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Publication: Dear Abby
Humor Is Disabled Woman's Defense Against Rude Remarks

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         ABBY - May 6, 2008 
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HUMOR IS DISABLED WOMAN'S DEFENSE AGAINST RUDE REMARKS

ABBY: May I offer a response to the letter from "Petite's 
Mom in Salem, Va." (Feb. 25), whose daughter "Claire" is 
the target of rude comments due to her size?

I was born disabled and walk with a limp. All my life, 
people have demanded the most outrageous information, 
including the standard, "What's wrong with you?" or, "Do 
you take medicine for that?" And my favorite, "But ... can 
you have sex?"

I have found the best defense against rudeness is a sense 
of humor and compassion. Many people say things without 
intending to insult, and sometimes they speak before they 
have a chance to think.

When someone asks me a rude question, I'm likely to 
respond with one of your gems: "Why do you ask?" 
-- LINDA IN MATHEWS, VA.

LINDA: Thank you for the reminder that a softer retort can 
be as effective as one that's confrontational. Many readers 
"weighed" in with similar experiences and suggestions for 
Claire. Read on:


ABBY: The letter from "Petite's Mom" was resonant of many 
years of my life. I grew up in the '30s and '40s. I have 
never weighed more than 110 pounds and, at 5 feet 4 inches 
tall, have endured similar questions and comments my entire
life. Example from a stranger: "You're the skinniest person 
I have ever seen!"

It used to make me feel inferior. How things have changed. 
Recently, as I was leaving a restaurant, I overheard a 
woman say, "I would kill to be that size!" How sweet it is. 
-- GLAD I LIVED TO SEE THE DAY, ORANGE, CALIF.

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ABBY: I agree it's inappropriate to comment to people 
about their physical appearance. However, I think you missed 
the mark in your reply.

People who comment to Claire about her weight are rude, 
but an impudent response is also inappropriate because it
reinforces rude behavior. She could consider saying, "I 
appreciate your concern for my health, but I have 
discussed my weight with my doctor, who assures me that 
I'm a healthy, petite person." This will allow her to give
a direct response while showing she can handle herself 
with dignity.

She should treat others with respect even when it appears 
that the respect is not mutual, and demonstrate that good 
things come in small packages! 
-- DENISE IN LONG BEACH, CALIF.


ABBY: I married a 5-foot-2, 103-pound woman 52 years ago. 
She's as healthy as a horse, although she has since put on 
a few pounds -- she now weighs a whopping 105.

My wife has been in the hospital four times in her life. 
Three of those were for childbirth. She is two months shy 
of 80, and still has a figure most women would be proud of 
at 30. Call me prejudiced, but she is the perfect size for 
me. 
-- WILLIAM IN RIO HONDO, TEXAS






ABBY is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as 
Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline 
Phillips. Write ABBY at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box  
69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. 
____________________________________________________________

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