Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Family Disapproves of Reader's Style

DEAR HARRIETTE: My family has a formal manner of dressing, and I have never been a fan of changing into a dress just to go downstairs for family dinner. My mother and sister especially rag on my style and tell me to stop being so “sloppy” and to “try a little.” I tend to spend my money on outdoor gear or plane tickets, not $300 shoes. Is there any way I could get them to appreciate my laid-back style, or do I just have to learn to let their comments roll off my back? -- Not en Mode, Salem, Massachusetts

DEAR NOT EN MODE: My guess is that your family’s dinner style is not new. As you are growing into yourself, you must be stretching the limits, which is upsetting them. I totally get it. And yet, you should offer respect to your family’s traditions.

The entreaty to “try a little” gives you some wiggle room. Can you consider what is in your wardrobe that still looks like you but also gives a nod to your family’s style? I understand why you may not want to do this, but I want to tell you that this will be great practice for when you go out into the world. Chances are, you will find yourself in situations for work or even socially when you will need to dress up. The good news is you know how to do that. The challenge is figuring out what dressing up means to you.

Rather than bucking your family, get creative and discover your personal dress-up style that at least slightly bridges back to theirs. This will be a skill that you will need as you navigate your life.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Etiquette & Ethics

Reader's Skin Problems Getting Worse

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm currently dealing with bad acne. It has gotten progressively worse, even though I keep up with my skin-care routine, and I am badgered by my beauty-conscious friends to make sure I try X and Y tips. I didn't care much at first that I was breaking out because I was too stressed, but now I am beginning to panic that this bumpy complexion may become permanent. Should I be taking steps to become acne free, or is beauty truly on the inside? -- Bumpy, Detroit

DEAR BUMPY: Acne is a condition that many adolescents experience. For some, it lasts much longer than the teenage years. Whether one is beauty conscious or not, every person with acne should take great care with his or her skin to keep it healthy. That includes not scratching or squeezing bumps, no matter how tempting it may be.

Schedule an appointment with a dermatologist. Because your acne is bad, you may benefit from prescribed topical treatments to help diminish your condition. Your doctor may also suggest dietary changes that will clean your system and support healthy skin. If you eat a lot of fatty or fried foods, eliminate them from your diet now. Same for sugary drinks. Ask your mother to get you to the doctor ASAP to get a professional evaluation and regimen.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Health & Safety | Friends & Neighbors