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Advice Needed on Fat Comments

Weigh In: My Mother-in-Law Comments About My Body

This reader has a tough situation with her mother-in-law. She sure could use your thoughtful advice.

I recently visited my husband's family, and am just steaming. I get along really well with his parents, and appreciate how they've welcomed me as a daughter, but I can't deal with my mother-in-law's comments about my body. She's super honest and open, but she has no filter from her brain to her mouth when it comes to her thoughts and opinions. For example, as soon as we arrived, she hugged me, then looked me up and down and said, "You seem a little softer — are you pregnant?" I was stunned, but answered, "No, I just haven't been hitting the gym as much." And she said, "Oh don't worry. You haven't gained too much weight in your butt." This isn't the first time she's noticed that I packed on a few pounds. Last time we visited, she asked if I was eating a lot of salt because my face looked puffy.

I know she's not deliberately trying to hurt my feelings, but I'm becoming really self-conscious about my body whenever I see her. She herself is always talking about her appearance, how fat she is, and how she's on this diet and that diet, so I know body image is on her mind constantly. I just don't want to hear it anymore. I've talked to my husband and he just shrugs his shoulders and says, "Well at least she's honest. You know she's not hiding anything from you." Great. He's no help. Any suggestions? I dread going to see her now, which is at least once a month.
—Self-Conscious and Annoyed

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chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
Having a super-serious heart-to-heart talk with her about your feelings might be too awkward (it would be for me!). I would probably say something snarky like "wow, thanks for noticing!" and hope that she gets the hint.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 7 years
The first time I might make a "jokey" comment like "what are we? ten minutes in before you make the first negative comment about my weight?" to see if she gets the hint. If not, I would pull her aside and say, "I know you're not trying to hurt my feelings, but it really upsets me when you comment on my weight and appearance. I love your honesty and openness but I wondered if you could do me a favor and just try not to comment on my looks?"
Mila_83 Mila_83 7 years
Think about it - how often do you see your mother-in-law? Once a week?Twice a month?Does it really worth to bring it up?It is obvious that your mother-in-law has her own issues (plus,trust me,deep inside they all can't get other the fact that some other woman took they baby boy away:). You never know how she is going to react if you talk to her - she might overreact and it will bring tension in your family,plus your husband will feel uncomfortable (he is still her son after all) I don't think it worth the headache. All that matters is that you know you are great, your husband loves you and you are the best no matter what:) Just take the higher road and ignore.
jazzytummy jazzytummy 7 years
Say something to her. She is projecting her insecurities onto you, agree with the others. Your husband is also a wimp, but most men are in this situation. If a man is given a choice between being in the middle of a conflict between his wife and mother, or getting a red hot poker stuck in his eye, he will choose the poker hands down. You should tell your husband how much her criticism bothers you, and that you are addressing it and expect his support. If you don't get it, you know that mommy comes first, and that's just what you married. You need to stick up for yourself, or she will steamroll right over you. Good luck.
Asche Asche 7 years
My MIL doesn't say things to me, but I notice her making "innocent" weight comments to my other sisters-in-law. Not only does it hurt their feelings, but it has also created a bit of resentment toward me simply because I take care of myself. However, I don't totally fault the MILs that make these comments (including mine). In my experience, the women in my family never speak up and let her know that it hurts them. So, in your situation and theirs', you have no one to blame but yourself until you take the assertive route and let her know that her comments are not welcome. Just be honest with her. She'll probably listen to you and, if she doesn't, just remember one thing--she's not your mother so it is more than okay to limit your time with her!
amnyr30 amnyr30 7 years
I agree with all the previous posts who say to politely but firmly make it clear to her that her comments are unnecessary, unwelcome, and inappropriate. If you don't put your foot down now, she will only continue to walk over you as the years go by and will probably extend her criticism to who knows how many other topics. It could be that she's not actually out to attack and belittle you, but that it's just her way of expressing her jealousy that her baby boy has a new woman in his life. Not that that makes it okay. You should definitely stand up for yourself, and the sooner the better. But first discuss with your husband how it makes you feel insignificant when he dismisses your feelings like that, and that you need him to be on your side in this and all other matters. If he's there with you when you tell her how you feel, and is echoing your sentiments, it will be much more effective in getting your point across and having a desirable result. Just keep it polite but firm, short and succinct. Don't get over-emotional and definitely don't stoop to her level with snide comments of your own. She may not deserve it, but treating her respectfully will (hopefully!) lead to her returning the gesture. Good luck to you!!
JamieRunning JamieRunning 7 years
You need to make it clear to your husband how this is affecting your image of yourself, your thoughts/behaviours before you see her, and the impact this is having on both your marital and relative relationship. Ultimately your husband should say something alongside you that her comments are inappropriate. Call it like it is or it will continue forever and the behaviour will just get worse. You are not an avenue for your mother-in-law to feel better about her personal flaws.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
My mother-in-law never makes comments like that, but my mother does. Only she says things like "Are you sure you're ok? You look too skinny to me". I usually say something along the lines of "I'm doing well and I'm perfectly healthy, so we don't need to discuss my weight right now, ok?" If your mother-in-law continues to ask questions, you need to nip it in the bud and get direct with her. Tell her that her comments are not supportive and that if she continues to say rude things like that, you will no longer attend family functions where she is present. Sometimes you have to give people an ultimatum or they won't shut their mouths.
hant hant 7 years
You really need to say something. If you don't point out how it makes you feel, she will never stop, and eventually it could become a problem in your marriage. It is frustrating that your husband doesn't stand up for you, you might consider telling him that it hurts your feelings! Your body is your business. If it were me, i would tell your mother in law that exactly. I would just say, "thank you for your concern but I would prefer not to talk about my body with you" and change the subject!
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 7 years
Bwahahah! That reminds me of this I am very sorry your mother in law is like this, but I don't think there's anything you can do to change her behavior, so I wouldn't address the issue. Just try not to let it bring you down. Or if you feel like being snarky, prepare a bunch of comments in advance that will make her feel awkward or like she said something truly horrible. That probably wouldn't improve the overall atmosphere, though.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
Suggestions? I would give it VERY little serious consideration. Agree with her to get her to stop talking. :) Having received a gambit of odd, borderline rude comments about my body (since I was a teenager), I learned to deflect and disregard them. Some people are crazy, and lack social refinement. I reserve my serious consideration for appropriate, moral, goodness-based comments (and people, for that matter). :)
I've gotten the same comments from my UNCLE (which is totally strange). Like most people have said, my advice is to tell her to cut it out NOW. But be prepared that some people are hard wired from that old school and they think it's totally appropriate to criticize others on their weight. She may even get a kick out of upsetting you about your weight because she's unhappy with herself. In that case, you can't change her and trying to change her will only frustrate you more. So if you tell her sternly and explicitly to stop and she doesn't or she starts an argument with you simply ignore her. Ignore her in every way possible on the subject. Any time she talks about her body or yours (positive or negative) say absolutely nothing. This will make her uncomfortable because by human nature when we talk we expect the person we're talking to, to respond. If you don't respond she'll fell uncomfortable and to avoid that feeling she'll stop talking about it. Your husband though, is a whole other story. He needs to stand up to his mommy. And I would suggest that maybe the reason he isn't reprimanding her for disrespecting you is because he doesn't have the guts or he thinks what she's thinking and doesn't see the need to correct her. The deeper issue here is in your marriage, which needs to addressed ASAP.
livetolove livetolove 7 years
I have this same issue and like the poster before me, it's also with my mother. I however have different advice than they gave--say something and say it now. I let my mom pick on me for 2 years and it developed into a fledge-full eating disorder. I determine my self-worth on the way I look (not beauty wise but body wise), how little I eat, and how much self control I have. It's a TERRIBLE way to live. Say something to her and be stern about it. Don't leave any room for lead way. It might hurt her feelings but it'll save your sanity in the end. I had to have a full fledge crying session with my mom for her to finally get it... for a lot of women it's a socially acceptable conversation topic with other women but really, it's harmful and degrading.
Niami Niami 7 years
Probably good to put an end to it immediately. I found that shrugging off issues with the mother in law just makes it worse. Right now I'm just flat out ignoring and avoiding all contact with mine.
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