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by Abigail Van Buren

Extended Family Celebration Can Be Richer for the Size

DEAR ABBY: I hope you will print this for the poor teen-age girl who was ridiculed for not wearing a bra. I suggest that she's simply more sophisticated than her ignorant classmates, and also the average 16-year-old.

I have been a fashion model for more than 20 years. Understanding the proper undergarments -- or an appropriate lack thereof -- is an elementary concept to anyone in the fashion industry or even a well-groomed person in general.

Although it would be inappropriate for a buxom woman to go braless, I occasionally teach modeling to teens, and it's like pulling teeth to get them to understand that while modesty should, of course, be preserved, sometimes ALL undergarments have to come off. Any lines under clothing or display of underwear that is not part of a "look" and clearly intended to show, is a no-no.

How sad that people persist in being unnecessarily unkind over insignificant matters when that energy could so easily be channeled to do good in the world. It's time for her "friends" to grow up. -- DEBBI IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR DEBBI: You're absolutely right. Her classmates' obsession with her underwear -- or lack of it -- shows a lack of more important things to think about. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I have a suggestion for the poor "braless" girl who is facing cruelty at school.

This may be a perfect opportunity to expose her ignorant classmates to the history of women's lib in America. Many of her classmates can look forward to career opportunities that may have remained inaccessible without the activism of braless, unshaven women in the late '60s.

You go, girl! -- LISA MELYAN, PORTLAND, ORE.