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Friend is Embarrassing Herself

Friend is Embarrassing Herself

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Dear Rachel,

My very close friend is a really attractive woman. However, she recently gave birth to her first baby, and has had a really hard time losing the pregancy weight. She is still beautiful, but it is hard for her to accept that she is overweight and she wants to look like she did before she had the baby. The problem is that she has started wearing clothes that are too small on her and really make her look terrible. I would love to somehow let her know, but this is such a sensitive issue that I don't know how to address it. To make things more complicated, I have three kids and was fortunate to lose the weight right away. If anything, I weigh less now than I did before I had my children, so that is even harder for her. What do you suggest?

S.B.
Las Vegas, NV

Dear S.B.,

For most women, a sudden increase in weight and new body size can be a hard thing to deal with. You appear to be one of the fortunate few for whom pregnancy resulted in a better figure. And you are probably the envy of not just your friend but everyone who knows you!

Chances are that your friend will not take hearing that she doesn't look good in her clothes well from you. She may not take it well from anyone, but certainly not you. So I would avoid having that conversation, regardless of how sensitive you would be. There is a Chassidic concept that things need to be said b'ofen hamitkabel which means in the way that the receiver is able to heed them. It sounds like a direct approach is certainly not that, and for her to truly receive your message, it will need to be done indirectly. Being that she is really embarrassing herself, you cannot ignore the problem but there are things you can do to help change it without having to ever state it:

Help her get into shape! Tell her that you want to live a healthier life and want to start walking at least a mile a day. Or come up with a reason (not weight related) that you want to join a gym or a class for your health issues. There is no question that being healthy and exercising is vital for everyone regardless of whether or not there is a weight issue. If you ask her to help you out, and you tell her that you need her involvement in order to do it yourself, then she might just start working out herself which will lead to weight loss.

Help her eat healthier! Being a new mom is hard. And remembering to take care of yourself when you are trying to take care of a new baby is even harder. Chances are that she is not eating well and this is a time when she needs to really eat the right foods to have the energy that she needs (and all the more vital if she is nursing). Cook her some healthy dinners or once a week buy her veggies and other foods that are ready to eat that are also weight-conscious. Most of us wouldn't mind eating well if we didn't have to prepare the food ourselves. The more she has easy access to the right foods, the more she will eat them, and the quicker she will lose that baby weight.

Take her shopping! Tell her that you want to pamper her. As a new mom, she deserves it! And go clothes shopping with her. This way you can help pick out the clothing and styles that really look best on her and that fit her. If she keeps reaching for the wrong size, ask a sales lady to get involved and help her find the right clothes. Maybe if she hears from a stranger that the smaller size really isn't flattering, she will be more likely to wear what does look good on her. (If you really want to get her a few outfits, ask other friends to pitch in and make it a real day for her…get her nails done, get lunch, etc.) And when she wears her new outfits, make sure she gets lots of compliments on them, from you, her husband and whoever else you are around! If she keeps being told she looks great in certain things, she will keep wearing them.

And, hopefully in the process of eating healthier, working out and feeling better about herself, that extra weight will start to fall off, and then she will be able to fit back into the clothes which for now are too small. Hope this works!

Rachel

"Dear Rachel" is a bi-weekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sara Esther Crispe.

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a non-profit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of TheJewishWoman.org and wrote the popular weekly blog, Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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Anonymous New York July 11, 2011

Forget your figure during baby's first year Forget your figure until the baby's first birthday. With hormonal changes, nursing, and caring for the baby, it just isn't the time to get self focused and self critical. At baby's first birthday party, take stock, and do what's needed. Obviously, normal intelligent eating is assumed, at all times.

Could your friend lack money for looser clothes? She is surely sick of her pregnancy maternity clothes, and won't touch them. Maybe buy her some presents? Reply

Lisa Providence, RI January 22, 2011

Depressed About Weight Gain Your friend needs to see her doctor and possibly a nutritionist to find out WHY her pregnancy weight won't come off. She could have a metabolic imbalance that might require medication. Reply

Angelica Brewer July 19, 2009

Wow, Rachel, you are seriously such a sweet glowing person. You could have easily said, "Ugh, tell ya friend she's fat, she'll get ova it eventually."
But you are really a great help to even those who don't have the same problems sometime!!!
Shalom and love to all <3 Reply

avigayil witt beit shemesh, il March 24, 2009

if you're a good friend - you'll tell her speaking as a very straightforward person that i am, if you're a very close friend, you should say something in the sweetest way possible. be there for her to go on a nice walk or split a salad for lunch. she'll be fitting into those clothes in no time. Reply

Rosemary Brisbane, Qld/Australia March 18, 2009

Dressing Well Speaking for myself, there are times, such as after having a baby, that I am certainly struggling to cope as through a fog, maybe with some misery, and with lots of fatigue. At such times it is a real effort to pick the right clothes out of my cupboard and especially to go shopping for them or to sew them if this is what I must do. Money and time can also be a problem.

So I think a good solution is to help where help is needed and to simply be kind. Criticism is not helpful; it will bring her down more. If she was feeling on top of things, I am sure she would make "better" decisions by the standards of many others. But right now she may be doing a wonderful best and should be really befriended and appreciated. Reply

yael November 3, 2008

emotional grounds for fashion rounds.. The truth is that she knows how she looks in her old clothes and it sounds more like an emotional issue. Many mothers have a hard time accepting the change of becoming a mother. with all the emotional bundle involved. what this really sounds like is her reaccepting the new her and clinging on to her old self- image.(young, vibrant, thin...) I would really encourage her new stage("you're a great mother") and offer emotional support (cause it's hard!!) .and totally leave the clothing issue alone. once emotionally stable she'll reconcider her fashion statements too. Reply

Robin Ziino Barrington, RI, USA November 3, 2008

Good Advice from Rachel Sometimes getting back to pre-baby weight can be difficult, simply because a woman's body goes through so many physiologic changes and hormones affect weight both weight loss and weight gain. Being armed with this truth, may help her friend to be patient with hers body and that will enable her to wear less unflattering clothing. Reply

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