script for dealing with rude comments about weight?
March 2, 2012 12:59 PM   Subscribe

I need a verbal and behavioral script to work from. I've experienced some recent weight gain. A relative will soon be visiting our home. Based on past experiences, I expect that he will comment on, judge, and offer advice about my weight. Please help me out.

Regarding the past experience thing: I don't want to go into detail, but please just trust me that the likelihood that he'll say something about my weight is very high.

I saw a recent question that was similar but not quite what I'm talking about. I would appreciate a few prepackaged phrases, or script of what to say or not say, and what to do or not to do in order to get this person to drop it.

This relative will be in my home, and I will also see him at other relatives' homes where we'll both be guests. I do not want to discuss my weight or "health" or the size and shape of my body.

He's extremely healthy and fit and always has been. He's a great person - kind, intelligent, generous, etc., but he's always been sanctimonious about food, exercise, and health. If he was just an all around asshole or was actively being MEAN about things, I wouldn't have anything to do with him, and wouldn't have him in my home. But that's not the case.

I like other answers I've seen here where the format is "if you continue to X, I will Y" where Y is usually "leave" or "hang up the phone." However, in this case, I will be in the position of having to kick the person out of my home instead of leaving - I don't think this calls for that. Or does it? How would I even do that? Also, when we are at a 3rd party's home, it's not fair to that person that I'm leaving their gathering.

If I literally say nothing, I really think he'll just keep talking, or think I'm listening and absorbing his message. I don't want that. I just don't want to hear it - AT ALL.

Unfortunately, he's also the kind of person who will try to overcome every objection. Like if I simply say, "This is none of your business and I will not discuss it," he'll say, "But it IS my business because your HEALTH blah blah blah."

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (54 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
"Go fuck yourself" sounds like an excellent place to start.
posted by downing street memo at 1:03 PM on March 2, 2012 [8 favorites]

::nod:: "Uh-huh." ::nod:: "Uh-huh." ::nod:: "Uh-huh. Oh, my, look at the time. I have to go to work / go to class / wash the car / iron the dog. Nice talking with you. Here's your coat. Have a great day."
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:03 PM on March 2, 2012

"Cut it out"
"Stop judging me"
"Please keep your comments to yourself"
"Cut out the criticism"

Broken record.

If he absolutely keeps talking after you've said this a predetermined number of times, walk away.
posted by tel3path at 1:04 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

So what's the deal with this NBA Linsanity going .on?
posted by just sayin at 1:04 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

To steal a line from what you wrote:

"Gary, I do not want to discuss my weight or "health" or the size and shape of my body. Thanks."

The end.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:04 PM on March 2, 2012 [23 favorites]

I understand your concern. If I am looking for additional health advice, I may ask for it at another time.

Let's move on to another subject. I'm not interested in talking about this or receiving unsolicited advice about my health right now.


Please stop pressing the issue. You're being a dick.
posted by seppyk at 1:05 PM on March 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

You say to him: "I will not discuss this with you. If you keep bringing it up, I will leave the room."

You can leave the room in your own house. Do this.

Do not explain or explicate why you won't talk with him about it. Just repeat "I will not discuss this with you."
posted by rtha at 1:05 PM on March 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

The next line I would try after that example conversation you gave in the last line, would be to look him in the eye with a deathly serious expression and say, "I know you feel X Y or Z, but I have already asked you NICELY to stop."

This even worked for me once on a mentally ill lady who fixated on me on a bus and got off at my stop to follow me down the street, after I had tried ignoring her, saying other things to her, etc.
posted by cairdeas at 1:06 PM on March 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

Why not just have "y" be "leave the room" or "find someone else to talk to"?

Or just continually and forcefully change the subject:

"What are you eating these days?"
"Food. So tell me about your job?"
"But how much food? Because you're looking like you --"
"A sufficient amount. Now, who do you think will win the Republican Primary?"
"But ths is my business, because your health is -- "
"Okay, check, now let's get back to the Republican primary, that's weird, huh?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:07 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, it kind of feels like losing sometimes to resort to this, but sometimes it's very effective if you talk to an "authority figure" beforehand and they agree to step in and tell the person STFU if the person does what they're gonna do. An authority figure is anyone the person respects/listens to more than you.
posted by cairdeas at 1:09 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think the most important thing is for you to make up your mind to not let his comments bother you. Make it a game with yourself, guess how many times he'll comment or how long until he does. Then you can break his balls with it.

"Shit, Mike, I had 5 minutes in the 'when is mike going to get all preachy' pool and you only lasted 3. You just cost me $20, dude!"
posted by just sayin at 1:10 PM on March 2, 2012 [10 favorites]

Or you could try my father's conversational judo move: when there's a relative who he knows just HAS to have their say about something, and he knows they will not listen to a word he says, he'll just let them have their say, then pause, sort of shrug, and then say, "well, okay then." And that's it. If they add something after that, he does it again.

My Tea Party-member aunt gave up and apologized for "getting carried away" after he did that with her. It was awesome.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:10 PM on March 2, 2012 [28 favorites]

I really like the simple, "Thanks, but I'd rather not talk about it." You can use that in response to literally any question, and if you repeat it a few times without proffering any other response, he'll get the picture.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:10 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I should have added: The key is to literally not respond any other way. Because if you do, then he'll understand that if he bugs you enough he can get you to respond. So:
"I noticed you've gained quite a bit of weight."
"Thanks, but I'd rather not talk about it."
"But this is important, Anonymous. It's your health we're talking about."
"Thanks, but I'd rather not talk about it."
"Don't you see that I care about you?"
"Thanks, but I'd rather not talk about it."
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:12 PM on March 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

Honestly, if he's really that oblivious to social cues, I don't know how you shut him down.

Only things I can suggest:

- I used to be a cyclist. As a member of a bicycle club, I found that there were always lots of people who were wayyyy more into it than I was. If his personality is like most of them, they're basically narcissistic. Steer the conversation to their favorite topic: themselves. Ex:

Him: "Whoa, hey there dude/honey/cousin - you've packed on a few! What are you doing about it?"
You: "Well, you're looking good - have you been biking/running/swimming/engaging in strenuous erotic games/whatever your thing is/ more than average lately?"
Him: "Well, now that you mention it, I ran the Twin Peaks Biatholon...

and off he goes...

- variation of the first technique. Just refuse to answer his questions. Do not give him a single scrap of information to pry further.

Him: "You've really put a few on - have you tried (long strenuous impractical thing)"
You: "I got a new account at my credit union last week...
Him: "You know, the secret is to eat 7 small meals a day..."
You: "How's your wife? Is your son still fighting that traffic ticket?"
(repeat as needed)

But really, there's nothing wrong with "I appreciate your concern. I don't want to discuss it with you," and walking away, even if it's just to the next room.

On preview, what everyone else said.
posted by randomkeystrike at 1:13 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Since he is a nice guy but relatively clueless, I would try hard to act receptive and agree with something he says, even if it doesn't feel right.

I have had people comment on my weight and my natural reaction is to become very defensive. It is a sensitive subject and why on Earth would a person be so clueless as to not know this, keep their mouths shut, and accept me for who I am? Since it's not a perfect world and people can be insensitive, I won't let a person that comments on my weight "in a helpful way" ruin my day.

How about looking at it in a different way? Maybe he's not so insensitive. There are probably no judgments about your character. He only is very passionate about his lifestyle and wants to shout it from the rooftops.

Since he is a relative, a nice guy, etc. try to be agreeable and see what happens. Saying something like: "Oh yeah, that sounds interesting. It has certainly worked for you. You are in great shape! I will think about that." Ask a sincere question to appear interested: "So where do you buy your green kelp powder?" or "How about weekends? Do you eat carbs after 5 then?" Then change the subject or go mingle.

People like this are looking for validation. They like being the expert. Be friendly, give them the approval they are looking for, and I bet you will both feel better for it and won't be seething about it all night.
posted by Fairchild at 1:17 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have seasonal gain and losses. When it is winter and people comment, I just say: "I am not fat. I am prosperous."
posted by LeanGreen at 1:21 PM on March 2, 2012 [9 favorites]

I don't know if this would help or not, but I would be tempted to say something like "Do you genuinely think I'm unaware of that? You're not helping. You're doing the opposite. Please stop. Thank you."
posted by Flunkie at 1:22 PM on March 2, 2012 [10 favorites]

I'd head this off at the pass. Call or email ahead. "I'll be blunt, relative, I've put on some weight since we last saw each other. It's not something I want to discuss during the visit, so come prepared to talk about your fascinating life, current events, and pop culture and pretty much everything except my health, OK? That's not too much to ask for free room and board, right? Looking forward to seeing you, Anon."
posted by apparently at 1:23 PM on March 2, 2012 [7 favorites]

"I'm not interested in discussing this with you." Over and over again.
posted by Phire at 1:24 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

What the heck is one supposed to say to comments like this anyway? "Thank you so much. I will flagellate my fat ass if I so much as think of a cookie ever again. I'll be skipping dinner tonight and forever." Is that the kind of response he is wanting out of you if he nags you? I guess I just don't understand the point of fat-nagging. It's not like you can skip dinner tonight and weigh 100 pounds tomorrow. It's not like everyone in America hasn't heard about how OMG FAT IS TEH AWFULZ everywhere they go right now regardless of their weight.

When people say stuff (not about weight, but say, single nagging--something else that's not exactly easily taken care of no matter how "concerned" the relatives are) like this to me, I usually try to take the piss out of them or point out that no matter how much they nag me about this right now, (a) I have heard of all of this shit before, and (b) this really isn't something I can fix right now, so stop it. There are various levels of politeness vs. angriness that that may come out as. I get the feeling that this fellow won't be deterred unless you are really fierce about it (sounds like he runs you over if you try to be polite), so I would suggest erring on the side of rudeness, like the bitchy stuff I said above. Or at least what Flunkie said.

I also had someone suggested to me bursting into tears and running from the room. I wouldn't want to do it myself, but the person who suggested it to me said it really got the LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE point across to people who wouldn't stop otherwise.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:25 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

nod, smile and walk off. each time he does it, nod, smile and walk off. Don't say anything. you want him to learn, not to engage.

If he follows you around or asks directly say this: "I've always found your attitude about food and people to be one of the least attractive things about you. I prefer not to discuss this matter with you further."
posted by Ironmouth at 1:25 PM on March 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

If he does this it will be SUPER rude. So I'd go with something like:

"Oh my goodness that's so rude...anyway, have you heard about X?"

or "Yup, I've gained weight but at least I haven't lost my manners!"

or "Please don't be rude in front of the children, it's bad for them you know."

or "Please don't be rude around Aunt Mildred, it offends her you know."

or "I'm sorry, if you're going to keep talking about my health in such a rude way, I'm going to have to leave the room now."

or "Bob, I don't know if anyone's ever told you this but talking about that stuff is really rude. You wouldn't want people to think you have no class, would you?"

All while smiling pleasantly, of course.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:25 PM on March 2, 2012 [10 favorites]

I don't know; I'm a big fan of honesty and directness in communication, and giving people the opportunity to meet your expectations. People generally do want to meet expectations, especially if they are in a guest/host situation.

So rather than sarcastic, or unclear avoidance, I would be more inclined along the lines of:

"Garry, I'm going to say this once, politely: I never want you to mention anything about my weight, my fitness, or my eating - ever again. It bothers and upsets me when you do this, and I want you to stop doing it. If you can't do that, I'm warning you, I am going to get really, really angry, and I won't want to talk to you. I don't want to be angry, so please never bring up these topics around me, ever again. Thank you. Now, how about those knicks (or whatever)?"

By saying something like this, you are: a) asking for what you want, b) explaining why you want it c) being clear about consequences and d) giving the person an understanding that they have neither blown their chances of everything being fine, and at the same time providing a conversational out as a social lubricant.
posted by smoke at 1:28 PM on March 2, 2012 [10 favorites]

"I understand that you care about me. Thank you. However -with all possible respect- I am not interested in discussing this topic."


"While I appreciate your concern, I prefer not to discuss this topic. Thank you for your understanding."


"I am not interested in discussing this topic. If you continue to talk about it, I am going to leave the room/take a shower/." "... if you keep talking about it, I am not going to be able to continue this conversation."


"I so enjoy talking with you, but am not interested in continuing in this topic. I would ask you to respect my decision. If you do not [x], I will do [y]" or "I am going to do [y] now for [z time]. When I come back, I would love to hear about [n]. Sound all right?"*

*This is not a real question. The only answer is Yes because it is what you are going to do.

[n] could be a mutual family issue or an activity you have planned.


In groups, finding an ally might be helpful. When your relative makes a comment, summon all of your (good) pride and self-containment and do not say anything. Then change the subject and/or talk to another person. I can't think of great things to say in response, but a few mediocre lines are... "We all have our struggles, don't we? So, anyway..." "That is an interesting idea. I will think about it. So, anyway..." "Did you [to everyone] know that [relative] does [x related thing] in his spare time? He told me about it last night. It went like this..."


It might help to give your relative some other outlet that will be easier for you to process. An example would be: "I do value your feedback because I know that you care a lot about me. I am so glad that we have a relationship. If you would express your concerns in a letter, I promise that I will read it." You would have to make the call on whether this would work for you and him.

I agree with the idea that a broken record is the way to go. You know that your relative cares about you. He doesn't understand how much this hurts you and, more relevant to his experience, that you are not going to tolerate it. He is rude to continue to press, but may need you to be the bigger wo/man and enforce the boundaries. Be clear about what you are going to do.

Good luck!
posted by ramenopres at 1:29 PM on March 2, 2012

Dear Dad: Discussing my weight and health with you causes me so much distress for weeks in advance of your visits that it actually harms my well being. For the sake of my health and our cherished relationship, can I ask that we never discuss this again.

I know you love me very much and I appreciate your concern. I am not unaware of this problem.

You know I love you...but discussing this topic with you harms me. Please just acknowledge that you have read and understand this email and let us never discuss it again. I can't and won't debate it.

Take care and I really look forward to seeing you soon.

Much love and happy, healthy boundaries,
Devoted Son.
posted by taff at 1:30 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is an otherwise great person with a blind spot, right? I'm guessing that you've restrained yourself and been nice, perhaps partially because you;re afraid of getting emotional if you have to ask him to stop.

Take this person aside for a private conversation as soon as possible and tell them that you're aware of both your weight gain and their history of trying to be helpful about it.

Tell them you will ask for advice if and when you need it.

If you find yourself getting emotional, let it happen. It's an honest reaction that this person should see. If they are as great as you say, they should understand the space and courtesy you need.

The conversation may not be a perfect solution. You may still need to try out one of the scripts, but give it a go if you can.
posted by maudlin at 1:31 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would address the basic rudeness of the issue, similarly to how Miss Manners used to suggest, back in the day.

Something along the lines of "I can't believe that you just made such an incredibly rude remark! Now let's change the subject before I leave the room."

And don't drop your message -- that your relative is being RUDE. If he tries to push it being all "It's not rude, I'm concerned for your health," tell him "My health is the concern of myself and my doctor. You are being rude. Would you rather have a polite conversation about a different topic, or shall I leave the room?"
posted by kataclysm at 1:31 PM on March 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

I have an uncle like this. He out pushes me, and that's really saying something. My tactics are "Ah ah ah no, we are totally not talking about my weight." "Nope, no, we're not discussing it." and finally, "Honey, I love you but if you bring my weight up again, I'm going to smack you with a newspaper." Recycle as needed. The trick is to never respond with anything but No.

Generally speaking you can be really straight forward with people like tat without fear of offence. Their boundaries are clearly not where your boundaries are.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:32 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

My doctor is pleased with my progress and told me to tell anyone who comments on my weight to fuck off... But I could never do that!
posted by vitabellosi at 1:33 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Bob, I appreciate that you care about me and are trying to help, but it actually really hurts my feelings when you do this. I'm not happy about it myself, and I'm trying to deal with it, so it would be a big relief to me if we could just not talk about it.

You could even head him off at the pass by e-mailing him ahead of time so he doesn't even start the conversation when he sees you.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:39 PM on March 2, 2012

I agree with two of the above posters: if you know without a doubt that Uncle Joe is going to say X, Y, and Z on his visit, then you should cut him off at the pass. And get a back-up! Call him beforehand, or have your husband/wife/mother/whoever give him a call, and explain that you're going to look different to him and that you're not interested in any comments. Period.

Then, with your back-up, whenever he makes a comment (if he does at all - hopefully he'll be so embarrassed about his behaviour from the preemptive phone call), you can both roll your eyes and say, "Jesus, Joe. I thought we talked about this already. This is really disrespectful."
posted by athena2255 at 1:42 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

"Dear MeFi: I have a relative I see occasionally and whom I care about. He has some health problems that could be addressed with some simple changes in lifestyle - basic diet and exercise. I'm pretty knowledgable about these subjects and really want to help him, but he seems to be in denial. Whenever I try to share some advice, he just tunes me out. How can I get through to him? It might be simplest to just drop the subject, but he would really be much better off if I could get him to listen?"

You said he's "kind, intelligent, generous," so I'd start by assuming this is his perspective. In that case, a version of seppyk's script is perfect:

I understand your concern. If I am looking for additional health advice, I may ask for it at another time.
Acknowledge his good intentions, but politely explain that you do not want to talk about it.

Let's move on to another subject. I'm not interested in talking about this or receiving
unsolicited advice about my health right now.

Or perhaps, to point out that he ignored you. "I told you once and it really bothers me that you didn't listen and that I have to repeat myself. I am not going to talk about this."

And then if necessary: "You're being a dick."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:43 PM on March 2, 2012

God, is there anything worse than the body police?

If it were me, I'd take it a step past 'I do not want to discuss my weight or "health" or the size and shape of my body.' That's a perfectly reasonable response, but it frames it almost as a request. You shouldn't have to request respect in your own home. (Or anywhere else for that matter.)

At the first mention, I'd sit him down, look him straight in the eye and say "I need you to understand something. I will not discuss my weight or "health" or the size and shape of my body with you." You are a guest in my home, and I think you're a great person. But if you want to continue to be welcome, you need to respect my wishes about this and drop the subject entirely."

You're allowed to set your own boundaries. Just because someone frames something as a caring gesture doesn't mean it's ok. He's the one being rude by putting you in the position of having to tell a grown person to mind their own damn business.
posted by Space Kitty at 1:44 PM on March 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

"Don't you think I get enough of this shit just living in this appearance-is-everything society? How do you think it makes me feel to constantly be told, in a hundred ways, that I'm ugly, lazy, a bad person, just because of my weight, with no regard to my life or my mind or my feelings? I'm not ugly, I'm not a bad person, and if I'm not at my healthiest, I'll deal with either changing my habits or accepting the consequences. My body is not up for discussion with you, now, or ever, and you have to accept that."

You say that he's a good/nice person, but people who find ways to emotionally stab you in vulnerable areas and then try to prevent you from defending yourself are actually very shitty people! His behavior seems like a dominance thing; he's (maybe unconsciously) trying to dominate you by harping on something that even you may see as a flaw, and then reducing your ability to contest his above-you status by overcoming your objections. He's doing a typical primate thing, basically, and the fact that he seems really nice is a great way to deflect recognition of that.
posted by clockzero at 1:48 PM on March 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

What worked for me was asking the person in question, "Why do you do this every time I see you? You know xyz is an uncomfortable topic for me. So why do you bring it up at what's supposed to be a nice social occasion?" Not in an angry tone of voice or anything, just, I really wanted to know what he would say.

The upshot was that he didn't say anything; he just walked off, then came back and told me I'd "hurt his feelings." But he didn't do it again.
posted by BibiRose at 1:49 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I really like what just sayin said way above, implying that you had a contest going to see how long before he would bring up the subject. Another option in this vein might be counting his inappropriate comments (interspersed with a blocking comment like ramenopres' "While I appreciate your concern, I prefer not to discuss this topic. Thank you for your understanding." If you like, you can keep a tally out loud - I prefer to narrate it a bit like The Count from Sesame Street - "That's five, FIVE unwanted comments! Bwa ha ha ha ha!" (You can just imagine your own thunder and lightning!) I used this trick a lot when holidaying in Hong Kong and getting hassled, sometimes literally on every corner, but touts trying to get me to go to their friend the tailor. It really helped me keep my cool when I felt like I was under seige.
posted by Cheese Monster at 2:12 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Dear rude relative, your comments about my body are extremely upsetting to me. If you feel the need to continue to make these comments, I can't have you as a guest in my home."
posted by Sal and Richard at 2:19 PM on March 2, 2012

'God, why are you such a fucking bore, Gary?'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:17 PM on March 2, 2012

I really love the "Wow, I can't believe you are asking such a rude question! I would never ask/say something like that!" Then, change the topic. It makes it clear that you find the behavior inappropriate and that you are clearly not interested in continuing with that conversation.
posted by two lights above the sea at 4:05 PM on March 2, 2012

And if he continues after that, leave the room with as much or as little drama as you'd like. Personally, I'd go for the "Wow..." *head shake of shock and disappointment* *leave room*
posted by two lights above the sea at 4:07 PM on March 2, 2012

Respond to any such suggestions with inquiries about the relatives apparent hair loss, new wrinkles, gray hairs or possible tubby belly. People who bring this stuff up are very self conscious. Even if you don't see any wrinkles say you do. Remain confident of your own body and appearance. Brag about made up chores torso and how much weight you lost recently.
posted by humanfont at 4:10 PM on March 2, 2012

My parents are just like this, and last time they visited I decided to send them an email ahead of time stating that I knew weight (aka health in their world view) was an important issue for them, but that I did not want to discuss it. I told them that if they did bring it up, I would remind them of my email and change the topic of conversation. I expected it to have no effect, but it actually worked like a charm.
posted by lab.beetle at 4:15 PM on March 2, 2012

I can be a passive aggressive chicken when trapped in a room/house with someone else.

I would send a (chicken, I know) email before saying 'I can't wait to see you but I'm stressed because I gained weight and I know talking about health is one of your favorite things. It's stressing me out in advance so can we promise just not to talk about this over the holidays??'.

And then not mention anything in person. If he says anything just look pained and say 'didn't you get my email'.

That's what I would do. The chicken approach.

Or say nothing in advance and just get overly tipsy and say whatever popped into my head at the time- the other end of the planning spectrum!
posted by bquarters at 4:25 PM on March 2, 2012

Oh hey lab.beetle, I didn't see your comment first so I'm not saying you're a chicken! I love email and I think it's the way to go for most things! Must preview better next time!!
posted by bquarters at 4:31 PM on March 2, 2012

"My physique is your business when you come back from CrossFit Games with a podium finish."
(unless your critic is one of about 12 men in the world, he hasn't done this).
posted by phoebus at 4:49 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

My patented 'combine harvester' method would work well for this, I think.
posted by hot soup girl at 5:37 PM on March 2, 2012

The thing is, almost anything you say verbally, he can find a way to refute if he really wants. It's time to bring out the big guns. There are some people where nothing will work but shaming them, especially in front of other people. If you've seriously had enough and nothing else is working, the next time he brings it up, burst into tears (if you can't manage that, try some almost-sobbing, like you're about to) and say "I DO NOT want to discuss my weight! It is NONE of your business!" You have to act very upset - and you're completely justified if you are. He'll look like an ass in front of everyone, and he will finally get the message that he's being obnoxious. I can guarantee you he'll never bring it up again.
posted by Jubey at 5:47 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've been dealing with an overwhelming number of people at work talking loudly about their dieting (and other people's weight), which is really upsetting. A very wise person suggested this to me: every time a person mentions a word like "calories" or "sugar," substitute the word "tacos."

When you start hearing them say things like "I can't believe how many tacos this has" or "I felt like that meal had 5000 tacos" or "there TOO many tacos in everything!" it just gets beyond hilarious. I can't say it works every time, but it sure has gotten me through some rough spots.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 7:10 PM on March 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

After you've asked, or told him, that you will not discuss the issue and he keeps harping on it, you respond with:

"I may be fat, but you're an asshole. I can diet and exercise. What are you going to do to not be an asshole?"
posted by deborah at 9:59 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with the suggestions to contact him beforehand. I also agree that you should be absolutely firm. Do not phrase anything in a questioning or pleading way. State what you want to happen ("I expect you not to say word one about this") and what the consequences will be if it doesn't ("If you bring this up even once, you will no longer be welcome in my home"). Ask for a confirmation that he understands that showing up at your house means he agrees to the ground rules.

I also agree that someone who does this sort of thing after being explicitly told it is unwelcome is NOT a nice person. I wouldn't care about any positive aspects to someone who did this to me. It's emotional abuse.
posted by parrot_person at 11:13 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

It does depend on your relationship with him. When my Dad says things like this I say 'wow, and your hairline is really receding!.' (My family isn't very nice to each other.) Other things I've done include: grabbing and shaking my belly and saying 'Yep, and its all paid for,' or just a simple 'is it my turn to make unsolicited comments about your body now?' I'd add another vote for looking at him slightly mystified and pointing out to him how other people consider those comments really unclassy, just so he knows. I'm snide so I'd probably go with 'I understand if you can't continue normal conversation with me until I'm not fat anymore. Bye!'
posted by Trivia Newton John at 2:05 AM on March 3, 2012

Oh man, I know how hard it is when it someone who is family, who you otherwise really like. And I know how you feel, I just don't want to hear it either--I think it's universally rude to comment on things that just aren't your business if the person hasn't initiated the conversation.

I've been fat pretty much my whole life, and I know that people who love you just literally cannot help themselves. For someone who is fairly fit (and not a woman), he probably just doesn't realize how loaded that conversation is and the only way to clue him in is to tell him.

"Gary, I appreciate that you care about me and want the best for me, but when you bring up my weight and make unsolicited comments about what I can do to "fix" my body, you're telling me that you don't believe that I can care for myself and that you think there is something wrong with me. We both know that is not the case so let's just not talk about it, ok? I would much rather talk about [insert topic here]."

Of course, if he insists (which from your description of him I doubt will happen), take the kid gloves off, tell him he's being incredibly rude, and if he brings it up again you'll be forced to avoid him.
posted by Kimberly at 6:28 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

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