Dear Etiquetteer: My sister, who is a beautiful, intelligent, and accomplished young woman, burps. She burps loudly, often, and without covering her mouth. She doesn't say, "excuse me," after the fact. She doesn't excuse herself to the restroom (or another private place) beforehand. In response, my family and I have said things starting at, "Your doctor could probably get something to help with your digestion," to, "That is rude. Please don't burp at the table."
Her response to the former is that she doesn't have any health problem that causes the burps, and to the latter, "I do what I want!"
Again, she is a young woman who has enough background to appreciate just how rude her actions are. She is highly educated and reasonably cultured. We don't understand where her dismissive attitude regarding eructation. Privately, it is uncomfortable. Around company and in public, it is mortifying. How can we address the seriousness of our concern and inappropriateness of her dismissive response?
Dear Digesting in Silence:
Your sister seems to have taken as her role model Princess Fiona in Shrek, which is most unfortunate. Etiquetteer has said often that "No one cares what you want or how you feel," and this certainly applies to your sister! Her willful eructation will surely obscure the beauty, intelligence, and accomplishments you mention, while also making her the darling of eleven-year-old boys everywhere. (But Etiquetteer must question how Reasonably Cultured a woman can be if she behaves this way. Certainly no woman willfully belching like that could be called a lady.)
Etiquetteer fears nothing will curb her evil behavior until she loses a job or a lover over it. Etiquetteer can just imagine her ripping out a large BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAPP while interviewing for a job she wants, and then being shown the door.
Etiquetteer has also heard much of the rivalry of sisters, both in life and in film. Possibly you are not the best person to give your sister direction. That said, there isn't any reason for you to accept her deliberately rude behavior. If you're in public with others and she belches in your presence, just leave the area as unostentatiously as you can. If she continues to burp at your own table, stop inviting her. Yes, even for functions at which all the family is present. Or, and here you will see Etiquetteer's Dark Side, set a place for her in the kitchen while everyone else dines in the dining room. Undoubtedly she'll take exception to this, and you can gently explain that the dining room is only for those who know how to behave like grown-ups at the table.
Etiquetteer has a new address for all your questions about manners, queries_at_etiquetteer_dot_com.