Dr. Wallace:

I’m a firm believer that “Thin is in.” No, I do not have an eating disorder, but I simply count calories and keep my weight at an even 112 pounds. I’m 5’ 6” tall and everybody tells me I have a good shape. I’m 16 years old and have hopes of being a model. I read an article in a women’s magazine that said females should have no more than 10 percent body fat, so I try to maintain this percentage.

Our health teacher at school says that 10 percent is dangerously low and that 20 percent is more ideal. Please tell me that my health teacher is incorrect. To add 10 percent more fat will ruin my shape. What is the best answer?

— Maddy, Tampa, Fla.

Maddy: I’m sorry to inform you, but your teacher is correct. According to a Mayo Clinic Newsletter, the ideal body fat for females is 22 percent.

Many teens think the “Thin is in” body style is ideal and that’s why 90 percent of those who suffer from anorexia are females between the ages of 13 and 25.

Dr. Wallace: Please help me! I’m 14 and have a strong fear that someone is going to attack me. Even though my dog sleeps in my bedroom, I’m afraid. I can never have a leg or an arm hang out of my bed covers because I’m afraid someone will grab it. Once when I was babysitting and the children were asleep, a storm hit and I was so frightened I couldn’t move even though rain was coming in through an open window. I live in a small town, and I realize that I’m safer than living in a large city. But I’m still frightened.

I’ve hinted to my parents that I’m afraid of being attacked, but they just laugh it off. Please don’t print my name or location.

— Nameless, unknown location.

Nameless: When your parents see your letter in the newspaper, they will stop “laughing it off” and get you the professional help you must have to deal with your fears. This is an emotional problem that you must discuss with your parents because it is very difficult to overcome.

Dr. Wallace: I’m sure my problem is unique, and no one in the world has the same problem. I am a triplet with two sisters that are identical, but I am not. It has been explained to me how this happened, but it doesn’t help me with my problem.

My sisters are very friendly to each other, but they don’t include me in any of their plans. They dress alike, double-date together, and take the same classes together. They even think of themselves as twins.

I’ve tried everything to include myself in their activities, but all my efforts have failed. What can I do to have them accept me as their equal and make me a part of their lives? We’re 16 and have no other brothers or sisters. My mom told us our father died before we were born, but I think she was an unwed parent.

— Nameless, San Francisco, Calif.

Nameless: Don’t force yourself to be accepted as a triplet. Whoever coined the saying, “Two’s company, three is a crowd,” was a good judge of character.

Just be yourself! Enjoy your close friends and enjoy doing the things that make you happy. As you three girls grow older, I’m sure you all will become closer and share good times together. But you can’t sit around waiting for this to happen.

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