DEAR AMY: My 18-year-old daughter is home this summer from college. She is smart, beautiful, funny, and unfortunately came home after gaining the "freshman 15." She is usually very fashion conscious, but lately she has been wearing clothes that are very unflattering on her frame.
She has a somewhat large chest, and biggish legs, yet seems to love wearing dresses and shorts that are way too short and tight.
Can you help me find a way to gently tell her that she should be wearing clothes more flattering to her shape? She is not overweight, but her clothing choices frankly make her look chunky and inappropriately dressed.
When she does wear an outfit suited to her body, she looks terrific.
I've tried dishing out the compliments when she dresses well, but I hesitate to berate her when she dresses poorly.
I am willing to take her shopping for better fitting clothes, but dread how I will react if she tries on ill-fitting choices.
What is the rule for constructive criticism in this case? -- Frustrated Mother
DEAR FRUSTRATED: My advice is to ignore every single instinct you currently have regarding your daughter's looks. Whatever action you incline toward, you should do the opposite.
When you are compelled to comment on her clothing choices, be silent. Banish the word "chunky" from your vocabulary.
Unless she is headed to a job interview dressed like a streetwalker, you should not intervene.
It sounds as if she could use some new clothes. If you're able, you could point her in a positive direction by setting her up with a personal shopper, who will give the sort of non-biased, non-mom-based feedback that she might actually listen to.
DEAR AMY: I am pregnant, and my sister and mother will be co-hosting a baby shower for me. This has deeply offended my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, who felt that they should be co-hosts of this event.