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inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #251 of 286: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 21 Jun 01 17:49
    
Amen.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #252 of 286: Dr. Leda Horticulture (leroy) Thu 21 Jun 01 17:57
    

The truth is, life isn't always fair. People are discriminated against for
all kinds of things: weight, race, age, etc. You can still decide not to buy
into it, by not hating yourself for what you are, by not becoming bitter, by
working to change things, by making the best, finding people who accept and
value you, by refusing to play the game and not letting it break your
spirit. Just because there are all these extra challenges doesn't mean you
have to buy into it. There's a whole huge world out there beyond the bitchy
junior high work places. Maybe those really aren't the best places to be
spending so much of your life.

But it's also important, I think, not to slip into playing the part of
helpless victim. It is difficult but possible to lose weight in ways that
are healthy, if that's what you really need to do to improve your life. It
doesn't have to be self-destructive eating dosorder or nothing. It may be
that it's necessary to confront self-defeating eating. It's also difficult
but sometimes necessary to wonder if it really is just weight and appearance
that are putting people off. There may be some ways of relating, some
personality quirks or whatever, that are the real reasons for rejection, but
sometimes it's easier to just blame it on weight or age or whatever and not
really have to confront those things. Being brutally honest with yourself
seems to me like a better option than buying into it or being defeated by
it.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #253 of 286: Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 21 Jun 01 20:45
    

I am usually quite brutally honest with myself, and I couldn't help but
wonder when I was rejected for this job recently, if my weight had
anything to do with it.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #254 of 286: Molly Wright Steenson (explode) Fri 22 Jun 01 08:26
    

from the time we got to be close in 1995, my closest friend has gained aboug
a pound a month for the last five and a half years. i think that it had to
do with her coming out and wanting to feel protected. she says that for her,
it had to do with not wanting to look in the mirror, not wanting to base
things on what she looked like, not giving a shit and go to hell, world.

a little over a year ago, she and a wonderful woman fell in love with each
other. elise got ali to look into herself, to look in the mirror, and to
start making some healthier choices about herself. and in a supportive,
healthy way, ali lost 30 pounds. she's now making some good diet choices.
her back doesn't go out when she hikes or rides a bicycle.

it ended up being an empowering thing for both of them -- they ended up
trusting each other more through the process.

this is in response to (leroy)'s post... and it was great to see ali not be
defeated by something like this. she feels good. i'm happy for her.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #255 of 286: Mary Eisenhart (marye) Fri 22 Jun 01 09:18
    
Well, I think there's a balance involved, and nobody's endorsing 
self-destruction. I do think quite a few of us are failing to 
endorse the notion of defining aesthetic nonconformity as self-
destruction.

I mean, I a mildly wistful looking at photos of my 120-pound self
when I was in college (and of course I thought I was too fat then).
But I wouldn't do a thing to get back to that state. However, when
I went to get a checkup a few months back and for the first time
my doctor said, hey Mare, your cholesterol's a little high, cut
back on fatty foods, I took that to heart and did start watching
my food a bit. Which I've basically never been willing to do in the
past.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #256 of 286: Mary Eisenhart (marye) Fri 22 Jun 01 09:19
    
In other news, "For Better or For Worse" seems about to explore
this theme, judging by today's strip.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #257 of 286: Autumn Storhaug (autumn) Fri 22 Jun 01 10:30
    
Yes.  April's little friend has told her she's fat.  The kids are...what?
Six or seven?
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #258 of 286: Shut your humble piehole (crow) Fri 22 Jun 01 10:42
    
Oh joy, I can't wait to see what heart warming aphorisms and words of wisdom
from lovable Gramps will be seen.


A few years ago, various people at my work were let go including me. My
husband observed, "They're letting all the fat people go."

it was true that my boss was one of those tiny, obsessed women. I always
wondered.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #259 of 286: Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 22 Jun 01 13:34
    

When I am around my family, as I mentioned earlier, the women are all tiny
and obsessed and all they can think of when they are with me is my
weight.  So, I wouldn't be surprised if the tiny obsessed woman finally
got fed up looking at the fat women and did away with them.

And I've heard that Ted Turner won't hire fat people.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #260 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Fri 22 Jun 01 22:37
    
Castle - going way back to one of your earlier posts about whether to
call that guy who's ignored you since seeing him and your theory that
it's about your weight:

I understand the impulse. It's like, you want to KNOW.  Is it that
you're heavier, that he's going bald and in a bad mood, that the night
he saw you he ate bad Chinese food, had diarrhea for three days, and
then had a deadline to meet and hasn't come up for air and now he's
moved on to ten other things and he's plain forgotten to email or call?
 Who knows... but the more important part is, WHO CARES?  I agree with
<leroy>'s earlier post that we do have to look at ourselves and
honestly evaluate whether to change certain characteristics, but most
of the time, the happy (and humbling) truth is, IT'S NOT PERSONAL!

It's taken me so long to internalize that.  Sometimes I have to say it
aloud, like a mantra:  IT'S NOT PERSONAL!  In the past, whenever
people rejected me (or, I should say, I perceived that I was being
rejected), I always went straight to, "Oh God, something's wrong with
ME. I'm defective somehow."  But then I'd find out that - in most cases
- it had nothing to do with me.  Someone had a fight with her husband
that day.  Or - a memorable example from years ago:

I went on a date with a guy I really liked (REALLY REALLY REALLY
liked), looked fabulous, was witty and charming, great time.  He calls,
we go on a second date.  But this time, he's not responding the way he
did on the first date.  So I felt that I looked ugly, that my hair was
doing something funky, that I wore the wrong thing, that everything I
said was lame or dull or moronic or just plain incoherent.  He drove me
home, bye, bye, end of date. He says, "I'll call you - let's do this
again."  A hug and a kiss like you'd kiss your sister.

A week goes by, finally he calls.  Message on machine.  Nice, not
knock-your-socks-off-I'm-into-you.  I return his call.  Voice mail. 
Another week goes by. Nada.  Meantime, I'm thinking, "It's ME. 
Something's wrong with me.  I did something.  Or I didn't do something.
 Or I looked bad.  Or I looked less good than on the first date and he
was disappointed."  

And then, finally he calls again maybe a week or so later and I find
out that his sister is dying of cancer.  And THAT's why he was so
distracted on the second date - she was waiting for the biopsy results
at the time.  Then he didn't call b/c the results came in the next day
and he flew back home immediately to be with his family, and that was
intense and horrible, and blah blah blah.

Boy, did I feel like an idiot! How narcissistic.  Or solipsistic.  Or
self-absorbed.  It wasn't even ABOUT me.  So, Castle, I don't know what
this guy's deal is, but 99% of the time, it's not about something
being wrong with us.  Maybe he's jealous of you or attracted to you or
feels threatened by you or God knows what.  But I highly doubt it's
about 20 pounds in 20 years or whatever.

But isn't it interesting that when women feel rejected, often we think
it's related to some physical characteristic?  It must be my weight or
height or breasts or nose or my unfashionable shoes ...

Also on off-the-mark self-judgments:  My mother used to half-joke that
I had "anorexia of the hair" because I have wild, ringlet-curly hair,
and once I had it blow-dried totally straight, and some boy I liked (I
was a kid at the time) told me how great I looked - it was the first
time he'd even NOTICED me.  So I always wanted to wear it straight
after that, even though almost everyone thinks my ringlet hair is
great-looking.  But ever since that boy made a comment about my
straight hair (and a not-so-nice comment about my wild hair), I see my
curly hair as unattractive.  So my mom says I have "anorexia of the
hair" because just as with my body, I look in the mirror and see a
distorted image that's greatly at odds with reality. I can't "see" my
ringlet hair accurately, just as I couldn't "see" my skinny body
accurately during the anorexia.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #261 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Fri 22 Jun 01 22:49
    
Here's some food for thought (no pun intended, given the discussion
topic!):

Today someone in L.A., whom I don't know, told me that I was a
"nobody."  I was talking to her about doing some radio stuff - she's a
public radio producer type - and she said, "Well, you're a nobody. I
mean, we have..." and she goes on to name about half a dozen people
I've never heard of. And I think I'm pretty aware of public radio
folks, so if THEY'RE "somebodies," and I haven't heard of them, and
I'll bet 90% of Americans haven't a clue who they are, I must REALLY be
a "nobody"!

But the part that struck me was, I don't care if I'm a nobody or a
somebody -- I'm not the least bit into fame or celebrity -- I just want
to be treated with respect.  Do you like my ideas or not?  No, I don't
know Oprah or Charlie Rose, but does that mean I'm a "nobody"? What
does that say about our value system as a culture?  That, say, Pamela
Anderson is a "somebody" - simply because she has name-recognition for
contributing nothing (far as I'm concerned)of value. But someone like
me is considered a "nobody"?

It's like, I'm not a NO body, I HAVE a body, therefore I must be SOME
body.  MY body.  And I have not just a body but a soul. I am not
invisible (which is what she implied). I can't believe the way people
can be dismissed in our culture, the way a person can be considered a
"nobody" by virtue of not being "connected."  Isn't high school over,
folks?  Didn't prom night and student govermment elections end YEARS
ago?

I tried not to let it bother me, but I'm feeling kinda bummed. I think
being a called a "nobody" -- cavalierly or not -- is an incredibly
powerful statement.  
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #262 of 286: Dr. Leda Horticulture (leroy) Sat 23 Jun 01 06:50
    

Great, really great posts, Lori.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #263 of 286: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 23 Jun 01 07:25
    
Yeah, everybody should esp. read 260 over and over and over and get the
chant down...

IT'S NOT PERSONAL IT'S NOT PERSONAL IT'S NOT PERSONAL IT'S NOT PERSONAL 
IT'S NOT PERSONAL IT'S NOT PERSONAL IT'S NOT PERSONAL .......
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #264 of 286: -N. (streak) Sat 23 Jun 01 12:59
    
        On nobodies, somebodies, and respect, some good material to read is
at:
        http://www.breakingranks.net
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #265 of 286: Molly Wright Steenson (explode) Mon 25 Jun 01 13:56
    

that site is really great.

the thing about the internet is that it made a whole universe of so-called
nobodies into somebodies. it gave a lot of us the opportunity to get on our
soapboxes, start a zine, write a column, publish and get published, and
build up our voices.

and some of those so-called nobodies are on npr now, are writers that the
so-called somebodies read.

it's just the same old power play crap -- i have this, you do not.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #266 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Mon 25 Jun 01 23:21
    
Well, the folks at NPR seem to think they're somebodies by virtue of
having three letters affiliated with their names.  And those who are
acronym-less are nobodies.  It's strange how, in our culture, anyone
with "name-recognition" - talent, soul, etc. aside - is a somebody, but
anyone with talent, soul, etc. but no name-recognition is a nobody.  

I think it mirrors society's generalized superficiality - if you're
good-looking, you're a somebody.  If you're not good-looking, you're
often invisible, ignored, a nobody.  People are so quick to make snap
judgments based on titles or appearance.  No wonder we're a culture of
insecure people seeking one or the other for validation. If you can't
get the title, starve yourself for the body.  If you don't have the
body, go for the prestigious title.  Arg.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #267 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Mon 25 Jun 01 23:36
    
Today I had a couple of meetings outside the house, so I blow-dried my
hair straight, put on some lipstick (the only makeup I own or ever
wear), wore "real" clothes (as opposed to my usual "work-at-home
uniform" of sweats and a ratty t-shirt), and something happened.  I
felt great when I saw my reflection in a store window.  Men on the
street looked at me -- in that way. The guy at Kinko's was extra
helpful and stayed by my machine to make sure my copies were coming out
okay (they NEVER do that at Kinkos when they're packed).  Strangers
smiled at me for no particular reason.  I felt sexy and full of life.

I'd like to believe that how we look doesn't matter so much as to
affect both our attitudes toward ourselves and the way others treat us,
but today I realized it can.  And while I feel attractive and worthy
and "like a somebody" sitting here typing this, I'm appalled to think
that once my hair starts curling up and I crawl back into my ratty
sweats, I'll still be the same person, but I'll think of myself in much
less flattering terms.  I'll feel more like a nobody.  Because if I
were to go outside looking this way, that's how the world would treat
me.  No handsome men staring, no Kinko's guy helping so solicitously,
no gratuitious smiles, nada.  An invisible nobody.  It's hard to say,
"I'm a somebody" when you go outside and people ignore you because
you're having a bad hair day.  

Part of me wants to look like this every day, and part of me wants to
say, "Screw it."  Most days I do the latter, but on the few occasions I
do the former, I wonder if I'm making the right choice.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #268 of 286: Dr. Leda Horticulture (leroy) Tue 26 Jun 01 08:25
    

I recently moved to a small town in Louisiana where you're only defined as a
"somebody" based on who you're related to. People here are defined by their
ancestry..."She was a Benoit, then she married a Savoy. her mother was a
Vidrine, one of the Ville Platte Vidrines, and I think her daddy's mama was
a Stelly from Port Barre." If they don't know your family, you might as well
be invisible. To them, I'm just "some lady from California." Other than
marrying into a prominent family, there's not much I can do to become a
"somebody," but it's really ok with me.

The price of being a "somebody" can be awfully steep. I moved away from my
own hometown when I was 18 precisely because I didn't want to be defined by
my family. I wanted the freedom to create a new identity based only on my
own talents, beliefs, and inclinations, not set in concrete or tied to the
past. Occasionally I'm tempted to whip out my pedigree, but ironically this
a different part of the south from where I grew up, and the people here
don't care at all about anybody else. If I told them who my family was, it
wouldn't mean a damn thing.

The price of the other kind of celebrity is too high too, the kind you
"earn" by becoming a "somebody" in the more worldly sense. I experienced a
brief fifteen minutes of fame, and it was awful. You have no
privacy...reporters and photographers are lurking in the bushes, waiting for
you to walk up your driveway. The phone rings at all hours of the day and
night. The public thinks they own you: you come home to long angry tirades
on your voice mail from magazines and talk show hosts you've been trying to
avoid. All kinds of heinous people will misquote you, take you out of
context, use you for their own purposes, taint your cause. And then of
course the critics will come out in full force, they'll pick you apart and
find fault and ascribe evil motives and then pull you back through the
wringer again. If you don't follow up on your initial achievement, they'll
call you a one-hit wonder, and say it was a fluke. If you do try to follow
up, they'll accuse you of trying to capitalize on your fame. And then within
a few days, they'll forget you entirely, drop you like a hot potato and move
on to somebody else. So you're back to being a nobody, sitting home alone.
For years you'll be doing google searches to see if anybody remembers you,
and all you'll turn up is a few persistent oddball critics still hurling
bricks long after you should have stopped being a target.

I woke up this morning feeling great. Threw on some jeans and a tank top,
went out and worked in the garden a while. Then I realized I was out of
milk, so I drove over to the Winn Dixie to pick up a quart. No makeup, hair
pulled back carelessly, mud on the knees of my jeans, mosquito bites on my
arms and ankles. Not a single ancestor, relative, or husband that anybody
within 600 miles would recognize. But I was still happy and feeling great,
and lo and behold, every person I encountered smiled at me and said good
morning. Total strangers. I don't know, maybe I smiled at them first. I
don't think it could possibly feel better if I was famous.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #269 of 286: Mary Eisenhart (marye) Tue 26 Jun 01 09:24
    
<wild applause>
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #270 of 286: Mary Ellen Bates (mebs) Tue 26 Jun 01 16:57
    
<standing O>
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #271 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Tue 26 Jun 01 22:22
    
I guess my question is, if being a "somebody" is such a burden, why do
so many crave it?  I mean a "somebody" in the external sense.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #272 of 286: Dr. Leda Horticulture (leroy) Wed 27 Jun 01 04:50
    

I would have to guess it comes from not having a strong internal sense of
self, so being dependent on others to define, reflect, or validate some kind
of shaky, external substitute.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #273 of 286: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 27 Jun 01 09:39
    

It may also determine your economic survival or standing.  When I mentioned
the "father-daughter" look at the anchor desks of tv newsrooms, I was
thinking specifically of a kind of job where intelligence and general
knowlege are important.  And where looks still dominate.  Not to mention
acting, marrying for money (or at all) and other famous and infamous 
examples where looks are key.

Sometimes one is dependent on others for survival or quality of survival, not
just appreciative looks. Even though learning to love yourself is incredibly
important, it doesn't mean we can't push for social change too.  You
change yourself, but you may also have an opportunity to change the world.
Even if just by writing books, posting interesting posts, speaking up. 
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #274 of 286: -N. (streak) Wed 27 Jun 01 17:10
    
        I recall a study somewhere, indicating that attractive people who
arrive at hospitals DOA are more likely to have resuscitation attempted
than unattractive people.  Things like this have led me to the
following notion:
        You will very often hear people say, on the subject of genetic
modification of embryos, that it's okay to correct for any genetic
disorders, but not okay to just try to make the kid good-looking or
something.  Except that every scrap of evidence we have indicates that
being good-looking smooths your path in live in a hundred little ways
every day.  I mean, if it's okay to make sure your child won't be deaf
or dyslexic, why not make sure your kid won't get the lower pay, longer
prison sentences, and fewer revival attempts that go along with being
homely?  This is a hypothetical, of course, but an interesting one.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #275 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Wed 27 Jun 01 22:15
    
See, that's the thing.  If we lived in, say, this particular WELL
community, we'd all share a certain core set of values. But take our
value system out into the "real" world, and <streak> makes a good
point.  While I find the notion of genetic engineering of physical
features more than a bit creepy (dare I say, repulsive), I can't help
but think of something that a teenage girl said to me recently, when I
was doing a reading of my book at her high school.  

The q&a was quite lively, the teenagers all quite articulate and
grounded-sounding, but this particular girl waited until no one was
around, came up to me in the hallway and said, "You know, I want to
believe in all that stuff everyone said in there, but the truth is,
they're all lying.  They TOTALLY judge people on how they look, and who
has great body.  Maybe they wish things were different, but those same
boys who say they don't judge people based on their bodies are the
ones who wouldn't dare be seen at senior prom with anything but one of
the anorexic-looking girls."

I didn't know how to respond.  Because I wasn't going to lie to her
either.
  

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