• Resolving Problems

My friends make me feel bad about my neck…and my nose

Published: October 17, 2012 | Last Updated: August 9, 2015 By | 14 Replies Continue Reading
A young woman seeks advice on handling friends who make her feel bad and take crack shots at her appearance.

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

My friends always seem to point out my flaws and make me feel bad. I admit that I have insecurities, but they point things out that I don’t even mention. (And no, I never have mentioned anything related to them—they’re all beautiful on the outside and I could never say anything like that to them.)

They’ll say I have a big nose or small teeth. I don’t know why they do this. Sometimes it seems like they’re in a bad mood when they do this so maybe they are just lashing out at me. But it hurts and when I question them about it, they don’t say anything or pretend it never happened. They have other friends, but I think they only do this to me. Is there something I’m doing wrong?

Signed, Maria

ANSWER

Hi Maria,

You haven’t told me your age but persistent teasing such as this is very childish and immature—and is totally unacceptable behavior at any age.

Since your friends don’t do this to other people, it may be that you are doing something inadvertently that is provoking their criticisms.

1) You point out that you have some insecurities that you DO mention to your friends. Perhaps, they think that this gives them license to heap on some more. If you are sensitive to other people criticizing you, try to ease up on being the first one to point out your own flaws.

2) Think about how you react to their comments. When they make negative comments, try ignoring them rather than getting involved in a conversation, especially if you are in a group. This may end the banter.

3) You may want to think about your friendships with these girls/women and speak individually to the ones who are really hurtful in their comments. One-on-one, let them know how you feel. Could they be unaware of the impact of their words? Could they be insensitive people who don’t really care about you—and whom you don’t really want as friends? People who make you feel badly about yourself are not friends.

I’m so sorry that this is happening to you. But since you are the one on the front line, you will know which of these strategies might work best in your situation.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: Frenemies

Comments (14)

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  1. Irene says:

    Thanks so much for that fascinating and inspiring link about Eleanor Roosevelt!

    Best, Irene 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi, Maria:
    I’m very sorry for what you’re going through. Sadly, as you can see from the comments on this friendship blog, nasty comments from women to women are a fact of life, no matter how old you get. However, there are many women who are not snarky, and you will meet them someday. You will find that there really are supportive women who are worthy to be called your friend. Don’t let anyone tell you “all women are catty, petty, nasty, etc., etc., etc.” Don’t listen to vapid generalizations about women, or men either. I hope you try very hard to ignore the nasty comments these so-called friends have made. Whether or not you respond is your call. There isn’t a right or wrong answer, though Irene’s wise words are worth considering.Meanwhile, take a look at http://www.nwhm.org (the National Women’s History Museum) and plug in “Eleanor Roosevelt” in the search box. You will then see a lovely, interseting description of her life and how she too was snarked at, and by her own family. Our Eleanor Roosevelt “scholars” on this blog would have you believe she didn’t have any heartache over this, but I doubt that. She was human, after all. Her greatness as a human being wasn’t that she didn’t have heartache over petty comments, it was that she rose above them and forged ahead to build an awesome life helping others and working toward causes to help others. She didn’t let her hurts stop her. But to say she didn’t feel bad about the slings and arrows she endured is just plain silly and wrong. She inspires me greatly. I hope you gather strength and inspiration as well.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is in reply to bitchy comment #2 about Eleanor. I’m the original poster. See my other comment. And you can go scratch, too.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I wrote the comment about Eleanor Roosevelt. Wow, not one but two bitchy comments. First, I didn’t say her heartache was because of the ridicule about her looks. I was thinking about heartache she had about other things in her life. Second, neither of us knows what she felt inside about the ridicule. For all we know, she could have felt heartache about it. Third, because your bitchy comment has brought out the bitch in me, the word “edified” doesn’t make sense here. Man, this joint should be renamed The Bitch-ship Blog. Go scratch.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Insulting people’s looks or flaws in their appearances is immature and personally I wouldn’t listen to such insults on general principle that it’s a waste of time and energy. When in comes to other slams, I’ve noticed the only time people’s comments bother me is when I believe what they say. There are certain truths I know about myself, one being that I’m outspoken and another being that means not everyone is going to like that quality in me. The people who matter most to me appreciate this quality. The areas where I allow others to negatively affect myself perception are those where I lack confidence or where I go to a dry well expecting water. You know the line from that Willie Nelson song “looking for love on all the wrong places?”, one of the best gifts you can give yourself Is to stop beating your head against a brick wall and expecting it to feel like a pillow.

  6. Anonymous says:

    if you think she considered ridicule about her looks heartache. LOL. She was much more edified than that.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Eleanor endured heartache because of ridicule over her looks you don’t know anything about Eleanor Roosevelt.

  8. Anonymous says:

    You’re friends sound like they’re ugly people – there is a saying by the Buddha “An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.” Another good Buddha saying “If someone gives you a gift and you don’t accept it, then who does that gift belong to?”

    If you keep quiet then they will just use you as a dumping ground – I had a couple of good “friends” who did this – constantly pointing out my “flaws” in a nicely said way so I wouldn’t say anything at the time, yet the comments hurt. They would also suss out my weak points (like yourself I was insecure with myself and pointed out my flaws to them which they jumped on like sharks to blood) and I put up with years of this crap behaviour – not worth it for the toll on the self esteem – being away from their negative comments has been a boon to my self esteem and happiness. So don’t waste your precious time on friends that show, by these comments, that they have ugly hearts and don’t take accountability for their own behaviour.
    Don’t react to them either – maybe that is what Irene was getting at – because some folks feed off of the negative emotional reactions of others – these are what is nowadays called “emotional vampires”

    If they point out what they see as a “flaw” you could say “dude, with your awesome powers of observation you seriously should think about becoming a detective” (I had a friend who was constantly asked if he was gay – his disarming response – only in my left ear) Or another thing you could say,when hearing such a comment is “that comment belongs to you so I’ll let you keep it” and walk away from them. Let them feel like the fool that they are. Here is a good article on body language when dealing with toxic people – it is from lights blog.

    http://lightshouse.org/lights-blog/how-to-use-body-language-repel-toxic-people#axzz29ZCTQ5VC

    My advise is to stop pointing out what you perceive as your flaws to your “friends” Some “friends” ( co-workers too) try and find weak points – and by pointing them out to you it makes them feel strong. I worked in retail and the women would pretend so I would tell them my personal stuff and weak points – told one that the door slamming bothered me so she went out of her way to constantly slam the door. Told another that I’m allergic to perfume so she wore a lot of it.

    Spend time with people who don’t need to bring you down in order to bring themselves up – where you can talk about projects, sports, cars, artistic interest, music. Here is where you will find the truly beautiful people. Your “friends” are just showing their true ugliness of character and, though they may seem beautiful now, the ugliness will show eventually in their eyes and be written on their faces and in their lives.

  9. Anonymous says:

    My therapist told me being silent gives permission for the verbal assault to continue.

    Maria – I think in time you will know whether to keep these people as friends or not. In COLLEGE, my two “friends” called my less-than-endowed chest “mosquito bites” and made fun at my boyfriend (now husband) for going bald so soon (“did his hair plug up the shower?”). I was in a position to retaliate when we went to our school’s formal dance as I was the only one who could re-use my prom dress, they had put on considerable weight. But I bit my tongue, because that was not my style. It also made me think, why would I even think up something like that to hurt them back? After pretty much feeling like the third wheel, I severed contact with them after college graduation.

  10. Anonymous says:

    She was ridiculed for her looks, and still is by petty people of a certain persuasion. She endured heartache. Yet she prevailed. Did not stop working to fight injustice. Kept FDR’s feet to the fire. A hell of a dame.

  11. Anonymous says:

    When people insult others, do they conclude their insults are validated if someone stands up to them? Or do they assume they can continue to insult the person, since the person hasn’t had the courage to tell them to shut the eff up. I don’t think we’re allowed to say the F word on this site, sadly (we are all adults here). It’s hard to say conclusively, isn’t it? “Am not, am too” of course is like grade school … but surely there is a method to speak up and stand up for yourself that is better than that. I’m not convinced that the insulters just wither up and go away when they are not spoken up to. Maybe some of them are, but not all of them.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I don’t dignify insults with attention or responses. Answering and reacting validates the insult. When I was a kid I used to get into am not, are too. Then my therapist taught me to be the bigger person.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.
    Why would you hang around people who you say insult you?
    If you decide to talk to your friends, use I statements and take responsibility for your feelings, “When you say X, I feel Y.”, but don’t blame your friends for your insecurities.
    Look at what you might be doing to encourage your friends to make such state us. I always find the only person I can change is me, and if situations keep occurring on my relationships, I’m the common denominator, so I’m the one who needs to change; either in my choice of friends or something I might be doing to induce this behavior.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Maria, I am sorry for what your friends are doing to you.
    I confess I don’t understand why friends would do this.
    Irene’s advice to not say anything in response when they criticize is interesting. I always thought if you don’t say something and call someone on their bad behavior, you are giving them the green light to do it again. Irene, what do you think? Meanwhile, Maria, all I know to say to you is to not let their opinions and comments make YOU feel bad about your appearance. Unless it’s really constructive criticism, such as telling you candidly which hairstyle looks better, you don’t have to believe what they say is true, or take it seriously. That’s one thing I wish as a young woman I had known. I used to take as Gospel truth anything bad someone would say about me. Then at some point I stopped believing that what they said was necessarily the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I hope this helps give you some strength to ignore them in your head and heart when they next say something mean. But I still wish Irene would tell us if ignoring them might give them license to go ahead and repeat the mean comments.

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