Dear Straight Talk: Last weekend at a birthday slumber party, one of the pushier girls suggested we turn our regular poker game into strip poker. Well, I was the only one who chose not to participate. Everybody laughed at me and said that I was a prude. I don't think I'm a prude. I'm not shy about undressing in front of my sisters and friends and had no problem undressing in front of everybody at the party when there was a reason for it. Do you think there's something wrong with me because I'm not comfortable with this? Everybody thought it was great fun and were talking about doing it at future slumber parties. I know I could just not attend, but this is my group and I don't like missing out. I could force myself to participate, but don't know if I should. -- M.S.
Sarah, 19: It's tough being odd one out. I am very impressed though, that you withstood peer pressure and refused to participate in an activity you were uncomfortable with. The experience of defending your principles was infinitely more valuable than a game of strip poker would have been. People mature as they age and show more respect for an individual's decisions. A few years ago, I would have been teased for refusing to drink at a party. Now, my friends appreciate a sober head. There is nothing wrong with someone who doesn't follow the crowd; in fact, the most innovative among us have been rebels!
Elise, 19: Your friends are being stupid and inconsiderate of your feelings. Do not do things that make you uncomfortable. I was lucky to (mostly) have friends who respected my boundaries, so I wasn't put into many pressurized situations. However, at parties where I was offered alcohol and declined, some people made fun of me. But it doesn't bother me because what they think doesn't change me.
Katelyn, 16: You did yourself a favor by not giving in to peer pressure. Strip poker is a way of seeing how "sexy" you're willing to be. What if your future boyfriend tried to make you do something similar? You are not a prude; you simply have boundaries.
Dear M.S.: Are you feeling better? I agree completely, not only is there is nothing wrong with you, you're impressive! I'll add to the excellent advice above by saying that the trick to saying 'no' while retaining your friends is to not judge them, even as they are judging you. "Just say no" -- but do it warmly and with a smile.
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