Despite the body positivity movement and growing support for bodies of all shapes and sizes, plus size women continue to face discrimination and unfair stereotypes. This is especially true considering that women in general already face unrealistic beauty expectations and are often judged harshly on their appearances. Much of the time, plus size women are additionally faced with not only rude comments but also a slew of backhanded compliments that are just as hurtful.
When speaking to a plus size woman or person, it is important to consider your choice of words and be mindful of how your comments may affect them. You can start doing this by first considering what you should not say to a heavier woman. So, keep reading below for comments you should always avoid. Here are 13 comments plus size women are tired of hearing:
When Plus Size Women Are Working Out
“You’re doing such a great job!’ – Sure, this sounds like an encouraging compliment. However, this insinuates a sense of surprise that she is in shape and able to keep up with the rest of the class. These comments are often well-intentioned and meant to be reassuring, but the fact is that they can be patronizing and make someone feel more insecure. Just because someone is plus size does not mean they are unfit or unhealthy.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” – If a plus size woman is struggling in a workout class, just as any other person might be, the last thing she wants to be asked is whether she is sure she is okay. If she was not okay, she would take a break and stop the exercise if she needed to.
“Try a modified version of this exercise.” – Why would someone assume that just because someone is overweight that they would not be able to perform the exercise that everyone else is doing? This comment, while it might be meant to be helpful from the instructor, can be insulting and judgemental.
“I’m surprised you are here.” – Just because someone is plus size does not mean they are not active and healthy. To say that you are surprised a plus size woman is at the gym or in a workout class puts the unfair stereotypes and societal expectations on display.
“Have you ever talked to a nutritionist or personal trainer?” – This question insinuates that you think they should lose weight and that they are not capable of taking care of their own bodies. No one of any body type would likely want to receive a comment like this.
When They Are Wearing a Fashionable Outfit
“Wow, that actually looks good on you!” – Again, this is a backhanded compliment. While it might be meant as a positive comment, saying a garment actually looks good on a plus size woman suggests surprise. Women of all shapes and sizes can look beautiful no matter what they choose to wear.
“Maybe put on something less revealing.” – Why is it okay for women with slim figures to walk around in a crop top but not plus size women? Heavy women should be able to wear whatever they want without receiving critiques or negative comments from others, whether in person or on social media.
“I admire your confidence for wearing that outfit.” – Yet another backhanded compliment that can hurt just as much if not more than a bluntly negative comment. Would you tell someone with a slim figure how confident they must be for wearing certain clothing? Probably not.
“That dress is so slimming on you!” – Unfortunately, women are often valued by how slim their bodies look in clothing. Therefore, comments like these can further perpetuate the problem and be offensive.
“You are so brave for wearing that bikini.” – What is brave about wearing the appropriate garments to the beach or pool? This comment can be insulting. Plus size women just want to wear what they want without having anyone comment on it.
When Plus Size Women Go Out To Eat
“You didn’t eat as much as I expected.” – It is inappropriate to comment on how much someone does or does not eat, no matter what their body type may be. Saying you expect someone to eat a lot just because they are heavier is downright judgemental and rude.
“Are you sure you want to order that?” – Suggesting that a plus size woman should order something light on a night out to dinner instead of a hearty meal is a part of the problem. You most likely would never ask this question to someone who is not plus size. Remember, thinness doesn’t automatically mean healthy.
“I’m guessing you want dessert, too.” – This needs no explanation, but again, never comment on the food that a plus size woman might or might not want to eat. This puts her on the spot and can cause her to feel embarrassed or singled out.
We hope these tips have helped you so you can be more aware of how your words can affect people. Assuming things and judging people for their size—skinny, thin, tall, short, fat, round, curvy… is a waste of energy.