5 responses to “Dear Imprudence: Speaking of Holiday Tensions…”

  1. QoT

    I think that these kind of dogwhistles and codewords are evidence of the uphill struggle we have when it comes to fighting social attitudes.

    Completely agree, s.e.s. The clear implication from the letter is that if the grandmother were slim and the granddaughter were some subjective-line-in-the-sand-crossing measure of “obese”, then the letter writer wouldn’t be so hurt by the grandmother’s behaviour. And if the grandfather weren’t “grossly obese” himself then the grandmother would be more justified in her comments. AND it’s important to mention the daughter in question is a high performer academically and kind and pretty and employed, so it’s, like, unfair to question her weight because at least she’s succeeding in spite of it.

    Who needs to “look” for things to be offended by when a smorgasboard like that pulls up to your window?

  2. Penny

    Yeah. The letter writer is making the distinction between Grandmother’s outright rudeness and the letterwriter’s own politer approach, but bottom line is that *both* think there’s something wrong and bad and commentworthy about granddaughter’s shape. Granddaughter surely isn’t oblivious; she catches the attitude, NO MATTER HOW IT’S EXPRESSED. The letterwriter is kidding herself if she thinks year-round hints and nudges are less of a problem than an annual encounter with blatant nagging.

  3. Laughingrat

    Hm! It seems to me that the columnist is also all but telling the parents to leave their daughter to fend for herself with Grandma, and while I like that she offered helpful ways for the daughter to politely extricate herself from offensive conversations, I also think it’s really important for people to have support (that is, visible support) when facing bigots. The daughter should be supported to stand up for herself, *and* Mom and Dad should continue to make it clear that they don’t think it’s okay for Grandma to bully their kid. Because really, people engage in this kind of mean behavior because they think they won’t get called on it. It’s that lack of response from everyone else that helps bigots feel so entitled to hurt others.

  4. Simcha

    I agree with Penny: the only difference between the letter-writer’s year-round fat-shaming and the grandmother’s abuse is a matter of degree and duration. I have no doubt that, from the mom’s tone, she’s not terribly supportive of her daughter’s health and is equating it with being thin.

    Now, if someone has rapidly gained weight, the writer may be right that something is “less than ideal.” The body has a natural set point and doesn’t like either gaining or losing much weight very quickly; it’s a homeostatic mechanism. It’s not the weight itself, but the rapidity thereof that would be worrisome. The letter-writer linked it to the end of college athletics, but that could very well be false causation and the letter-writer’s insistence that it’s related to athletics could be preventing her daughter from seeking other possible causes. If she has thyroid problems and that’s why she’s gaining weight, for instance, that needs to be fixed whether or not she loses weight as a result of treatment for it.

    Regardless, I personally think Prudence is wrong. It’s different for many families, the younger generations are told to respect their elders and not talk back to them. Even abuse like the daughter is receiving is supposed to be tolerated in the name of “respect.” Emily Yoffe is a white USian whose family has been here a while, so the advice she gives may not be appropriate if the letter-writer is not from the same cultural background, even if it might be fitting for many USians. The letter-writer needs to be an advocate for her daughter if that’s what she needs, and shape up her own attitudes. I’d like to see an answer that was more understanding of different possible cultural contexts, rather than just assuming that the advice that would fit a white, USian, middle-class family would be one-size-fits-all.

  5. The Untoward Lady

    What actually struck me most about the question wasn’t so much the less-than-subtle adipophobia but the fact that the entire question seemed to be framed in the context that she’s already trying to do something about her weight. It’s as if the question was that because she’s already trying to loose weight her grandmother’s hounding was just abusive but out of context, had she been happy in her body, she might have needed the hounding “for her own good.”

    I feel that, too often, harassment is only viewed as harassment so long as the person who is being harassed is already doing their best to conform to the expectations of the harasser, or at least the people witnessing the altercation.