Thursday, April 24, 2014

Does “you look healthy” really mean fat?

Earlier this week our team was in a business meeting. The discussion turned to image and how people judge you based on that, it was fairly benign. Then, the person we were talking to mentioned a nutrition colleague of ours and stated “she looks too thin. You guys, on the other hand, look healthy.” I couldn’t resist “so you’re saying we look fat?”
Trust me, I have no desire to look too thin, that’s not the goal. And too thin for women over 35 equals more wrinkly. But I like thin (even like the word thin thus The Little Book of Thin even though some do not). The person went on to clarify that we look like we eat healthfully (I like that). She was lumping us into one category and I know One Smart Brownie and Snack Queen look great…so why then does that type of comment sit the wrong way? I started to feel nuts that this lingered in my head so I emailed Carolyn expecting her to quell my mental spiral and she said “funny I’ve been thinking about that too.”
I think this goes to show you that, even for nutritionists, weight is a touchy subject and comparisons probably not a good idea even if they aren’t mean-spirited.

What you do thin of this exchange? Would it have sat the wrong way with you? Is there a right way to comment on someone's weight? Or is it a subject best avoided?


  1. This would have nagged at me too, I'm sure. I tend to avoid the topic of weight altogether unless it's in the context of discussion weight-loss/gain plans or whether someone is an appropriate weight for their height. I hate doing BMI educations at the hospital because you can't just barge into someone's room and say, "I'm here because you're morbidly obese!" Or "super-obese." I hate that that term even exists—so awkward. I usually ask how their appetite is and ask about their usual diet as a segue into healthy eating.

    In my day-to-day life, I'm more likely to comment on how shiny someone's hair is, if their skin is glowing, a great smile. I might tell another RD they look like they practice what they preach. When a too-thin colleague comes up in conversation, I'm usually the person saying something like, "She doesn't look…well."

  2. I never thought "healthy" meant "fat" until I met my husband who used to refer to overweight people as "healthy." I think he did it to be "politically correct." But it made no sense to me and we had many discussions about it until he stopped it and just didn't comment about weight anymore...

    I think in your case, it was probably the comparison that triggered your thoughts. I think it's important to remind yourself again (and again) that "too thin" truly isn't good, especially over 35... And the opposite of "too thin" doesn't have to mean "fat" but simply "thin" or "perfect!" :)

  3. you nailed it, it was the comparison. And you're right "healthier" than a person who is too thin doesn't mean fat (just fatter ha ha).