Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR READERS: I’ve stepped away from my column while I’m writing my new book, which is scheduled to be published in the fall. Enjoy these “Best Of” questions in my absence. I’ll be back with fresh questions and answers next week.

DEAR AMY: My husband, “George,” and I have been married for 13 years and have two young children. We argue frequently about one thing: His not shaving on the weekend and/or when he is not going to work. George is over 40 and well educated. He is a working professional who looks nice when he goes to the office. At home and on vacations, he doesn’t shave and thinks nobody notices his (lack of) personal hygiene except me. I’m tired of feeling embarrassed by his appearance when we go out in public. Will you tell him what others are thinking?

George’s Wife

DEAR WIFE: Here’s what others are thinking: “There’s a hard-working guy who doesn’t want to shave unless he has to. Hmmm. Why does his wife have that sour look on her face?”

Here’s a story: One time I went on a beach vacation with a group of friends.

One day, the men declared it to be “hair day.” They didn’t shave, they didn’t bathe and they poured everything they could think of into their hair. I’m talking eggs, salad dressing, coffee, and, yes, beer. Every food group was worked into their scalps.

It occurred to me watching these guys that their idea of sheer freedom — their version of a “vacation” — was to stop doing all of the things they feel they have to do to maintain the sort of appearance that bosses and wives tend to find appealing. That’s when I realized that for some men, a real “spa day” is actually the absence of grooming.

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Reflecting on your question, I can’t imagine being embarrassed by someone else’s facial hair. My own facial hair gives me enough trouble.

Perhaps the two of you could compromise in some way that is satisfying to both of you. Because one thing much worse than stubble is arguing about it. (January 2006)

DEAR AMY: It would be good to read a column by you devoted to the reasons why many younger women like to see their men look like slobs, with unkempt facial hair and clothing. The men at the Academy Awards did indeed look as if they were too lazy to shave or get dressed, yet the women were dressed, coiffed and made up elegantly. What a vast difference between the two. I noticed many men without ties — either regular or formal. Is there some animal instinct driving this?

John from Pennsylvania

DEAR JOHN: Yes. We women even have a name for this animal instinct. We like to call it “George Clooney.” (April 2006)

DEAR AMY: This subject will probably provoke a lot of controversy, but I want to express my feeling about current hairstyles that female television news reporters and anchors have. You would be surprised at how many people agree with me about this. The trend to wear their hair in a way that partially covers their face (a la Veronica Lake) and have long strands wrapping around their neck (resembling horses’ tails) is about as ugly as you can get. This is prevalent with both local and national network newscasters. It is not a “new do,” as Maria Shriver was wearing this style 15 years ago. I don’t have a problem with men’s hairstyles, because I see no bleached or spiked hair, no Mohawks or long stringy tresses. They seem well-groomed and neat (a few dye jobs are the exception). What can be expected in the future? Maybe tattoos, facial piercing or whatever current fashion fads that are foisted upon us? What do you think of this?

Disgusted in Tulsa

DEAR DISGUSTED: A recent study by the American Academy of Dermatology revealed that 36 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 have at least one tattoo and 24 percent of Americans 18 to 50 have a tattoo (up considerably from just three years ago), though I’m fairly sure Maria Shriver isn’t one of them. The fact is that styles change and people change too.

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About half of all Americans 18 to 29 have at least one tattoo or piercing (other than an earlobe).

I haven’t noticed the world going to hell in a hairdo quite in the way that you do, but I need to remind you that Veronica Lake (one of my favorites) was pretty fashion forward and controversial in her day. (July 2006)