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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?
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?
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.