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Carolyn Hax: After the pandemic, body-shaming parents may be the toughest weight to shed

(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)

Dear Carolyn: Once I’m vaccinated, my parents would like to get together, which involves flights. Pre-pandemic, there were comments about my weight, diet ideas, what-have-you. I made it clear these comments were not okay, so they’d stop for a few months, but the silent judgment and looks didn’t stop.

An unexpected positive of this time apart has been they can’t see me, so the comments have temporarily stopped. Based on the past, I know when we eventually see each other again, the looks and judgment will continue. I have anxiety just thinking about it.

— A Weighty Matter

A Weighty Matter: Then don’t see them.


You are under no obligation to visit anyone who isn’t kind, respectful and accepting — much less disrupt your routines and spend money and burn vacation time to fly anywhere to do it.

Tell them specifically the pandemic separation has been a relief to you because it put a complete and blissful stop to all their clucking about your weight.

If they don’t like that, then they can sit with it on their own time to figure out how to fix it.

You’ve already told them how to, plenty: “These comments are not okay.” Do say out loud, if you haven’t already, that “silent judgment and looks” also aren’t okay. Feel free to point out that, no, they aren’t the only two people on earth who can exchange worried looks without their object sensing them and knowing exactly what they are. (I mean, every single one of you saw the eye-roll I typed into that, right?)

If you just read this and thought, wait, I really do want to see them, then that's great — all of your decisions will be better for knowing your own heart. Plus, I want to live in the happier world created by parents and grown children who want to spend time with each other. Even in that world, it's normal for feelings to be mixed and complicated — for related adults to want to see each other but not want any tired roles replayed. This all simply means you have a deliberate calculation to make, whether your desire to see them outweighs any dread, or vice versa.

But if it’s the latter, then I’ve got your back. It’s okay to stand up for yourself and your emotional health with everything you’ve got. Your time, your energy, your money, your presence, your effort — these are yours to give or deny others based on your values. You don’t have to volunteer to have anyone trample on them. Not even Mom and Dad.

Dear Carolyn: A longtime friend has become an antivaxxer/antimasker. Her posts on social media have become strident and distasteful to me.

A group of friends has decided to gather in the fall and vaccination will be required. I asked “Susie” whether she'd changed her mind and got a one-word, negative response.

I just don’t think I want to continue the friendship. Do I owe her an explanation? She’ll probably figure out the reason. I don’t see any chance of changing her mind and this attitude makes me question her judgment in general.

— R.

R.: You don’t have to stay friends with friends you stop liking, nor explain yourself, unless they ask (no ghosting). Longtime friends, though, deserve to know why you’ve moved on.