Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: I'm 32 and a "large girl." I am also intelligent, witty and fun to be around. I make friends wherever I go. The problem is my mother — who is also big — keeps telling me that heavy women are not desirable and we must "settle" when it comes to choosing a mate.

My mother has had two long, unhappy marriages. She's always saying I think too highly of myself and my standards for men are out of my reach.

Abby, I would rather remain single than marry someone I'm not happy with just to have a man. I'm not looking for a movie star; I just want to find someone I'm attracted to and who has the same values and ideals that I have.

Is Mother right? Am I setting my sights too high?

— HAPPY BEING ME IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR HAPPY BEING YOU: I don't think so. If you want to achieve the same level of satisfaction in your life that your mother has, then follow her roadmap. However, if you want more, then cross your fingers and keep looking.

Meeting "The One" is a matter of putting yourself out there, and luck and timing. There are worse things than being alone, and having two long and unhappy marriages ranks right up there. Just look at your mother.

DEAR ABBY: A year ago, my boss was diagnosed with cancer. She had major surgery and a round of radiation therapy. Last week, her doctor discovered a mass, and after biopsy, she may be going in for more surgery.

I am finding it difficult to show much empathy for my boss. Despite having had the disease she continues to live an unhealthy lifestyle. She still smokes, has a couple of drinks a day and eats a lot of red meat. I don't drink or smoke and I'm a vegetarian, so I can't understand why a person would risk her health by doing these things.

We have received several newsletters at work from our insurance provider on how to prevent cancer, but she hasn't taken any of the advice. Abby, it's not like I have come right out and said, "It's your own fault," but it's frustrating to listen to her problems when she won't try to live a healthy lifestyle. She's generally whiny to begin with, and now she seems to want everyone to feel sorry for her.

What do I need to do to be more sympathetic?

— TRYING IN TEMPE

DEAR TRYING: You don't know what caused your boss's cancer and neither do I. Some people who live a healthy lifestyle get cancer anyway — and that includes teetotalling, nonsmoking vegetarians. Please try to remember that — and then think about karma. If you do, it may help you become more sympathetic and less judgmental.

DEAR ABBY: I was with a group of friends at a sports bar discussing the baseball playoffs when the owner of the bar made a racist comment about the game. I was so shocked and offended that I said nothing for the rest of the evening.

Later, I told my friends I was disappointed in myself for not speaking up — that when someone makes a comment like he did and you let it go, you're condoning that type of behavior. My friends said they just "considered the source" and I should not have been offended. How should we have handled this?

— SECOND THOUGHTS IN FLORIDA

DEAR SECOND THOUGHTS: If the comment was offensive, you were right to be offended — regardless of "the source." The way to punish an ignorant bigot such as you described would be to hit him in the wallet. A way to have done that would have been for all of you to leave and tell him why. And another would be for all of you to spread the word about the incident.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.