Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 21 Jun 01 17:49
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Leda Horticulture (leroy) Sat 23 Jun 01 06:50
Great, really great posts, Lori.
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 .......
-N. (streak) Sat 23 Jun 01 12:59
On nobodies, somebodies, and respect, some good material to read is at: http://www.breakingranks.net
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mary Eisenhart (marye) Tue 26 Jun 01 09:24
Mary Ellen Bates (mebs) Tue 26 Jun 01 16:57
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.
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.
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.
-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.
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.
Members: Enter the conference to participate