Thursday, July 5, 2007

Top 10 acceptable answers to "Does this outfit make me look fat?"

Why are husbands some people so flummoxed by the perennial spousal inquiry:

Does this outfit make me look fat?

This question has been characterized as unanswerable, as the Ultimate Marriage Koan.

Ridiculous. Ladies are able to ask and answer this all the time, without imploding relationships. We're not afraid of it, because we know how to communicate within the range of acceptable answers. It's not hard. Really.

In the interest of eliminating connubial stress and adding to the peace of the Universe, I will reveal to spouses worldwide what every teenage girl already knows.

Read further, dear groom, and never sleep on the couch again:

If the outfit looks even remotely acceptable, the answer is an enthusiastic 'No.' You get double credit for adding "Of course not, you look great in everything." Fifty point bonus for wolf whistles.

Of course, the hard part comes when the outfit is sub-optimal.

It is at this point where newlyweds amateurs unsuspecting chumps husbands find themselves held hostage by the deceptive aphorism "Honesty is the best policy." Nonsense.

I'm not suggesting you dance with dishonesty. I simply ask you to scout the ballroom before embracing Truth. You need not sacrifice your integrity to please your spouse. This is a false dichotomy. It is possible to both save your marriage and sidestep sin.

Here is where a poor sap beleaguered husband person of conscience can get tangled in the tentacles of a Manichean dialectic between a brutal appraisal of the outfit and avoiding certain spousal alienation. This is not the time to expound on the inherent evils of polyester knits. This is not the time to share dietary wisdom. This is not the time to suggest joining a health club.

You need to give her a truthful answer to the question she's actually asking. She's asking you, "Are you going to be happy to be seen with me in public?" She's asking, "Do you love me, even though I'm growing older?" She's asking, "Are we still the same bride and groom?"

If you can't answer those questions in a complimentary manner, then you've got bigger problems than being ten minutes late for a dinner party.

Without further ado, I, a certified wife, hereby share with the global community of clueless husbands you, the top ten acceptable answers to the question:

Does this outfit make me look fat?

10. It looks fine to me.

9. You look so much better in the green dress.

8. That skirt would make Twiggy look fat. [insert more up-to-date reference as necessary]

7. I'm the wrong guy to ask. I only see you, the Love of My Life.

6. Fishing for compliments, honey? You're beautiful.

5. I don't know if it does; I just know I envy it!

4. If I say 'yes' does that mean I get to eat your dessert tonight?

3. I'm not sure. How do these pants look on me?

2. Who's coming tonight? Should I be jealous?

1. I love you.

There. Was that so difficult? Now go forth and compliment. I'm off to declutter my closet.

This post was included in the Carnival of SAHMs

10 comments, so far. Add yours now!

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Anonymous said...

I guess it also depends. I'm a small size, but sometimes there are things that I wear that accentuate my post-pregnancy tummy.... which is next to nil, but still there... Some sweaters make me look 2-3 months pregnant. Whenever I wear it, people stare and wonder... I would appreciate an honest answer.

Juggling Frogs said...


I agree. Sometimes, we are looking for an honest answer.

Options 8 and 9 lets the husband say the 'yes, the outfit stinks', but in a way that doesn't make the wife feel bad about herself, sneaking sidelong peaks of her walking reflection in shop windows all afternoon.

Ayelet said...

Well done. For the record, I think 8 and 9 just don't work. That would get my husband a free ticket to the doghouse.

p.s. I like you. You clearly have excellent taste in cute kids and that's something I really respect in people. ;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the names you called me/us before you crossed them out! I loved the post.
Why don't women just say what needs to be said? How does "Do you still love me?", have anything to do with "Do I look fat in this?"
I am still learning all the code words. Hopefully, by the time I get married, I will be an expert at a sizable chunk.
What a game of chess you are? Enjoyable, but you have to figure out almost everything!

Juggling Frogs said...


Thank you! I like you, too! Your blog makes me smile.

Challenge to you: Let's say you're wearing something that really doesn't flatter you. You're about to go out to a wedding, where photographers are expected.

What SHOULD your husband say/do to let you know, without risking the doghouse?

(For the guys reading this, I think I need to preface this next question with the clarification that I'm REALLY asking, it's not rhetorical/sarcastic:) Should he tell you the truth? Or would you rather attend the wedding feeling confident and beautiful, only to see the pictures later and wince?

I can see valid arguments both ways. (Men: again, REALLY.) If you feel beautiful, and dance with abandon with the bride, maybe you don't give a hoot what gets photographed.

Maybe, experiencing the joy is more important than sucking in your tummy for the pictures. Maybe.

On the other hand, how many times have we seen people we love wearing something that doesn't do their figure justice?

On the other, other hand (I'm outsourcing hands), I remember HATING certain pictures of myself when I first saw them. I thought I looked SO old/fat/ugly etc. Twenty years later, I look at them differently: I was so much younger/thinner/cuter then.

How many of us shy away from photos of ourselves, then realize we don't have a presence in the family scrapbook. How many of our mothers and grandmothers have hidden from photos/videos, causing us to ache when their hands come over their faces?

We take so many pictures of our unabashed kids. But, when looking at the old pictures, it's the adults, especially those who aren't with us any more, who we yearn to see.


Juggling Frogs said...


It's funny that you say 'code words'. I think of it more as 'idiom'. Those Mars/Venus pundits tell us the genders speak different languages.

I disagree. We speak different dialects of the same language. We have different idioms.

I was born and raised in Boston and speak American English. When I married, I moved to North Carolina. It took me months before I could understand the clerks in the grocery store. After six years, I still translated idiom into my native Yankee tongue.

My father is from North Carolina, so I bet it was easier for me than it could have been.

It works both ways: WE have to remember that YOU mean what you say.

When I was first married, I had to learn that when my husband said, "I don't care what color of tablecloth you buy" he MEANT that he really didn't care what color of tablecloth I purchased.

There were painful weeks before I realized he didn't mean, "I don't care what influence you have on our lives"; he didn't mean, "What happens in our home has no meaning to me"; he didn't mean "I don't care about you."

When this became clear to me, I stopped asking him such questions, and we were both relieved.

You have a very interesting take on things in your blog. My husband played chess competitively in high school, and uses chess analogies often.

I only learned how to play well enough (as a kid) to grow up to be someone who could understand my husband's allusions. A bit.

Our 15 year old son taught our 3 year old daughter to set up the board this winter. Now she's in charge of setting up the board for all the kids' chess games.

Summer said...

LOL Great post! I'll have to share this one with a few guys I know.

Thanks for sharing it with the Carnival of SAHMs

Juggling Frogs said...


Thanks! Thanks for including it in the Carnival of SAHMs.

Juggling Frogs said...

On the other hand... (Warning: article is long and contains profanity. Still, it's well written and very funny.)

Anonymous said...

Most definitely a different language altogether. I suppose it is my growing up talking to people on the net, but I tend to revert back to neutral standard english to get ideas across in times like these. Talking in subtexts does not help things. Many a disagreement with my fiancee has started with a question laced with subtext I can't decode. Then, when I attempt to put everything in words out in the open, she either withdraws what she was getting at or gets mad about it.

It is somewhat comical (for both of us) looking back on the disagreements though, because generally it involves 4 times of me repeating that I meant exactly what I said in exactly the words I said them, and it involves her rephrasing and "retoning" questions hoping I'll pick up on what she REALLY means.

Why are women so (strikeout)clueless difficult bullheaded(/strikeout)different? It is a very simple concept, say what you mean and mean what you say. Using the english language that we've all agreed upon.

(I can't use the 'cute' strikeout technique like you did, so I simulated.)

If you liked this article, congratulations! You have great taste. Please brew yourself a cup of coffee.
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