Plus-Sized Woman Feels Shamed After 'Petite' Coworker Asks Her If She Wants To Go For A Walk At Lunch — 'You Just Don't Want To Walk'

People make all kinds of assumptions about fat people. When will they learn to just mind their own business?

plus-sized woman who feels shamed New Africa / Shutterstock; Canva Pro

Everyone's got an opinion on how people should manage their weight, and even in our relatively more enlightened times, all too many people feel comfortable saying those opinions out loud to people they think weigh too much, whether they asked for advice or not. 

A plus-sized woman feels shamed after an interaction with a coworker who invited her to take a walk at lunch.

When we think of fat-shaming, we tend to think of overt criticism or maybe even open mockery — making fat people, especially women, the butt of jokes on TV, bullying them at school or on social media, laughing at them in public.


It's easy to forget how subtle it can sometimes be, and how insidious.

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On Reddit, a woman recently wrote into the r/PlusSize subReddit to share a story of the subtle microaggressions her coworker wielded in order to try to cajole her into joining her for a walk, and how they escalated to a downright inappropriate interaction that made her feel judged and embarrassed.


Her coworker accused her of being lazy for declining to go on the walk and lectured her about exercising.

It was the type of interaction that on one hand could be construed as well-intended, even if it was out of line. But at the same time, it leads to one all important question: Why couldn't the plus-sized woman's coworker just leave her alone and take no for an answer?

The plus-sized woman writes that her coworker is a "tiny" and "petite" woman with whom she used to regularly take walks with at lunch. But because of their marked size difference, the walks always made her uncomfortable and embarrassed, so she stopped going along. "I just want the hour to myself," she wrote.



On a recent day she and some other coworkers invited her to join them on a walk once again, this time on a route that would take them up a large, steep hill. "None of them are fat and I don’t want to get all sweaty and struggle in front of them," she said, so she declined and made an excuse. 


Her coworker replied, "Oh you just don’t want to walk" and challenged her excuse, which left the plus-size woman humiliated. "I walked away to the washroom and cried because why say that?" she wrote.

She then later told the plus-size woman that her husband told her walking doesn't even count as exercise because it doesn't build muscle (neither of which claims, for the record, are true), and that she'd "rather gain muscle than fat," an obviously cruel thing to say to a fat person standing right in front of you.

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People criticized the thin woman for engaging in fatphobia, which doctors and mental health professionals say is creating a public health crisis.

After the interaction, the plus-size woman felt shamed but also worried that she was "being too sensitive," even though the conversation deeply hurt her feelings. But her fellow Redditors were firmly on her side.


One commenter, a personal trainer, chimed in to excoriate the thin coworker for wrongly claiming walking isn't adequate exercise. As they bluntly put it, "Along with being rude, ableist, and fat-phobic, your coworker is just objectively wrong and it sounds like her husband is just as stupid."

Others assured the woman that she was not being overly sensitive, and encouraged her to simply not engage with the woman any further. As one commenter put it, "No is a complete sentence," and it's not her responsibility if it makes the thin woman uncomfortable. 



That's all good advice, because comments like her thin coworker's, and fatphobia, in general, are having a truly deleterious impact.


Studies have repeatedly shown that weight stigma is not only injurious to people's mental well-being, but the negative emotional impact also fuels further weight gain, in part by impacting people's nutritional choices.

This, coupled with social media, is creating a multi-faceted public health crisis in which people of all different weights suffer the mental health consequences of constant fat-phobic judgment and messaging, and medical fatphobia on the part of doctors and healthcare professionals results in fat people not receiving adequate medical care — or, in some cases, even dying.

It cannot be stressed enough that those who comment on others' weight purportedly "out of concern," or because they're "just trying to help," are emphatically doing the opposite. And other people's bodies are nobody's business but their own in the first place.


As the common internet saying goes, "Shutting up is free," and we should all do a lot more of that when it comes to fat people. Let them live.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.