DEAR HARRIETTE: I've been invited to a pool party later this summer, and I am totally freaked out. The woman who invited me is rail-thin, just like all of her friends. I am overweight and definitely not ready for prime time. I will not be putting on a bathing suit.
How can I go to the party and be comfortable? Should I just not go? I like this woman, but I don't really like my body right now. -- Under Wraps, Staten Island, N.Y.
DEAR UNDER WRAPS: Don't fret, at least not about how to get through the party. You do not have to swim. Believe it or not, many people -- women, in particular -- go to pool and beach parties and hang out rather than take a dip.
I can assure you that women of every body type often feel insecure when it comes to slipping into the pool. You probably won't be alone in your skittishness. If you do decide to get in, I bet you won't have a pool full of women gawking at you to size you up.
The other great news is that absolutely every type of beach cover-up you could imagine is in stores right now. You can find a lovely, flowing cover-up that looks elegant and hides any body parts about which you may be feeling insecure.
For your own good, start some type of fitness routine that will get you healthy and toned. Meanwhile, trust that you will be welcomed and not judged at the party. Go and have a great time!
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have recently been in the company of too many people with bad breath. As much as I want to talk to these people in casual conversation, I have been put off by serious halitosis. One dude knew his breath stank, and he tried to cover up his mouth when he was talking. Of course, then it was hard for me to understand his muffled voice.
I can't go around offering gum or mints all the time. What can I do, shy of vomiting, after I suck in so much stench? -- Bombarded, Shreveport, La.
DEAR BOMBARDED: Many people do not take good enough care of their teeth and overall oral health. Some people do not brush their teeth daily. (I know. Yuck.) Others have gum disease or other ailments that cause halitosis.
You are right that you cannot offer everyone quick mint fixes or recommend that they visit a doctor or dentist. But you can stand upwind of them. You can turn your head when the person's breath is wafting right toward your nose. You can do like the man you mentioned and cover your nose with your hand, hopefully blocking the fumes without seeming too obvious. You can stay a few feet away from the person while talking, or even move around as you speak. I feel your pain!