01 Feb
Please Don’t Call Me “Dear”

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I have a favorite deli. It’s near my office, has a great selection, good prices and I like to support the smaller establishments. But the people who work there call me and other women “dear.” Is this acceptable these days and is there anything I can do to put an end to it?


It’s Jennifer, Not Dear.


Dear Jennifer,

Oh sweet Jennifer with your porcelain, smooth skin and bouncy, silky tresses. You must be in your twenties. Because take it from someone whose skin is a little less smooth, the word “dear” is not an insult. In fact, this 40-something lady would be overjoyed if someone referred to me as dear. And I wouldn’t mind honey, sweetie or even sugar pie lover.

Dear is just a term of endearment. It’s not a proclamation that they never supported the Equal Rights Amendment. It means they like you. I’m guessing they are a family business and they consider their customers family too.

Now I understand you’re upset. When I was in college, I started a mission to strike the word “girl” from the lips of every collegiate. I proudly proclaimed that, “WE ARE WOMEN. NOT GIRLS. HOW CAN WE EXPECT TO BE TREATED AS EQUALS IF WE CONSISTENTLY REFER TO OURSELVES AS GIRLS!!” Although I doubt that I succeeded in my mission – mostly because I seriously lost focus when I learned about “A Bucket of Beer for $1 Thursdays” at a local pub.

I applaud your desire for women to be treated equally to men. I really do. But I would put your energies to causes like equal pay for equal work.

If it still really bugs you that they call you dear, introduce yourself. Simply say, “I come here all the time. I’m Jennifer. What’s your name?” This will hopefully be a signal that you would like to be called by your real name.

Or make a joke, “Dear?! I thought everyone stopped calling women dear in the 1950s. I prefer Miss.” It you are giving them steady business, it’s always worth speaking up. It usually works. None of the baristas at my local Starbucks would dare to call me ma’am now.

Good luck dear. (I know. So juvenile. I couldn’t help it.)

Kelcey, TMH

31 Responses to “Please Don’t Call Me “Dear””


Comment by Steph.

Kelcey nailed it as usual! p.s. I remember fondly moving to New Orleans at 24 years old & the women calling me “dahling” or “baby” at Mother’s Restaurant.


Comment by Nicolini.

Dear Jennifer,
At least they’re not calling you bitch. However, it kind of sounds like that’s what you are.

Marinka Reply:

Not wanting to be called dear doesn’t make someone a bitch. I never liked it myself.

Wendi Reply:

Still better than being called “Deer.”

Meredith L. Reply:

Or Sugar Tits.

Ace Reply:

My husband has me saved as Sugar Boobs. It’s endearing. I agree, though – not wanting to be called Dear does not mean anybody is a bitch.

Ace Reply:

“saved in his phone….” durrr


Comment by rojopaul.

I have a co-worker who was incensed that another co-worker called her Pookie. Now it’s a joke between us. She calls me Pookie and I call her Punk. But Nicolini is right (although she didn’t say it so nicely) … it could always be a worse name. Loved Kelcey’s advice too! Introduce yourself!


Comment by Sally.

Why does it matter what they call you,as long as they aren’t ignoring you.


Comment by Desperate Dietwives.

I think you have every right of not being called dear if you dislike it so much. Just tell them so, it’s no big deal after all. 🙂


Comment by SusanC.

Kelcey’s response is funny (which is of course the main point), but her practical suggestions are also on target. And I agree with her substantive point that some feminists, particularly younger ones, tend to focus on style, rather than substance. However, all that being said, I’m over 50, and I get called “dear” too (I assure you, not because I’m young looking), and I frigging hate it–it’s even more condescending at my age. Not to mention “young lady,” which makes me homicidal.

cpr Reply:

I am sooooo with you on “dear” and especially “young lady.” Condescending and unprofessional. Now would someone please help me come up with a nice comment/reply so I quit going ballistic on these sales clerks?


Comment by Wendi.

“Dear” doesn’t bother me, but I do hate being called “hon” or “sweetie” by a woman 20 years younger than me. It’s affected.

Great advice, K.

kokopuff Reply:

Yes. This. And when people do it in a professional setting…well, it’s less than professional.


Comment by Suebob.

When you work with the public and meet hundreds of people every day, it’s nice to have a fallback word, something better than the wrong name or “Hey You.” Especially for people who aren’t particularly memorable.

Jenee Reply:

I agree, Suebob – Jennifer could say something, but I’m not sure if the staff at this store would necessarily stop calling her ‘dear’.

I’m sure they can’t remember all of their customer’s first names and/or the fact that they don’t like being called ‘dear’.

I happen to love terms of endearment such as dear, honey and sweetie – they warm my heart and make me feel good.

I’m a ‘hon’er myself.


Comment by Marinka.

I am in the “don’t call me dear” camp. I find it really patronizing and unprofessional. I wouldn’t go to a deli where I was spoken to like that. Unless the deli was in the 1950s or something.

Ace Reply:

it IS unprofessional! I worked at a hotel over the summer and it drove me nuts hearing a co-worker talking on the phone or welcoming guests and calling them Hon or Sweetie. People should be trained not to do that.


Comment by Plano Mom.

I’m from the South. Dear, sweetie, and hon’ are as common as Mister, Miss, and Mizzus or Miz.

I believe enough is said with that, but I’ll say this deli probably has picked it up after calling a “valued” customer by the wrong name, more than once.

Don’t worry about speaking up, unless one of them says “well, bless your heart, we didn’t mean nothin’ by it.”


Comment by Muffintopmommy.

Am I the only one who doesn’t care what the hell I’m called if the sammies are yummy? Oh shit, no wonder why I have that muffin top.

Kelcey Reply:

They can call me Robert or Phil as long as they are fast and those sandwiches are yummy.

Muffintopmommy Reply:

Agreed….and I’ve been called far worse and not even left with a yummy sandwich. *pouts*


Comment by welcometothemotherhood.com.

I love reading these and guessing the day’s advice giver. Kelcey is my favorite (though I enjoy you all). What? Don’t look at me like that. I’m not your mother, I can have favorites.


Comment by N and Em's mom.

A deli with selection, low prices, and friendly workers? Is this letter a fake? If the letter writer would like to back up this “story” with a name and address, I’ll stop in, order a cup of Joe and something with chocolate, and answer to dear.

N and Em's mom Reply:

THis morning, before my cup of coffee and chocolate carmel cupcake, this response was supposed to be funny. [It wasn’t]. I do think the letter is real; I would prefer hearing “dear” to having my coffee handed to me as the barista yells, “Next!”

welcometothemotherhood.com Reply:

Your original comment was funny! Although chocolate caramel cupcakes do tend to cast a different glow on things…


Comment by Tiffany.

I really don’t think it’s a big deal. I certainly wouldn’t harp on it as a feminist issue. If there are women who are on their feet all day serving you your deli ham and still smiling and calling you dear instead of sighing when you walk in and they have to wait on you – I’d probably thank them for their service and appreciate their continued positive customer service.


Comment by Susanne.

Hmm, how handsome is this man that’s calling me “dear”?


Comment by My Name Isn't 'Sweetie,' You Little Whippersnapper! | The Mouthy Housewives.

[…] have had it up TO HERE with service providers (Starbucks, bank drive-thrus, dry cleaners) who refer to me as “Sweetie” or “Hon.” These aren’t little, old blue haired ladies who should be calling me […]


Comment by ash ash.

Really? Being called dear bothers you that much…why? None of you have given any diffinative answer as too why. I can understand young lady or young man just because that sounds like they are rubbing your age in your face. But dear? I think it’s sweet. I work in a professional setting. I see repeat clients weekly. I am called dear, as are my repetitive clients. It is not a big deal.


Comment by beccab107.

I couldn’t agree less with Kelsey. Random people have started calling me dear.I HATE it. No one called me that a few years ago. I feel like a doddering old lady which I am not. Please don’t call me dear.

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