Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Son's Friends Need Quick Course in Common Courtesy

DEAR ABBY: I have a most embarrassing problem. My job requires me to make public appearances, and often I am "dressed to the nines." I admit, for dramatic purposes, I sometimes apply too much makeup. I have always been told I am beautiful, and I have even done some modeling.

Here's the dilemma: People think I am a man. Once I was cornered at a festival by an angry group of people who had been fired up by one drunkard's insistence that I was a drag queen. (Abby, I have children and I am definitely female.)

The first few times it happened, I tried to brush it off and regain my composure -- once I stopped crying. But lately, it is getting ridiculous. I am mistaken for a cross-dresser even when I wear very little makeup. At 5-foot-7 and 120 pounds, I'm hardly manly. A week doesn't go by without this happening.

My boyfriend says I should blow it off -- that people are jealous. My self-confidence is in the cellar and I'm at my wit's end. I have struggled with severe depression my whole life, and this isn't helping. A lot of the time I'd like to cower somewhere, but my job won't let me. Help! -- CRYING IN PHOENIX

DEAR CRYING: It's difficult to give you an answer sight unseen, but let's analyze this. Drag queens are often known for their flawless makeup and their flamboyant manner of dress. Could this be a description of you? If the answer is "maybe" -- then it's time for a fashion and image makeover.