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How to deal with friend who criticises my appearance?

(81 Posts)
stargirl04 Thu 25-Sep-14 21:01:27


I have a friend who I've known for 25 years whose company I enjoy but she is always trying to "improve" me.

On the one hand, I'm going through a tough time at the moment and she's been really concerned and helped in concrete ways.

On the other hand, I met her for lunch today and she asked me if I had ever considered plastic surgery.

I'm almost 49 and well past the first flush of youth but I have come to accept my wrinkles, and if men don't like them, I couldn't care less!

I know I have smokers' lines around my mouth and they do annoy me but that's a problem you can't correct with surgery. I said to her that "some" celebs (though not all) who'd had stuff done to their lips/mouth area end up looking like the Joker in Batman, so I'd "rather keep my wrinkles and age gracefully."

She said: "Did you used to smoke?" and I said, "No, I have never smoked in my life. It's just bad luck."

Then she said: "You should go back to the gym and try to lose weight." I'm a size 16 and have recently started going to the gym, so she said, "But you haven't lost weight. Don't you want to be healthy?"

I said that my weight was nobody else's business and that looking perfect was not everyone's priority. Instead of focusing on their appearance some people might want to study quantum physics or the works of Plato, for example (though not I) and that owing to time constraints, something had to give. Waistlines, perhaps.

She's lost a good few friends over the years, some mutual, and today she told me that those who remain don't call her so often and wondered why.

I am tired of her remarks - as this has gone on years (even when I was thin and smooth skinned!) - and want to tackle it but I'm not sure about the best way to go about it.

First there's the adult approach: I email or text her in the next few days saying that while I value her friendship and the concrete help she's given me in my current difficulty, I find her comments about my appearance hurtful?

However, she will justify it, say she never meant to cause offence and imply that I'm hypersensitive.

Or should I try a different approach and do nothing until the next time I see her, wait for the barbed comment, then say, "Remember when you told me last time we met that some friends never called you? Perhaps this is the reason...." etc

Or should I try the same tactic back and say... "Hmm, given all the exercise you do you do still have a large bottom and I wondered how you felt about that? Would you ever consider a bottom lift?

I risk our friendship, yes, and feel a bit churlish after the way she's helped me with my difficulty (which I don't want to go into), but really don't want this to continue. Even if I had a friend who was 30 stone and looked 100 I would never, ever pass comment about it or bring it up in any way.

Thanks for reading, mumsnetters.

RandomMess Thu 25-Sep-14 21:05:02

Eeks I've not idea, can you do a "that's harsh df" as soon as she says something insensitive?

KateeGee Thu 25-Sep-14 21:08:14

This is not a friend, this is a tactless idiot who enjoys trying to make you feel bad about yourself. If it were me, next time she said something I'd just say I've had enough, don't speak to me again. She knows full well what she is doing.

LEMmingaround Thu 25-Sep-14 21:12:09

If you were describing your dp you would be told he is being emotionally abusive and to ltb. It would be good advice

BOFster Thu 25-Sep-14 21:13:26

This situation calls for The Paddington Stare.

Buttercup27 Thu 25-Sep-14 21:14:41

I think option 2 is a good idea. But it will be awkward and take guts. Good luck !

gincamparidryvermouth Thu 25-Sep-14 21:16:39

TBH I'd cut her loose. She sounds fucking awful. Given how unpleasant she is about your appearance I'd hazard a guess that her helpfulness to you in your hour of need was more to do with her playing a role that she likes to see herself in than genuine concern.

stargirl04 Thu 25-Sep-14 21:21:16

Thanks for these suggestions folks. One of my friends from years ago can't stand her - we all met at college in our early 20s - and her DH used to be quite pally with this friend of mine but cut her loose also because, as he said, "she's such a bitch".

He asked me a few years ago jokily if I was still letting her "abuse" me, so it's interesting that someone compared the situation to having an abusive DP.

I am too soft though. I've seen it as my lot in life to put up with her as I feel sorry for her but even I've had enough.

After 25 years, shouldn't I give her a change to change before I dump her?

MyEmpireOfDirt Thu 25-Sep-14 21:22:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

yougotafriend Thu 25-Sep-14 21:23:51

I think she is very insecure in herself and jealous of you. Confident people don't feel the need to be little others.

I have a similar "friend" who recently said about a jacket I bought "I used to shop there but the clothes went really cheap and nasty" WTF.... Only because she has a really sad lonely life do I brush off her comments as I know it's a kind of one-upmanship, if she needs this to feel good about herself, go for it I say

Lovelydiscusfish Thu 25-Sep-14 21:28:31

Sounds awful. But also, from what you write, she is helpful to you in some ways, so I can see why you don't want to entirely cut her loose.
Could you try an assertive approach:
"What I am hearing from you now is..." (Something like, that you think I am unattractive)
"What that makes me feel is..." ( Something like, rubbish and sad, especially in regards to our friendship)
"What I need from you now is..." (Something like, a bit of affirmation, and evidence that I am great, appealing and attractive as a person, regardless of these tiny niggles you might have about my physical appearance).

Good luck, OP! Such a shame that your friend can't be properly supportive, as you sound like you are going through tough times.

Sandthorn Thu 25-Sep-14 21:28:56

I think you've done a great job of putting it tactfully so far (love your point about Plato etc.) Now give her a straight choice: you don't want to hear any more of these personal attacks. If she can give it up, you'd love to remain friends, but if not...

WillowWoods Thu 25-Sep-14 21:32:50

Blank her. She's not the person you knew.

Bellyrub1980 Thu 25-Sep-14 21:34:32

I'd ditch her.

ThePinkOcelot Thu 25-Sep-14 21:49:03

I would ditch her! But, not before you have given her a mouthful and told her to fuck off! She must be perfect, is she?!!

stargirl04 Thu 25-Sep-14 21:49:06

Thanks for these thoughts, guys. I think Sandthorn's solution is one I might try although I should really try KateeGee's approach (and those who advocate similar).

Lovelydiscusfish - that would be the most generous, adult thing to do, I suppose. Except I don't need her to tell me I'm an attractive person, just to stop the nasty comments!

Willow Woods - It's not that she's changed, she's always been like this. When I used to be skinny and smooth-skinned years ago she pointed out that I had a tiny dent in my forehead head and asked me why I didn't get my teeth done!!!

Despite this, and for some bizarre reason, given my ugliness!, I still managed to pull the blokes, which annoyed the hell out of her.

stargirl04 Thu 25-Sep-14 21:53:46

Of course, I was much younger then. I haven't pulled in years.

cheeseandpineapple Thu 25-Sep-14 21:54:35

grin at Paddington hard stare! Or you could try putting it into words and be just as direct back, along lines of "you cheeky madam, I think I'm bloody gorgeous as I am and if you don't agree, don't come out with me, drop it with all the suggestions and buy me a drink to make up for being so bloody rude."

If she doesn't get the message you can drop her knowing you gave her a final chance.

WillowWoods Thu 25-Sep-14 21:56:58

Ah well.this would be my little song smile

stargirl04 Thu 25-Sep-14 21:59:29

Willow, I can't play the song as I'm at work, dang. But will when I get home later smile

Sorry to be dense, but what is a Paddington hard stare?

cheeseandpineapple Thu 25-Sep-14 22:09:49

Film version to come!

Willow, wow, brilliant group, haven't heard of them, they're amazing, v apt song.

jessym Thu 25-Sep-14 22:11:40

I favour a direct, blunt approach to this problem. Something along the lines of :

"Look, I have had more than enough of these rude comments about my appearance. I value your friendship, but this really has to stop. I want us to stay friends, but if you are not prepared to stop making these comments, that won't be possible"

This would put the ball firmly in her court, and the future of the relationship would depend on her behaviour.

cheeseandpineapple Thu 25-Sep-14 22:11:47

OP, sorry in case you can't open link at work, the hard stare reference is from Paddington Bear, the polite bear from darkest Peru who gives impolite or unkind people a hard stare. Except he doesn't actually change his expression, there was a dramatic pause in the tv programmes to signify the hard stare!

Corygal Thu 25-Sep-14 22:13:28

I had a friend like this who was notoriously rude. I put up with her for years, suspecting mild ASD, but then I realised she just liked insulting people. She was wildly sensitive if anyone criticised her, which doesn't fit with ignorance or bad social skills.

Who knows why they do it - doesn't matter. People like this are a bore. Ditch.

Darkesteyes Thu 25-Sep-14 22:18:30

Shes horrible OP Life is too short to put up with ppl like her. I also had a similar thing from a college acquaintance yesterday

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