Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Obesity affects  us all in some way or the other.   And just like in other areas of our lives, etiquette is mandatory.  And we all know how rude people can be when it comes to physical appearances.

“He broke the leg of an antique chair because of his weight and didn’t sit on it properly. Then he knocked a table over that sent a very expensive lamp crashing to the floor,” a friend recounted about a guest. What did he do?  “I just smiled and made a joke and asked, “What else are you considering for extinction?" His way of handling the situation was with humor.  Even his guest laughed.  Whatever you do, don't start sulking and talking about how valuable something was.  Maybe the chair was delicate to begin with and anyone could've caused the chair's leg to break.

Should a person offer to pay for a repair?   Our friend with the broken chair said he wouldn't ask. "If a person breaks a piece of furniture because of their weight, they should at least offer to pay for the repair," said an aunt of an overweight niece. "They should know better before sitting down." While we think an offer is thoughtful, a gracious host most likely wouldn't accept it.

If you think a piece of furniture can't handle but so much weight, you should show your guest to a seat where you’ll know they’ll be safe. But it cuts both ways, if you think that a chair may not be sturdy enough for your weight, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I think I’ll sit on the sofa, if you don’t mind.” Make your host feel comfortable by letting them know what makes you more comfortable.

“I have a friend who's obese and when she comes to town, I make sure I have a few restaurants for her to choose from where I’ll know she’ll be comfortable,” explained a New Yorker.  “I worry when we go to the movies, but so far, it hasn’t been a problem.  And I never say anything, the last thing I want to do is hurt her feelings.  That's not right.”

As far as conversation goes, we all have to learn to live in a world where slips of the tongue and poor choices of words happen and can be hurtful.  Be sensitive to who’s sitting at the table, don’t bring up Weight Watchers if there’s a person at the table who could use some weight watching.  If that person brings up the subject of weight you can listen but don't make it the hot topic of the evening. We find this kind of conversation on the dull side and it goes nowhere fast.  If something is said that can be misconstrued as a dig to a person's weight, let it go, no kicking under the table.  The reaction of the kicked could create an embarrassing mess.

Keep compliments honest and earnest. One of the most elegant men we know is a big guy. His social graces outweigh his weight. When people pay him a compliment on his impeccable appearance, there's never the tone of, "You sure can dress for a big man."

If you're having a dinner party, no need to go buy a whole side of a cow because you've decided, and most likely, wrongly, that one person is going to eat a huge quantity of food. Sure there should be enough, but as a host, it's more important for you to know if your guests have any food allergies or if there are foods they absolutely won't eat.  And don't take it upon yourself to put an overweight guest on a diet, cook as you usually do.  If you're known for your baking, don't become the food police and serve a fruit salad.

At the end of the day or dinner, when it comes to exhibiting manners with respect to obesity, we suggest that you aim to be the biggest in the room.


Monte Mathews said...

I'll never forget being at the Cipriani in Venice when a huge American woman arrived for lunch. As she sat down, the chair collapsed around her and about ten waiters, maitre d's and busboys appeared out of nowhere and lfited her off the ground. "Nothing like making an entrance" she announced to everyone on the terrace. I loved her spunk

Anonymous said...

'm glad someone is dealing with the 600 pound elephant in the room..(pun intended)...
but you do think about those things when dealing with someone unusually large....
and what about the airplane...can they fit in those seats.....i have a friend who said
when he gets on the he walks down the aisle tyring to find his seat...he sees the
looks in the people,s eyes as they say to themselves..." i hope the fat guy isn't sitting next to me"!