How to politely chastise a rude stranger?

by Shawty
(Fairfax, VA, USA)

It happens more often than I can handle, usually when I am in an already awkward situation, like on an elevator.

Some stranger will ask me out of the blue if I'm a midget. I don't find it unusual for people to comment on my size, since I am very petite, only 4'9", but I am very offended and taken aback that they would just blurt out something like that.

Not only is it politically incorrect to call a little person a midget, but I am clearly just tiny, and have no visible deformities characteristic of diseases that cause dwarfism.

Why do they find it so amusing to embarrass me? I know if I did truly resemble the lollipop guild they would never say something so brazen.

That's like approaching a stranger and exclaiming that she's overweight, or joking about the glare on a bald man's scalp.

I am tired of laughing and politely deflecting and I would prefer to say something to let them know their comment is unwanted and unwarranted. Can you please help?

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Mar 24, 2013
Reply with a smirk and nonsense. NEW
by: WizeChiklet

I like this approach:
(RP - Rude Person, M - Me)

RP - "Are you ________ (insert rude remark/question)?"

M - "Do you like marshmallows with mustard or grapefruit?"


It defies a response because it breaks the flow of the rude person's thinking, and not only do they fail to elicit the desired humiliation, they have no idea what just happened.

Heh ..

I also like the matter-of-fact shrug off.

RP - "Are you ______"?
M - "Nope." (casual grin, then look away)

RP - "You're overweight."
M - "you're right." (casual grin, then look away)

Dec 22, 2011
Keep it short and sweet (pun intended) NEW
by: Anonymous

I always say, "I may be short, but you're the one that needs to grow up."

Jan 11, 2010
Straight-Faced Answer
by: Anonymous

I've found that the most effect way to stop someone from picking on you (whatever your issue) is to simply answer. For instance, if the stranger asks, "Are you a midget?" They're wanting a shock - to blow out your candle to make their own look brighter. Simply look them in the eyes and say, "No, I'm not." Do not be rude back - they are expecting that. Do not tell them you are hurt - they often mean to hurt you. Do not nervously laugh - it only gratifies them more by being able to make you accept their insults. If they pry after you answer by saying something like, "Well, what are you?" Smile and say, "I'm a woman" or "I'm a lawyer" or whatever - don't addres the height issue because, to you, it is not an issue. Not allowing them to break your confidence or blow out your candle will only make them feel miserable and less likely to make such remarks to others. This is works for me.

Dec 18, 2009
Reply Honestly
by: Anonymous

I am also very petite, 5'0" (I say five foot, none) LOL I have endured this all my life with remarks about being "picked before I was ripe," or asked, "what's it like DOWN there"? So, I understand the frustratin and humiliation you are feeling. My remark to the last stranger who commented on my height was this, "You know, I am hurt by your comment." and looked directly in his eyes and smiled (a sad smile). After a few seconds of shock, he profusely apologized and the folks standing around us applauded me. I felt vindicated and (hopefully) he learned a lesson.

Nov 13, 2009
Polite chastisement
by: Emma

Perhaps you could simply smile and say, "oh, that's an interesting question/idea", and then ask them if they have any idea what the weather's like,or if they think the Cowboys will win the playoffs. They won't dare ask a second time, and if they do look at them, smile and then ignore them.


Say,"Excuse me, what did you say?" If they repeat the question, shake your head and say," I'm so sorry,but I don't understand the question, would you please repeat it again? If they have the chutzpah to actually repeat it again,say "I am so sorry, I don't understand you." or, "beg your pardon?". They'll get the point soon enough.

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