Dear Carolyn: My mother-in-law is extremely fixated on weight. Almost every conversation with her at some point comes back to how much (or how little) people exercise and weigh. She is tiny herself, 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 it hasn’t bothered me too much. However, I am now 35 weeks pregnant and honestly would rather just not talk about weight right now.
She has made a few comments to me recently — how big I look, etc. — that really hurt my feelings. I know I’m hormonal and sensitive, but I feel like these comments are mean-spirited and passive-aggressive. She always makes them in such a way that it would be hard to really defend myself.
How do I deal with this? I know 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.
For what it’s worth, my husband recognizes that she is completely ridiculous about this and says she has always been this way.
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 would be hard to really 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.
If instead you do care enough to be hurt, then pick your spots and tell her calmly when she crosses a line.
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 20-30 years to become as mature as you are about body image.
You’ll need to protect your kid(s) from this idiot worldview eventually, so I urge you to take pre-emptive action now, before Grandma’s body bias costs her access to her grandkid(s).
Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.