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 (although it has always gotten on my nerves). 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 that really hurt my feelings. She always makes them in such a way that it would be hard to really 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!" 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'm afraid that in the sleep-deprived first few weeks, I am going to say something I regret.
Dear Anonymous • 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 just a succinct "Really?" or "Wow." 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. You'll need to protect your kid(s) from this idiot worldview eventually, so I urge you to take pre-emptive action now.
Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.