“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:
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?