Why do I read advice columns?

Probably the same reason some people watch reality TV.

From the Washington Post’s Ask Amy:

DEAR AMY: I am a 27-year-old single mom. I’ve never been small, but I am a healthy, strong, well-proportioned size 12.

My problem is with my mother. She’s extremely fat-phobic, and starts to freak out and call herself horrible fat names when she gets over a size 6. She also makes nasty comments about my weight going back to childhood, such as, “I’d kill myself if I had to wear a size 12.”

I’ve learned to accept that. What I can’t and won’t accept is when she makes fat comments about my daughter. My baby is 14 months old. Her pediatrician says she is the picture of a healthy toddler, with no weight concerns.

My first thought: Thank goodness she’s a size 12 and not bigger; she’ll get uncomplicated, sensible advice about the fatphobia her mom is emanating.

From Slate’s Dear Prudence:

In the past year, my husband has taken up running, and it’s been great! He’s lost 65 pounds and I couldn’t be prouder. But Prudie, he constantly wants to talk about running, his workouts, and losing weight.

This bit of Prudie/Emily Yoffe’s response is darkly humorous to me:

Keep in mind all this is new for your husband, and he also is replacing a focus on food with a focus on fitness.

Yes, he constantly wants to talk about losing weight, but it was BEFORE that he had a focus on food! Dieters who want to discuss their diets all the time definitely don’t have a focus on food! We didn’t learn from the Minnesota Starvation Experiment that people losing weight have a preoccupation with food! (I don’t think it’s a big leap to assume that a significant chunk of the “losing weight” discussion is about eating/not eating.)

[The rest of her response boils down to, give him some time and he’ll probably stop being so obsessed with it. If he doesn’t, ask him to knock it off.]

Then there’s the fact that many of the people who do manage to keep weight off basically make it their mission in life. Expecting her husband to maintain his weight loss means expecting the statistically improbable, but expecting him to stop obsessing over it may make it even more likely he’ll regain. And then of course he will be blamed for it.

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4 Responses to Why do I read advice columns?

  1. G says:

    I stick to Carolyn Hax. Prudie is awful.

    It’s funny though; I read the first one and thought it sensible enough advice. But you have an excellent point, one I didn’t think about.

    • Yeah, Carolyn Hax is definitely the best of the mainstream advice columnists. Often with Prudie/Yoffe I feel like I’m reading the questions more closely than she is. Earlier in that same column I linked to there’s a bad example, where a woman was medically unable to breastfeed and was finally mostly done grieving about that, but her husband kept bringing it up with women who were breastfeeding and she wanted him to knock it off so she would not keep being reminded. Prudie’s response included the sentence “be glad healthy, nutritious food was available for your child and stop dwelling on your breasts.” WTF do you think she’s trying to do? [She also tells the LW to tell her partner to knock it off.]

  2. The Real Cie says:

    Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    Dear Prudence tends to be a sanctimonious asshat at best. Her advice in this case is not fat-phobic, but she’s the one behind a rather rude video response on her column, depicting a young fat woman as a pig. Oh, the creativity!

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