DEAR HARRIETTE: I know a woman who recently has lost a ton of weight. She was never heavy, but now she is skinny. I don’t know if she did a weight-loss plan or surgery, or if she is sick. All I know is that she looks unhealthy. I like this woman and want to check on her. What can I say? I know people can be sensitive about their weight. -- Too Thin, Milwaukee
DEAR TOO THIN: You are about to hit the hot button on this one! It is tough to bring up issues of weight with people, wherever they fit on the spectrum. Because you care about this woman, you may want to try this approach: When you see her and can speak privately, tell her how happy you are to see her and ask what she has done to lose so much weight. Tell her you noticed she has trimmed down a lot and you were wondering how she did it. This is the most neutral way to get to the core issue.
If you have had any history of fluctuating weight, you may want to bring that up in the conversation, so that you show you have compassion and understanding about weight issues. This may help your friend to open up. It will be up to her whether she is ready to reveal her circumstances to you. You may have to accept that this is none of your business and just let her see that talking to you can be a safe space for her if she ever wants to share more.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)Read more in: Health & Safety | Friends & Neighbors | Etiquette & Ethics