Adapted from a recent online discussion.
DEAR CAROLYN: As a woman who has struggled with my weight most of my life, I’d like to offer a little perspective on a past column about hearing “svelte” friends complain about their weight (http://wapo.st/10NppvW).
I have several friends who were always thin and have gained weight as they’ve gotten older. To me, who until recently was close to 300 pounds, I think they look great.
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But when they’re used to being a certain size and that is no longer their reality, it’s understandably bothersome. I also have a few friends who are thin but just want to drop those last five or 10 pounds. It’s all in what we’re comfortable with.
Yes, some women have unhealthy body images, but just because you may be overweight doesn’t mean thinner people aren’t allowed to moan about wanting to cut back, too.
— Weighty Issues
DEAR WEIGHTY ISSUES: At what point, though, does it equate to complaining about the rising cost of yacht maintenance to someone cleaning toilets to cover rent? Everyone’s different, yes, and one person’s normal varies widely from another’s, but that doesn’t mean sensitivity and the occasional clue aren’t valuable to civilized society. If anything, they’re more important.
Thin people want to lose a pooch? Great. They should do it and be happy. And keep their traps shut.
You are very generous in your view of your friends, and I don’t mean to discourage that — generosity is perhaps even more valuable than the aforesaid sensitivity — but there are enough responsibilities here to go around.
DEAR CAROLYN: My boyfriend died unexpectedly from a heart attack at age 29. Both his birthday and the anniversary of his death are coming up. Is it heartless of me to not want to get into the pattern of commemorating these dates? The pain of his loss is very deep and still pretty fresh, and I just can’t imagine wanting to rehash it every year into perpetuity.
DEAR ANONYMOUS: If anything, judging you for not grieving the “right” way would be heartless.
People show love and respect in about as many ways as there are people. On one extreme are those who feel they owe it to the deceased to live their lives fully in the present, instead of dwelling in their shared past, and at the other extreme are those who dedicate their lives to preserving whatever they possibly can of that past. Whether you choose one of these or any point in between, you needn’t explain yourself to me.
What a shocking loss that must have been. I’m sorry. Do what you need, and honor his memory as you think best.
I am so very sorry. I will add one thing: Don’t be afraid to let your feelings change over time. Should you find yourself a decade down the road and suddenly the idea of letting either date go by without noting them somehow strikes you as not what you want to do, go with it.
If your approach doesn’t change with time, then it doesn’t. And that’s OK, too.
— Anonymous 2
DEAR ANONYMOUS 2: Important angle, thanks — there needn’t be a “pattern” at all.