bragging here. I am thin. And I don't consider myself a female dog at all. I am caring and compassionate and thoughtful. Here, I will quote my boyfriend, in an e-mail he just sent me:

"I think you're a smart, extremely generous,
passionate, honest, reliable, confident, sensitive and beautiful

Nowhere in there do I see that I am cruel. So why do skinny women have to have this reverse discrimination from heavy set women? Heavy women can tell me I don't understand. Or I have no idea. Or they can't get a date and I don't have that problem. Or anything. But I gained that weight in college. I have been a lot bigger. I am lucky now. I will blog about it sometime - how I maintain a small figure. But not now. So I know.

There was an obese woman at my gym who would never, ever look me in the eye. I am guessing she weighed somewhere around 300 pounds and was maybe two inches taller than me. The whole time I would see her there, she absolutely refused to make eye contact with me. In the parking lot, crossing paths, she would look down. Passing on the way to the shower, the same situation. I can say in the years that I was a member there, she never looked at me. If it was just the two of us, I would intentionally say "hello" and smile. She always looked away. I know why. I went out of my way to be nice. But it's hard when the other person won't look at you.

I am not trying to brag. I just think that all women are created equal. So why be mean?


  1. I agree, I've been in this situation as well many times. My cousin is overwheight, and has always despised me and my sister, due to the fact the we are thinner than her. I've not always been "thin" either, as I've been up and down in weight in college. Although my cousin would never admit it, I know that our issues lies in our weight difference. I find it sad. I've never done anything to her that should have/would have caused her to act this way. I love her no matter what, she's my family, but I hear you loud and clear, Janie.

  2. I am at least 50 pounds heavier than both of you gals and i would never think of being mean to either of you or anyone else your size. That is not to say that this gal didn't have it in for you janie b/c of issues w/her own weight. I think at the end of the day mean people usually have a reason for being mean and that usually has little to do w/the person they are being mean to and more to do w/some serious personal insecurities. Your skinniness may have been a trigger. I honestly do not think about weight unless my clothes get tight. Should I be thinking about it more often?

  3. You know I am heavier than you. It isn't an excuse to be mean. Think of all the "mean girls" in high school. They were fit and thin. People can be mean and insecure at any weight. It is the same as any stereotype. When you believe something, you look for proof that confirms that belief. That could be why you notice this happening to you. Maybe in this case, the girl was jealous. But maybe she was jealous of your hair, or your clothes, or your sense of humor. Maybe it was your own assumptions that brought you to the conclusion that it was because you were thin.

  4. Interesting post Janie. I have some thoughts on this topic as well, but with a slightly different twist. I have some fantastic co-workers, but sometimes some of them make similar comments as well (in jest). I.e. you're so lucky-you skinny bit**.

    Most of the time I brush it off in good fun, but sometimes it's truly annoying because while I am lucky to have a small frame (that can't be denied), I also put a lot of effort into being a healthy person and maintaining a healthy weight. So sometimes I want to snap back and say: well, it's not exactly luck because I don't eat and drink garbage and I exercise 4-5 times a week. In our office environment, it's always someone's birthday and there are baked goods and ice-cream galore. Just last week everyone was scarfing down brownies with ice cream for someones's b-day. I took a small brownie (no ice cream since I don't do dairy) and I took some heat for being healthy. I don't care though. I'm standing strong in my quest to be healthy, avoid heart disease, and yes, look as damn good as I can! I think all women, no matter their weight, are equal. But I get annoyed when other-wise healthy, able-bodied women give us "thin" women a hard time. It's really about choices, and if they are not happy with themselves, they should take the steps to take charge of their health/appearance. Wow, that sounds harsh but that's my rant of the day.

  5. I'm curious as to what you're calling "thin" and "heavy." I'm a size 10 and am a little overweight, but like, a size bigger than I want to be and a few pounds over healthy. Is this what you call a "heavy-set" woman? Or are you talking about obese people? When you say "thin" and "heavy" do you really mean "healthy" and "unhealthy"?

    I know you're not trying to sound condescending, but you might want to rethink your language because at first glance it kind of looks like you think you're better than this woman because you're thinner than her.

    On another note, people are always unkind to those who are not like them. It sucks.

  6. Thank you for your comments. Katie made a good point, asking what my definition of "thin" is. From a sociological perspective, that's always the first thing to identify. What is it? I would say whatever appears to be smaller than those women who I accuse of being mean to me.

    You all made great points. Maybe they are mad because they are jealous of something. It could be subconscious. Who knows?