You have an event coming up and your obese friend/family member is coming over. Do you let them sit on and possibly break your regular furniture? Do you provide a special chair for them?
And, most importantly…
How do you tell them?
Our normal mojo on this blog is to provide advice and recommendations to fat people so this is a bit of departure from tradition. Luckily, I have experience on both sides of this equation and can give you some insight.
When I was a kid, everyone in my family was of “average” size. Slightly overweight but physically active. All except my Aunt J.
Aunt J. weighed north of 500 pounds and we saw her often at reunions and parties. When she visited she had two options: a wooden chair, or the entire love seat. While it never broke, I can still remember the cracking sounds of the wooden chair as she sat down and got up.
And that’s not even mentioning how ridiculous it looked for her to sit on it since she was three times the chair’s width. All in all, it was fear-inducing for us and (I’m sure) embarrassing for her.
So, let’s talk about a few ways to navigate a similar situation you might find yourself in:
3 Tactful Ways to Handle the Situation
- Talk to the person before they visit. Let them know that you are thinking about the situation and have a chair (or sitting spot) specifically for them so they’ll feel more comfortable.
- Have “assigned seats.” If the person is visiting for a party, put a card on every plate with the name of the person to sit there. The obese person would obviously be “assigned” a sturdy chair.
- Remove unsuitable seating. This may not be an option if we’re talking about your whole living room set but, for example, if you have an heirloom piece of furniture, removing it before the visit will ensure that it stays safe.
If you were hoping for an easier and more pain-free solution to the problem, I’m sorry. There is no immaculate solution to be had. However, all of the above options will be helpful in avoiding embarrassment if your fat friend is breaking your furniture.
Things to Consider
Fat people know that they’re fat (and can break furniture)
If you’re of average size, you might not appreciate this but: fat people know that they’re fat. In fact, for most of us, it’s something that fills our mind 24/7. Are people starting at me? Am i sweating through my clothes? Where do I sit next?!
Every time an obese person enters a situation, they’re sizing it up and thinking about where to sit, where they fit, etc. If there is an obvious option (eg. sturdy furniture) you better believe that we’ll take it.
It’s really not that offensive to talk to someone about their weight
As a big guy, it’s not unusual for little kids at the store to point me out to their parents or wonder loudly why I’m so big. It’s really not a big deal.
What makes it a big deal is how their parents handle it. If they hush the kid of, avert their eyes, and scurry away with their cart it leaves me feeling strange. It’s not like my weight is that big of deal. I’m aware of it, it doesn’t define me, and (to some extent) I know that my choices keep me the size I am.
A better approach is simply for parents to respond normally, “Well, people are all just different sizes!” and then give me a smile. It’s normal for people to be fat.
If you avoid the subject all together it just perpetuates the problem. So if you want your fat friend to stop breaking your furniture? Talk to them about it.
Most people will appreciate the forethought.
If you have an issue that’s weighing on your mind, it’s a relief for someone to notice and ask your about it. This is typically the case when it comes to obese people and furniture.
I have never been offended when someone takes the forethought to ask me about seating, how I can be comfortable, and if I can please not sit on specific chairs. In fact, I’ve always been grateful that the person was cognizant of my situation and cared enough about me to ask me about it.
Now, this isn’t the case in every situation. Some people are fat and super pissed about it. For whatever reason, they may be mad that you brought it up at all.
However, just remember that it’s probably way less embarrassing (and costly) for everyone involved to discuss the matter beforehand instead of breaking your great grandma’s antique rocking chair in front of everyone.
your friend knows that they’re fat. Most fat people stress about where to sit. It’s much more embarrassing to break a chair in front of people that to be told beforehand where to sit.
Now, if you have a family member or friend that is going to be spending a lot of time at your house, it may be worth it to invest in a heavy duty piece of furniture or two. It will keep them from breaking your chairs/couch and will bring you both peace of mind.
Most average pieces of household furniture have a weight capacity of 200-250 pounds. This is suitable for most people but inadquate for even overweight users. For this reason, I almost always adivse people to buy high-weight-capcaity furniture. It’s typically better made, will last longer, and is safer to use. (Not to mention your fat friends won’t break your furniture if it’s heavy duty….)
Luckily, furniture for fat people is one of our specialties around here. Give that, here are some options.
High weight capacity furniture options:
What if my fat friend or family member breaks my furniture?
If you thought the original question we asked was a doozey, here’s a better one. If your fat friend breaks your furniture, do you ask them to pay for it?
Short answer, yes, you absolutely can.
Hopefully it will be non-issue. If I sat on someone’s furniture and it broke as a result of my weight I would (and have) offered to pay for the damages.
If your obese family member or friends breaks your furniture, they should ask if they can pay to have it repaired for replaced.
If they don’t offer, you can obviously bring it up to them and ask if they are willing to help you fix/replace it. After all, they broke it.
That being said, I will warn you: it will be super awkward and they might be offended. It typically isn’t expected for a guest to replace something they broke unless they feel like they’re being careless or crazy. I’m not saying that’s how it should be, but that’s how societal convention currently works.
In a perfect world, they would ask and you would either accept the offer or not. If you do decide to peruse getting them to pay for it, you better be sure that’s it worth it!
I will also mention that, although I’ve offered several times, no one has even taken me up on my offer to pay for what I’ve damaged.
In the end my advice is this: if you’re worried about your fat friend breaking your furniture, you need to talk to them about it before hand. A quick text or call to pre-empt the situation will typically be appreciated and much less awkard that adressing it in the moment.
Just be sure that they feel like you are acting from a place of care and interest and (most people) will not be offended. Best of luck!