DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a niece who shaved her head for a childhood cancer charity, and she has received a lot of comments such as, “That was so brave of you to shave your head considering you’re a girl.”
I am beyond disgusted to hear this, but I can’t think of what she could possibly say that would both alert the commentator to their veiled insult and still express a level of politeness.
GENTLE READER: It was in the hope of educating the general public -- and thereby sparing future cancer patients such unkindnesses -- that charities started encouraging non-patients to shave their heads. This being the intent, Miss Manners suspects that your niece will want to respond on point, rather than getting distracted by the implied gender issue.
That can be accomplished by saying politely, if solemnly: “Thank you, but what I did is really nothing. Just imagine what those children have to endure.” The commentators may conclude that your niece is being sanctimonious, but they will also be discouraged from repeating their rudeness to the next compassionate person.