Overheard at the Gym …

I seriously think men must just have thicker skin than women, because I have to say, I’m pretty sure I would have had to hold back tears had I been at the receiving end of the following exchange I heard this weekend at the gym.

Guy 1: “Getting a little chubby, eh?” with a twisted smile on his face (and yes, Guy 1 was a typical gym “meat-head”)

Guy 2: “Um…ha, ha, ha” (interject awkward laughter).

Guy 1: (attempting to redeem himself) “Let’s go do legs and back.”

And they went on their merry way.

Now here’s my thing. Most of us know when we’ve gained weight. If the gain isn’t welcome, it can make us feel uncomfortable, less confident.

Do we need someone to point it out to us!?

I wanted to say thanks, Captain Obvious …! Ugh.

But as it was none of my beeswax, I zipped my lips and filed this exchange in the back of my mind, realizing it’d be an interesting discussion here at WeAretheRealDeal, about men/body image/weight gain.

Because let’s be honest here. Guy 2 definitely didn’t appear thrilled to hear his friend’s comment … but he didn’t exactly high tail it to the locker room, either. Did Guy 2 talk to Guy 1 later and say his feelings were hurt? I have no idea.

All of which makes me wonder … do guys just have a tougher skin when it comes to body image? And if so, how can we, as women, learn from them?

How about you? Do you think the situation would have ever happened among women, and if so, how would you have reacted? Do you think men let comments like that roll off their backs, or do you think it would have hurt them? Are any guys out there willing to speak up about how they’d have reacted?

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24 thoughts on “Overheard at the Gym …

  1. I’d have to agree that most men I know have a thicker skin about it. There’s no way my reaction would have been like that. I couldn’t have even FAKED that reaction.
    On my recent trip home, I felt I had to prep everyone before I saw them that I had gained a few lbs. I didn’t want the “joke” to be on me, so to speak. So, I would make plans with a friend and be like, “Oh, btw, I’ve put on about 10 lbs since I’ve seen you.” *I* wanted to be the one to acknowledge it. I’m pretty sure that’s odd behavior!

    1. See but Lara, I have done that, too, and it’s like, why should we apologize for it? It makes others uncomfortable and shows our insecurities…the truth is I bet NO ONE but you (or me, about me) notices. It’s so sad we feel the need to do that..pre-empt, as though someone would say something… I’m sure everyone thought you looked marvelous!

    2. I have done that myself and always feel kind of “ashamed” about it but feel I would rather them hear it from me then have them be like “OMG she let herself go” etc. Which I know is disordered thinking and I am sure the last thing people really think (even if the person has gained weight) I know when I see a friend I haven’t seen in a while and if they have gained I notice it but am not like “OMG what did she do” etc. It really is in our minds..

  2. I think guys appear to have a thicker skin because it’s what is expected of them but I don’t think this guy is immune to body image issues. It’s ok for them to “get a little chubby” but I’m sure he’s feverishly trying to do something about it. I know a lot of guys who work out a lot and try to make sure hey have the “perfect” body (muscular seems to be the message they are given).

    I think just like women it depends on the guy and how they feel about themselves. I definitely think that men are getting just as many messages to spend all their time at the gym or doing p90x to get super buff as we are to be really skinny.

  3. I don’t think most guys have thicker skin about things like that it’s just that they don’t let it be shown that it has affected them.
    I think that’s worse because that problem with communication between men is why there are more male suicides.
    Women would not say anything like that. Probably because we would not expect another woman to say it to us.
    I don’t think it’s right to say things like that. I also don’t think it’s right to discuss someone’s weight loss either.
    xox

  4. That never would’ve happened with women… at least not in public! I know my fiance is just as sensitive about his weight as I am. I burst into tears and drown my sorrows in ice cream. He just says “yep, sucks” and moves on.

  5. Ahhh….to be a guy. 🙂

    I am amazed at how blunt guys are with each other in general. And I think that’s good and bad. Overall (and this is a generalization, but one I’ve found to be true in my case!), I think men are thicker skinned but not as sensitive. This is good and bad, because women are generally the nuturers and the ones who don’t want to hurt people’s feelings – and we think about things before we say them (usually).

    Either way, that would have left me in tears!

  6. Yes, guys seem to have thicker skin.

    But there are some insensitive women as well. Two weeks ago in the locker room after my four mile run, a woman walks down the aisle of lockers where I am and announces, “this is where the fat girls go”. I am not kidding. I gave the forced laugh and tried very hard to ignore it and she just kept digging herself deeper. Telling me that it is just the way it is , she was calling a spade a spade. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me and telling myself inside that I have gained a lot of weight but I am doing what I need to do in order to lose it.

    I was closing up my locker and she pats me on the back and tells me she didn’t mean to upset me. I couldn’t believe it. I told her, “It was rude and insensitive.” I wish that I could have told her off but I was too upset. We switched gyms two weeks later.

    1. Kendra, I want to slap the hell out of that girl FOR you. Good for you, switching gyms. How DARE she?! What a beyotch, honestly…who does that? GOOD FOR YOU speaking your mind and telling her that it’s insensitive and rude. Because it is. I am appalled … good for you on that 4-mile run. Eff her!

  7. I got married around the same time as a mutual friend. She got pregnant almost immediately. I gained a few pounds due to injury. Later another friend of ours was talking about our pregnant friend and asked when my baby was due. I felt horrible. I don’t think she meant to hurt me but it did indeed hurt.

  8. I think we need to take societal values into consideration here. I don’t think men have a naturally thicker skin that women. I see women in academia all the time who have to face FAR more criticism then their male counterparts, and they deal with it.

    Like some of the other readers/commenters pointed out, men are “trained” from a very young age to take criticism without showing any “weakness” or displays of emotions. They are, quite frankly, supposed to “take it like a man.” So, the man could have been hurt, who knows?

    Also, women’s bodies are valued differently in society than men’s bodies. I mean, in a culture that objectifies women to the extent that ours does, a woman’s worth and a woman’s body can sometimes feel like they are the same thing. So, to question or criticize a woman’s body can feel like a critics of her actual self. No wonder that’s upsetting!

  9. I just think most men don’t place such a premium on being thin as we women do. Women in general tend to put a lot of energy into losing weight, maintaining weight, worrying about weight, etc. We often let the scale affect our self-esteem or mood. Our bodies are viewed much differently by society and women are “told” over and over that to be happy, successful, attractive etc we must be thin. Men do not get that message at all.

    Most men don’t like to gain weight either but most certainly don’t obsess about it the way women do. They just see it as weight gain, not the “failure” that may of us women feel when we gain. The exception in my experience is gay men.I have a few gay male friends and they talk about weight just like we do 🙂

    1. Also awesome points, Lara. I mean, some guys really care about their bodies — but for the most part, it’s women who feel the pressure to “look a certain way” – and it’s unfair.

      LOL–agreed!!

  10. I believe it hurts them just as much as it hurts us. But being men they aren’t “allowed” to be “pussies” about it. But my sis has told me of convos she’s had with my BIL where he cried over the bald and fat comments his buddies made. I was there for those comments and had no CLUE he felt that badly. The guys were poking him in the tummy and saying “Hey, Big Guy”, and stuff like that.

    Eye opening, to say the least. Could you picture ANYONE poking your tummy and saying “Hey, Big Girl”??

    Why is it okay in our society to say those things to a man, when it’s not okay to say to a woman. When did it become socially acceptable?

  11. I know I am a little late to this conversation but I just wanted to note that in other cultures (i.e. over here in Japan), women do the same thing as men do in the States: If they notice that a friend has put on a few pounds they will have no hesitation about commenting on it in a joking matter.

    I have talked to some of my Japanese friends and they said that part of it is because they are worried about their friend, and if they say something then the friend is more likely to realize that she should do something about it.

    But if they had a friend who was quite a bit larger, they would never comment on it to begin with since in that case the person clearly has a “problem” that should not be joked about.

    I have had friends poke my stomach and ask “baby?” when I was clearly not pregnant…

    On the one hand – not fun to have someone tease you. On the other hand, it is nice that weight is not SUCH a big issue that people feel like they can’t talk about it.

    Of course that only goes to a certain extent, women here stay very very small and have a lot of societal pressure to stay that way throughout their entire lives; (Japanese) women who are larger do not have it easy over here. Foreign women such as myself are expected to be different and are not held to the same standards.

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