Correspondents remain sympathetic to Tracey Gold and her continuing' struggle with anorexia (PEOPLE, Jan. 31), and several had harsh words for Alan Thicke, her onetime TV dad on Growing Pains, for what they considered an insensitive remark about Gold's weight. We too were criticized for our recent "Diet Winners and Sinners" cover story (Jan. 10), which some readers felt endorsed the very messages about weight loss that anorexics take so disastrously to heart. Others chastised us for choosing Gold as a cover subject rather than the devastating earthquake in the Los Angeles area.

TRACEY GOLD
Today my 7-year-old shyly approached me with the idea of how I would feel if she gave up sweets. When I asked her why, she said, "I stick out, Mommy. My belly is too big. I am too fat." I had just finished reading your article about Tracey Gold's battle with anorexia. My heart sank. I reassured my daughter that she was a "perfect her," that children have bellies and most women do too. I showed my daughter Tracey's story and talked about the disease that is killing our girl children. Thank you for sharing a story that needs more exposure and helping to enlighten parents everywhere. To think I could lose my daughter to this disease because everywhere she looks she sees flatness and skinniness worshipped.
MARGARET ZINNI, Boca Raton, Fla.

I must say that Alan Thicke truly lives up to his name. In my early teen years it was comments like his ("It's my fantasy to see her chunky and say, 'I'd like to see you drop a few pounds' ") that started me on a downward spiral of self-destruction and despair. In this age of awareness and education on eating disorders, such comments are both idiotic and insensitive. Anyone who cannot understand that must, indeed, be thick.
NAME WITHHELD

I have several friends with eating disorders. A few have almost died, either from suicide attempts or complications caused by their diseases. You treat Tracey Gold's heroic story with the gravity it deserves, yet just a few weeks ago you had a cover story on "Diet Winners and Sinners." What kind of message are you sending to girls my age? That while you applaud Tracey's fight back from the brink of death, you are still putting pressure on kids like me to have a body like Madonna's, no matter what the cost?
NORAH M. SWINEY, Tulsa

Tell Tracey Gold to get rid of that scale if she wants to recover. I got rid of mine and saved my sanity and my life.
KAREN DICKSON, South Bend, Ind.

I am 29 years old and have suffered from anorexia for 12 years. My initial treatment for the disease began after my freshman year at college. I am 5'4" and at the time weighed 89 lbs. For the next few years my weight seemed to stabilize at 105. I have now been married seven years and have three children. After my last child was born, I was so anxious to lose my pregnancy weight, I returned to my old habits. Within 10 months my weight was once again below 90 lbs. In May I saw Tracey Gold's story on Prime Time Live. It both inspired and scared me. Last fall I began treatment again. My reason for seeking therapy this time, however, is my job as a role model for my kids. I am especially concerned about my daughter, who someday may be an awkward adolescent questioning her own normal development. My greatest fear is that I may pass on this disease to her, which would be a worse pain than suffering from it myself. I have to get better.
LAURA-JEAN BONACORE, Sayville, N. Y.

LOS ANGELES EARTHQUAKE
I could not believe my eyes when I read this week's PEOPLE. I like Tracey Gold and wish her all the best in her struggle to survive anorexia, but I can't believe you gave her the cover. Your cover line read, "Tracey Gold's Battle to Live." What about Los Angeles' battle to live? Since Jan. 17 at 4:31 a.m., thousands of people have lost their homes and their jobs, and 57 people have lost their lives. Too bad you couldn't give moral support on your cover to all the people struggling through this ordeal.
SANDRA KNGLERT, formerly of Northridge, Calif.

Perhaps the cold snap has frozen a few editorial brain cells. If Tracey has suffered from anorexia for several years, her cover could have waited a few more issues!
DIANE MICHELSON, Woodridge, Ill.

CONTROVERSY
It is obvious that these girls who dressed in hip-hop fashions were looking for trouble and used the clothes as an outlet for their hatred. This is one more reason why schools should enforce uniforms and that parents need to teach their children that this behavior is wrong.
LORI MUELLER, Waukesha, Wis.

PICKS & PANS
After flipping through this week's issue, I began to wonder if you should change your name to VERY YOUNG PEOPLE. You found it necessary to list the names of the Beatles but not the names of the New Kids on the Block. If you find it necessary to point out which Beatle is which for the younger generation, perhaps you should enlighten those of us who can only pick out Donnie of New Kids.
CHARLENE PERKINS
Marlborough, Mass.