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Learn to deflect weight comments

Washington Post

Dear Carolyn: There is a relative we visit three or four times per year. Within the first five minutes, this relative always makes a comment about my weight. “You look like you’ve lost a few pounds” or “I see you gained back the weight you had lost.” These comments are always in front of the entire family and always catch me completely off-guard.

This relative and I have both battled with our weight. But, we are not close, and I don’t want to discuss it with her.

I invariably find myself speechless as I try, ineffectually, to brush her off. What can I say that will stop her in her tracks, but that won’t be too rude? I really don’t want to offend her, as she has many good qualities and is important to people I love dearly. But, I dread spending time with her because she always does this to me. – Speechless

“Ooh, not my favorite subject … so great to see you, tell me – how’ve you been?”

Know yourself, and rehearse it beforehand – or a version of it in your own words. It’s breezy, sets a boundary, delivers a compliment, appeals to her vanity and speaks only for you.

And it puts the kind words and the query after you state your boundary. That way, you force her to go against the flow of conversation if she insists on talking pounds.

If she persists? Then you deflect more pointedly: Smile. “OK then!” Change subject.

If that fails, then pull her kindly aside later on.

Most important, buy in to the propriety of standing your ground. A light touch means it’s not a public smackdown of a cherished relative, even if the limit is firm. Plus, since it’s polite to ascribe only the best motives to others, it’s also an act of decency to help her avoid upsetting you. Think of your deflection as the ornamental fence that keeps her from blundering into the mums.


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