Dear Vered,

I recently visited one of my best friends who lives across the country. When I stepped off the plane to meet her, I’m ashamed to admit that I had to stop my jaw from dropping. She’s put on at least 50-60 pounds since the last time I saw her. She’s never been what you’d call a waif, and I’ve always admired that she wears her curves so well on her small frame. But now I’m actually starting to worry about her health. She gets winded really easily, and we spent most of my visit sitting around instead of sightseeing. She’s in her late 30s, and heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes run in her family. I don’t want to be preachy, but I feel like I should say something as someone who loves her. Is it ever OK to talk to a girlfriend about her weight or am I better off staying quiet?

Worried and No Waif Myself

Dear Reader,

There are very few people in this country who are unaware that obesity is unhealthy. I doubt your friend is one of them.

If she has not asked for your opinion about her appearance, then you need to keep your thoughts to yourself. You don’t know why she’s gained weight. Maybe she is struggling with a health problem that has caused her weight gain. Maybe the entire time you’ve known her she’s been dieting to the point of misery without you ever realizing, and she is now diet-free and the happiest she’s ever been. You don’t mention once in your letter that she ever expressed unhappiness at her weight or her appearance to you while you were visiting. Why go out of your way to shame your friend about weight she clearly knows she is carrying? I don’t think that “I didn’t have fun on my trip because my friend was too fat to explore” is an appropriate thing to bring up to said friend.

That being said, I do think it’s OK to talk to a girlfriend about her health, but not specifically about her weight. You can definitely say something like, “I really loved visiting, but I noticed that you kept getting winded, and it made me worried about you. Are you doing OK?” Let her tell you whether she is OK or not. Then listen if she wants to talk about it, or move on if she doesn’t.