Step On the Scale, But Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

man-and-woman-back-to-backI hope you don’t mind my commandeering the policy slogan “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” for a different purpose.

As you know, the phrase is commonly associated with the military policy that forbids openly gay people from serving their country, yet also prohibits commanders from asking about their subordinates’ sexuality. In last night’s State of the Union, President Obama called for a repeal of this current cop out compromise practice, a law which satisfies neither liberals nor conservatives.

But, that’s a topic for a different day.

Today’s post is about the startling difference (at least to me) among men and women when it comes to the topic of weight loss – their own or another person’s – and whether they ask/tell or don’t ask/don’t tell.

I can’t tell you the number of times men have announced in my presence (unsolicited and sometimes out-of-the-blue) that they’ve lost “x-number” of pounds. Case in point: during pre-staff meeting chit chat yesterday, my male boss shared with a group of us that he has lost 13 pounds recently. Great news, to be sure, but what really caught my attention is that his self-disclosure seemed apropos to nothing we were discussing at the moment. I’ve heard similar weight-specific boasts (and dispirited confessions) from other men.

What’s up with that?

Women rarely volunteer this level of detail about their weight changes – at least voluntarily; they don’t tell. And most women seem loathe to press others for such details; they don’t ask.

I’ve pondered the differences between men and women and how they handle weight discussions before … to myself. Now I have the chance to share my observation with you all, and get your perspective/feedback.

What have you noticed about men and women and their tendency to ask/tell (or not) when it comes to weight changes? Are there gender differences? Or, is it only me and my hyper-sensitivity?


  • Maura Says:
    1-28-2010 10:11:21

    I have observed similar experiences with men “announcing” their weight loss unsolicited. I don’t think I have ever heard a woman make that kind of declaration without someone asking the question first. I have found the opposite though, where some of my wise women friends will declare a weight GAIN unsolicited. I have done the same thing. I don’t know if it is a way to state the obvious before anyone else makes the observation or if by saying it out loud, I think it will force me into action.

    Having said that if I notice a friend has lost weight, I will tell them they look great and ask them how they did it – hoping to glean some knowledge not imparted at a weight watcher meeting or at the gym.

    In any event, being in my mid-forties, I have come to accept and love my body as it is – which is a much more evolved way of thinking than I had in my twenties and thirties. I love my forties!

  • Barb Says:
    1-28-2010 10:20:06

    Very interesting. I’ve never really thought about it before, but it is true that men announce their weight loss results. Almost as if it’s some sort of competition, something to make sure that everyone knows about what they’ve achieved. Women seem to want a bit more comraderie; for our efforts to be noticed by others but not necessarily shouted from the hills. Also, from my experience most women I know are in a constant state of watching what we eat, or needing to be good, or dieting for the upcoming beach holiday, etc. Losing or maintaining our weight seems to be the norm for us. For men it seems to be more of a one off effort. Maybe that’s part of the puzzle??

  • Cindy L. Says:
    2-1-2010 10:28:39

    I don’t hear too many men (except for my husband, at home) talk about their weight loss or dieting struggles. But the women I know talk about dieting all the time. I agree with Maura’s comment, too: If I notice a woman has lost a lot of weight, I will tell her how healthy or great she looks. I never ask how much weight.

    A year ago, my husband and I began a pesco-vegetarian diet (mostly veggies with fish periodically). We only lost a few pounds, nothing to write home about. Yet the change in the diet changed our looks and the way our clothes fit — we are less “puffy” due to less flesh/fat in our diet. (Our health/blood tests also showed significant improvement.) Other women ask me if I’ve lost weight all the time, and I mention my new eating habits only if they ask, as I want to avoid sounding preachy about going meatless.

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