DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am fortunate to enjoy friendships with people of various body shapes and sizes. Some of my friends accurately and dispassionately describe themselves as "fat," whereas others refer to themselves as "fat" with an apparent desire to be contradicted.
Given the recent prevalence of the body positivity movement coupled with the longstanding ubiquity of unrealistic beauty standards, I am finding it increasingly difficult to determine which of these situations I'm in at any given moment -- and offering the wrong response to either is sure to offend.
What should I say when a friend says "... because I'm fat" and then pauses for my reaction?
GENTLE READER: Your object must be to get out of that line of conversation immediately. Miss Manners assures you that no good will come of it.
Paradoxically, people who fish for such contradictions are unable to accept them. Saying "No, you're not" will only make you look like a weasel, even if the person is not what you would consider fat. Offering euphemisms such as "You're just pleasingly plump" will only serve as a confirmation rather than a contradiction.
So make good use of that pause to ask an irrelevant question.