HomeIt's All MentalHandling Unsolicited Advice and “Big Girl Guilt”

Handling Unsolicited Advice and “Big Girl Guilt”

In the comments section of yesterday’s post, I got this:

So my friends take me out for sushi to celebrate (’cause we do go out to eat!). I’m enjoying an eel roll and seaweed salad when the friend of a good friend begins to go off about taking the fat girl out to eat, and that I should go on a water fast for 2 weeks, then a colonic, then vegetarian diet. I told her she know didn’t a thing about diabetes and uncontrolled low sugar levels. She told me that she knew that eating too much brought it on, therefore not eating would take care of it. So I said the only thing I could think of:

“I may be fat today, but I’m loosing weight and getting healthier every day. A year from now, I’ll be smaller, more gorgeous, and won’t even remember you. But you’ll still be mean-spirited and ignant. Sucks to be you.”

Then her friend had to step in before the heifer hit me but that’s another story.

…and this:

2 years ago, I didn’t have health insurance. I got sick and had to go down the the county hospital in the ‘ghetto’ where I can only assume they see a lot of these ‘fat black women’ by the way they treated me. In this area, apparently no insurance + obese = obviously uneducated. I had to deal with a nurse who incorrectly corrected my English and the billing department who was surprised I could spell California. But that wasn’t the worst part. The doctor glanced at my chest x-ray, said it was clear and goes ‘Lets talk about your weight’. She lectured me for 30 minutes about control and how I was ‘delusional’ to think I was healthy at my weight. How I should eat less and work out more. At no point did she ask about my eating habits or my work out habits. When I tried to tell her, she looked me up and down. She then sent me home and told me to take some Motrin.

A week later, I was rushed back to emergency…a fever of 103, 12lbs lighter, wheezing, dehydrated and a irregular heart beat. Saw another doctor who looked at the SAME EXACT x-rays I took the week before and said I clearly had pneumonia.

Goes to show that everyone, including medical professionals have trouble distinguishing between ‘looking healthy’ and ‘being healthy’.

Judge not, well, unless you are a judge.

I’m going to come back to both of these.

With this blog, comes “great” responsibility. I take a lot of shots because I don’t think like the people these two commenters spoke of above. Because I’m not doing crash diets and colonics and wagging my finger in people’s faces making them feel ashamed of who they are because of what they look like, I’m considered a panderer. A coddler.

Remember, though – the people who are calling me these things… are people who think that just because they didn’t look fat like I did, they are healthy. These are people who think it’s OK to go knee deep in a bag of cheetos every day as long as they didn’t look fat like me. These are people who truly believe that outward appearance is the primary indicator of better health.

Anyone who browses this site on the regular would know… this ain’t that type of party, here. Not only do I find their “solutions” to weight problems ludicrous, I find them so ludicrous that I couldn’t possibly care less about what they think of me.

My personal studies and beliefs about the evolution of the human body, the environment and the history of food production has led me on my own path. I don’t use this site to push my approach to food. I do my best to provide enough information to help anyone who’s reading figure out how to find their own path. Why? Because creating your own approach to food and fitness is the only way to not only feel comfortable in your decisions, but confident in them. The effort you put forth to create your approach almost outright ensures your ability to feel confident enough to defend your decisions if need be.

And trust me… that time will come.

Nowadays, I’m approached even more and more often by people who aren’t quite my friends, yet aren’t quite acquaintances. Just people who are familiar, and want to talk. Okay, let’s talk.

“You ever tried that lemonade diet? You need to do that. It’ll help you lose that last little bit of weight fast. My girl lost 20lbs on that joint!”

“You’re going vegan?” “Not quite.” “You’re leaving behind meat, right? That’s vegan. You don’t even know what it’s called and you’re doing it? That’s stupid. You need meat.”

You need to stop being so selfish and go find you a man now with your new body.”

“You need to stop losing weight.. you’re getting too skinny!”

“You need to stop eating so much fiber… that stuff is gross.”

Don’t eat eggs for breakfast… just have french toast.”

Um, if this is the kind of dialogue I can expect in our “talk,” I’ll pass. How is it that all these “people who aren’t quite my friends, yet aren’t quite acquaintances” know what it is that I need? Y’all don’t know me!

Trust me when I say this: people who don’t know you from Annie… they don’t really care if you’re ok. These people just prefer to listen to themselves talk. They like how authoritative they sound. It’s like lording over someone to let them know that you’ve got the goods they want. “I got what you want, and you have to listen to me to get it.” People like feeling wanted and needed, and will go out of their way to create the kind of situation that allows them to feel that way.

Child, bye.

Look, all advice is not good advice… regardless of where it comes from. A doctor with a preconceived notion about a patient they may never see again (no really, read that), or a broad you’ve never seen before telling you a colonic is why you’re 60lbs overweight, or someone incorrectly telling you that limiting meat intake is “going vegan” and how silly it is…. sometimes, you just have to take it with a grain of salt when it comes. Feel comfortable enough to squash the convo when it does come… just expect this moment to come, though.

Obesity is an interesting problem because it’s a visible flaw. If you’re a sociopath, a liar, or an axe murderer… we can’t always identify that problem visually. But ohhh lordy, I can see that something must be wrong with you because you’re fat. Let me make this clear: being overweight is not an open invitation for people to force their ignorant and idiotic “advice” on you, and it certainly is not a reason for you to feel compelled to explain why you are overweight to anyone you don’t care about and doesn’t care about you. Your weight is not a call-to-arms for people who are not overweight to use you to make themselves feel better by pummeling you with horrid advice, further snitching on themselves and the unhealthy measures they take to remain skinny.

I refer to it as “big girl guilt” – that feeling inside that says maybe I should listen to this seemingly healthy person to see if they have the answers that I don’t. I mean, of course I don’t have any answers. I’m still fat. Um, naw. This doesn’t work like that.

That kind of “big girl guilt” implies that we don’t have a reason to stand up for ourselves because we “obviously don’t have ‘the answers.'” It also lends into that notion that says “only people who are cute by society’s standards have the right to have any pride or self-esteem orr self respect.” Well, considering how almost 70% of society is overweight and apparently clinging to standards of beauty that don’t represent them in the slightest… why would I cling to any notion that society brings me? I’m cool on that.

Once I knew I was on my way with losing weight, there were three people who knew for sure what I was doing – one of my sorority sisters, my male best friend and my Mom. That was it. Both my sorority sister and best friend were helping to guide me down separate sides of the road – one helping me to understand food, the other helping me to understand exercise – and my Mom was there to remind me of why I needed to keep my eyes on the prize: I needed to be around for my family. (See how the people who know and love you know what you “need?”)

If a person can’t bother to get to know you, what you do each day and what your life circumstances are, then trust me – they’re not qualified to give you advice on your weight or your health, no matter how many letters of the alphabet are at the end of their name. If a person can’t even bother to ask you what your workouts look like, or even ask if you do, in fact, work out? They shouldn’t be advising you on your fitness, and you shouldn’t be letting them. Don’t be afraid to take charge and let ’em know.

By | 2017-06-10T11:24:07+00:00 June 12th, 2014|It's All Mental|38 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes health, fitness, nutrition, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and crtified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because lol why not.

38 Comments

  1. Trina June 15, 2010 at 10:45 AM - Reply

    That article about doctors and preconceived ideas on obese patients…Yeah, because before the county hospital incident, I also had to deal with it at the clinic…UGH! another place where they assume you’re uneducated. I swear, people take medical insurance for granted. I digress. At the clinic three different times, I had to deal with them making assumptions about me without asking questions. One even went on and on about how I needed to learn to control myself. Even went into a personal story about pizza night at her house and how she had to limit herself to 2 slices even when she wanted 3. I sat there and took it because I knew that no matter what I said, she wouldn’t believe me. She already had her mind made up.

    As for going out to eat…Pretty much all of my friends are on the skinny side. I don’t like to go out to eat because I’m a picky eater. I like to know what’s going into my food and there are too many components when I’m in a restaurant. So I usually order french fries and water. I never said that’s healthy for me, but I go out to eat like twice a month. So if I’m going to be bad, it might as well be those 2 times. But then I have to deal with my friends who say, “You know you’re hungrier than that.” Or then talking about how I don’t need to lose weight…”You’re not fat!” Um, I have a mirror, I am FAT. That doesn’t bother me as long as I’m healthy. And then there is the friend who tells me what I should be eating, what I should be cutting out and how I should be working out. Um, did I ask you? Why do people always feel like it’s ok to comment on what I eat? If I was a size 5, would they still feel urge to comment on my eating and workout habits?

    And then I have to deal with the SAME waiter who took our order putting all of the food in front of me when they know I only ordered fries. And this happens every time. I told my friends to start paying attention. They order bacon cheese burgers, fries, shakes, a starter. I ordered fries and water. The waiter puts EVERYTHING in front of me and put the fries in the center of the table.

    Once we went out, I ordered a salad, my friend ordered the crispy strips. The SAME waiter who took the order comes back, puts the soda and the chicken in front of me and the salad and water in front of my friend.

    *le sigh*

    • Erika June 15, 2010 at 7:12 PM - Reply

      You know, I can’t even begin with the sizeism and preconceived notions going on, here. I’m absolutely mortified.

      I’m seriously speechless. I just hate that you had to endure all that. SMH

      • NSantiago June 23, 2013 at 10:34 PM - Reply

        I was in a joint peds-ob/gyn departmenta meeting recently. The OB dept chair made the comment about having a nutrition consultation for all the moms with elevated BMIs.

        I commented that, as a vegetarian since 1988 and vegan since 2012, and as someone who has an elevated BMI, I observe many low BMI people eating garbage, so that nutrition consult should be ordered for ALL new moms. It burns me up when people assume that “chubby” means “poor lifestyle choices”.

  2. BAnjeeB June 15, 2010 at 11:04 AM - Reply

    Another wonderful post. IMO, shaming people is never the way to go. Truth can be spoken with kindness and tact. And like you’ve stated, everyone who gives “advice” surely is not qualified to do so.

    • Erika June 15, 2010 at 9:46 PM - Reply

      “Truth can be spoken with kindness and tact.”

      YES! And people who use “keeping it real” as a rule of thumb are only making excuses for their inability to communicate like adults. Period. The fact that people hide behind “I’m not sugar coating” as a means of excusing their inability to understand the difference between sugar coating and using tact… ridiculous.

  3. PhluffyPrincess June 15, 2010 at 3:26 PM - Reply

    This has to be my absolute favorite post I’ve read since I started following your blog. I’m an M.D. in training (got the M now I need the D, lol) and I truly learned something through reading this. Not only that but being on a weight loss journey myself, I receive TONS of unsolicited advice. I have emailed this post (and I’m not a big blog sharer) to several friends and family members. To which sorority do you belong?

    Again, I really enjoyed this post as it helped me both personally and professionally.

    • Erika June 15, 2010 at 10:59 PM - Reply

      Not only am I happy for and proud of you, but I’m happy to know that a little bit of information here might positively influence how you take on being trusted with the care of others. I think you have an equally interesting dichotomy going on because you’re literally on both sides of the spectrum at the same time… surely that affects your perception even more, right?

      As for your question, I’m just one of those girls in pink and green. 🙂

      • Serenity April 27, 2011 at 3:55 PM - Reply

        Peace to my Soror!

  4. Rosi June 15, 2010 at 4:31 PM - Reply

    youre right but because a perceived flaw is outward ppl dont have a right to dissect you however they do and will continue to because that is what society has become- outwardly based. and because the world is now in fix the fat ppl mode everyone is scrambling to tell each about themselves even if said person’s life needs their own amount of help (in other areas)

    • Erika June 15, 2010 at 11:00 PM - Reply

      True, but you have to admit it’s a little more than laughable – we’re so outwardly based, as long as it’s not “US” being judged. So when you say “outwardly,” that’s LITERALLY “outside of us… not including us.. not us at all.” Sigh.

  5. Fidelia June 15, 2010 at 5:03 PM - Reply

    Thi post is really empowering. Thank you for writing it.
    I had one experience at the doctors clinc that put me off so much that I went and switched doctors. I came in because I had the flu (for the first time ever: so I thought I was dyyying) and the doctor presumes to lecture me about my weight in the most condescending manner.

    If I were to go around telling ugly people how to fix their faces I’d be wrong right? Lol

    • Erika June 16, 2010 at 10:35 AM - Reply

      That’s my thing – I mean, I get it. It’s a doctor’s responsibility to make you aware of your health concerns, and no one around here is going to deny that there are potential health risks that come with being overweight. But a little bedside manner goes a long darn way. Jeez.

      And why are we always picking on ugly people? LMAO

  6. Curvy Jones June 15, 2010 at 6:47 PM - Reply

    Love today’s post! We so need to realize that just because a person is thin doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about. And they don’t need to be butting their nose in where it doesn’t belong.

    • Erika June 16, 2010 at 10:38 AM - Reply

      I feel like none of us should be sticking our noses where it doesn’t belong – just like we shouldn’t feel compelled to tell overweight people how to handle their weight, we need to stop trying to tell people how they are “too skinny” at the same time. I mean, that’s just being real. Unsolicited is unsolicited… and no matter who it’s aimed at, it’s sooo unacceptable. LOL

      I just think a little respect would go a very long way on both ends!

  7. Sherifa June 15, 2010 at 7:37 PM - Reply

    I wrote this long drawn out comment about how I hate advice and don’t like to give it but it got erased..womp..womp…so I’ll just say this great piece… more people need to not only keep some things to themselves but also think about the damage they could be causing another person…good intentions pave the road to hell…#imjustsayin…

    • Erika June 16, 2010 at 11:07 AM - Reply

      “think about the damage they could be causing”

      Yes!!! My girl! I guess that sometimes, our need to feel so self-important overrides our ability to be compassionate. Sigh.

  8. naturalnubian13 June 17, 2010 at 9:17 AM - Reply

    First off wonderful post. I love this website. It is extremely informative, and touches on issues that need to be addressed.
    I usually don’t comment, but some recent events in my life have lead me to seek the advice of others.

    Since the beginning of the year I have been really serious about my health and weightloss. I ran a 5k for the first time, work out 5-7 days a week, and have been really dedicated to consisently eating healthy. In the process I have loss 25 lbs, however I have about 40lbs to go until I reach my weightloss goals.

    I recently moved in with a bunch of girls, and we all went to undergrad together. We all get along, but the others girls have been really good friends for a while. When I first moved in, everyone agreed to do Weight Watchers and start working out together. No one ever works out but me and they pretty much eat whatever, whenever. I am bigger than everyone else, but I clearly lead a more healthy lifestyle.
    Recently, I have heard the same thing from a couple of the girls. That Im crazy because I exercise too much, and that I’m addicted to a certain exercise program because i do it too much (which presently is only 4x a week). And also, basically that I need to eat less healthy because I’m not getting any enjoyment and I need to enjoy life. I feel like on a daily basis I have to defend what I’m doing and justify how important my health is.

    Now admittedly, I recently have realized that my weightloss journey has become depressing and that I need to focus more on being healthy and less on the numbers on the scale. But what should I do? And are they right, am I getting obsessive? Anyone….please weigh in (no pun intended:))

    • Erika June 17, 2010 at 10:59 AM - Reply

      I’m going to hold onto this for Q&A Wednesday next week, but if the visitors want to offer up answers in these comments, then I’m all for it.

      My answer, however, would probably be a little more controversial and too long for the comments section. 🙂

  9. Terri Williams June 17, 2010 at 4:31 PM - Reply

    That post was awesome. I have been trying to eat “cleaner” since I stumbled on your site, yet because of the scarcasm,and unsolicited advice that I have previouly been given, no one knows. it is hard making such a huge lifestyle change and not being able to share if out of fear. That is why I love coming to your site because not only do you inspre me, it feels good to have a place to go where everyone supports what your trying to do. I think that start with you. Kudos on a excellent site and please keep up the good work, you never know whos life you are blessing!!

  10. Kimmoy September 7, 2010 at 8:24 PM - Reply

    Wow! These comments are just astonishing even though I too have been told not to lose anymore weight when I was about 40lbs less than where I am today and occassionally get back-handed comments from family members. On the other hand, none of my doctors have ever expressed to me concern about my weight which is pretty ironic. I’ve started my weightloss journey once again with a totally different mindset and this time I’ll be better prepared for the hateration that comes along with it. Oy!

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