Weighty Bean Dipping

by admin on May 11, 2011

For some reason, it seems like as my relatives age they feel entitled to say whatever pops into their mind. Is it just my family or is this universal?

I was visiting an uncle after not seeing him for a year or so. I guess I was no longer the petite little girl he had in his memory, because after greeting me with a hug, he said: “Well you’ve gained weight, now haven’t you?” Then he stood there just waiting for a response! Shocked, I kind of murmered that yes, I guess I have. Here, I thought his wife (my aunt) would chime in and tell him to shut up, but instead she asked for details as to WHY I gained weight.

I’m actually very comfortable with my weight which is well within the normal range, and this gave me something to laugh about with my sisters later on. Together, we came up with a few rebuttles, my favorite being, “I’ve gotten fat, you’ve gotten old, I guess we’re all caught up. See ya in a year.” 0502-11

I’m convinced that people say stupid things because of a belief that they must say something in order to fill an awkward void with whatever flotsam and jetsam  happens to float to the top of their “next on my mental list of something to say”.     Don’t validate stupidity with a response.  Merely ignore it as if it was never said and move on to the next topic of conversation with a clever bean dip maneuver.  And retaliating with deliberate but equal stupidity is not a clever bean dip maneuver.

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Moonie May 11, 2011 at 9:11 am

Wow, the OP got off lucky. There was a woman I had worked pretty closely with. She retired, and popped into the office for a visit about a year later. I had gained a significant amount of weight during that time. Her first words upon seeing me were not, “Hi, how have you been?” but “Oh my God!!! You’re as big as a horse!!!”. Um……yeah, thanks.

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beckstar May 11, 2011 at 9:38 am

In my experience, relatives, especially elderly ones and more especially ones who see you infrequently have an obsession with size and weight. ‘My, haven’t you grown!?’ becomes tedious after the age of 12 but relatives still continue to say it well into your 30s…

(As an aside, I have an aunt who, even now, tells me how much I look like my photographs!)

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Butterfly May 11, 2011 at 9:57 am

This is why every family needs some sort of pet – I always defer questions about my weight with comments about how sweetly the dog is behaving or something.

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Abbie May 11, 2011 at 10:22 am

If the situation is such that I find I must respond to some one’s pointless comment, I have found “Thank you for calling that to my attention” very useful. I make sure not to say it sarcastically, but nicely. I may mean it smarty style in my mind! And usually, if said kindly in response to someone crassly saying “oh you’ve gotten big”etc, the speaker can get the hint without the insulted having to blow the situation up. I love this phrase as much as I love “I’m sorry, (come on, say it with me now!!!!!!) I can not accomodate your request at this time.” (Procrastinating clients this last tax season demanding April 14th last minute appointments….”I’m so sorry, I can not accomodate your request for an appointment at this time, but I can file an extension for you at no charge”…client proceeds to scream about horrible my boss is for not having last minute appointments held especially for them and that I am an idiot for not having space for them at the very last minute…”I’m sorry you are unhappy with our scheduling policy, Thank you for calling that to my attention and I will be sure to let the owner know you feel this way.” )

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Ashley May 11, 2011 at 10:47 am

I don’t understand why people feel the need to make comments about people’s weights, in either direction. I am well within a healthy weight range, but due to my height and how my weight is distributed, I often look like I weigh MUCH less than I actually do. I weigh 145, but the average person guesses I weigh about 120. I have even had doctors make me get weighed on two different scales because when the first one displays my weight they have remarked that the scale must be broken and they shuffle me over to another one. I have been told to eat sandwiches because I look anorexic (which I am FAR from), and I cannot go through one family event without someone pinching my arm and saying “You need some meat on your bones”… It is irritating, makes me feel unhealthy, and unfortunately I can think of a few instances where I have made rude remarks in return.

I wish some people would realize that accusing others of being too skinny is just as hurtful as accusing someone of being too fat.

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nannerdoman May 11, 2011 at 10:47 am

Whenever someone says to me, “Have you gained weight?”, I answer, “No, actually I’ve lost some”–whether I have or not. It’s not impolite, and stops the inquisition in its tracks.

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DGS May 11, 2011 at 11:12 am

I disagree with Admin just slightly – I think that some people say stupid things to fill an awkward void, while other people say mean things specifically to be mean or out of a misguided belief that them pointing out the obvious (hey, you gained weight/lost all your hair/turned purple with pink polka dots) will somehow motivate you to lose weight/regain hair/return to your natural skin color. I do agree, however, that merely ignoring that kind of ridiculousness is sufficient.

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Laura May 11, 2011 at 11:24 am

Some people just don’t know how rude they actually are. When I was pregnant with my last child, after months and months of fertility treatments, a co-worker called me on the phone, not to say congratulations, but to ask, “How much weight have you gained?”

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Another Laura May 11, 2011 at 11:28 am

It’s my belief that as some people age, the filter between brain and mouth begins to deteriorate. I do know some elderly people that this doesn’t apply to however.

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Justine May 11, 2011 at 11:33 am

Happened to my sweet sister-in-law. She gained weight from female problems and the different meds her doctors had been trying to help her balance things out. Turning 50, body changes, etc. Other females understood but 82 year old uncle had to comment and laugh. We all walked away and chose to ignore him.

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Jayne May 11, 2011 at 11:40 am

I would also just bean dip. Especially since OP’s weight is in the normal range and she is comfortable with it, perhaps uncle actually meant it as a compliment. Especially since he seemed to wait for a response.

Maybe uncle thought OP was too skinny before and that now OP was “filling out nicely”, as my grandpa would have said. Aunt might have thought this was too personal and wanted to focus on diet, not shape. But keep in mind that not everyone automatically assumes that thinner is better. When I was young, I was really skinny – I only got compliments from the family when I put on some weight. (Wish I had that same problem now!)

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Leslie Holman-Anderson May 11, 2011 at 12:04 pm

@ nannerdoman: Genius! As someone who _is_ noticeably overweight, I will use it and confound them!

But I do think, Dear Admin, that sometimes a firm response can be the way to go. When my mother came over, years ago, to help me sew my wedding dress, the first words out of her mouth, as usual, were to criticize my weight — and right then I hadn’t in fact gained an ounce. And instead of cringing as I’d always done I told her “Mother, you have been on me about my weight my entire life, I’m a grown woman and I never want to hear a word about it again.” She looked stunned, said she had no idea I felt that way, and to her dying day never said another word about my weight even when I did start gaining.

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Sarah Jane May 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Gained weight, lost weight, etc…why do people concern themselves about this with regard to others???

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Shalamar May 11, 2011 at 12:36 pm

I agree with Jayne – maybe the uncle thought he was actually paying the OP a compliment. My dad once told 16-year-old me approvingly that I had put on a few pounds, and that it “looked good” on me. Considering that I was fairly plump at the time, I did NOT take this well – in fact, I burst into tears while my poor bewildered dad wondered what he’d done this time.

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AS May 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Where I come from, it is not considered too rude to comment about weight (maybe because people are not too weight conscious there). So, I am kind of immune to them telling me I have either put on or put down weight, especially as I know they don’t mean badly. It is a bit annoying, and sometimes hurtful, if someone is telling to criticize you.

I never used to comment about weight because that isn’t usually the first thing I notice. My usual void filler is weather, which is more neutral. The funny thing is that most of my relatives comment about weight only if people are within the normal range, maybe because they don’t want to hurt someone who probably has a problem!

@beckstar – I too think “My! Haven’t you grown” comment is too tiring sometimes. I mean, usually people grow in size and age, don’t they? Or have the relatives been mysteriously losing some age since we last saw them?

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Stepmomster May 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I have an identical Twin… for some reason this entitles people to do a cross comparison between us like a science fair project, everything from the slant of our eyes to the droop of my bottom. Unfortunately, 2 kids later I have had numerous relatives refer to me as the “heavy twin”, although as we age my sister is catching up.

recently, I was amused at a family gathering to hear an Aunt go “The heavy one, you know” and a lengthy pause… then the other Aunt go “The heavy brunette or the heavy redhead?”

Time, apparently, is not on our side, but at least I have never referred to my Aunt as “You know, the Harpy”

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bansidhe May 11, 2011 at 1:25 pm

@ Ashley: I’m in the same boat as you are and the comments get really old really quickly. At the moment I’ve gained five pounds and am trying to lose it without saying one word to anyone because I do not want to hear an endless chorus of “But you’re already skinny!” :/

As to the OP’s experience, I agree with other posters that Uncle may not have intended the comment to be an insult. Perhaps he grew up in an era in which fuller figures were viewed as being more attractive. Regardless, ignoring it is probably the best move. Got to admit that I love the “I’ve gotten fat, you’ve gotten old” rebuttal even if I’d never actually say it.

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boxy May 11, 2011 at 1:26 pm

I don’t get why people think it’s okay to point out you’re overweight. It’s just not okay, ever.

One time after I had lost quite a bit of weight father, who gives unsolicited comments on people’s weight, was passing me in a hallway and remarked that I should stand still so he could “squeeezzzzeeeee” by. I instantly, and rudely, responded, “I may still be fat but you’re older.” I deeply regret saying that because it hurt his feelings. The upside is that he has never commented on my weight again.

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Carotte May 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I also agree with Jayne, in some cultures/country/families the ‘issue’ of weight is not a problem and you’re seen as better off ( healthy and wealthy) when you have a bit of meat on your bones.

I used to be just under 100 pound until a year ago ( I’m 22 y/o and 5.4 f if I’m not mistaken in the kg/cm – pound/feet crossover) and I’m now a bit above 120 ( it’s still considered borderline-underweight) but I look healthier and I don’t take offence when people I haven’t seen in a while comment on it.
I never thought I looked ill but it turns out a few people had asked my mom/brother if I wasn’t anorexic. I never was, but had I had actually been anorexic I might have liked someone noticing and asking me if I was ok/needed help. And I could see why the same persons would be glad/relieved to see me a bit heavier.
So yes, it can be a major faux-pas if you’re not close to the person but it’s not always black or white.

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Xtina May 11, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I agree, I don’t know why some people can’t keep their comments to themselves. Weight is a sensitive issue whether you are heavy or thin. I had an uncle who, for years, would always tell me how “pretty” I would be if I just lost some weight–and in his words, how I’d have to “beat the boys off with a stick” if I were thinner–even thought I think he probably meant well, those were cruel words to a teenager struggling to fit in (for the record, I have always been slightly overweight, but certainly not to the point that such a comment was called for, and my insecurity stemmed from my shyness, not my weight).

Likewise, my best friend is (naturally) skinny as a rail, and she has to endure nasty comments from people all the time about how she must be “sick” or “starving herself” or that she’s generally depraved for “trying to look that way”.

I think a lot of times, people purposely make catty comments like that because they are jealous or insecure about themselves. Best to ignore them, or call people out on them right away, as some other posters have mentioned.

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LovleAnjel May 11, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I have a MIL who keeps asking me if I’ve lost weight every time we visit (especially hilarious since I’ve mostly been gaining over the years). I usually say, “Oh, I haven’t noticed, but thanks.” If someone were to be crass enough to say I had gained weight, I would probably say something similar. “Really, you think so? How odd that I haven’t noticed that.”

My husband has an aunt that, almost without fail, will say “Like the wife’s cooking, don’t you!”while looking at his gut. It really got his goat when he was trying to lose weight, but he has learned to just say “She’s a very good cook, yes” and walk away.

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Orwellian May 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I think the filter does deteriorate as people grow older. My grandmother is a good example of that. She’s never had an unexpressed opinion but it’s getting more and more pronounced and petty. She and I were watching my nephew play on Mothers’ Day. Him mom gave him a buzz cut- he’s 2 1/2 and it looks cute on him and is less maintenance. Grandma grabbed my hair (a whopping 1 1/4 inch long and neatly combed) and asked if I didn’t think I should get the same haircut because I’d look nicer. After she saw I was shocked and offended, she told me my hair looks nice and left the room.

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Wink-n-Smile May 11, 2011 at 3:00 pm

What’s a cleaver bean dip maneuver?

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K May 11, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Best of all, after making a rude comment about your weight, they’ll TOTALLY deny it when confronted and no other family member will ever believe such a sweet old lady would ever say anything like that.

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Aje May 11, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Oh my gosh, I could have written this story. When I was growing up my cousin and I were called ‘the string beans’ because we were both really thin. My cousin is a few years older than me… and remained very thin as she grew up. I however, while not being overweight, am not a stringbean, just a normal sized person…. who, btw runs 3 times a week and eats a good diet. My grandfather told me I was fat! My aunts overheard and immediately told him that he was wrong, I was beautiful… bless them. :)

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Chocobo May 11, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Hm, I don’t know. I feel that close family members afford us that level of comfort wherein the etiquette boundaries that would be normal for distant friends or strangers are less strict. It depends on how close you are to your family, I suppose. For my family, commenting on someone’s appearance is always a compliment (we are a negative-free environment), and usually is followed up by “it/you look good”.

It’s just one of those things that everyone has to deal with in their family, and personally I like it, even if etiquette-wise it’s not technically appropriate. I don’t want to treat my family, or be treated by them, like other guests; family is the one place where I can relax a little.

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Naomi May 11, 2011 at 3:07 pm

My parents live overseas, so my 2 sisters and I don’t see them as often as we’d all like. One of the last times I saw my mother (RIP) she exclaimed “You’ve gotten fat! I told all my friends my *thin* daughter was visiting!” It didn’t bother me too much, I had come to terms with being overweight and was very used to her criticism, plus my weight had fluctuated for years anyway. Later, she mentioned that one of my sisters (who was openly critical of my mother’s smoking) “ought to realize that she can’t just say whatever she wants to people” My husband said to me when we were alone “she’s got a lot of nerve complaining about that considering her comment to you!”

@Leslie Holman-Anderson, I’m really proud of you for standing up to your mother like that, especially after a lifetime of criticism.

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Wink-n-Smile May 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm

For all those who want to comment on another person’s weight because the change looks good on the person, please repeat after me. “You’re looking well.”

Was the person too skinny, in your opinion, and has now gained the right amount of weight, in all the right places? “You’re looking well.”

Was the person too fat, in your opinion, and has now lost the right amount of weight, in all the right places? “You’re looking well.”

Has the person changed their hairstyle, gotten a tattoo, and some face piercings? “You’re looking well.”

Does the person currently look ill, wounded, or otherwise really bad? “Oh, are you well?” said with an expression of actual concern and willingness to hear the answer, or “Look at you!” said with a smile, when you are glad to see them, but don’t want all the details of why they look the way they do.

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Teapot May 11, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Ah, well. You could have my family. Until I hit 40, I dreaded every wedding because I was sure to hear ‘”now when are you getting married?” After 40 it turned into ‘”so why didn’t you ever get married?”

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Nashvillegirl May 11, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Umm, I call that the filter malfunctioning. My granny started to say things like this in the last years of her life. She would say, Gee, you have gained weight, you need to get it off and I would think, yep, the filter has left the building.

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Sharon May 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm

@Sarah Jane… you said it girl. Bigger smaller why mention something that is such a provocative subject?

Religion, politics, salary, weight. Find something else to talk about. Even if you think your are complimenting that person. LEAVE IT ALONE.

Unless you just really do want to start something.

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KH May 11, 2011 at 7:38 pm

I had a similar situation, except this occurred during a visit to the bank. The tellers there are familiar with my boyfriends family, as it is where they do all their business and personal banking. I was collecting some money, and after a brief silence the teller looked at me and asked “So, when are you due?” Hoping that she had confused me with my boyfriends sister in law (who had a baby about a year prior), I simply said “Oh, I’m not pregnant.” To which she responded (while pointing at my stomach) “Oh, I thought that was a baby bump!” I had nothing to say, just shook my head, took the money and wished her a good day. Some people clearly don’t understand that if you have said something that makes someone uncomfortable, particularly about their appearance, don’t then go on to elaborate as to why you said anything in the first place!

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MERUNCC13 May 11, 2011 at 10:27 pm

I have the same problem with the in-laws (which I refer to as the outlaws!) about obsessing about weight gain. Thanks to Etiquette Hell, I have learned to bean-dip whereas before, I would interject my opinion and start a huge argument – I have also learned that they will not change and it is not my place to try to change that.

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Cat May 11, 2011 at 10:58 pm

I have to admit I like clever retorts that don’t sting. How about, “No, I haven’t gained any weight but I have started to shrink so it looks like I am heavier.” Wander off while they are pondering how that is possible.

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Kathleen May 11, 2011 at 11:07 pm

I had a similar problem with my grandfather. He was a good person, but he had the tendency to blurt out whatever he was thinking. I was very skinny and bony as a kid and had begun to put on some weight as a teenager. He commented on it, saying “Wow, you’re finally putting on some weight! You were too skinny before.”

I knew he didn’t mean it as an insult, but it still stung a bit so I said stiffly, “Well, that’s a nice thing to say,” and walked out of the room. My grandmother yelled at him after that and made him come apologize later. You don’t have to be harsh, but I do think you should call them out on their rudeness so they don’t repeat it with you or anyone else.

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The Other Amber May 11, 2011 at 11:28 pm

I also get the weight questions/comments from my “outlaws” and it drives me nuts. MIL will just come out and call me “fat”. Her sister, on the other hand, goes for the fake sincerity angle. The last time I was around the extended family the sister asked me if I had lost weight, and I said that no I hadn’t. So she asked if I didn’t feel good that she had asked if I had lost weight. Ah okay, so you weren’t asking because you actually thought I lost weight, but because you wanted me to think you were being nice to me. Right.

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ABF May 12, 2011 at 12:46 am

We’ve encountered a similar situation at church. My husband is somewhat of a picky eater, so potlucks can be interesting to attend. He will try to go quietly through the line and find something to eat. He tries to just blend in and make the most of it and not call attention to himself. There is a man at our church who always has to search out my husband to see what he is or is not eating and loudly and frequently comment on it. Needless to say my husband isn’t crazy about potlucks, but he attends so we as a family can try to enjoy the fellowship with other members.
Another situation I would like to share is about a lady from the church I attended as a child and youth and that I still run into occasionally. She always fills those akward voids with “Have you lost weight?” And she always says it very sincerely. Being as I have battled being overweight most of my life, I always look forward to running into her. Maybe some people can take a lesson from her.

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ABF May 12, 2011 at 2:37 am

Oh, another story. My mother would also make rude remarks. At Christmas dinner several years ago, she proceeded to interogate my niece about her love life. My niece very respectfully and tactfully told her that she was not currently in a relationship as she felt her schoolwork was more important. (She had just been accepted into a doctorate program. Also, her mother (my oldest sister) had died that previous year and she had just come out of a horrible relationship several months earlier. A lovelife just wasn’t top on her list at that time.) Mother continued nagging her and saying in a sing-song kind of voice that she would make a wedding dress on a moments notice. Again my niece very quietly and graciously thanked her for the offer. Mother then turned and commented to my nephew (my third oldest sister’s son) that if he suddenly changed his mine, she would make a wedding dress for a fiance of his just as she would for her own granddaughter. What makes her remarks to him horrible is that earlier that year, he had made the hard decision to come out of the closet and announced he was gay. We all just sat there stunned at Mother’s remarks. Finally, we managed to change the subject and we quickly finished dinner. Later she called me, and commented she just couldn’t understand why my niece and nephew didn’t seem very friendly during dinner or excited about her offer. I was furious, both of those kids had been through so much and here they were being treated in such a poor manner by their own grandmother. I told her what I thought about her remarks (that they were terribly rude and offensive.) She quickly told me there was no way that they could have been offended by her remarks and that I was just making it up to hurt her.

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Erin May 12, 2011 at 7:55 am

My husband and I were at a local German restaurant for their Maifest event, and all the tables had been pushed together into one long trestle, so everyone was sitting with everyone else instead of broken up by table. My husband has been overweight for several years and knows quite well that he isn’t a dainty little flower, but the elderly gentleman sitting next to him commented with smile that obviously I feed him well. We both kind of smiled and nodded and pretended we didn’t know what he meant, but we were both offended.

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deddeddie May 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm

OP here. Interesting comments! I do think this was a case of a broken filter, not a misguided compliment. The tone and followup questions were definitely not complimentary! Of course I would never reply with an equally rude remark, but if I had been fully composed at the time I might have said (with a smile) that “Oh, no one likes to have their weight gain pointed out. So how have you been?”

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Enna May 12, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Put a postive spin on it: “in some cultures a bigger woman is considered a beauty.” or “I’m happier this size.” Personally I quike like having a bit of a tummy on me: in the run up to my diabetes diagnosis I lost so much weight for me psychologically loosing weight is bad. When I was 19 I was a UK size 8/10, lot happier now that I’m a size 12.

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slythwolf May 13, 2011 at 12:20 am

A friend of mine uses the system of responding to what someone ought to have said rather than what they said. So instead of responding to a comment about weight, she would say something like, “Fine, thank you! And how are you?”

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majuba May 13, 2011 at 7:32 am

jeez, this sounds like my Gran. She had all the subtlty of a sledgehammer and was always blurting stuff out without considering a person’s feelings. For some reason our family genetics mean that all the women are “large”, except for Gran. Dunno if its her nervous, twitchy disposition but she’s a twig among us. She seems to think that gives her the right to comment on all of us.

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Raven May 13, 2011 at 9:59 am

Admin may choose to cast me into e-hell for this (cast away!) but honestly, I believe a lot of people say rude, stupid things because they KNOW that you’re not going to say anything back. It’s the same reason they push in front of you in line at the store – they know you’re probably not going to call them on it, because you’re probably a nice person.

I used to have a friend, M (notice the past tense) who would say awkward, inappropriate, hurtful things all the time to people, often in front of a large crowd so *everyone* could hear. No one ever said anything to her, because it never seemed appropriate to cause a scene or call her on it…until one day, we all kind of snapped and told her we all hated her and no one has talked to her since.

Now, I don’t let situations like that get out of hand. If someone said to me, “You’ve put on weight,” I would pause for a moment – just long enough for it to be a little bit awkward, and then reply, “What a strange thing to say to someone at a party. Why would you say that?” and let the offender sputter their way out of it.

Is it good etiquette? Probably not. But there comes a point where these folks need to be stopped. I guess it would be better etiquette to pull them aside and speak privately, but in same cases, you’re giving them more fodder for future attacks. A few seconds of massive discomfort in front of their friends/family members, and they’ll understand how their words make others feel.

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Mike Johnson May 13, 2011 at 10:10 pm

My ex-wife used to get this quite often because she was naturally a very petite and slender person. She would come home weekly with the story of how someone at work would try and give her advice about gaining weight or in one case actually giving her a card for a mental health professional to help her with her anerexia. The tops though came from her grandfather after she got pregnant and he told her “well at least now you will get some boobs”. She was pretty offended every time and the one with her grandfather was just creepy, I mean seriously what grandfather comments on a grandchilds breasts? I am sure that the comments about her weight were usually driven by envy or in a rare case true concern but the bottom line is even if you know someone well comments about weight are out of line. I seriously doubt that any one of us is truly un-aware of our weight situation and surely don’t need someone else to point it out to us.

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Hollanda, UK May 14, 2011 at 4:47 am

I think I will have to use this idea next time my mother starts on me. I constantly get “You’ve put on weight…remember you’ve got that dress to fit into next year” (my wedding dress) which, as she constantly tells me, cost over £1000, which she is paying for (fine and dandy, no problems there). The issue is that the closer it gets to the wedding the more I see her turning into a Mumzilla. The thing is I am a UK size 12 which is by no means fat. I have a slight “podge” on my tummy which a few hours at the gym and a bit more walking will get rid of. I CERTAINLY do not look pregnant (and neither am I!), yet I have had complete strangers AND friends congratulate me on a non-existant baby!!!!!!!!!! I have up to now tried EVERYTHING to get rid of these “well wishers” by for example quietly saying “No, I am not expecting” and walking away, but some people will not take a hint and continue the conversation, following me around and asking several times “Are you SURE you are not pregnant?” I don’t know whether it is rudeness or what. I had a complete stranger who works in a local shop saying “Ooh look at you, you’ve put on some weight”. Wow, big deal if I have put on a half pound or whatever, at least I am doing something about it – because I CHOOSE to, not because rude people make me feel like I need to. Next time someone says anything like that to me, I will simply say “No, I am not expecting” and then change the subject quickly, deflecting the attention from me.

Thank you Jeanne for a very informative site. As our wedding day draws closer I will certainly be using this site more and more for hints and tips about how NOT to be a Bridezilla lol!!!

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Kat May 15, 2011 at 2:46 am

My grandma saw my cousin she hadn’t seen in a few years and her remark was “boy, you’ve really porked up.” If I had been around that day I would have said “Grandma! That is so rude!”

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Enna May 16, 2011 at 4:42 pm

My Dad is overweight and always has been. Years ago he went though a stage of telling my overweight younger sister when she was about 11/12 (whose weight wasn’t as bad compared to his). The way he said it was nasty and like a bully “you’re going to be fat”. I pointed out to him that he was overweight himself and more so then she was. He replied that he didn’t want her to get as big as him and I said there were better ways in doing that – he doesn’t want to encourage anorexia etc. He didn’t know what to say in response to that at the time. Mum also didn’t like the way he was talking to her and must have spoken to him as well because after the anorexia comment I don’t recall him saying anything like that again. I was 13/14 at the time and I thought he should lead by example. Maybe he shouldn’t try to munch his way thorugh an entire loaf of bread and butter sandwiches.

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Elizabeth May 17, 2011 at 2:20 am

This article reminds me of when I was fifteen and my grandfather (my father’s father) passed away. I should mention that I am overweight, and have struggled with my weight all of my life. I was standing in the receiving line at the funeral, and someone who had just met me but known my dad since he was a baby made a point to say to me, as loudly as possible, “Did you know that yer daddy used to be really fat when he was a kid??” He then proceeded to look me up and down and remark, “Guess the apple don’t fall far from the tree, huh?” What could I do? I was fifteen and awkward and had just lost my GrandDaddy. I, with as little emotion as I could, thanked him for coming, and shook his hand.

This actually happened two or three times. I mentioned it to my aunt, who was standing nearby, and she said, in a tone that I’m sure was meant to be soothing, “Honey, they’re just telling you that for your own good,” and patted my hand.

It may be inappropriate to say, but that’s probably the only funeral I’ve ever been to where I deeply and fervently wished that I was the one being buried.

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Calli Arcale May 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Some people are like this naturally, but it definitely does increase with age in a lot of people. My maternal grandmother has completely lost her internal filter now (and also her sense of time and place; she usually thinks she’s in college, and only occasionally recognizes her relatives). Most of her thoughts come right out of her mouth. They don’t always make sense. In this case, when it’s an elderly relative going a bit potty, bean dip maneuvers are absolutely essential. Getting upset or being snarky will not help the situation, especially if they have memory loss, since it will just upset them without preventing a repeat performance. The whole family has learned the importance of having some bean dip maneuvers on hand at all times, not only for rude comments but for when the conversation goes somewhere awkward — like why her parents aren’t answering the phone, or when they’ll let her move out of her “dorm” (the secure memory care unit), or why she can’t have the car keys. These are questions where the truthful answers can do nothing good. She won’t remember them, and for the duration of the conversation, they will merely upset her. So you need to find a way to divert the conversation. Always have a stockpile of topics and questions that you can ask them. They don’t have to be good ones, or important ones; quantity is more important, because you may go through quite a few of them on some visits.

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