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Excuse Me, But I Didn’t Order a Side of Body Shame With That | Manolo for the Big Girl

Excuse Me, But I Didn’t Order a Side of Body Shame With That

When Mr. Twistie and I eat out, we have a few tried and true places we tend to go to. These are places that have good food at reasonable prices, and where we feel taken care of. In fact, the place where we breakfast every saturday morning is just two blocks from our home and everyone there knows our names, as well as what we’re going to drink with our meals (latte for me, iced tea for him). For the past two years I’ve even baked the proprietor’s birthday cake. She adores lemon pound cake.

So when we’re eating out, we usually are in very safe waters where we know what to expect.

For one reason and another, though, we’ve found ourselves going out to some less familiar places of late. Some have been fabulous. There was the little Brazilian place where the owner greeted us like family and the seafood risotto was a dream. Some have been… less fabulous, but at least not a horrible experience. And let’s face it, not every restaurant can blow me away with the food they produce.

Then there’s the phenomenon I’ve run across several times in the past few months that really gets under my skin.

At least six times in the past five months, I’ve wound up with a server who wants to bond over dieting while I’m trying to eat. With the menu, I get the server moaning low about how fat she is. Invariably, she’s a great deal thinner than I am. And then I get the knowing wink and nod about how I must hate how fat I am, too.

Then comes the talk about how she never exercises after work because she’s so ‘lazy.’ Seriously? If your job is waiting tables in a busy restaurant, you’re getting all the exercise your body actually needs just carrying those heavy trays and walking back and forth between the kitchen and every table in your station so many times in an eight-hour shift. Still, she wants me to agree that she’s lazy and unmotivated and obviously I know what that’s like, don’t I? Wink, wink.

Sure, the dessert menus will be offered, but almost with an apology, and certainly with an arch air of  ‘I won’t tell the diet police what a pig you were if you don’t tell on me!’

The bizarre thing is I honestly think these servers (mostly, but not exclusively, women working in family style restaurants) believe this is a style of service that isn’t insulting, isn’t potentially harmful, and really makes us buddies.

They even continue to prattle on about the evils of eating after I say I make pointed comments that this isn’t something I wish to discuss. They do it when I’m wearing my scarlet fat necklace or my What You Can Tell About Fat People By Looking At Them graph tee shirt.

Has anyone else been running across this lately, or is it just me? If anyone else has run across this, have you found any way to head it off at the pass?

After all, I’m trying to eat.

22 Responses to “Excuse Me, But I Didn’t Order a Side of Body Shame With That”

  1. Klee March 25, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    As a restaurant owner, I can tell you that an unhealthy percentage of the people working as servers are :
    A) alcoholics/drug addicts
    B) socially inept/oblivious or
    C) certifiably insane. I have seen servers discuss their medical issues, relationship problems and financial status with customers. Many think that if they “bond” with the guest, they will get a bigger tip. This is probably what happened here.
    It isn’t just you. Hiring and training staff is the single most difficult job in an impossibly difficult profession. If I do find a great server, I tip them generously, compliment them effusively and tell the manager how great they are. In my restaurant, I have been blessed for the last 3 years with a great team and I do my best to keep them happy. Often, a restaurant manager or owner might be too overworked to really see what the staff is doing and a conversation or polite note might help.

  2. Denise Rehse Watson March 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    I love going out for breakfast, though don’t do it often enough for my taste – when I do, I favor large, lumber-jack style breakfasts…my darling husband, on the other hand, prefers a much lighter morning meal – invariably the server will plunk MY breakfast down in front of his muscled, 135# body and when corrected, there is always eye-rolling (some subtle, some not so much)…we’ve pretty much stopped saying anything and just switch plates once the server has walked away.

  3. Liz March 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    In what possible world is it appropriate to talk like that to a complete stranger?

    The closest I’ve ever come to that is when a waitress said that she’d just finalised her divorce. In fairness, that was just before she burst into tears and ran to the bathrooms. I think that was a perfectly legit reason and we tipped generously.

    But…really? I’ve waitressed before and the best thing to do is be friendly and detached. The customers don’t want to be your friend; they just want someone nice and competent.

  4. Jelly March 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Wow, I’m a bit astounded that they think these things are even remotely appropriate to discuss – though if Klee’s professional experience is proportionate, that might explain it :P

    I agree that a comment to the manager/owner would be a good step, not just for your dining experience but for everyone’s (thin, not thin, large, short, tall, drinking lemonade, drinking coffee, sitting quietly in the corner, etc).

    I remember reading somewhere that good food can never make up for bad service.

  5. Debs March 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    First, these may be people with little experience who haven’t been trained that one does not make personal comments in a professional setting. They have not been trained that unless encouraged, part of being a server is to be unobtrusive, not a member of the party. (I once had server who announced she had just witnessed a birth & they did something with the afterbirth etc.)

    I am a straight-sized person. So, I may sound stupid, but I also think these folks may be trying to say “hey, I’m not judging your appearance or what you eat.” Of course, why should they judge your appearance or your food. But larger women (and one close friend) have made a few comments about their weight to me for no obvious reason. I assume it was to get the issue out there & move on.

  6. Debs March 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    I forgot to add, But it wasn’t an issue.

  7. raincoaster March 25, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    I worked in one of those restaurants, and we were specifically told to be everybody’s “best friend” and overshare and do whatever we had to in order to create some sort of bond with the customer. These waitstaffers may have been trying to follow orders, ineptly. Let’s face it, “OMG I’m so fat” is a mainstream message in our world. It’s so common that every woman’s magazine you pick up contains at least one article about how not to engage in negative body talk with yourself and your friends.

    The solution? Change the world. In the meantime: An arched eyebrow, a frosty look, and no tip.

  8. Patsy Nevins March 25, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    I live in Maine & we have a sizeable (if you will pardon the pun) fat population, we are a small population (in numbers), & a poor state dependent on tourists to survive. I have never had this issue with servers & it always seems to me when I eat out that you never can tell by the size of the customer what he or she will eat. It also seems to me that it is no one’s business. For the most part, with my mother-in-law a notable exception, people order what they want, eat & mind their own business, & servers are polite, helpful, seem to want to give us what we want, & do not seem to feel that it is part of their job to lecture us on our health, body size, or eating habits. I am grateful for that.

  9. Erin March 25, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    Not entirely on topic, but my favorite fat-themed t-shirt reads “Fat People Are Harder to Kidnap.”

  10. Susie March 25, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    Bartender/ Server for over 15 years here.
    It is my job to take care of my guests, answering questions, making recommendations, fulfilling requests, all with a genuine smile (and usually in the midst of chaos). It is not my place to befriend you, but depending on the table, I will be more friendly and laid back or I can be somewhat formal. I could have an extraordinarily sh***y day or even week, but when I hit the door and clock in, it doesn’t exist, and I don’t discuss my personal life with a guest EVER! A good server knows better than to get in someone’s business, it’s just tacky and unprofessional. I am here to make sure you walk away satisfied and happy with stellar service. No matter how complicated your order or how many glasses of sweet tea you guzzle down, I will not get flustered or look down on you. I don’t care what size you are, if you want a pecan pie and a banana pudding I will smile and I certainly will not judge. That’s why I make a fantastic living with around a 20%+ tip average. I am also a size 18 and after running my ass off I love to indulge myself.

  11. ZaftigWendy March 26, 2012 at 2:59 am #

    Yeah, I’ve had that happen. “Not everyone can be as sexy as me” usually works well to end it. They’re so flabbergasted that they shut right up.

  12. Carrie March 26, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    A few years ago I had a waiter tell me to order a salad instead of dessert. I was just getting dessert b/c it was a late night birthday dinner for a friend and I’d already eaten dinner. The same waiter told another friend she needed botox. He didn’t get a tip.

    I haven’t really had the experience you are talking about, but I would be very unhappy if it happened. Usually we have really young college students as servers. Just let me eat in peace!

  13. ChaChaHeels March 26, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    Yay, Zaftig Wendy! I’m stealing your line. It’s so useful in so many situations.

  14. Lillie Munster March 26, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    Yes, we all know restaurants can be filled with difficult patrons, but here are something servers should NEVER do:

    Be overly familiar, touching, or even sitting down next to patrons while taking their order.

    Virtually ignoring the female in the party while fawning over the male.

    Saying “enjoy!” every time you place a course on the table.

    Please contain you hair with a braid, hair clip, etc. No one wants you hair ending up in their plate.

  15. Lillie Munster March 26, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    *somethings

  16. Mifty March 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    I just had a store clerk do something related, actually, a few days ago — I’m quite fat, and she was about the same size. I was buying chips and salsa, and she said, “That’s my favorite snack, but I don’t buy it because I’ll eat it.” I just said, nicely, “Well, that’s what it’s for.” But I wonder if she’d have said it to a not-fat person — or a man?

  17. ZaftigWendy March 26, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    Enjoy it, Cha-Cha!! It works when clothing shopping, eating, all sorts of places!

  18. Margo A March 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    I think that if you have a problem with the way a server is doing things, you could act like a grownup and tell her so. Rather than go to her manager, which, no matter how nicely you do it, will reflect back on her, why not say politely, “You know, when I come to your lovely restaurant, I don’t want to think about diets and weight loss, so could you please not talk to me about them?” If you say it with a smile and a polite tone, she’s not going to spit in your coffee.

  19. Cat March 28, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    When my best friend and I go out to breakfast, we always order enough food to feed a small country because we both LOVE breakfast and want some of everything. One time, the server who brought our food was not the same one who’d taken our order. He walked out with a tremendous, full platter, stopped just short of our table, looked confused, and asked, “Is there a third person with you?” We both burst out laughing and said, “No. It’s just the two of us.”

  20. Cortni March 31, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    While having breakfast with my ex at a little diner in his hometown, I ordered the small stack of blueberry pancakes.

    When the order arrived, 3 HUGE pancakes falling over the edge of the plate were delivered. I said to her, “I thought I ordered the small stack.” Her reply? “You looked hungry.”

    Now, this woman was probably around for President Wilson’s election so I didn’t say anything to her but I asked my BF…”Did she just call me fat??” It was quite amusing.

  21. Bluigirlusa March 31, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    The worst for me is walking in ahead of my husband, telling the server 2 for dinner, and when my husband joins me..holds a hand…kisses my cheek, the hostess asks .. How many for dinner? Really? We’re together, obviously…

  22. Mimi April 23, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    ugh, I had something like this happen to me at a restaurant. My family and I were out to a late dinner after going to a show, and I was fairly hungry.
    So we sit down and we look at the menus, and decide what we want.
    My brother and I decide to order the same thing, some sort of sandwich with chicken.
    When the waitress is taking our order, my brother orders, she asks “Did you want the fries that come with that?” he says yes. My turn to order. I order the sandwich, the waitress asks ” I bet you want the fruit that comes with that” in a slightly insinuating manner.
    Now, if you look at my brother, he is 140lbs of lean teenager, whereas I am a size 18 rotund girl.

    I stammer out sure I want fruit(really wanted fries!) , and she goes away. My whole family exchanges semi shocked and appalled looks and my mother tries to soothe away my obvious embarassment. My brother points out the obvious, and it becomes a big elephant in the room. Later, my dad decides to take it up with our waitress, and she give some BS response about how “The fruit is the only side dish that comes with my sandwich” when my brother and I got the exact same thing.

    Probably one of the worst experiences of my life