DEAR HARRIETTE: As the summer is almost in full swing, I have realized that my summer body is not. I am extremely self-conscious of my stomach and thighs. I know that I’m not fat, but I am not skinny or thin. I always try to diet and eat healthy, but there are so many summer barbecues filled with yummy foods and tons of alcohol.
I want to lose a few pounds this summer so that I don’t feel so self-conscious. I’m the girl who keeps her shirt and shorts on when everyone else is wearing a bathing suit. I don’t want to miss out on summer events, but I just can’t stand myself in any summer outfits. I want to be comfortable in my skin and love my body, but it’s so hard when I see my friends in bathing suits. I know that I can’t compare myself to other people, but how can I stop when I see skinny girls at the beach or on Instagram? -- Feeling Like a Beached Whale, Fort Lee, New Jersey
DEAR FEELING LIKE A BEACHED WHALE: Lots of women go to the beach without wearing a bathing suit. Many wear cover-ups that emphasize their favorable physical features and camouflage the others. You may want to consider loose, flowing dresses rather than shorts. They are cool and pretty and may make you feel more comfortable.
Ultimately, though, you have to stop looking at other people and sizing yourself up next to them. Every one of us has issues. Even so-called skinny girls do. Take your focus away from the women who spark low self-esteem in you. Instead, concentrate on yourself. Make smart choices when you eat. Move your body so that you get the exercise you need. Start affirming your positive attributes. When you can relax and accept yourself as you are, you will be happier and make choices to make yourself healthier.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is in seventh grade. He is smart and social. He has a big group of friends, and from an outside perspective, he seems to be the leader of the group; he's always calling the shots and making the plans. As much as I admire this leadership trait in my son, I’m afraid he is turning into a bully. Whenever he and his friends are over at the house, I overhear my son saying mean things to some of the other boys. Do you think this is something I should be concerned about? Should I interfere? Is it just a phase? -- Son Might Be a Bully, Milwaukee
DEAR SON MIGHT BE A BULLY: You must address this immediately. Tell your son what you have observed and heard and how you think it makes the other boys feel. Because your son is popular, he needs to understand that his words probably carry more significance than those of his peers. That makes it even more important for him to be mindful of how he teases others. It is not OK to be mean to his friends. Tell him that you will not tolerate it. Ground him if he doesn’t curtail his behavior. If he loses precious privileges, he may consider changing his ways.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)