Carolyn Hax: Why is fat-shaming bad, but thin-shaming okay?

Related posts


Carolyn Hax is absent. The following first appeared on December 17, 2008.

Hello Carolyn: With America’s obesity problem, why does “society” say it’s not nice to comment on a fat person because it might hurt their feelings, but it’s normal a fat person to comment on a thin person, calling them anorexic or bulimic?

B.: As far as I can tell, the company says both types of feedback are rude. But maybe that’s just the “society” I’ve built in my imagination to keep me from crawling under my desk and crying all day.

However, please me: let’s say that singling out others for the sole purpose of feeling better about yourself is rude. This definition renders the despised specific trait immaterial.

Dear Caroline: I was recently at my parents’ house and went to check my email. When I opened the browser, I saw that my dad hadn’t signed out of an email account I didn’t know existed. I looked through the snippets of the messages and from what I can tell my dad is having some sort of extramarital affair. Now I don’t know what to do. Should I tell my mother? Should I tell my father that I know? Help me please.

VS. : Tell your father what you found and how you came across it, being careful not to draw any conclusions from what you found. This is not a good solution; it’s just the least bad of the three bad solutions: 1. Tattle on Dad. 2. Do nothing and leave mom in the dark. 3. Give dad a chance to clean up all the messes he made.

The downside of this choice is obvious, as you have no guarantee that your father will do the right thing with your mother. However, you also don’t know exactly what this good thing is. As far as you know, your father has your mother’s consent.

That’s why I believe – and people vehemently disagree on this – that the two extremes of say it all and say nothing put you both right in the middle of the drama, where someone with your factual knowledge but limited has no place. You don’t know what’s going on between your parents in their private moments, you don’t know what your dad does with other people, or even anything – and you know too much to keep silent without it being a lie of omission for your mother.

An added benefit of letting dad handle it is that you can change your approach if needed and get more involved depending on the circumstances. On the other hand, if you tell Mom everything, that’s it; there is no change of course.

If your father does have affairs, and it would be a blow to your mother, then the effect of the blow is also a valid consideration. You want to give their marriage its best shot, which is the Tell-Dad option. Think about how you would prefer to know.

Related Posts

Next Post