Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Family making fun of your “perfectly normal” weight? Did you just get professionally “ghosted” at work?

DEAR NATALIE: I have been struggling for many years over the fact that my mother has been painting a picture of me that is totally untrue. I'm trying to understand if she feels she is venting for my sake our hers. This is about my weight, which is very normal and has been confirmed very normal by my doctor. He says I am right in the middle of where I should be. On the other hand, my mom is completely convinced I have an eating problem, simply because I am normal weight and she is not. If I tell her I eat plenty and sometimes more than I should, she gives me this look as if I am lying. In family situations, she is always sure to question what is on my plate in front of others. She doesn't see the first two plates of food I eat and then focuses on the small portion that I added, convincing herself and others that I do, in fact, have an issue with eating.  The truth of the matter is that I do eat a lot and I must be lucky that I can wear if off. I am also physically active which obviously helps. My husband laughs at how much I eat and jokes about it but I have had other family members approach me on this topic and say things to me as if they can't believe how thin I am. These people are not looking with their eyes but with their imaginations. When I respond that I am not skinny, they make a face, like I don't see what they do. I am 5'3 and 122-125 lbs, hardly underweight-just normal weight. What would they like me to weigh to satisfy themselves? I am also a 50 year old woman and not an adolescent and I'm not sure why all this focus is on me. Why is my mother doing this and why can't others see that I am normal, and why are they following her lead instead? It's been very frustrating, hurtful, and emotionally draining to even be around any of them. It's almost laughable to think everyone considers me anorexic! -- BITE ME

DEAR BITE ME: Your mother is jealous and projecting her own frustrations about her own eating habits and weight issues on to you. Your family needs to get a grip. The fact is, you are a fit and healthy 50-year-old who has a naturally fast metabolism and takes care of herself and that irritates your family. So what can you do? Don’t change anything that you are doing, but instead, the next time your mom brings up your weight, tell her she may want to focus on her own health and not worry so much about yours. Sound harsh? Maybe, but if you don’t stand up for yourself and let the family know that when they comment on your weight it hurts your feelings and makes you not want to be around them. They may not even realize that they are upsetting you, thinking that “thin” people can’t be offended. They probably wouldn’t make these same kind of comments if you were struggling with losing weight, but for whatever reason, being within a healthy weight makes you a target. But don’t let the haters get you down. It’s always easier to poke fun at someone else who has it together than to work on themselves. In the end, it really shouldn’t be able the number on the scale, anyway, but how we feel in our own skin. And some people aren’t self-aware enough to realize that.  Let them chew on that for a while.

DEAR NATALIE:Why do people suddenly stop responding an ongoing email correspondence with no explanation? For example: I've been trying to arrange a business meeting and all was going well. We were settling on a time and was told he would get back to me by the end of the day. Then nothing, no response. Several days later, I emailed a reminder that I was eager to meet with them, no response. I tried three times during the next week and still nothing. In my last email I asked if they were still interested, still no response so I finally gave up. This happens so many times during the past several years that I have lost count. A simple 'no thank you' or 'not at this time' would have been appreciated. Instead, I feel ignored and left in the dark. Not to mention I  wasted my time waiting, wondering and keeping my calendar open for a meeting that I was sure would take place. Is this the new “No” and the way it is now or is it just poor manners? I'm very confused and frustrated at this kind of behavior. -- PLEASE RESPOND

DEAR PLEASE RESPOND: Sounds like you were ghosted. With all of these ways to communicate, it seems as though we are communicating more ineffectually than ever before. When things become easy, things become less valued. I think it is rude and completely unprofessional that he did that to you. This should not be the new normal and we should not be okay with it. In the future, I would make sure you have a telephone number as well as an email so that you can try and connect in multiple ways. Sometimes,  I will text someone on their cell to let them know that I have emailed them. It seems ridiculous to have to leave bread crumbs for people to follow a trail, but I have heard from so many people, “Oh I hardly check my email.” How do you run a business without checking email? I have even resorted to private messaging on Instagram to let someone know that I had read and responded to their email. Sounds insane, but here we are. In any case, don’t be a part of this problem, but instead be a part of the solution. Respond to people within 24-48 hours. Give them multiple ways to communicate with you, when possible. Set yourself a mental time frame for how long you will wait on someone to respond, and never ghost anyone. If you can’t make a meeting or need to reschedule, just tell them. The more we accept bad behavior, the more normalized it will become. It’s not the way to run a business and if he can’t figure that out, I guess he will have to learn the hard way when reliable people like you stop trying to meet with him because of his bad manners.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: I’m inspired by the question above. Ghosting is rude, unprofessional and bad for business. If you don’t have time for someone or don’t want to meet with them, a simple, “Thank you for thinking of me but right now my plate is full. I hope we can connect down the road!” will do wonders for how they perceive you moving forward.

Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email,; or through postal mail to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Follow her on Twitter at @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)