Thursday, June 3, 2010


How would you react if you heard the following greetings when someone walked into your store?

“Hey nappy-haired guy.”

“Hey Jew guy.”

“Hey homosexual guy.”

“Hey really old guy.”

“Hey ugly guy.”

“Hey short guy.”

“Hey big-nose guy.”

“Hey crippled guy.”

I suspect that if you heard an employee refer to a customer in that way, you would have a serious discussion about the appropriateness and potential insensitivity of such comments with that employee. Whether they were said with innocence or malice wouldn’t matter. It’s likely that you would want such terms not used in the workplace.

So riddle me this: Why does it seem to be perfectly acceptable, if not downright friendly, to greet a really fat man with, “Hey big guy.”

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in a store when a really fat man is addressed with that euphemism.

The fat guys never really say anything about it, but by the reaction of many, they don’t seem to like it. And I can’t really blame them.

What they’re ultimately communicating is that the customers are so fat, that they can’t notice anything else but how fat they are, and they don’t want to greet the customer with, “Hey really fat guy,” or something worse. So they try softening the language and saying it in a pleasant manner. Is the fat customer supposed to think, “Oh. He called me a big guy. That doesn’t have to mean that I’m fat. Maybe it means that I’m an important person or something.”

I’ve talked to a number of fat men and without exception they say something like, “I know they don’t mean it to be insensitive, but it is.”

So if you’re one of those people who refers to a guy that looks like Jabba the Hutt, (oh my, was that insensitive of me?) as “big guy,” don’t. Unless of course, you also use the terms noted in the beginning of this post to refer respectively to those customers. And if you do that too? Stop it.

1 comment:

  1. Point well made. I'm guilty of calling fat guys "big guy" and never really thought about it before. But you're right.