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Friend’s dirty appearance may be no accident

Updated: March 18, 2014 4:15PM

We recently heard from a woman worried about a friend who was neglecting her appearance. Her hair was matted and dirty, and her clothes looked like she’d been cleaning the garage. Readers wondered if she had lice or dreadlocks. Here’s another explanation . . .

GALA: It might be that this woman is neglecting her personal appearance because of her relationship with her husband. I personally believe that my mother maintained a poor level of hygiene as a barrier against my father, a passive/aggressive statement to him.

He had a bad temper and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she suffered more abuse than my siblings and I knew about.

This woman may be a survivor of abuse. By maintaining poor hygiene, she’s keeping people at a physical and emotional distance.

The BMI, or body mass index, has been in the column lately and also in the news. A Florida mother objected when her 5-foot-5, 124-pound, athletically built daughter was sent home from school with a “fat” letter saying she was in danger of becoming obese and at risk for severe health problems based on her BMI.

MARLO: BMI is a poor indicator of anything because it doesn’t distinguish between muscle and fat.

JUDY: The BMI scale is outdated and inaccurate! It was created in the 1800s by a statistician, not a doctor! According to the scale, the average person with a BMI under 18.5 is underweight and the average person with a BMI over 25 is overweight. Not everyone with a BMI under 18.5 is underweight and not everyone with a BMI over 25 is overweight!

The whole point of creating the scale was to show the average healthy and unhealthy weights of a population. It was not created to determine an individual’s healthy weight.

Personally, my BMI is 17, but I’m extremely narrow and small-boned and I don’t feel I’m underweight. I have a lot of friends (mostly men, but some women) who are really broad and muscular with a BMI over 25, but they’re far from overweight.

It’s also irritating when people cite dress or pants size for why they can’t be overweight or underweight. Example: “My mother says I’m overweight, but I can’t be because I’m only a size 8!” You can be overweight or underweight at a size 8, depending on your body frame and size.

IAN: When I first met the woman who was to be my wife, she had a few pounds on her. About nine years later, she was so thin that I could barely recognize her! We’ve been together for 10 years now, and she’s gained weight again.

But this time, she gained it differently. She’s got curves! And I’m fine with that. And let’s be honest, harping on someone to lose weight isn’t very productive. But two things that have never changed are her humor and her smile.

I’ve been married twice, and what I’ve learned is that whenever I started going to the gym to work out, eventually my partner joined me.

Do you and your partner work out together? How’s that working for you? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants, to

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