Diversity (11/16/05)

Dear Zelda,

I try not to judge a book by its cover, but the new guy in our office has a very unique sense of style. Now, I've been wearing make-up for close to 20 years and I think I wear it well. Our new guy, who is very attractive, wears make-up too (not that there's anything wrong with that). Some days it's really heavy and noticeable and people in our office make fun of him behind his back and completely isolate him. I don't think he's gay (not that there's anything wrong with that either. He has asked a few of the women out in our office WHO, by the way, have all said "NO."). He's actually attractive and it doesn't look like he's trying to be girly, it just looks bad.

Is it wrong to offer help when help isn't asked for?

May Beline

Dear May Beline,

You sound like a woman who knows her brow brush from her blush brush, and it sounds like there's no concealing the fact that your coworker may need a little make-up makeover. You're right in thinking there's nothing wrong with a man who wears a little coverup. He may just be the newest type of 21st century male: the METROSEXUAL. (For those of you who aren't in the know, a metrosexual is a "straight" man who embraces a lot of things traditionally considered girly: high-end skincare products, manicures, designer clothes, and the like.)

Even the best metrosexual, however, can go a bit overboard. But before you step in and perform a male make-under, make sure you have a few things straight. Wanting to make sure a coworker feels liked and included is an honor-a-bull intention, but this could be a very sensitive issue, and you first need to have your facts straight. Is he hiding acne scars from younger days? If so, his foundation might be a "safety blanket," so tread lightly!

You might suggest he accompany you to a department store makeup counter, and then ask his opinion on which types he prefers. Or, invite him to a chic little restaurant, (gay or Metro, he'll love it!), and slyly ask which male cosmetics he uses, as you have another male friend who is looking for some. You could even start more simply by asking about his favorite skin care products, which are often safer ground for men than outright makeup. Hopefully you'll lay the "foundation" for future conversations where he will feel more comfortable discussing and accepting your helpful hints for less "pancake" and a bit more "beefcake." If it's really as notice-a-bull as you say, he may welcome any tips your years of experience have given you!

Lastly, try to discourage the office gossip about your Male Make-Up Maven. He may look like he's trying out for Phantom of the Opera (or, heaven forbid, CATS!!!), but he is as human as the rest of you, and deserves to be treated with respect. If you hear any nasty comments, suggest they try getting to know him instead. And who knows: maybe THEY'LL come away with a few tips of their own!!!

It takes a strong man to wear make up...and an even stronger woman to tell him to back it off. Use your blending brush wisely.


Dear Zelda,

I am a single mother of two elementary school girls. Although I was born in Mexico I grew up in Los Angeles. One of my daughters is presently being harassed by some children in her class who are calling her "Un-American." My daughter comes home in tears and doesn't want to go to school. It breaks my heart. What should I tell her that would help her survive in school?

Mom In Misery

Dear Mom in Misery,

I remember being a pup myself, and let me tell you, it wasn't all days at the beach. Some other dogs at the playground would call me "Un-American", just because I'm an English bulldog! And there's NO ONE more American than I am. So I sympathize with you and your daughter's plight; it is unfortunate and unfair.

Kids often say things they don't understand or don't mean, but it doesn't take away the sting and the hurt. We tend to look back on our own elementary school experiences with rose-colored glasses, and it's easy to forget that it's a dog-eat-dog world in there! Kids can be particularly cruel to anyone they consider different, whether it's because of their looks, their speech, or even something as simple as what they bring for lunch. What's even worse (and even scarier) is the possibility that children are learning this type of behavior from their parents, which is simply un-accept-a-bull. In either case, you need to speak to your daughter's teacher to find out more about these children. Are they teasing other students? Have they done this before? If so, the teacher may be able to address the situation at school either with the principal or with the parents.

As for what you should say to your daughter. . . that's a little tougher. All parents want to protect their children and fight their battles for them, especially when they are being treated unfairly and hurtfully. Unfortunately, all you can do is reassure your daughter she is as American as it gets, and that she should be proud of her multicultural heritage. While other parents might teach their children hurtful and hateful things, you can be sure that YOU teach your daughter the values of tolerance and understanding, as well as strength of character, even in the face of discrimination and prejudice. While this may not immediately remedy the situation at hand, you can be proud of raising a sensitive and kind human being. Now THAT is truly an American legacy.

Good Luck, Sister!


Dear Zelda,

There has been a lot of press recently about Pit Bulls and the danger of owning one. I've read that some communities are passing laws to make it illegal to own Pit Bulls. I have a friend who has the sweetest Pit Bull, and I'm worried that a prejudice against Pit Bulls may hurt all the really wonderful Pit Bulls that are already pets. Also I'm considering getting one of my friend's puppies. What is your "take" on the Pit Bull problem?

Pondering a Pit Bull

Dear Pondering a Pit Bull,

Okay, a Pit Bull Puppy sounds absolutely ador-a-bull and, my "take" is that they are a beautiful breed of dog that has often ended up with the wrong people, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

The American Pit Bull Terrier is generally a friendly breed. It's known to have a sound character, to be highly intelligent, and they are said to make great household companions. This breed is know for its intuitive instinct to guard loved ones, and they are usually not aggressive toward people unless they are trained that way and provoked. They are known to be quite silly and playful, and really are a fun-loving breed. Human aggression is usually not an issue with these dogs, and unfortunately the media has hyped a number of terrible incidents into a witch hunt for these poor animals.

That said, it is important to realize that some Pit Bulls have some degree of inborn tendency for aggression, particularly to other animals. The degree of aggression will vary from dog to dog, but by their nature they do have an aggressive streak, and some dogs, even well-raised, can end up snapping at unexpected times. Thus, owners need to take special precautions in the housing and training of this breed, particularly if you have young children around. If trained properly, most dogs will not start a fight, but they may not back down if they perceive a threat. I would definitely recommend that you speak to a professional trainer familiar with Pit Bulls before venturing out to raise a puppy. For more information on this wonderful but misunderstood breed, a good place to start on the internet is "The Real Pit Bull," at www.realpitbull.com.

The love you can receive from an adopted puppy is limitless. Knowing your own limitations, and your personal and family needs before you begin, will keep your Pit Bull experience from ending up "In the Pits!"

Good luck,