Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat with readers about their romantic, family, financial, and workplace problems. A transcript of this week's chat is below. (Read Prudie's Slate columns here.)
My question is this: Psychologically speaking, is it OK to focus on weight loss exclusively for our careers? Are we demented to think that we cannot succeed because of our expanded waistlines? Will we have negative repercussions? What if we don't get that bigger job? What if things stay the same but we just happen to be thinner?
Emily Yoffe: Do you work at MTV also? It's true that in elite circles being thin is de rigueur, but if being plump is a career killer, then American workers are in trouble. (Oh, jeez, is this the reason for the jobless rate, American companies are simply shedding their overweight workers?) Deciding to get in better shape is obviously a worthy goal. But only you can decide how you'll feel if you get smaller but the jobs don't get bigger. But it seems like a bad idea to pin your promotion plans around going from a size 16 to a 6. Sure, get a new exercise and eating plan. But in the meantime, it would be worthwhile for you to make sure that instead of dressing like someone who is trying to hide her body, you make yourself the most stylish "festively plump" person out there.
Break up etiquette: I must be the only person in the world who doesn't want to discuss the end of a relationship. If someone clearly loses interest in me, then I just stop trying. Because, really, it's not like I'm going to hear anything good in the postmortem. No one breaks up with anyone because they have to marry to end warfare between nations. They stop calling/e-mailing/texting you because they'd rather be doing something else with someone else. Why do people want that spelled out?
Emily Yoffe: I agree that if you've been seeing someone for a short while and the "relationship" winds itself down mutually but not explicitly, no postmortem is necessary. But it's rather strange to have a relationship of a year's standing and never even bother to actually break up. I don't mean each party needs to list the other's flaws ("The way you sneeze always drove me nuts"), but a real relationship should have a real ending.
Cleveland: One of my friends is getting married in the fall. She is not having any bridesmaids, but a few of her friends have gotten together to organize a surprise bachelorette party a few weeks before her wedding. The surprise involves most of her friends flying across country on a holiday weekend. My problem is this: I speak to her almost daily and I feel like it will be extremely hard to not bring this up for the next seven months and might strain our talks a bit. (I am a terrible liar.)
Also, she is already talking about planning her own party. I'm concerned in keeping the surprise, I (and her other friends) am going to make her feel like no one cares enough to throw her a party, which I don't think is the best way to feel right before your wedding. I'm sure my friend would like the surprise once it comes to fruition, but I think it might be more trouble than it's worth. Should I bring this up to the other girls? Or I am just no fun?
Emily Yoffe: Your girlfriend's wedding seems like the ideal time not to throw a surprise party. Since she's not having any bridesmaids, it sounds like she's having a pretty casual affair, but still, she will have lots of planning to do, and while she might appreciate the surprise, she'd surely appreciate much more knowing that her friends were organizing one for her. Have a discussion with the other friends and say the bride-to-be is making noises about having to throw her own party. Say that as much fun as a surprise would be, this is a case where it seems like advance planning is the way to go.
Anywhere, Md.: I mentioned to my husband that his father needed a haircut, and then (just to be funny) I mentioned that his dad's curly hair resembles his grandma's (standard older lady) 'do. So what does my husband do, but say to his dad at Sunday dinner, "Hey Dad, some people at church think you need a haircut, because you and Grandmother have the same hairdo." Then he proceeds to say it was ME. His family is fairly unbuttoned, and his mom and grandma laughed hysterically, but I think it made my father-in-law unhappy. Obviously, now I know never to say anything to my husband that I don't want repeated. But how do I apologize? (My observation was pretty accurate.)
Emily Yoffe: Please don't extrapolate from this one incident a lifetime policy. (See above letter about the scene at labor and delivery.) Instead of confronting your husband, gently tell him you cringed when he gave you credit for the hairdo line. Explain that you know his family loves jokes, but you were embarrassed and his father seemed to be, too. Tell your husband he's free to steal your lines, but you don't want credit for them. Then next time you see your father-in-law, pull him aside and simply apologize about the hair remark. Then forget about it. Having a family comfortable with teasing each other can make family get-togethers lively and fun.
Don't hang on to the hate for the in-laws: But I totally get it. My mother-in-law and brother-in-law decided that they should not only be allowed into the delivery room with me and my husband, but that they should be allowed to film it. And no I am not kidding. He burst into the hall while I was "walking" and tried to get a close-up. My mother threatened them both with physical violence, and my husband broke the camera, not that I agree with that, but well ... I can see them now and know that they know just because I am a nice person does not mean I would like them to take pictures of my lady parts!
But let go, or tell them off. That might help if you have a meeting with them and get it off your chest, that they really messed things up and you are going to need them to make it up to you by behaving themselves forever!
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