So really, truly, do you tell someone if they smell?

(134 Posts)
awkwardsis Fri 05-Apr-13 20:35:01

Am faced with a dilemma. I have a sister 10 years younger than me. She started university in September, wanted to come home pretty much straight away as she was struggling being away from home. She is a very very young 19. My parents live rurally, she has been very isolated and is very unwordly. I had her to stay with me a few days this week. When she arrived she smelled badly of BO. It lasted the 2 days she was here, and I've had to wash all of the covers on my sofa now she's gone as the smell just clung to it sad She's having difficulty making friends which tbh I had put down to her being very unlike the ones she's sharing a flat with. The pictures I've seen on her facebook show them as the 19 year olds I remember from my first year at uni, very into their clothes and make up. But now I'm wondering if there's more to it and they're actually picking on her and making her unhappy? She's about to go on placement as her degree is in teaching and I'm agonising over wether I ought to have a word with her about looking after herself a bit better? She's gone on and on about making a good impression at these schools but tbh I am worried that it won't go unnoticed. I adore my sister and feel an absolute bitch for even having an opinion about how she presents herself. I can't comment on her clothes and lack of make up as I know that's her choice, and yes I know we shouldn't feel we have to wear make up etc. But the smell? Would you want to be told? And how to I phrase it so I don't massively hurt her feelings or make her feel bad about herself?

cantspel Fri 05-Apr-13 20:38:12

I would sit down and have a heart to heart with her. It wont be easy but it needs to be done for her sake and the sake of people around her.

HollyGoHeavily Fri 05-Apr-13 20:40:47

It is a hard thing to broach withsomeone but it's better coming from someone who cares about her than a classroom full of kids.....

Grockle Fri 05-Apr-13 20:41:52

Yep, you need to say something. I'm terrible at things like that though so I have no idea how you tell someone that.

numbum Fri 05-Apr-13 20:42:08

Yes you should tell her. It might hurt her but people bitching behind her back and laughing at her forever will hurt more

peggotty Fri 05-Apr-13 20:43:53

Yes you absolutely have to tell her. Just use sensitive phrasing and words 'I've noticed that you have a little bit of body odour' or something like that. If you help her now it could make all the difference to her uni experience. Good luck!

awkwardsis Fri 05-Apr-13 20:44:01

cantspel, I'm just worried this will give her more to worry about. I've been there,a teen with low/no self esteem. I gave her a whole load of gorgeous clothes before she left for university as I desperately wanted her to feel good about herself and not turn down invites out as she had nothign to wear. She's not been wearing them at all, which again is none of my business and I have no right to an opinion about it. But she dresses like a ten year old! Very unself conscious which in a way is great I suppose. But teenage girls cna be ruthless and I know she's had few friends at school, which is probably worse now at university. It's difficult to get her on her own as well as I have a brother a year younger than her who was here as well, and 3 young dc of my own! I might try and gt a day with her next week. Or failing that, I might get my dad to have a word <chicken>. She's very close to him and it might be better coming from him.

When she was with you, did she shower and change clothes or wear the same ones?

It is difficult to start that conversation.
If she's washing and it's not helping then surely she must know.
If she doesn't care about personal hygiene then she doesn't care.
It's less embaressing for a family member than a friend to say it.
(I tell my teen son when he's a bit manky .
"I'm your Mum and I can tell you because I love you. Your friends won't tell you. They'll just avoid you" )

Dogsmom Fri 05-Apr-13 20:45:21

It's difficult but better than other people telling her our talking behind her back.
Maybe say that her deodorant has worn off a bit, that way she'll get the hint she smells but it implies you think it was a one off and that she usually wears it.

As a teacher you have to tell her - the kids won't hold back and their comments can be brutal. Does she think she has difficulties makin friends or chatting to new people? If so could you invite her to stay again and offer to show her some skills to help her perhaps?

HomeEcoGnomist Fri 05-Apr-13 20:45:45

Yes, you should say something

It's not going to be easy - but I've just had to have a conversation with someone at work about how they dress (appreciate this is different subject, but similarly sensitive)

At the end, she thanked me for taking the time to tell her and be honest...when nobody else would

awkwardsis Fri 05-Apr-13 20:46:16

70, i like that actually, about friends not telling you, just avoiding you. I might say that. She did wash (I think) but didn't change clothes. Certainly not her jumper, I didn't notice the rest. It was noticeable as soon as she arrived though, which makes me wonder if she even knows.

williaminajetfighter Fri 05-Apr-13 20:46:36

Family members tell family members!!

Geordieminx Fri 05-Apr-13 20:47:08

If your sister can't tell you something like this then no one can.

Please talk to her,suggest some of the better anti per-spirants, a friend if mine has Botox injections to stop her sweating..

Did she get washed/showered while she was with you?

DoctorAnge Fri 05-Apr-13 20:47:27

Oh bless her. Yes in these circs I think you should say something to her.

You sound like such a lovely sister btw

awkwardsis Fri 05-Apr-13 20:50:17

She's going to primary school so maybe not as bad as if it were secondary. The thing is, I am worried I am going to become her critical older sister and I don't want that. I want her to know I love her as she is, but the world at large has certain expectations, namely to be presentable and not to smell! Our mum has a similar attitude to clothes and make up, so she's never seen a reasonable example I suppose. I've made her up for fun before, but she scrubbed it off before she went home. We're not a strict family by any means, there's no reason she cna't do this stuff. I gave her a lot of my unused make up too. But the issue isn't her face, so I can't comment on that. I'm just going to have to braoch the subject as best I can. Can't begin to know where to start.

cantspel Fri 05-Apr-13 20:54:24

It wont be very easy if she is very unself conscious as she has no idea of the image of she self she wants to project to others/employers.

can you not just be straight with her and say you have noticed she seems to be struggling with a problem with her body odour and then pull out a couple of products you have bought in advance and tell her that these have helped you in the past when you found your own bo to be becoming a problem. Even if you have never had bo can you pretend so she doesn't feel she is suffering alone.
If you also tell her bo can get into clothes and even if she deals with the bodily problem it would be best to bin some of her more worn items and you would love the excuse of a shopping trip with her.

specialsubject Fri 05-Apr-13 20:55:12

tell her. You're her sister and she will know you still love her.

casual clothes, no make up, so what? But washing is a must.

ElsieMc Fri 05-Apr-13 20:55:59

You need to tell her because this could damage her placement and damage her self confidence further. I say this for a clear reason. I managed a home care business with social services contracts. We had clear info on personal hygiene, wearing of jewellery etc, appropriate clothing. Unfortunately two of our workers had a similar problem to your sister. Polite hints and requests did not work.

SS contacted me and told me I must take these workers off contract and I had to tell them both following a complaint from a service user who had to open his windows after they left. One took it fairly well, but the second left immediately, followed by threats from her husband towards me who could not failed to have smelt how bad it was (I can only describe it as off meat).

Although this may not be much help to you in your quandary, I am coming from the perspective of future employer's reactions.

You sound such a lovely, caring sister. Please tell her before she goes to her placement.

cantspel Fri 05-Apr-13 20:56:27

Primary school kids might not be a cruel as secondary but they can speak without thinking and so be just as hurtful so the issue does need tackling now.

Grockle Fri 05-Apr-13 20:57:51

It WILL be as bad as a secondary school - children say things without thinking... if she smells & they don't like it, they will say. On my first day, one of my 8yr old boys said, 'Oh, You look like MissX...she had spots on her face too!' grin I didn't even have loads of spots sad

Could you buy some nice bath stuff & deodorant as a gift before she goes on placement & say how important it is when you are a public sector worker to be clean & sweet-smelling so you thought you'd spoil her with some nice bits & bobs? I don't know but please don't let her hear it from the children.

Also, if she's good on her teaching practice, there are sometimes chances of a job. And, I know it shouldn't make any difference at all but if she smells, they won't want to work with her.

marriedinwhiteagain Fri 05-Apr-13 20:59:26

OK - I'm an HR manager and occasionally I have had to deal with this.

It goes like this:

"I have noticed that you have a problem with BO. I wanted to mention this to you before anyone else mentions it to you. I am sorry if this offends you but I want to help you and to give you some practical advice.

Would you like a glass of water; cup of tea, etc..

I understand it can be hard especially if you live on your own or you are stressed but it is really important to wear clean tops/shirts/blouses every day and underwear and wash the rest of your clothes too. You might not know but man made fibres once they warm up get stinky again even if you have only had BO once and are perfectly clean. It's also important to know that you can't always smell your own BO.

You can avoid BO by showering or even just washing daily and using a 48 hour anti-perspirant. Sometimes of course there can be underlying medical reasons but there are solutions for this nowadays and I can refer you to OHP (in your case come to the doctor with you).

I really appreciate this hasn't been easy to hear but I thought it might be helpful before your colleagues start noticing - if you have any worries, please come and talk to me, I'm always here"

Good luck OP. I know it's tough. But if you do it you won't have the me thinking WTF didn't this poor woman's/man's family (mum, dad, sister, etc) ever care enough to help him or her.

awkwardsis Fri 05-Apr-13 21:01:22

I don't feel like a caring sister, I honestly feel like a horrible person for having an issue with this. I'm sat on my sofa and I can still smell it, I'm going to have to wash the cushion covers and blanket too. Cantspel, I actually had a problem with massively sweating after my youngest was born so that might not be such a bad idea, I could definately go and buy some of the stuff that helped me (thank you Mitchum!) I know mum (can you tell our relationship is a bit toxic hmm) won't let her shave so she goes intermittently for waxing. My attitude to that was sod it I'm shaving anyway but I bet she's just waxing every term. I imagine having stubble would make the smell cling worse? I might just buy her a razor too and tell her to go wild. I'd love to take her shopping but she's just not into it. I am worried about her prospects though. Tbh, I have primary aged dc and I'm not sure how I'd feel about her teaching mine. Obviously she has 2 years to go but she's just so unwordly. I think it's fair to tell her it might affect the impression she makes on placement though.

Snoopingforsoup Fri 05-Apr-13 21:01:54

I think if you approach a conversation with her as you're concerned the problem is linked to her worries about college etc. it may sound more gentle. I've known a few people have problem sweat that had help from their GP. Do you think it's a hygiene issue or could it be medical?
She may already realise and not know how to handle it. I'm sure she'd appreciate your help.
I had to tell my brother he was a stinker, but he was a big burly bloke who'd previously been through the dog on string dreadlock look and was used to it! He's a right peacock these days!

It's hard but the right thing to do as you care about her and can handle it sensitively. Could you maybe say that you are worried about where she is living, is it damp? Because you can smell it a bit on her clothes....something like that if you feel uncomfortable mentioning BO.

LillianGish Fri 05-Apr-13 21:05:38

Marriedinwhite that's a great way to put it. So much better than an old boss of mine who when I complained about a very malodorous colleague dealt with the situation by saying:"I've had some complaints about your personal hygiene and from where I'm standing they are not exaggerated." I have to say it did the trick though!

Acandlelitshadow Fri 05-Apr-13 21:05:59

Yes, it's up to you to tell her. Others won't be as tactful and it's far, far better coming from you than for her to find she's being talked about behind her back or being told bluntly or possibly hurtfully to her face.

I did it for my kids when they hummed smile

bochead Fri 05-Apr-13 21:07:18

Sometimes BO can be a sign of untreated diabetes or other fairly serious health problems so you owe it to her to tell her just from that perspective. It doesn't always mean poor personal hygiene/skankiness despite popular perceptions. Do talk to her as you'd never forgive yourself if she were found collapsed in the street for the sake of a quick GP's check up.

If it were my little Sis I'd just want to be sure she was OK. e.g she wasn't wearing the same jumper all weekend cos all the rest of her clothes have been nicked at Uni, and she's skint + too embarrassed to let you know, & to be sure she didn't have some problem with her health developing.

Remotecontrolduck Fri 05-Apr-13 21:07:26

Definitely tell her, much better you do this than a teacher or a pupil at her placement.

Maybe she's a bit low at the moment, and has sort of given up on herself? Be gentle, perhaps offer to take her shopping for some new clothes or something? Maybe talk to her about her flat mates, if they're really not getting on, what she can do about it so she doesn't feel so in despair. Maybe if she feels good about herself and her life, the washing and pride in her appearence will come back.

It's totally ok not to care about make up and if she's not into it then good for her for being her own person, but maybe she would be interested but doesn't know how to apply it? Perhaps work on her general well-being first, then if things improve ask her if she'd be interested in coming with you to boots or something?

She has to have a good level of basic hygiene though, there's no way you can ignore it. You sound like a lovely sister smile

ShatnersBassoon Fri 05-Apr-13 21:07:27

I would say something, but I'd go about it as if I could empathise ie "I had the same thing at your age, I hadn't noticed until someone at uni told me. It's hard to notice your own smell, most people have BO at some point..."

RevoltingPeasant Fri 05-Apr-13 21:07:53

OP this is very hard but you must do something. My DSis4 is 10 years younger than me and like your sis very 'young' for her age.

She also didn't wear deo and would do things like opening the toilet door whilst someone was using it (we had a family loo with no lock on the door).

My mum spoke to her before university and she had a bit of a bumpy ride but is now fine, in her final year, and has made friends. But yes, students can sideline others and the sidelining happens quite quickly as they move into friendship groups fast.

What about taking Elsie's tack and saying you believe there are professional guidelines on self-presentation in teaching? Like, showering that morning, wearing deo etc? That might be a neutral way to present it.

ZZZenagain Fri 05-Apr-13 21:08:32

yes, tell her. She needs to know.

VerySmallSqueak Fri 05-Apr-13 21:15:42

I would probably say something like:

'I'm noticing a bit of a smell of BO,but I'm pretty sure you must be washing and using antiperspirant and all that stuff.
I'm just wondering if perhaps a smell is clinging to your clothes after they'v e been washed,because I know that can happen.It's weird because when you put them on they smell fine but as they warm up they start to smell....'

and then just continue a casual conversation,preferably while both busy doing something else so it doesn't get too intense.

schmee Fri 05-Apr-13 21:17:11

Could it be that her clothes smell rather than her. As other posters have mentioned, the smell can be retained in clothes even if the person washes regularly. I had a similar problem as an early teenager because I wasn't capable of planning to wash my clothes (I was at a boarding school so didn't have a parent to tell me to put things in the wash). It may sound crazy but I just wasn't organised/mature enough to make sure I had clean clothes every day or to plan to put things in the weekly wash.

At university I didn't know where the washing machines were/how the laundry worked and was too shy to ask anyone, but by this stage I'd developed the habit of daily handwashing because of my boarding school experience.

awkwardsis Fri 05-Apr-13 21:20:56

RevoltingPeasant (great name!) I am worried that she's been sidelined. It's already almost the start of the final semester and she's still not found accomodation for next year, I think because she has noone to share with sadI'll try the approach of already buying her the stuff, and gently suggesting that certain things are expected of her on placement. At least then I can know I've tried.

KC225 Fri 05-Apr-13 21:21:43

I had to tackle this at work one time and I blamed the clothes (we had to wear a uniform). I said that I know you are someone who is considerate to others etc. and I'm not going to insult you with a lecture on personal hygiene etc., but clothes can become whiffy and it can be difficult to get rid of the smell once it's ingrained. I recommended a good hot, intensive wash and stronger deodorant when wearing the uniform (ie all the time). I said these things are important to the company and clients and if you want to go further in the company. It was acknowledged and it wasn't a problem again.

steppemum Fri 05-Apr-13 21:23:13

when I read your title, my initial thought was don't say, but then you describe your situation, and actually, you are the only one who can tell her, and you need to.

If she doesn't have a role model to follow, she may not know what is normal, so you may need to spell it out
ie, wash underarms/shower every day, with soap
wear deodorant every day (if she isn't doing anything at the moment, ordinary deodorant would be enough)
change your layer nearest to your skin (T-shirt/shirt) every day, and wash it
change jumper/outer layer every few days
don't forget that jeans need washing after being worn x number of times

She will smell more if she has long underarm hair, but if she washes with soap and uses deodorant every day she shouldn't smell unless there is a problem.

Finola1step Fri 05-Apr-13 21:24:01

You must tell her. If you do not, then her school based mentor probably will. Or worse case scenario, one of the parents!

Buy her the strongest deodorant / anti p you can find. But it does sound like that there has been a failure in her nurturing as a teenage girl. In short, you are going to have to have the conversations that a mother and daughter should have in the early teenage years.

Don't assume she knows that she should be washing herself daily, drying her armpits quickly and using deodorant straight away. It sounds like that you will have to be that basic OP.

She is very lucky to have a sister like you. She may be embarrassed but she will thank you one day I'm sure.

awkwardsis Fri 05-Apr-13 21:28:41

Finola, you've hit the nail on the head. There is no nurturing in our family. We were all pretty much on our own. I certainly am sad that I don't have a relationship with my mother, but there has never been any closeness there. I feel like I just lived in the same house, I wasn't brought up by her sad My sister is far from close to her as well so maybe I can approach it in the way that 'mum should have taught us this stuff, I had to teach myself so I'm going to pass the wisdom onto you'. I am just so worried this is going to make her more self conscious which is silly really. I do think it's a relatively easy thing to sort out, but absolutely cringeworthy to have to bring up in the first place.

Weeteeny Fri 05-Apr-13 21:33:19

Hello, I would like to say that you sound like a lovely sister.

When I was seventeen I started my first job and after about two weeks two girls had a very deliberate conversation with me regarding personal hygiene, and also they had bought me some deodorant and scented body lotion as it was "on offer" at the chemist. Half way through he conversation I realised that they were rather clumsily trying to tell me I needed to use them. It was mortifying. No doubt the whole place had been moaning about me and being the only other females they were sent to tackle me.

The thing was, I had never been taught to bathe regularly or even brush my teeth as a child. That is a whole other thread though! I probably had a bath about every 4 to 5 weeks and who knows how rarely my hair washed. Though I remember being itchy a feeling greasy basically all the time. A couple of times other kids told me I stank but I thought they were just being mean.
I'm not at all suggesting your sister has had the same upbringing as me however sometimes it's possible just not to know you smell. Also if your clothes are not washed regularly they will smell even if you wash. That was over 20 years ago and this is the first time I have ever told anyone about this but I'm eternally grateful to those two girls , they were as kind as they could be and I can't imagine the mortification if one of the managers had had to take me aside eventually. I became good friends with them both but the issue was never mentioned again.
Also looking back I can't believe I didn't know, I must have absolutely HONKED.
Your sister will be embarrassed but its worth it for her sake, and she will thank you eventually. Good luck

Ps I am super clean now and a probably a bit OTT when it comes to my own dc

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Fri 05-Apr-13 21:36:02

It's easier for you to not tell her, but it's far worse for her, going out and about stinking to high heaven.

It's a difficult conversation to have but, truly, wouldn't you want someone to tell you, rather than everyone you encounter gagging at the stench of you?

Far better that it comes from you in a loving and supportive way than some drunk in the pub lays into her and the whole bar bursts out laughing.

Weeteeny Fri 05-Apr-13 21:41:26

Can't believe I have just confessed to being the stinky neglected kid at school and also later work. Without a name change too, EEK

ZZZenagain Fri 05-Apr-13 21:42:23

doesn't matter where you start out, it is where you end up that matters. If no one teaches you these things, how are you supposed to know?

Weeteeny Fri 05-Apr-13 21:44:04

Thank you , ZZZ

RevoltingPeasant Fri 05-Apr-13 21:46:53

OP thanks and yes, it does sound like that may be the case. I'm sorry. They mostly have sorted out their accommodation by now (I'm a uni lecturer, btw).

However, you need to be kind but direct about it. Someone once had to tell me that they could smell garlic on my breath but they did it in the most roundabout way by repeatedly offering me polos (which i don't like). They then got v exasperated and I really couldn't understand why.

It was much more mortifying when I finally realised. And you know, you might make it about a wider discussion: 'How are you getting on at uni, then? Have you found anyone you like well enough to want to live with? What about your placement - have you organised stuff to wear for that, as you'll be in the world of work now!' - and just let her talk.

Also if she can't find roomies then her university's accommodation office should be able to help her find somewhere to live if she gets chucked out of halls in the 2nd year (quite common).

WeAreEternal Fri 05-Apr-13 21:55:16

I have a friend at work who is a lovely woman and I could really see us being friends, if it weren't for the fact that she has poor hygiene.

She is 24, she's overweight but still pretty, she obviously cares about her appearance as she always wears her makeup nice and styles her hair.
I don't really understand it, she just always smells.
She often wears the same clothes for several days, I have often noticed her re wear something days later with the same stains (So it obviously hasn't been washed)
As far as I can tell she only washes her hair once a week, on Mondays it will look lovely and clean, but as the week goes on it will look greasier and dirtier until it looks awful.
She often smells of bo, and I wonder is she is not washing.
It's so bad that you can smell when she has been in a room, and the smell is quite nasty.

Everyone has tried to make subtle hints, but she doesn't seem to get it.
Last year I sat her down and in the nicest way possible said that several clients had mentioned her personal hygiene in a negative way, and that I though she should try to improve it as it could affect her job.
She seemed embarrassed and I tried to be reassuring and supportive, but nothing had changed.
It's getting to the point where I am going to have to be unkind and tell her that it is unprofessional to smell and wear dirty clothes and if she doesn't address the issue she could face disciplinary action.

Your sister will certainly have problems as a student teacher with personal hygiene issues, you may have to be cruel to be kind, the last thing you want is her dropping out of uni because she is being bullied/has no friends/can't find anyone to live with because of her hygiene problems.

And if you sprinkle lots of baking soda on the sofa cushions and rub it in with a dry cloth. Then Hoover it off a few hours later (it's good to apply on the evening and hover off in the morning) it will help get rid of the smell on your sofa.

tigerdriverII Fri 05-Apr-13 21:55:50

Oh this is horrid and embarrassing . Was having this discussion today with our HR Director, remembering someone who despite being a professional person with lots of responsibilities couldn't get the hang of washing. Poor girl reeked of BO, and was so upset when it was pointed out. We can only think that no one had dared say it before. In her case it was mainly not washing her clothes properly, and not wearing deo. You have to say something to your sister. It might hurt but not as much as it could from someone else.

frogspoon Fri 05-Apr-13 22:04:45

You have said she has always been unworldly, but if her personal hygiene has deteriorated significantly since going to university, there may be an underlying cause. Have you considered that she may be depressed. Sometimes people with depression can overlook personal appearance and hygiene. Or it may just be that she is used to your parents doing her washing, and doesn't know how to/ is afraid to ask.

It is really important you speak to her before she starts her school placements. I am surprised that a tutor at her university has not spoken with her about it, but if they only have large lectures and not many small seminars/ tutorials it could go unnoticed. If someone at her university has not said something, her school placement mentor will. Also schools do have a dress code (usually smart/casual) which she will be expected to follow.

KittyLane1 Fri 05-Apr-13 22:07:13

can't believe I am admitting this when I was 16 and started college I was a bit smelly. I hardly had time to do a wash and couldn't afford new clothes so my tops and trousers smelt even though I washed everyday.
A few things I would think about and maybe bring up:

Does she wash her clothes and undies?
Can she buy new clothes?
Is she feeling a bit down?
Is she a bit chubby (can make BO worse)
Does she need new shoes? (Smelly feet)

Shopping around for a good body wash and deodorant as not all work for everyone. Shaving would help a lot.

At college some girls had conversation about smelly people and I clicked they meant me blush but it helped.

I would tell her before someone nasty does x

dolallylass Fri 05-Apr-13 22:13:22

Can't you fib and say you had the issue too and this is how you fixed it. Might hurt less? Take her shopping and get her something to soften the blow. Good luck.

shockers Fri 05-Apr-13 22:15:46

We had a student teacher on placement at my last school who had really strong body odour. The staff were absolutely awful about/to her, I was embarrassed to work there. Having said that, it wasn't pleasant being close to her, although she was a really lovely woman. The Head had a word and the smell vanished, so there was obviously something that could be done, that hadn't been, IYSWIM?

She's doing really well now, in another school (we're still friends) and I'm so pleased for her!

IfYouLeaveMeNow Fri 05-Apr-13 22:17:11

If you don't tell her, who will? Someone needs to and as so done who loves her it will come better from you. Good luck.

DontSHOUTTTTTT Fri 05-Apr-13 22:17:39

You have to tell her and you will have to be fairly blunt.

My DS age 18 often stank. He wore clean cloths every day and showered every day. Allegedly, he also wore super strength antiperspirant. I was very very blunt. For some reason it stopped but I don't know if it was me, girls, hormones or what.
What I have noticed is that when he has a group of friends over the room smells fuggy. The boys are all 'naice', well cared for and generally responsible.....but some of them still reek. I don't think being smelly at that age is that unusual, although it is still unacceptable.

Good luck. I hope it goes ok.

IfYouLeaveMeNow Fri 05-Apr-13 22:17:58

Bloody autospell - someone who loves her

awkwardsis Fri 05-Apr-13 22:20:31

She's not chubby at all, very skinny in fact. I've kept an eye on this as eating disorders seem rife in our family (personal experience here, plus my brother and an aunt, all anorexics at some point sad) and in her first semester when she wanted to leave lost weight. It seems to have gone back on now thankfully, but she's always been very slight. I think partly she doesn't know how to look after herself. Mum never let us touch the washing machine for fear we would break it, while at the same time admonishing us for not doing our own washing so couldn't really win. I don't think she's depressed, but I know when I have been I've hidden it very well. She's always been socially awkward and just a bit naive. I made sure she had more than enough decent, smart clothes to see her through. And I mean really lovely stuff. But she seems under the impression she has to wear a suit every day to placement (I have no idea where she picked up this idea, she's been adament since she started the course that a suit would make a good impression) but I think that'd probably mean wearing the same clothes for days on end. I just don't understand how she can be oblivious to how she comes across to other people. It upsets me in a way as I can see how much potential is there. I'm going to make sure she knows where the washign machines are, check she has access to the shower every day. I know she doesn;t even own a hair dryer so maybe she's not washing everyday as she can't get her hairt dry, it's quite long.

RevoltingPeasant Fri 05-Apr-13 22:23:34

OP you could do what another poster suggested - don't remember who it was - and say, 'You seem to have a problem I had when I was your age; I think it may run in the family...'

Would that work?

LittleFeileFooFoo Fri 05-Apr-13 22:29:55

OP, I think you should take it one step at a time, meaning, work on the hygiene, don't worry so much about how she dresses, or whether she wears makeup. It's going to be hard to hear she's smelly, (I know, I had to be told this too!) but she'll appreciate knowing rather than having people make fun of her.

the clothes and other stuff may be easier to discuss once the hygiene is taken care of, as she may have to give up some clothes if they are permeated with smell.

You sound like a lovely sister, BTW!

awkwardsis Fri 05-Apr-13 22:31:43

RP I think that's the way I'm going to have to tackle it. I did have a problem with sweating loads after ds2 was born, but I think noone else noticed iyswim, but I was very self conscious. But I think to a certain extent that might be a normal hormonal thing. Which makes me think, not to dripfeed, but I've thought for a long time now that she might have a hormone disorder as she is quite hairy blush. I've wondered if she might have PCOS. It might actually be worth her getting a trip to her GP, assuming she's registered with one on campus. It could all be related I suppose.

LittleFeileFooFoo Fri 05-Apr-13 22:31:53

Als, when I had long hair I often didn't dry it, just put it in a braid. But I live where it's pretty dry and hot, so that was ok.

It would be good to tell her, no matter how difficult it is. You are showing that you care, she will see that.

Could you talk to her about how she gets on with the domestic drudgery of being independent? Could you maybe as a treat take her out for a trip to buy some new clothes for her placement? Then discuss caring for different fabric, how smells cling & can be hard to get out without the right wash? You can use camaraderie in a sort of "you know what Mum is like, she never taught me about this stuff".

I wish I'd had a big sister. My Mum never told me anything about basic hygiene, not sure why, she was a hippy, just didn't think to pass it on? Things like periods, shaving, washing - all of that was a steep learning curve for me.

You say your sister is young for her age, she will be open to learning, just being gentle, kind and considerate enough to tell her should help lessen the blow of finding out such important stuff. Don't be hard on yourself.

starfishmummy Fri 05-Apr-13 22:36:35

Please offer up suggestions of how she should address this rather than just telling her that there is a problem iyswim.
I had to tell a member of staff once and she reacted by drenching herself in perfume, which on top of the B.O just made matters worse.

frogspoon Fri 05-Apr-13 22:37:20

PCOS is unlikely (but not impossible) if your sister is slim and has recently lost weight, but could maybe be a different hormone disorder or a thyroid condition.

MrsPoglesWood Fri 05-Apr-13 22:42:35

Yes you have to tell her. You can tell her kindly, with love. Others probably won't be as thoughtful.

I do think though that some people cannot smell their own BO. It's as if they have 'smell blindness' and your DS may be the same.

When I was first promoted to a management grade many years back I had to go on a training course and dealing with staff with BO was one of the situations. The recommended approach was to say that their current hygiene/deodorant regime wasn't sufficient to deal with our heating environment and they should rethink it and try a different deodorant. As managers we were expected to never make an employee feel inadequate and just provide solutions and suggestions as to how the situation could be resolved.

TBH I don't think these cool wash tablets/gels help as I don't think they properly clean clothes. DP's work clothes came out just as grubby and just as stinky as before they went in the machine. Waste of money!

awkwardsis Fri 05-Apr-13 22:47:31

Oh yes, I'd never just tell her and leave it at that. I fully intend to help her ddo something about it. I just dread her feeling got at. I know she'll be coming over next week, but so will my brother. I might see if he'll take the dc into the garden for a bit so I can chat. I think I'll make her a little care package. I sent her one when she was feeling low with some DVDs, pjs and hot chocolate in it. I'll put some deodorant, washing powder and some treats in there too. I think that's a good idea actually. I can get some new cheap basics for her tomorrow, some cotton vests and new socks and things like that.

I once told my boss that he smelled (after HR procrasinated so long I realised they were never going to do it - and it was making life in an open plan office very unpleasant, and was very embarrasing in client meetings). It went surprisingly well. I went on a bit about how some detergents and low temperatures didn't really do the job and that he should be using bio detergents etc etc and changing his shirt more than once a fortnight. It didn't cause any awkwardness and it cured the problem, and he used to occasionally check in with me to ask if things were still ok in that department (how he couldn't smell it himself is still a mystery, but seems to be quite common).

steppemum Fri 05-Apr-13 23:08:06

with regard to clothes and work, if she is going into a primary school, the last thing she needs is a suit. The teachers all wear things like black trousers and vaguely smart tops and cardigans.
She needs to be able to sit on the floor, do pe, get covered in paint and then stick the clothes in the wash to get the paint out.

It might be worth suggesting that she looks at what the other teachers are wearing and copy their style.

if she doesn't know about washing machines, she may need a little lesson in how to sort her washing, what powder to use, how to use 40 or 60 wash if clothes smell etc

Teeb Fri 05-Apr-13 23:16:56

Have you thought about making her a little uni pack for her to take away with her? I know lots of parents will do this for their children when they go away, but you've said your mother isn't really like that. You could tell her you were worried about how expensive these things can be to buy in the shops these days, but didn't want her to feel like she had to scrimp on washing her clothes or any toiletries she needs.

Put some washing powder in (have a general conversation about where the washing machine is, if she is managing okay with everything and how annoying ironing is!) toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, shower gel, toilet rolls, fairy liquid, toilet rolls, tinned foods etc. Make it look like a general nice big sister thing to do for her in a box and just that you are keeping an eye on her.

I think it could be a good thing to make it more about general conversations you have, where there is a back and forth, rather than just telling her she smells.

tigerdriverII Fri 05-Apr-13 23:19:15

Actually if she is going into primary school teaching, this might be the big reason for her to wake up, as steppemum says.

HoppinMad Fri 05-Apr-13 23:21:54

OP its possible to have pcos and be slim, I have it and was tiny before dc, still an ok size. In fact I know of two other ladies who have it and are skinny. Get her to make app with the docs about her hirsutism (hairiness), and BT to test hormones. I had awful problems and it took years before a proper diagnosis, and it affected my self esteem to the point I had difficulty making friends.

I would also advise to speak to her, maybe book a spa day treat (if it can be afforded) for the pair of you and it would be perfect setting to discuss hygiene and have a heart to heart? if you are really struggling then maybe write a letter/email, so she can be alone when experiencing the 'wish the earth would swallow me' feeling.

tomatoplantproject Fri 05-Apr-13 23:22:45

An old boss at work told me that I had to smarten up - its not quite the same as your sister - but she basically hit some of my buttons and said that the quality of my work was top notch but that I was letting myself down in dressing too relaxed and people not taking me sufficiently seriously. It hit a nerve. You need to find what will work for her - it's much kinder to help her stop than let her carry on obliviously.

HoppinMad Fri 05-Apr-13 23:25:50

Also a reason why she may not have worn all the nice clothes you bought for her may be because she feels theyre too nice for her iyswim? Low self esteem issues and all that, she may not want unnecessary attention, ironically shes getting it with her bo but she may not be aware of how bad its gotten.

WittyMonica Fri 05-Apr-13 23:27:17

Just wanted to say that you sound like a lovely sister and you're absolutely doing the right thing by telling her.

It might be an idea to get her some Febreze fabric spray for her to use on her clothes between washes? Just to tide her over until she is able to wash them.

TheChaoGoesMu Fri 05-Apr-13 23:31:37

Tell her op. You have to, she's your sister.

steppemum Fri 05-Apr-13 23:37:50

I wondered that Hoppin, that she doesn't wear the nice clothes, because they take confidence to wear

BriansBrain Fri 05-Apr-13 23:41:14

You sound lovely and you have had some great advice smile

squishee Fri 05-Apr-13 23:58:41

In answer to your question, yes!

The circumstances are very different, but I have just told a man who I was on a first (and last) date with that he smells, has bad breath and wears dirty clothes. He was so upfront with me that I was upfront with him. He actually took it quite well.

Lots of good advice here, nothing I can add really. Good luck. You do sound like a lovely sister, and you're doing your DS such a massive favour.

DoctorAnge Sat 06-Apr-13 10:35:06

Good luck! Do let us know how you got on.
Great advice on this thread!

mirry2 Sat 06-Apr-13 14:05:04

You have to be cruel to be kind sometimes. My approach would be the next time you see her to say "ooh you're a bit niffy today. Do you want to go upstairs for a wash and change of clothes before we go out?" hopefully she'll take the hint. If she doesn't you can say that you've noticed that she suffers from body odour from time to time.

MimiSam Sat 06-Apr-13 17:02:09

Please tell her.
When I first met my DP, he had BO. He didn't use deo , because he thought he was allergic to it (it turned out he was, but only to some brands). I liked him a lot, but knew I could never have a serious, long term relationship with someone who smelled bad. Telling him that he had BO was probably one of the most difficult things I have ever done - I was afraid he would take it badly, be offended, walk away. He didn't, he changed, we have been together for many years and have two lovely children. If I hadn't had that conversation, I would have walked away and life would have very different.

steppemum Sat 06-Apr-13 18:16:33

mimi - my dh was a bit the same. He is very eco friendly, lives life naturally, and thought deo was too artificial, nasty chemicals and all that.

I convinced him otherwise, and we have now been married for 13 years grin

Catbert4pm Sat 06-Apr-13 18:29:05

Yes, think you should tell her. It occurs to me that if she is unhappy and feeling stressed this can make BO worse. Good luck smile

saycheeeeeese Sat 06-Apr-13 18:37:17

I had to have this exact conversation withmy sister she stank if BO and ger breath was hideous. We went for a drive and I just told her that I loved her and wanted to be the one to help her sort it out. She took it surprisingly well and since our conversation shes showers daily and uses mitchum and body spray.

It's hard but it will be much worse coming from strangers who can be very cruel. Whereas you can play the love and just want you to be happy card.

saycheeeeeese Sat 06-Apr-13 18:38:50

I also had to tell a bloke in my team in work that he smells too.

That was harder.

SugarMouse1 Sat 06-Apr-13 19:43:58

How about saying you've bought this really, really good new deodrant and give her a bottle of it too?

And spray air freshner all the time around her and hope she takes the hint

SageYourResoluteOracle Sat 06-Apr-13 23:49:01

I was in a similar predicament with my sister, 8 years my junior. She's very eco-aware (good for her) so was using this crystal deodorant block instead of an antiperspirant deodorant. This might work for some people but my sister (by her own admission) sweats a fair bit. She stayed for a couple of nights when I was pregnant with DD, showered but put on t-shirts from the previous day (at the time she was also using a laundry ball to wash clothes in which didn't seem to get the sweat out of clothes. . . ) and, with my super-exaggerated sense of smell, I actually felt nauseated. Her BO was so awful that rooms smelt for ages after she'd left. I felt sorry for her and was anxious about broaching the subject but adopted a cruel to be kind attitude. I was also worried that she'd see it as a slight on her lifestyle choices. Anyway, I just came out with it and it was a little awkward but she bought a deodorant straight away (aerosol at that) and the positively abandoned eco-principles when she purchased an impulse body spray (they also make me heave!) but she smells soooo much better now so it was worth doing!

Sorry. That was a totally epic way of saying: feel for you, agree with others you need to tell her!

thermalsinapril Sun 07-Apr-13 00:57:39

"maybe I can approach it in the way that 'mum should have taught us this stuff, I had to teach myself so I'm going to pass the wisdom onto you'."

^ This.

It sounds as if your mum was in some way afraid of you becoming adults, e.g. not allowing shaving, not allowed to use the washing machine etc. But at 19 your sister is an adult, so your mum has no right to "not let her shave" or dictate to her in any other way. It's so good she has a wise older sister to rely on. Let her know you're there if she needs to chat about anything else too.

SavoyCabbage Sun 07-Apr-13 01:37:05

I once took over a nanny job from a girl who was leaving. We had a cross-over period and shared a room for a bit. After a few days she asked me what I was spraying on my armpits and I told her. She had never heard of deodorant.

ravenAK Sun 07-Apr-13 01:58:38

It boils down to: do you think she'd rather hear it from you, or her teacher training mentor?

I've had to have this conversation with a trainee teacher (along much the same lines as marriedinwhite suggests). There'd been quite a number of comments on her terrible BO, from both staff & students.

It didn't go particularly well: 'I don't have a BO problem! My boyfriend would have told me!'

She then stormed off tearfully to ask a group of younger teachers in the staffroom: 'Do I smell? Raven says I smell...'

Other teachers, sheepishly: 'Um, well, actually, yes you do.'

Poor lass. Would probably have been better if a kindly elder sister had had a fairly direct word before she had to hear it from me?

awkwardsis Sun 07-Apr-13 11:02:29

Thermals, there is an element if disapproval that we dare grow up, absolutely. I didn't tell her I was pregnant all three times til about 6 months! But actually, she worked on a farm until abiut 4 years ago when she started an office job and I had to take her to debenhams and kit her out. She had no idea. So I can just say to my sister that I'm doing the same for her. I'm thinking of taking her to somewhere cheap and cheerful like h and m and just getting her to try some outfits on so she knows the basics. If I can stretch to it ill buy her some pieces, if not ill have a quit word with dad to get him to slip her some dosh when he drives her back to halls.

MrsKoala Sun 07-Apr-13 12:11:48

This is difficult. Some people you need to be really blunt with unfortunately. I worked in unis preparing students for interviews and placements and the amount of times I had to have this conversation is almost unbelievable.

They also had the impression they HAD to wear suits. Cheap polyester suits worn for days on end absolutely hummed. I found having vague conversations did not work at all. 'Make sure you wash your self/clothes regularly' is no good if they nod emphatically but they mean regularly, once a week. They would even say others smelled but didn't think they did. or didn't believe me.

With regards to the clothes and make up, have you tried open questions? 'dsis have you noticed anything different about what the other girls wear?' 'what do you think of these clothes?' etc then you can gauge whether she is oblivious to them or has chosen purposely not to wear them. Can you also say 'why do you think you don't have anyone to move in with?' see what she thinks about it all.

She may be very lonely. Can you discuss how people like similars and it's a 'tribal' thing, looking similar is how we ascertain whether someone is 'like' us.

I have a similar thing with DH. He is 'on the spectrum' and has no notion of clothes or sizing (basically if he gets it on it fits - so has ridiculously small and massive clothes) and not a great perception of hygiene. Sadly subtlety doesn't work and bluntness hurts his feelings. There seems to be no middle ground. So i buy all his clothes and do all the washing.

GravityDefier Sun 07-Apr-13 12:29:43

This thread has made me feel very paranoid. I am a student teacher myself and shower every day. I use a good deodorant but I still sweat sometimes, especially when very stressed at school. Not so much now obviously as it's absolutely freezing.

However, since moving to London I have found that my clothes sometimes still smell when coming out the washing machine. I have no idea why and have never had this issue before. I now sniff everything before wearing it and put it back in if necessary blush. DP is having the same issue so maybe it's a water thing? I don't know. I am very conscious of this and really hope no one thinks I smell.

My good school things usually say that they should be washed at 30 or 40 degrees so I am worried washing them much hotter. Any advice on how to really get things smelling clean? I have started using fabric conditioner and it has helped a bit but I am worried it might just be masking it. Also I obviously can't use it with some of my clothes.

So from this thread I gather that biological washing powder is better (I didn't grow up in the UK either and had no one tell me these things. I usually buy whatever is on sale). Any other advice? I have been so worried about this for a while and this thread is leaving me a bit paranoid.

SageYourResoluteOracle Sun 07-Apr-13 12:45:48

Gravity- London water is very hard so more powder/detergent is needed. I used to teach and I would sweat a lot- hot sweaty children in a warm room, me prancing about the class all day then sprinting for the tube home.

I still tend to sweat a fair bit (menopause ain't helping!) but I use Sure 48 hour stick and I find it really works.

I think some lovely advice has been given here and it's brave of people to
share own experiences, especially those who weren't taught how to look after their personal hygiene.

Good luck OP with whatever you decide to do!

thermalsinapril Sun 07-Apr-13 12:54:22

I think you need to clean your washing machine GravityDefier.

Dr Beckmann Service It Washing Machine Cleaner

MrsKoala Sun 07-Apr-13 14:23:42

i put a squirt of oxy stain spray on the armpits and crotch of DH's clothes as well as a bio detergent and a scoop of oxy colour/white stain powder.

Twentytotwo Sun 07-Apr-13 15:04:26

Don't stress GravityDefier.

You need to clean the machine every so often. A very hot empty wash with half a teaspoon of ordinary bleach in the detergent draw is good. You can toss in some soda crystals too. In London you have to deal with lime scale/hard water that builds up in the machine, so periodically using a lime scale remover will clear that but it also makes it more difficult to get a good lather with detergent. If you look on the back of detergent packets you'll see they recommend using more in hard water areas. You can use a scoop of soda crystals in each wash to soften the water.

I find using bio washing powder is the more effective in getting rid of any smells than bio liquid. I combine it with a scoop of a stain removing powder like Vanish. You can also use the same stuff to soak shirts for an hour before washing them, which becomes essential if you've been on the Tube during rush hour in August. I stick 4 or 5 things in a bucket with a scoop of this stuff for an hour.

GravityDefier Sun 07-Apr-13 16:05:53

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate the non-judgemental advice. It's an embarrassing topic and I couldn't really ask anyone about it.

I have been using liquid detergent, I will get some powder next time. I have been using the right amount for hard water I think as I always check the package. I am aware of how hard the water is as I descale my kettle every few weeks (gross!) but I have never considered using anything to descale my washing machine somehow. I did clean it before I moved in, using the Dr Beckman stuff, but have not done it since.

I will get some of the stuff and have a look at what works for me. I am really glad people have said it could be the water/washing machine or even stuff I am using. I have been quite worried about what could have changed otherwise.

wintertimeisfun Sun 07-Apr-13 16:36:59

if in a nice way and you know them well and others are talking about them behind their back then yes..

GrowSomeCress Sun 07-Apr-13 16:45:59

Good luck OP - not going to repeat everything everyone else has said as there's already been fantastic advice, just tell her gently smile

And let us know if it goes okay smile

Well.....I did. My friend didn't really smell that bad but he doesn't wash his clothes and had a permanent sort of sweat/alcohol/fags aura. It's like when perfumes give you a headache, just wasn't nice being around him. I told him that I couldn't hang out smelling that all the time and brought him soap, deodorant, a fresh towel, some clothes I didn't want anymore (his size) and some other bits and bobs. While he took a shower (I told him he had to take at least half an hour on it) I lugged his clothes to the laundry room and filled three washing machines with clothes that stank and poured in the so-chemical fabric conditioner. He took it all in his stride cos he's that sort of person, has loads of friends so knew it wasn't terrible. He smells fine ever since. I wouldn't have been so blunt about it if he wasn't like he is, but I still would have brought it up in some other way. Yes, really and truly, you do tell people if they smell....

Your sister sounds different. But to be honest sensitive people (and I don't mean that in a bad way, I'm the same) get hung up on a million things a day. Something like this will be one of those things, one more or less is not a drama in the grand scheme and the benefits far outweigh the costs....she won't be scarred for life! You sound like you're worried she'll develop a complex about it. But it doesn't sound like she's that self conscious.

Like other people have said you do sound lovely btw!

ValarMorGoolis Sun 07-Apr-13 19:27:21

Please let it come from you op smile

And there's been some great advice on here thanks

AnyoneforTurps Sun 07-Apr-13 20:22:09

Sometimes BO can be a sign of untreated diabetes or other fairly serious health problems so you owe it to her to tell her just from that perspective

Er really? I must have missed that lecture at medical school wink

There are medical conditions that make you sweat excessively but, even then, you will only smell if you don't wash. From everything the OP has said, her Dsis is neglecting her personal hygiene. That is why she smells. There is no mystery and no need for medical tests.

It will be a hard enough conversation (though a necessary one), telling the Dsis about the smell . For gawd's sake don't traumatise the poor girl further by making her go to the GP too. As a GP myself, I would not be doing any tests for underlying medical conditions on someone who smells because she does not wash/change her clothes enough!

OP, you sound like a very caring sister. I'm afraid you have to have this talk with your Dsis. Don't let her go on her placement without warning her - it's tough enough learning to teach without the kids picking on her.

formicaqueen Sun 07-Apr-13 21:20:30

Shes your sister, tell her in a loving way. Talk about all her positive points but say that you really have to mention the smell.

goingupinfumes Sun 07-Apr-13 21:38:45

great advice here and I'm coming at this from the other side, I went to uni and made some friends but noticed that people were sort of turning away? I couldn't work out what I was doing.. but the first break I went home and my mum after a few days sat me down and asked if there was a dentist locally to my uni i was confused why would she be asking me.. and she said the reason being that my breath was a bit smelly!! I was so blush she said when I was younger and nervous or just not eating a good diet my breath went a bit funny, but as a mum she always looked after me and sorted out diet / teeth and it went away.

I was never aware of this at all, so getting to live away from home clearly it had flared up and I was the girl with stinky breath...

so a quick trip to the hyginest to make sure it wasn't anything nasty, stated eating well, drinking lots, always have gum and flossing and all sorted!!

I'm late 30's now and love my mum for giving that information, she's saved many a potential situation as I'm always so careful to have a fresh mouth.

VerySmallSqueak Mon 08-Apr-13 00:04:28

Soaking clothes in a solution of white vinegar and water before washing is excellent at removing persistent sweat smells from armpits.

awkwardsis Tue 09-Apr-13 21:36:10

I just wanted to come and update before I namechange back into oblivion. Thank you so much to all who added to this thread. I met my brother and sister in town today, and I asked my brother if he'd mind taking the 2 older dc while I took my sister shopping. He was happy to, and what a star he was, definately the favourite uncle after the toy shops he took them in today! I told my sister I had been thinking about her since she'd said she intended to wear her suit to placement and realised no teachers I knew wore them, so I wanted to take her to H & M just to look for some ideas. She was happy to do so, to my massive surprise. I took her heaps of clothes into the changing room and she got some absolutely stunning stuff, spending over £100 on a complete wardrobe for her placement. I am actually pretty jealous of it all! I told her I was a bit worried about her not looking afer herself, that I'd bought her some deodorant as she was a bit whiffy. I made a joke about it, it was much much easier than I thought it would be, and said she smelt fine today! It turns out it's the big bloody jumper she's been wearing that stinks, apparently mum and dad got it for her for Christmas to keep her warm. I've told her to burn it. As soon as she saw how bloody marvellous she looked in her new clothes, I saw her literally grow that teensy bit more confident, she took her jumper off to put a new t shirt and knit over the top, and she just radiated a bit more confidence. I took her to get some decent underwear in TK Maxx, another £50 down but 6 decent bras (she'd been measured in M & S apparently, and was wearing a baggy disaster) and again, a noticable adjustment in her posture. Last shop was Superdrug to pick her up a razor and some makeup. She was beaming. I'm so so glad she was responsive to it. I think it was actually a bit of a relief to know she had something to wear on placement, and also on her downtime. I got them both to come back here and took her upstairs to make her up. I plucked her eyebrows into oblivion, and mentioned that I would like her to see a doctor to check her hormone levels because of her excess hair. She absolutely bawled when she saw her made up face. Glowing does not begin to describe it. She had a damn good cry about mum and not feeling allowed to make decisions about her own appearance and body. My heart actually breaks for her, I was brought up with the same constraints I suppose but I didn't feel by that age that mum had any kind of actual say. She also opened up a bit about feeling picked on and not belonging in her halls. She's desperately worried about using the razor, and what mum will sayabout her eyebrows when they come back on Thursday. I've just told her to be strong and to remember how confident and just wonderful she felt about herself today. She went from someone who looked like they didn;t care about themselves, to an attractive young woman. I am so so pleased that you lot helped me feel it was ok to say something. Hopefully she'll keep it all up. She asked if she can go out wiht me next week after her student loan's been paid in to get the rest fo the things she needs makeup and skin care wise (she doesn't even wash her face!) and to get the last few bits liek tights and earrings to make sure she has enough of everything to always make some outfits. She was only doing her washing every 2 weeks, I've told her that her tops must be washed after one wear so they'll not get stinky like her jumper. But I think if anything today helped her see that I am there for her, and that she is worth the effort.

IdaBlankenship Tue 09-Apr-13 21:40:55

Oh awkwardsis your update has made me well up - what a lovely sister you are.

ekidna Tue 09-Apr-13 21:43:34

Lovely !!!!!!! Bless you op

DontSHOUTTTTTT Tue 09-Apr-13 21:45:27

smile. What a fantastic update. It bought a lump to my throat.

thanks. You all sound lovely

saycheeeeeese Tue 09-Apr-13 21:48:51

Awh OP that's just so lovely, she's so lucky to have a big sister like you!!

Uppatreecuppatea Tue 09-Apr-13 21:49:35

You are a wonderful SIS! I think you're wonderful and what you did is just terrific.

Grockle Tue 09-Apr-13 21:50:13

Well done! Thank you so much for updating. You sound like a wonderful sister & she sounds lovely too. What a fabulous thread.

AnyoneforTurps Tue 09-Apr-13 21:51:07

Well done - she will remember this with gratitude for the rest of her life!

awkwardsis Tue 09-Apr-13 21:52:45

I just wish they could all have stayed tonight but they had to get back as she has some kind of test on Friday and my brother starts back at school on Monday and has exams. I'm deasperately sad that her confidence is so low. I've told her that any negative comments she gets about her new clothes or appearance are jealousy pure and simple. Her skin is a real mess, so so dry and looks as old as mine even though she's 10 years younger so I've sent her away with a bottle of cleanser tha's far soo harsh really, and a big tube of moisturiser and told her to just drink lots of water to get it up to scratch before we go shopping again. But I'd like to buy her some really nice stuff so perhaps I'll look into some things that might work on her skin and treat her that way. Even just the tinted moisturiser covered up the blemishes and made a difference. The positive comments from my brother helped too, he was literally speechless when he saw her. I'm hoping he'll back her up if mum decides to stick the knife in.

WipsGlitter Tue 09-Apr-13 21:58:52

You are an amazing sister. x

thezebrawearspurple Tue 09-Apr-13 22:00:36

You're an amazing sister, she's so lucky to have yousmile

BornInACrossFireHurricane Tue 09-Apr-13 22:03:55

Brilliant update!!

Hope everything goes well for your sister

thermalsinapril Tue 09-Apr-13 22:42:30

Wonderful to read your updates smile So glad it all went well, and so pleased that your sister has you caring about her.

HavingALittleFaithBaby Tue 09-Apr-13 22:53:34

What a lovely sister you are thanks. Well done for having the courage to deal with it so tactfully smile

sjupes Wed 10-Apr-13 00:14:11

Aw i'm so glad it went well - my older sister 'moulded' me from an unkempt stinky mess to a not too bad looking young person when i was 16 - i appreciate it to this day almost ten years later!

Alanna1 Wed 10-Apr-13 00:45:37

A friend had to deal with a bad BO situation in a line management capacity. She dealt with it by sending the team on a self presentation skills course which included 1:1 feedback from the course organisers. They dealt with it. Other sessions on how to dress / meeting client expectations etc. Worked brilliantly. It's not uncommon for young male employees to need some guidqnce apparently. Could you adapt the idea for your sister? My husband and other friends have used professional interview and image training consultants for coaching before major interviees. Quite a few firms practice in the area.

LeoandBoosmum Wed 10-Apr-13 02:08:12

Honestly? I think you have to. If you, her loving sister with her best interests at heart, don't then someone else probably will! Either that or she'll be avoided...
I would be totally straight with her:
(Name), I'm telling you this because you're my sister and care for you. You are probably completely unaware of it but...there is no nice way of saying this: you have very bad BO. I am telling you because I don't want somebody to point it out to you in an unkind way, and I don't want people to avoid you because of it (point out that as she's going into teaching, it is likely that staff will avoid her and some children will latch on to anything they can to make a teacher's life miserable, especially older kids!)
It is better that you tell her in a kind and loving way than the likely alternative. As her older sister, you can point out that hygiene is crucial but makeup/ fashion/ styling is not... However, you are willing to help her out on that front if she wants you to (you could offer to go to a makeup counter with her where they'll usually do a free makeover - even subtle - in the hopes you will buy a product or two. Or offer to go the salon with her... If you get a makeover and haircut too then it'd be a nice bonding thing! smile
I'd also kindly point out the importance of washing clothes regularly with detergent.
I think you are a nice sister to do this. It's not easy but she will go through life with people giving her a wide berth or ridiculing her to her face or behind her back if keep schtum!

LeoandBoosmum Wed 10-Apr-13 02:22:10

Awkwardsis...I just saw your update (why do I always read the thread after I've posted confused)
I just wanted to say what a lovely sister you are! You have made a huge boost to your sister's confidence and I expect she'll go into her placement feeling much more optimistic about making that good impression!!
It sounds like you handled the situation perfectly! Every cloud has a silver lining: the issue provided you with a lovely opportunity for a bit of sisterly bonding smile
If she can afford it or you can afford to treat her then it might be nice to take your sister to get a nice hair cut (from what you've said, I'm guessing she's probably not been to a nice salon for a professional cut before) or a nice bottle of perfume to add that finishing touch.
I'm so happy it worked out so well... You absolutely did the right thing!
Just one thing: it does sound like your mum is a little overbearing. She must understand that your sister is trying to become independent and carve a life out for herself. Maybe you should have a word with her and tell her it's hard enough at nineteen to leave home and embark on a teaching course without extra pressure. Is your sister the youngest? Sounds like your mum is having a hard time letting her go and grow up.
Anyway, ten out of ten for sisterly awesomeness! wink

CalamityJ Wed 10-Apr-13 02:22:54

Thanks for the update. I'm so pleased it went so well. You obviously have a great relationship and handled it sensitively. Hopefully you can update us once she's back at uni and tell us if she's making more friends, seems happier, is more confident etc?

MsBella Wed 10-Apr-13 02:24:05

Try and make friends with her, id personally tell her I had the same problem even if its not true, it'll help her not be embarressed

MsBella Wed 10-Apr-13 02:26:29

Oh just read the update, well done! As a big sister these things need to be done sometimes and I'm sure she appreciates it

LeoandBoosmum Wed 10-Apr-13 02:41:05

Oh...lost my last message!
If your sister's skin is very dry she could try Jurlique Moisture Replenishing Cream (fairly strong but beautiful smell from essential oils in it...thought I'd point that out in case of allergies!) I have used it for a long time. They are pretty accommodating with samples ime (they do great cleansers too...there is also a Moisture Replenishing Foaming wash for dry skin) so you could give them a call on 020 3205 3845 and see if they'll give some samples for your sister to try.
Kiehl's are usually also good with samples if you have a store or counter near to you.
Re the dry skin, aside from drinking more water she could also try treating it from the inside out by eating more fruit and veg, oily fish (or taking capsules), eating avocado and nuts like walnuts and brazils, and maybe taking flaxseed oil capsules (with regard to the fish oils caps or flaxseed caps, they can cause some skins to break out so tread carefully)..
If the girls at uni are snooty and still avoid your sister then maybe she should join a gym or some other uni groups to increase her confidence further. Anyhow, good on you, Awkwardsis!

awkwardsis Wed 10-Apr-13 10:06:42

I don't think she'd join the gym but I am going to ask her to try and widen her circle a bit, she sounds so very isolated. A haircut is a good idea, she has the most lovely thick long blonde hair and I styled it quickly with my straighteners to give a bit of a wave to it, and gave her a bit if a side fringe which I said she should consider getting cut in. Her hair is very dry too so I think I'd like to buy her some decent tuff for that, and make sure she has enough flannels, just basic things I'd not even considered she might not have. She's not the youngest as she's older than our little brother by just a year, but our mum is the same with all us siblings. Just disinterested and vaguely disapproving sad I really hope mum doesn't say anything negative when she gets home tomorrow, or that she feels the need to hide the clothes. I need t make sure she's confide t to do the makeup on her own, check she can do her hair and then she'll be good to go.

mrsibley Wed 10-Apr-13 23:00:36

Just read what you did and just had to say I wish every awkward teenage girl had a big sister like you. Fabulous.

RaspberryRuffle Thu 11-Apr-13 00:44:29

OP, it sounds like you have done a great job in boosting your sister's confidence. I just wanted to say about her future skincare and haircare, I saw plenty of more 'budget' skincare brands on offer today in Boots (Garnier, L'Oreal etc). As your sister hasn't really been using anything why not start out with something like this as anything should be an improvement on her current situation of using nothing, and it means it will be something she can continue to afford for herself as part of her routine IYSWIM, instead of you treating her to something like Clinique that she won't really be able to afford and may give up on. Also then if it doesn't suit her she can try a different brand and it won't be such a waste of money.
Same with her hair, Superdrug, Boots and supermarkets have nice own brands that smell lovely, or 2 for 1 offers, she could pick these up and they are affordable for her, if her hair is so dry you can buy a hair mask very cheaply, you could even both do this next time she's round at your house as part of her continued appearance 'lessons'.
Well done for helping her out!

glossyflower Thu 11-Apr-13 08:55:27

As her sister you owe it to her to tell her and support her, which I'm sure you would do anyway.
Also maybe book a spa day with her spend some quality time pampering yourselves, it might open her eyes to see how much better she'd feel for looking after herself a bit better?
Let us know how you get on. Xxx

glossyflower Thu 11-Apr-13 08:59:43

... Sorry I didn't realise there are 6 pages of posts!

Your sister is very lucky to have you smile


Echocave Thu 11-Apr-13 13:45:04

OP. well done, you've done a brilliant thing there. I want to give your sister a big hug.
If you are in contact regularly, I'd just keep reinforcing the nice stuff you've done and said. Once she becomes more confident away from home, she may find it easier not to be so swayed by your Mum's disapproval. I really wish you both the best [tries not to sob in OTT fashion].

Levantine Thu 11-Apr-13 15:28:24

Well done, this made me feel a bit teary! Your sister is very lucky, it is obvious how much you love each other.

What a brilliant outcome, you are a lovely sister to have.

I had a similar problem being the oldest of four girls with a mother who disapproved of shaving, make up, Tampax, just about everything really. I was quite defiant though and just went ahead and shaved my armpits, bought deoderant etc. and used make up. Our mother never discussed any of this stuff with us except to disapprove of it, so I also took it upon myself to educate the others and make sure they didn't suffer unecessarily. One had appalling acne that my mother refused to see as something a GP could treat so I took her myself. As parents ourselves now we are always discussing how strange this part of our upbringing was and we all try to be very open and supportive with our daughters as a result.

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