Dear Dr. Respler:
I am a middle-aged woman who until recently was of average weight and reasonably attractive. Then I went through menopause and gained about 50 lbs. I am trying to lose the weight, but it is very difficult for me. I have a good marriage, we are well-off and have a beautiful family. Two of our children are happily married and we have several grandchildren. I am a very successful professional and make a good salary.
And yet, I don’t understand people. Whenever I go to a simcha or even when I go shopping, I bump into women who ask, “What happened to you? Why did you get so fat? I have a great diet that can help you!”
I am mortified, Dr. Respler. Do they think that I am stupid? I know that I got fat and I know what I have to do. All they do is hurt my feelings and make me want to hide. Baruch Hashem, the people I work with never say anything to me.
I love your column and I thought you might be able to help here as well.
Please, Dr. Respler, tell people to mind their own business. If someone has a medical issue or a weight issue, believe me she is trying to deal with it. I have a friend who has tremors in her hands due to a medical condition and she is going crazy from everyone’s “helpful advice” and nosy questions. Trust me, my friend consults with the best physicians and does everything possible to ameliorate her situation.
Are people trying to be helpful or do they want to make us feel inadequate? I have always been perceived as a strong, happy and successful person and I am beginning to feel that others enjoy making me feel vulnerable. I look forward to your response and welcome any advice you can give me.
Honestly, there are many reasons why people say painful things to others. There are people who feel inadequate and make themselves feel better by putting others down. Although the things these people say are painful, the recipients of these comments should remember where it is coming from and try to ignore them.
Other individuals say painful things because they do not think before they speak. I know that there are those who mean well and truly want to help others; however, offending a person is not helpful and could be damaging.
I heard a wonderful piece of advice: “Do not complain and do not explain!” In reality, people do not enjoy hearing others complain and will try to avoid those who do. At the same time, we do not owe anyone explanations about what we do in our lives or about the problems or challenges we face. Thus, your weight gain is not anyone’s business and you do not owe other people an explanation, just as your friend does not owe anyone an explanation for her tremors.
Please, dear readers, be sensitive to others and think before you speak!
Don’t ask people if they are pregnant; they will tell you when they want you to know.
Certainly, do not tell people they have gained weight – they know; please have some seichel! Even with your own children and in-law children, you need to be aware of what you are saying and try not to be critical. I know many parents feel that if they do not say things to their children, then who will? Nevertheless, would you want to be close to a parent who always points out your faults? Think ten times before insulting/criticizing your children and then, if you really feel you need to intervene, say your piece in a loving and positive manner.Dr. Yael Respler