In-law’s fixation on weight is irritating
By Carolyn Hax
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
D ear Carolyn:
My mother-in-law is fixated on weight. Almost every conversation with her comes back to how much (or how little) people exercise and weigh. She is tiny, exercises all the time, and is very careful about what she eats.
I'm a fit 30-something with a healthy body image, so in the past, although her fixation has always gotten on my nerves, it hasn't bothered me too much. However, I am now 35 weeks pregnant and would rather not talk about weight.
She has made a few comments to me recently — how big I look, etc. — that hurt my feelings. I know I'm hormonal and sensitive, but I feel these comments are mean-spirited and passive-aggressive. She makes them in such a way that it is hard to defend myself. For example, at my recent bridal shower, I was getting my picture taken with her and she said, in front of about 10 people, “It's so nice to stand next to someone who is so much bigger than me!”
If it matters, my weight gain is on track and I've tried hard to eat well and exercise throughout my pregnancy. Not once has she said something nice to me about how I look pregnant.
How do I deal with this? It will take a while to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, and I would rather not feel like crap about myself every time I see her during that time.
For what it's worth, my husband recognizes that she is ridiculous about this and says she's always been this way.
I'm sorry you didn't say something at the shower, along the lines of “Did you really just make a fat joke about me right in front of me and my closest friends?” or “What an unkind thing to say” or just a succinct “Really?”
I realize the moment has long passed, but I point this out as a means of arguing that she doesn't make these comments “in such a way that it is hard to defend myself.” Your self-defense options are right there for the taking.
This is not to say your husband is wrong in his approach, which seems to be to dismiss her as ridiculous, but that only works if you, too, think she's too far out there to be worth your concern.
One powerful argument in favor of standing up to your mother-in-law is that you're about to have a child who will need about 20 to 30 years to become as mature as you are about body image — and what about Grandma's unhealthy and unfiltered obsession in the meantime?
You'll need to protect your kid(s) from this idiot worldview eventually, so I urge you to take action now, before Grandma's body bias costs her access to her grandkid(s) entirely.
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