DEAR ABBY: My name is “Lucia,” I am 15 and I live in Santa Catarina, Brazil. My high school classmates and I saw a letter from “Needs a Direction, Atlanta” online. That’s why I’m asking for some advice from you.
Here in my country, there is a lot of awareness about female power and body positivity, however, we also have a standard of beauty that many girls can’t or don’t want to follow. On social media we see a lot of perfect girls with thousands of followers on Instagram. I don’t let myself be shaken by my appearance or my defects, but sometimes I feel “excluded” because I’m not like the “amazing girl on social media.”
I like the way I look, but I feel out of place in relation to what is expected of teenage beauty. What advice would you give me to avoid feeling inferior to the “amazing girls on social media”? — COPING WITH BEING ME
DEAR COPING: Understand that outward appearance is only one aspect of a person. Looking like they were stamped out of a cookie cutter is a mistake too many girls (and women) make. Please know you are far from the only female who struggles with her self-image. The images and lives displayed on social media are oftentimes not reality.
What you must remember is the importance of being YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF. Be neat, clean and well-groomed in your daily life. Be friendly to others. What are your talents, qualities and goals? Concentrate on developing them because they not only won’t fade with time, they will continue to improve. If you do this, others will find you attractive, and it won’t require cosmetic surgery, regardless of how popular it may be in your country. (And mine.)
DEAR ABBY: A large neighborhood group, social and friendly, has been invaded by someone with wandering hands. I was the recipient of three incidents. I know of other women who have experienced the same, yet they won’t share it with their husbands. My husband saw it happen and was on it. He not only protected me, but made sure the offender knew we would not tolerate it. The result? We are now the outcasts of gatherings!
Everyone is trying to convince us to “make up” and accept the error of the “drunk.” We forgive, yet we have chosen not to be in that group. Our neighbors keep saying we should “forgive and forget” and “get over it” so we can rejoin them. It’s not that easy. As much as we initially enjoyed everyone’s company, it’s no longer the same. Please advise. — AT A CROSSROADS IN THE SOUTH
DEAR AT A CROSSROADS: Tell your well-meaning (and forgiving) neighbors you know they mean well, but that when the person put his hands on you, you felt disrespected and threatened. (I assume “the drunk” never offered you an apology.) If you prefer not to be in that person’s company, that is your privilege. Be sure your neighbors know you would be open to socializing with them separately, so they won’t feel you are snubbing them. Then direct your energy toward cultivating a different group with whom you feel more comfortable.
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, CA 90069.