Times-Herald (Vallejo)

Gal pals show their mean side

- Contact Amy Dickinson via email, askamy@ tribpub.com.

DEAR AMY >> Recently I have been out with a couple of different “gal pals” who openly and loudly ridiculed people in public who were significan­tly overweight/ obese.

With several family members who fight weight problems, it really galls me.

In the first instance, I was so taken aback I could not reply; in the second situation, I briefly talked about eating disorders.

My pal “Marlene” didn't get it. Her point of pride: “If that were me, I would lock myself in a room until I lost the weight. That's all that man has to do.”

Please suggest how I might respond in the future; I will not sit back and listen to rude comments and lack of understand­ing again.

Finding the right assertive words to support people is so needed in our world where people look, speak, or behave differentl­y.

I don't want to make enemies; I would rather help others understand. Your ideas?

— From the Heartland

DEAR HEARTLAND >> People of all sizes have the right to live in their bodies and walk around in public unremarked upon. They have the right to live amongst other humans without being judged and sneered at. These rights are pretty basic.

Don't bother lecturing these women about eating disorders. Not all obese people have eating disorders, and not all obese people hate their bodies or long to be thin. When it comes to genius “comebacks” to this sort of bullying, I'm reminded of a legendary moment on the old Johnny Carson show.

Larger-thanlife maverick genius film director Orson Welles (a man of many adjectives) was a guest on the show, along with the troubled and famously loudmouth actor Robert Blake.

Robert Blake enters, looks Welles up and down and says to him: “You make Wimpy look skimpy!”

Welles immediatel­y shoots back: “I'm fat and you're ugly … but I can diet.”

There is a range for how you could respond.

You could say, “How about we don't slam and shame other human beings who are just out having their own kind of day, and whose only crime was to leave the house? These comments are `not a good look' on you.”

Idea # 2 (which might convert these friends into frenemies): “Maybe we should rethink who really needs to be put in the closet, `Marlene.'”

There's also a response that might inspire these women to reflect on their own behavior, without you directing them to: You pack up your stuff and simply say, “I don't like to witness you two behaving this way. I've decided to go.”

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