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by Abigail Van Buren

Runners' Attire Designed for Function, Not Fashion

DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from "Roger From Walnut Creek, Calif.," I was so furious I had to respond.

In Roger's opinion, "99 percent" of female runners wear sports attire that leaves little to the imagination in the hopes of attracting the attention of men.

I am a female runner who lives in Texas where the summers are extremely hot and humid. Running with heavy clothing is not only uncomfortable, it's also dangerous because there is no chance for the skin to breathe. I run anywhere from 4 to 6 miles, and in the summer this is often sheer torture. However, I and other female athletes continue to train in order to maintain health and fitness.

To suggest that we run in skimpy attire because we are seeking attention from men is just plain ignorant. There are a number of ways to get attention from men without putting oneself through a grueling workout in suffocating heat. Women receive catcalls and wolf whistles whether they wear shorts or baggy sweats. Most women find this "attention" childish, immature and often downright scary.

I feel sure Roger is not a runner. If I am wrong, I'd like to invite him to come to Texas next July and run 5 miles with me. I will wear my so-called skimpy outfit and he can wear his sweats. We'll see who collapses first. My guess is it will be Mr. Big Mouth. -- THERESA SIBLEY, FORT WORTH, TEXAS

DEAR THERESA: Roger's letter rankled other female runners, who were quick to point out that their sportswear can affect the quality of their performance. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I'm responding to "Roger From Walnut Creek, Calif.," who thinks women runners wear tight clothes so that men will look at them.

Abby, Roger needs therapy! I run every day with several other women, and we wear EXERCISE CLOTHING. The form-fitting lycra/spandex material allows for greater range of motion and the breathable fabric keeps the athlete drier, which adds to comfort. Greater comfort, better performance. What we are focused on is comfort and performance, not attracting attention from men.

Please tell Roger that women have better things to do than collecting catcalls from strangers. Maybe he should get out of his easy chair and try a little exercise himself. On second thought, we're better off if guys like Roger stay inside! -- JUDY B., PORTLAND, ORE.

DEAR ABBY: This is also in response to "R.H.G. in Elm Grove, Wis.," who wrote to say that her mother would not wear hearing aids because she thought they would make her look old.

She has things turned around. It's being hard of hearing that makes people think you're old. Don't fool yourself; they will figure out quickly that you are hard of hearing, or worse yet, they'll think you're senile because you respond incorrectly to questions.

Since I often didn't answer questions or enter conversations, many thought I was a snob. The truth was I hadn't heard them.

Thirty years ago when I got my first hearing aids, they changed my life. My whole world became a beautiful place full of sounds. I laughed and talked more -- and I became an active participant in what was going on around me.

So, to your readers I say: Hurry to your phone and call for an appointment with an otolaryngologist. (That's a doctor who specializes in ear, nose and throat problems.) You will never be sorry. -- AN 83-YEAR-OLD GREAT-GRANDMOTHER WHO IS GLAD TO BE HEARING HER GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN, INDIO, CALIF.

DEAR GREAT-GRANDMOTHER: Now that people are living longer and enjoying their golden years more, your advice should be sweet music to many.

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