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Ask Ellie: Long-haired brother needs a lesson in personal hygiene

"If he actually took care of his outer person, women would be more inclined to learn about his inner person"

Dear Lisi: My brother looks ridiculous! He’s over 50 with hair down past his shoulders that he dyes to hide the grey. But he does it himself, at home, with a cheap drugstore kit, so it looks completely unnatural. He also doesn’t wash it often enough, so it’s stringy, greasy and straggly.

In short, it’s gross.

He’s constantly complaining how he can’t find a girlfriend — that all the women he meets are shallow and vain and only care about money. I try to explain to him that if he actually took care of his outer person, women would be more inclined to learn about his inner person.

He meets women online using a headshot from his pre-COVID corporate portfolio. They have a physical and mental image of him. Then they meet on Zoom or in person, and they run. I don’t blame them.

He used to be a well-dressed, well-kept corporate employee. It all went wrong when he started working from home. Under his bad hair, and stale aroma, he is a great guy! He’s loving, kind and a lot of fun. How can I help him shine through the grease?

Hopeful Brother

Yuck! Unfortunately, the picture you paint is not very attractive — and I get that’s your point. Take your brother out, on a Thursday or Saturday night, to a bar or restaurant where there are lots of couples, presumably on dates. Quietly point out how each guy is dressed — one may be in a suit, another in jeans and a blazer, another in jeans and a cool shirt. Compare their outfits to whatever your brother is wearing.

Now do the same with their general appearance.

Also, go with your brother to the barber. Don’t force him to cut his hair — he’ll balk. Just show him what it can look like when it’s properly washed and coloured.

The point is, you’re not trying to get him to look a certain way. You want him to be authentically him. Just a clean, presentable, inoffensive version.

Readers’ Commentary regarding the protective brother worried about his uncle’s abusive behaviour (Sept. 24):

Reader No. 1: “Good for that brother for reaching out on behalf of his sibling. That was a big step. While agreeing with Lisi’s counsel to tell an adult what the uncle is doing, I would take it a step further and tell not just one, but multiple trusted adults.

“Having first-hand experience as a young teen with a predatory uncle who molested not just me but at least one of my sisters as well, I can tell you it is imperative to share the information with almost anyone who will listen and act. I told my own mother who did not believe me. In reality she laughed when I shared it with her. Her abject denial of what occurred consequently shut me down, and I told no one else for a very, very long time.

“The uncle’s behaviour may be a precursor of additional abuse to come and not just verbal.

Lisi — I am so sorry you were abused by a trusted family member and then disbelieved by another. No doubt all of that had a huge impact on your life. Thank you for sharing, and caring about others.

Reader No. 2: “If only someone had stopped my relative from verbally and physically abusing my nephew. We lived far away too, and only heard about it from his siblings in later years.

“The broken boy grew up to be a broken man.”

FEEDBACK regarding the dad who didn’t want to buy his still-growing son expensive shoes (Sept. 20):

Reader – “Your reply to the father of the boy who wants expensive running shoes was correct but didn’t go far enough.

“The father is being realistic about teens’ feet growing rapidly and the shoes being outgrown well before they are worn out, but there’s more to it. When my children wanted items of clothing that cost a lot, and I didn’t feel made sense to buy, I gave them the option of paying for the upgrade from their money saved from gifts/allowance/odd jobs. When we discussed why I was unwilling to pay the extra cost, they usually saw the point and chose not to use their own money for such a short-term investment.

“Parents need to make children part of the decision-making process to help them learn how to make the most of their resources.”

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: ellie@thestar.ca.

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