Thursday 6 August 2020

You’re Fat! Unhelpful Comments and Some Helpful Advice Back

I received two interesting comments yesterday that made me think.

The first was from one of my husband’s “auntie” - a lady who calls him her son and who he helps out on occasion with chores and DIY. She sees me as her daughter-in-law; because we all need more than one mum-in-law….

She came to see us yesterday and commented “you must be sitting a lot for work, you’ve gotten fat”.

I get these kinds of comments from older ladies every now and again – I’m not quite sure what bothers them so much about my weight and body, but they don’t hold back in letting me know about it. I have to say it stung – not because I have hang ups about my body – I love this body that carried me through seven pregnancies and five children, that serves me day in day out to serve my family and community, that belies a strength and stamina that people don’t realise is there and that I genuinely believe to be a beautiful body. I don’t walk about thinking “poor me, I’m fat”, I tell myself “Damn you look good, thank you Allah”

It stung because once more someone felt the need to point it out. That this is what she could see before she could see any other good quality I might have. That’s all we come down to: thin and youthful and disciplined (implying good), or fat and lazy and greedy (implying we need to fix ourselves).

When she left my poor husband had to hear about it. I told him if there were no aunties, no husbands, no neighbours and no rude relatives then I would never have to hear comments like this or worry about what they were thinking or going to say. I told him I am happy as I am and I seem to be the only one that is.  He had the good sense to listen and make no comment at this point.

The second comment was from my daughter, she overheard the conversation with my husband and later mentioned to me that she could never remember a time when I was slim (it was up until baby number four, when she was 10 years old). That surprised me, as it didn’t feel so long ago.

The thing is, if all these well-meaning people who needed to help me see myself as the fat flawed creature I supposedly am, were genuinely well-meaning they could do better than make comments or offer useless advice. They could do the things that make a difference:

Offer your time – when I started walking after work, I found it made me late for the rest of the evening – cooking, evening routines, children’s bedtimes. By the time my children’s evening routines were done, it was dark and I didn’t feel safe to go out (the number of prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, drunk people and aggressive beggars, including drug users desperate for their next fix, in our neighbourhood at night is crazy).

So, any help with watching the kids or getting things done, will help free up time to exercise.

Eat out healthier – every time we eat out its somewhere that has burgers, chips or oily curries. Healthy options are so limited locally – mainly grilled chicken or a basic salad with chicken in. So, when you look at options to eat out, look for somewhere that has better, tastier, and more healthy options.

Stop giving sweet stuff – every time there is a family gathering, or dinner, or visit, we bring chocolates, cake, mithai (Indian sweets) and all manners of unhealthy, sugary sweet stuff. I have stuff still piled up in my kitchen cupboard from Eid. Replace it with fruit, or something else useful (don’t give me a crappy candle). The only exception is Krispy Kreme donuts on Eid – my two guilt-free, eat whatever you want days of the year.

Offer your company – I always struggled to find a walking partner, none of my friends, family or neighbours have ever been able to commit to a regular, brisk walk, esp. when I am available - early in the morning. I find exercising with a partner that is good company helps the time go more quickly and with greater ease.

This all sounds a bit demanding and entitled, but if you are really concerned enough about my weight to point it out or give me unwanted advice, perhaps you can concern yourself in ways that are useful and effective. If this sounds like too much effort, then you may wish to consider if your concern is genuine or just superficial and more about you than me – in which case, shove your advice and your comments!!


  1. This resonates so much, oh and if ever you lose any weight same aunty will come along and tell you your house is a mess and you've neglected your family by looking after

  2. I would throw this aunty out.
    Never let her in again. But before I would remind her the Prophets words; say good or remain silent.
    Otherwise no need for toxic people in your life. Even if its your own family..your husband can visit her if he likes, but insulting and disrespecting you is horrible and your husband should tell her this.
    I dont really understand why asian culture supports women having many babies sometimes 2 in a year, not liking contraception but shaminh them when they r not as skinny as in their teens(and shaming skinny kids for not "eating well" too..basically anyone for anything)i am sure skinny ladies get something nasty from these toxic aunties(witches!) Too..
    Just shut her off you will feel better Inshallah.

  3. It’s not only aunties who fat shame but friends too . I was asked by a well meaning friend if I was expecting at a party 😄 . I think in general women !

  4. Salams....same here..i don't bother about conments but i myself felt it'll be better to become fitter and was struggling to find time...recently started doing home workouts following youtube videos from channels like emi wong...its worth it and i could see changes...try it out and you can involve your daughter too

  5. Thank you for good article umme saliha

  6. Totally true, sometimes these women are jealous and don't even recognize it. Then they say these passive aggressive things to hurt you. It makes them feel better because without it, they know you are better than them. So they need to point out any flaw they think you have. Some of these auntis are huge themselves.

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  8. It's true! A little kindness goes a long way!