Dear Abby: I am a 40-year-old man with a baby face. It makes me appear much younger than I am -- so much so that I have been carded when buying alcohol or lottery tickets. People also seem to relate to me based on the age they perceive me to be.
Four months ago I grew a beard, which makes me look more my age.
I'm an actor, and in the past audiences had difficulty accepting me in certain roles because of my youthful appearance. My beard solved that problem.
My sister-in-law is getting married this summer and insists I shave my beard for the ceremony and wedding photos.
I keep it well-groomed, and it gives me more confidence when dealing with people. I don't want to shave it.
My sister-in-law is recovering from cancer, and my wife thinks I'll look like a jerk if I refuse to comply. I'm not part of the wedding party, but I am the head usher and will be in many of the family photos.
Is her request appropriate? My father-in-law has a beard, but he hasn't been asked to shave it.
-- Conflicted in Canada
Dear Conflicted: Your letter reminds me of the ones I have printed about brides who don't want anyone associated with their wedding to be overweight, tattooed or have an unusual hairdo. They're so preoccupied with how things will look that they forget there are people, not mannequins or puppets, involved.
You should not have to shave your beard in order to be an usher.
Offer your sister-in-law a choice: Either you can remain as you are, or she can find someone else to steer her guests to their seats. Do not be confrontational about it. The choice will be hers.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.