Advice from Amy: Plucking Hairs Off Someone’s Shirt

By Amy Dickinson | October 22nd, 2021

‘I feel like an orangutan’


annoyed woman. Credit: Svyatoslav Lypynskyy Dreamstime. for article on plucking hairs off someone's shirt Image

Advice columnist Amy Dickinson weighs in on people plucking hairs off someone’s shirt – someone else’s shirt, that is.


Dear Amy: This is an insignificant problem, but I’d appreciate your opinion.

I have white hair and I think I look good wearing black.

When I am out in public with an acquaintance or co-worker, I can be in mid-sentence when some people will suddenly pick at my black shirt, and then say, “There was a hair on your shirt.”

It seems like they feel compelled to do this.

I feel like an orangutan.

I have sometimes said, partly joking, “I feel like I’m being groomed.”

Are they doing me a favor, plucking one of my white hairs off my shirt?

Is it the same as if I had food on my face, or if my pants were unzipped?

Should I be embarrassed, but grateful to have this pointed out?

I am about to give away all my black tops.

– White on Black

Dear White on Black: When people do this, they are not doing you a favor; they are treating their own discomfort — by removing something that distracts them and pulls their focus away from you.

You might never feel this impulse to smooth, straighten, or pluck (nor do I), but I agree with your instinct that doing so is something of a compulsion for people who cannot seem to resist.


Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

From the Boomer editor: I will wear purple … with my white hair

More from Boomer