"You look just like your mom!"
May 15, 2018 6:27 AM   Subscribe

When out in the world with my mother or my children, people often exclaim about how much we look like each other. We never quite know how to respond to that; I usually say "thanks" but that's not quite right. Any suggestions for other responses? I'll use polite ones most often, but snarky or amusing ones are also welcome!

It's not unusual for it to happen with people who know my mother's family, and they'll often say, "Wow, she sure is a [lastname] girl!" which also connects me to her sisters, if that provides any further inspiration.
posted by metasarah to Human Relations (56 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
As someone in the same boat, I submit that “thanks” is perfect! It indicates that the person you’re being compared to is attractive! So it actually seems super gracious to me.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:32 AM on May 15, 2018 [10 favorites]

"People say that a lot!"
posted by mskyle at 6:35 AM on May 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

I like to respond to comments like that with an implied compliment for the person I'm being compared to - something like "wow, what a flattering comparison!" or "that's the nicest thing anyone has said to me all day!"
posted by mosst at 6:36 AM on May 15, 2018

I get this alll the time with both my mom and my son. I often have this bizarre impulse to deny it (even though it's completely true) but I think in my more appropriate, pro-social moments I just say something like, "I hear that a lot!" Like you, I think "thanks" sounds weird. (I also have an unusual name that people frequently complement and it feels weird to say "thanks" for that too--I didn't pick the name, I had nothing to do with it, complement my parents!)
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:36 AM on May 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

My two children look very much alike (very very very much alike) and, while my daughter looks more like my husband, my son looks exactly like me. I get this a lot and I cherish it. My mom was not my biological mother so it was hard to hear growing up (people will say you look like your parents pretty much regardless of whether it's true or not, in my experience) and now I feel much more... grounded? if that makes sense.

I say "thank you" if the remark came with a compliment (beautiful curls, beautiful eyes, whatever) and an enthusiastic, "it's true, isn't it?" when it was just a statement.
posted by lydhre at 6:38 AM on May 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

Sometimes I reply that my parents couldn't afford separate genotypes so they just cloned my mom a few times.
posted by bq at 6:38 AM on May 15, 2018 [22 favorites]

Thanks, you do too!

Weird, I'm adopted!

I know, we just met!
posted by stinkfoot at 6:42 AM on May 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

I live in a place where i get asked in public fairly often, "are you a [maternal/paternal last name]????" and I've gone with "depends on which ones you know!" for the funny (and the truthful). If they say I'm the spittin' image of a family member I'll usually just confirm it or say "oh you should [other relative] he and I are CLONES!" or whatever.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 6:42 AM on May 15, 2018

If it’s folks I know well, I comment that it’s a little funny to hear because when I was growing up people said how much I looked like my dad, but since I’ve grown up everyone says I look like my mom, and I think it’s because I learned how to be an adult from her and so have a lot of her mannerisms even though I have my dad’s coloring.

A slightly shorter one that gets to the same place is “It’s nice to look like my hero.” (Your Mom May Vary)

But for relative strangers I just say “thanks.”
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:43 AM on May 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

"Thanks, the surgeries weren't cheap, let me tell you."

"Lucky thing, too, if they took after their fathers I'd have been asked a lot of awkward questions."
posted by solotoro at 6:43 AM on May 15, 2018 [17 favorites]

"We do look alike, don't we?" With a mild tinge of surprise and a smile.
posted by Gnella at 6:45 AM on May 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

My mom and i both share some physical qualities neither of us are particularly fond of. I usually respond with “aren’t genetics great?”

It’s up the the receiver to interpret how much of that is sincere and how much is sarcastic.
posted by cgg at 6:45 AM on May 15, 2018

My wife and I get this alot. We're married, and we are not blood related just happen to look fairly similar. We get to say actually were married if we want, but most of the time just say thank you and move on. Because we are same sex it throws people constantly .

Sometimes we just say were not related, but generally people want to remark on how are we are lying or that can't be true or whatever. It ends up being a whole conversation. Thank you is much shorter.
posted by AlexiaSky at 6:47 AM on May 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Sometimes when people say random stuff I just smile a warm smile at them. You can change the topic. Not everything needs to be acknowledged directly.
posted by Kalmya at 6:51 AM on May 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

Remember that the failure mode of clever is being a jerk, and in this scenario, there's a high likelihood of being a jerk to your mum. Don't do that.
posted by zamboni at 6:56 AM on May 15, 2018 [8 favorites]

You can always say, "How sweet/nice of you to say that" with emphasis on "you" which points the attention back to them in a way. If people were intending to be patronizing or annoying with their compliment, they usually can tell what you are doing; if not, it's fairly harmless.
posted by BibiRose at 6:57 AM on May 15, 2018

"I know, she made me!"
posted by terretu at 7:02 AM on May 15, 2018 [8 favorites]

Yes, that's an interesting adaptive evolutionary feature; it helps prevent infanticide among kin!*

*(basically true, though oversimplified)
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:02 AM on May 15, 2018 [13 favorites]

When I say it, I mean it as a compliment; and when it's said to me I take it as one. I just say "thanks."
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:03 AM on May 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

When people would remark that I looked like my dad, he would beam, “Why, thank you! That’s a lovely compliment for me!”
posted by corey flood at 7:07 AM on May 15, 2018 [7 favorites]

People have been telling me my daughter looks just like me recently and I usually respond "I know, but we're hoping she grows out of it"
posted by IanMorr at 7:17 AM on May 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

i think thank you is perfectly fine but also say "thanks, that makes my day" or "thanks, what a nice compliment"
posted by domino at 7:21 AM on May 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

These comments bother me. And they most likely bother my daughter who is 17 and probably wants to feel like and be her own person. I also hate obvious declarations. I usually reply with “yup, we are related!” People also say this about my two boys looking similar to which I always reply “they have the same father”.
posted by Sassyfras at 7:38 AM on May 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

"Isn't that nice." (a very flexible phrase -- you can use a tone that's anywhere from enthusiastic to absent minded)

My mother used to be asked if "all those kids were hers" when she was out with the four of us. She would reply, "I'm afraid so."
posted by JanetLand at 7:44 AM on May 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

There's always "do you think so?", which acknowledges that the person said something without actually responding with any substance one way or another.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:55 AM on May 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Bless your heart... should cover it.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:57 AM on May 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am admittedly a carbon copy of my mother, right down to our voices, and it is usually the first thing people say when they see us together. When people comment on it in public, she usually takes the lead and says "I'm flattered you think I look so young and pretty!" She lights up every time someone comments on it so I'm happy to let her have it. I'll probably adapt that approach to use with my own kids when they are older.

I'm more likely to darkly intone THE BLOOD IS STRONG but that really depends on the audience.
posted by castlebravo at 8:01 AM on May 15, 2018 [17 favorites]

My mom and I get this a lot, and always smile and say "thanks." Sometimes she'll say something self-deprecating like, "Sorry schroedingersgirl, maybe you'll grow out of it eventually," to which I'll reply, "I'm always flattered to hear I look like you!"

People mean this type of remark in a nice way, and I'm not sure there's a reason to get snippy/salty with them over it. Like... my mom is a little heavy, and it has never once occurred to me to think these people are secretly calling me fat. They're trying to be nice! Just smile and say thanks and move on!
posted by schroedingersgirl at 8:07 AM on May 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

My darker-skinned boys look a lot more like me, the dad, than their pale-skinned mother and when we hear that, I tend to stage-whisper "I'm not sure she's really their mother."
posted by turkeybrain at 8:10 AM on May 15, 2018 [8 favorites]

My daughter and I look like alike and we get that sometimes. I think it could be a surprised remark on people's part or it could be a way to start a conversation. I usually just say "Thanks" or "Yes, we both were blessed with lots of freckles!" (I love freckles). I wouldn't say anything snide or defensive or self-deprecating as people are just being friendly. I think we should encourage more friendliness in our society, as there are a lot of lonely people out there.
posted by DixieBaby at 8:14 AM on May 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

"Yeah, when we went to the pound to pick out the kids, we looked for ones that looked like us. You know what they say about dogs and their owners eventually looking alike."
posted by AugustWest at 8:23 AM on May 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I usually respond with "Thanks! Good thing, too. You should see their father!" This always gets a laugh.
posted by LightMayo at 8:30 AM on May 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

This is great! My step-grandchild and I were just told how very alike we look. We just said thanks and smiled.
posted by anadem at 8:40 AM on May 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

"Thanks, I grew them myself!"
(I use 'thanks, I grew it myself' when people complement my curly hair and 'I wash it' when someone asks what I do to make it look like that.)

"She/he really does have the metasarah nose/eyes/chin/walk!"

But I do think thanks works fine. I get it a lot with my parents & my brother (but not my sister!) and that's what one or all of us typically says. Sometimes with giggles.
posted by carrioncomfort at 8:56 AM on May 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

if they, or you, are Thrones junkies, then you could hiss the seed is strong and look shifty
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:43 AM on May 15, 2018

People told me I looked exactly like my dad for most of my life. That was fine.

After he'd been gone for a sufficient number of years, though, something funny happened. Apparently, now I look just like my mom (who is, conveniently, still around for comparisons).

I think of this as funny.

I usually just agree either way, but you're right that there's no clear logical response. It's just one of those things people say, usually because they're being friendly and like you or whatever.
posted by uberchet at 9:52 AM on May 15, 2018

snarky or amusing ones are also welcome

"Yeah! That's why they call it the double helix."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:06 AM on May 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I say, “Facebook agrees! It tags my mom in every selfie I post. Wild, huh?”

posted by Stewriffic at 10:47 AM on May 15, 2018

A friend of mine says, "You don't plant peas and get carrots" which is to my ear more charming than "the apple doesn't land far from the tree", but either is a perfectly applicable response.
posted by aimedwander at 10:59 AM on May 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

I think "Thanks" is fine. But truthfully it always made me sigh inside. I look nothing, nothing like my mother and we don't get along (Luckily she moved). I think many people say it as conversation.
posted by ReiFlinx at 11:08 AM on May 15, 2018

posted by meijusa at 11:31 AM on May 15, 2018

“I know it!”

(My sister and I are two years apart but as adults we legitimately look like twins. We waitressed in the same diner for years and customers would constantly, constantly comment on it. They meant well but it got a little annoying. My sister once answered “Are you two twins?” with “actually one summer we both wound up as roommates at the same summer camp and we found a picture of ourselves as babies and we found out we were actually related!” - Aka, The Parent Trap. The person was like WOW THATS AMAZING WHAT A STORY!!!)
posted by pintapicasso at 11:32 AM on May 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

When people say I look just like my mother I used to say it was a good thing I never wanted to take up a life of crime in her town, because everyone would figure out who I was. She's taken lately to saying, "but she's the new and improved version!", which is sweet. But "Thank you!" seems like the best answer.
posted by ldthomps at 11:39 AM on May 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

"yes, she cloned me"
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 12:05 PM on May 15, 2018

So, maybe an hour after I posted my answer upthread, my daughter and I were at the gym. I was on the treadmill (close to death) and the dude next to me said “hey, is that your daughter” and pointed in her direction (all the way across the gym). I grunted “yeah”. He replied with “she looks just like you!” I gave a half hearted chuckle. Honestly, why does anyone have to say anything? Why thank you, we were not aware we look alike. We were not aware that genes sometimes work that way. And why does it matter?
posted by Sassyfras at 3:00 PM on May 15, 2018

I get that A LOT. I just chuckle and say, "Yes, it's true!" If I'm feeling loquacious I might say, "Yeah, I never got to pretend I was adopted!" If somebody remarks at how alike my sister and I sound, I'll say, "Yeah, even our own grandmother couldn't tell which one of us was on the phone," which is true.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:03 PM on May 15, 2018

I get this when I'm out and about with my daughter. I always like to reply, "Genetics. Apparently, it's a "thing"."
posted by cleverevans at 3:04 PM on May 15, 2018

if they, or you, are Thrones junkies, then you could hiss the seed is strong and look shifty

If I knew more Dark Shadows fans IRL I would totally say, "The Collins blood has always had... a certain persistent strength."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:07 PM on May 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I grew up in a small town in Ohio. On a plane from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Tucson, I was sitting next to two little old ladies. We got to talking, and they asked me where I was from. I replied, "A small town in northwest Ohio you've probably never heard of. It's called TownName."

They looked at each other, then looked at me, then looked at each other, then looked at me. Then one of them said, "Are you MyDad'sName's little girl?" They'd played bridge with my grandparents for 20 years, and I looked (and look) exactly like Daddy.

Most of the time when I hear how much I look like him, my response is along the lines of, "Yeah. *sighs* I know."

In the last few years, though, I've been told how much I look like my mother. That one garners a hearty thank you, and often a "You just made my day." Mama's gorgeous. I'm thrilled to look like her.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 4:24 PM on May 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

I used to get this as a teenager out with my stepmom. While we usually just said thanks, if it was someone we knew, sometimes we'd say, yes, we use the same hair dye. (True.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 4:36 PM on May 15, 2018

I'm going to let you in on a secret... [lean in and whisper one of the following]
- We're related.
- I'm her clone.
- I grew him/her in my abdomen.
- I don't even know these people.
- They follow me everywhere and I don't know how to get away.
posted by medusa at 7:59 PM on May 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

I get this when I'm out and about with my daughter. I always like to reply, "Genetics. Apparently, it's a "thing"."
posted by cleverevans at 3:04 PM on May 15 [+] [!]

Yeah, I often say "DNA sure is amazing" or something similar depending on who made the comment and in which tone they did it.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 8:04 PM on May 15, 2018

Sometimes "blood will tell!" with a smile and a laugh. Most of the time, "Thank you!"
posted by superlibby at 8:41 PM on May 15, 2018

Ooh, ooh, I get to be an exception!

All my life people would raise their eyebrows when I was out with my mother. It was common to hear "wow, your daughter looks nothing like you." Not a burn, just genuine curiosity.

When out with my father, however, women (always women) would squeal at how adorable it was to see a mini-him in little girl form. My father is quite a looker and always getting flirted with, and I do have his dark blue eyes and Roman nose. Mother's side of the family has grey eyes and button noses.
posted by fraula at 12:40 AM on May 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

"It runs in the family."
posted by clawsoon at 3:03 AM on May 16, 2018

My niece is adopted and when my sister gets this comment (they look nothing alike), she just cheerfully says thank you or "aren't we both so lucky!"
posted by Pax at 7:54 AM on May 16, 2018

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