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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I dislike the prevalence of plastic surgery and Botox in today's society. It sends young people a bad message on body image.

My friend "Liz's" stepmother loudly discussed her own daughter's nose job, chin implant and "boob job" with Liz's teenage daughter while at dinner in a public restaurant where everyone could hear.

My sister "Beth" told her son and daughter she'd gladly pay for new noses for them. They were offended because they are happy with their looks. (At least, they were until their mother denigrated them.)

Both of my sisters have had plastic surgery. They can afford it and that's their business. But they make it our business by publicly congratulating each other on how well they have "aged."

What do you think about this, Abby? Am I right? -- NATURAL WOMAN IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR NATURAL WOMAN: Plastic surgery has been a blessing to many people because it has lifted not only drooping flesh but sagging self-esteem. I see nothing wrong with someone getting a nose job if it will help the person feel more confident. Your sister's offer to pay for her children's rhinoplasty may have had more to do with her own insecurity than either of her children's.

Cosmetic surgery and Botox are facts of life in our society for those who can afford it. Botox is common for both men and women who want to lessen or avoid signs of aging. I think what's upsetting you is your sisters' dishonesty. When they publicly congratulate each other on how well they have aged, they're not only lying to whoever overhears them -- they're also lying to themselves.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter and granddaughter are going to be in a wedding scheduled for the summer of 2012. The bride seems to have watched too many wedding shows on TV, because she keeps scheduling bridesmaids luncheons and has required her attendants to go to many bridal expos with her -- even though the vendors have all been booked. The shop where the bridesmaids are buying their dresses is very expensive.

I understand the bride wants it to be a special day, but it's more than a year away and my daughter is a stay-at-home mother of two. She doesn't have the time or money to continue participating in these events. She asked me if she should back out now or level with the bride that some of her requests are a little over the top.

My daughter wants to support her friend, and doesn't want her to think she's trying to run the show by suggesting alternate places to look for less expensive dresses, since she'll have to purchase two. What do I tell her? -- MOTHER OF THE BRIDESMAID

DEAR MOTHER: Friends should be able to level with each other -- otherwise they aren't friends, they are acquaintances. If the bride's schedule of events is more than your daughter can handle, she needs to speak up. If the dresses will cause financial hardship, the bride needs to know so she can either scale back the cost or find replacements for whomever is supposed to wear them. If this is not agreeable for the bride, your daughter can "support" her friend with the rest of the wedding guests. She does not have to be a member of the wedding party to do that.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)