Dear Ann Cannon • My daughter’s friend, whom I love dearly, is severely overweight. She constantly posts photos of herself on Facebook, talking about how she is happy with her weight, doesn’t care that her stomach isn’t flat, doesn’t care what she looks like and how delicious the meal at that restaurant was.
The problem is that her mother died of diabetes at a young age, and I fear this will happen to this young woman. I also know she is a lonely divorcee whose last boyfriend left her a few years ago after she regained lots of weight after a “stomach staple.” Every time she posts one of these “begging for attention” things, her Facebook “friends” reply and tell her that she is beautiful just like she is and that she should not let things bother her. I see those posts as her reaching out for help. But I hesitate responding because I don’t know how to make it sound like I’m not criticizing her. I think I should just ignore the entire situation. Am I right? I don’t think I can give her what she’s seeking: approval for her actions.
— This Pains Me
Dear Pains Me • So here’s the deal. This young woman doesn’t need you or anybody else (except maybe a health care provider) to tell her to lose weight — even if that suggestion comes from a place of genuine concern. She especially doesn’t need a suggestion to lose weight posted on her Facebook wall. Trust me. She’s already very, very familiar with all the fraught emotional and physical territory associated with being overweight.
What should you do? Express your love for HER and leave it at that.
Dear Ann Cannon • I was recently on a four-day vacation with a dear friend who spent a good amount of time texting, taking selfies of what we were doing, and editing and posting said photos to social media. At first I thought she was being a little inconsiderate. But after a few days it started to hurt my feelings. Was I being too sensitive? I’d like to address this with her, but I’m not sure I have the right to. In this era of immediate sharing and connecting, is this the new standard when vacationing with a friend?
Dear Hurt • Oh, where to even start with this — so let’s start with the cultural phenomenon of living out loud via the internet these days, something that most of us do to some degree or another.
OK. There are plenty of good things about social media, of course. Because of social media, I have real-time access to friends and family who don’t live near me. I like knowing what they’re up to and how they feel about it. And, honestly, I love sharing my stuff, too. Random observations. Links to articles. Dog photos. Pictures of gnomes and gardens and also gnomes in gardens.
The problem is that we’re so busy documenting and curating experiences these days that sometimes we’re not present while we’re actually having those experiences. We seem to have adopted the attitude that a thing isn’t real unless we’ve snapped a picture or written a post about it, right? My guess is that your friend, like so many of us, has been taken hostage by her cyber reality.
Now. Let’s get specific about your reaction. There’s no right or wrong way to feel about the situation you’ve described. The bottom line is that you felt hurt. Should you take this up with your friend? If you have another trip planned in the near future, I would gently bring up the subject with her. Let her know it’s because of your affection for the friendship you share that her innocent inattention felt hurtful to you.
If you’re not taking another trip together any time soon, sleep on things for a while. If you then decide you want to talk to your friend about your feelings rather than putting them to bed for good, do it. I think conversations like this should happen face-to-face, frankly, but not everyone agrees. She may be defensive, of course, so give her some space to process the information.
Or then again you could just send her a link to this column.
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