A couple of weeks ago, my mum came across a copy of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management in a charity shop, and picked it up for me, knowing I’d like it.

Since then, I’ve learned all kinds of useful things: like how Terry should be offering me his arm when we go into dinner, for instance. And that I should have, at the very least, a lady’s maid, a housemaid and a maid-of-all-work – because it’s just not possible to run a respectable household if you don’t have the right staff, is it? I’m going to get on that as soon as I finish writing this post, seriously.

Anyway, as interested as I am in the household management part (Well, do YOU know which duties your footman should be performing? Because I do.), it’s the insight into Victorian manners and etiquette that fascinates me most, because manners are something I find myself thinking about a lot: and, well, RANTING about a lot, to be perfectly honest.

I’m not really interested in manners/etiquette in the sense of which spoon to use with which course, or any of that stuff: no, I’m more interested in the way people interact with each other, and specifically in the things they say that they should probably think twice about. So today I present, a quick (by which I mean “lengthy”) guide to modern manners, in the form of the things you should never say to someone. Think of me as a modern Mrs Beeton, if you will.*

Here are some things I think you should never say to someone…

9 things you should never say to someone

01. “So, how much money do you make, then?”

I’m possibly being hopelessly old fashioned here, but I was raised to believe you should never ask someone how much they earn, how much money they have in the bank, or… just ANYTHING to do with money, really. Old fashioned or not, I still cringe whenever someone does this – which happens fairly often when you’re self-employed, actually. I normally just say something vague, like, “Oh, you know, enough to pay the bills!” but some people can be super-persistent, which makes me want to answer with, “How much would it take to shut you up? Because whatever it is, I’ll pay it…”

02. “Are you pregnant?”

I feel like this one is so obvious it shouldn’t need to be said, but almost every time I look at the Instagram accounts of certain female bloggers, I won’t have to read too many comments before I find one from someone asking if they’re pregnant. Seriously, people, DON’T DO THIS! If the person ISN’T pregnant, you’ve basically just told her she looks fat (I know there’s a big difference between ‘fat’ and ‘pregnant’, obviously, but that’s how it comes across, and I don’t think I know a single woman who wants to be told she looks pregnant when she isn’t…), and if she IS, well, demanding that she share that information with you puts her in the super-awkward position of having to either a) outright lie about it or b) reveal her personal business in a public forum, possibly before she’s ready to. No one wants to make a huge life announcement in response to a random comment on Instagram, so even if you suspect someone is pregnant, do them the courtesy of letting them decide how and when they’ll tell people about it.

03. “Why not? / When will you be?”

If the answer to the above question is “no”, this is usually the equally rude follow-up. Whatever the reason is, I can guarantee it’s personal, and there’s a good chance it’s sensitive, too… which you’re NOT being, by demanding that the person explain themselves. Zip it.

04. “Wow, I love your new haircut: it looks SO much better than the last one!”

Ah, the compliment that also contains a subtle insult! As flattering as it is to be told that your new hair is awesome, you just can’t help but be retrospectively insulted for the OLD hair… and quietly crushed by the new knowledge that your hair has looked horrific for the past few years. Similarly, comments like “You’ve lost so much weight: you look amazing!” are the kind of thing people say to be nice, but a friend who’d lost a lot of weight once told me the constant comments about it were actually quite hurtful, because they made her feel that she must have looked terrible before the weight loss, and had only recently started to look OK to people. I’d never thought of it like that, but these days I think it’s best not to comment on someone’s weight at all, unless they bring it up themselves: it’s just not a “safe” topic. So, for instance, comments like…

05. “You’re too thin/ fat / muscular / scrawny / <insert any other judgement about someone else’s body>”

… are NEVER OK.

06. “Why don’t you like X type of food? But WHY not? But WHY not? But WHY not? Just try it! Just try it! Just try it!”

There’s nothing more tedious than being expected to justify why you don’t like something, or being forced to “just try it!” for the hundredth time. I don’t like certain foods for the same reason you don’t like some kinds of food: because they doesn’t taste nice to me. There’s no big mystery, and asking me repeatedly isn’t going to make me go, “OH! You know what? I just remembered I DO like it after all!” Trying to force-feed it to me, meanwhile, will probably just make me gag: if I know I don’t like it, that means I already HAVE tried it, brainiac.

07. “Why aren’t you drinking?”

There could be SO many reasons why someone doesn’t want to drink alcohol, and none of them are anyone else’s business, really. They could be pregnant, and not ready to reveal it yet. They could be on medication for something they don’t want to talk about. Or, you know, revolutionary idea here, but MAYBE THEY JUST DON’T FEEL LIKE IT? So why is it so important to try to MAKE them drink?

08. “I didn’t like to say it at the time, but…”

If you didn’t think it was appropriate to say it at the time, it’s probably not appropriate to say it now, either.

09. “I’m not being rude, but…”

You know what? SAYING you’re not being rude isn’t the same as NOT BEING RUDE. In fact, if you find yourself having to preface a statement with “I’m not being rude…” there’s a good chance that you are, in fact, being rude. So don’t be.

Anything you’d like to add?

*(Not really, though, because I think she died when she was, like, 27 or something, and that makes me feel simultaneously sorry for her, and also a bit like a lazy good-for-nothing slob, given that in that time, she managed to run a household AND write a gigantic doorstep of a book, and I, meanwhile… well, I have a blog.)

(Which is probably at least twice as long as Mrs Beeton’s book, now I come to think of it. Ha! Take that, Mrs Beeton!)

72 Comments
  1. The whole ‘Are you pregnant’ thing drives me mad, it seems to happen to even the youngest, slimmest girls if they dare to have a less than flat stomach. People don’t seem to realise women have, you know, wombs in there.

  2. Yep. I’m amazed by how many people think it’s okay to pass commentary on someone else’s body, whether it’s to their face or not. And so much of it is couched as fake concern. Are you actually worried about that person’s health, or are you just hiding your mean comment behind faux-politeness. I see you, rude people!

  3. Oh my good, all of these!!! Actually as a blogger I always get asked how much money do you make – I don’t think people would find it acceptable to be asked themselves – at least not in the UK. I also can’t stand it when you don’t feel like drinking and people try to push you into it. I’m like I’m an adult and I’m allowed to make that decision if I want to!!!!!!

    1. Yeah, I think that maybe because blogging is still quite an unusual career to a lot of people, they seem to think it’s somehow exempt from the normal rules of polite conversation, and that it’s OK to demand to know all about the person’s personal finances!

      As for the drinking one, I have a friend who doesn’t drink at all, and it even annoys ME to see the way people react!

  4. Love that book! And to add one of my personal faces I’ve had a few times: ‘you don’t really wear makeup do you?’ Cue me thinking a) They must think I should or b) they must think I’m a slob 🙂

    1. In my case, I always seem to encounter people who think not wearing makeup somehow makes them morally superior or something, so they’ll be all, “Oh, I would NEVER wear makeup!” while looking pointedly at my lipstick – aaargh!

      1. I had this recently “oh I’d never wear make-up to work, what’s the point? Who’s going to see you?” … Well no one, but hell if I wanna wear my Rimmel 107, I’m gunna damn well wear it!! (Says me as I sit here with my 107 on!!) 🙂 x

  5. I have another thing: Never ask people why they think things are so hard to deal with.
    Like I suffer from really bad anxiety, and telling me that a thing isn’t that hard to do don’t make them less hard to deal with for me, it just make me feel stupid for getting anxiety.

    And I’ve never drink any alcohol at all, never have either. And while people accept that, I’ve been told a lot of time that I at least need to know what it’s like to be drunk. And no I don’t, I really don’t. And I don’t have to tell if anyone in my family have a drinking problem either.

    1. A related one to that is “Why are you so shy/why are you not talking?” Pretty much the LAST thing shy people want is to have attention drawn to their shyness, and to be expected to explain it – mortifying!

  6. Number 7 really hit home. I have posted about this on my blog too, but it’s like drinking is socially expected and if you don’t you’re either pregnant or weird. But indeed, revolutionary idea, maybe I just don’t want to. 🙂 Great post!!

    love,
    Margot

  7. People are mad. When I was pregnant on my little fella there was a girl in my local shop who was due at the same time as me and she was telling me one day that some women kept asking her was she sure she wasn’t having twins. Basically saying that she was far too huge to be just having one baby, the poor girl was in tears telling me. Some people have no cop at all.

    1. I think pregnant people seem to get a particularly rough deal with rude behaviour – I remember my best friend telling me that when she was pregnant, random stranger would walk up to her and start touching her bump: THE HELL?!

  8. For me it’s the question of having children and the responses when I say I don’t want children. “You don’t want children?!”, “You’ll change your mind”,”You just haven’t met the right man”. Really annoys me,especially when it comes from friends and family.

    1. SO MUCH THIS. It’s absolutely infuriating – I’ve had to walk out of rooms when people have started this kind of thing with me, because it annoys me SO MUCH!

      1. Me too, I’m in my fifties and never wanted kids. I’ve had taxi drivers telling me I’m not normal (because being a mum is a woman’s only role, right?), also the usual “not met the right man” stuff Rachel mentions. Now I’m older I get “oh you poor thing” too, as they’re thinking it’s too late now. I’m often pretty direct with people like that :-).

    2. Oh yes. Absolutely. I started French lessons last year, and in one of them we were discussing where we lived, who we lived with, where we worked etc. The teacher was asking everyone whether they had children and grandchildren – fair enough, it’s one of those basic ‘getting to know you’ questions that you encounter when you’re learning a language. When she got to me and I said I didn’t have any children, she said ‘Oh…well, you look quite young. There’s still time!’ Er, thanks. And I’ve had the same conversation so many times over the years – someone asks if I have kids, I say no, they say ‘Oh, well there’s still time!’ And then I have the choice between smiling and nodding while seething inside and allowing them to think it’s appropriate to comment on the reproductive choices of strangers, or saying ‘Actually, I’m not planning to have children’ and running the risk of being accused of being ‘argumentative’ or getting into the whole ‘You’ll change your mind! You just need to meet the right person!’ conversation. I plain don’t want kids (and I’m 34 and there’s still nothing about the whole idea that appeals) and that sort of conversation is annoying enough – I can’t imagine how people who can’t have kids, or who are trying to get pregnant without success, must feel when a stranger decides to ask them a million questions about why they haven’t dropped a sprog ‘yet’.

  9. Hah, people can be so rude, and somehow it’s worse when it’s untintentional.

    As a vegetarian, ‘but WHY don’t you eat meat?’ is my number one rude question. It’s usually followed by an hour’s lecture on why the person thinks I should eat meat, my various failings in choosing a diet that differs from theirs, all the faulty pop science they have at their fingertips, etc, etc. Apparently just standing there eating a spicy bean burger is enough to send people into frenzies over this subject.

    Marie Kondo seems like she’s be right up your street, Amber. 😉

    1. Oh God, yes: I have a nephew who’s a strict vegetarian, and some people just CANNOT get over it, and will constantly try to force him to eat meat. It’s almost like they’re personally offended by it or something. I do eat meat, but I absolutely detest fish, to the point that it would literally make me gag to try to eat it, and I dread the subject coming up, because a lot of people seem to be almost angry at me, and just point-blank refuse to accept it, preferring instead to tell me that they know what I like better than I do. So bizarre!

      1. I do not understand why people take it so personally. I mean, they’re getting angry about someone else’s dietary choices. WHY? What is it about this subject that makes people take personal offence? It’s such a bizarre reaction.

        I don’t know if you get this with your fish thing, but there’s always an element of self-congratulations to it too. The lecture usually ends up with the person congratulating themselves on how much meat they eat and how much bacon and steak they would eat if they could. Like… that’s nice for you? Leave me alone now, please? Yeesh.

    2. I second this! I have had people try to force me to eat meat and then lecture me about how vegetarians are always trying to change other people’s eating habits! Let me eat my veggies in peace!

      1. Now you mention it, I’ve never once had a vegetarian try to convince me to change my diet but I’ve seen people try to do it to them SO many times: it must be absolutely infuriating!

  10. ABsolutely with you on the money thing – I was brought up with the idea that mentioning money is tacky and it’s something which I really don’t think is acceptable dinner conversation. I also HATE the idea that anyone should comment on people’s size and shape, knowing how hyper-sensitive I am to any comment alluding to anything like that. Ugh.
    I have also been tee-total for many years and goodness it’s annoying to constantly have to justify my “why” to everyone I’m with.

  11. I now feel a burning need to know what duties my footman should be performing….

    I completely agree with everything on your list. I hate when people comment on how quiet I am while we are all in the middle of a big group of people. Like that is going to make me suddenly feel so comfortable that I get up to do a song and dance to amuse them all. I don’t comment on how loud they are, why do they comment on how quiet I am? Pet peeve right there. I also hate the clear implication that there is something wrong with being quiet.

    1. Totally: a lot of people definitely seem to have the perception that extroversion is the “right” or “normal” way to be, and introversion is wrong, instead of seeing them as being simply different. And I always wonder what on earth they think they’re going to achieve by drawing attention it to – it actually makes me want to be even MORE quiet!

  12. I love this post! The one about asking women if they’re pregnant is the one that’s happened to me the most – I have three children, and have a lovely little “post THREE c-sections” belly (totally worth it for my three beautiful children), but have been asked several times over the years if I was pregnant and when am I due. If it’s a total stranger, I’ll say something like, “I know, my belly’s horrible, isn’t it?? The doctors SWORE it would go down after I finished radiation, but it just hasn’t!” and the looks on their faces are always PRICELESS!!! If it’s someone I know socially, however (which is even more awkward), I never want to make them feel bad, so I usually just say “Oh, I’m not – I MUST get rid of this top/dress/whatever I happen to be wearing that day if it makes me look that way!”

  13. I agree with all of these and the ones added in the comments, too! I’m not a big drinker, maybe one or two every six months or so, and having to justify why I don’t feel like drinking drives me crazy. And being told that I’m being too quiet just makes me want to be even more quiet. Also, the money thing… I’m an engineer and maybe it has something to do with the fact that there’s not a lot of females in that career, but I am constantly being asked how much money I make. 🙁 Or, something finance related will come up in conversation and the other female will make the comment, “but I don’t make the kind of money you make,” when they don’t truly know what I make and they’re just making assumptions. Plus, that always makes me feel like responding, “Well, you had the same options for choosing a career path as me. Don’t try to make me feel bad because your choice was different.”

    1. “Well, you had the same options for choosing a career path as me. Don’t try to make me feel bad because your choice was different.”

      This is awesome: totally different career, obviously, but I’m always seeing people put down bloggers by saying things like, “Well, I wish I could make money just by taking photos of my outfits!” and I always want to say, “Well, why don’t you, then?” It’s not like careers are handed out at birth or something!

  14. “Why aren’t you married yet?” (As if this is completely your decision or any of their business)
    “Can’t you tone down your personality?” (I have a friend who gets asked this a lot and I like the suggestion that she think of it as a request to turn down the volume instead of turn off the personality)
    The pregnant thing is crazy. I do not know why being pregnant gives people permission to touch your belly or comment on your siae. Yes, that is somebody else in there but my skin is covering them. Personal space invasion!
    Speaking of personal space invasion—
    “Why aren’t you a huggy person?” (Some people are and some people are not and that is okay)

    1. Marriage questions drive me bonkers! Just because my partner and I have been together for a number of years, doesn’t mean we are somehow obligated to get married soon. I like to think people ask about marriage because they know I will throw one hell of a party 😉

    2. Yes, I used to get the marriage question a lot, too, like there was something I could do to make Mr. Right magically appear.

  15. Hi Amber-I’ve been a longtime lurker (love the blog!) and am usually content to stay that way, but had to add another one. . .

    Don’t say “Smile!”, or make any other comment on what you think my emotional state is (or should be) based on your observation of me. True story: a few years ago my mom had a heart attack and her prognosis was so poor that I immediately left home and flew several states away to see her. I spent all day traveling and arrived at the hospital very late. It was well past normal visiting hours and only people vising patients in the intensive care unit were allowed in (meaning that if you were there visiting someone, it was serious). I was exhausted, both physically and mentally, and it showed. One of the security guards looked at me and said, “Come on now, honey, it can’t be that bad, can it?” Um, yes, Mr. Security Guard, it WAS that bad, but thanks for minimizing the entire situation. I only had the energy to ignore him.

    1. Oh wow, that’s absolutely awful – I’m so sorry you had to deal with that 🙁 I HATE the “smile, it might never happen!” thing for exactly that reason: I mean, how do they know it HASN’T?! And, I mean, OK, I have resting bitchface, so that’s just what I look like most of the time, but you’d think people in a HOSPITAL would show a little more tact!

    2. This “Smile!” thing is a major pet peeve of mine too, and in my experience is very sexist. Men don’t get this in the same way. It infuriates me because it implies the person being told to smile has an obligation to make the person saying it feel welcome in some way and it invalidates whatever perfectly natural feelings the person being told must be feeling. I’ve heard it so often and it just makes me want to punch the person saying it in the face. Kind of the opposite effect I think they are going for.

      1. I also have RBF, and get told (always by men) to ‘smile’ ALL. THE. TIME. It drives me absolutely nuts! My solution is to give them a smile that is more psychotic serial killer than sweet little girl. Never had anyone ask me to smile twice 😉

  16. These sort of questions really get my goat. There is a reason I drink very little but I don’t want to tell everybody, I am shy and telling me so won’t make me less so, I’m not pregnant my belly is bumpy for other reasons (apart from being Little Miss Greedy, lol!) I’m nearly 40 and have had people telling me I will change my mind about wanting children. Um….I don’t think so! The only children I like are those that call me Auntie Nanna and that I can give back 😉

    I think a lot of people are intolerant of others deep down, or even not so deep, and cannot compute that there are people who make choices that are not “normal” in their view.

  17. I lived through the “you’ve lost so much weight, you look amazing!” one for a while (not to say I’ve put the weight back on everyone’s just used to it now). It definitely does give you a sense that people thought you looked terrible before. I also got “It’s such a shame you didn’t lose all that weight before your wedding.” That one is a real killer.

    B x

  18. I love Mrs Beeton. She was basically a Victorian blogger, the book of Household Management was a magazine supplement they turned into a book.
    Anyway, yes, I’ve lost a load of weight this year, and I’ve never told anyone how it makes me feel when they tell me I look great, it’s nice, but yeah, I thought I still looked ok before thanks 😀
    And, the money one. Ugh. I’ve been proper cornered by people demanding to know how and exactly how much money I make blogging. GO AWAY!

  19. When I was pregnant I had someone once said to me ”Your baby is going to be huge!” as I ended up putting on weight – how the ‘f” do I answer that! I ended up walking away from her and since avoided speaking to her. I ended up losing my baby and told I can’t have kids, It not something I especially talk about but since then I keep getting comment saying ”one day” ‘or they doing amazing technological thing with child-bearing these day”. The fact is my husband and I are happy we don’t have a child at the moment (there always the talk of adoption but not for a long time) and we’re enjoying each other company, that shouldn’t bother anyone else. I could write a whole book on this subject. x

    1. It is devastating to lose a child. Your story is a perfect example of why it’s more than rude to say stuff about pregnancy. Conversations shouldn’t be mine fields for the grieving. I know “sorry for your loss” doesn’t help but I am glad you are healing.

        1. I’m pregnant and all sorts of people feel it is okay to talk to me about… I get that babies are lovely but being told ‘you are massive when is baby due and ‘oh you must be so excited’ just makes me feel bad as I’m actually more anxious than excited just now and I find myself having to muster up some sort of acceptable response to people that I would not normally discuss my personal stuff with.

          1. ^ Yes the general chatter of baby/pregnancy talk made me feel really anxious especially when I was having health problem. I also find that the general rule of ‘if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all” just goes out of the window.

  20. I’m a new mum, and I hate comments about how I should be raising my child. How I have to leave him to scream when he’s clearly upset instead of picking him up and cuddling him. I love cuddling him! Lol… He literally just woke up!

  21. Another one I’d add is: if someone is really bothered/affected by something you do, DON’T DO IT. I, for instance, hate it when people repeatedly click their pens, and it can sometimes even trigger my anxiety. But when I tell them that, do they stop? Why, OF COURSE they don’t! They’ll just do it faster and louder. I once had stop in the middle of an oral presentation because two classmates were clicking their pens and I literally couldn’t think.
    As another example, I hate having people all up my neck. I only need to mention that and I can garantee you, they will touch, caress, breathe, talk, everything next to my neck. Is it really that hard NOT to do it? I literally JUST told you I don’t like it!

  22. The comments that bug me are those that say I am loosing weight or trying a new dress because I have a new man. I can’t do those things for me?

  23. “Gosh, you look really tired/ill” – Thanks a lot, I DO feel really tired/ill, and you telling me I look like crap just made me feel soooooo much better!

    I got congratulated for being pregnant at a work event once. Turns out he’d just got me mixed up with someone else who WAS pregnant, but the damage was already done – just half an hour before I’d been telling my friend I didn’t want to take my cardi off because I was wearing a tight dress and felt really bloated. I couldn’t get it out of my head then, I literally couldn’t be myself for the rest of the day ’cause I just wanted to melt into the wallpaper!

    1. Oh no!

      Once when I was in my first job (so about 19 or something), a colleague came up to me and said something like, “Look, we’ve all been wondering, so I just decided to ask: are you pregnant?” I was so upset that I went home and cried – and I actually still remember that comment even now, whenever I try to wear something stretchy: I’ve always been fairly thin, but I’ve ALSO always had a little bit of a pot belly, and it only took that one comment (and obviously the knowledge that she was the one who said it, but apparently EVERYONE was thinking it) to destroy the years of work my mum had put into assuring me that of COURSE I didn’t look pregnant, why NO ONE would think that!

  24. I’m not sure if it really counts, but I think it’s similar – I don’t drink and I always get questioned about why I don’t. And some people seem to think it’s some kind of mission to get me hammered, and I have absolutely no idea. It’s like it’s unthinkable that I don’t enjoy alcohol.

    1. My son in the military deliberately got drunk one time so that it no longer was a challenge to his “friends” to have him experience it. He said there were too many guys on base who thought it was fun to get non-drinkers drunk. So he could say, “oh, I’ve been drunk before and it was not that much fun” and they would leave him alone.

  25. Hm, I’m pregnant right now, and I’ve just crossed into visibly pregnant, and nobody has asked me if I’m pregnant or when I’m due or tried to touch my belly or anything like that (the people I’ve told have asked when I’m due, obvs). I guess I’m just lucky? Or I have a fantastic RBF? 😉

  26. Being a fat introvert who doesn’t drink, I can totally relate to most of this post! Is it really any wonder that I prefer to curl up on the couch with a book than go out? Oh, and I can’t stand fish either, so I feel you there too. 🙂

  27. If someone happens to have a visible injury of some kind, the knee-jerk reaction from others seems to be “Oh My God, what happened to you!?” That question, while it comes from a place of concern, veers right into NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS territory. Whatever caused the injury, well, that might not be the nicest story. That might not be a story they are willing to share. Or more specifically, that might not be a story they are willing to share WITH YOU. It could even be an embarrassing story! I think it best to never accost a perfect stranger and demand they tell you why they have a black eye. And certainly one should never guess about what caused it (“Where you in a car accident?! Did you get in a fight?! Did your boyfriend do this?!”) Close friends, of course, concern for their safety trumps manners, but maybe wait until they offer the information themselves.

  28. I have said a few of these. I clearly remember saying “why are you not drinking?” What’s worse is when you know you offended the person somehow but you keep going. I would add “do they all have the same father” to the list. I was working with someone who had 15 kids, so naturally I asked. Lol, I should have keep my question to myself. Awesome list! Thanks for sharing.

  29. The one for “Why aren’t you drinking?” hits the nail on the head for me. I hate when (even as an adult) people try to peer pressure me. Most of the time, like you said, I just don’t feel like it! Awesome post!

  30. I run a fair bit (as you know, ha!) and ran to 32 weeks during both pregnancies. My husband, club and crucially, my midwife, were really supportive and I’m an adult, I know my own body and I’m not an idiot. First time around people would frown and ask “are you sure that’s sensible?” clearly already judging me as an unfit mother?! Second time around people know better, they might have thought it but luckily never said anything.

    Maybe it’s because nothing else I do is interesting or of note but friends, family, colleagues all delight in passing comment on my running. I don’t do ultras, a few marathons a year at the most, but most of the time I just do it for health, wellbeing and me time. All the time I get the “it’s bad for your knees/back/hips” whatever, “you’re mad”, “are you mad?” comments etc because I enjoy it and don’t let wind, rain, snow put me off. So yeh, if Mrs Beeton ever went for an update, here’s some stuff to say to people re: a regular, everyday Joe hobby!!

  31. Most of these seem super obvious, but I genuinely think women should be asking each other how much they make. Not talking about it is one of the reasons women don’t always feel comfortable asking for a raise. There is a time and a place, of course, but especially with blogging, it’s so difficult to measure your own worth, it’s important to open a conversation about what’s the normal range for certain things or how it’s perceived.

  32. Lovely post, and to add to your friend’s perspective, the problem with people commenting on weight loss is often how they phrase it. ‘You look amazing’ is obviously nice, but I have had people tell me ‘oh have you lost weight? You look so much healthier!/better!/nicer!’ which, like the comments on hair you were quoting, make a not-so-flattering comparison with how I USED to look. Oh and there was the splendid ‘I am so glad you started taking care of yourself’, which is obviously patronising on so many levels…

  33. Commenting on this far too late. Many of the things that I find annoying are down here and come in the form of questions. I’d reiterate the one about not wanting children. Am I mad?? Oh, but I’m bound to change my mind and be a “normal” woman. Hot on the heels of that is the supposition that I obviously “don’t like children” then. Far, far from it, but I just don’t have the desire to give birth to any.

    The “Why are you a vegetarian?” and “Why don’t you drink?” ones are getting a bit rusty. That said, if I am asked a sensible question, for example about it being part and parcel of a bigger picture (health, fitness etc) then I’m happy to answer.

    The silliest question I was ever asked happened when I was 17: “Why do you like punk??”, the “like” emphasised to suggest I was a numpty for liking such awful music. Well, it would be a dull world if we were all the same!

  34. To me, the majority of things that people question are the things that don’t fit with their boring, average and generally unimaginative perspective on how life should be, i.e. the people who are rude enough to ask why aren’t you pregnant, why haven’t you got married, why don’t you drink etc. are the same people who think everyone should fit neatly into a preconceived box and be able to complete a checklist of marriage, children, mortgage, drink alcohol, eat meat, be sexually attracted to the opposite sex…Anyone who doesn’t fit perfectly into these categories must therefore be weird and causes them to really question that person. I for one, am happpy to be weird if it means deviating from the norm. I am considerate enough never to ask such rude questions of anothe person, and for it never to cross my mind. I am also strong enough to know that a) I don’t want children and no, my mind will never change, b) I am happier and healthier being someone who has only had about 5 units of alcohol in her entire life and c) my life choices, however much they may be questioned, will never be swayed by external pressure. I just wish people would be kind enough to realise that some such questions are hurtful and unnecessary though ultimately, of no consequence if you have already decided how you wish to live.

  35. I get annoyed when asked Which political party I’m going to vote for, especially by campaigners outside the polling booth. People have died so that I can have a secret ballot, and I’m going to honour that.

  36. Oh yes! I’m in the not-slender size bracket and on a number of occasions in the past when I was probably actually pretty slim I’ve been asked if I’m pregnant. And I don’t drink these days either – being designated driver does make for a useful excuse though 🙂

  37. I get asked a lot when I’m going to have a baby, like it’s anyone’s business but mine and my husband’s. I’ve been told that having a baby is the only reason to get married so why haven’t I popped at least one out by now. It’s so frustrating. I find myself so upset about it, but at the time so blindsided that i get all flustered instead of telling the person off for being such an insensitive idiot.

  38. A million thank yous for adding the pregnant one. I have been asked this several times in my life and every time it has been hurtful for a variety of reasons. Right now, it makes me cry because I WANT to be pregnant and am working on saving the money to be able to afford to do it myself. But in the past it was because I was struggling with weight or self-confidence and while people say it because they want to share in your joy, having a chemist saying ‘when’s this bub coming then?’ while you’re picking up medicines is really upsetting.

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