'Have you lost weight' and other questions we should probably stop asking
We’re all guilty of saying things we shouldn’t at times. It’s not that we mean to; it’s just sometimes hard to think about how our words will be interpreted. We get it; we’ve been there. But with that in mind, there are some things we all need to be a little more sensitive about. Like these questions that we’re hoping to phase out of our repertoire
“Have you lost weight?”
This can have a lot of variations, and it’s usually not malicious. Typically, it’s a genuine attempt at complimenting someone that just has the potential to backfire. But for those of us who struggle with body image or eating disorders, it can be such a loaded question. Maybe you have, but didn’t want to. Maybe you haven’t even through you’ve been really trying to. It’s just a little question that can lead to a whole lot of hurt feelings. Some advice: stick with the compliment, but maybe shift the focus a little. Instead of talking about someone’s weight, or implying that a change in weight makes them more or less attractive, just keep it simple. “You look nice today!” or “That’s my favorite dress of yours. You look awesome!”
“Do you still talk to (insert ex’s name here)? I always liked him/her?”
Again, it’s not necessarily malicious. Usually, we’re glad you liked our ex! We liked them too, which is why we dated in the first place! But, well, things are complicated, and the way relationships end between two people can be messy. Maybe you don’t talk because it’s just too painful, or because you need to maintain that distance for your own peace of mind. It’s just a bad call to dredge up the nitty-gritty of a break-up in a social situation, even if you did like the ex.
“Are you tired?”
When we say this, we’re never trying to say “you look terrible,” but it’s easy to see how it could be interpreted that way. I know that on days when I am exhausted or stressed, the last thing I want is for someone to point out that my physical appearance is giving that away. We all go through tough times, so we should be a little more empathetic to one another.
“How much money do you make?”
This question so depends on the context. If it’s in the middle of a frank discussion of finances among friends or colleagues, it could be completely appropriate. If you’re working on transparency in your workplace to try to see if you should be pushing for more compensation, it’s of course OK. But if you’re bringing it up in a social situation just to see if your salary is bigger than your friend’s? Yeah, that’s not great. Money can be a touchy subject, so it’s something that it’s wise to be careful about.
“How many people have you been with?”
This number shouldn’t matter to anyone. You do you in this arena. Be safe and have fun. And again, it totally depends on the context. If you’re talking with a partner or a friend, that’s different from a stranger (or first date!) asking you. It’s a sad fact that women often get judged for their number here in a way men don’t. So if it’s not someone you want to share that information with, it’s completely fair not to.
“You’re so brave to wear that!”
Not a question, necessarily, but a commonly held statement. See also: “I couldn’t pull that off.” It’s not that it’s meant to offend—maybe you really admire that person’s style, and wouldn’t be as willing to go out wearing those colors. But it reads as “that thing you’re wearing is so against the rules of good taste that it must require courage to put it on.” And that’s not so cool. If you like something, just say you like it! Simple as that.
[Image via iStock]