DEAR FIONA: I’m 24, fat, ugly and seem to be doomed to a second-class life

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Our agony aunt Fiona Caine tries to solve your problems

Q It seems to me that success these days in anything – especially in love, sex and a career – depends entirely on how good-looking a person is.

I am 24, fat, ugly and therefore doomed to a second class life because of it.

No amount of dieting, exercise or make up will ever be able to resolve this, and it’s so unfair.

I have been given such a bad start in life simply because of my parents’ genes, and I know I’ll never amount to much or get married.

A While it’s true some people set great store by appearances – more fool them. To say that success in every sphere of life depends purely on good looks is simply not true.

Millions of women, who could never be described as beautiful or even attractive on the outside, have been able to find success, fame, love and happiness.

That has a lot to do with confidence - they know how to make the best of what they’ve got and know how to present themselves.

A smile can go a long way to transforming someone’s face, but when you’re feeling unattractive, it’s hard to summon one.

Looks really aren’t everything, as I’m sure you’ve heard others say, but because you are so upset, I suspect it will take more than this reassurance to lift you out of your depression.

Please consider talking to your doctor, or asking your GP to refer you to a counsellor.

You need to look at yourself in more positive ways and counselling can help you achieve that.

Q My boyfriend and I got together when I was 17 and I became pregnant soon after. We moved in together as a family and had another child.

He started having affairs, but I put up with it because I was in love with him. However, when he brought one of his girlfriends back to our flat, I moved out and got a divorce.

Three months ago, I started going out with a guy from Canada. He’s over here with his job and will be going home in a couple of months. I really like him; he’s wonderful with the children and wants us to marry. The children like him too, but they also have a really good relationship with their father who they visit regularly, so I don’t know what to do for the best.

A It’s tempting to think you could up-sticks and make a new life for yourself, but you know how painful a failed relationship can be.

Three months is a short time to be sure of someone, especially when you are seeing them out of their normal context.

Could you find a way for you and the children to visit him in Canada? It would give you a chance to look at his lifestyle and see if it is something you could all fit into. If he really loves you, he will realise what a huge decision he is asking you to make and will want to help.

If you find you still want to be with him, you have serious thinking to do. It used to be relatively easy for a parent with custody of the children to relocate to another country. These days though, in most cases where parents separate, they share the care of the children, so you would have to get your ex-husband’s permission.

Cutting them off from regular contact will be hard. Get legal advice as soon as possible as anything you write down now (in e-mails and so forth) could be used in court. Finally, is there no possibility of your Canadian boyfriend relocating here? It would certainly make things easier.

Write to Fiona c/o Elise Brewerton (