An Etiquette Lesson from a Once-Svelt Mother of Two

January 17th, 2011

Okay folks, listen up. Especially anyone who has never given birth. Today I have an important piece of etiquette advice that could save you some trouble when dealing with new mothers. Here it is: think carefully before you compliment them on how great they look.

I realize this seems a bit odd. Be careful about complimenting someone? But doesn’t everyone like to hear how great they look?

Yes, but only to a point. When you say — “Wow, you’ve lost all your baby weight” or “Wow, how did you manage to have two kids and keep that girlish figure?” — you think you’re being uplifting. And I appreciate the thought.

But let me let you in on a secret. Here’s what’s going on in my head when you say that: “WHAT!??! I weigh a solid fifteen pounds more than I did before I had babies. My muffin top is awful and my chins have multiplied. Do you seriously not notice that? Did I look this fat to you before? Are you saying I’ve always looked this chunky?

I know you don’t intend to set off that inner monologue of despair. But it happens nonetheless. If you want to compliment a new mother, my recommendation is to focus on more general things that are not specific to baby weight loss. “That shirt looks terrific on you” is a wonderful compliment at any time. As is “you look pretty today.

Just try to avoid specific references to weight loss or a pre-baby physique. Kay?

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