If you, like me, had no clue who Ask Margo is, here’s a primer: Margo Howard is the daughter of Eppie Lederer, who wrote an advice column as Ann Landers for more than 40 years. Howard spent eight years writing the Dear Prudence column for the online magazine Slate. She now answers readers’ questions about life and love using her own name, Dear Margo, which appears on Yahoo news.
Today’s Ask Margo column is titled “When the Truth Hurts,” and the letter writer asks:
DEAR MARGO: I have a friend at work with whom I am relatively close. She regularly talks about how she can’t wait to get married and how her house will look and the kids she will have. The problem is that she is extremely overweight and does not take any care with her appearance. She comes to work with clothes that appear not to have been washed recently, no makeup, and sometimes her long hair is still wet. I am surprised she is still employed, but she is out of the public eye and does a good job.
Do I talk to her about her appearance and hygiene, or do I just keep my words to myself?
Appropriate answer, short and quick: “Keep your nosy mouth shut and your critical opinions to yourself unless asked.”
But since everyone knows those poor fat women are just delusional and in dire need of someone to constructively point out just how very fat they are, Margo recommends otherwise:
DEAR CON: This is one of the challenges of friendship: when to risk hurting someone so that she, or he, can confront what may be a blind spot in order to make a necessary change.
In the situation you describe, where the friendship is deeper than office cordiality, I would be inclined to have the difficult discussion — because without it, this girl has no hope of getting closer to the life she aspires to.
As gently and supportively as possible, tell her she is doing nothing to advance her goals and, in fact, is sending signals that say “I don’t care.” Suggest that she would have a better shot at gaining a loving partner if she were to deal with her weight and her presentational self, and look as though she wanted to be her best self. (You might wind up as her coach.)
If she is resistant to your suggestions, at least you’ll know you did what you could to be a helpful friend.
Helpful friend? Gee, I’ve had enemies who’ve done much the same sort of thing. If one of my so-called friends ever said such a thing to me, I’d be tempted to punch her in the face. (Ask Margo is not liable for any violence that occurs as the result of her ill-informed and very bad advice).
Oh, woe to the fat girl, who “has no hope” of achieving what surely every woman aspires to. If only she loses weight, pretties herself up and fixes her hair, then, of course, she too can have the female American dream of the perfect nuclear family.
The only weight CON’s friend ought to drop is her dead-weight, superficially smug and overbearing so-called “concerned friend.” And a true “loving partner” will love CON’s friend for who she is, not who she could be once she loses weight and puts on a mask of make-up.
At least there’s one advice columnist who seems to be genuinely trying. Check out Robin Abraham’s – a.k.a. the Boston Globe’s Miss Conduct – ingenuous call for how to address the issue of fat people who use public mass transit.