In case you don’t know the “correct” answer to this question, let me catch you up. If a woman ever asks a man (or another woman for that matter): “Do I look fat in these pants?” The answer, without even looking, is no. 100% of the time.
That’s what I was taught (by culture, experience, etc) growing up. Maybe you were too.
The objective, I think, is to prevent injury, which is is a good objective I guess. A woman is insecure about how she looks in a particular pair of pants, or in general, which leads her to ask the question, “Do you think I look fat?” and the emphatic “no!” silences her insecurity and calms her anxiety, at least for the moment. It seems like a nice thing to do, doesn’t it?
It’s why I’ve spent most of my life being obedient to this rule, and expecting others to abide by it too.
But the older I get, the more I wonder if this strategy is really helping anyone.
I’m not just talking about women and pants, by the way, I’m talking about all kinds of things. How we talk around difficult subjects rather than speaking directly to them because we’re worried about how the message will be received. We don’t confront close friends or family members about damaging habits in their life — smoking, over-eating, porn — because we’re worried about how they might respond.
We’re trying to be nice, I think, but is it working?
Especially when most of the time, instead of confronting them, we end up gossiping about them (or thinking judgmental thoughts about them) behind their backs. Being nice is a nice thought, but what about being honest?
What does the Bible have to say about these things?
The word “nice” in the dictionary is defined as “pleasing; agreeable; delightful; amiable” and by that definition, I’m a really nice person. But does God ever implore us to be nice? I’m wracking my brain, thinking through the New Testament, trying to remember what, if anything, the Bible has to say about being nice.
I can remember verses about being humble, treating one another with love, even a verse in Galatians about how kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. But nothing about making sure you’re nice to everyone, all the time.
Jesus wasn’t even “nice” all the time.
Jesus did, however, tell the truth. He valued truth. It is by truth we are sanctified (John 17:17); given the gift of the Holy Spirit who empowers us and encourages us (Ephesians 1:14); and are set free (John 8:32).
The problem with being “nice” all the time is that I wrongly assume responsibility for someone else’s fears, insecurities, and brokenness. It might seem like I am protecting them but instead, I’m just driving myself crazy trying to fix a problem that I don’t have the power to fix.
The wound of insecurity existed before me, and continues without me there.
If I am constantly taking responsibility for something that isn’t mine, I’m making the problem worse, not better. I’m stealing the opportunity for another person recognize the wound and to (in relationship with God) step toward real wholeness and healing.
No one wants to hear that they do look fat in these pants (for all kinds of reasons that could constitute a post of their own) but truth, not niceness, is the path to freedom.
Question: Have you ever told someone that they do look fat in those pants (or the equivalent)? Do we have the kind of relationships that allow hard conversations?