Many guys who have been in long-term relationships will, sooner or later, find themselves staring down the barrel of the following question:
Do these pants make my butt look fat?
According to male comedians, this is a very stressful problem. You’re not sure how to answer this question without either lying or starting a fight. It may even feel like a huge, manipulative bid for forced compliments and you’re not sure how to handle being put in this position.
Well, I’m here to help.
You see, I think what we have here is a male/female communication problem. For whatever reason, men tend to speak directly whereas women deal in subtleties. While you think it’s a loaded question, we’re not actually trying to set you up.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t wrong answers. Here are a few examples, followed by our likely emotional response:
Do these pants make my butt look fat?
1- “No, that bowl of ice cream you scarf down every night makes you look fat.”
(You bastard, calling me fat! What about you cramming down cheeseburgers while you sit on your farty butt playing Call of Duty all day!? How DARE you judge ME? Stupid photoshopped magazine women…)
2- You get all nervous and scared before saying, “Umm… no, umm… you look fine.”
(He didn’t even look! Why is he so freaked out? He obviously thinks I’m a hideous whale and now he’s LYING to me about it. He’s probably lying about EVERYTHING ELSE TOO.)
3- Without even looking, you say “I don’t know. Whatever. I don’t know anything about fashion.”
(This is obviously important to me, yet he can’t take 30 seconds out of his day to give me his honest opinion. Just like how he doesn’t care about what color we paint the living room. He’s not invested in me or our relationship.)
Okay, so this seems like a trap. No matter whether you say yes, no, or I don’t care, you’re still bound to be wrong.
But here’s the thing: women who ask this question don’t actually want you to evaluate their figure.
See, women’s fashion is infinitely complicated. We’re always trying to strike a delicate balance between looking like we just stepped off a Mormon compound or looking like we charge by the hour.
We want to wear clothes that are flattering, but may not be sure whether we can pull an outfit off, so we want a second opinion. We don’t want to walk outside looking terrible, but also don’t want to be insulted. So…
We don’t ask:
Am I fat?
Do these pants make me look fat?
The difference is subtle, yet important. We’re giving you a pants parachute. We’re saying, “Go ahead and tell me if I shouldn’t wear this, but definitely blame it on the pants.”
To illustrate, I’d like to share an example of someone answering this question perfectly. Granted, it was a girl, which meant she held a huge advantage in navigating female psychology.
I was attending college in Los Angeles at the time, getting ready for a party. I had put on a silver-sequined skirt and kept studying myself in the mirror, unsure of whether or not it was working for me.
So, I decided to ask my roommate Ellen what she thought…
Me: Ellen, could you please come over here a minute and give me your opinion? I want to wear this skirt to Sara’s party but I’m not sure if it looks good on me or not. What do you think?
Ellen gets a real serious look on her face before walking around me in a circle, carefully evaluating every angle of the skirt.
Ellen: Hmm. Okay, you know what? I HATE that skirt!
Me: Umm.. okay.
Ellen: Because that skirt is doing HORRIBLE things to you. It’s making it look like you have a BIG SQUARE ASS, but you definitely DO NOT HAVE a big square ass, so I’m not sure how it’s doing it.
She walks around me a couple more times.
Ellen (looking angry): You know what? Take off that skirt and give it to me right now!
I take it off, wondering what’s she’s planning on doing next.
Ellen grabs the skirt, marches over to the trash can and chucks it inside. Slamming down the lid, she says, “I NEVER WANT TO SEE THAT SKIRT AGAIN. That skirt was INSULTING YOU. It was taking your nice figure and making it LOOK LIKE ABSOLUTE CRAP.”
And then she stomped off, leaving me giggling while looking for something more flattering to wear.
Now, you see how she did that? She let me know I looked horrible in that skirt and should never, ever wear it out in public, without hurting my feelings one bit. Because she blamed it all on the skirt.
That’s the trick. I hope this helps.
One note of caution, however: I don’t recommend throwing away your significant other’s clothes. This was a bold (though highly entertaining) move that would be too risky for most guys to attempt.