Insensitive Me

You might not have noticed it but I’m not very PC.  It’s not that I go out of my way to be offensive exactly but I don’t really see the point in pussy footing around things that we can all see.

There’s this girl that I work with, Melissa.  She’s a nice gal, funny, hard worker, blah blah blah, but she’s a big girl, as in she has to get scrubs out of the men’s locker room because they don’t stock the women’s with XXXL, big.

So yesterday morning one of our doctors saw her name on the board and asked “Who’s Melissa?” and I said, “Big girl, she’s kind of new.”

And the other girls at the front desk just about fell over.

It’s not like I said “she’s the big huge disgusting fat girl.”  I didn’t.  She’s not.  But she’s a big girl.  Why is that wrong to say?

It wouldn’t be wrong to describe Carrot Top as the guy with the unbelievable orange hair.  It wouldn’t be wrong to describe Andre the Giant as the unbelievable big guy.  We go with the most noticeable traits first, right?

Except when we don’t.


19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. LisAway
    Dec 04, 2008 @ 06:44:07

    Oh this is funny. I’ve been thinking about/working on a post about racism and how one time my brother asked me if the lead singer of the band I was talking about was “that black guy?” My dad was SO upset. “Can’t you think of a different way to describe him!?!” or something like that. I was FLABBERGASTED. (my husband had a similar experience and is now convinced Americans are racist since you can’t even MENTION someone’s race as a distinguishing feature.)

    Since then I never mention if someone is black. I just say, “you know the guy with the dark hair that curls reeeeeally tightly?”

  2. cheryl
    Dec 04, 2008 @ 07:19:58

    I only describe people in physical ways if it’s actually helpful in the situation. For example, if I’m telling hubby a story, I usually just say “I ran into this man” or ” there was this woman walking by” and I won’t describe their physical characteristics. In your case, however, saying “the big girl” was warranted because the person needed a visual of who it was they were trying to picture. I also think describing in terms of race is also helpful if the description is needed. I wouldn’t be offended if someone said “Yeah, that Cheryl. You know? The tall, white girl.”

    Now, my FIL? He’s so non-PC he claims every person that goes to the U of U is “gay”. I asked him how he could tell. He said he could just tell because of how they act.
    Yeah, he’s an idiot.

  3. wesley's mom
    Dec 04, 2008 @ 07:37:05

    Things like this drive me nuts, it would be perfectly acceptable to say ” you know, the skinny girl” but we can’t use certain traits to describe people because sometimes they have a negative conotation.

    I say you were fine saying what you did. Honestly, big people know they are big, black people know they are black, people who talk too much know they talk too much (right, they know don’t they? I know when I do) why tiptoe around everything? It’s silly.

  4. julie
    Dec 04, 2008 @ 08:01:38

    I would have said that too to describe someone…somtimes there is no PC way to say thing about someone.

  5. Annette
    Dec 04, 2008 @ 08:22:32

    I probably would have said the same thing. But then, I’m horribly un-PC too. 🙂

  6. The Boob Nazi
    Dec 04, 2008 @ 08:41:42

    A Mexican lady I know always talks about her coworker by saying, el feo…. which means the ugly. It cracks me up every time.

  7. Melanie J
    Dec 04, 2008 @ 08:58:31

    You know, it is kind of silly but I guess if I were the “big” girl, it would make me sad to be identified that way. But then it wouldn’t bother me if I were the “short” girl or the “tall” girl, so I don’t think it’s wrong. I guess it kind of depends on if there was a better trait to identify her by like unusual hair or height. I think it’s just a bummer that she’s so big but it’s not like you said the fat girl, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it if there wasn’t anything more obvious to use to point her out.

  8. madhousewife
    Dec 04, 2008 @ 09:30:37

    Perhaps you should have called her the “voluptuous girl”?

    RYC – I have so much respect for you for proclaiming that in public. And so proudly, too. Semper fi, sister.

  9. melanie
    Dec 04, 2008 @ 09:47:56

    you are a rockstar! she commented, again! and you know I would have said the same thing, but it is a little sad.

  10. Kristina
    Dec 04, 2008 @ 10:04:14

    It’s a tough call. But I agree. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that will separate the two girls with dark hair.

    I remember a time when I was in college, and I was meeting my friend at her house. So was another friend. I was very heavy at that point, and she asked if it was her friend with the big lips (me) or not. I was grateful she didn’t say fatty, even though she could have. 🙂

  11. bythelbs
    Dec 04, 2008 @ 10:50:43

    It would have been perfectly fine to call her the “tall girl” or the “short girl” or the “skinny girl”, right? Unless she had some kind of genetic disorder or anorexia. Hmmm…

    Yeah, we’re all insensitive benches.

  12. Alison @ hairlinefracture
    Dec 04, 2008 @ 20:24:36

    It’s hard to know what to say when that IS the most noticeable thing about a person you’ve only seen a couple of times. I’d probably avoid the term just because I’m maybe a little OVER-careful not to hurt someone’s feelings.

  13. Jewel/Pink Ink
    Dec 05, 2008 @ 01:05:47

    I don’t see what you said as being offensive. It’s silly to be PC all the time and people are tripping over the appropriate words.

  14. Jo
    Dec 06, 2008 @ 09:29:50

    Well you and I would have been in the same boat, cause I would have said the same thing. Perhaps they would prefer Rubinesque?

  15. GrumpyAngel
    Dec 09, 2008 @ 09:02:25

    I would have said the same thing. If that’s her distinguishing trait I think it’s fine. You didn’t say, “The fat girl or morbidly obese girl.” If you say something with malice then that’s not okay because that’s way beyond un-PC. But if you’re calling it like it is without judgment I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Sometimes we take the PC thing way too far it’s ridiculous.

  16. Andrea
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 20:12:07

    oh no, i feel like this is maybe my cousin. and it might just be after the list of random connections diana and i made between our families tonight. by the way it’s so lovely to hear from you via the blog world. consider yourself officially adding to my bloglines reading enjoyment 🙂

  17. Andrea
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 20:12:57

    added. i am not a poor writer of the english language. just a tired mom.

  18. zstitches
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 17:18:35

    You can totally get away with this if you seem to make an effort to try other things first:

    “The girl who’s kind of new . . . she has dark hair . . . it’s short . . . and she’s quite large.”

    If you seem to apologize for having to describe her that way, then people are forgiving. I think.

  19. Olivia Votaw
    Jan 13, 2009 @ 12:09:59

    I know this is WAY after the matter, but I HAVE to post a comment in reference to the Boob Nazi’s comment.

    So I’m Mexican, right? And my mom is Mexican. And she is notorious for giving people Spanish code names. Like the chick she works with that talks like nobody’s business. Combine her excessive chatter with the fact that she is really lazy, and you’ve got the recipe for a snarky Spanish code name. My mom and her Mexican co-workers, under my mom’s creative leadership, call her “la Guacamaya”- Spanish for parrot. ‘Cause I guess parrots talk a lot.

    O.k., and then there’s this brother in our ward who’s kind of a hottie, so she and my aunt christened him “el Papucho”- Mexican Spanish for hottie. I could go on, but then I’d be giving away all my mom’s secret code names for people.

    Bu I’ll end with this. Growing up my nickname was “Gorda”- Spanish for Fatso or Fatty. Except my code name wasn’t secret at all. She would call me from across the grocery store, church halls, etc. I can trace the beginning of a short-lived eating disorder to the moment I finally realized that her little nickname for me wasn’t very cute.

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