Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Jan. 13 2005 9:12 AM

Thin Is In ... the Eye of the Beholder

How to fend off comments about your weight when you're happy with it.

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Get "Dear Prudence" delivered to your inbox each week; click here to sign up. Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

Dear Prudence,

I'm a 25-year-old African-American female, 5 feet 7 inches and 200 pounds. I used to weigh 130 pounds and had no rear end and small breasts. I really like these extra pounds, and they are in the right places. What bothers me is certain family members (oldest sister, aunts, uncles) have taken it upon themselves to remind me of how "big I am getting." These comments are always made in front of others, and it is starting to upset me. It's getting to the point where I want to scream obscenities at these people. (Even though it's not in my character to swear!) These comments make me feel sad and fat. I am normally an independent, high-self-esteem person—until these dreaded remarks are made. What helps me get through these times are my fiance, my mom, and my other sister telling me that they like the way my body looks. Mom even says that she felt I needed these extra pounds. Do you have an answer for these people when they tell me I am getting fat?

—Increasingly Annoyed

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Dear Inc,

Prudie suggests that you—or your mom or "the good sister"—tell the oldest sister, aunts, and uncles that you were made aware of their opinion the first time you heard it. Then tell them that each additional time makes you feel worse, and you are wondering why they would want to make you feel this way. Perhaps throw in that YOU are very happy with your figure. This is just a guess, but could the oldest sister and the aunts and uncles be busybodies (and thin ones, at that) with no judgment?

—Prudie, straightforwardly

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I went to a dinner party with a few of my husband's friends and their wives. Somehow the topic of one couple's active sex life came up again. It always seems to pop up during these get-togethers. As if that isn't annoying enough, a joke about my being inaccessible was thrown in. Does that mean there are stories told by my husband about me being a prude? (Sorry to use your name.) It upsets me to think that others might not think we have a healthy relationship, and it's even more upsetting to think my husband might agree. I have asked my husband in the past, and I get the "everything's great" type of answer. I don't want to wake up some day to a note saying that it wasn't.

—Prudish, Do You Think?

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Dear Prud,

There is definitely a difference, dear friend, between a prude and a Prudie … but onward. Of course there is no way for an outsider to know about anyone's sex life, unless told by one of the parties—and even then it may not be true. If your husband is telling you everything is fine in the boudoir, accept it. It may be his idea of "humor" to portray you as straight-laced, much as George Burns painted Gracie Allen as an airhead. As for the man who brings up his active sex life, that may or may not have to do with reality; it may be HIS kind of humor. Dr. Pussycat, for example, ribs Prudie about being a ditzy blonde, and we know that can't be … because Prudie is a redhead.

—Prudie, humorously

Dear Prudence,

My husband of eight years has been calling his ex-wife on a weekly basis for the last few months, or else she calls him. They have a grown son and have not seen each other in 25 years. "William" and I have a happy marriage and two young children. "Linda" lives 1,500 miles away and has admitted having unresolved feelings for William. (He left her.) When I discovered these calls, he was quite open about it, told me I had nothing to worry about and that Linda feels she needs to talk to him about things from time to time (nothing to do with their son). She is remarried, but I think that marriage is on the rocks. My husband thinks there's nothing wrong with speaking to her from time to time. I'm sure HER husband doesn't know about these calls. A year ago, she was calling William every now and then, but he finally put a stop to it, telling her (I was in the room at the time) the calls bothered me and that he didn't think they were appropriate. Could this be a midlife crisis thing with him now calling her? He's nearly 50, and I'm in my late 30s. I know he would flip out if the shoe were on the other foot and I was talking to someone from my past.

—Flustered

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Dear Flus

The good news is that these people have not met, face to face, for a quarter of a century. The ex-wife obviously has unresolved feelings as well as an unhappy life. While your husband previously told her to cool it with the calls because you didn't like it, his initiating the calls now is somewhat peculiar. You might ask him the purpose of his ringing her up. If you don't care for the answer, tell him—again—that the calls make you uncomfortable. Regarding a midlife crisis, unless he's putting on cologne for these phone chats and waxing a red sports car in the driveway, you'd need more information before deciding he's hankering for the ex.

—Prudie, attentively

Dear Prudence,

My fiance and I have been together now for three and a half years, which I know isn't all that long in the grand scheme of things. But anyway, for about the last year our "personal" life has slowed down quite a bit, which I admit is my fault. I just don't have the drive and desire I used to. (I'm only in my mid-20s.) When we do spend time together, he is very touchy-feely, and it drives me absolutely crazy. I try telling him nicely that I don't mind being close, but everyone needs some space, and I don't like being felt up all the time. Sometimes I feel like a cat that is being mauled by a small child. What can I do to increase my desire in the bedroom? And what can I say to him that will make him back off the constant groping without being harsh? Every time I bring this up he gets upset with me. I do love him, it's just the physical attraction has gone out the window. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

—Feeling Like a Mauled Cat

Dear Feel,

Prudie's gut reaction is that your drive and desire has not dissipated, but rather this chap has started to annoy you. Picking on some bit of behavior is usually a red herring for some deeper, underlying unease. It is usually the case, when a young couple is in love (and engaged, no less), that the snuggly, touchy-feely closeness is a delight, not an irritant. Did the "groping" get on your nerves in the beginning? It is most likely that the physical attraction is tied to the emotional commitment, and something is out of whack. Good luck sorting things out.

—Prudie, causally