Posted in the Chicago Forum
“reign in blood”
Since: May 09
#1 Feb 15, 2013
DEAR AMY: I have a friend who is 17 years old. She is absolutely beautiful from head to toe. Everyone who knows her (and even people who don't know her) agree that she is a beautiful person and should change nothing about her appearance.
Any time anyone tells her that she is beautiful, she almost always responds with a terse, "No." Any similar compliments yield similar responses.
I feel as though I may be the only friend who is concerned about this. When I confronted her about the problem she said, "I know I'm beautiful. I just can't see it."
I know she has flirted with anorexia in the past; recently she has become more adamant about her lack of beauty, and I am becoming more worried. I understand teenage girls have some self-esteem issues, but is it normal to be this self-degrading at age 17? What should I do, if anything?-- Concerned Friend
DEAR CONCERNED: Self-effacement is one thing; self-degradation is something else.
However, you must imagine the awkwardness of being on the receiving end of comments that are essentially subjective and superficial. It's challenging to respond well, and it takes years (and maturity) to learn that a simple, "Thank you, that's nice of you" can acknowledge the comment politely while starting to shift the focus away from one's looks.
Teen girls do seem to have self-esteem challenges, partly due to the world's focus on female beauty. Take a girl at a supremely self-conscious age, add popular culture's obsession with beauty, and it can seriously mess with a person's head. Beauty seems to be everything, unless you possess it -- then it's just more evidence that nobody notices your character.
Your friend may be depressed. She could have a distorted view of herself and is literally unable to see what others see.
As her friend, you should celebrate her character assets and qualities. She should know in her heart that her true friends like her just as she is.
Otherwise you should take your concerns to an adult who can help to guide her through this challenge; if she has flirted with eating disorders, her problem is potentially quite serious.
DEAR AMY: I have a friend recently admitted to a treatment facility after an attempted suicide.
Her son volunteered this information to me without my asking. I want to send her a card, but our other friends say not to, that I would be "invading her privacy" by doing so.
I want her to know I love her and support her. What to do?-- Worried Friend
DEAR FRIEND: You (and others) are overthinking this. Your friend is not well. She is in distress, and it's foolish to pretend that you don't know. Reach out to her by mail and say: "I've learned you aren't well, and I am so sorry to hear this. I hold our friendship close to my heart, and you are very much in my thoughts."
Then you should share a personal thought that you think might appeal to her, "Every day as spring inches closer, I look forward to the daffodils blooming -- and I hope to enjoy them with you very soon." Ask nothing of her; if she wants (and is able) to reach out to you, she will.
Sometimes people get so wound up in the particulars of what to say that they forget to merely express, simply, "I'm on your side."
DEAR AMY: Thank you for the thoughtful way you have responded to men who have been sexually abused and for sharing our information with your readers. There are so many men who struggle with sexual abuse, and they do not know where to turn.
Informed and compassionate members of the media are important partners in the healing work we do. I appreciate the space you have given to our organization in your column and the considerate way you approach those in pain.-- Ken Followell, president, malesurvivor.org
DEAR KEN: Every time I run a letter from a man who is a survivor of sexual abuse, scores of others contact me to tell their stories. Thank you for offering an important resource and support system for these men.
“A Programmer is not in IT!”
Since: Feb 09
Neda, stay with me! Charlie
#2 Feb 15, 2013
1 teen stuff, dont care
2 Amby actually gave good advise, but skip the crap about dafodills.
3 oh, just man up already!
“I Am Mine”
Since: Dec 08
#3 Feb 15, 2013
'Any time anyone tells her that she is beautiful, she almost always responds with a terse, "No." '
'Any similar compliments yield similar responses.'
'I know I'm beautiful. I just can't see it.'
"but is it normal to be this self-degrading at age 17?"
This is your example of self degradation? Really? If she were to take those compliments and agree that she is beautiful, you would probably accuse her of having a big head. If there's more to the story, you left out the good stuff.
LW2: Amy's message is good. Her words are silly.
"I look forward to the daffodils blooming -- and I hope to enjoy them with you very soon."
Do people actually talk like this?
Since: Dec 07
#4 Feb 15, 2013
1 Nothing funny to say about anorexia. I know too many people who had it, including a good friend's wife who died from it.
2 Daffodils? Wow, that is majorly lame.
3 Downer day continues...
Saint Paul, MN
#5 Feb 15, 2013
L1: Sigh. I stop telling kids how cute they are at age 2. AFter that, they get comments on their *qualities.* "You're so good at sharing!" "Thank you for helping me, I love that you're so helpful!" "nice job putting that puzzle together." I comment on kindness, politeness, trying hard, achieving, etc.
Your friend must be pretty sick thinking that her future is a world where she'll be judged based on her looks first and foremost. No wonder some real beauties such as hollywood legends end up unable to accept the aging process later on. Meg Ryan, Melanie Griffith -- they've made themselves ugly by trying to stay youthful and beautiful.
Your friend may need some help but the real problem is other people. People need to stop commenting on looks.
L2: Ignore friends. Talk to the son. Ask him if he thinks it'd be okay with his mom to receive correspondence from you.
L3: Male sexual abuse victims lag behind women in this whole area, because I think there's extra shame, especially where actual rape (penetration) occurred. The whole homophobia thing plays a role in that I'm sure. It's getting better, though. Oprah did a show with Tyler Perry, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and her audience was 100% men who were victims of sexual abuse. IT was POWERFUL. Putting their faces out there was so courageous, but it was a good 30-40 years after women had been doing that. So it's going to take some time for men to catch up.
“Where is Everyone?”
Since: Jul 12
#6 Feb 15, 2013
L1: I agree with Angela. Maybe she was never prized for her other attributes so she thinks her worth is all in her looks.
L2: I'd send her a letter and/or a card enforcing how much she means to you.
L3: Seriously, when a man goes through this they are told to "man up". It's dismissive of what they've gone through.
#7 Feb 15, 2013
1. Keep an eye on her, and it might be worth it to pay attention to how her parents address her if you get the chance. And there is a chance she was molested. My friend is a psychiatrist, and she said that molesters often praise the victim's appearance to ply them, so the victim develops a negative association with compliments about their appearance.
2. "I've learned you aren't well?" Really? That's the phrasing you'd use?
3. Abuse is unfortunate no matter who it happens to.
Since: Aug 08
#8 Feb 15, 2013
These letters all suck.
“The two baby belly, please!”
Since: Sep 09
#9 Feb 15, 2013
LW1: I'm sure she's heard this most of her life, but she does not feel beautiful on the inside, so that's why you're getting this type of response. I'm sure she'd love it to get compliments on some of her other good qualities.
I get this way when I'm told I'm a good mother. I know all the ways that I could do a better job but can't seem to do them, so internally I don't feel like a good mom.
LW2: Just write her a heartfelt letter.
LW3: Thanks for the downer rehash on a Friday, Amy.
#10 Feb 15, 2013
I know! Both Abby and Amy printed downer letters today.
Happy Friday everyone! Looking forward to a 3-day weekend, woo-hoo!
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