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6 Rude Comments Relatives Make At Christmas (And How To Respond)

No visit home over the festive period is complete without at least a few annoying or insensitive comments from your extended family.

Often, your family means well when they inquire – yet again! — about your relationship status, your body, your baby plans or what is (or isn’t) on your plate or in your glass. Or perhaps they’re oblivious to how inappropriate these remarks can be. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s exhausting to deal with these same comments year after year.

We asked therapists to reveal some of the most common rude comments relatives make around this time of year and offer some advice on how to respond.

1. “Looks like you’ve put on some weight!”

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You haven’t seen your Aunt Kathy in two years and the first thing out of her mouth as she greets you is about how you’ve gained weight since the last time you were together. Really?! Talking about weight changes – which are normal throughout the course of our lives, by the way – is uninteresting and pulls focus away from the meaningful things that are happening with us. And while strides have been made when it comes to cultural acceptance of larger bodies, we still live in a fat-phobic society where these kinds of comments can sting. If you have a history of disordered eating, these remarks can be triggering.

“It’s OK to set boundaries and let family members know that you don’t appreciate these types of comments,” New York City psychologist Melissa Robinson-Brown told HuffPost. ”Express your own love for your body just as it is.”

“It’s OK to set boundaries and let family members know that you don’t appreciate these types of comments.”

– Melissa Robinson-Brown, psychologist

You could simply say “Yup” with a smile and leave it at that. Or try something like, “I’m happy and healthy, thanks for noticing,” eating disorder therapist Jennifer Rollin suggested in a HuffPost blog on the topic.

Another option? Tell them you don’t know if you’ve gained or not because you don’t weigh yourself. Boom.

2. “Have you lost weight? You look skinny!”

Even compliments about your body from relatives – saying that you look thin or like you’ve lost weight – can be damaging, too. These people don’t know what you may have been dealing with behind closed doors: perhaps you’ve been too stressed to eat, living with a chronic illness or struggling with an eating disorder. Even if you’re in a good place, this intense focus on the size of your body can just be uncomfortable.

To respond, Allison Hart – a psychological assistant at Wellspace SF in Northern California – suggested acknowledging your relative’s good intentions but firmly stating that your body isn’t a topic of conversation. Try something along the lines of: “I know you mean that as a compliment, but I am not interested in discussing my appearance. Let’s talk about something else,” she said.




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