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A while ago, I went through a phase. I gained weight, lots of it. I'm not proud of what I had become. Recently (the last four months) I have been going to the gym regularly, losing weight and getting myself back into shape. I have made some serious progress. I have almost lost enough weight to get back down to where I used to be.

Well, my friends have noticed my changes and have started up with a constant running "joke" that I really don't find that funny, at all:

Hey look [my name] McFatty is losing fat to impress the ladies.

And other various comments along those lines. I asked them to stop, but they just continue on with the mockery. It's getting on my last nerves.

I am not trying to impress any ladies at all; I just want to lose weight so I don't have to take off my shirt and look down at myself and feel shame every time. I generally tend not to be a very self-conscious person. But when it comes to comments about my body, it's very hard to not feel at least a little bit of something.

I am kind of getting the impression that my friends are jealous, but there is no way to be sure.

How can I politely make them stop, but keep them as my friends? (They are awesome guys, and I would rather not lose their friendship over such a minor thing.)

  • 20
    What is your normal response? Not just verbal ("Please stop that") but also non verbal (flushed cheeks, huff, laugh if off)? How do these comments ("Hows McFatty doing with the ladies?") compare to other comments ("Hows McLazy doing with the job?")? I've known people to give insults as good as they take about anything except certain topics (Yo Momma, weight, religion, etc)... Are there any other "please don't go there" topics? do they respect them but not this? – WernerCD Feb 1 '18 at 18:38
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    How old are your friends? I've only known immature teenagers who think it's okay to call their friends "McFatty". – David K Feb 5 '18 at 16:13

11 Answers 11

129

Be clear and unassuming but very gradually escalate your responses.

First, explain in clear and certain terms why you're doing what you're doing, and how what they're doing makes you feel. Don't hold back, but don't be rude or insulting - focus on your feelings and don't try to presume their intentions.

Look - I really hate the weight that I've gained. It makes me feel really bad about myself, so I'm trying to lose it, and when you're teasing me about it, it makes me feel bad about myself all over again.

If they haven't realized how damaging their actions are by this point, try shifting the topic from your feelings to their actions, but ask questions, don't level accusations.

Why are you saying this, anyways? What's funny about it?

If they continue to make hurtful comments, they haven't apologized, and they're clearly just doing it because they think it's funny...you genuinely might have to escalate a little, to get a little rude. It's okay when this happens occasionally between friends, that isn't necessarily indicative that the friendship is in danger - many friendships have their rough patches!

Dude, if you're going to intentionally hurt me because you think it's funny, that doesn't speak well for how you think of me. This is a pretty messed-up thing to do.

If both clarity and a little rudeness doesn't get across that they're actually hurting you...then I'd start expressing anger. Maybe that's not the best advice for everyone, but a stern and direct stare coupled with a bark of "F-ing stop!" would be my last resort before I'd abandon the situation as unsolvable, and decide to either avoid the situation - that is to say, avoid the friends - or acknowledge that this pain might just need to be part of being around these people ... at least until they find something else to focus on.

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    A direct confrontation seems to be the best bet. I really like these guys, they are like family to me. Its just, when they do these kinds of things I don't think they realize the harm they are causing. – E. Huckabee Feb 1 '18 at 15:20
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    @E.Huckabee That's good - then you will hopefully not have to go beyond the first step here. :-) – TheTinyMan Feb 1 '18 at 15:21
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    Back from a pleasant dinner, your method worked quite effectively. Like I suspected they didn't realize what they were doing was hurtful. They apologized and told me that they would lay off. After that, the evening was pretty normal. – E. Huckabee Feb 1 '18 at 17:01
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    It's always nice to see the follow-up updates from the asker. Thanks for sharing the experience with us @E.Huckabee – Crosscounter Feb 2 '18 at 15:58
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    I think this answer is brilliant advice in many situations. I am forever surprised at how often people who are unpleasant are unaware of the effect they are having. By starting gentle but direct and getting more forceful it becomes much easier to identify if you're dealing with people who are misreading the situation, or people who are knowingly affecting others. Really glad it was the former in this case, hope you can put all this behind you now @E. Huckabee, and well done on handling it. – Sam3000 Feb 3 '18 at 2:23
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Teasing of all kinds takes place, especially at a younger age, and it sounds to me like you guys are teenagers. People tend to grow out of it, but you'd be wrong to think that it doesn't happen in other shapes or forms later in life.

You could certainly continue to ask people to stop, and they very well may, although there's a good chance they won't. You could also just stop hanging out with them, and find new friends.

My advice, however, is that you learn to roll with it instead.

Them: Hey look McFatty is losing fat to impress the ladies!
You: Hey, I'm fat, I can diet. You're ugly, what are you gonna do?
OR
You: Hey, just you wait. The ladies are going to be lining up to date me. What are you guys gonna be doing then?

Most teasing happens because they find it funny how you get upset about it. If you learn to divorce yourself from their comments, you'll become a stronger person for it.

At the end of the day you're building good habits, discipline, getting fit, and will benefit from this experience later in life. Their jokes can only hurt you if you let them.

As you start getting more fit as a consequence of your choices, you could offer to train your friends as well, which will lessen the jealousy they may be feeling right now.

  • How did you guess? I am 17. My friends vary in age above and below me. (there is me and then 4 other guys) – E. Huckabee Feb 1 '18 at 15:12
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – John Feb 5 '18 at 1:34
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I feel like a lot of these answers are very optimistic "Hallmark moment" type answers. If these guys are teasing you over losing weight, responding with "guys that hurts my feelings" could invite more teasing. It comes from a place most guys just aren't interested in recognizing.

A much better response, in my opinion, is surprise over how boring and overplayed these jokes are. Their opening line is:

Hey look, McFatty is losing weight to impress the ladies!

Your response could be any of the following

eyeroll You got me.

Then you change the topic and move on. They look immature and this emphasizes the idea that their comment was boring and overplayed. You could also try silence. They make the joke, you stay quiet for a few moments without laughing, then respond with

Ooookay... Anyways, back to X

Or just challenge it like it's an obvious thing

What's your point?

And then continue to act like you're not getting the joke. If they respond with something like

haha, you're just trying to get laid!

Follow up with

and?

etc. The point is to get them to explain it again and again, further and further until it's not funny. Do this literally every time. The joke gets boring quickly, then dies.

  • Haha, not a problem friend. I just wanted to make sure there wasn't some special restriction on this particular SE I wasn't aware of :P – Kulahan Feb 1 '18 at 22:18
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    Well said. Rolling with the punches is key. You can either fire back, or throw in a little self deprecating humor. Both are quite effective. Just be sure not to always go with one or the other. Mix it up. Too much firing back makes you seem defensive, too much self deprecation leaves you open to being walked on. – coinbird Feb 2 '18 at 22:39
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    Them: You're trying to get laid! You: And you're not? That's really...y'know...nice. – Bob Jarvis Feb 3 '18 at 3:19
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    A raised eyebrow might also be appropriate. – jpmc26 Feb 3 '18 at 8:02
  • @BobJarvis Them: "Emphasis on trying - I don't need to try." (There's always some comeback.) – Pharap Feb 5 '18 at 0:43
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Let me tell you a secret. Pretty much everybody who goes to the gymn is going to get into shape, so they can impress the opposite (or sometimes the same) gender.

That's why I go, that's why everybody I know goes, so my advice would be, the next time they make a remark such as:

Hey look [my name] McFatty is losing fat to impress the ladies.

Just agree, say

Well, yeah, that's exactly why I'm going to the gymn. Why don't you join me next time?

Getting in shape to make yourself more attractive to potential partners is completely normal. Making fun of somebody for doing so is a bit sad.

7

When people are young there are occasions and subjects where they find themselves outed by their peers. Such teasing is common in children, less common in teenagers and least common in adults; depending upon what where and who - YMMV.

In this particular situation you can explain to your friends that you don't appreciate the name calling, but like that they've noticed that you've made progress towards reaching your goal.

Sometimes a bit louder protest is successful, other times raising your voice might be viewed as losing and escalate the teasing. Sometimes a polite comment to the group when one brings it up or a one-on-one can work, and other times your protests will be dismissed.

It's something you need to feel-out; it's difficult to dynamically respond to, third hand, after the fact (hard for us to offer universal perfect advice).


If you can pull it off, the reversal often works.

When someone makes an unwanted observation:

  • Point at them and say in a louder voice: "Hey, look at this guy!".

  • Then point back at yourself like this:

Check this out

  • Now say: "McSkinny's checking out this guy!"

By using their own terminology against them and pointing out that they would rather check out your success than do anything else (like check out the ladies, or something more productive) it knocks them down a notch and brings you up one - without going too far.

Make up your own 'great line' and deliver it your own way. It's like comedy, sometimes it works and sometimes it bombs; it's all in the delivery.

Whatever you do: Don't be discouraged from making safe and healthy choices.

6

Look them straight in the eyes. Don't laugh, even when they may make grimaces.

Hey guys, I may have never said this explicitly, but those jokes really hurt. It is not easy for me to lose weight, this is a hard fight and I would appreciate if you could support me instead of making fun of me - because that is what this currently feels like.

Pause. Wait for them to apologize.

Thank you very much.

Change the topic.

Now where were we?

or

Anyone seen the soccer game last Saturday?

If they skip the apology be sure to think long and hard about whether those are really your friends or whether they belong to a time that you are trying to leave behind.

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    I tried that, it didn't work at all. I think I need to just word it better and make sure that they understand exactly what I mean. – E. Huckabee Feb 1 '18 at 15:12
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    @E.Huckabee Are you sure they really are your friends if they continute to make fun of you? That doesn't sound very nice to me. I'd recommend the last step of my answer and maybe tell them about that thought process. – Secespitus Feb 1 '18 at 15:13
  • Hmmm, I am not sure I am ready to let them go. I think one more confrontation will work. I haven't ever tried anything on your scale. Im serious they are really cool guys. We have been best friends since childhood and I dont think they mean any harm by it. I just need to remind them that they are hurting my feelings and that its not very funny to me. – E. Huckabee Feb 1 '18 at 15:15
  • This can work, but only if they're able to pick up on the person's irritation and actually care about it. I'm guessing that isn't the case here. – Pharap Feb 2 '18 at 12:48
  • @Pharap Though the OP used a different method, apparently they did care – Secespitus Feb 2 '18 at 12:51
6

Being 'awesome guys' is not the same as being awesome friends. I trust that you mean they are decent people and that they do prove themselves good friends to you. Don't try to hang on to their friendship just because other people think they are 'awesome'.

If you're convinced they are good friends then there must be an explanation for their behaviour. Some guys are not very good at expressing feelings and try to address subjects in very unusual ways. They suggest you are doing this to impress girls (and so what if you are? You're 17, it happens!) and I'm wondering if perhaps they just want to raise the subject of girls? Perhaps they want to talk about girls and just don't know how to raise it? Or they just want to raise the subject so often they make everything about it?

You are also right, they might be jealous. Jealousy is not a good trait but we can all succumb to it. They may be insecure about themselves, and again it might connected to 'girls' as they raise that subject. Perhaps they think you'll get all the girls now you've buffed up!

If they really are decent friends then they should understand and respect a simple statement like:

Guys, I'm trying to lose weight because I don't want to be overweight. Please don't make fun of me for it.

If they don't respect that then perhaps you need better friends?

All the best on your weight loss journey!

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    Someone who needs to feed their self esteem by making jokes about you is not a friend in any way, but also not an "awesome guy". An awesome guy lifts up everyone around them, instead of putting them down. – gnasher729 Feb 1 '18 at 21:05
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    Agreed @gnasher729, but we have limited info on what they are like at other times. The OP has to make their own mind up about that. :) – Astralbee Feb 2 '18 at 8:31
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Ok, assuming you find your friends truly awesome and want to keep them, then depending on how you gauge their underlying maturity*, you could take the sincere approach (as in TheTinyMan's answer), or you could use humor to defuse it.

Several other answers have suggested just going with it - "Yes, that's exactly why!"

More options along these lines:

  • In a space without any women around, you can look around and say "what ladies? I don't see no ladies."

  • If you're in the presence of a few good female friends, you can gesture expansively, "Yeah, look at all these ladies!" [This requires you and the ladies to have already navigated innuendo like this during your friendship, which might not be the case in your situation.]

  • Extend it as "Yeah, now I just need to get some time to actually meet some ladies."

  • Or make it quite biting, "Now I just need to get some cooler friends who won't scare off the ladies."

*The fact that they said this once doesn't necessarily mean they're immature - I have a circle of amazingly kind, decent friends and we have some pretty savage banter. But the fact that they're continuing to use the same lines after you've asked them to stop is the difference - that sounds like they're more interested in teasing than in respecting your feelings.

2

I've run into similar situations both on the giving and receiving end. Here's the way I've found works best for me. When there is a natural break in the conversation say (preferably with eye contact):

Hey, look (dude, man, [name]). I really wish you'd stop talking about it.

That's all. It doesn't give an opening for them to pry, and it clearly and unambiguously states your desire. It's concise and shows you feel a certain way and don't want to discuss it further.

When you confront a friend about bad behavior it's awkward for both parties. Making that part as short and clear as possible avoids a drawn out conflict and lasting awkwardness.

If that doesn't work you may need to escalate as necessary.

2

I will add that any response you give to the teasing will have a lot more impact if delivered to an individual, on their own, on YOUR terms, rather than in front of the whole group and delivered to the whole group in general.

The next time you are teased single out a member of the party and ask them:

Excuse me X, can I have a word in private?

Then break away from the group. For extra impact move to a different room. For extra impact leave the current room and spend a few moments making it clear you are looking for a nearby empty room.

Then bring the individual into that room and respond to the teasing as suggested by any of the other good answers on this thread.

If this does not solve the problem repeat it with different members of the group. Ideally you should have a 'private word' with each group member in turn.

1

Responding Within the Frame LOSES

The most important single thing I can say is to not respond within the frame of the comment. Their comment puts you into the frame of:

  1. Still being a fatty despite losing weight, and
  2. Being someone who is easily taunted and responds to it by getting upset.

If you respond in any way within that same frame, which includes denying being a fatty, or ashamedly admitting it, or getting upset, or asking for them to stop, then you've already lost. You've already communicated low social status by any of these responses within their framing, and this is what they're looking for—to challenge your social status and see if you are high or low, and hopefully you'll come back as low status. They take pleasure in playing dominance games, and may not even realize this. That's because humans seem to be hardwired to always need to place people into a social dominance hierarchy.

Note: You might consider that losing weight actually threatens them because you might rise in social status and surpass them. When overweight it was easier to peg you as low. Returning from low status is a challenge to them, and they have to see if you can pass their tests to be admitted to higher status again.

Learn How to Respond Differently

All the above is mostly descriptive, but stay tuned, I have something prescriptive for you. Since I know that it is very hard to change how you react, and in particular very hard to "not get upset", instead of telling you a few things to try in text here, I have a much better resource for you: I promise that you will get better at handling these kind of challenging comments and social dominance games if you go watch the videos at The Charisma Matrix channel on YouTube. If you like, start with the video "2 Tricks - How to BEAT a BULLY everytime!"

A Caveat, and Personal Experience

I know the channel owner, Barron, seems a bit gimmicky. I know he wants ultimately to sell to you, eventually. But it can't hurt to watch a few free videos. What have you lost? I think this guy really does know some stuff—stuff that for me, personally, is changing everything. I finally feel like I understand some of the dynamics of my interactions with people that I never understood before. I'm finally getting why people are reacting negatively to me in some situations. It's all starting to make sense. And I feel such a greater sense of power and control. It's amazing.

Please let me know if you check out his videos and whether they help you.

There are other channels such as Charisma on Command that may be useful to you if you don't like that guy's style. I haven't checked them out, but will probably eventually get there.

More power to you!

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