Dear Barb—Slim Shading

Dear Barb:

Hi, I read your column every week and love it! Myself and three other girls grew up together and remain good friends.  We are now in our thirties and we have all had weight issues.  We’ve tried various diets and procedures to lose weight and initially the weight comes off, but eventually it creeps back on.  Except this last time, one of us was able to keep the weight off.  Melissa lost 50 pounds and she looks awesome.  We have all supported her and congratulated her for her success.  The problem is that the weight loss has changed her.  She used to be a great friend and a really sweet girl.  Now she is always talking about her weight loss and how good she looks.  It’s almost like she is trying to make us feel bad that we weren’t able to accomplish what she has.  For example, she will say things like “Oh I think I gained a few pounds, what do you think?” When it’s obvious she hasn’t gained any weight.  She will say things like “I have to get rid of all my fat clothes, do any of you want any of them?” We have talked about how Melissa makes us feel, but we haven’t said anything to her.  I’m not sure if she is trying to make us feel bad, or is unaware of what she is doing.  My other two friends don’t want to hang out with Melissa anymore and they are making excuses not to have to be around her.  I don’t want to end a lifelong friendship over this.  Do you have any suggestions? Thanks for your help, Rebecca.

Hey Rebecca:

Thanks for reading my column.  I understand you not wanting to throw away a lifelong friendship, as they are hard to come by.  I am thinking that Melissa doesn’t realize what she’s doing.  I’m sure she is so proud of her accomplishment and yet somewhat insecure that she will regain the weight; therefore she is looking for validation from her friends.  It’s kind of like a person who is newly sober and they keep talking about it.  They are proud and need validation from family and friends.  A good idea would be to have a discussion with her about how you and your friends are feeling.  Preface your discussion with reinforcements of how proud you are of her and that you hope one day you can achieve the same results.  Then explain to her how it makes you feel when she describes her clothes as her “fat clothes” while asking you if you want them.  She has been where you are, but clearly needs to be reminded of how it feels.  She may still be on a high and proud of her new slim body.  Try to be understanding and give her some time.  You may have to find a way to remind her when she says things that are hurtful to you and your friends.  Hope this helps.  Thanks for your email Rebecca.

Email your questions to  Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed.  This column is for entertainment only.  The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.
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