Posted in Thoughts on...Thursdays

Thoughts on…Thursday: Honest vs. Nice

“The truth hurts.”  “Tough love.”

These are phrases we hear often.  But does this always have to be the case?  Is there really a such thing as constructive criticism?

There was a picture with a quote I saw on Facebook that made me think about this:

You're Beautiful

To be fair, I’ll put this quote into context.  Country music star Miranda Lambert did an interview with Self magazine, which I believe is in the vein of health magazines.  She asked her husband, fellow country music star Blake Shelton, “Dude, why didn’t you tell me I got fat?”  The above quote isn’t the whole answer.  The full response was, “That would go over like a lead balloon”, then he followed up with the sentiment you see above.

Now, I don’t doubt in the least that Blake really thinks Miranda’s beautiful.  I mean, LOOK AT HER for goodness’ sake.  But there is a critical (albeit a heavily-influenced) side of me that says, “Okay, now you’re just saying that to prevent any trouble.  But do you really think she’s beautiful?!?”

Which brings me to this question:  when it comes to the health of someone you’re in a serious, long-term relationship with, is it better to be nice or honest?  Do honesty and kindness have to be mutually exclusive?

And this refers to both sides of looks-based health, whether you’re too skinny or too fat.  Obviously, there are those who are naturally thin or naturally heavier-set, but when you’ve been with a person for a certain period of time, you can tell when they are not living up to their full health potential.

This is such a fine, fragile line to walk, especially in a society that unfortunately tends to base your worth on how you look.  But it’s also a society that’s riddled with an obesity epidemic and a teenage population running rampant with eating disorders.

So what, really, is your duty as a partner?  Is it to be kind and to unconditionally think that your other half is beautiful?  Or is it to let them know when they’re being unhealthy?

My husband, bless his heart, has tried to do both, with horrible results.  Here are a few (paraphrased) gems from his arsenal:

“When you’re as skinny as those girls, THEN you can afford to eat a cheeseburger and fries.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t have another sausage.  You need to concentrate on losing weight.”
“Please…please come and work out with me?  You need it; you’ve been getting pudgy.”
(trying to be sweet)  “But I didn’t end up with a model-thin girl.  I got a double-XL!”
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but when you reach your ideal weight, your curves are going to be HOT!”

You can see why I tend to be dubious and find it really hard to accept the times when he tells me I’m beautiful, though he tells me often.

And I’ve called him on it.  I’ve said, “How can you call me beautiful yet tell me I need to lose weight?”  To which he says, “I just think you’d be prettier if you were healthier.”

I get that and I respect it.  But it’s so, so hard to look in the mirror sometimes and see myself as pretty when I’ve heard those previous comments.  It’s funny, too, because before those comments, I had no problems with how I looked.  I thought I was cute.  To be fair, though, I also didn’t exercise much back then, so my contentment could’ve been dangerous to my health.  On the flip side, I’ve told him again and again, in response to his pressing me to lose weight, “I think you’re handsome just the way you are.  I will never tell you otherwise or anything to doubt how handsome you are.  But I respect the fact that you want to be healthy and take care of yourself.”  (Full disclosure:  we could both stand to lose a few dozen pounds or so.)

Some would argue that it’s a doctor’s job to tell you whether or not you’re healthy, not your partner’s.  Your partner’s job is to support you no matter what.  But is it really fair when a partner sees you being unhealthy and doesn’t do anything about it?  I’m positive that if my husband ever took up smoking again, I would be in his face like you wouldn’t believe.  So why should the issue of weight be any different?

*~*~*

I realize this post is pretty disjointed and disorganized, but I just wanted to throw it out there.  What do you guys think about this whole thing?  Was Blake being sweet or dangerous with his statement?  Is it possible to be nice and honest at the same time when it comes to a partner’s weight?  Would you rather your partner be honest or nice when it comes to commenting on your looks?

To Being Healthy and Beautiful!
Violet

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7 thoughts on “Thoughts on…Thursday: Honest vs. Nice

  1. I think it’s your partner’s job to support you where you are. I know your fella, and you know fond I am of him, and even still I just want to smack him for those comments. It’s your partner’s job to love you. And that means supporting you, it means keeping you safe, but it does not mean being the food police. Or being the weight police. Unless you’re specifically asking him to help you out with watching your food, or to encourage you to go to the gym, it is not his right to say those things to you.

    I’ll reiterate though–I like your guy. I think he’s good and he means well. If what he says makes you uncomfortable, it’s your job to tell him. Because this whole honest versus nice thing? Like every relationship thing, the answer lies in your comfort level. If one of you is behaving in a way that makes the other uncomfortable, it’s time to talk about it. ❤

  2. I’m kinda fond of him too. 🙂 And I have to say those comments stung like a mofo when I heard them, but you better believe I let him have a piece of my mind when they came my way. Then he felt like a fool for saying them. I also have to say that he’s the type of person who doesn’t think before he speaks. I know without a doubt that when he says these things, it comes from a place of love. Tough, grating love, but love nonetheless. He wants me to be healthy–he doesn’t want me to suffer health problems like diabetes down the road. He wants to grow old with me and have enough energy for kiddos. He wants me to live as long as I possibly can, and that can’t happen with an unhealthy lifestyle. I get that. I really do. So yes, it makes me uncomfortable, but also, I have told him so.

    Truth be told, too, he has taken the time to ask me what the best way to get me to get my butt in gear and get healthier would be, and I replied that I honestly didn’t know. So I think in his mind that the shock factor would be the only way he would get through to me.

    Regarding the loving thing, I do think he does a mighty fine job of that. 😀 It goes both ways.

    I hope it doesn’t come off as me criticizing the hubby. Again, he is the first to admit that he suffers from foot-in-mouth syndrome. He doesn’t mean to be hurtful when he says those comments, just honest. I really just want to know if there is a possible way to be nice when telling someone they aren’t at a healthy weight. To me, it really doesn’t seem like there is.

  3. This hits very close to home for me as you well know. I’ve been with my husband since high school. As we all know we get comfortable and then kids come along. I have always struggled with my weight and never been the skinny girl. Over the years I put on weight. I have to say that I honestly never realized just how big I had gotten. My highest weight reaching 231lbs. Yes over those same years my husband would make comments very similar to the ones you recieved. I knew he loved me and thought I was beautiful. We never had a serious conversation as to how unhealthy I was. I also noticed that the bigger I got, I was the one making the comments and complaing about the weight. He began making excuses for me.. Such as “Its not like you eat a lot”, or “your not nearly as big as her”. I always thought that he was just trying to make me feel better about being over weight.

    As a very overweight person you look in the mirror and don’t really see what others see. Some may call it denial. I looked in the mirror and saw that I was on the heavy side but I didn’t see the size 20/22 I had become. I honestly think that my husband was so used to seeing it on a everyday basis that he too never really saw how bad my weight had become.

    When I hit my rock bottom and said I had to lose the weight I don’t think he knew just how much I needed to lose.. I started out slow and took one day at a time. It took him awhile to see the changes. I would tell him I had a certain amount to lose and he would say things like “you don’t have that much weight on you” or “your not that big”. He too was blind to the truth. I guess after seeing me everyday for 13 years and it slowly coming on that the truth was hard to see.

    It wasn’t until I had lost the 96lbs and pulled out all the old photos that we realized that the person in them were me. He even made a comment to one of the photos saying “there is NO way that is you”. I acctually had to make him realize that it was me.

    Honestly I wish that when I was just a little over weight that my husband would have taken me aside and had a serious conversation with me about my weight. I know in the begining he made the occasional comments to me not to hurt my feelings but because he cared. I know he would never have said things that would have hurt my feelings intentionally because he loved me. But in the end we both became blind to the truth and my health became a risk. I wish he would have loved me enough to be honest and say the truth even if at the time may have hurt my feelings.

    The road to getting healthy and losing weight was and still is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It has been hard on my marriage and hard for my kids. I can’t help but think if 5-10 years ago he could have had that hard discussion with me,( in a loving caring way) that I could have made changes in my life that would have kept me from getting to 231lbs.

    The most import thing is that no matter what the circumstances are you both love each other. He does think your beautiful (because you are). He doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. He cares about your health and your well being. Men just don’t always have the best approach to things. Maybe you could bring it up in a conversation. The best way to get healthy and lose the weight is to do it together. You have to have his support and be motivated by him. Its easier to get results together. It isnt an easy road but well worth it in the end.

    Its late and I rambled on. I hope that this makes some kind of sense to you. I guess what I am saying is that there can be constuctive criticism. If my husband would have said something along the lines as ” You are beautiful and I love you. I worry sometimes about your weight and I want you to be healthy. I know that getting healthy won’t be easy but maybe together we can take it one day at a time and do it together.” I hope this helps 🙂

  4. Blake probably does think she is beautiful and may not care about any change in her weight. I think for a healthy relationship honesty is the way to go, but not being cruel either. But I do also believe you can be beautiful and still carry some extra pounds. I like to think of Marilyn Monroe as an example. Back to your spouse when it comes to health then it becomes important to bring it up in a way that’s not going to be offensive. My partner COULD lose some weight but do I want him to? No. I honestly truely love him the way he is. But do I enjoy looking at buff male models? Heck yes. They are called eye candy for a reason. But when I come home I want to be in the soft manly arms of the one I know. But having a slim figure and being healthy are not always positively correlated either. People with a slightly higher body fat percentage then the socially perceived ideal tend to live longer.

    One research study of men being shown images women’s faces (or body can’t remember) and gauging attractiveness showed that more men prefer women with more “Pudge”.

    Good post! Thought provoking.

    1. Thanks! Yes, being skinny doesn’t always equal being healthy, and it’s a shame society as a whole doesn’t see that. There can be a skinny girl who lives off of cocaine and cheeseburgers and doesn’t exercise at all, then an overweight girl who has a healthy diet and exercises every day, yet many people would perceive the skinny girl as more healthy.

      I’ve heard of the study you’re talking about. I’ve also heard studies that show that being *slightly* (not morbidly) overweight, by about 10 pounds or so, actually live longer than those who are a healthy BMI. Food for thought. Hm. No pun intended. 😉

  5. There’s the wanting to lose weight to look good and wanting to be healthy. It’s hard to fashion a conversation dealing with weight without making it sound like it’s about something other than healthfulness. It’s very complicated.

    Where is the weight concerns coming from? Concerns about attractiveness or concerns about being healthy? From reading your posts, I bet it’s the latter. I think he is trying to help you be healthy, but maybe saying it wrong. Talk to him about it.

    I don’t care what weight a person is, there are definite benefits to exercising. That’s what I try to focus on.

    1. Great point, Lauren. I’ve thought about this for a bit, and going back and forth with a friend, came up with a great phrase a partner could use when bringing up weight:
      “I think you’re beautiful; so much so that I want everyone in the world to be able to enjoy that beauty for as long as possible. I’d like to help you achieve that.”
      The phrase is supportive and complimentary.

      The weight concerns ultimately are about being healthy, but upon recent conversations with the hubby that I’d like to keep private, I think it may unfortunately be a bit of the former, too. Not when it comes to me, but when it comes to himself. So maybe the push for weight loss stems a little bit from transference. I don’t doubt, though, that sometimes guys just don’t know how to phrase things. He doesn’t mean to be hurtful in his comments. I’ve talked to him ad nauseum about it, which is why I feel comfortable bringing this out into the public. It’s nothing that hasn’t be said and discussed before between us, and I think it helps him to figure out what he can say to inspire me to be healthier without unintentionally being cruel.

      I agree that there are always benefits to exercising, though. A healthy diet helps, too. The biggest challenge (for me anyway) is being consistent with it.

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