DEAR ABBY: This is in response to your Jan. 7 column about "Frannie," whose personal grooming issues may have cost her a promotion at work. The friend who wrote you might suggest that she is making an appointment for both of them at a day spa where trained cosmetologists could "pluck, primp and pretty" them both up with a new look. That way, someone else could actually tell Frannie what to do to improve her appearance, and the friend can feel she has been tactful while still making a difference. It may cost a few dollars, but it could be an effective solution. -- ROWENA IN KANSAS
DEAR ROWENA: "Frannie's Friend" described her as wearing no makeup, sporting a huge unibrow and wearing sandals that expose her hairy feet. I also advised the services of a cosmetologist. However, readers -- some of them males -- vigorously disagree with us. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I'm a male who is put off by women who place too much emphasis on makeup and their "look." I appreciate women who are real and have enough self-confidence not to get bent out of shape over clothes, hairstyles or, of all things, bushy eyebrows.
I would have suggested that Frannie find a job where she's appreciated for her skills, since it's obvious to me her current employer places the emphasis on superficiality. I work in aerospace, where we value (and need) smart women who can make things happen. We love women with strength and character, and tend to be suspicious of someone trying to pull off the "Barbie Doll" image. -- MIKE IN EVERETT, WASH.
DEAR ABBY: Heaven forbid that women present themselves to the world as they are, rather than hidden behind blushes and eye shadows! Why are we taught to be ashamed of our own faces? As for the overly hairy eyebrows, why should it matter?
The writer mentioned that her friend is in shape and dresses well, so it isn't as if she strolls into the office looking unkempt. The real issue here is that Frannie's co-workers judge her on something that has absolutely nothing to do with her work.
I applaud Frannie for being confident enough about who she is not to modify herself to meet other people's shallow standards. Our society has become a vapid, aesthetically demanding place that values appearance over merit. -- CAITLIN IN LOS ANGELES
DEAR ABBY: When a woman has excessive facial hair and hair on the toes and feet, it can be a symptom of an endocrine disorder, particularly polycystic ovary disease. Frannie should visit her OB/GYN to make sure she doesn't have an underlying medical problem. -- PESHTIGO, WIS., READER
DEAR ABBY: Frannie does not owe "prettiness" to anyone but herself. If someone is offended by her unibrow or hairy toes, that's his/her problem, not Frannie's. Unless Frannie is truly clueless or actually desires hair removal, I don't think her friend should mention grooming to her.
Frannie should be encouraged to find a man who likes her for exactly who she is, and not just if she conforms to society's often ridiculous standards of beauty. Your response that Frannie "needs" to hear exactly why her appearance fails to attract men perpetuates the shallow belief that women must change themselves in order to be seen as attractive. -- CLAIRE IN MILWAUKEE
DEAR ABBY: I would not say one word about the appearance of any person in the workplace. I have worked with women who were drop-dead gorgeous and those who could use a major makeover. Their appearance is none of my business. It's not relevant in the workplace today -- except, maybe, in cocktail bars and strip joints. -- JIM IN GALVESTON