Dear Margo: Time for Psychological Warfare

My room mate’s mother has an issue with my weight; how is this any of her business? Margo Howard’s advice

Time for Psychological Warfare

Dear Margo: My roommate’s mother commented about my weight — to the roommate, who is now giving me an ultimatum about Weight Watchers, or she will never do anything for me again. (I tried WW once, and it’s not an experience I wish to repeat.) That she is issuing an ultimatum really hurt, but to make it worse, she said she won’t hear any “excuses.” All I get is defense of Weight Watchers, comments on my eating habits and reiterations of the ultimatum. Did I mention she says, “I’m not saying this to be mean” every time? And that she’s called me fat, adding, “I’m sorry but you are.”

I have nowhere else to go. I have a cat and can’t afford my own place. I would also hate to lose a friendship over this. I’m not in the least proud of my weight, but the mother’s butting in and the roommate’s behavior as a result upset me greatly. I doubt either of them is concerned about my health, and in the mother’s case, what should she care anyway? What can I do? — Beleaguered

Dear Be: I would throw the discomfort back her way. Tell the pushy roommate you resent being browbeaten, the subject is none of her business or her mother’s, you’re tired of the insults, and maybe she should see a counselor about her insensitivity, if not meanness. I suspect her financial situation is similar to yours, so maybe drop into the conversation that if she doesn’t tone it down about your weight, one of you may have to consider alternative living arrangements. — Margo, tactically

“Female Trouble”

Dear Margo: I work for a small company on a team of four women in their late 20s. There’s a problem with one of my colleagues that might strike you as odd. “Mary” suffers from severe PMS. Several days before the onset of her menses, she turns into a nightmare. Moreover, she gets a leave of absence for a couple of days each month because she feels ill when she has her period. I’m not a freak who makes another lady’s cycle her business, but after working so closely for two years, you just notice such things.

In the first months of working together, I sympathized, but it’s getting to be too much now. She’s not the easiest person to begin with, but during the week prior to her period, she becomes intolerable. I am getting fed up covering her workload when she is out. I gently suggested she consult a doctor. Her answer boils down to “no use seeing a doctor, that’s the way I was born.”

I brought this up to our boss, who told me he is aware of the behavior but is reluctant to let her go because of her knowledge of our company, which is true. Also, he is reluctant to deal with the whole subject. Should I start looking for another job? Should I start nagging our boss? — Feeling Stuck

Dear Feel: “I was born this way,” ergo no need to see a doctor, is fallacious. Were that the case, there would be no need for orthodontists. While it is often true that PMS sufferers are stuck with this unfortunate periodic personality change (no pun intended) in addition to the pain, I would try to get your colleague to give her doctor a try. I asked a doc about this, and the first line of treatment for severe PMS is an SSRL, usually Prozac. Good luck with either fixing it or living with it. — Margo, hopefully

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.

COPYRIGHT 2012 MARGO HOWARD
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

Click here to follow Margo on Twitter

98 comments so far.

  1. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  Ah…the weight police.  They are insufferable.  They couch their inteference and meanness in terms of concern for your health when what really bothers them is that they just don’t like looking at anyone who doesn’t fit their view of perfection.   I realize you have limited options for moving away from these harridans but I would seriously start exploring alternatives and getting a new place as soon as your lease and finances allow you to do so.   I don’t know what your roommate meant by *not doing anything for you* if you don’t join Weight Watchers.  In a typical roommate situation I suppose both parties do little favors for each other now and then.  If she quits doing for you…you can quit doing for her.  And definitely have the conversation with her that Margo suggested.  She and her mother are bullies. 

    You can always use a version of Winston Churchills classic response when someone (Lady Astor or Margot Asquith) said to him at an evening affair:  Sir, You are Drunk.  His reply was: Yes, M’aam but you are ugly.  And I will be sober in the morning*.   You can be thin one day if you want to.  They will still be mean, busybody bullies until the day they die. 

    LW#2:  There is probably nothing your boss can do about your co-worker’s health issues as she is protected by the Americans With Disabiities Act/ Family Leave Act  and must be accommodated by law.   Probably at the most he can adjust work assignments so you do not have to be around her very much when she is having PMS.   Its a shame she won’t see a doctor as pehaps there are medications which will control her PMS moods.  As for her days of pain…there is really nothing to do about it short of a hysterectomy or other surgery for endometriosis or fibroids and pain medication.  And even pain medication  is not a complete answer.   By the time I finally had a hysterectomy (the best thing I ever did), I was taking 6 Advils every 3 or 4 hours for 4 days straight to dull the pain to the point where I could function.  My OB/Gyn was amazed I had a stomach lining left by the time I had surgery.   If I didn’t *catch*  the pain in time, I could be in bed for 5-6 hours waiting for the pain to subside to the point where I could walk.  Maybe morphine would have been effective but then that would have not allowed me to function either.  

    You can continue to encourage her to seek medical help…but some people are reluctant to take medications like Prozac and are not willing to have surgery for a host of reasons, including not wanting to end their child-bearing years or go into menopause prematurely.  And, perhaps she has discussed the options with her doctor and just does not want to share with you what she and her doctor have decided to do about her situation.

    In short, you may want to be looking for another job.  

    • avatar Lisa Cornell says:

      Sorry, disagree with the fact that there is nothing the employer can do because she is protected under Americans with Disabilities Act. The law requires the employer to make reasonable accommodation. I don’t think an employee who holds an entire office hostage to extreme mood swings one week out of four and who refuses to even consult a Dr on this issue is someone the business can reasonably accommodate. An employer does not have to wait indefinitely for an employee’s problem to be treated or corrected.

      I suspect if the employer sat her down, told her that her condition was worsening and disruptive to their business practices and that they were unable to accommodate her disability, she would hop skip to the Dr and get treatment ASAP. Ms Looney Tunes has been able to get away with this behavior far too long. If there is an HR department, talk to them. If not, and the office is small as you say, approach your boss and request he take action. Put in writing how her behavior is affecting your performance.

    • avatar Lisa Cornell says:

      Read hubby this letter and asked his opinion, he’s a board certified employment lawyer. He says PMS is not covered by the ADA and if the employee was fired and she brought suit under the ADA, she would lose. Also, the writer says the office is small. The employee wouldn’t be entitled to FMLA if there are less than 50 employees within a 75 mile radius. This means even if she worked for a larger firm and this was a satellite office with fewer than 50 people within the 75 mile radius, she wouldn’t be entitled to FMLA. Finally, an employee must provide medical certification in order to qualify for FMLA. It doesn’t sound as if this employer has requested it. It would require this employee to at least see the Dr and he/she could perhaps suggest a treatment plan.

      • avatar ostatekitty says:

        If there is an Human Resources office at LW’s job, I’d head straight there.  Most comapnies don’t offer unlimited sick leave, especially if she hasn’t even had her condition documented by a physician.

    • avatar impska says:

      While your case sounds extreme, it’s not true that most women would have to resort to a hysterectomy. The first line of defense for many women is as simple as a hormonal birth control pill.

      I too once took prescription pain killers for my cramps, and I would still find myself crying in bed with pain. They all but disappeared when I went on the pill. I was extremely disappointed that my doctor had prescribed potentially addictive pain killers for this pain when hormonal birth control is commonly helpful.

    • avatar Daniele says:

      Actually, the ADA does not force employers to maintain employees that harm the business in any significant way. Check out the various cases people with epilepsy lose regularly when fired from their jobs because they have seizures. The ADA is not a you’re-stuck-with-me-ha-ha-ha! policy that makes it acceptable for employees to not manage their health. The employer must accomodate a disabled person, but the employer does not have to accomodate a disabled person by turning the workplace into a hostile working environment. An employer does not have to maintain the employment of a person whose accomodation causes undue hardship. Undue hardship, according to the ADA is: “an accommodation would be unduly costly, extensive, substantial or disruptive, or would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business. Among the factors to be considered in determining whether an accommodation is an undue hardship are the cost of the accommodation, the employer’s size, financial resources and the nature and structure of its operation.” No, the employer cannot make health care a requirement of employment, but he does not have to tolerate what’s essentially two weeks absence of every four weeks. This is not reasonable accommodation.

      The employer should consult a lawyer to see what his options are and then promptly fire the woman.

  2. avatar toni says:

    LW1 I am heartbroken fir you that these bullies are having their way with you. I hope a situation becomes available where you can move! You can be Teflon and keep repeating Not your business… Or the mean side of me wants you to reply next time w Oh thank goodness we have the kind of friendship where we can help each other. I’ve been afraid to say anything about your horrible bad breath!

    Then you can start leaving mints for her everywhere, and every time she attacks you w weight watchers, you could smile and say, Tic tac?

    LW2: is there an HR dept for your co? Not sure when PMS became a disability but YOU have the right to a non-hostile work environment as much as the bi – I mean the disabled one does to be accommodated. It’s the boss’s job to make both those things happen not YOURS. Push back. If you get flak for it tell them you have your period.

    • avatar Mandy says:

      I greatly enjoy the way you think on the jerk roommate. The Tic Tac comment is priceless!

      I’ll add that this roommate and her mom sound a LOT like a nurse practitioner at my gyno’s office. This woman is a complete Weight Watchers Nazi. Her answer to all weight issues is: Go to Weight Watchers! She harped on me so hard during my pap exam that I was literally in tears with my feet in the stirrups. She told me, “See? Now I bet if you’d lose some weight you wouldn’t cry so much.” No lie. Bear in mind she kept at this after I had already told her that I tried WW in the past and actually *GAINED* weight, but those pesky details weren’t important to her. I pointed out that I also have thyroid problems, again, WW would fix EVERYTHING! Oh, and my specialist who deals with my thyroid problems and diet plan? She doesn’t know what she’s talking about according to said nurse practitioner, my thyroid was probably fine (it’s not).
      Am I painting the picture vividly enough? Needless to say there was a note put into my file that whenever I schedule an appointment I am to have the actual doctor and “Shannon” is to keep far from me for her own good.

      Well, fast forward 2 years: I make my yearly appointment and the new girl screwed up and scheduled me with Shannon. I only discovered this when I got there and my doctor wasn’t there that day; I needed my birth control, so I just sucked it up. She started harping at me the minute she sat down. I wasn’t about to cry on the table again and told her that if she wants to keep talking about Weight Watchers she can just leave; I’m paying for a pap smear, not a consult for WW. I own a mirror, I know I’m overweight, I do not need her telling me repeatedly. She slacked off for a few, started the exam, and then all of a sudden started up again just as she was finishing the exam. I won’t lie, I started to cry and then I snapped. I told her to, “Get the F out of here, right now. LEAVE! GET AWAY FROM ME! GET OUT! GO AWAY! NURSE!” I screamed it at the top of my lungs so all the nurses heard me and came running. The best was when Tracy (one of the nurses) asked me if I wanted to call the police and Shannon turned 20 shades of white and ran from the room. None of the nurses liked her either because she picked at them the same way; all day, every day.

      My actual doctor called me a few weeks later to let me know that Shannon was fired for her behaviour and to apologize. The nurses (after my first complaint) had started to keep tabs and ask questions. They compiled a huge list of complaints. My screaming fit was just the icing on the cake that finally got her booted out the door. As my doctor said, “I put it to her in the simplest terms I could: You’re not here to hawk Weight Watchers. You were not hired to hawk Weight Watchers. Since all you seem able to do is verbally abuse our patients and hawk Weight Watchers, why don’t you go work for them? You’re fired.” I <3 my doctor.

      So, as you can see LW, sometimes those harpies get what's coming to them. Just stand your ground! If going at it the way Margo suggests doesn't do the trick, go with what toni suggested and give her a taste of her own medicine. Next time she wears a pair of jeans she loves tell her that her ass looks fat and she should donate them to charity (you're just being a good friend, so she's not embarrassed), next time she wears a shade of lipstick or eyeshadow that you *know* she loves tell her that she looks like a hooker and she should throw it out (you're just concerned, you wouldn't want anyone out there to think she's a prostitute!), or the next time she gets her hair done tell her that the cut/colour/whatever really doesn't suit her and suggest she get a wig (again, just a concerned friend…). Don't let her walk all over you. Inevitably she'll make a comment about how mean you're being. When that time comes you need only one line, "Now you understand how you make me feel with the Weight Watchers ultimatum."

      As for the mom? She deserves a good blast. Write her a letter or an email and point out to her that you're absolutely thrilled that she feels she's such a great mom that she has to parent everyone, but you are a grown woman who is capable of making her own choices and you would greatly appreciate if she would mind her business. You can also let her know that her comments have caused tension between yourself and your friend and that if your friend doesn't let up you're going to have to cut the toxicity from your life, sad as that will be. Give her the full guilt, round trip!

      • avatar Sadie BB says:

        Good for you Mandy, for making a fuss! It’s so hard to be the first one to bring the hammer down. But then you find out that you are not alone!

      • avatar phrugall says:

        I <3 your doctor too!

      • avatar toni says:

        Thanks for your post Mandy! I LOVED where you started yelling at the B! While I heart your dr too I do wish they had listened when you first complained.

        I lost 60 lbs and kept it off 3 yrs – and people STILL try to push WW on me! It’s a cult!

        I still struggle w self esteem – our society has idolized thinness over health. And the BMI should be thrown out the window! I had my body fat measured w body calipers for work – 24.7%! But the ‘scale’ calculation would have put me close to obese.

        We’re fabulous right now Mandy and LW! Anyone who doesn’t like it can join that nurse in the unemployment line!

    • avatar A R says:

      Yeah… I don’t think chronic PMS is a disability either. At least not by the ADA….

  3. avatar Carol David says:

    That’s SSRI (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor), not SSRL.

  4. avatar Jim P says:

    LW1: I agree the best idea is to get out. But you may want to google “Gary Taubes” at some point.

    LW2: The response to “Her answer boils down to ‘no use seeing a doctor, that’s the way I was born.’” is then “You need to find a better doctor. Do you think it’s fair to dump your workload on us?” If she says “Yes” then she thinks she’s entitled. Go look for another job. If she says “No.” then she has never thought of it before. Encourage her to find a new doctoer.

  5. avatar TimIn808 says:

    My suspicion is that LR1′s roommate desires her to leave for some reason or another and believes that being mean is the easiest way to accomplish that goal. It’s cowardly but not unheard of. I witnessed a similar circumstance many years ago, although the goal was to get a friend to quit his job – not move out of his apartment.

    My other comment is in reference to LR1′s “I would also hate to lose a friendship over this” comment. Honey, that girl is NOT your friend. Friends do not shame one another. Friends offer encouragement and support. Friendships, by definition, must not be toxic.

    As for LR2, I would only suggest that you not act upon Margo’s advice “during the week prior to her period” – if you get my drift!

    Cheers!

  6. avatar Patti Spencer says:

    LW#1 – Have you ever thought about saying – I will try WW again, if you pay for it AND the special food AND GO WITH ME SINCE YOU CAN LOOSE A FEW POUND’S AS WELL?? Toss it right back in their face! Since it sounds like money is an issue for you both, this might be a way for you to fight back.
    Also, there is the old turning the tables on them route: Let them know that you will not try WW again, and that if they don’t like it, they can move out! Sounds like mom is close enough for the rm to do just that.
    Also, as others have said, find something about the rm and rm’s mom that bugs you and each time they bring up your weight, toss this back at them. You can also go with the: Sorry, it is a medical condition that cannot be corrected by diet – got to live with it. (I am on a medication that causes weight gain – no matter what I do, unless I go off of said med’s I don’t loose weight easily)
    Depending on the way the lease is written, it could be that you are stuck with each other for a while – remember, if you are on the lease and leave early, you could be held responsible for your share until another rm is found. This is the first thing I would check into, it could also become your biggest piece of leverage around.
    Hope these work for you.

  7. avatar Carmen Clemons says:

    I hope LW2′s coworker reconsiders talking to a doctor. I’ve had bad PMS and periods since middle school, but I thought that what I experienced was “normal” and couldn’t be helped, so I never did anything about them. After 25 years of symptoms that you don’t want to hear about, I ended up with problems severe enough to land me in an OB-GYN’s office. Finding birth control pills I could take safely took care of the problem. I could kick myself for not dealing with it sooner.

    • avatar impska says:

      I second this. The strange thing is that my doctor was happy to prescribe heavy duty pain killers for my PMS-related pain and I had to request hormonal birth control pills after doing my own research. Bewildering.

    • avatar Lym BO says:

      I was prescribed bcp my first semester of college for the same reason. Worked like a charm; however, my boyfriend’s mother found out and accused me of being a harlot. That wasn’t pleasant. After a few years, I decided the bcp was making me psycho (depression) so I stopped it. Psycho behavior left & the horrible periods did not return. I started back on them for birth control & stayed on them for the next ten years then couldn’t get pregnant. Did the infertility route for years. Fast forward thru two adopted kids & two biological kids & went back on hormones for birth control (Mirena). That also made me psycho (depression and anger) and killed my milk supply while nursing. Every thing has its pros and cons.

  8. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: Further proof the apple usually doesn’t fall far from the tree (mother/daughter). You’d better start speaking up for yourself. You *PAY* to live there (and hopefully you are paying fully what you do owe per month; if not, her mother using this bullying tactic to try and drive you out, so someone who can consistently pay what’s owed per month move in?). Regardless, you don’t owe them an explanation as to your weight. A husband you might; that’s it. Take Margo’s advice and start speaking up for yourself; tell them you resent their bullying, your weight is none of their business; and you might also tell roommate dear it’s time she grew up and cut the apron strings.

    L #2: She has to endure it and so should you? I guess I’d either continue trying to *politely* convince her to see a doctor (while reminding her that her situation isn’t your fault AND the burden of her absences falls onto YOU which also is NOT FAIR). Since your wimp of a boss doesn’t want to deal with it, can he at least be persuaded to delegate her work to others in her absences so it doesn’t fall squarely on you? It is unfair to you.

  9. avatar David Bolton says:

    LW1: There’s a lot left unsaid in this letter about motive and situation, but I get the feeling that we’re seeing the other side of an intervention (or perhaps, a half-assed attempt at one), with a healthy dose of past attempts to lose weight, and some edited-out behaviors on the LW’s part. I seriously doubt a roommate and her mother would suddenly pronounce final fat judgment on the LW out of the blue—so I’m wondering what else has been going on behind the scenes.

    Anyway—here’s the deal: you’re fat. You know you’re fat, and you admit you’re fat. Of the weight loss regimens, WW is supposed to be one of the easier, healthier and longer-lasting. Why not give it a shot again and lose 5 or 10 pounds? Almost EVERY SINGLE PERSON in American can stand to lose 5 pounds. If it makes you feel better about yourself, appeases the weight loss police and keeps a roof over your head and your cat’s for the time being—then everyone wins.

    LW2: Barring Ms. PMS falling down an elevator shaft—situations like these almost never work out in anyone’s favor except for people like Ms. PMS. Start looking.

    • avatar Barbara says:

      Speak for yourself. I’ve weighed the same for 50 years and am not in need of losing a pound. LW#1 needs to assess her situation. I understand she cannot afford a place by herself but surely there are other roommate options available. Has she looked online? Finding a place with someone you don’t know may be far preferable than living with someone who is making you miserable. Having a cat is not necessarily a deal breaker but I hope it is well trained.

      In the short term, I hope every time the situation comes up that she just says Thank you for your concern. End of discussion. Leave the room. Plug in your ipod. Make a phone call. Go for a walk. Just don’t get into it.

      LW#2 – I would suggest you take a more positive action. If your colleague is so valuable because of her knowledge of the business, study up. Become the expert yourself. Show your results. Make yourself invaluable to your manager. She will become much less valuable and then give your manager the opening to rectify the situation by either making her perform or removing her. Unless you change the game, you won’t win on this.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        “LW#1 needs to assess her situation.”

        Apparently she did, when she said “I’m not in the least proud of my weight.” And I stand by my statement that ALMOST everyone is America could stand to lose weight. It is a fact—period.

      • avatar Jessica J says:

        Agreed! Myself included, and I’m tired of having people butt in about what I’m eating and when they find out I’m working on losing my last ten pounds they cry out, “Why? You look great!”. Looking ‘great’ is not what is supposed to matter, right? I just want to be fit and healthy, so leave me alone.

      • avatar jezoebel says:

        I hope you’re including yourself in that statement because you’re already digging yourself in a pretty big hole.

      • avatar wendykh says:

        Yes but how does that mean she’s interested in any help on it? I too am overweight, I gained a large amount back after losing a lot several years ago. I do NOT want ANYTHING to do with WW because it turned to a very unhealthy constant number obsession for me. I know precisely what I need to do and how to lose weight WITHOUT getting all obsessive on numbers and points. I will do it when I have the time and am ready, and neither of those are anyone else’s business, just like it is NOT the LW’s roomie and mother’s business! MANNERS! These people need to get some and SHUT UP.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        Actually you are quite in the right, Wendy. The effort to lose weight has to come from the LW (or the dieter in general), and not the people surrounding him or her. I quit believing in interventions after the twelfth or so didn’t work on my mother and her drinking—I also quit believing in listening to people who whine about needing to make changes in their life, but don’t actually do anything. Again—I don’t know why LW’s roommate and her mother have decided to make LW’s weight loss their common goal. None of us do. But I still doubt they just woke up one morning and thought they would browbeat her about her size until she gave in—I have a feeling there’s more to it than that.

      • avatar Lym BO says:

        I agree about there being more to the story.
        I fall into your “almost” everyone. Weight concerns whether the person be thin or fat need to stay in one’s brain. I get tired of people assessing my food intake and making snide remarks because I am thin & fit. Maybe LW is making comments to said roommate about how thin she is, commenting on what she eats & she is tired of hearing about it when LW continues to eat unhealthy & complain about her weight at the same time. Like David, do something about it or shut up about it.
        The other flip to the story is roommate & mommy dearest have a new roommate lined up & they truly are trying to get rid of her.

      • avatar bright eyes says:

        I can sympathize with LW#1 as I’m told how fat I am many times! And it’s my mother that does it – although she easily outweighs me. I found that ignoring her and making little comments back to her works for me. I don’t spend too much time around her, esp when she gets on a kick of how I need to loose weight. But I do have the ability to leave unlike the LW, since I’m not living with her. I can either leave, ignore her or hang up. I think she needs to tell the roommate that she does not appreciate the criticism and that if she keeps it up, then one of them will have to make other arrangements. Yes it is expensive to have an apartment, but it’s not worth your self-esteem and having to deal with your roommate and her mother.

    • avatar Sadie BB says:

      David – for LW1, I agree that the underlying reasons have been left unsaid…however I suspect the underlying reason is that roomie and her mom are flaming a$$holes. It’s really no more complicated than that.
      Your life seems to have been blessedly free of alcoholics & crazy people, but I have seen this behavior before…some personalities just require a victim. Fat people, shy people, poor people, whatever, make easy targets, because they are easier to isolate.
      Lw1 could definately benefit from weight loss. Destressing her life by dumping non -friend would be a good first step. And if mummy isn’t on the lease, ban her from the apartment until escape is possible. Summon the authorities if necessary. Remember, you too can issue ultimatums!

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        “Your life seems to have been blessedly free of alcoholics & crazy people, but I have seen this behavior before…some personalities just require a victim. Fat people, shy people, poor people, whatever, make easy targets, because they are easier to isolate.”

        Are you f^&cking joking? Do you even read my posts (at least half of which have been about my alcoholic mother who was also bipolar and certifiable)?

        The thing to keep in mind here is that once again—we’re getting half a story, and what’s unsaid makes me wonder WHY ON EARTH a roommate and her mother would suddenly decide to attack LW1 about her weight, with the caveat that the roommate “[would] never do anything for [her] again” if she didn’t join Weight Watchers. There may be a healthy dose of a$$holery going on here, but I have the feeling it’s mixed with an equal part “feel sorry for me and listen to me whine.”

        Regardless of where the true may lie—LW1 should take their criticisms about her weight (as well as her own) and do something about it. Something is better than nothing, and until she has better options for a living situation—she might as well try to appease the two of them until she can get out and do what she wants.

      • avatar Sadie BB says:

        David – no I am not joking, nor do I read your every missive.

        So now that you have clarified your past experiences I’m the one who’s wondering WHY ON EARTH you think there must a good reason for crappy behavior.

        A reason, yes. Good reason, not necessarily. The fact that somehow mummy got involved is a big red flag for me.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        Because people usually don’t pull random behavior out of their ass, Sadie. They don’t act—they react. Yes, some people are inherently mean. Some people suck. Some people whine. Some people are victims. My point is that this letter leaves a lot unsaid—especially why a roommate and her mom would suddenly gang up on LW and decide that she needs to lose weight. Normal people don’t just suddenly do that, and unfortunately LW has left us in the dark as to any motivation they might have had for acting in this way. We’re left to surmise that it has something to do with past behavior on one or both roommates’ parts, especially when the roommate issues the threat that she’ll never do anything for LW again. Why? What did she do for her before? What is the nature of their friendship?

      • avatar Sadie BB says:

        David – see, that’s where we disagree. I’ve noticed certain types of people DO pull random behavior out of their ass, mainly because they think they can get away with it.
        You are correct that normal people don’t do that. And normal people don’t call in their mommies because their roommate is fat.

      • avatar Mandy says:

        David: I normally love the crap out of you, but I’m with Sadie here. Grow up fat and a girl sometime. There’s nothing quite like the irrationality of mean girls. And mean girls tend to breed mean girls so it’s not a huge stretch for me to imagine roommie and mummy boosting their self esteem (or trying to get rid of the LW for some reason) by cutting the LW down.

        Also, WW might work for *some* but for others it’s a joke. I did it and gained weight. Why? Because with my thyroid problems I really need to be following a specific diet if I want to lose weight. All WW did was pack on a freshman 40 instead of 15 for me because it doesn’t take health problems into account with all their points and patting each other on the back. So yes, it *can* work for some, but did you miss the “results may vary” at the bottom of each commercial?

      • avatar Sadie BB says:

        I think we may be dealing with a gender issue here, as in:

        Every man on a diet that I’ve ever known: “Hey, I stopped drinking beer and eating pizza, have wine & tacos instead and get off the bus one stop early and I’ve lost 20 pounds! And it’s only been 2 weeks! This dieting thing is easy!

        Every woman on a diet: “I’ve cut my calories to 700 a day and I work out 4 times a week for 45 minutes and it’s been 2 months and I’ve gained 5 pounds! Waah! My doctor says it’s because muscle weighs more than fat but I know I’m doomed to be overweight FOREVER!”

        I’ve never been overweight and I’m pretty sure it’s because I follow the 3 secret rules to slimness.
        1. Be tall
        2. Don’t get pregnant. Ever.
        3. Develop a nervous, irritable personality.

        Notice that men have #2 in the bag.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        And Sadie, the fact that you’ve never dieted shows. It’s not that easy for men either.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Sadie BB’s rules to avoid fatness (and why they are ridiculous):
        1): Be Tall.
        Really? My best friend back in Illinois is 5’11″, and her two younger sisters are 5’10″ and 6’2″, respectively. All of them have had weight issues (no ***glandular problems*** or serious over-eating involved, and all occurred way before pregnancy). I’ve known a lot of tall women who were anywhere from over-weight to morbidly obese. Stores such as Lane Bryant do not cater to shorties like me.
        2. Don’t get pregnant. Ever.
        Seriously? What century are you living in? How much more anachronistic and sexist…yes Sexist…can you be? I never got fat from being pregnant…nor have most of the women I’ve known. I gained 23 pounds with the first, and 20 with the second…and lost more than what I gained in the aftermath. There are so many normal, non-celebrity women today who look fantastic after pregnancy that I do believe it’s more the “norm” than not. Pregnancy does not make you fat…unless you DO choose to use it as an excuse to let yourself go. Nor must you gain 80 pounds to have a big, healthy baby. Cases in point: my first, after a 23 pound gain, was 10 pounds. My cousin gained about 28 pounds (she is 5′, even, and was very thin) and had a 12 pound daughter. My office manager gained 16 pounds, and had a healthy 8 pound son. Two of my co-workers gained 65 and 75 pounds, respectively, and had full-term babies: a 4 pound girl and a 5 pound boy, both well underweight. Pregnancy is not a guarantee, reason or an excuse to be fat. Good grief.
        3. Develop a nervous, irritable personality.
        I am nervous to the point of being unable to sit still. I am even nervous in my sleep (when I sleep). Irritable? Only when confronted with specious illogic…but I am afflicted with (yes, it’s a real diagnosis) OCD and anxiety. I am currently fat. So much for that.

        You’re an intelligent woman Sadie BB, but I sometimes wonder at your comments. I really do…

      • avatar Sadie BB says:

        briana – google ‘irony’ & perhaps you will understand me better!

      • avatar Sadie BB says:

        although i will say if you want a real rule for not being fat – try being vegetarian.

        dont know a lot of fat ones – but personally i just dont have the willpower

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Sadie: I don’t have to Google “irony”…you always have a way of defending your most peculiar posts by claiming some “other” intent.

        Of course, you were being “ironic”. Why is it that I can detect sarcasm and irony in other readers’ comments…but in yours, I’m never quite sure…?

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        I’ve been fat. Twice. I’m also gay. Gay men and fat mix about as well as oil and water (unless you’re a bear or a chubby chaser, which I am not). I get some of the insight that you’re trying to pass along here—believe me.

        Again, my viewpoint isn’t that it’s out of the realm of possibility that Roomie and Mom have jumped on some sort of bash-LW bandwagon, it’s that there appear to be facts and motivations left out of the letter. I’m wondering if it’s possible that the roomie doesn’t view LW as being an enabler who is sabotaging her own attempts to lose weight. Otherwise, why care about whether or not she’s overweight? Unless the two of them were forced together by necessity, it seems rather odd that they would be friends before and then suddenly this becomes an issue.

      • avatar Sadie BB says:

        David- so if you’re ex-fat how did you do it?? While not fat I could stand to lose 5-10 pounds. I eat right, don’t do sugary drinks or fatty snacks, exercise 4 times a week etc etc but nothing happens. I find it so impossible for me to lose 5 pounds that I’m not so hard on people who can’t lose 50.
        Ps. Not interested in surgery or drugs either, if that’s what worked.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        You have to depress your metabolic set point—which is that little switch in our bodies that lets us lose or gain 5-10 pounds, before we bounce back where we were before.

        You also have to understand the difference between losing weight and losing bulk. Most quick-loss weight is water, like squeezing out a sponge. That only counts when you need to fit into a dress for a party or a picture—and it’s not permanent.

        One way that you permanently lose weight is to increase your metabolism by increasing activity and exercise and reducing caloric intake—gradually and consistently over a period of time to allow your body to get used to the changes.

        The other way is that you greatly—and I mean “greatly”—increase your exercise level and eat 6-7 small, lower-calorie meals per day to constantly keep your metabolism up. You have to trick your body into feeling like it’s always struggling to keep up so that it doesn’t become complacent and level off before you’ve shed the amount you want.

        Both work—both boil down to the basic theory that (less calories consumed) + (more calories burned) = weight loss.

        A few people will have a disadvantage of thyroid problems and the like, or be on medication that causes them to gain weight. But most people can lose weight permanently by doing one of the two things above—as long as they realize it takes time and consistent effort.

      • avatar Sadie BB says:

        Thanks David! I eat 2 meals a day..never thought that might be exactly the wrong strategy.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        David: I’ve been fat…and I’ve been normal…for me. My ideal weight, according to my cardiologist, my ob/gyn and Weight Watchers, is between 150-140 pounds…and I am only 5’1″. I do not have a huge frame…but even at nearly 53, I have a lot of muscle and I am extremely strong with dense bones. For a female, I am a bit of a mesomorph. I also have a Mediterranean build, narrower hips, wider, square shoulders, a small waist and a big butt, bust and thighs. In my best condition, when I was body building (no drugs, no supplements) I had a 22″ waist, a 40″ chest, and 44″ hips (that’s the Italian booty) and a six-pack. I am not bragging, people.

        That’s all by way of explanation, because I am currently fat. I don’t whine about it, because it’s my responsibility to lose the weight. I am remarkably healthy (even for a thin person my age). The fat came along with the anti-psychotic Zyprexa in a very high dosage. I paid a high price for the beginning of my journey to mental wellness. I also have absolutely no thyroid function (a post c-section infection destroyed my thyroid gland). But what’s the point of whimpering piteously to others about your fatness? They can’t make you thinner or healthier. That’s on you.

        Men do not always find it easy to lose weight, nor is it always easier for them to lose than it is for women. Nor is pregnancy a guarantee that you will lose your shape and get fat (what utter bulls**t…this is 2012. I had my first son in 1991, and I was in spectacular condition six months after I had him, at the age of 32), nor is menopause, or thyroid problems. I take Synthroid, and have for 18 years. It works just as it should, and the only “special diet” required is that certain foods…soy, cabbage, broccoli and a few others, may prevent the supplement from working. You don’t stop taking it during pregnancy or breast-feeding.

        Two weeks ago, Rusty and I tripped on over to the Big Easy. We walked endlessly, and ate fairly sensibly (for New Orleans…a sensible breakfast and an early, if somewhat extravagant dinner). We don’t drink, and I don’t care for sweets. Rusty is a very healthy 43 year old male. I am a peri-menopausal, 52 year old female who has had two children, takes an anti-depressant and an anti-psychotic, and who has the dreaded “thyroid problems”. He is 5’8″, I am 5’1″.

        I lost 5 pounds. He gained, significantly. The only difference in our intake is that I only drink water, and he drinks iced tea with artificial sweetener, or Diet Coke. Neither of us smoke or use drugs. We are both over-weight. I generally exercise more than he does…so the change was less significant for me.

        But the fat, menopausal older female lost the weight. Hmmm. Men always have more success? I think not.

        I don’t know what LW1′s true situation is. Her roomie and the mother are probably Mean Girls…but you have a point, these sort of things rarely spring up out of nowhere, especially if they’ve been rooming together for a while. Am I the only one who found the never-clarified “I’ll never do anything for you again” comment interesting? What had the roomie been doing, or what did she do for her that she was threatening to stop, or never do again? Why would the LW mention it, but not give an explanation? And why the apparently (I am only guessing from the letter) sudden ultimatum?

        I think that there is a huge piece of information missing here…that something DID happen. Maybe, just possibly, the roomie did something for LW1, and got kicked in the teeth for it, and it has something to do with the LW’s weight. Or perhaps the LW had a serious health crisis, and the room-mate bailed her out at her own expense (and perhaps not for the first time), and is now giving an ultimatum…Get healthy or I’m done.

        The methodology is not tender, gentle or touchy-feely-warm-and-fuzzy…this is definitely true. But people who are chronically fat (like myself) often are as bad, if not worse, than drug addicts and alcoholics when it comes to denial, defensiveness, using others, blaming others, and attacking those who have helped them because, after all…you have to eat, don’t you?

        Yup, I know all about it. I stopped doing it about 27 years ago…when I met a woman who was morbidly obese. She never stopped kvetching about her weight…and then would eat over a pound of beef fajitas cooked in butter, ten tortillas, chips, beans…and a quart of Hagen Daz. One day (I had quit smoking forever and gained weight in my own perpetual struggle), I bent over to pick up a box of books, and my jeans nearly strangled me (high waist ’80′s jeans were very cruel). I made some comment about needing to watch my cheeseburger intake…and she jumped on me with both feet. Screaming about how I had nothing to complain about…I wasn’t fat, why was I complaining…I didn’t know what it was like…blahblahblah. I should sympathize with her. I shouldn’t be so mean. I remember just staring at her for a moment, then saying something like “I saw your picture from just five years ago…when you weighed 110 pounds and looked fantastic. You keep telling me you don’t have any medical problems, so maybe if you stopped eating enough food for three teenage boys you wouldn’t weigh 360 f**cking pounds”.

        Was it mean? Was it really? I never dunned her about her eating, her weight…anything, and it was the only time I’d ever mentioned my own struggles. I am NOT a mean girl (I was the penultimate Fat and Ugly Girl in school…all 13 years of it). But I am human…and so is everyone.

        So, David, I tend to support you on this letter. We don’t have quite enough of this story. Yes, it’s mean to call a morbidly obese person fat…just as mean as to refer to a heroin addict as a junkie, a meth user as a tweeker, an alcoholic as a drunk. The truth can be hurtful. Maybe the roomie and her mother are NOT just being cruel, and perhaps there is more to this story than the LW is telling.

        I’m fat. No excuses, it’s my fault. I don’t eat too much…I don’t exercise enough, and for me, that’s the crucial thing. And by the way…I did Weight Watchers. I loathed the meetings (I am less than social), and the confessional feel to the admissions of sinnin’…and I am a terrible diarist. But I lost 40 pounds. It does NOT require special food, gives excellent advice on how to eat out, cooking tips, etc.. I did not find the weight goals at all unrealistic. In fact, they were a bit too lenient. It is one of the most highly recommended and cost-affective weight loss programs out there, frequently referred to as “The Thinking Person’s Weight Loss Program” because it is up to the individual how well they do.

        Gold stars, meetings and counting point were a bit too much for me…as were the binge eaters and women who refused to give up their margaritas and martinis, then bitched because they weren’t losing weight. But it is not a costly or locked-in program.

        O well, I’ll probably get screamed at. With Armageddon so close, I have a bit of trouble caring.

        Fat bb

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        “I think that there is a huge piece of information missing here…that something DID happen. Maybe, just possibly, the roomie did something for LW1, and got kicked in the teeth for it, and it has something to do with the LW’s weight. Or perhaps the LW had a serious health crisis, and the room-mate bailed her out at her own expense (and perhaps not for the first time), and is now giving an ultimatum…Get healthy or I’m done.”

        I didn’t consider the post-health crisis fallout scenario, but it sounds like a possibility. Also, why would Mean Girl be friends enough with LW to move in with her in the first place (or allow HER to move in with Mean Girl) if she’s so disgusting and fat and so forth? Did Mean Girl loan money to LW to diet or to start up a gym membership that was unused? Maybe. Did LW get Mean Girl emotionally involved in her health—and now Mean Girl is telling her if she doesn’t do something to change her life she’s done? The phrase “you’re on your own and I won’t do anything for you again” sounds like something people at interventions say, letting the person know that they simply can’t continue to spend time and effort hoping for a change.

        And yes, Mean Girl (and her mom) could simply be a bitch. One important thing to remember is that people who whine and complain about others being all up in their business have usually issued an invitation at some point. What it comes down to is that if LW truly feels like these people are disrespecting her and intruding on her business—move.

      • avatar chuck alien says:

        regardless, i think we can all agree that the most important thing is that briana got to hold forth again, at length, on her insanely convoluted medical history.

        whew! i was hoping that’s where this was all going!

        truly amazing that every single letter ever written to margo can be explained via the medical conditions of one person.

        i, for one, feverishly await her upcoming “illustrating the modern plight of socioeconomic disparity through my own (real!) experiences with dropsy and the vapors.”

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Hey chuckles, you little moron, you. If there is one bright thing about the dissolution of WoW, it’s not having to have your brainless commentary popping up every time they let you out of your terrarium.

        I have to assume you are amphibian in nature, because they they truly do lack anything resembling a mammalian brain, yet still might conceivably be able slime their way about on a keyboard.

        If 700 monkeys typed for 700 years…maybe Shakespeare. If 7000 tadpoles slithered on a laptop for 7000 years…chuck alien’s comments.

      • avatar Lila says:

        Briana, you have GOT to write something on your blog. Or at the new hangout. Wherever! We need your curmudgeonly wit!

      • avatar chuck alien says:

        Delightful as always, Briana.

        On point, concise, rational… and another stunning achievement in the field of monkey analogies! well done, you.

        But only three paragraphs? You’re slacking! Gotta get those words-per-post averages up, or you won’t win the Internet this week.

        (cue invective)

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Chuckles, I have to wonder…if you find my comments so dreary and dull, why do you read them? It can’t be just for laughs, because there are much funnier posts that you never comment on at all. I know the length bothers you, and that you have to have your dictionary and thesaurus at your side (or perhaps you simply use Google) to even remotely understand the content (or perhaps not…as you generally resort to simply gibbering inanely).

        So, then, why? You went on the attack ages ago, moronically, uselessly, fecklessly…rather like the teenage bully who finds himself in an uncomfortable situation in which his intended victim simply isn’t intimidated. Lots of blather and never a whit of substance to back you up. Not once. Just childish attempts at sarcasm and whiny little Mean Girl attacks (I have wondered if you’re a female at times…or extremely Nelly in person…sort of soft around the middle and light in the heels and prissy).

        But what I really imagine is this: mid-thirties to mid-forties male. Not too tall, pudgy, squashy and soft. Live in mummy’s basement, or, potentially, garage, converted into a permanent facsimile of a man-cave (or what his limited scopes imagines such would be). Has perhaps been married…but she couldn’t tolerate his feeble attempts at proving his male superiority, and his mommy-issues. Glasses, perhaps the Wally World knock-offs that he thinks make him look beast. Likes to look at Japanese school-girl porn, yaoi, dirty anime, and bukkake on his computer. Mumsy cooks for him and does his washing, because she is the only female who will tolerate him (although she’s secretly planning to have him terminated with extreme sanction in her fondest dreams). Doesn’t eat Cheet-os because he thinks he’s too special for them. Only uses one kind of TP, and a very special lotion…Keeps a soul patch…because that’s all he can manage. Would really love a HoneyDoll….because they never talk back, and won’t mock him shamelessly.

        Well, was that long enough for you, chuckles? No vitriol, just my mind wandering. I can tell you, I would have never much noticed a dingy maggot like you if you hadn’t come crawling into my immediate line of sight (o, vitriol, but mild). Maybe you’re a masochist, more likely, you’re just an arrested development, misogynist dork.

      • avatar chuck alien says:

        “Lots of blather and never a whit of substance to back you up.”

        That’s pretty damn ironic right there.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        As always, chuckles, you prove your imbecilic inability to reply with anything substantive, original or intelligent. Your only ability is unintelligibly and incoherently borrowing the words of others.

        What a pathetic little grub.

      • avatar chuck alien says:

        You can spew bile with the best of them, I’ll give you that.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        And still nothing but echoes from chuck. Peter Pan till the end. The nasty little boy who never grew up, with nothing to say but “you’re so mean”. Feh. No wit, no wisdom, no experience, no life.

      • avatar chuck alien says:

        If these sad, bitter rants are your examples of wit … i’ll gladly stick to witless.

    • avatar cbs721 says:

      LW1 is writing about her roommate harassment and being called “fat”. Is it too much for the responders on this board to not to repeat the harassment? I don’t see any value in calling the letter writer fat or a whiner, or accusing her of “editing the truth”. Is it even possible to tell the “whole” story in a letter? Disagree or agree or offer help, but repeating the behavior documented in the letter is incredibly callous.

    • avatar R Scott says:

      LW1 – What David said.
      LW2 – See LW1

      Thanks David you saved me some typing.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        And for the record—it’s definitely a possibility that the roommate and her mother could be awful, judgmental people.

        My friend was just thrown out of the house by her father, because he was tired of her being there—it didn’t matter that she had just escaped an abusive husband, was trying to rebuild her life, and had just gotten a new job, per his demands. How horrible and unfair, right? Sounds like a no-brainer to Margo.

        The flipside of this story is that he was tired of constantly bailing her out and having to come to her rescue when she refused to follow his advice and got herself into situations she could not get out of. She had—or rather, has—a taste for bad boys who have to be “saved” and has virtually no comprehension of what it means to spend money wisely. So he made the decision to toss her in the pool and let her decide to sink or swim.

        She told me story 1.0, and when I started asking her how she planned to fix the situation—the conversation turned more to how she was going to fix her latest BF, whom she had met on Facebook. Three days ago. Like I said—the truth is in the middle, somewhere.

      • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

        True that David. I smelled something wrong with that letter.

      • avatar wendykh says:

        Can you come up with a scenario whereby it would be appropriate to harass someone about their weight? Last I heard that was bad manners.

  10. avatar Mary says:

    No. 1.  I would probably offer to sit down with mom and roomate and have a serious discussion regarding their bully activity.  If you are overweight and are happy about it that is your right.  You don’t say how overweight you are and you don’t say if this affects the way you live with others.  Example, does your being overweight affect the way you share in your responsibilities to keep the apartment clean?  Or does it affect the way you function?  etc.  Is your roomate slim and a health nut?  Maybe you aren’t a good match anyway?  When you sit down in a calm manner bring up that everyone has their issues.  Give them ultimatum’s back if that is the last resort.  I say last resort because it may make a uncomfortable issue worse.  In the meantime consider looking for another roomate or small apartment that you can afford that accepts animals.  When I am up against a situation I consider the fact that I found this house or I found this job, there are others.  It may be hard, but not impossible.

    No. 2.   I suffered with severe pain for many years during my period.  It was horrible physically and a difficult situation that many did not understand .  I tried going to work and just working through it but that rarely worked out and often would be sent home.  I took strong meds since I was 13 which included Darvon, Codeine, and those in combination with Advil when that came on the market.  Dr.s told me it was all in my head etc etc and when I finally had a hysterectomy I was in the hospital for 5 months with complications from that surgery and from years of no one listening to me.  Endometrial tissue made it’s way throughout my whole body.  That was many years ago.   Medicine has come a long way and now there are better solutions.  Maybe they are not perfect but they do make life easier.  Doctors also recognize that some women have real issues and are more willing to help.   I never made life difficult for others however and knew many who did.  Maybe the employer is so uncomfortable with the situation that he is unable to discuss this.  Offer the boss to sit down with him and the co worker another idea might be to gather information from the internet and print it out for him or her.  There are resources at our fingertips today that can be helpful.  If all else fails and you realy cannot take anymore, the only recourse you will have is to find another job.  Sorry to say that, but it may come to this.  

    • avatar Lila says:

      Mary, amazing, isn’t it, how so many doctors used to basically ignore or pooh-pooh anything related to “female issues?” It’s all in your head, it’s no big deal because all women have periods, you’re exaggerating, or… my favorite… “This will settle down after you have your first child.” ???? And… if I’m planning NOT to be a parent?… “Oh, well, you’ll change your mind about that. They all do.” Aargh!!

      I also had awful pain in my teens but a doctor prescribed ibuprofen when I was about 18, and it helped tremendously, thanks to its prostaglandin-inhibiting character. Later, when I started taking the pill, my period became no big deal at all. Had I known what a great benefit it would be… I would have asked for it much sooner. Silly me. I thought it was only for contraception!

  11. avatar harmer says:

    LW2: I am one such person who takes an SNRI (Effexor) for my severe PMS (also called PMDD) and it is a life saver. Some doctors prescribe it for the whole month, but I only take it in the days leading up to my period. I have barely noticeable side effects and my moods remain stable. I no longer feel depressed, I don’t cry myself to sleep, I don’t instigate arguments with friends, family, and coworkers, I don’t feel like the weight of the world is crushing me. I just feel like my normal self. Did I say it was a life saver?

    One thing people forget is that although severe PMS for those close to the sufferer, is way worse for the person going through it, because they often know how bad it is, but can do little to control it. Surely she’s sick of her mood swings by now. Hopefully LW2 can somehow gently bring up that even though we were born a certain way doesn’t mean we can’t get a little help from time to time.

    • avatar harmer says:

      Whoops, made a typo. Meant to say “although severe PMS is a headache for those close to the sufferer, it’s way worse for the person going through it…”

  12. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW1: I don’t understand your reference to “or she’ll never do anything for me again.” 

    Unless you’re asking her to make your Twinkie and pizza runs, she and her mom need to butt out. Not to be mean, but she’s a roommate and clearly not a friend.  Only you are in charge of your weight, and I don’t blame you for wanting nothing to do with Weight Watchers, which is expensive and apparently doesn’t work for you. If you are together out of economic necessity, start saving your nickels and dimes to make a big change. 

  13. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW2: Have you sent this letter to every advice expert on the planet? Quit telling the boss how to run his department, do your own work efficiently, and use company time to polish your resume for applications to other companies.   

  14. avatar NicoleDSK says:

    Ha! My Mom is obsessed with my weight and its very annoying. But… she’s my mom, she’s allowed to obsess about details of my life in ways I find annoying.

    Your roommate, however, wtf? What business of hers is it if you’re fat or not? I’m assuming you’re not so fat you can’t leave your room and she needs to bring you food, or you’re breaking all the furniture, or eating all her food. Because really, what does she care? This is bizarre.

    I’m agreeing with the person who thinks she wants a new roomie for other reasons, maybe her boyfriend or something.

  15. avatar D C says:

    To LW#1 – I too did not care for the Weight Watchers groupie thing.  However, their PROGRAM is excellent.  So I would following the program, show up at the meetings, sign in, get my weight recorded and leave.  I don’t think there’s anything that says you are required to attend the meetings and listen to the pep talk.  It works for some people, and others it turns off.  I lost 30 pounds doing weight watchers that way.  All you need is the brochures.  Heck, you can even do it online now. 

    You, and only you, can decide when it’s time to lose weight.  What your roommate and her mom have done is definitely wrong and mean and hurtful.  HOWEVER… losing weight will only do you good if you are in fact overweight. 

    I say go to Weight Watchers.  And at the same time, DEMAND that your roommate also do some self improvement by requiring she attend group counseling for …. well… they probably don’t have group counseling for jackasses, but something along those lines.

    • avatar D C says:

      I see a woman about 2-3 times a year at social gatherings (friend of friends) and she is pushing about 400 pounds.  I’ve heard her telling her story of visiting the doctor and informing him that she knows she is overweight, she has been all her life, and she’s perfectly happy at the weight she is — and that he is never to speak of her weight issues again, and if he MUST reference her weight he is to call her “Fluffy”.  I imagine she’d probably take that roommate and her mother and … excuse the pun… eat them for lunch. 

    • avatar Lila says:

      CD and LW1, a friend of mine has lost several dress sizes on Weight Watchers, but weighs herself and does the tracking, meal plans, etc. online. No meetings to go to, no one to pep-talk you or annoy you. She likes the online version much better, and has gotten good results.

  16. avatar D C says:

    To LW #2 – It’s time to start looking for another job.  See what the market is like, decide if this is a fight you are prepared to start.  If it looks like you can find something else comparable without too much trouble, then go to your boss and explain that the co-worker is making the environment hostile for you and everyone else, and that if you are going to be saddled taking on her extra work for the days she takes off, then the very least that you require is a raise.  You might also suggest that the boss figure out a way for that employee to telecommute when the monster rears itself each month. 

    But if the job market doesn’t look like there will be a place to land once the boss fires you over the previous conversation, then skip that conversation.  It might be time to come up with your own monthly  affliction that takes you out of the office and away from the beast when it shows up.  It sounds like that’s a fairly easy thing to do at your company.

    I’m sure some will think I’m not empathetic enough about the PMS thing and I will admit, I have been blessed to have not had any more than the occasionally pissy mood over it.  I feel sorry for the subject of LW2′s letter AND for LW2. 

  17. avatar Memphis81 says:

    LW1 – Wow. Your roommate and her mom sound horrible! If I were you, I wouldn’t be concerned with losing a friendship that is so obviously abusive. My sister is extremely over weight and while I might have my own opinions and concerns about her health, I would never treat her with such disrespect and ridicule. How would that be helping her? I agree with Margo, you need to stand up for yourself and put your roommate in her place. She sounds like a very insecure person who is taking her own frustrations and feelings of inadequacy out on you. I’m willing to bet that once you stand up to her and make it clear that her conduct is inexcusable and won’t be tolerated, she’ll back down and start treating you much better. People like her look for others’ weaknesses and flaws and then exploit them to their own advantage. There is absolutely no substance behind her comments and actions. Don’t even defend yourself (you have nothing to defend, what you eat and how much you weigh are none of her business), just go on the offensive. She’ll crumble.

    LW2 – Maybe your co-worker should try birth control pills. I have endometriosis and I also get ovarian cysts. This makes my periods extremely painful (I’ve had to go to the ER before because the pain was so severe that I couldn’t stop throwing up). I’ve been on the pill for a few years and it has made a world of difference. Before, I missed about three days of work every month because I was in so much pain. Apparently, endometriosis and ovarian cysts tend to get worse every time you ovulate. Since the pill keeps you from ovulating, the pain goes away! It takes at least 3 months of being on the pill for it to start helping but it’s definitely worth it! As far as the PMS, maybe the pill would help her with that as well. It would help to regulate her hormones which are what is causing the severe mood swings. Of course, I’m not sure how you can broach the subject. It’s not really your place to say anything to her. Your boss or an HR representative should be the ones to approach her about the mood swings and missing work.

  18. avatar Eileen Heath says:

    The only 2 times I ever worried about a friend weight is when one who was only 5foot told me he hit 675 and he was nearing 50. I reminded him that he use to brag to me about his swimming prowess in high school and that I was thinking of taking up swimming at the new health club down the road. That’s as far as that got because WOW the prices. He still said he’d consider it and left it at that. You can’t save some people – especially when the asthma cards are stacked against them. Steroids are used to help persistent asthma sufferers.
    The other time was when a portly friend moved from his cushy set up of joblessness and living with family to living on his own and having to bike every day to work. After 6 months, I got rather worried he was not losing weight but was eating less and exercising more. Then I remembered he was a picky eater that avoided a lot of nutritious items (hates tomatoes but loves ketchup and pizza) and I just advised him to take vitamins to supplement his lack of veggies since he also worked at a callcenter and it would help fight off “the crud”. And I left it at that. Some people are set to be big like my 2 friends. Others like myself have it sneak up and it’s very hard to ditch. Especially if you’re a female. Sometimes the body freaks out and thinks there’s a crisis and latches on to every calorie coming in the moment there’s a change. Personally I’m trying a sneaky diet. slowly dialing down intake, slowly dialing up exercise.
    But that roommate has a serious issue. SERIOUS. I think if she gives ground on this .. she’ll always be the dominated one in this weird power play.

  19. avatar Sadie BB says:

    Lw2 – it’s working for your boss because a) Ms. Continual Menstrual Syndome does great work when she’s around. b) You do great work on her behalf when she isn’t.

    Notice that you can control half of that.

    Just don’t be overt about it. Possibly you could develop health issues of your own.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      Too complicated. Just take up an office collection and kill her.

      • avatar Sadie BB says:

        Naw- no co-conspirators.
        The weakest one will always break and then you’ll have to get rid of the squealer too.

  20. avatar mmht says:

    LW#1: I know I’m going to get some flack for this but I have to ask, is she saying these things to you b/c you complain all the time about your weight? There is nothing more frustrating then hearing someone complain about a problem that can be easily solved if they put some effort into it.

    If this is indeed how you describe it where she is unsolicited and telling you that you have to lose weight here is how I would respond: “This is MY body, not yours. You and your mother have no right to discuss MY body anymore than I have a right to discuss your body. This is not an open topic for discussion and I will no longer speak to you about it. You claim you are not trying to be mean but you are. You are giving me unsolicited advice and an ultimatum which is just cruel. If this situation doesn’t change IMMEDIATELY you will have to find a new roommate.” I know that you say that you have no money to go someplace else but you have to. Plain and simple. This person is emotionally abusing you and the longer you stay in that environment the less and less you are going to think of yourself. Also, this “friendship” that you don’t want to lose was lost a long time ago b/c no true friend brow beats their friends into doing something that they want.

  21. avatar Jay Gentile says:

    Not to be unsypathetic, but we had a woman at work who played this same game. Once a month she needed several days off to deal with her female burden. We learned by accident from a careless friend of hers that the woman has a hysterectomy YEARS ago. She’d been using menses as a monthly excuse for 5 days off.

  22. avatar Lila says:

    Prozac for PMS, really? Wow. She’s already indicated she’s not very open to treatment, but I wonder if birth control pills might regulate her cycle for her and make it more bearable (and predictable!). And they are a lot less toxic than Prozac, and unlike Prozac you can quit taking them anytime, no need to “wean off.”

    As far as having to cover the workload while the PMS sufferer is out, though – it’s annoying, but so long as she has sick days or leave to take, I don’t see much to be done about it.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Prozac is one of the anti-depressants with the most unpredictable and potentially dangerous side-affects. Like many of the readers, I had constant misery with my periods from the time I started them (at 10 and a half years old…and I’m still going at nearly 53)…severe cramping and back pain, nausea and vomiting, headaches and so heavy that I had to change those hideous old-fashioned pads (like bricks) every hour for three days. They also might run for 8-10 days, and I had no regular schedule.

      When I was 18 I read an article that said the Pill might help, and I went on it immediately (this was in 1977). O, the relief. When ibuprofen was developed (acetominophen never worked for me) it was like a miracle drug.

      Being both bi-polar and schizophrenic, my window for the tolerance of medication and naturally occurring chemicals…including hormones…is very, very small…so PMS can be extreme for me. First, neither of my psychiatrists, none of my excellent ob/gyn doctors, or my therapist has EVER recommended an anti-depressant for PMS. I take one, because my depressive moods qualify as clinical depression, but not for PMS. For that, we have balanced my thyroid meds, and my anti-psychotic, which is currently Topamax.

      And my doctors, in collaboration with my therapist, have made the following recommendations:
      Low salt intake
      Low caffeine intake
      Low sugar intake
      No preservatives, no aspartame, no saccharine
      More movement (not just exercise)
      Hormone testing (this is expensive, and we do have good insurance…however, it was helpful. At age 51, we found out that I was still as fertile as a 30 year old woman…thanks body. Late last year, I went off of the Pill because I was in chainsawing dust bunny mode constantly…and it has helped. Rusty had a vasectomy 15 years ago…and yes, it took. And no, I have not suffered a decreased sex-drive, a mustache or excessive fat…I am losing weight, amorous and less hairy. Go figure).
      Keep the mind engaged, active and learning.
      Report any changes to all doctors.

      All of this has had a remarkably positive effect. I do miss my Diet Cokes. I drink nothing but water. I cook a lot, which is okay, because I like to cook and I’m pretty good at it. But the most important thing I’ve learned is that having PMS is not an excuse to make people miserable who don’t have it.

      I can’t count how many times women have said to me, “I have PMS so everybody better just look out” and that does typify a certain attitude that is prevalent in today’s society. But then, everything qualifies as a “disability” (read: excuse) of late.

  23. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    Re letter #2:  I’m rather surprised at the number of responses which suggest that the LW’s co-worker is *faking* or a *b….* and that her PMS and menstrual pain are just in her head.  That is the attitude that has had women suffering for centuries.  Someone wondered when PMS became a disability?  Well, in 1990 when the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed.  Google it and read the definition of disability.  Its covered unless of course, you take the position that is not real…just in her head…but wait…ADA covers mental illness too.  The Family and Medical Leave Act requires an employer to provide  unpaid job protected days off for sickness of an employee or a family member (and other reasons) for up to 12 weeks a year and the days can be taken consecutively, intermittently, 1/2 days, or hour by hour.   The only way out of FMLA is if the employer is too small to be covered by it…but then ADA will probably protect the woman.   It is virtually impossible to fire an employee who is disabled or has a chronic illness…unless they are just not on the job for over 12 weeks straight and then you better have dotted all your I’s and croosed your T’s with all the required notifications etc.  The employer’s hands are pretty much tied in this situation so LW#2 better figure out how to manage the situation, (and what difference does it make whose work she is doing on a given day..its all company work) or find another job.

    • avatar Sadie BB says:

      Katherine- what difference does it make whose work she is doing on a given day ? Possibly the difference between an 8 hour day and a 12 hour day with unpaid overtime. That’s how it works in my profession anyway, when somebody else’s work is dumped in your lap. It’s not ‘instead of’. It’s ‘ in addition’.

      • avatar Katharine Gray says:

        If that is the case, and its not something the letter writer mentioned along with all her other complaints, perhaps she can ask for some *flex time* off to compensate for extra hours she works.  Hey boss, I worked 12 hours 2 days last week…can I leave early for the weekend? 

        My point is that the boss has no choice but to accommodate this co-workers health issues/disability.  Congress has decided that sick and disabled people should be accommodated at the expense of the healthy and that is just the way the world works.  Should the woman see a doctor to try to alleviate her problems?  Sure she should.  But it is hardly the employer’s place, nor her co-workers, to dictate her medical choices.  

         

      • avatar wendykh says:

        Actually no. It is not okay for her to not seek treatment. Otherwise alcoholics would be given unlimited time off to get drunk and pass out and nicotine addicts can smoke at their desk. Addiction is covered under the ADA… but you have to get treatment. The ADA means she cannot be fired for getting treatment for her disorder. Not that she can inflict it on everyone else.

  24. avatar chuck alien says:

    Yes, yes, the roommate was quite rude.

    But if she’s being that rude, and stating it as an ultimatum… then it’s quite possible you are VERY fat and she is VERY worried about you. and making an “ultimatum” is the only way she can find to get through to you, because she doesn’t want you to die.

    maybe that’s not the case… but just put aside all the defensive emotional nonsense for a bit, and be real with yourself. are you so fat that people feel the need to issue ultimatums, because they feel nothing else will save you from an early grave?

    is she being mean because she’s mean, or because she cares about you? are you right in your feelings, or are you a dangerously overweight person who can’t face reality?

    obviously you love to gorge on emotional turmoil as much as food, but maybe try to set it aside for a second… not everything has to be decided by gut emotion, ya know? calm yourself, evaluate reality, and go from there.

  25. avatar mayma says:

    Roommate: “If you don’t join WW, I will never do anything for you again.”
    LW: “Okay, then don’t.”

    Problem solved.

    Ah, but there’s the rub. What is going on here that the LW needs the roommate to do things for her? That one line gave me a faint whiff of helplessness — well, combined with the fact that LW’s immediate reaction to the fat comments wasn’t “F*&# off!” Instead, she’s worried about losing this person’s friendship!? All this tells me that LW’s first priority should some self-esteem, some self-awareness, some identity and — yeah — a little bit of hard-ass-ery thrown in. Find your inner Lisbeth Salander, LW. C’mon, girl. That’s the real issue here; she needs to develop a sense of self. (The weight may even take care of itself after that; who knows?)