Weight is on everybody’s mind. Actually, it’s on their bodies, but you get the picture. As most people know, it’s unhealthy to carry too much weight around, as it puts you at greater risk of potentially fatal conditions such as heart disease and stroke. So if your best friend is overweight or even obese, should you tell her so? Not if you want your friendship to carry on as it is, you shouldn’t.
Unless your friend is unfortunate enough to be blind, she knows very well she needs to lose weight. She’s reminded of it every time she looks in a full length mirror or passes a shop window. Even if she is blind, she can still feel those extra folds of skin, so she doesn’t need her best friend to point out the obvious.
If your friend comes out and asks you if you think she needs to lose weight, don’t tell her she’s fine as she is. That’s dishonest, and you’re failing her as a friend if you don’t tell her the truth. However, there are ways of doing this without damaging her self esteem, which islikely to be quite fragile anyway.
If you can do with losing some weight yourself, say something like, ‘Yes, you’d probably feel better if you lost a few pounds. I could certainly do with losing some, so why don’t we diet together and support each other?’ That way, you’re putting yourself on an equal footing with your friend, so she won’t feel inadequate as a person because of her weight problem – or at least, she won’t feel that way with you.
The problem is, although people assume that their friends tell them everything in their hearts, they can’t know that for certain. Your friend’s issue with her weight may be so sensitive she can’t even bear to discuss it with you. If her partner or family keep raising the subject, she may see her time with you as a welcome relief from all the hassle over her excess weight.
If she’s really paranoid over the problem – and many overweight people are – she may even think that the family have enlisted your help in persuading her to go on a diet. If that is the case, she’ll feel you’ve betrayed her, and even if your friendship survives, it will lack its previous intimacy.
If your friend confides in you about her weight problem, be honest with her and offer as much support and encouragement as you can. That’s what friends are for. However, if she is to succeed in resolving her weight issues, she has to acknowledge the fact that she needs to lose weight. She must then make that decision on her own behalf, not because she feels nagged into it by her friends and family. Don’t be the bringer of bad news – the messenger often gets shot, and your valued friendship could end up in the line of fire.