Do I look fat in this dress?

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papillon
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Do I look fat in this dress?

#1 Post by papillon » Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:42 am

Because this is a COMPLETE derail from the original topic, I'm posting in a different forum to follow up to this.

Oh yes, it's much more ethical to tell your wife she really does looks fat in that dress.
... does she also look female in that dress? does she also look blond in that dress? would you lie about these things?

This is a bezerk button for me so I'm-a-gonna rant. I find the whole cultural meme of "do I look fat in this" insulting to absolutely everyone involved, male or female, fat or thin.

First off, fat is an adjective, not a moral judgment. It's only your own preconceptions as either the asker or the answerer that makes it something that you would even consider lying about.

Second, while fat is an adjective, it is not an on/off state. It's a comparative, it's meaningless without a baseline, and different people's baseline ideas of what fat is can vary a good bit, so what's even being asked?

Third, if the person asking the question really cares about what visual impact they make and is trying to get an opinion on which clothes enhance a particular aspect, how is lying more ethical? Clothes do not change the actual body beneath them, but they can change its shape and they can change the way the eye is guided to look over them. I'm trying to avoid saying that some clothes look "better" or "more flattering" because there is not one central opinion/shape of how all people should look. But if you're actively trying to dress to, say, draw attention to your shoulders or breasts and away from your stomach, how are you helped by people intentionally giving you bad feedback?

Fourth, if you are in a relationship, how can you possibly think it's a good thing to set up a cycle of intentional lies? There's this NONSENSE being peddled by sitcoms and advertisers to lie, lie, lie. "Don't tell her she looks fat even if she does. Don't tell her she looks like her mother even if she does. If she says she doesn't want presents, buy her presents anyway. If she says she'd rather have a new computer than a diamond ring, ignore her and buy the diamond ring. She's just afraid of looking too eager." etc, etc. They tell women that they must lie or be viewed as brazen whores, and they tell men that they must engage in some secret code dance or be "exiled to the couch". This is complete bs on both sides and does nothing but enforce bizarre gender stereotypes and contribute to unhappy relationships - which is GOOD for advertisers, unhappy people cycling through multiple relationships will BUY MORE CRAP.

... now, if you're in a relationship with someone who's new to the whole idea of actually being honest and working together instead of engaging in some mars/venus bullshit, you might want to find a TACTFUL way of answering the question. but outright lying? Is counterproductive. It's not just unethical, it's actively shooting yourself in the foot and lowering your own chances of later happiness. Kinda like piracy! :)

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Re: Do I look fat in this dress?

#2 Post by Aleema » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:16 pm

When I ask someone how I look before I the leave the house, it would hurt me if they lied and didn't mention something glaringly wrong with me. There's spinach in my teeth and you thought not telling me would be better ... how? The "do I look fat?" thing is a really, really touchy subject, and I agree that it's not at all a good blanket representative of the excuse of all lying. Of course, the best approach is to assure the asker that they look good or some other means of persuasion that fits your relationship, rather than lying. BECAUSE SHE TRUSTS YOU. But if you honestly think your wife "really does" look fat in that dress, and nothing else positive to combat it springs to mind, do everyone a favor and just tell her so she knows it's time to break it off with your shallow, shallow ass.

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Re: Do I look fat in this dress?

#3 Post by Wintermoon » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:41 pm

I thought the point of that theme was that there is no right answer, not that you're supposed to lie.

I see two things going on in that question:
  • Someone framing a subtle issue as a false dichotomy of two extremes.
  • Someone asking for honest feedback when they aren't emotionally ready to receive that feedback.
Both of these things happen all the time in real life. The meme is useful in warning you about these situations so they don't catch you off-guard, although useless in suggesting a sensible response. Unfortunately the meme is phrased in sexist terms that can obscure the core message.

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Re: Do I look fat in this dress?

#4 Post by Aleema » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:45 pm

Assuming that there is no right answer was one of Papillon's points.
Last edited by Aleema on Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Do I look fat in this dress?

#5 Post by Jake » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:51 pm

Aleema wrote: But if you honestly think your wife "really does" look fat in that dress, and nothing else positive to combat it springs to mind, do everyone a favor and just tell her so she knows it's time to break it off with your shallow, shallow ass.
. . .

So my wife asks me a question, I answer it honestly and that makes me shallow?!

If my partner asks me something, I'm pretty sure it's because she wants to actually know the answer. It's an individual thing, it'll be different for different people. You want an honest answer to spinach in your teeth, other people will want an honest answer to whether particular clothing makes them look more or less fat.
On that note, I would suggest that somebody who only asks questions like that in order to be reassured and needs to be mollified with a tactful answer is more likely to be shallow. Not definitely by any stretch of the imagination, but more likely.
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Re: Do I look fat in this dress?

#6 Post by Aleema » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:55 pm

Jake wrote:So my wife asks me a question, I answer it honestly and that makes me shallow?!
Not what I said. Please look at the line again. There was more of it than you may have read.

If you think your wife is fat, that is what's shallow. Not the act of answering questions.

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"Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit a

#7 Post by Topagae » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:04 pm

"Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit..."
Last edited by Topagae on Thu Aug 25, 2011 5:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do I look fat in this dress?

#8 Post by Lekhaka » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:29 pm

Doesn't this depend on how the question is asked? It could be the wife is looking for an honest answer, but it could also be that she's just looking for a compliment. Assuming one or the other will of course, lead to this debate...so it's best to strictly define the nature of the question.

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Re: Do I look fat in this dress?

#9 Post by Jake » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:34 pm

Aleema wrote: If you think your wife is fat, that is what's shallow.
So 'fat' is now an entirely subjective and judgement-laden adjective?

Believing that my hypothetical fat wife is fat is entirely down to whether I think she has a significantly larger quantity of a biologically-well-defined substance on her body than the normal baseline. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether I love her or whether I think well or badly of her. Maybe she's fat because she has a genetic makeup and/or hormonal imbalance which she has no control over? Maybe she just likes cake and doesn't care? I may not think any less of her for it at all, but it doesn't change the fact that she's fat.

I'm not the one attaching a negative connotation to the word: it's not me who's being shallow.



(Not to mention the fact that your original message said "[does] look fat", not "is fat"; different colours and shapes of clothing can have a dramatic effect on the appearance of body volumes, and maybe my wife who I don't think is fat is wearing a piece of clothing that makes her look like she weighs twenty kilos more than she does, and she doesn't want to? Jumping to hasty judgemental conclusions about the husband before even thinking to ask why the wife cares whether or not she looks fat just sounds sexist to me, I'm afraid.)
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Re: Do I look fat in this dress?

#10 Post by Deji » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:49 pm

Tell somebody that doesn't look good on something that they look good, especially if that person trusts you, is the worst thing you can do.

If my boyfriend told me that I look good on this or that dress when I don't and then everybody looks funny at me and/or tells me I don't look good and/or I eventually realize it looks bad, I'd be really mad at him.
I'm glad he makes ugly faces whenever something doesn't suit me.

Clothes are made to fit people, not the other way around! If something doesn't look good on you, it was probably not made for people like you and you need to find something that was. Period.
It'd be stupid of me, for example, to get depressed because I can't wear a skirt or pants made for people with long and thin legs when I have short and curvy legs! If I want to be mad at somebody for that, I should be mad at the makers of said clothes, not at the person telling me it doesn't look good or me and of course not at myself for being born this way.

Now, if you do feel bad about your own body, then that's a different issue.
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Re: Do I look fat in this dress?

#11 Post by papillon » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:50 pm

If you think your wife is fat, that is what's shallow.
News flash - sometimes your wife IS fat. :)

It's a problem if you think your wife is fat and fatness matters to you and you haven't said anything.

It's also a problem if "fat" to you personally doesn't mean fat at all but means "ugly, lazy, smelly, weak, useless, gluttonous, a burden, stupid, weak-willed" or any of the long list of other things people sometimes MEAN when they say "fat". None of which actually have anything to do with being fat - you can be fat and not those things, or be those things and be thin.

A: Oh, don't worry, I don't think of YOU as fat!
B: What, you're blind now?

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Re: Do I look fat in this dress?

#12 Post by Aleema » Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:17 pm

I think it's implied in the word "fat" that being so matters to you, otherwise you wouldn't have used such an abrasive word. Since, like you said, it's based on the comparison of others. If you're comparing your wife physical attractiveness to others, then there needs to be a priority check. For health reasons, I can see it as fine. If it's about physical beauty, which is what the quote is about, then it's shallow, unless it's a joke, of course.

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Re: Do I look fat in this dress?

#13 Post by Wintermoon » Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:31 pm

The (hypothetical) husband isn't using the word "fat". The (hypothetical) husband is using the word "yes", because he was asked a direct yes/no question, because he doesn't think the question warrants a more nuanced answer, and because he doesn't want to come across as an attempting to avoid giving a straight answer.

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Re: Do I look fat in this dress?

#14 Post by Jake » Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:37 pm

Aleema wrote:I think it's implied in the word "fat" that being so matters to you, otherwise you wouldn't have used such an abrasive word. Since, like you said, it's based on the comparison of others. If you're comparing your wife physical attractiveness to others, then there needs to be a priority check.
It seems to me that you're just loading your own prejudices into your judgement of others and making general statements that just don't stand for everybody. It's only an abrasive word if it does matter to you in that way! If it doesn't, you can use it to mean what it actually means and the use of the word doesn't imply any such thing.
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Re: Do I look fat in this dress?

#15 Post by Aleema » Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:54 pm

It's not my "prejudices", it's the insecurity that every woman has felt asking that question. I'm just explaining why saying "yes" and saying "no, baby, of course not" and still feel physically unattracted to her are both unlikable situations. The woman is saying "fat" because it matters to her. Your job: make it so it doesn't.

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