Teen’s flan­nel shirts be­come fo­cus of fight with step­mom

The Western Star - - LIFE - Abi­gail Van Buren Dear Abby is writ­ten by Abi­gail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Con­tact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif., 90069.

I am 17 and my sis­ter, “Ch­eryl,” is 16. She likes wear­ing flan­nel shirts, black leg­gings or jeans ev­ery­where, es­pe­cially to school, be­cause they are com­fort­able. Some­times she even wears sweat­pants and a T-shirt.

Our step­mom tells her she looks like a les­bian and that she gets one day out of the school week to dress like a “slob,” and the rest of the days she has to dress nice. By “nice” she means an out­fit that looks cute by her stan­dards. It means no “les­bian­look­ing” flan­nels and, in­stead, a lacy blouse or a pat­terned top.

Ch­eryl ar­gues she’s just go­ing to school, a lot of other kids dress that way and no­body cares. My step­mom ar­gues she cares, and she thinks the way Ch­eryl looks


at school is a re­flec­tion on my step­mom. My dad doesn’t say any­thing be­cause he’s low-key and agrees with her, but he isn’t as vo­cal or mean about it.

My sis­ter doesn’t like be­ing called a les­bian, and it makes me re­ally mad, but my step­mom is mean and will find some way to ground me out of spite if I ar­gue with her about it. What do I do? — DON’T WANT TO AR­GUE


Your step­mother ap­pears to be a ho­mo­phobe. The only way your sis­ter’s at­tire could re­flect on your step­mother would be if she went to school un­washed and wear­ing soiled, tat­tered cloth­ing. Not all les­bians dress in the same style; some are very fem­i­nine. If Ch­eryl were a les­bian, it would be noth­ing to be ashamed of.

Chil­dren who are called names and bul­lied as your step­mother is do­ing can be­come de­pressed to the point of self­harm or risky be­hav­iour. Be­cause you are afraid you will be pun­ished if you speak up, find a teacher or coun­sel­lor at school you can con­fide in about what’s go­ing on. Your par­ents could ben­e­fit from an in­ter­ven­tion — and so could Ch­eryl.

I have


been over­weight more than half my life. I have tried many di­ets and ex­er­cise plans, and in­vari­ably I gain all those pounds back. I’m plan­ning to have gas­tric sleeve surgery as soon as my sur­geon can fit me into his sched­ule.

Al­though I have gone through all of the re­quired of­fice vis­its with my pri­mary care provider, I haven’t made a fi­nal de­ci­sion be­cause I’m ner­vous about it. No one in my fam­ily knows ex­cept my hus­band. My par­ents are el­derly and prob­a­bly would hate it and worry about me, so I don’t want them to know. As for my chil­dren, I know they won’t like it, but I don’t mind their know­ing. I will (hope­fully) lose 60 to 70 pounds.

Should I tell them in ad­vance or wait un­til it be­comes ob­vi­ous? I’m a pri­vate per­son and don’t want any­one out­side my im­me­di­ate fam­ily know­ing about this. I cer­tainly don’t want any neg­a­tive or snarky re­marks from neigh­bors or my church fam­ily.

Am I be­ing ridicu­lous, self­ish or silly? If I don’t dis­close, how will I ex­plain how I lost the weight if some­one asks with­out spilling my se­cret? — READY FOR A CHANGE DOWN SOUTH

A way to do that would be to re­ply, “I have made the de­ci­sion not to dis­cuss my weight any­more. Please re­spect that.”


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