Is it ever okay to step in and tell a friend they are too fat? - Weight Watcher, Auckland.

"Too fat" is obviously a turn of phrase you should never use when talking to or about one of your friends, but if your intentions are right, there are some ways you can tell someone they're overweight.


Fat shaming isn't helpful. New Zealand is getting larger and larger, though, and society needs to stop being so accepting. This has to start with reinforcement from loved ones.

The last New Zealand Health Survey found one in three Kiwis to be obese. Not just overweight - that group is another 34 per cent. This means a staggering total of two-thirds of Kiwis are not fit and healthy.


A study by University College London found that telling someone they're fat makes them eat more, not less, so approach your friend with empathy. Start a conversation by talking about people in your family who've struggled with their weight, or even your own struggle if you've had one. Do not make the conversation about cosmetic appearance. Instead, talk about cardiovascular disease, Type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and so on. Also note the successes you - or those you know - have had in improving both health and weight once being kick-started into action.

Then, ask your friend if they have concerns about their health. Not their weight - their health. If they say yes, encourage they go to their GP, who will advise the appropriate first steps in weight loss whilst taking into account your friend's psychological state. If they say no, don't be brutal, but do say you have some concerns, and outline them. Again, I stress the need for empathy here.

You might be met with hostility, and you might have to have the conversation several times over several months. But if you persevere, you might actually make a positive difference in your friend's life. Isn't that what friends are for?

I work in a library and my colleague keeps bringing her boyfriend up for make-out sessions in the staff room. They are pashing all the time and it makes everyone feel uncomfortable. What are the rules of PDA and how we tell them to cut it out? - Perturbed by PDA, Wellington.

What are the rules of PDA? Photo / 123RF
What are the rules of PDA? Photo / 123RF

This is the exact problem Ross from Friends once encountered in his university library, though it is inadvisable to follow his lead and become a permanent PDA watchdog.

Your best hope is to make your colleague and her boyfriend feel more uncomfortable than they're making other staffers. Do so by creating a social, humming staff room where everybody talks to each other, and those who don't participate feel out of place. Understandably you work in a library and can't be loud - nor do you work with loud people - but the presence of intellectual conversation over the communal microwave is not terribly appealing to those who wish to play tonsil hockey in public.

The etiquette rules around PDA, if your colleague is reading this, are as follows. It has to be cute: cuddles and soft kisses are sweet; tongue and dry humping is not. Keep it brief: 10 seconds max, maybe 20 if you're at an airport and you're saying goodbye to your lover. Keep your hands where we can see them: no rubbing inside shirts or down trousers, ever. Lastly, know your environment: don't assume what you can get away with in a nightclub you can get away with when there are corporate superiors present.

What are the rules when it comes to eating food from other people's fridges? I am comfortable to walk right in and pluck a gherkin from the jar, but my girlfriend says this is impolite. - Pickle plucker, Auckland.

Is it every okay to steal food from other people's fridges? Photo / 123RF
Is it every okay to steal food from other people's fridges? Photo / 123RF

It is never okay to help yourself in someone else's home until you have their explicit verbal permission (i.e. you're staying for the weekend and they say "feel free to eat anything you can find").

If you think it's okay to open somebody's fridge and start eating a gherkin, ask yourself how you'd feel if somebody opened your dresser drawers, and put on your underpants. Both situations are inappropriate, and in both situations, the gherkin needs to stay where it is.