Dear Amy:

I have a truly wonderful friend who would do anything for a friend in need. She is a highly intelligent, generous, dedicated employee. She is kind and funny. She is a big woman - a tall, full-figured redhead.

The problem, however, is her manner of dress. She prefers bright colors, sometimes loud, often a little outlandish, but too small.

A sweater will show her bra line from the back; pants will show panty lines. This look of "painted-on clothing" causes her to look less professional.

I believe it affects how other people see her - especially her employer.

We've been friends for years, and I've tried subtle approaches to no avail. When we have shopped together, I have told her that an item looks too small and that she should try the larger size. I have bought her clothing in an appropriate size for her birthday or Christmas, but she goes back to wearing the things that are skintight.

Most of the time I can ignore this one minor flaw, but I have to admit to being embarrassed for her in some situations. Any suggestions?

- Embarrassed for My Friend

Dear Embarrassed: One time I heard Dolly Parton say something to the effect of, "I'm tacky and sparkly, and I love it."

I'd rather be around someone who is kind, funny and loves the way she looks in her painted-on clothes than someone who is dressed "appropriately" and suffering from her own self-scrutiny. Obviously, the two aren't mutually exclusive, but you have done such a good job of pointing out your friend's wonderful qualities that I'll go out on a limb and suggest that you should love her just as she is.

That's right. You've tried subtlety, you've been embarrassed for her, you've tried to overlook this "minor flaw," but now it's time to embrace her and choose to see her the way she sees herself.

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