Care and Feeding

My Husband Thinks I’m Affecting My Daughters’ Body Image … for the Worse

A woman gives herself a facial at home.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by standret/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Dear Care and Feeding,

I have three daughters, who are 6, 4, and 1. I also like to get a lot of beauty treatments done. Nothing major, but I get my hair cut and glossed every 6 weeks, I get most of my face waxed (I’m Italian and Greek, so we’re very hairy), I love facials and body scrubs and massages. I get a manicure once a month or so. Maybe once or twice a year I’ll get a spray tan. My husband never seemed to mind, but now that our girls are getting older, he wants me to tone it down and have a more “natural” look so they know they’re beautiful as they are. I love that he’s worried about their body image but at the same time, I don’t want to give up my treatments! There are plenty of natural features that I’ve grown to love, including my Roman nose. I almost never wear heavy makeup. I don’t want to have to learn to love my mustache and my unruly hair. Is it so bad for our daughters’ self-esteem that I alter my appearance?

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—I Love Facials

Dear Facials,

Unless there’s more to the story than you’re sharing here, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the self-care you described. If anything, you’re teaching your daughters that it’s OK to pamper yourself whenever you want to.

Haircuts, facials, and even the occasional spray tans aren’t reasons to sound the alarm. If you happen to see any warning signs that your daughters’ body images take a turn for the worse (like commenting on their weight or focusing heavily on their appearances), then you’ll need to intervene appropriately. However, if that does happen, I don’t think anyone would think waxing your upper lip will be to blame for it.

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You should also ask your husband directly about what concerns him about your beauty routine, and assure him that it won’t be a problem. I mean, you’re the expert here since you were a young girl not so long ago. Use that expertise to your advantage.

Loving your children and building them up with positivity is way more important than how much time you spend at the local spa.

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Dear Care and Feeding,

I am writing this message at 6 a.m., as I have been woken up by the upstairs neighbor again. I live (alone) in an apartment and last year a single mom with a 2-year-old moved in the apartment upstairs. They are LOUD. The walls are thin so I don’t mind a certain level of noise but the kid, who is now 3, recently started running inside, just above my bedroom, really early in the morning especially on weekends (for at least 20 minutes sometime between 6 and 8 a.m.). I already told the mom that this wakes me up, but maybe I was too nice because she just laughed and told the kid, “You see? You wake up the neighbor! I honestly thought she would be more careful, but I was apparently naive. I don’t know what to do. I sleep with earplugs but the noise is so loud, it’s like someone is banging directly above my bed. I don’t have kids yet, but my mom used to run a small daycare at home, so I understand that kids can be super loud and need to move. The mom seems to be struggling with the kid, and it’s a special time in history, so I understand this is not easy, but this is getting to be too much for me. Is it OK to say something about the morning jogging? Can you help me finding a good way to say it? Thank you!

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—Extremely Tired Neighbor

Dear Extremely Tired,

I absolutely feel your pain. When my kids were really young, I lived on the bottom floor of my condominium and I swear that my upstairs neighbors brought in elephants to walk above my bedroom between 5:00 and 7:00 a.m. every single morning. It woke all of us up, and I was pretty miserable until I finally confronted them.

In doing so, I walked upstairs, pounded on the door (it wasn’t a pleasant knock) and calmly, yet firmly, stated, “Hi there, there is a loud noise right above my bedroom every morning at this time and it wakes me up. These walls and floors are very thin and I would appreciate if you could be more considerate to me and my family.” The woman apologized profusely and mentioned that she used a treadmill early in the morning which ended up being the reason. We compromised by having her use the treadmill during decent hours of the day, but I still couldn’t wait to move out of there.

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I think it’s totally fine for you to have a similar conversation with your upstairs neighbor. Granted, as a single mom, she’s probably at the end of her rope on a daily basis trying to wrangle a toddler, but that doesn’t excuse her from being considerate. You have to be kind but firm, so she understands that you’re not a jerk, but you also need to be taken seriously. If she’s a reasonable adult, she should recognize what’s happening and do her part to fix it. If it still continues, you could escalate your concerns to management or find another place to live (preferably on the top floor). I don’t think it will come to that, though.

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• If you missed Monday’s Care and Feeding column, read it here.

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Dear Care and Feeding,

I have a wonderful smart, caring, and generous child who my entire family adores and will sometimes bring presents to. For most of the family it’s a little something here and there, usually around a holiday, any holiday, which while unnecessary is fine with us. The problem is we have a few distant but well off family members that send expensive gifts at least once a month, like in excess of a hundred dollars and it’s all just a bit much for a toddler. I’ve tried talking to them about it but still the gifts continue and I’m at a loss. We regularly donate items and my child has no problem sharing or parting with things but it does take some of the excitement out of gift giving occasions when it’s just like any other day. I’ve tried intercepting the packages and sorting them in private but toddlers are smart and mine knows what a cardboard box could contain and even asks randomly for us to take them to check for them, so my attempts at subterfuge rarely work out. Should I keep fighting the good fight and get rid of what I can? Or not worry about it because despite the abundance of belongings my kid has been raised with love, attention, and good values and as a result doesn’t seem spoiled at all?

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—Please Stop With The Gifts

Dear Please Stop,

This definitely falls into the “First World Problems” category. Is your relatives’ way of fostering a relationship with your kid to throw some cash in an envelope? If so, that’s a problem right there. Do they make video calls? Visit for holidays? Those are things that really matter, because as Tony Stark’s dad famously said in Avengers: Endgame, “No amount of money ever bought a second of time.”

If it really bothers you, then you should flat out tell them to stop. Not in an, “Aww shucks, you shouldn’t have” kind of way — I’m talking about, “Look, these gifts are making me really uncomfortable and I want you to stop sending them now, or else I’ll donate them to charity” kind of way. That should stop everything.

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In the event that they still send stuff for no reason, you can ask them to send cash instead. Then you can put it in your kid’s college fund, donate it to a worthy cause, or use it on a fun vacation. I know wealthy people like your relatives, and many of them have no clue what to do with all of their money so they randomly give it away. It’s better than hoarding it, I guess. Regardless of the reason, it doesn’t make you a bad person for accepting it and spending it as you see fit.

Dear Care and Feeding,

For complicated but good reasons, my children attend a school that is a 45-minute commute from our home, 10 minutes from my work. They’re in kindergarten and fifth grade, and the school goes through high school. As you can imagine, this means I deal with all the transportation and logistics and my husband—who has a job midway between house and school, and much less flexibility—does none. For the brief part of this year that has been in person (which, yay!) I’ve had to take 2+ hours out of my workday for the afternoon drive home (and makeup the time at night). I want to move near school. My husband does not. The children don’t know, but of course they don’t want to either (children never want to move). They claim they don’t mind the commute, but the exhausting and frantic bickering in the back seat tells a different tale. We would all be giving up some extracurricular—sports leagues and the like—if we moved. Not all of those things are replicable on the other side of town, and I’m not callous enough to think it doesn’t matter. Plus, the school’s neighborhood has smaller lots, so for the same price per square foot we’d have a smaller/older house and no garage. I still think we should move. And soon.

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—Should We Move?

Dear Should We Move,

I’m sorry to lay down the hammer here, but this sounds extremely selfish. You’re willing to give up the kids’ extracurricular activities, move into a smaller and older home, and upset your family just so you can spend less time in the car with your kids? Do you honestly think that’s OK?

What if you move and then get laid off? Would you be able to live with yourself? Jobs come and go, and I don’t think it would be wise to make an unpopular decision because of a 45-minute commute. I know parents who have 90-minute commutes each way and don’t complain. It’s just a part of the job sometimes.

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I don’t think you’re a bad parent — I just think your exhaustion is not making you think straight. Moving away is a major decision to make for a seemingly minor inconvenience. I can’t tell you what to do, but I think you should ride this one out.

—Doyin

More Advice From Slate

I love my 7-year-old son’s name, “Andrew,” but I hate the nickname “Andy.” When we named him “Andrew” we agreed to only use the long version and never the nickname. Until this year everyone has called him “Andrew.” We moved over the summer, and somehow he has become “Andy” in his new school! What should I do?

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