DEAR HARRIETTE: I was always overweight as a teen and young adult. I recently lost a considerable amount of weight. Although I am happy with this change, I hate when people comment only on my appearance and tell me how much more attractive I am now that I've shed the pounds. Is there any way I can steer the conversation to my personality or accomplishments that don’t have to do with how I look to other people? It seriously irks me that people just give their unsolicited opinions on my body. -- Don’t Want It, Glen Burnie, Maryland
DEAR DON’T WANT IT: We live in a culture that is obsessed with the way people look, so you will be hard-pressed to avoid this commentary. For now, do your best to take their comments as the compliments that the givers believe they are offering. It is unlikely that the commenters have any idea how offensive their remarks are.
Rather than dwelling on their words, focus on you. Thank yourself for losing weight. It is good for your health. The side effect is that you may appear fitter, healthier or otherwise more appealing to others. Stay on course, regardless of what others say to you. You know that losing weight is good for your heart and your body overall.
For those commenters who are friends, change the conversation by inviting them to participate in activities with you that you now enjoy. A group walk can be fun and invigorating. When you receive a compliment, say thank you and then pivot. For those who are relentless, remind them that you didn’t entertain commentary about your weight when you were heavier, and you aren’t going to start now.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am recently single after a 25-year marriage, and I am attempting to get back in the dating scene because I do not want to be alone. My teenage daughters just made fun of me and told me I had the “worst game” they’ve ever seen. I tried to set up a date with one of their friend’s fathers, and it didn’t go over smoothly. I am too old for dating apps, and I lost many friends following the split, so how else can I find someone? I need to get my mind off of ending up alone. -- All By Myself, New Orleans
DEAR ALL BY MYSELF: It is time to put yourself back on the scene in ways that make you comfortable. Enter: extracurricular activities. What do you like to do in your free time? Or what do you think you would like to do? Enroll in a class. Join walking tours in your city. Become a docent at the local museum. Put yourself out there where other people are. Then pay attention. If you notice someone who seems interesting, don’t be shy. Go over and introduce yourself. It may feel like high school, and it’s OK to feel awkward. Everything that makes up who you are will be appealing to someone. Just be yourself and get out there.
Don’t give up on the web apps, though. Many couples have met using the internet as a catalyst.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)