Queer Eye's Karamo Brown Shares the Best Way to Dodge Nosy Family Members' Questions During the Holidays

Karamo Brown has news for you: It’s okay to take time for yourself over the holidays.

Queer Eye‘s culture expert knows firsthand how difficult it can be to step back from personal obligations in order to recharge this time of year. But for the sake of your sanity — and your wallet — Brown says it’s crucial to remember that saying “no” is always an option.

“You gotta give yourself permission to take time for yourself,” Brown urges, riffing on one of costar Jonathan Van Ness‘ eminently quotable lines. “Be stern on that. Give yourself permission to say no, enough is enough.” 

With holiday parties, family gatherings and gift exchanges crowding the calendar, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, under-prepared and guilted into showing up for events that wind up draining your holiday spirit — not to mention your bank account.

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“I think it’s something that we all feel like, during the holidays especially with work, family, with everyone—that we have to do everything,” Brown tells PEOPLE. But it’s important to be honest with yourself and your loved ones when you’ve reached your limit, and setting boundaries to maintaining clear communication are key, he says.

“Say ‘I’m not gonna be able to show up today the way you might want me to, but you know, I will do the best that I can,’” he suggests. “That’s totally okay. Don’t feel like you have to get everyone the best gift or that you have to make every party.”


Brown recently teamed up with Ford to spread the word about how self care and open communication are key to surviving the stressful holiday season. Still, he recognizes that not everyone will be understanding when it comes to taking time for yourself, and that it’s easy to feel guilted into showing up even after expressing yourself. 

“A lot of time, people in our lives … when you tell them that you need time for self care, sometimes we’re met not with aggression, but passive aggressiveness, like ‘Well why wouldn’t you want to be around the family?’”

If a friend or family member seems hurt or frustrated by your needs, don’t let it slide, he insists. Talk to them about it — help them understand where you’re coming from, and why their support matters to you. 

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“The thing that people should feel comfortable in doing is turning the question back around on the person, and say, really the question should be, ‘Why does it bother you that I want to take care of myself? Why is it an issue for you that I need self care?’”


“You can say, ‘For me , what I need, not what I want, is, I need to take care of myself,’” Brown explains. “And I think that those are important ways to handle that conversation, because a lot of times we feel guilted into it … even though you know you don’t want to or even though you don’t have the finances to do something.”

As Queer Eye‘s resident master of pep talks and heart-to-hearts, Brown is no stranger to delving into personal matters and delicately handling difficult conversations. The holidays are prime time for family members to pry into your love life and career, and Brown knows it can be awkward to side-step their questions.

The licensed psychotherapist and social worker says it’s important to recognize why they’re asking.

“See if their intention is to be nosy and to find out information because they want to use it later to either hurt you or to make themselves feel better, or if there’s actually a genuine concern about your life,” he says. “A good way to do that is to see if this in an individual who you’ve spoken to consistently throughout the year. If we have gotten to the place where it is December 29th and I’ve only talked to you three times this year, you don’t need to ask me personal questions about my life. And I should feel empowered and know that I have the authority to say, ‘You weren’t concerned four months ago, so why be concerned now?”

“I think we feel that pressure that if someone’s older or someone’s a family member that we need to divulge everything,” he adds. “But [if] their intention is not out of care for us … it’s about having the courage to really identify what their intention is, and knowing that you don’t have to answer every question.”


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Ultimately, Brown explains, learning that it’s okay to step back and advocate for yourself is a process, and one that gets easier with repetition.

“I think adding extra pressure on ourselves, we have to just start to give ourselves permission and give ourselves the space to know we don’t have to do that,” he urges. “I mean I preach this, and I’m daily practicing this stuff … It’s something that we all have to practice.”

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