Updated: November 5, 2013 9:56AM
Awkward wondered if there were a tactful way to tell her friend Katy that she needed a makeover. Katy was seriously neglecting her appearance. Her clothes looked like she’d been cleaning the garage and hair was matted and dirty. So dirty that Awkward was afraid it was affecting her health. The last time they were together, Katy was scratching her scalp.
Awkward thought Katy, who’s a high school teacher, married with three little kids, gave so much of her time to others that she didn’t have any time left for herself to do even the minimum of hygiene: bathing, shampooing, wearing clean clothes.
Said Awkward: “I’m torn between thinking it’s none of my business and thinking that this is what friends are for.”
I said, “This is what friends are for. This is way beyond not caring about your appearance or being sloppy. This is a mental health issue as well as a physical health issue. “It’s important that she take time for herself. It will make her a better wife, mother, and teacher.”
One reader suggested Katy might have lice. “As she’s a teacher with young children, she very likely comes in contact with these little critters.”
Another thought maybe her hair wasn’t matted, maybe she had dreadlocks. “If she’s Caucasian and blondish, she may not be able to pull them off very well.”
Another wondered if she was being abused by her husband. “By maintaining poor hygiene, she’s keeping him at a physical and emotional distance. I personally believe that my mother maintained a poor level of hygiene as a barrier against my father, a passive/aggressive statement to him.”
One reader said Katy’s unkempt appearance was not so different than her own. “On weekends or on the days when I work from home, I pass on the makeup, pull my hair up into a ponytail or a loosely held knot to keep it out of my face, and I wear old jeans (yes, some of them are ripped) and T-shirts that, I’m sure, some people would consider grubby.
“If you looked at me when I’m not in the office and jumped to the conclusion that that’s what I looked like all the time, you’d be way off and way out of line.”
Well, today we hear back from Awkward . . .
“I drummed up my courage and asked Katy to meet me for coffee yesterday. I was planning to broach the subject of her appearance, but to my surprise, she totally upstaged me!
“She showed up looking casual/normal for the first time ever! (I’ve known her for over a year.) I told her how nice she looked, complimented her hair, etc. She laughed it off, saying, “I do what I can.” No head-scratching, either!
“My guess is that she reads your column and figured that if people think dirty hair is either lice or a mental health issue, maybe it was time to put some effort into her appearance.
“I’ll let you know if this lasts or if it’s just a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
Do you and your partner have different ideas of what constitutes good hygiene? How’s that working for you? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to firstname.lastname@example.org. And check out my new website askcheryl.net.