June 28, 2004 12:00 PM

Reading your cover story, I couldn’t help but think of future delivery-room conversations going something like, “Congratulations, it’s a girl…. Some assembly required, breasts sold separately.”

Shari Taylor Bastrop, Texas


Of course we can all be Swans with a knife and silicone breast implants. Why not save all that money spent on this show and use it for educational scholarships for women who aspire to become more than just a Swan? To all those women who have low self-esteem because of how they look–get over it! Everyone has their ugly days. Do something worthwhile and you might start feeling good about yourself. Whatever happened to “Beauty is only skin-deep”?

Charlotte Judd Huntsville, Texas

Greg Comeaux calling Swan contestants brave was ridiculous. Listen, Greg, there are women out there fighting wars, breast cancer and serious injustice. Pursuits that are entirely selfish and vain are not brave.

Vicki Lefelhocz Cleveland, Ohio

It really irritates me when people criticize shows like The Swan. Diet and exercise are not going to decrease the size of my nose or replace the teeth I was born with. I can’t afford the procedures done on these shows, and that is a problem, not the fact that the procedures are available. No one has the right to tell me how I should look or how to get there.

Toni Henderson Boynton Beach, Fla.


I was touched by Darren and Scott Mertz’s rescue of Shadow, and as a dog lover I would like to thank them. I’m having a difficult time, however, understanding why Jeffrey Schwartz, his sons and nephews didn’t return to that hole after they hiked out. Surely they could have come up with an idea, got the necessary equipment and at least brought Shadow out of the hole to be brought home and buried with respect and love.

Beth Bishop Hancock, N.H.

I cannot imagine what would prompt the Schwartz family to leave Shadow in a well. These people do not deserve this animal; tell Shadow she can come live with me.

Lisa MacConnell St. Louis, Mo.


It’s disturbing that parents allow and even encourage their children to pursue high-risk, extreme sports. Contrary to what one woman claimed, children do not have the ability to “know their limits.” By not setting limits, based on what will keep their children reasonably safe, these parents are abdicating their responsibility.

Joy Temporao Ottawa, Ont., Canada


As someone who has suffered from an eating disorder for the past five years, I am beyond outraged by the story on celebrity dieting secrets. Isn’t there enough pressure on society to be beautiful and thin before you go advertising all the “Hollywood tricks” to lose weight? If I didn’t know about these drastic measures before, I sure as heck do now. Way to go!

A. Cornet Baltimore, Md.

Let me see if I understand this correctly. Victoria’s Secret model Gisele Bündchen goes to the We Care Spa at $2,000 a week for 40-min. colonic “irrigations,” which we mere mortals in Texas refer to as an enema. Well, I guess it’s time I switched to Fruit of the Loom for my future lingerie purchases.

K. Elam Houston, Texas


First, I want to thank you for sharing our story and the story of Ma’rwa Ahteemi, the Iraqi girl injured by U.S. fire who received rehabilitation for her spinal cord injury in the U.S. I have to tell you that Major Hoffer, M.D., and I do not feel comfortable being called “heroes.” Getting Ma’rwa to the U.S. took a cast of hundreds, and without the help of any of a number of individuals we would not have been successful. We were fortunate to have been able to assist Ma’rwa, but there are likely hundreds of thousands like her in Iraq without access to such care. Our hope is that in the years ahead, as we assist Iraq in the rebuilding of their healthcare infrastructure, other Iraqis will have access to the same care.

Mary C. Adams-Challenger Ft. Hood, Texas

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