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Thoughtless comments weigh heavy on friend
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dear Carolyn • How should I respond when svelte friends pat their (small or nonexistent) bellies and announce they're dieting to get rid of their "belly pooch"?

I'm an average-size, 30-something woman with a normal post-baby-not-fat-but-certainly-not-flat tummy, and happy with myself the way I am. So not only is it annoying to have to listen to my smart, awesome gal pals hate on themselves, it's insulting: If they're calling themselves fat, they're calling me and others fat, too. How can I put a kibosh on the self-hate conversations?

Body Hate

Dear Body Hate • So many ways to approach this.

There's concern: "Why the self-hate? How 'bout we just not pick at our looks."

Humor: "Yes, good, I was going to say something."

The verbal forehead-flick: "Perhaps you should look at your audience before you call that thing a 'pooch.'"

Eye-rolling all of these into one: "Oh, brother."

And this, one of my favorites:

(No, that's not a mistake.)

And, there's the big picture: Are these smart, awesome people rife with self-doubt, or did you look so hard for smarts and awesomeness that you missed the vanity?

Whether any of these amounts to a "kibosh" is mostly up to your friends, but expressing yourself clearly on a matter of principle is almost as rewarding as a flat tummy. (Ka-chow.)

Dear Carolyn • I have a former client who I have just learned has mid-stage Alzheimer's. I worked for him and his extended family for over 20 years. We parted on friendly terms. I would love to see him and his family again, but I don't want to be an added burden on his wife. What should I do?

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous • Send the wife a note or, even better given the ease of responding, an email. Such low-obligation contact is an emotional lifesaver for people dealing with a major illness. Plus, her response will likely tell you whether a visit would be a blessing or a chore.

Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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