Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Sister’s Innocent Question Upsets Woman

DEAR HARRIETTE: I visited my sister recently, and I wore a dress that I had on in a photo on social media about two years ago. Innocently, she asked me how I know how to pose in these social media photos so that I look slim. She said, “No offense, but in person you look 20 pounds heavier than in that picture. What did you do? I want to know how to do that.”

I was so embarrassed. I know she didn’t mean to hurt my feelings. We love each other so much. I believe she wanted posing advice. The truth is that I probably have gained close to 20 pounds since that photo. I told her as much, but I also now feel even more self-conscious.

I’m not mad at her. I guess I’m mad at myself for not realizing how out of shape I have become. What should I do? -- Photos Don’t Lie

DEAR PHOTOS DON’T LIE: Consider this moment a wake-up call. It sounds like the last thing your sister meant to do was insult you, so don’t take it as that. Instead, envision yourself in that same dress 20 pounds lighter. You were there only two years ago. With diet and exercise, you can get there again. Commit to exercising a minimum of three days a week. The easiest thing you can do is walk. You can walk at your own pace, preferably for 10,000 steps each day. You may also want to record everything you eat. Watch out for carbs, sugar and too much meat. If you make your diet lean and low-calorie, you will begin to shave off the pounds. Good luck!

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend whose husband is at least 20 years older than her. He is a nice man and has been lots of fun over the years, but now he is up in age and not doing so well.

Talking about age has always been a sensitive topic for her. In the early years, it was because they had way more things than the rest of us because he was more advanced in his career and had money. Now it is because he is not so healthy and uses a wheelchair. I want to be there for my friend, but I’m not sure how to get past her impenetrable wall of privacy. -- Support My Friend

DEAR SUPPORT MY FRIEND: Since your friend has been private all along, chances are slim that she is suddenly going to open up. That said, you can make it clear that you want to help her in any way that you can. Invite her out, just the two of you, and try to get her to talk a bit about her life as you share what’s going on in yours. State the obvious: You have noticed that her husband is a wheelchair user and doesn’t seem to be in great health. Ask if she needs any support. Remind her of good times that you have had together over the years, and speak of highlights that you know about her husband. Tell her that you respect him -- and her -- and that you would like to support in any way you can. That’s all you can do.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)