An Older Jewish Woman Inappropriately Asked Someone About Their Weight and the Internet Is Going Wild – Kveller
Skip to Content Skip to Footer


An Older Jewish Woman Inappropriately Asked Someone About Their Weight and the Internet Is Going Wild

Barbra Streisand's unfortunate comment about Ozempic feels unfortunately familiar.

30th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards – Show

via Getty Images

Earlier this week, EGOT winner Barbra Streisand took a break from her glorious life of cloning beautiful dogs, owning her own personal mall, and being someone who people willingly listen to a 48-hour audiobook about to comment on a picture actress Melissa McCarthy shared on Instagram of herself wearing a lovely pastel green ensemble and getting ready to go to a charity gala with director Adam Shankman. That comment was, “Give him my regards did you take Ozempic?”

In an instant, a portal opened in the space/time continuum and every Jewish person reading said comment was transported to the Facebook and Instagram feeds of their own Jewish mothers and grandmothers where such comments — those that defy the laws of grammar, an understanding of how voice-to-text work and the difference between sending a personal message and posting a public comment — exist in abundance. Perhaps many people were similarly transported to every time their Jewish mother or grandmothers had mistaken a comment that completely lacked of basic courtesy, empathy and tact for an act of love and kindness.

And so we found ourselves asking: Is Babs all of our Jewish grandmothers?

This comment brought to mind other comments, like the time your mother was looking at a picture of you when you were 17 at your aunt’s Jewish wedding and “fondly” said “you’ll never be this skinny again,” or when your grandmother “kindly” told you that you can’t wear skirts this short when you have those thighs and how good you look in black BUT ONLY BLACK, or like that family member at a Shabbat dinner who “helpfully” told you, an adult person who has birthed other people, that you should probably stop putting that forkful of pasta in your mouth and leave the table.

Oh sorry, I just got distracted by what are not at all traumatic moments I have not at all personally experienced. Where was I? So, yes, Barbra wrote a misguided, offhanded comment, and multiple Very Serious Publications around the internet then wrote about the comment, to which I must say, in my best fake Jewish grandmother voice (think Sylvia from “The Nanny”): “An older woman inappropriately saying something about someone’s weight? This is news??”

Perhaps even more relatable was Barbra’s response to the “news,” which she shared on her Instagram stories, maybe with the help of her intrepid social media manager, Craig (bless you, Craig), that read: “OMG — I went on Instagram to see the photos we’d posted of the beautiful flowers I’d received for my birthday! Below them was a photo of my friend Melissa McCarthy who I sang with on my Encore album. She looked fantastic! I just wanted to pay her a compliment. I forgot the world is reading!”

It is clear from this comment that Barbra sees absolutely nothing wrong with the comment itself, only with the public forum she shared it on (and that she really just wanted another opportunity to boast about the honestly quite gorgeous 42 floral arrangements she got on her birthday).

Honestly, it’s this non-apology apology that feels the most viscerally real to me, a chubby little Jewish mom. Because she is miles, maybe galaxies away from the point. I doubt that Babs, as brilliant as we all acknowledge her to be, will ever reach anywhere near the vicinity of said point in her lifetime (most of Hollywood still hasn’t, to be fair). I’m sure she still believes her comment was mensch-y and kind.

Of course, there’s nothing particularly Jewish about thinking that any comment that amounts to “you look thinner” or “you look skinny” are the pinnacle of all compliments, not even now, in 2024, with all talks of body acceptance. I would add there’s nothing that even makes this approach a symptom of a particular generation. So many of us still, wittingly and unwittingly, pleasantly and unpleasantly, worship at the altar of thinness, doing so much to try to attain or maintain it.

As for McCarthy, who is probably used to such comments, she took no public umbrage at the comment. “The takeaway: Barbra Streisand knows I exist, she reached out to me — and she thought I looked good! I win the day,” she shared in a video in which she really did look so good. I need that satiny floral outfit, and also that wallpaper, stat!

Barbra is a maker of culture, and so, if you are like me, a person who has to live with the sting of these types of comments on the regular, next time someone in your life adds to your collection of “kindhearted” lines, instead of getting mad, may I suggest just replying, “Give him my regards did you take Ozempic?”

Skip to Banner / Top Skip to Content