Dear Abby ...
I'm going to start out by saying I'm not really sure how I got into this, but it's just kind of become a little ritual of mine and every Sunday like reading PostSecret I've also taken to reading the Dear Abby column online. It usually consists of 2-3 letters from people ranging in age, gender, sexuality, etc. seeking advice from someone that is essentially an objective third party. Abby's column is, in my opinion, meant to be a place where one can receive nonbiased, objective advice without her words being clouded by the personal opinion of a loved one or friend with their own agenda to fulfill.
That being said I've read a few of her letters and while I haven't always agreed with the advice she gives I never found her words to be so off the mark as to be considered cruel/hurtful. However in this past Sunday's column she crossed that line! I read a letter from OFFENDED DAUGHTER IN CHICAGO, a 24-year-old woman that considers herself to be a plus-sized woman but is comfortable in her own skin. Not to go into too much detail about what was written or said but when I read this letter and saw that this woman is comfortable in her skin, quite confident in fact I really wanted to cheer for her!
Being a 24-year-old woman myself I can relate to her, especially as someone that has never and probably will never be a size 2 I can really relate to her. I've got through the periods in my life where all I want to do is hide in sweats and oversized t-shirts, I wasn't comfortable in my own skin in my early years of junior high and high school. I'm fully aware that I live in a society that sets a standard for body image, a standard that is considered beautiful above all others. Yeah, I've never fit that mold. But I'm at the point in my life where I don't care if I do fit that mold. I like me the way that I am and there's no one that can take that from me.
My own budding self-confidence I can give a big thanks to the people in my life that are supportive and loving towards me, my style gurus from What Not to Wear; Stacy & Clinton! I learned a lot about clothing that fit and how to dress my body type, which let me tell you goes a long way in feeling good. When clothes fit and fit well you carry yourself differently. But of course I wouldn't even have Stacy & Clinton to thank without my own loving, supportive, amazing mother! She introduced me to their show and everything kind of took on a life of it's won from there!
Now back to OFFENDED's letter; in her letter she expressed an altercation with her own mother who is clearly not as supportive of her daughter's self confidence as one would hope for. OFFENDED wrote to Abby asking for help on how to deal with the crushing blow delivered by her mother and how to broach the situation. Let me make this clear she was asking for advice on how the insult she felt had been delivered to her. OFFENDED was just that! This poor girl was offended by her mother's cruel words and was seeking a way to remedy the situation to prevent this kind of incident in the future!
This was a letter about relationships and harsh words and hurt feelings Abby, this was a not a girl that was asking if she should lose weight! Abby you do not know this girl's life beyond the letter she wrote you, telling her to seek a physician's help to deal with her "obesity" is cruel! In what way is that appropriate from you? In world filled with body shaming, photo shop, bullies, etc. for someone to be comfortable in their own skin it's something that should be commended.
But really this little gem is what really mad me angry, "I suspect that your mother would be prouder of you if you were less complacent and more willing to do something about your weight problem."
Had it been me I would hope that my relationship with my mother were strong enough that I feel comfortable discussing things with her. As it stands my mother and I have a very strong relationship, if I felt something she said to me hurt my feelings my feelings to that extent I would feel comfortable bringing it to her attention. Maybe the rules had changed since I was a child? Maybe the mother's words weren't intended to be hurtful, but did not come across as constructive or helpful?
My words of wisdom to OFFENDED DAUGHTER IN CHICAGO, if you are comfortable and confident the way you are then let nobody belittle that or take that from you. But do not let another think they have the authority to speak to in such a manner that makes you feel bad about yourself. Your mother especially should be supportive of you and only want to help you grow an become a better person. I sincerely hope that was your mother's intent and her words merely came across the wrong way. The place where your mother is coming from may not be something you were anticipating.
*** I am apparently not the only one that felt Dear Abby crossed the line: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tony-posnanski/my-response-to-dear-abby-on-an-overweight-woman_b_5669305.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592