Things that go plump in the night
I'm absolutely appalled by your response to "Fatty With A Dream," the woman whose boyfriend hasn't touched her in over a year because she gained 40 pounds. Contrary to what you wrote, it isn't unrealistic to expect your boyfriend to be attracted to you after you've gained weight. Also, it was absolutely unnecessary to tell her that she has "put on the equivalent of a 5-year-old child" or that she has gone up "a tent size."
I think what needed to be said was this: "Dear FWAD, A woman's sex appeal has more to do with her confidence than her waist size. A woman, no matter what her size, is infinitely more attractive if she truly loves herself and how she looks. If your boyfriend can't appreciate you as you are, he's not worth it. Many men find curves on a woman to be highly attractive and desirable. The more you love yourself, the more others will as well! — Voice Of Compassion
It sounds so higher-consciousness to say inner beauty is what really matters, but in the real world, you don't spot somebody at party and want to rip their clothes off because they look like the type to sweep an old lady's walk or read to the blind.
Because I give advice for the real world, I told this woman the truth: Male sexuality is highly visual, and male lust usually has a weight limit. At a certain point, "more of me to love" becomes "way too much of me to lust after." Or, in the words of one of my blog commenters: "My sister once asked her husband, 'Would you still love me if I weighed 400 pounds?' He replied, 'From a distance.'"
Of course, it's the height of political incorrectitude to advise a fat woman that she'd be more attractive if she lost weight, or even to call her fat. She's just "differently weighted," a "person of width!" And sure, those would be appropriate ways to refer to this woman if her fatness were a birth defect, or if she came down with conjunctive fatty-itis. But, like most people who are fat, she doesn't have a thyroid condition or "metabolic issues"; she just neglected to close her mouth when her hands were full of Ho Hos.
When a woman snacks herself up 40 pounds and her boyfriend's refusing to touch her, about the last thing she needs to hear is "Confidence is sexy!" Trust me, her girlfriends are already reassuring her, "It's OK, you have a really pretty face" (while thinking that they're having a little trouble finding her face in all that fat). It's easier to say whatever makes somebody feel good in the moment, but that only prolongs their misery. It's kinder to tell the truth, in stark terms — that the pot they see at the end of their rainbow is actually the kind that flushes.
They can choose to change or accept the consequences, but at least they're clear on the consequences; in this case, that keeping the weight probably means losing the boyfriend and having a really hard time landing another. Yes, there are many men who "find curves on a woman to be highly attractive and desirable," but not a whole lot who feel the same way about folds.
Grime and punishment
My friends are slobs. They have huge, overflowing recycling piles, several-day-old plates of crusty food in various rooms, heaps of dirty laundry, random nails and screwdrivers across the floor from unfinished projects, and dirt and dead bugs behind small appliances in their kitchen. They also have a newborn baby. Aside from the mess, they're excellent parents, but if Child Services ever showed up, I'm certain they'd take the kid. Should I say something? — Concerned
Just because they're slobs doesn't mean they'll let the kid crawl through a field of rusty nails (on his way to lick all the outlets and get his little fist around Baby's First Oxycodone).
It is possible that their protective parent hard-wiring will fire up, and they'll make their place more "shabby chic" than "recently ransacked." In case they don't, you and a few friends could offer your collective help to "babyproof" the home ("babyproof" being easier on the ego than "Why not just give the kid a nail gun to play with and be done with it?")
On the bright side, being too clean (I'm talking to you, Purell freaks) might negatively affect a child's defenses against pathogens. According to behavioral ecologist Marlene Zuk, kids with pets, kids who go barefoot, and kids living on farms get sick less and have a lower incidence of allergies and asthma. Unfortunately, researchers have yet to find evidence that snacking on wood glue or teething on a variety of Phillips-head screwdrivers bolsters the immune system.
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email@example.com (advicegoddess.com). Alkon is the author of I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners into Impolite Society.