DR. WALLACE: My heart went out to the teenage girl who had a large nose but whose parents would not allow her to undergo plastic surgery to correct what she felt was a problem. When I was a teen, I had a nearly identical experience. It started in fifth grade with occasional taunts.
I would laugh with those who made fun of me because I was afraid if I showed how hurt I was, it would somehow encourage the bullies to continue. It kind of worked for a while, but eventually the taunting got worse.
The verbal abuse I suffered became intolerable in middle school. The remarks were frequent and cruel. I loved my school days otherwise.
I graduated from high school with honors, and because of my singing voice, I was voted the most talented in my senior class. But I was always made aware of my nose size.
As a 12th grader, the crude remarks were long gone, but they were replaced with cute and clever phrases. One boy used to always blurt out, “The nose knows; ask her!” whenever someone asked him a question he did not know the answer to.
It was beyond rude and embarrassing, but I never made a scene over his insensitivity.
When I was on my own at age 19, I finally saved up enough money to have a rhinoplasty, or nose job.
Immediately after, my self-esteem soared. My only regret was that I didn’t have it done sooner. — Very Happy With my New Normal Nose, via email
VERY HAPPY: I firmly believe that plastic surgery is necessary when a teen suffers because Mother Nature produced an attribute that can easily be corrected, provided the funding to do so exists.
Thanks for being brave enough to share your story. It may be inspirational to a young person who reads it.
DR. WALLACE: Several weeks ago, I read about a horrible automobile accident in our community. A heavy-duty truck collided with a car driven by a 17-year-old girl sometime after midnight.
Three passengers, all under 21 years old, were killed. It was reported that the driver, who was not seriously injured, had alcohol on her breath. My heart sank when I read this tragic story.
Several years ago, my then-boyfriend and I went to a party where alcohol was served. We were 18 and thought it was cool to be drinking and discussing what colleges we planned to attend.
We both had about eight drinks in a three-hour span. We were not sophisticated drinkers and were quite out of it when my boyfriend decided to drive us home.
He knew he wasn’t his normal self, so he drove extra slowly, trying to get us home safely. We almost made it. About three miles away from my house, we crashed! If we’d been speeding, we might have been killed or seriously injured.
Since we were wearing our seat belts, we were not injured at all — just frightened. And my boyfriend’s car suffered major damage since we hit a brick wall and scraped against it for the full length of his car.
The accident was a blessing in disguise. I truly learned my lesson. I have not taken a drink since that day, and I refuse to ride with any driver who has been drinking, even a small amount.
Thanks for allowing me to speak my mind. I truly hope it will help other teens make good decisions when it comes to drinking and driving — or, rather, not drinking and driving. — Very Fortunate Girl, Sarasota, Florida
VERY FORTUNATE GIRL: Thank you for sharing your frightening experience with our teen readers. I trust it will inspire many other teens to make good driving decisions, be they drivers or passengers.
In this day and age of Uber and Lyft, there is no excuse to drink and drive.
Always remember that forces in play with an automobile are quite dramatic, and even the smallest driving error can turn into a catastrophic tragedy that can ruin lives in mere seconds.
I commend you for learning from your mistake and for making a dedicated stand to ensure you never find yourself in that position again.
DR. WALLACE: I’m a 13-year-old girl and enjoy sleeping on my stomach. It’s the most comfortable position for me, and I seem to fall asleep pretty fast lying on my stomach.
I’ve tried sleeping on my side and back, but I don’t find those positions comfortable at all.
My aunt lives with my family and occasionally sleeps in my room. Last night, she slept in my room. This morning, she said that young girls should never sleep on their stomachs because it will cause them to be flat-chested. Is this true?
To be honest, I’m not thinking at all about that; I just like to get a good night’s sleep. I kind of think my aunt does not know what she’s talking about because her comment sounded like an old wives’ tale to me!
I think we all move around a lot when we sleep anyhow, so how we first fall asleep should not matter too much. What do you think about my aunt’s comment?
I’d like to tell my aunt that she’s wrong, but I’m too nice and too shy to push back at her about this. — Nice Niece, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
NICE NIECE: Your instincts were correct. Mother Nature determines your body shape, not your sleeping positions! According to the Sleep Disorder Center at Johns Hopkins University, many people sleep on their side, but some sleep on their backs, and a few prefer to sleep on their stomachs.
The Sleep Disorder Center reports that the correct sleeping position is whatever works best for each individual to promote comfortable and rejuvenating sleep.
For you, it’s sleeping on your stomach. Keep sleeping away without fear!
I do commend you for your restraint in challenging your aunt over her obviously uninformed comment. You are a nice niece indeed!
DR. WALLACE: I’m a freshman attending the University of California at Berkeley, and I’m also in my first year away from home and from my girlfriend. We have been dating for over year, and I love her very much.
My problem is that I met a very interesting girl in my English literature class. We have had several “study” dates and have gone to a movie together several times.
Last week, we were studying together in the library when she suddenly looked up at me and said, “I love you,” and before I could think straight, I blurted out, “I love you, too.”
Now I’ve got a big problem! I think I really do love my girlfriend, but I think I might also love this new girl, too. I don’t think I could choose one over the other one if I had to, and neither girl knows about the other one.
I’m usually a pretty reliable and respectable guy who does not cause trouble, but I am at a loss here as to what I should do next. Help! —Two Loves for One Lucky Guy, Southside Berkley, California
TWO LOVES: Contact your girlfriend back home right away, and tell her that you would like to date a girl on campus and that it would be best if each of you dated others while you are in college.
You can also tell her that when you return home for the holidays and over the summer, you both can still enjoy dating each other if you choose to do so.
Then explain to the new girl that you have been dating someone back home, but you have agreed to both date others while you are in college.
Forget the “I love you” bit for now. Enjoy dating and being a teen, and lay off the heavy romantic stuff for now. There’s plenty of time for that when you are sure that a girl is truly your one and only.
For now, this new girl is a promising study partner that you might enjoy spending more time with in the future. I doubt that either one of you is in love with the other, but there’s no harm in enjoying each other’s company and seeing where this particular relationship goes.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at email@example.com. To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.