Family Court: Judgments at Reunion Time

The word “family”gets eyes rolling and pushes some people’s hot buttons of insecurity or far more negative emotions. When it comes to the Big Family Reunion, maybe to attain acceptance, it’s time to switch to zippers.    — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — I have a family reunion (huge, people fly in from around the country and we have committees to organize it) coming up and I’m finding I’m vainer for this thing than my high school reunion! I mean, hair, Botox, liposuction vain. What accounts for this nuttiness for family members who should love me no matter what?  — Relatively Vain


Dear Relatively Vain,

Well you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. No one can bring out your insecurities with off-handed discussions about your complexion, your butt or the intimate sundries of your life like family. Comments friends, coworkers and acquaintances would never dare utter (with you in the room) are free fodder for full family discussion because on some level you share DNA.

I’m sure, somewhere there are families who are not doing this to each other. But, I come from a traditional African-American family where only the deep dark family secrets are off the table. If it’s your physicality—weight gained or lost, hair cut or grown—doctor’s notes, test results, or dating status, is all in-bounds. This alone is enough to make you slimfast, bodyshape, and nip/tuck to avoid scrutiny. Though you should realize, this is your family, those nip/tucks, etc. are still open for discussion.

Remember family is family. If you are feeling insecure, remember that’s your stuff. They may be obnoxious. They may pry and discuss your body like a newly purchased side of beef, but they love you. They care and they will always be there for you—whether you Botox before or not. But, please realize, if you Botox, they will know—and talk about it. If you get breast implants, butt implants, rhinoplasty or anything else that changes the outcome of the genetic materials you share—they will talk about it—and probably not nicely .

So, what’s the answer. Know that it is not just you. Truly nutty, loving families come in all shapes and sizes. Your family loves you, no matter if or how they are able to show it. The fact that everyone spends the time and money to come together for the reunion—proves it. Be compassionate about your families over-sharing. Do not judge them for it or choose to feel judged. Instead, decide this is one way that your family shares the big stuff and the minutia of family because they care enough to want to know it all. Choose to be you. Be comfortable and accept that family is as family does. Choose to accept yourself, your family, your genes and the scrutiny that comes with it. U B U. Get your hair done. Make sure you have a nice outfit and clean underwear (in case of accident) and go in there as yourself. That’s all they want to see, anyway.

Good luck,



Dear Relatively Vain,

Confession! I’m that weirdo for whom the word “family” has a strongly positive association — including our shared delusion that we’re all smokin’ hot. So…

You can love, hate, or in-between them, but while family are the people most of us wouldn’t normally choose as our friends, they are our first identifiers/labelers, and perspective/values givers to How the World Really Is. This deep seeded imprinting is hard but not impossible to overcome, should you decide you’re ready to drop your story (e.g., I’m fat; will never amount to anything; or tall people are richer, etc.) or otherwise “rewrite your script.”

Generally, I don’t mind enhancements and procedures if you’re truly doing them for you or your health. I mind (for you) that you seem to have undergone a lot of time, expense and pain for other peoples’ (shared DNA or not) approval. Go stand in the mirror naked and stare and stare at your face and body. If you’re really brave, take some pictures (or have a friend do it); you can always Delete them later. Note what you like and dislike, hate and love about whichever parts pull and keep your eyes staring. Finally, to the parts you most dislike or even hate, say out loud to them, “Thank you for helping me see the world,” or “Digesting the nutrients that give me energy,” or “Giving me a portable, comfortable seat to sit on,” etc. You get the idea. Say out loud your praise and gratitude statements to these parts — touch or hold them as you speak — at least once a day, preferably naked in the shower or as you’re dressing for your day. [Acceptance doesn’t mean throwing up you hands and “settling” for your crappy parts, oh well. You can choose to actively make changes/ improvements/ enhancements to these parts while you praise and thank for what they do for you in their perfection today. This acceptance of responsibility helps us close the circle of self-acceptance.]

You can always buy New & Improved! cheekbones and hair, but inside out, you will still reflect the worst bits and pieces your family passed along, if you don’t make the true changes you deem necessary to live that more authentically beautiful version of You.

We are family,



Image, Frida Kahlo’s Family Tree

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2 responses to “Family Court: Judgments at Reunion Time

  1. Families are likely the most challenging group of individuals we can learn to successfully navigate. If so, then more power to us out in the world with its other groups. Try to keep this lesson in mind when Aunt So-and-So or cuzn KnowsItAll pokes and prods your hot button next time.

  2. Very interesting read…so true

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