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'Young Lady' Is No Compliment to an Older Woman

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 69-year-old woman. I look my age because, unlike most of my friends, I don't color my hair. Sometimes when I'm shopping -- such as in a grocery store -- employees call me "young lady," as in "How are you today, young lady?" I find it condescending. Why is it necessary to make reference to my age? Obviously, they don't think I'm young at all. What would you say in these situations? -- IRRITATED IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR IRRITATED: You are asking a question I receive often. Older women not only resent being called "young lady," they also dislike being called "honey" and "sweetie" by someone who doesn't know them well. Because it bothers you, tell the person, "I know you're trying to be nice, but in the future, please use my name or call me 'ma'am.'" This is something you might also mention to the store manager, so he or she can remind the staff that not everyone appreciates the over-familiarity.

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