Dear Amy:

I'm a teenage girl and I love my geek/nerd reputation.

It used to bother me a little that I wasn't popular and was sometimes teased, but now I am totally into the "be yourself and be proud of it" vibe.

I stopped shaving my legs regularly a year or two ago.

I just think it's sexist, a waste of time and contributing to the body-image problem among many high school girls.

Most of my friends are fine with it. My boyfriend has told me he doesn't care.

My parents, specifically my mom, care immensely.

My mother is convinced that people will tease me, stop being my friend and think I'm a lesbian. Sometimes my mom makes me very stressed out. But then the occasional times I take her advice and shave, I feel like I'm betraying my principles.

I love to dress up and do my hair. My idols are strong women who can kick butt but still look beautiful. My mom likes that part. I just disagree on the point that one must shave one's legs to look beautiful.

My parents like my friends but think I am ruining my reputation. However unpopular I am, I do have a reputation as a good student.

Am I just going through the usual teenage angst?

Distressed in D.C.

You are, in fact, going through the usual teenage angst.

So are your parents.

You both need to get a grip.

If you have friends, then you're not "unpopular." The whole notion of popularity is sort of a joke anyway, and if your parents have amnesia on the subject, I can tell you with some certainty that the "Napoleon Dynamites" of high school tend to do well in life.

Your parents really should lighten up on this subject. Letting you make choices now means that you are learning the vital risk/reward pattern of exercising free will. Plus, if they start to ignore the hair growth on your legs, then they'll realize that this will give you the energy to concentrate on other, more important things.

Dear Amy:

I'm writing in response to "Dog Tired," the person who was upset over the price of the vet bill when her dog attacked a neighbor's dog. I don't know what state that person lives in, but in Wisconsin it is a law that if your dog injures or kills another dog (or any domestic animal), then you must pay the vet bill.

I recently had a very unfortunate incident with one of my German shepherds that was in my fenced back yard and accidentally killed our neighbor's small-breed puppy, who had gotten under our fence.

I was absolutely mortified and would have insisted on paying the vet bill whether it was the law or not.

"Dog Tired" needs to take responsibility for her dogs and for anything her dogs do.

Responsible in Wisconsin

I have heard from many readers who report that their dogs have killed or injured other pets. I urge all dog owners to take every precaution -- both to protect their pets and to protect other animals from their pets.

And, yes, to take responsibility when the unthinkable happens.

Dear Amy:

In response to "Ghost Bride," who was upset at sharing her wedding anniversary, for the past two years my husband and I have attended weddings on our anniversary.

What better way to spend your anniversary than at a wedding? Last year during an anniversary wedding, my husband gave me a beautiful necklace while the bride and groom were exchanging vows!

We are happy to share our anniversary with others.

Happy to Share

I've heard from many readers who express their happiness at sharing their anniversary day with other couples.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

(c)2005 by the Chicago Tribune

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