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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Everyone has heard about teen-age girls who think they're fat when they're not. I'm 13 years old and a little overweight, but I try not to think about it all the time. I know lots of girls who do, and many of them are slim, healthy and attractive. Parents and teachers try to tell girls that size doesn't matter, but most teens think it does.

Magazines, television and even our peers recognize only thin people as being beautiful, so how can you blame girls for wanting to be thin? I'd like to give some advice, especially to other teen-agers.

Girls, if you are with someone who is heavier than you or uncomfortable with her body, don't complain about your own. It will only make them feel worse. Believe me, I should know -- I have been hurt many times by behavior like this.

Guys, let a girl know she doesn't have to have a perfect body or look like a model for you to like her. One reason a lot of girls go on diets is so that guys will notice them.

Everyone: Compliment others. Make them feel loved, accepted and beautiful. Focus on people's good points, not their flaws. Not only will this make them feel good, it will make you glad to know you have made somebody's day a little brighter. -- BEEN HURT BEFORE IN MINNESOTA

DEAR HURT: Excellent advice! It is unfortunate that someone who is as thoughtful and caring as you has been hurt by the thoughtlessness of others. The insight you possess will take you far. I hope those around you conduct themselves by your example.

DEAR ABBY: I am one of those abused husbands who took your advice and moved out 18 months ago. Fortunately, I had the means to have my own place. I am a healthy, retired professional. My wife is also a retired professional with strong willpower. I was a widower (married 35 years with three children); she, a divorcee of about 12 years with a college-age daughter. We were associates at work who had known each other about 25 years.

We started out great and had some great times, but she has a violent temper. She resorted to extremely abusive language, coupled at times with physical attacks. Abby, I never struck back.

My departure was occasioned when, nine days after I returned home from a hospital following a painful knee replacement, she attacked me physically and verbally and told me to leave. At the time, I could barely walk. With the help of my son-in-law, I found a place and moved out.

I presented my wife with a separation agreement which she ignored. She has hinted several times that we should live together for financial reasons. I say that is a poor reason to maintain a relationship.

After about seven months, I filed for divorce. She has responded quite greedily and is trying to wipe me out financially. Yes, Abby, we had a prenuptial agreement, but a lot can be acquired in 11 years together. So now we're gearing up for a complicated and expensive trial.

Nevertheless, I am happy to be out of that relationship. My family is also happy for me. My daughter, her family and my sister can visit me anytime they want. My son is visiting me again. There is no tension now.

So, Abby, I want to tell you that I heartily agree with your advice to abused husbands: "Get out. It may be tough at first, but you'll adapt." -- FREE IN FLORIDA

DEAR FREE: Thank you for the firsthand testimonial. Divorce is never easy, and it can be costly -- but in your case, I'd say it's the better option. Enjoy your freedom; you've earned it.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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