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The Perfect Body

Please, please, can we stop labeling people! Every time the words “she looks like a real woman” are used to describe a curvaceous female, I get so angry. I am a naturally thin 31-year-old woman, and I don’t appreciate the implication that I am not “real.”

Nina Panagoulis, Nashua, N.H.

Must we perpetuate the idea that one’s worth is determined by what others see? Who cares what everyone thinks of these stars? They are strong, independent and successful! Your story only confirms what women already knew—that they are constantly judged on what they wear, how they cut their hair and, most pathetic, how much they weigh.

Mary Beth Dickinson, Toronto

As a woman with a body type similar to Camryn Manheim’s, I wonder, were the women surveyed completely honest? All my life I have endured stares, sneers and nasty comments, all from other women. Society does not take kindly to overweight individuals, and I find it hard to believe that 43 percent of those surveyed would accept the treatment dished out by other people. For their sakes, I hope they never have to find out.

Janeen Gerlach, Clinton Township, Mich.

People should stop worrying about what others weigh and concentrate on their own lives. As for the 40 percent of readers who think Jennifer Aniston is too thin, I hope Mrs. Brad Pitt couldn’t care less what you think.

J. Silivanis, Mount Holly, N.J.

There must be some mistake. Britney Spears a good role model for teenagers? Sure, she might be a popular teen singer, but did you happen to see what she was wearing in her photo? If you asked real teenagers who our role models are, you’d find that most of us don’t look up to girls who wear trampy clothes. Next time a question involves teenagers, ask the source.

Stefanie Spiro, Farmington Hills, Mich.

The search is over: I have the perfect body. I have earned it. As a 39-year-old stay-at-home mom to four kids, ages 7, 5, 3 and 1, I am proud of my woman’s body. I am soft enough to provide a cozy lap, hard enough to say no, fit enough to chase down a runaway toddler while balancing an infant on my hip and sexy enough to still be irresistible to my husband of 16 years. Sure, I can’t wear a size-4 anything, but a life without a kid-baked chocolate cake, macaroni and cheese, or s’mores around a campfire is not a life worth living.

Tere Craig-Garren, Jacksonville, Fla.

What a wonderful cover! Being thin doesn’t make anyone a better person, and fat isn’t a four-letter word!

Tamara Hunt, Phoenix

Jennifer Erickson

I was delighted to read about the lawsuit filed by Jennifer Erickson against her insurance company for not covering contraception. It infuriates me that an insurance company will pay thousands and thousands of dollars for me to have a child that I am totally unprepared to support but will not pay $325 a year for me to be responsible and delay parenthood until my husband and I are financially and emotionally ready to raise a child.

Laurie Wallace Theisen, Allentown, Pa.

Insurance should not cover birth control pills. Birth control is free—don’t have sex! Next thing you know, they are going to want to have abortion covered by insurance companies!

Swaran Singh, via e-mail

For 30 years women have tried and failed to get insurance companies to pay for their birth control pills. Then along comes Viagra, and within one year of its overhyped introduction into the marketplace most medical insurers now pay for this drug. What’s wrong with this picture?

Liz Ingersoll Clark

Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres

My wife and I have enjoyed PEOPLE for many years. However, it is hard for us to accept all this publicity about gay and lesbian people. These people do not fit into the natural scheme of the American family.

George Eischeid, Fort Myers, Fla.

I was surprised to find the following sentence in your story: “For a while, the out-and-proud pair were happy to flaunt their relationship.” I think this choice of words is blatantly homophobic and thoroughly reprehensible.

Robert Riddle, Washington, D.C.

Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche did not “flaunt” their relationship any more than countless other show-business celebrities do. Why is there a double standard for gay celebrity couples? And if the publicity these two received helped some gay kids feel greater self-esteem, that deserves applause, not scorn and sarcasm.

Henry Baker, New York City