DEAR ABBY: Your response to "Offended Daughter" (Aug. 10), whose mother didn't like her lounging in a bikini top at her house because of her weight, was inconsiderate, irresponsible and, frankly, offensive. You started off well, advising her to consider her mother's preference because it's her house, but your second paragraph took a wrong turn.
You used your column to imply she should not feel comfortable in her own skin. You assumed her doctor thinks she's unhealthy, knowing nothing about her other than the fact she's 60 to 70 pounds more than "average." You assumed she was "complacent" and her weight is a problem, even though you do not have access to her medical history and are not a physician. That response serves no purpose other than to fat-shame "Offended Daughter."
Even if she is unhealthy, if she weighed two or three times what she does now, even if she lies around all day in that bikini eating potato chips and ice cream sundaes, she still deserves respect as a human being. She deserves advice without judgment. -- LINDA IN COLUMBUS, OHIO
DEAR LINDA: Thousands of readers in newspapers and online wrote to tell me how angry they were about my response to that letter, accusing me of "fat-shaming." If anyone was hurt by my reply, I sincerely apologize, because my remarks were not meant to be rude or disrespectful. When I called the young woman after that column ran to apologize if I had hurt her feelings and read her my response to her letter, she told me she was not offended.
When I answer questions, it is my responsibility to be honest and direct. As anyone who has read my column knows, I am not always politically correct. When I saw her statement that she was 60 to 70 pounds overweight -- which is obese -- and "comfortable in her own skin," my reaction was alarm. If she doesn't become proactive now, by the time she's 35 she could be far heavier.
Everyone knows the many health complications associated with obesity, so I won't list them. And while not everyone develops complications, in general, the greater a person's weight, the greater the likelihood of developing them. While losing weight may be challenging, as I know from personal experience, it's important to make beneficial lifestyle changes to promote healthy weight, just as it is important to have healthy self-esteem.
That young woman needs to have a frank talk with her doctor about what's causing her to be so heavy. I told her that when I talked to her. I also suggested it might be helpful to consult a nutritionist.
As to my comment about her mother, I strongly suspect what I said is true, and I'll stand by it until I hear from the woman telling me different.