Monday, September 20, 2010

Fat People Breaking Chairs

In middle school, there was always someone being teased about being "too fat" to sit on something without breaking it. "She's so fat she'll break the chairs!" "She's so fat she'll hurt the horse!" It didn't help my self image that on the last day of 5th grade I was playing on a teeter totter and my corduroy pants split right up the back. Thankfully, my best friend lent me her jacket to tie around my waist and hide the damage until my father could come pick me up. But I always thought I was fat, and I was always afraid I was going to break something. Nevermind that I weighed all of 120 pounds. I had chubby thighs, so I was fat.

I grew up with this fear of being classed in with the fat people. I was a thin child, except for a few years in middle school when I got a tiny bit overweight, and I was a 140 pound, curvy, tall teen. But my mother was obese and my best friend was heavy and I saw all the teasing and snide remarks and rude comments people made about them. It hurt me for them, and it set a fear into me about breaking chairs.

And then it happened. I was weighing the most I had ever weighed in my life... about 160 pounds... and about 6 months pregnant with my first child. We'd moved to a new town and some kind neighbors had invited us over for dinner. In the living room, there was a nice floral couch. My husband, who, to my dismay, by this point weighed LESS than me (about 155 pounds) sat down first. I went to sit beside him and as my butt hit the sofa... CRASH! Down it came with a thud to the floor. The leg on the corner nearest me had given way. That three inch fall was absolutely humiliating! I felt like an absolute cow. I almost started to cry as I stammered an apology and then the neighbor laughed and said, "Oh, don't worry about that, it's been broken for years. It's a trap we set for visitors!" Everyone laughed and the evening went on. But I was horrified. Whether what he said was true or not, in MY mind, I had become one of the Fat People Breaking Chairs.

It happened to me again in 2007, before I started this blog, but this time I really was morbidly obese and I really *did* break a chair... in front of everyone. It was one of the first posts I wrote on this blog, sharing how I'd come crashing down with a hot dog in my mouth at my son's baseball game. It was just humiliating. But the fact of the matter is, this kind of thing happens every day. People who are obese sit in things that are really not rated to hold their weight and the chair breaks. Chairs are usually rated to maybe 200 pounds... the heavy duty ones to 225 or maybe 250. And a lot of us weighed far over that limit. But we have to sit. Right?

I have a lot of compassion for people who have to look at the weight limits on everything or just stand around pretending not to *want* to sit because they are afraid of breaking the chair. I was there. I lived that way too. But now, I face a different perspective. What about being the person whose chairs are getting broken? How do you feel about that?

If you're not obese and you have chairs or other items that are just not rated to hold people over 250 pounds, how do you handle it when someone who is 300 or 350 pounds goes to sit in your chair? What is your reaction when they break it? How do you feel? I never thought about this before, but I am thinking about it now because honestly, it is very frustrating when someone comes along, sits in your furniture and breaks it due to their size. Now I have started to wonder: when I weighed 278 pounds, did my friends dread me coming over, wondering if I would break something? Probably not... but I have heard such comments from strangers.

Now that I look a "normal" weight, people seem to have turned off their Fat Person Comments filter when I am around. After all, people cannot tell that I used to be morbidly obese. They talk to each other in the grocery store or the mall or while we watch our kids dance. People talk differently if no overtly obese people are within earshot. I was dismayed to find this out. Shocked, actually. "Oh, Sue is coming over for dinner and every time she leaves we have to reinforce our dining room chairs. I really hate it. I don't want my dining room chairs broken!" and "Yeah we didn't invite Bill to the tailgate party. We can't afford to keep buying new lawn chairs every time he comes over and breaks one." Did people talk about me that way? I wonder.

And I have to admit that I have had similar thoughts about Fat People Breaking Chairs myself. I had this really nice wooden glider that my first husband bought me as a birthday present right before I delivered our first child over 20 years ago. That chair is very special to me. I rocked each of my first four babies in that chair from the day they came home from the hospital until they were too big to get on my lap. I nursed them in the middle of the night in that chair, rocking and singing to my babies. I love that chair. Many years ago I dated a man who weighed about 350 pounds. He decided he liked to sit in that chair. I thought nothing of it until... crack. The solid oak bottom of the chair broke under his weight. The screws also sheared off in some strange manner because of his weight rocking on them. The beloved chair still sits in a corner, waiting to be fixed, unable to be used. Another time, a friend was at my home for dinner. When he left, the toilet seat was broken... cracked right in half! To his credit he did mutter "the toilet seat cracked, I will replace it" before he left but of course I told him not to worry about it. And a 300 pound man who shall remain nameless sat in my office chair, leaned back, and broke the back completely off its base.

Now, knowing what it's like to be on the Fat End of the story... to be the one breaking things with my weight... I understand the horror and shame. I do the kind thing and try to make it *not a big deal* and soothe the person's feelings. But I admit it. I dread having my furniture broken by people who are too heavy for the strength of the structure. When a 300 pound visitor goes to sit on a chair I worry. I worry for THEM and I worry for the furniture. I can't afford to keep buying stuff to replace what is broken.

It's a really strange place to be, for me. I always maintain compassion for the person first and foremost. I want to be welcoming and nonjudgmental. But I also want my furniture, toilet seats, and lawn chairs to stay in one piece.

How do you feel about this?

65 comments:

-J.Darling said...

I feel the same way. In fact, I never liked sitting on my guy's lap over the years because I felt as if I'd hurt or break them (even though they were totally okay with it). It's a tough, uncertain, place to be.
I worry less about it now, but I still know that, weighing in at 199lbs, standing almost 5'9" tall, I'm a big girl.

But all that said, this weekend I a friend was getting a computer fixed by his neighbor. The neighbor walked in and sat down on a chair - and I was holding my breath. This fellow was so obese that he had trouble walking 5 feet. I was waiting for the chair to give and looking for something sturdier he could sit on. But there was nothing around.

Thankfully, the chair held. I didn't feel bad about being apprehensive though. You could have put 2 dining room chairs side by side and he would have probably just fit comfotably.

Anonymous said...

I have never even thought about this problem. I quess I don´t have very heavy people around me so I never had even thought about this.
Anyway I love reading your post every time. You make me think about many things in different perspective.

moonduster said...

I think I'd be right where you are, feeling for the person breaking the chair and remaining compassionate but cirnging inside because I can't afford to replace things.

To be honest, I think companies need ot start making stronger products, not because people are fat but because things USED TO BE MADE STRONGER! Nothing is made with any quality now.

Glenn, Fat at Fifty-five said...

I never really thought about it before.I've seen a chair break once but it wasn't due to an overweight person, it just let go when they leaned backwards in it.

JoAnne said...

I come from the medical staff perspective. I was an echo tech for many years. When I first started, there were few really obese people. But as the years went by, my patient population grew bigger and bigger. Trying to hold up many pounds of flesh to get into an intercostal space was torture. I had to have my left thumb joint rebuilt and I ruptured a tendon in my right wrist from two handing the transducer, not to mention the numerous back and neck strains I suffered. I retired at 62, even though I loved my job, because it was just too much.

I always felt bad for my patients - I could tell some were really embarrassed by the contortions I had to go through, but mostly I felt bad because I couldn't do them justice. Many times their hearts were just too far away from the transducer to get really good images and I always felt like I had let them down when I had to mark a study "TDS" and let it go (technically difficult study) because that meant they had to undergo much more invasive tests.

Lori said...

I am in that very awkward situation right now. My sister's boyfried easily weighs 400 lbs. My dining room furniture is a family heirloom from my husband's side of the family. When those very delicate chairs were made, the makers probably never imagined people weighing that much. I worried about sitting in them at 200 lbs, much less 400.

I have brought in the sturdier kitchen table chairs and interspersed them with the dining room ones, and put out place cards. My sister knows what I'm doing & why. BTW, she had gastric bypass surgery almost 7 years ago, so she's been there herself.

I'm sure her boyfriend knows what's going on too. I've tried to make him feel welcome inspite of the issue, and as far as I know, he hasn't said that he doesn't want to come to my house because of the dining room chairs.

Just Me said...

Wow, I love your posts. I never really thought about other people breaking my chairs - probably because none of my friends are obese. Guess I need to take chairs with me everywhere I go.

One thing I liked about this post was your Fat Person Comment Filter - When I lost a lot of weight I noticed the same thing and I used it as my People I like or dislike filter. I don't really want to hear someone calling another human being a fat pig or whatever...great way to weed out the jerks.

PS - if I had an obese friend that I saw all the time I would have a chair that would accomodate their size.

Anne W said...

I have never * knock on wood*, broken a chair. But I'm am terrified I will one day. There are times though where I am sitting and holding my breath that the chair will break from under me. I'm at 250 lbs so I know that *most* chairs are made to hold that weight, but still, you never know. Esp. camping chairs, and chairs in lecture halls (you know, the ones attached to the table).

Twix said...

I'm so right there with ya on the corduroy pants. Dang those pants! It didn't take to many washes and they'd split right where they were the weakest, anywhere that exerted the most pressure. Mom always bought these for me no matter how much I complained. I weighed 10lbs more than my clasmates and stood a foot taller. She always told me I was to big for jeans. What?? No matter anytime those danged corduroys split I'd have to hang my head in shame all day while the fat comments flew. I wasn't fat! I was just taller and bigger than my mates!! grrr on them....and her then

I don't worry about someone that's 200 something sitting on stuff. I think it's more of a matter how you sit though. When your 300 plus and you throw yourself downward of course somethings are going to get broke. Then again somethings will break just because of there current condition no matter what you weigh, as in well used and rickety or was never made well to begin with or designed for a fairy. My daughter is 120 and last year she plopped on the couch with such force the front piece of trim wood broke into two. Does that make her to fat?? No! I didn't tell her this because that isn't so. She realized the truth for the matter that it was (told me so) and learned a lesson, most furniture isn't designed to just throw yourself on. Now my brother on the other hand worries me at 450+ & 6'8. I'd worry if he sat on my couch. I'd make sure no one else sat with him and I'd politely mention to please watch how you sit. When you think about it when 5 people are sitting on a couch, how much weight is there? The couch might be able to handle it, a single chair may be questionable. I don't sit in to many lawn chairs because they don't seem stable. Even when I was smaller I detested them for this same reason.

Anyways at a whopping 220 I was the fat lady that sunk a paddle boat in the middle of the lake on her honeymoon, terribly embarrassing but most certainly not my fault. Those boats are designed to hold lots more weight, than my hubby and I. And in the end that boat had a leak that no one had known about. It's was just a bad coincidence.

As for toilet seats, we have one bathroom and seven people and various guests throughout the year. I've only had to replace the seat once in the past 3 years. And one of us is 300+, me.

I agree somethings should be made more sturdier and be able to handle more weight. But then again everyone wants stuff for cheap and well what do you expect to find at the store when that is the case...a rant for a different day

You're not in an easy position when you hear folks talk like this. I've heard both sides of the coin. Sometimes I listen, sometimes I ignore, sometimes I defend but I do try to look at things from different perspectives. Not easy at all to hear I have to beef up the chairs or the bed. Or to be told your to fat to do this or that.

I hate having stuff broken too. But on the other hand I love the people in my life. Maybe the solution would be to prepare ahead of time, if it's possible, and to refrain from hurtful comments within or outside of earshot. My mom has us two heavy kids and she herself isn't to thin herself but she always keep a heavy friendly chair around and has never made a big deal about it. She does make a big deal if she smells the smoke on your clothes. And that's where it's important to her.

(((squishy hugs)))

Laura said...

I've never worried about people breaking my chairs, mostly because I've always gotten chairs to hold my weight, and I know I can trust them.

However, having been the chair breaker before, I have nothing but sympathy for others who go through what I have. There is nothing more humiliating.

Tammy said...

I'm still the fat person breaking the chairs...so I've never thought about it from the other side, and I don't think I'm ready to yet. I'll just keep standing in the corner til the rest of my weight is gone. :)

Shana said...

This reminded me of the lady in the nail salon charging an overweight customer and extra $5 for "chair breaking insurance". Saw it on the news recently, Google it.

www.100lbsandcounting.com

Fat Grump said...

Hmm. That's got me thinking.I have never given much thought to the broken furniture dilemma if I am honest.

It's only in recent years in the UK that HUGE people have become common-place and we've had TV programmes about such people. The 'fascination' element remains as bigger people become the subject of television programmes and we gawp as we tuck into our fried meals. We've had chubby, tubby, rotund and obese, but morbidly obese wasn't really focused on...as it is now because of lifestyle and our eating habits. I feel some shame when I can just about get a plane seat-belt done up around me when I breath in. That's my new "I'm getting bigger' gauge. I dare say seats will become wider and wider and able to withstand greater weights because it's pretty obvious to me that the problem is growing (if you'll excuse the pun.)

I do know that I've joked that my man won't be able to carry me over the threshold when/if we marry. I feel some shame about that but laugh it off. Being aware a chair might break if you sit on it must be such a horrible problem to have. There is only so much 'laughing about it' we can do.

Potato Diva said...

I have had my couch broken by my BIL and SIL who are morbidly obese. I wasn't at the that time but am now. I was dumb-founded. They just laughed it off, never offered to replace it or repair it, and we couldn't afford to and lived with it for four more years.

As a fat person, I worry about breaking things all the time and look for the sturdiest furniture or stand as uncomfortable as that is.

You are between a rock and a hard place on fat people breaking chairs. You inspired me to blog about my own experiences on this issue at potatodiva.blogspot.com

Blossom said...

Been there, done that. It was just a flimsy folding chair, but still...very humiliating.

fitby42 said...

I was just at my daughter's cheerleading class yesterday, and I was very nervous about having to sit in the folding chairs. I hate it.

Thankfully, my daughter, who weighs a whopping 61 pounds in 5th grade, is oblivious to weight issues. I can only image how a bigger 120 pound 5th grader would feel. I hope she never has to go through what we do...

Julie, The Accidental Fat Chick said...

Being afraid to sit in a chair is something I never really thought about for myself, though considering my highest weight maybe I should have. I have a friend though, that is terribly afraid to sit on certain chairs because she says she would die of the embarrassment if it broke. This gets really bad for us when we volunteer at the elementary school and it seems like all of the chairs in the building are made for eight year olds. Its always my mission to go find her a sturdy chair upon arrival & so far we've been successful.

Vee said...

We bought our new house in March of this year. By June I had broken 2 toilet seats. It's one of the reasons I started back on my "getting healthy" plan. It's embarrassing. But I never thought about it from a skinny person's POV. Huh.

Vee at http://veegettinghealthy.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, I have never broken anything by sitting on it. I come from a large family and I love having them over. In my opinion if you care about someone enough to invite them into your home then you should never put them in such an awkward position by suggesting alternate seating because of their weight. Hurt feelings are hard to repair.

D. said...

I've been reading your blog for a while, but this inspired me to post.

This is something that resonates with me. I am the lowest weight I've been in years (399 as of today! Yay!) and I have had to always be careful. I always make sure to be considerate about other people's chairs, and will politely inquire a head. Sad to say, my weight made me somewhat of a recluse and I've avoided social things altogether.

Now, though, I try to be sure and get recon info before going anywhere, and explain why if people are confused. It can be embarrassing, but I feel that my weight is my fault, and I try to be considerate of others and their things. Even with doctors and such, I always make sure. If a chair looks iffy, or feels that way when I try to sit on it, I pull the host or whomever aside and politely explain what's up. It is awkward sure, but again, I try to be responsible for myself.

I used to go through chairs at home at an alarming rate, but this has gotten much better since I've dropped 90ish pounds this past year, and continue to lose it.

I don't view people worrying about folks breaking their chairs as nasty or mean. It's a genuine concern. I think how it would be handled and/or the tone makes more of a difference, IMO. While it is just stuff, feelings can be hurt on either side... and either side can be difficult or kind about it.

NewGilmoreGirl said...

I broke a toilet seat once. It was humiliating!!! It was at home, but I shared that toilet with 3 roommates. :-(

D. said...

Er, inquire ahead of time...not inquire a head. Horrible typing to the rescue. :P

L A U R A said...

Something like that's happened to me, too. Back in 2006 I was over 300 lbs and took a Jet Blue to NY. I was so excited and it was my first time going to NY. Well, when I got to the plane, I could barely fit into the seat. To make matters worse, the seat belt hardly even went around me. It was so embarassing for me. I ended up just sucking it up and riding the whole 5 hour flight with both of my buttcheeks crammed into the seat and very uncomfortable :(

When I first lost the weight I had "fat girl syndrome" and still pictured myself big, even though I wasn't. I was paranoid of sitting on chairs, let alone a bf who would try to carry me or pull me onto their lap to sit. I think it just takes some time for us all to get used to our new bodies :)

Trevor said...

Awesome blog, great post! Thanks for keeping it real.

You've done very well in your program.

Hopefully you can check out my blog too on weight loss. I am losing 100 pounds. So far, 35%.

Best to you!

Anonymous said...

I think most chairs are meant to hold more than 200 lbs now, because look around you, how many people weigh that much and more, and the percentage of chairs breaking does not fit with those numbers. As for the "fat" comments, my eyes were opened wide when the online news sites came about, any article about fat people, especially flying in an airplane, and the comments are just about as vicious as you could imagine. That showed me that when people can post anonymously they let their true feelings out. But I'm sure you got that lesson by talking about being overweight in this blog ...

PaulaM

Anonymous said...

I've never broken a chair but I have had people break mine. I wasn't pleased but I didn't make a big deal of it either because the person was a guest in my home. The person didn't offer to replace or repair my chair though and that sort of rankled. I'm not sure on this one really-- do you go to the expense of having heavyduty chairs just in case someone heavy comes over? Is it the responsibility of the homeowner to foresee such an eventuality? Certainly it was not hard to see that sitting in an antique chair was going to be an issue and it never really fixed up properly. Nor should the inviter feel that they shouldn't invite someone over based on girth-- that's not nice either.In this case the breaker was a guest of a guest.

In the end I didn't invite the person back,not because he broke the chair but because he didn't offer to make it good. It was embarrassing for everyone but if you break something you offer to make it good.

Barb

clickmom said...

I broke the toilet seat at the dentist's office once. It was totally humiliating.

Anonymous said...

This subject just came up last weekend when we were having a party at my mom's house. There was one man that was coming that is morbidly obese and my mom was wondering about a certain chair she has and if she should put it away or leave it out. It is the most comfortable chair around, but it was really expensive and we were worried about it possibly breaking under his weight. We decided to put it away. Then we discussed some of her other patio chairs and what if he sat in one of them, and we decided that since they had arms on them he wouldn't try to sit in one because he wouldn't fit. He ended up sitting at a very old but very sturdy picnic table that has very thick benches. I felt bad for him because sitting at that table for several hours probably wasn't comfortable but there were no other chairs that he could fit into. Other nonobese people sat at the table with him so it's not like he was separated from everyone else, but we definitely thought about his situation. The other thing we thought about was how much food we needed. We were getting a count of how many people were coming and how much food we should make. Whenever he comes over we always figure several extra people in our calculations because he eats enough for two or three people in one sitting and we want to make sure we have enough food.

Dawn

globalmom said...

Ah, the chair issue and the fat comment filters...interesting. Since none of us really knows why folks are at high weights, it saddens me that people often assume it's due to a character flaw of some sort (thus the empowerment to make vicious comments about heavy people.) As for chairs, I view having sturdy ones as an accommodation for people who need them. You wouldn't make fun of someone needing a ramp for his wheelchair, right? If they were your friend or family member you'd still try to figure out how to accommodate them in your home if you could, right? Why wouldn't we extend the same courtesy to a heavy person? We really don't know why they're heavy, or whether they're somehow limited medically, emotionally, whatever, in their weight loss efforts. Honestly, their situation might be as fixed as the person's in the chair...just a thought.

Karla said...

I broke a chair years ago, funny though it wasn't my turning poin. It was one of the most hummiliating experiences of my life I must say,

Mrs. Thighs said...

Wow, I've actually never broken a chair, but now I'm going to worry about it, LOL. I try to sit carefully and not clomp down on things. But when I was young, an obese friend did break one of my parents' antique dining room chairs during one of my birthday parties. We kids all laughed, but looking back, I feel badly. All of my furniture now is IKEA so nothing is too valuable!

Polar's Mom said...

Just imagine that you regain that weight-then ask yourself that question again...I have a feeling you would want someone to be compassionate to you again, so in turn you should be compassionate ala The Golden Rule. Plus, karma is a bitch.

Polar's Mom
www.polarspage.blogspot.com

only a number said...

I was worried once about my favorite set of chairs because my brother was sitting in them. He is 350 + and I just knew it wasn't going to work. After that time, I always made sure there was something in the chairs to deter him from sitting there. I didn't want to take a chance.

On the other side of the issue, my mother made a porch swing fall and fell through the boards of the front porch when I was little. She was absolutely mortified. I really want to keep anyone from feeling that way.

screwdestiny said...

Yeah...I used to have a roommate who weighed about 450 pounds and he broke a lot of stuff. Didn't actually crack the toilet seat, but broke the part where it connects to the base. Broke my ex's chair that he would sit in while playing video games all the time. It was a banana style chair and after about a month of him sitting in it the back was falling off. Completely broke down my love seat... It's frustrated me quite a bit. I guess I would be more understanding if it was a guest I invited into my home just once, but he was living with me, and he should have bought stuff that could handle his weight instead of breaking ours down.

Hope said...

Hmm, this post definitely made me think! While obviously, I wouldn't want any of my furniture broken (and nothing I have is antique or sentimental in any way) I can see both sides. I've been the girl that has sat in things that creeeeeek and squeeeek as I sit down, (I don't remember ever breaking anything) but I remember the looks that people gave me when the furniture I sat on squeeked as much as it did.

So, if I were in that situation, I would make a point not to worry/show it on my face if someone larger sat in my furniture. And if they did break it, I would do my best to console them, and make them feel comfortable again, just because I can imagine the embarassment.

Michelle said...

I was with you for most of the post until this line, “It's a really strange place to be, for me. I always maintain compassion for the person first and foremost. I want to be welcoming and nonjudgmental. But I also want my furniture, toilet seats, and lawn chairs to stay in one piece.” I have never been chair-breaking weight but I have several relatives who are and I have to agree with other people here who have commented to say, it’s just stuff. I would much rather have the precious time with the person, a person that I have welcomed into my home, than worry about them breaking come crappy plastic lawn chair. When you said, “I can't afford to keep buying stuff to replace what is broken.” You make it sound as if you have a constant parade of fat people coming into your house and breaking your stuff, which I doubt. Also, you were close to 300-lbs for several years…were you constantly replacing stuff in your house due to breaking them? No. You said that you have ever only broken one chair (which was a beach chair at that, not real furniture) so I am not sure where your fear is coming from. Maybe it’s something deeper? Like when people lose a lot of weight and then start being hypercritical of others who haven’t lost the weight because they are reminded of their own shame and struggles with weight loss? Anyways, I am sure you will reflect deeper on it and thanks for being honest as always with what you are feeling.

Lyn said...

Michelle~

I agree it is "just stuff" but it is basic stuff that I need in my home. When someone broke my office chair, I simply did not have one for weeks. It is not that the chairs are more important than the people, it is that when things get broken, I have to take my time and money to fix them. Not "crappy plastic lawn chairs" but solid oak furniture and leather chairs that there is no way I can afford to replace. Are they more important than the person? Of course not, which is why I have never said a word to a person who broke something, and still have them over.

And yes, actually, I have morbidly obese people in my home frequently. And it IS a dilemma, as you can see in the comments, that many people think about. So-and-so is coming over... how can I ensure that they sit only on the furniture that will hold them? And when I weighed 278 pounds, I pretty much sat on the couch all the time. There IS furniture here that will hold heavy folks, but directing them to *only that* furniture would be awkward.

Anonymous said...

I wear a size 20 myself so I am no flyweight, but I have a friend that probably weighs at least 400 pounds. I drive an Escort with two doors, and he has asked me a to give him a ride. It was awkward for both of us---his knees are so bad that he can barely get in and out of my car, and he hangs over the seat so much that his thigh is in the way of the gear shift lever. When he got out of the car, the springs in the seat make threatening creaks and pops, and the whole car rocked. I think that embarassed him enough that he never asked me to give him a ride in my little car again. I felt bad for him because I am heavy myself, but to be honest, I hope he rides the city bus or calls a cab when he needs a ride again. He has been heavy for years, and he should have known what riding in my little car was going to be like for him.

Theresa said...

I am conflicted by this post and the comments. It is a reality. It is so sad. I have furniture that would hold a very heavy person. I know when I was at my heaviest I would scan the room and CHOOSE the best chair. My Weight would keep me from attending events that I didn't know if I could be accomodated. :(

bbubblyb said...

You know my best friend actually bought the furniture in her house with me and my husband in mind several years back. Furniture was always a dread for me. I can't say I ever gave thought to my own furniture with other people but then I have never bought a piece of furniture in my own house that wouldn't hold up to 350+ lbs either. It has always been something on my radar. It's a terrible thing to have to give thought to but it's reality for an obese person. My mom was always good at embarrassing me though, she has 2 chair lifts and would always tell me "you can't sit in those" and she would tell me EVERY time I visited like I didn't know it the first time. But still I worry for other people. Not pleasant memories for me.

Lissa said...

Full disclosure: I have never been obese; if this comment lacks sympathy, I apologize.

I empathize greatly with overweight folks who have to be so careful with how they move and sit. But I can't understand someone who wouldn't offer to replace a thing s/he broke. Isn't that just good etiquette? I don't mean a wine glass or a plate or something small, but a significantly costly item. If you had a brand-new white couch and I dropped a glass of red wine onto it, wouldn't it be up to me to pay for cleaning it? If my [hypothetical] kid ripped apart your beautiful easy chair with a pair of scissors or puked all over your new Persian rug, wouldn't you expect me to offer to replace it?

Again, if this lacks sympathy, I apologize. I just am not sure why breaking things because of weight is different from breaking things in any other way. I wouldn't get mad if it happened to my stuff, but I'd think it rude if the guest didn't offer to fix it.

I'm sure there are those who think I'm just *not getting it*.

Just Me said...

Lissa, I don't think your comment lacks sympathy. I would definitely pay for something that I broke as well.

Lyn said...

I have to agree with the comments about being responsible for what you break, even if it is an accident.

If your neighbor's kids were playing ball in their yard and accidentally hit a ball through your window, I doubt you'd shug and say "it's just stuff." In fact my own dear sons have broken their share of things in others' homes as well as in our home by accident, and I do expect them to replace it (as much as they can, as children... do little jobs to work it off or whatever) AND to be more careful in the future. That does not make me love them any less or make the 'stuff' more important than they are.

Leaving Fatville said...

Oh wow. This is truly one of my worst fears. Breaking chairs, toilet seats, whatever. My own, other people's... it doesn't matter. I broke my own couch once by "flopping" down on it. My husband had to reinforce it with a metal plate to keep it together. I was mortified that it had happened, mortified that my husband saw just how fat I'd become. (To be fair, it was an IKEA couch, so it's perhaps a design fault.) I still constantly worry about it, even though I'm right at the weight limit for most furniture. I still have to double check weight limits on exercise equipment (how's that for irony) and make sure I'm not buying something that will break on me.

Salted with Shadows said...

Breaking a chair has always been one of my greatest fear. I have always sat on the floor whenever possible (and still do), on a booth or bench in a restaurant, etc. I've never actually broken a chair, but I think about it all the time. If I did, I would certainly offer to pay for it!

Fat Person Comment Filter

I have been wondering about this. I am in the process of losing a large amount of weight, but am still about a size 18. I heard tween/teen girls in the locker room having those classic discussions that age group has ("I feel fat! This shirt makes me look pregnant!") and I wondered if I crossed a threshold with my weight where it was safe to say that stuff within earshot of me again. I hadn't heard anything like that for a long time...

Anonymous said...

I have a problem at the moment with obese people and furniture, that’s how I came across this blog.

Here is the problem - I own and operate a holiday accommodation business.

For the last 5 years a group come at Easter who are huge, over the years the two women have got bigger and bigger. Every year they leave I expect it to be the last time they come, they are sicker and less mobile every year.

This year I came back from lunch and was told that one of them had an accident when the leg of one of my dining chairs bent when they say down.

I know how sensitive the obesity thing is, and it is almost impossible to mention weight around a very fat person. So, even when they mentioned my public liability insurance, I laughed it off.

They were clearly annoyed, one mumbled under her breath something about furniture not being made properly these days, the broken chair was about 30 years old.

At no time did they apologise to me, they took no responsibly for the problem, in their mind it was my fault.

The dinning set was due for replacement as part of renovations I am doing, not because there was anything wrong with it, just that it was old-fashioned and would not fit it with the more modern look I am working towards.

After they left I also realised the back of one of the couches was lose. This is not due for replacement, I have put it hard against a wall to support the wonky back.

They booked in for next year in a unit I have just spent $20k on renovating.

The fact is I don't want them back, I can easily let the unit to another group without the worry of damage to my unit.

One of the group fell in her shower at home a few years ago, she was so heavy the ambos couldn't move her so the fire brigade had to come. She broke her ankle and was in hospital for weeks. If she hadn't been so fat she probably wouldn't have fallen (balance is badly affected by so much weight) and wouldn't have been in hospital for weeks. If someone their size has an accident in my new shower they could do a lot of damage and cost me a lot of money.

I wish now I had said something at the time, but it was awkward.

Now I have had time to think about it I have sent an e-mail asking about the accident and what they feel the problem was - I was hoping they would admit their weight is the problem, that would leave the way open for me to say my furniture is not safe for them and cancel their booking.

Anyway, as I expected, the e-mail has been ignored.

I am planning to follow it up with another e-mail asking for feedback.

Of course it’s unfortunate to see people in such a back condition but is it my problem?

I have to make a living. It comes as no surprise to me to read that most of you have never considered the other persons point of view, it’s all about you.

There are a lot of double standards with fat people e.g. your weight is none of my business - then in the next breath I am expected to accommodate their special needs at my expense.

From what I had read here I assume special needs furniture is more readily available in the US that it is here. I did some research and could only find one ‘nursing home’ type chair that is rated to 200kgs, even if I could afford the very high additional cost, it was not suitable for my property.

My research tells me that good quality regular furniture here is rated to 125kgs, I would guess these women weigh $150kg. As some of you have mentioned, the weight problem is added to by the way many fat people flop down onto furniture rather than lower themselves properly.

It’s your choice and your business, but who pays, if it’s me, either as an individual or a tax payer, then it’s my business.

The bottom line is you have to get real about the problems you are causing yourselves, your families and wider society and lose weight.

Anonymous said...

How do I feel? My son's head injured and we have an aide that comes every week-end to help take care of him. I have an Ethan Allen wooden kitchen set and I have heart failure every time she comes to my house. I've tried replacing the chair she sits in with a folding chair but she by passes it every time and goes for my wooden Etthan Allen one. I think that's pretty nervy of her. She'd have to be an idiot to not know that I don't want her sitting on my wooden furniture but she obviously doesn't care. I'm so afraid she's going to break it but I don't know how to tell her not to sit on my chairs.

Anonymous said...

I'm overweight at 5'5" and 168 pounds, I am however 22 pounds less than I used to be and continuing to move towards a healthier me. So I would like to day that I have sooner compassion for those who are heavier. It does infuriate me though when someone who is morbidly obese comes over and plants themselves on my furniture, not bothering to even move until they get up to leave. I have had two couches broken this way. I wouldn't want someone to get injured, but I feel for my poor furniture & my wallet!

grammy said...

i happen to stumble on this site by error searching for furniture for obese people. i was amazed to hear how so many people feel as i do.. my daughters boyfriend is a size 6x and has come into my home and broken so many things due to his weight. i never tried to look at him as a big guy, but now it is putting a wedge between us. when i tried to speak to my daughter about it we get into an unpleasant arguement.. i do not want to hurt anyones feelings but i feel like my feelings are being over looked.. i have replaced living room set, kitchen set, two hand railings because he pulled them from the wall. he has not apoligized nor showed any concerns in how he flops down on anything.. i truly cringe. now i am lost for words and no longer know how to approach the situation..it makes me feel he doesn't respect our home enough to show consideration for our things that is becoming very costly to replace ,once twice accident may be forgiven but on going is just unexceptable

Anonymous said...

I found this site when I was doing a search on how much weight chairs will hold. I just bought new dining room chairs and I have a new roommate that weights over 350 lbs. I noticed when he sat in the chairs he was sitting on part of the back of the chairs so I was worried he would break them or the new bed I just bought in my guestroom that has slates. I do not know if it is built for that much weight. I have noticed that he chair he has been sitting in for the past month since he has been living here is going flatter in the cushion. I feel bad that he is so big and I do look at him like he is handicapped but on the other hand who will be responsible if the new furniture breaks?

Anonymous said...

Stumbled onto this site looking for...you guessed it...furniture for overweight people. In this case, me. I live in the US. Does anyone have any idea how HARD it is to find sturdy *anything* anymore? Almost impossible. Right now I sit in an old wood&metal folding chair--as in really old, so it's made very well. The reason I rescued it from the neighbor's trash and scrubbed all the nasty black marker words off of it. I am overweight, yes, about 350 now. Early fat cells are horrific to reduce as compared to later-in-life earned fat cells. Never-the-less, my main problem is finding chairs to hold my weight AND width. I have extra wide hips. Even when I was a thin teen @ 128lbs I was a size 16 simply because of my hips.

So, I basically don't go anywhere because I can't fit in a chair anymore unless it is arm-less and even then I give it a little shake to see how sturdy it is before sitting slowly and gingerly. Really, I was somewhat o.k. until I took some hormones that added the extra 80lbs. It is no fun on my side of the fence and various things I have tried do not work. Many do think the fatness of a person reflects somehow that they are too stupid to do something. Or that you are the office "Mikey" if they can't get rid of that last piece of cake. Or everyone looks at how much food you get as if you shouldn't be eating at all. That hurts! Like the time I was put into the bulwark seat on the plane knowingly by the reservationist after asking for the wider seats (the arm in the middle does not pull up and there is a steel plate dividing the seats on both sides; so I had to sit sideways without a seatbelt. If I broke something I of course would want to help compensate in some manner. I miss the movies, the theater and travel.

My weight is my problem. I just don't need snide remarks adding to the emotional issue it already is. Unvaringly it is always from people who have never had to deal with the fact you have to be careful which way you move your foot, your knee your arm doing this or that movement to avoid risking injury. If they had to carry a 250lb backpack all day, and sleep with it on all night for years there would be more compassion instead.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm more blunt than most people. If you break my stuff, I expect you to pay for it. I would expect the same thing if a blind person knocked over something in my home.

And I would check into the cost of getting your furniture reinforced if having morbidly obese people in your home is a normal, every day occurrence.

Daniel said...

I had some friends over my parents house last night. One of them was quite large. He and his fiance sat on the one of my parents electric recliner chairs. I tested it this morning to see if it suffered any damage and the heavy duty metal reclining mechanism with the motor is now all bent out of shape and not able to function properly. The annoying part...they weren't mine...still fairly new and cost $1400 on special.... Do you tell them so they don't damage other peoples furniture? I would think it would be polite if they where responsible and not had two people (One of them quite overweight, the other probably just a bit overweight) sitting on a single recliner chair not meant for large people...

What are your thoughts?

Lyn said...

Daniel~

Wow, that is an expensive accident. I don't know how I would handle it. I think if you mention it in any way, they will feel horrible and feel obligated to offer to pay for it. If that is not the outcome you want, then it may be best to not say anything. Or, perhaps a very gently worded note (not face to face, so as not to embarrass further). I always tell my kids when they have friends over, if they have a special or fragile toy they do want want broken, put it away out of sight before the people come. Hard to do with furniture but you could stack quilts or books on a fragile chair, or be sure someone light in your family is sitting in it when the heavy guests arrive. There's no easy answer...

Anom said...

Wouldn't the solution for an obese person be to bring their own chair and volunteer to use it--rather than have the host cringe? There are many comfortable folding types available, and it would eliminate embarrassment should the host's furniture be damaged by excess weight.

Anom

JourneyWriter said...

today i broke my first chair. in someone elses home. just the arm of it. now i know i need help. i am so embarrassed. i am 21. i am so ashamed. i dont know how im going to do this.

Bailey Vails said...

So, I need advice. I am obese too for my age and weight, so I don't want anyone to think I am judging. I weigh 220, and I have some deck chairs that are only meant to hold someone 225. My roommate weighs about 275 and keeps sitting in the chairs. They were pretty expensive, so I am worried about them breaking. The hinges are already breaking down and getting flimsy and it has only been a few weeks. I don't want to hurt anyones feelings, and I really like her. I don't want her to think I am judging her, or being mean, but I just don't want the chairs breaking. What should I do?

caracol victoria said...

I just broke a chair at work, just right now. I am in shock!!!! This has never happened to me before but this is the heaviest I have ever been. I don't know what to think or how to feel. I am embarrassed and just want to run home and hide under my blankets and cry. I will fine though, but this is a reality check.

Heather Roberts said...

Have you ever found any furniture made for larger people? My husband's uncle has broken numerous pieces of our furniture, the last being a brand new chair. He was the first and last person to sit in it, as the legs gave way underneath him. I do feel bad for him, but as others have said, the most frustrating part is that he never apologizes or offers to replace it (though he could easily afford to do so). We cannot afford two keep replacing what he continues to break. We really need a special chair that he always in every time he visits, but I cannot find anything labeled for over 250 pounds. Have you ever seen anything affordable?

Anonymous said...

When my wife and I were both over 400 pounds, I was closer to 500. We were at a friends house. and broke the couch.That was an wake up.. Thinking we were almost 1000 pounds..

Anonymous said...

Interesting post!

I'd say I'm fortunate enough not to have to encounter such a problem for the most part. But then, at 5'8" and about 140 lbs, maybe I'm the odd one out, LOL.

I've also noticed that many chairs have a weight limit of 250 lbs. Since the average North American person weighs about 180 lbs or so (if I haven't mistaken), mass-producing chairs to withstand 400 lbs wouldn't be as cost-effective as that of 250 lbs, which tends to accommodate much of the typical populace.

From what I've read, a general guideline for girls is: using a baseline of 5' and 100 lbs, for every 1" deviation, add or subtract 5 lbs. For example, if you're 5'3" tall, then the guideline would be 115 lbs. This guideline puts the BMI at 21-22 (not underweight, but slim and healthy). With this, cuter clothes, more selection, and most importantly, fewer broken chairs! YAY!

Anonymous said...

Sat in a folding aluminum lawn chair at a lake camp. A minute later, it collapsed in front of everyone, leaving me flat on my back looking up at the sky! Yeah, it was pretty embarrassing alright! At 6' 3", 343 lb., that was the last straw... so I used some 3/4" rigid steel electrical conduit and 3/8" stainless steel bolts(for the frame), and some 2,800 lb. capacity towing straps... the kind tow trucks snatch vehicles out of ditches with (for the webbing), and made myself a new folding lawn chair. Although I haven't tested it's weight carrying limit, I imagine it would support about 1500 to 2000 lbs. before collapsing, probably MUCH more! Of course, it weighs about 70 lbs, but I don't care... I know it will never fail me! P.S. I've been dieting and am now down to 294 from 343, so I'm feeling pretty good about that. I'll try to get down to about 200 to 220, if I can.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one here who is proud of breaking furniture? I'm an athlete (American football) from a long line of big, strong ancestors, and nothing makes me more proud of my hard work in the weight room than snapping some flimsy ass yard furniture.

Anonymous said...

Someone said that another blogger acted as if they had overweight people over frequently and most don't: essentially why are you worrying. I have had 4 of my 8 dining room chairs broken by 4 different overweight people. Two leaned back; two twisted oddly. It's a problem. We were in a very - literally poor financial place because of an illness - 4 years before we could repair 2 of those.

Two people offered to pay. Then comes the predicament of asking your friends for money. I think that if you break something you should check back and see what it will cost your friend/host to repair. If they wave you off a second time, you've done your best. However, I personally would give a friend some cash to repair something because they might not cash my check. If my child broke it, I should pay. If I break it, I should pay.

James T. said...

It's one thing to be a few pounds overweight, but if it comes to the point where you're breaking chairs because of the sheer amount of body fat you're carrying on you, then I think there are bigger issues to deal with.

I'll play the devil's advocate here, but most chairs and furniture are designed and built for people with normal body weights. A person who weighs 250 pounds is very heavy indeed, and the BMI would be out of whack unless they're athletes. A weight limit of 300 pounds is plenty to work with, and 350 pounds would be effectively foolproof with vastly more room for error than the general population would ever need. You would have to jump onto it to break it.

It pains me to see how some people think it's the manufacturer's fault that chairs are breaking under excessively fat people. It's not. Manufacturers are not goning to band together across the board to raise the weight limits of their furniture, just so a small proportion of the population could be satisfied, and have them cost more in raw materials and labor to produce. The fault is on the user and it is unacceptable. Obesity puts a massive strain on the body and any competent doctor would warn about its risks of an early grave. It is a serious issue and must be addressed.