Ballerina's height a blessing

Ballerina Sara Michelle Murawski - and her height - deserve to be embraced ("Sugar Plum Fairy gets pink slip from Pa. Ballet," Jan. 4). What a loss; not only her talent, but beauty and grace resulting from being 5-foot-11. This is a missed opportunity to embrace physical diversity and show young people that differences are valued and beautiful.

When I was a teen, I was kept off the high school majorette squad because I was 6-foot-1 and taller than the other girls. Before my senior year, the number of judges for majorette tryouts was increased, and guess what - I finally stood in the middle of the majorette line.

While some view tallness as a curse, I view it as a blessing. I was told that I looked like a model, had style, and that my height was beautiful. I look forward to news about Murawski's future roles.

|Virginia Biddle, West Chester,

Bias comes with the gig

Columnist Jenice Armstrong should learn more about the ballet industry before bashing the Pennsylvania Ballet for firing Sara Michelle Murawski because she is considered too tall for the company ("Firing is height of discrimination," Jan. 5). While making the announcement between performances that Murawski's contract would not be renewed for the next season obviously lacked professionalism, the reality is that she will be able to finish the season with the company. And she was told at the beginning of the audition season, so she will have an excellent chance of getting a position with a company that welcomes tall dancers.

Body type is a huge bias in the dance industry, and what one artistic director feels won't work with his or her vision is exactly what another director desires. Hiring a male dancer to partner Murawski doesn't solve the problem, because a piece might require her to partner with more than one male dancer. Should the rest of the company be fired because their heights make Murawski look too tall?

The ballet world is a place filled with seemingly arbitrary decisions, and any dancer who enters this industry has to go in with a thick skin. The pay isn't great, the work is grueling, and every day offers a chance for glory or unemployment. Everyone in the industry does it for the love of the art, discrimination and all.

|Tracy Hoffmann, Highspire Ballet Academy, Downingtown

Scottoline misses mark on drugs

I normally find Lisa Scottoline's sarcastic writing style humorous, but her Chick Wit column, "Getting a prescription for a very Merry Christmas" (Jan. 1), crossed the line. She described her experiences after taking steroid pills, and it sounded very enticing. Who wouldn't want to take that magic drug and feel as though you could run faster than a locomotive and leap tall buildings in a single bound?

It was irresponsible to advocate the use of a drug as a panacea for coping with holiday stress. Our drug-dependent culture does not benefit by her humorous(?) description of being on speed. Steroids are very serious drugs. The first euphoric experience is short-lived and has serious side effects: insomnia, gastrointestinal distress, exaggerated mood swings, elevated glucose levels, weight gain, osteoporosis, and possible kidney damage.

This drug advocacy was a poor message. Some people may not understand her satire. If she was experiencing so much holiday stress that it required drug treatment, she should have asked why she had so much stress and what other, safer methods she could have relied on for relief.

I also hold the Inquirer responsible for approving the column.

|Linda Belinsky, Huntingdon Valley,

Pipeline safe for South Jersey

Cape May and Atlantic County residents deserve safe, reliable energy, cleaner air, and cost effective, locally sourced electricity generation. Despite critics' assertions ("Pinelands endangered," Monday), most local residents support the South Jersey Gas pipeline proposed to fuel the B.L. England Generating Station's conversion to natural gas.

Misinformation by critics must stop. This pipeline will help provide energy reliability to our region, while ensuring the Pinelands remains protected. It will not cut through pristine areas or cause irreversible damage. It will follow long-traveled highways already in the Pinelands.

Its construction does not endanger drinking water. Natural gas is a naturally occurring, nontoxic substance that will be moved through a supply line built to meet or exceed state and federal requirements. Pipeline transportation of fuel sources remains the safest means of transport.

When the existing plant stops burning coal and repowers with natural gas, it will become one of the cleanest generation plants in the state.

Additionally, having a backup natural gas supply line for 142,000 Cape May and Atlantic County customers will help protect against the possibility that severe weather could threaten their heat and hot water.

I encourage residents to visit and join us in advocating for this project's approval.

|Jeff DuBois, executive vice president and chief operating officer, South Jersey Industries, Folsom, N.J.

Disrespectful to sit for Pledge

In Kevin Riordan's two columns about Manny Martinez, the middle schooler who refuses to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in protest of the presidential election, the words "respect" and "respectful" are used in explaining his conduct

("2 brave souls still hanging tough," Jan. 3). Riordan applauds the 13-year-old's actions.

They've both got it wrong. Maybe they should take a trip to France and the World War II cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, where lie the bodies of brave souls who justly deserve admiration - a generation of young men who, had they lived, would have never disrespected their country under any circumstances, let alone with the excuse that an election didn't go their way.

|Barbara Zamochnick, Wyndmoor