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My co-worker is getting scarily thin

From Friday's Globe and Mail

A few of us at work are thinking of getting together for an intervention. Should we go through with this? ...Read the full article

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  1. LeVawn Gravenstach from HarperCons offered to buy Cadman's vote -- compare Crim Code s. 119, writes: Interventions, in my view, are one of the truly dumb inventions of the 20th century, along with the Segway, the atomic bomb, 'reality' television and edible underwear.

    With you all the way, Mr Eddie! You're talking horse-sense there!

    Interventions seems way arrogant and meddlesome to me. Maybe (maybe!) it's something desperate families at their wits end might attempt to deal with someone close to them.

    The idea of a bunch of mere co-workers doing that to someone is basically insane.
  2. Chrissy Simon from Canada writes: If I was suffering from a disease like anorexia or bulimia, I can't think of anything worse than all my co-workers (co-workers!--not family or close friends) staging an intervention. I think I'd probably have to quit my job because I wouldn't be able to face going back to that environment again.
  3. chanel turner from Canada writes: Hmmmm How well do you know this lady? I have over the years lost lots of weight in very short time... let me give you a few explanations. 1)My best friend died of cancer- in my house while I was caring for her down 25 pounds in one month 2) Stress related over the years- I cannot eat when stressed out-- down 10 pounds often in one month periods 3) Son car accident- 15 pounds in two months - he was alive and after my friend so I was already only 123---- 4) Can't eat when stressed--- seems almost everyday now with the way the world is! Benefit is I don't need to diet--- but get a hard time about my weight all the time. Be careful- this may be a medical condition where in fact under stress the esughpgus (I know cant spell) closes up and creates the need to expel food when under stress --- may present the same as anorexia but is actually a stress reaction in the GI tract....... be carefule... and I agree these interventions are the most rude acts 'friends' can befall another. If truly concerned have one person - the one closest to them or HR speak to this person in quiet and in confidence. Act like you would wish to be treated and not like some reality 'actor' on prime time on playing on the staffs lunchroom TV.
  4. it's a fact from Canada writes: I think these things should be left to family, not co-workers, as others have said.
  5. Laura Cyr from Canada writes: Some people who have cancer become scarily thin and don't wish to discuss their situation with nosey co-workers or anyone else.

    Sticking your nose into the personal lives of others is unacceptable behaviour.
  6. Marvin60 4q from Canada writes: Keep your nose out of her business. If she wants advice or counsel, let her come to you. MYOB.

    As for this:
    chanel turner from Canada writes: ...If truly concerned have one person - the one closest to them or HR speak to this person in quiet and in confidence.
    Never, ever give HR the opportunity to get involved. Nothing good can come of that.
  7. kelly elly from toronto, Canada writes: Marvin60 4q from Canada writes:

    Never, ever give HR the opportunity to get involved. Nothing good can come of that.

    Totally agree with you, they'll probably fire her.
  8. Marnie Tunay from Edmonton, Canada writes: I was passing by and noticed the headline to this article, couldn't resist weighing in on it. I think co-workers should stay out of this - unless one of them is a close personal friend. They don't know what is going on - the woman could be getting chemotherapy treatment for all they know. At best, they could be friendly and make it clear they're available to listen if she wants to talk. Ask her how she's doing today, and sound like they really want to know. Things like that. I think an intervention would probably be seen by her as being so highly invasive that her likely response would be to quit - and I don't think it's beyond the bounds of possibility that she might want to sue the workers and the company.
    Marnie Tunay
    Fakirs Canada
  9. Brian Hughes from San Antonio, United States writes: The Segway is the most poorly marketed, misunderstood invention of the 21st century, not the 20th.

    Many people you see riding a Segway who are not security or tour groups, are people with a mobility disability - you just can't tell, because they are on a Segway.

    Also, I ride a Segway, not as an alternative to walking, but as an alternative to driving. I'll happily run a 2 mile errand on a Segway, that I would otherwise take the car. When I do that, I'm standing, and moving, and balancing. When I'm in my car I'm just sitting. I'm also paying about 1/2 cent a KM - what is your car costing you? (And yes, a Segway isn't much use in the winter outside...)

    So please, stop with the pot shots at the Segway. Just because you don't have a pressing need for it, doesn't mean it isn't useful!

    Check out this work at UBC regarding the clinical benefit of a Segway the disabled.


  10. Southside Guy from Edmonton, Canada writes: Have a pot luck lunch every Friday at the office. Make sure there is a wide selection of food from the very healthy greens and vegetables to the fattening meats and cheesecake.

    See how she maneuvers around the variety of dishes. ' Hey Julie, you gotta try these braised beef ribs!'. After a few potlucks, if she hardly eats anything then it may mean she has an eating disorder. At that point have one of her closest co-workers ask her privately if everything is all right, etc.
  11. LeVawn Gravenstach from HarperCons offered to buy Cadman's vote -- compare Crim Code s. 119, writes: Brian Hughes from San Antonio, United States writes: ... Many people you see riding a Segway ... are people with a mobility disability ...

    Wouldn't they do better to not have to remain standing?

    ... I ride a Segway, not as an alternative to walking, but as an alternative to driving. I'll happily run a 2 mile errand on a Segway, that I would otherwise take the car.

    That works well, I'm sure, if you live in a tropical desert. People in other places where there is actual weather might not find it quite so practical.

    Basically, the Segway is a clever invention that serves no useful purpose.

  12. MJ Patchouli from Regina, Canada writes: Dave Eddy is right on the money, as are many posters. Co-workers? Not your business, even if you are well-intentioned and not just a group of catty bats who coffee together and talk about whoever couldn't make it that day.

    Would you do the same for a coworker who was gaining weight? Get the colleagues together and see if you can help?

    Weight is a tricky issue. Yes, she could have cancer or be stressed out and determined not to share that with you. Because you are only coworkers, not people who actually matter in her life.

    Get bent, do-gooder gossipers.
  13. True Grit from Canada writes: Marvin60 4q , good advice about keeping HR out of it. If there is something seriously wrong, mentally or physically, with this lady, then they might find a reason to fire her before she starts collecting disability benefits through the company's group benefit plan.
  14. Just Me from GTA, Canada writes: The best approach to help your co worker--> don't touch the subject. If you follow any other approach, she will feel (and will be) exposed. Why is she supposed to offer explanations? What about her privacy?
    Let me tell you the story the other way around: I am a petite woman, and at some point I was really thin by a combination of a lot of work / stress and my wedding. I was the chief of a department in a company. By the time I returned from my honeymoon, I got some additional pounds, and this, in a petite size, looked like a lot. Everyone was thinking I was pregnant (I was not!!!). I was called for a 'casual chat' with a female manager (ohmyGod when the baby is going to born?) No matter how many times I denied the fact: in all the heads I was pregnant. Few weeks later, my boss (the manager) was promoted and I was supposed to become the new manager. Guess what? they put a male coworker instead, so 'you can take good care of your baby'
    Still hurts....
  15. jill of all trades from Ottawa, Canada writes: I think that there should be a line between personal and professional lives. Basically - an intervention by coworkers is probably not appropriate. However, I firmly disagree with the author's assertion that interventions are useless or wrong-headed. Perhaps he doesn't understand their purpose? An intervention to address, for example, a family member's drug problem is less for the drug user and more for the family. Basically - it's a way for the enablers and codependents of the group (the loved ones who can be catastrophically affected by addiction) to learn how to say 'Enough - I won't support you either financially or emotionally as long as you're using and I will cut off all ties until you decide to accept help and rehabilitation'. In some cases, the interveners' lives may be put at risk by the person. Having lived through this nightmare with a loved one who was addicted to drugs, I can say firsthand that the intervention and subsequent therapy probably saved both of our lives. To compare an intervention to something as trivial as a segue just underscores the author's lack of understanding of how horrible the events that lead to an intervention can be. By trivializing it so callously, Mr. Eddie demonstrates that he has been fortunate enough never had to go through that kind of devastating scenario with a family member. I hope he never has to...
  16. Darren in TO from Toronto, Canada writes: The person losing weight may be god forbid sick with some terminal desease. Who knows. It could be stomach cancer or something even worse....if thats even possible to have something worse then stomach cancer.

    Leaver her alone!
  17. Georgia Shand from Canada writes: IF this woman has anorexia, there are underlying reasons which are not related to food. An intervention by a group of co-workers (!!) could be very frightening for her. I don't have a pat answer about how to help her but an office workers' intervention is a very, very bad idea. Can you imagine how humiliating that would be for her?

    Definitely stay away from HR.
  18. The Voice of Reason from Canada writes: Unless you're her boss, and her thin state is affecting her performance at work, keep out of her business. I wonder if this nosy colleague would consider holding a similar intervention for someone she deemed was getting too fat?

    If I walked into a staff meeting that turned into an intervention for my 'benefit', I'd be out the door in an instant -- skinny a** and all!
  19. chanel turner from Canada writes: thanks- I did not think of HR actually being NOT helpful---- how completely stupid of me! Thanks again for pointing out the errors of my ways--
    now just mind your own business you gossipy co-workers! (yuk- always a group of those in every office)
  20. C C from Canada writes: I think if you are friends, it's good to show concern if you are worried. But just give her room. I like the suggestions in the article because they are pretty casual and not at all confrontational.
    I know one time when I was at summer camp, I had to convince my coursemates that, no, one of the girls was not bulimic. She wasn't the most liked and I was probably the closest to her on the course, and she was not bulimic. I think it stemmed from the fact that she is slim and one night she was feeling a bit sick, but didn't feel that it was worth bothering the staff with unless she still felt icky in the morning. That caused quite a stir! But then, anything does when you have 30 13 and 14 year old girls in one spot!
  21. Janet Fisher from Canada writes: Likely the company has a Harrassment Policy. Sounds like there would be a very thin line between an Intervention - however naively well meant by the coven involved - and creating a poisoned environment - which could backfire on these amateur Psychologists. What ever happened to a friendly smile, maybe an invitation to some lunch or get together & maybe a random act of kindness.
  22. Frank The Tank from Canada writes: C C,

    Good point, if you are friends it is always good to show concern, and the closer you are to her the better you will know what is going on in their lives. Therefore, unless there is a very close friend in the work place I don't see a need to confront this person as you may not know what is going on with this person.

    My guess is that if there has been something going on with this woman (either sickness or eating disorder) someone in her own family or a close friend would have brought something up to her already; hearing it again from those not so close may cause more harm then help.
  23. hugh grant from Canada writes: well so far you've done the right thing, by keeping it quiet and trying to deal with it between her closest work aquaintences - wait a minute, she is probably reading this now, and by publishing this in the G&M the rumour mill has probably shifted into wharp 5.

    Now the whole world knows about the issue, so I doubt ANYONE can delicatly touch on the subject. You've opened a can of worms.

    good work, meanie.
  24. Virginia Crook from United Kingdom writes: With regards to medical issues, is there any chance this lady has unknowingly become a diabetic? late last year I fell ill with a vomiting virus, unknown to me it also destroyed my pancreas and I started to lose weight quite drastically, over 20 kilos in a month. When I returned to work from sick leave everyone said I looked much better than I had, and I said why didn't anyone tell me I was looking so bad? Don't conclude that it is anorexia, it could be something worse.
  25. A person from Toronto, Canada writes:
    Jealous? Maybe you could stand to lose a few pounds yourself? Mind your own beeswax.
  26. I'm mad as hell from god's country from Canada writes: Why does this article assume that the thin woman has an eating disorder? I was the 'scarily thin person in the office' a number of years ago. Many months later I found out that people were asking my friends if I was anorexic. I was not - I was suffering from severe depression and could hardly eat. The catalyst for my depression was the end of a very intense affair with my boss (yes I know it was dumb but I paid for it big time). Anyhow, if a co-worker had expressed concern about my weight loss, I would have lied about why and laughed it off because I had to hide the reason for it. It would have been a big scandal if my affair had become known. Never underestimate the horrible things depression can do to a person not just mentally but physically as well.
  27. Jah Nee Kah Sun from Canada writes: If she's got more seniority than you...clam up.
  28. Colleen Sharen from London, Canada writes: Why is it appropriate to comment to any woman about her body? We would never consider approaching an obese person to say that she is too fat.

    I am a healthy weight for my height, with a BMI of 21, body fat of 21% and I constantly have co-workers commenting on how skinny I am. According to weight charts, I could still lose 15 lbs and be in the healthy range. Our understanding of what is 'scary skinny' has been warped by the level of obesity in our society.

    I'm tired of people who, under the guise of being helpful, are just being busy bodies. MYOB - you might mean well, but you're poisoning the workplace for this co-worker.
  29. A S from Winnipeg, Canada writes: Colleen Shearn - Actually I think the image of what is scary skinny has been warped by the amount of anorexically skinny women portrayed in pop culture. I never see images of people of an average weight portrayed anywhere. It seems that bones are the norm. I don't know what you are talking about.
  30. I'm mad as hell from god's country from Canada writes: Hugh Grant - your comment is cheap and uncalled for. All I am trying to say is that maybe the reason the poor woman is losing weight is that she is depressed and cannot eat as I was a few years ago. Perhaps she does not want to discuss her circumstances with anybody.
  31. N J from Canada writes: A coworker-driven intervention sounds like a very bad idea. Several years ago I went through a very difficult time and lost weight very quickly in reaction to the stress. My coworkers certainly noticed how painfully thin I became in less than a month, but did the right thing by not challenging me about it. Coworkers I was close to (people I would call 'friend' before 'colleague') never pried, just made it clear with a few words that they had noticed I had lost weight recently. They helped me with simple acts of kindness like taking break together to chat & relax a bit, or going out to a movie after work. I knew people were concerned about me (believe me, this woman knows you've been talking & keeping an eye on her weight), but they kept an appropriate distance that respected my privacy. I knew I could reach out if I needed to, but no one forced me to share what was ultimately not their business. As others have commented, for all you know this woman may be dealing with a mental or physical illness that she certainly doesn't want becoming common knowledge around the office. The last thing she needs is to be stigmatized and gossiped about in addition to whatever she's dealing with. *********************** Colleen Sharen- I appreciate your comments! I think you're right that as society becomes heavier the idea of what's 'too thin' gets skewed (the waifish models on tv don't seem to impact how people react to others in 'real life'). I've never heard a coworker say to another's face 'you're so fat, why are you eating that fast food?', but everyone apparently feels entitled to say those of average/slender build 'you're too skinny, you need to eat more.' It's stressful to know that everyday your lunch & weight will be dissected and gossiped about, to your face & behind your back. I'm a healthy, average weight (5'2, 130lb) and am daily subjected to this by coworkers who feel somehow entitled to comment on my body.
  32. Beth M from Canada writes: Co-workers- stay out. Period.
    If your close personal friend however, happens to be your co-worker a one-on-one 'chat' may be acceptable in this case.

    And in regards to Brian from San Antonio's comment, I think it's a little nuts to think walking two miles to complete an errand is too far. Instead of tooting your own horn by claiming you would rather save the planet and use your Segway, how about inspiring real social change and take your bike if you can't walk it?
  33. More or Less from Canada writes: For some people, their co-workers are their family. Frankly, at one point I was closer to the people I used to worked with (small company) than my family and friends. They were universally a close, caring group of people and I still stay in touch with them. After all, I spent 8-10 hours a day with them. I would go to one person in particular even now than family. At the same time, as many posters have pointed out, it depends on the person. I too, have been a skinny person my whole life--gained 25 points for pregnancy and looked 'back to normal' 4 days later. It's just my body--even now into my 50s. There's many factors at play here: is it sudden? how close (friend-wise) is this person to anyone in the work group? are there any apparent causes of the sudden weight loss (stress from promotion, family, health issues--consider that if you don't know the cause, you & others are simply not that close to her).

    As has been suggested by the 'experts' have someone who is most close to her chat about genralities such as how things are going and let her know that there is concern for her well-being and it's all with good intentions and caring and not to pry. Leave it at that.
  34. Jeff S from Canada writes: Mind your own business.
  35. Chrissy Simon from Canada writes: Colleen Sharon writes, 'Our idea of what is 'scary skinny' has been warped by the obesity in our society.' I totally agree with you. There are so many fat people of all ages in our country that the average sized ones look tiny in comparison, and everyone comments on the size and/or eating habits of normal-sized or thin people. (I can't tell you how many obese people have told me I eat like a 'skinny person.') I'm always hearing that girls and women are pressured by the media and pop culture to be thin, but I sure don't see any evidence of that when I go out and about.
  36. B H from Toronto, Canada writes: Being confronted by a group of people who've been talking about you and are going to all get together and make you sit while they all tell you what they think about your most private life or areas of vulnerability and perhaps try to insist you talk about it too -- all eyes on you as they surround you -- would be traumatic enough to be hard to get over even in many initially mentally healthy people, no matter how caring the intent. Many emotionally healthy people would find such an experience horrible enough to quit a job or permanently sever relationships; to do that to someone who is already emotionally vulnerable (if your suspicion is right) sounds horrible and even dangerous -- please don't -- a private expression of gentle concern is one thing, but for most people the kind of confrontation implied by 'intervention' seems far more likely to scare someone away from help forever than to help them.
  37. Pelotas Piquen from Morningwood Mb., Canada writes:
    No Segways please.
  38. Rachelle W from Kirkland, United States writes: Anyone here familiar with Graves's Disease? Perhaps her GP hasn't spotted the problem, which requires tests of the thyroid function...

    P.S. They don't know how to spell in the U.S.
  39. S B from Toronto, Canada writes: Some of the early posters are very wary of HR. I have to disagree with this. While I think it is bad idea to have an intervention at work without knowing the relationships among coworkers, HR would be able to help with some of the issues that surround having an intervention. For example, if there is a harassment policy in the workplace and the 'skinny' person is upset by it, then she might start an investigation to determine if it is a poisoned work environment. For those who suggested that HR will find a reason to fire the person, all I can say is I am glad I don't work at your organization. In my organization, there have been people who have had mental health issues and HR has very much encouraged them to take some time off (paid) in order to get healthy again. For those that truly have health problems, they should absolutely get help they need.
    I think the bottom line is unless there is someone who is a very close personal friend, the coworkers should stay as far away from an intervention or any type of gossip as they can.
  40. Trish Taylor from Canada writes: I spent most of last year in treatment for an illness. Thanks to the internet, I was able to find an online group of people with the same illness going through the same treatment. Common side effects for all of us were extreme fatigue, disruption of appetite, weight and hair loss among a host of other things - lots of fun. :) One of our frequent topics of discussion was how to deal with questions from people who couldn't help but notice the physical impacts. Our level of comfort with disclosing was as individual as we were and situational as well.

    Don't force this woman to tell you anything she doesn't want to. She has the right to decide her coping strategy with whatever is going on, IF anything. If you want to help, simply arrange social gatherings that give her an outlet for companionship and friendship without having to talk about her personal life. If she feels there is a benefit to telling you, she will. I know my situation came with forced periods of isolation - the opportunity to take a break from it all and socialize with people where I could rejuvenated me mentally and replenished me emotionally to better deal with my situation in ways that were best for me, which was talking with others who actually understood it instead of having to explain it to those that didn't need to know.
  41. F R from Canada writes: .

    I don't know. I was the 'odd-one' out at one time too. Some people deal with problems in different ways. Some of these ways are promoted and some are ridiculed. I think that it would be wrong to throw an intervention surprise party. Instead let the individual deal with the problem they are facing in the way they want. It's their body. They must know. If it becomes life threatening then they can get professional help from those trained to deal with these types of things. Other than that, I think people are just spreading gossip and rumours about this person.
  42. Susan Cook from Newmarket, Canada writes: Something very important that you have to consider, coming from both a 'recovering anorexic' and a therapist...You have no idea where in the process of this disease your coworker is, if she is indeed suffering from an eating disorder. You run the risk of acutally not offending her, not creating an uncomfortable situation for her, but quite the may be validating and encouraging her by acknowledging how thin she has become. Your presentation is paramount and you must be ready for any eventuallity or response from your coworker. Another very important, VERY important consideration is how you leave the conversation. You are not skilled in interviewing or in assessing a persons frame of consciousness when you walk away. You run the risk of leaving her in a black hole of emotions that she may not recover from very easily. In could quite possibly make a bad situation much worse.
  43. B. Ont Canada from Canada writes: The problem that seems to always arise is that co-workers talking to each other are like fish stories, they grow into even bigger stories.

    Work itself ( the workplace) is not the place to get or give advice or a talking too, just to many ways of making what can be a place of contention even worse.
  44. M E from Canada writes: Is the woman in question really dangerously thin? Because Hollywood and the media idealize slender female bodies, thin women in real life are often met with a lot of resentment. A skinny but not scary skinny Korean colleague of mine who avoided the doughnuts in the coffee room was endlessly gossiped about as a 'borderline anorexic.' There's something passive-aggressive about the idea of confronting a thin woman about an eating disorder when you have no idea if she has one or not--especially since it seems very unlikely that anyone would dream of staging an intervention for a morbidly obese colleague.
  45. Hank Moody from Canada writes:
    Tell her she's looking good. If she loses just a few more pounds, she might be able to find a man. Keep up the good work!
  46. Midtown Bob from Toronto, Canada writes: If your co-worker is getting scary thin, ask him/her if you can take a large insurance policy out on him/her and make yourself the beneficiary. Problem solved!
  47. harry carnie from Northern, B.C., Canada writes: M J Patchouli............Excellent need for me to add further comment.
  48. Georges Tremblay from Toronto, Canada writes: S. B. from Toronto wrote that '...Some of the early posters are very wary of HR. I have to disagree with this. While I think it is bad idea to have an intervention at work without knowing the relationships among coworkers, HR would be able to help with some of the issues that surround having an intervention. For example, if there is a harassment policy in the workplace and the 'skinny' person is upset by it, then she might start an investigation to determine if it is a poisoned work environment. For those who suggested that HR will find a reason to fire the person, all I can say is I am glad I don't work at your organization.' S.B., you are clearly not employed by a Canadian provincial or federal public service. As a veteran of the Ontario Public Service, I can assure you that getting HR involved in such a circumstance is extremely dangerous both for the 'concerned colleagues' as well as the person in question. This is why public service employees 'invited' to attend a meeting at which HR is represented are strongly advised to attend in the company of a representative from their bargaining unit (i.e. union). That 'HR representatives' in public services are frequently shills for abusive managers is an unfortunate reality. Public service unions can be a royal pain in the butt, and the enormous chunk of my salary which is seized as 'union dues' every pay genuinely distresses me. Nonetheless, such unions play an ESSENTIAL role in PROTECTING public servants from inconsistent and frequently downright abusive HR practices and representatives. I honestly wish that this was not the way it is, but there you have it.
  49. Towlar 3 from Canada writes: I have to agree with Georges Tremblay and other posters who warned against getting HR involved. In my experience, an HR department's priority is the overall 'health' of the company, not the individuals. If it sees a worker who is likely to become far less productive (by going on leave or disability), it will find a legal way to remove that risk. An exception is if the employee is uniquely valuable to the company; then I imagine HR would help.
  50. Salty Dog from Canada writes:

    Co-workers should STFU about anything and everything that isn't work related. Who are these busybodies, civil servants? Don't they have managers?

    Given the current recession/depression, shouldn't just about everybody at HR be getting fired, anyway?

    2 miles on a Segway sounds like a good walk wasted.

  51. D F from Canada writes: I agree interventions are a stupid idea for most things. I think the advice given in this column is excellent.

    Salty Dog, I'd like to think that some of my colleagues verge on friendship. I would prefer to work in an environment where people care about me enough to notice if I seem ok or not. There is definitely a fine line and discretion is imperative. I don't want to live in a world where we ignore each other.
  52. Salty Dog from Canada writes: D F from Canada writes: Salty Dog, I'd like to think that some of my colleagues verge on friendship. I would prefer to work in an environment where people care about me enough to notice if I seem ok or not.

    Not me. Talk to my manager.
  53. J A from Ottawa, Canada writes: What has that got to do with you? This is a free country. If people want to be thin, let them be!
  54. rob in Vancouver from Canada writes: There is nothing wrong with compassion. If you are worried about her health, ask her how she is doing. If she doesnt want to discuss it, just tell her that you are worried. There is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is discussing it behind her back and deciding if you should or should not "confront" her. No, you should not confront her, because that is a negative approach. Empathetic feedback are what you need to give her.
    An honest approach is always the best way to go.
  55. maya vija from Canada writes: It is recommended by the medical society that a person maintain the leanest weight possible during adult years.

    I wouldn't be surprised if these are single envious fat unmarried women that want to gang up on the thin co-worker.

    Fat unmarried overweight women are threatened by thin women. Because obesity is hard to get rid of!

    People come in all shapes and sizes. some people are fat and some people are thin. It is considered rude to tell a fat person they are fat.
    it is also rude for a envious fat women to tell a thin woman that she is too thin.

    There is a backlash against thin women in our society by middle aged overweight women who are envious because nobody wants to marry them!
  56. K Kal from Canada writes:
    Co-worker is probably jealous about the thin-ness.
  57. K Kal from Canada writes: Chrissy Simon from Canada writes: Colleen Sharon writes, 'Our idea of what is 'scary skinny' has been warped by the obesity in our society.' I totally agree with you. There are so many fat people of all ages in our country that the average sized ones look tiny in comparison, and everyone comments on the size and/or eating habits of normal-sized or thin people. (I can't tell you how many obese people have told me I eat like a 'skinny person.') I'm always hearing that girls and women are pressured by the media and pop culture to be thin, but I sure don't see any evidence of that when I go out and about.

    have to agree here as well, obesity is rampant, its disgusting
  58. I Love My Banker from Canada writes: From another perspective... last year I lost 30 lbs in 2 weeks... but it was somewhat planned. I was going off of mood stabilizers that I had been prescribed for 2 years prior. My mind was back in the game and I was as healthy as ever. The doc warned me of all the possible withdrawal symptoms including rapid weight loss. It was liberating to finally get off the meds and I was extremely happy about the challenge. Everyone at work thought I was sick with something terrible, or not eating at all. Little did they know I was better than ever, but it was none of their business that I had been on heavy meds for 2 years.
  59. Michael Tripper from Canada writes: it is difficult to take advice from someone so utterly clueless of human history as this author signals in the opening paragraphs and then compounds the stupidity by reveling in such ignorance.
  60. Angry West Coast Canuck from Canada writes: To shorten my previous, unpublished comment:

    You're co-workers, not friends. Keep your gossip filled noses out of her business, and she won't sue you into next week. Who the heck do you think you are anyway?
  61. jason rohlig from guelph, Canada writes: I agree with angery west keep your nose out of co wowkers business. You are co workers keep it that way. There is nothing more annoying than co workers that gossip about eachother. Get a life people!!!
  62. Karen Morris from Toronto, Canada writes: If someone doesn't know a co-worker well enough to even know if there's increased stress in their life, I'm afraid this officer intervention idea sounds more like a few gossipy co-workers concocting amongst themselves some viable means by which to satisfy their curiosity about a co-worker's weight loss. In these kinds of gossip groups common sense as well as a sense of the humanity of anyone outside their gossipy clique tend to be non-existent. Hence, the "let's do an intervention to stiasfy our idle curiosity". If anyone in this office gossip set really cared about this woman, someone would already know what was going on in her life. Just try to be more welcoming, complimentary, and generally supportive, without diving for personal information.
  63. Dr Batte from Bangor ME, United States writes: I'm delighted to see that a couple of readers besides myself have noted that the woman in question might be suffering from some disease *other* than an eating disorder, and that she might be doing her best to continue her life while undergoing some sort of treatment for it. I had a brain tumour in my youth, and dropped 50 lbs. in a few months. I looked terrible and, as I had been overweight before the rapid growth of the tumour, anyone outside my immediate family and close friends might have thought I had developed an eating disorder. It would have been DEVASTATING if they'd acted on such an assumption. Looking back, I can conceive of becoming suicidal under such an onslaught on top of the strain of dealing with the tumour itself. Don't do it! In addition, I once worked with a young woman who was painfully thin and dressed in the Gothic fashion, with black nail polish, and a dark blue streak in her hair. I seem to attract the confidence of much younger people, and she revealed that other workers *accused* her of having an eating disorder and sometimes followed her into the restroom, after a lunch break, to see if she vomited. She began eating with me, because I was not judgemental. I never knew her to miss a meal at work, and she always ate a substantial amount of healthy foods -- neither overeating nor picking at food. She complained to me that she had always had a high metabolic rate and never seemed to gain weight, had always had a healthy apetite, and was constantly being diagnoswed with anorexia or bulemia by people who went by surface observation only and who did not take the time to get to know and understand her.
  64. M Fisher from Canada writes: Why can't people just MTOB. I too have experienced a dramatic weight loss that had people talking as well however few but close friends know that I'm battling an illness and as far as I'm concerned as long as I'm performing to full capacity butt out! I feel miserable enough already and abhor looking at every vein, ligament & tendon I see after a shower and laboriously work at eating more than the average person every day just to maintain - do I need some fatuous individuals preaching while wringing their hands and shaking their heads and telling me that they KNOW what my problem is.
  65. Karen Morris from Toronto, Canada writes: I'd bet a large box of honey cruellers that no one in this proposed "intervention" group has ever offered to bring back a coffee for this woman during a coffee run or when they're all sending someone out to bring lunch in for "the group". Sounds like a creepy place to work. Be interesting to know what industry this is. Sounds unprofessional, so likely a business that started as a small, private concern and grew to a mid-size incorporation.
  66. Gadgetgirl02 . from Toronto, Canada writes: Yes, the co-workers should stay out of it. An intervention over someone's health is ridiculous.

    What's equally ridiculous are the amount of people who used the comments on this article to obesity-bash.

    First, for those who claim that no-one ever confronts co-workers who are obese: yes they do. They also gossip about them a lot. I've been overweight and I've been underweight, and I've been chastised at both ends of the scale (literally, and by different co-workers at different jobs).

    For those who assume the co-workers themselves must be obese: and your proof in the original letter is what? Haven't you ever seen a woman snipe that another woman is "scary thin" when they could have worn the same clothes?

    And for those that claim that our idea of "normal" is skewed by all the "fatties" out there: I am 5'9" and my doctor says my "healthy weight" is 170lbs because of my frame size. That's a regular (non-vanity) size 14. When was the last time anyone said a size 14 was healthy, except to say that it's healthier than being a size 18?

    People come in all shapes and sizes, and it's a far more difficult to lose weight than people who have been thin all their lives would like to think (eating less, exercising more, and cutting out junk food only works usually for the first few pounds -- not nearly enough if you have a lot of weight to lose). While rallying to the defence of the thin woman in the letter, a lot of you have managed to spread a lot of hate against people with different health issues also related to body size. Speaking of compassion...
  67. Valkyrie 23 from Guelph, Canada writes: To elaborate on Gadgetgirl02's comment... the kind of misinformation that she mentioned in her post is exactly the issue with these online question and answers. We don't KNOW the whole story. The woman could be part of a group of friends at work, like I have, who are in their early-to-late twenties and hang out outside of work, OR they could be the stereotypical middle-aged gossipers. We also don't know what "scarily thin" means; it could be normal size, it could be emaciated, it could be relative to the woman posting the question. And how do we know it's all women who are concerned? Maybe there are some men in the group too? I mean, really, why are there SO MANY posts about this when we have next-to-nothing with regards to information? Everyone on this comment board should mind THEIR own business!
  68. Chrissy Simon from Canada writes: I checked the statistics on rates of obesity in Canada. In 1978, we had a 14% obesity rate. In 2004, our adult obesity rate had jumped to 23%. Stats Canada defines obesity as a Body Mass Index of 30 or more with a high to extremely high risk of developing health problems. I didn't look up rates of overweight Candians, but I'm sure they're up, too, if obesity has almost doubled in the last twenty-six years. If we have twice as many obese people in our communities, we're going to get used to seeing bigger people, and smaller people will stand out more. Some of them may even appear to be "scarily thin." I think it's disturbing that our society has begun to normalize obesity to the point where airlines are forced to provide a second seat for free if a person can't fit into just one because he or she is so big. Other unhealthy or dangerous behaviours have been censured by our society (ie. smoking and DUI), but for some reason, obesity is being accomodated even if being obese puts individuals at higher risk of developing serious health issues.
  69. Megan Ratcliffe from Toronto, Canada writes: Okay first of all, as other posters have noted that because someone is thin, it does NOT mean she has an eating disorder.
    I am only 5'2 and about 105 pounds, so I have dealt with the "your too skinny" brigade....and been asked if I have an eating disorder(which I categorically DO NOT). I'm just little and thin..and I like it that way. So to the co-workers, while it is nice that you are concerned, the work place may not be the best way to speak to this woman. As Mr Eddie advised, make small talk, and if she seems receptive ask if she is okay. If she seems like she wants to talk, but not necessarily at work, invite her out for coffee. And try and findout what is really going on. It could be as simple as her just being naturally skinny. THere are people out there who are perfectly healthy just skinny.
    If this girl does not want to talk BUTT OUT. Clearly, if she doesn't want to talk there may be something going on that she does not want the whole office to know.

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