Classic Ann Landers

By Ann Landers

May 31, 2020 3 min read

Editor's Note: Hundreds of Ann Landers' loyal readers have requested that newspapers continue to publish her columns. These letters originally appeared in 1999.

Dear Ann Landers: I would like your help in eliminating a phrase from our vocabulary. It is "rule of thumb." This may seem innocuous to you, but the history of the phrase could make you change your mind.

Before enlightenment and more civilized thinking, there were rules regarding when and how a man could beat a woman. For example, he could not beat her on Sundays and was not allowed to beat her with a stick that was thicker than the breadth of his thumb. Hence the expression "rule of thumb."

I think we should eliminate that phrase from our vocabularies out of respect for the abused women of the world. Will you help? — New Rules in Grand Forks, N.D.

Dear N.D.: I don't recall ever having used that phrase, and now that I know the origin, I doubt that I ever will. Thanks for the info.

Dear Ann Landers: I have a very sophisticated, attractive girlfriend. She is intelligent and has a terrific job. What's the problem? She doesn't shave her legs or under her arms. I'm too embarrassed to tell her this offends me and that it is neither ladylike nor attractive.

I have never dated a woman who didn't shave her legs. My girlfriend has more hair on her legs than I have on mine. I know that in Europe some women don't shave their legs, but is this socially acceptable nowadays in the United States? — A Hairy Situation in the East

Dear East: Unshaven armpits and hairy legs are not socially acceptable in our culture, and I cannot imagine why a sophisticated woman would not be aware of this. You should tell your friend it would please you if she would do this, although she may not. Incidentally, there are attractively packaged shaving kits for women available in drugstores everywhere. If she agrees to shave, consider giving her one.

Gem of the Day (Credit George Burns): You know you're getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you can do while you're down there.

When planning a wedding, who pays for what? Who stands where? "The Ann Landers Guide for Brides" has all the answers. To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


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