DEAR ABBY: So "Slim and Satisfied" thinks no one would tell an obese person, "Gee, you're fat! Why don't you go on a diet?" Well, it's happened to me dozens of times. Total strangers have stopped me on the street and said, "You have such a pretty face, have you ever tried - (Weight Watchers, Optifast, Nutri-System, Overeaters Anonymous, TOPS, Diet Center, Jenny Craig, hypnosis, or that wonderful doctor who does stomach-stapling surgery)?"

I've had people come up to me in restaurants and say, "Do you really think you should be eating that?" (The "that" could be anything from a salad to dessert; they don't think a fat person should be eating anything, period.)Hairdressers and makeup specialists have told me that it's pointless to bother about my hair or makeup, weighing as much as I do. And buying clothes is a nightmare. I either order mine by mail or have them made by a seamstress. If I enter a clothing store to buy a gift for someone, a salesperson is sure to approach me and say, "Sorry, we don't carry your size here."

I broke my arm in a car accident two years ago, and while waiting in the emergency room, a doctor appeared and said, "Boy, you really should lose some weight!" As if my weight had caused my broken arm! Most physicians believe that all fat people are lazy, weak-willed and undisciplined, rather than people who could be suffering from a genetic or metabolic problem.

I am 36 years old, and have been on more diets than I can count. A pediatrician put me on Metrecal when I was 8; another doctor gave me a 600-calorie-per-day diet when I was 11; still another put me in the hospital for a medically supervised fast when I was 13.

For the past year, I've been working with a great counselor who understands obesity. She has helped me more than all the diet doctors and weight-loss groups combined. I am learning to understand the connection between eating and hunger, which was lost in all those years of bingeing and dieting.

I know I'll never be thin because I'm genetically programmed to be fat - but I hope to find my natural weight through a program of learning to eat from hunger.

I hate exercising, but I do it every day, because I know it's important (for both fat and thin people) for health reasons.

Abby, you've done a terrific job in educating the public about obesity and discrimination against fat people. You have helped fat people stop hating themselves and to understand that they have a physical problem - not a lack of willpower. I know this is too long for your column and you'll have to trim it, but please try to print some of it. I speak for so many people. - LOOKING BEYOND LOOKS

DEAR LOOKING: I haven't trimmed a word, because every word you've written is essential to your message. Please write again when your mission has been accomplished - as I know it will be. I want to print your success story as an inspiration to others who are also "Looking Beyond Looks."

C) 1990 Universal Press Syndicate