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DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m headed home for Christmas, and I feel nervous about it. I gained a ton of weight during quarantine. As I have been trying on clothes to figure out how to dress during my visit, I realize that most of my clothes are too small. I am feeling extremely self-conscious about seeing my family and friends in my hometown. I haven’t been home in a long time — since before COVID-19. The person they remember is not the person I am today, at least not how I look. I don’t feel like dealing with people asking me what’s wrong with me and criticizing me about my weight. What can I do to get over this? I want to see my family, but I dread how I will be received. — A Little Heavy
DEAR A LITTLE HEAVY: According to the Harvard Review, researchers polled 15 million people about weight gain during the pandemic and discovered that 39% of Americans gained weight during this period, with more than 10% of them gaining more than 12.5 pounds. What you have experienced is real, and you are not alone. Chances are, members of your family and your hometown friends have also gained weight.
What you can do is select items from your closet that fit, even if it’s only a few garments. Go to the store to supplement a few key items if you really need them. You can shop anywhere from a department store to a specialty shop to a thrift shop. You can find clothing at any price these days. When you are dressed well, you will feel better about yourself. Also, resolve to get yourself on a healthier track. This will give you confidence as well.
DEAR HARRIETTE: This summer, you answered a question from “Swimsuit Season,” a reader who felt uncomfortable in a swimming suit, and your advice — find a cut of suit that makes you feel good and ignore the critics — was spot on. I’d like to add my two cents’ worth. I’m 67, 6 feet tall and have a dad bod. I dislike baggy board short trunks, so I wear a Speedo brief whenever I go in the water. My advice: Care not a whit what the fashionistas think. You’re not in junior high anymore. Wear whatever suit fits and is comfortable. There are no fashion police. If there were, I’d have been locked up long ago, especially after wearing a ladies’ one piece at the Polar Bear Plunge for the Special Olympics. (“Butt” that’s another story!) Come on in; the water’s fine! — Wet and Wild
DEAR WET AND WILD: Thank you for such an uplifting and real response. It’s funny how self-conscious we can be about how we look. When you can just enjoy your life however you look, your experiences become that much sweeter.