inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #276 of 286: Dr. Leda Horticulture (leroy) Thu 28 Jun 01 07:06
    
Oh, I wish I could take all those teenage girls and somehow convince
them that the anorexic beauty queens the boys want to be seen with at
the senior prom don't necessarily turn out to be happier, more secure,
well-adjusted, more interesting people. Yes, it hurts to be rejected or
neglected because of the way you look, especially when you're young
and don't really have much else going for you. But in the long run,
that rejection can turn out to be the best thing that ever happens to a
girl. 

It can force her to turn to other things besides constantly preening
her appearance. If her appearance doesn't reap rewards, she may have to
develop some talents, some intelligence, some useful skills, some
kindness and compassion, some creativity, some originality, some
genuine interests. Things that will really get her somewhere in life,
in spite of what these depressing studies may tell us. If she gives up
on impressing boys, she may have more time and energy to give to her
own life. If she finally stops caring about what THEY think, whether
THEY approve of or desire her body, maybe she can finally start caring
about things that really matter.

I know how hard it is to believe this stuff when you're young. Maybe
it isn't until you start going to your fifteenth or twenty-fifth high
school reunions that it really starts to sink in: those girls who were
so pretty and popular back in high school often turn out to be shallow,
predictable, boring, sometimes even tragically unhappy. And the less
attractive, less popular people so often turn out to be the
fascinating, the successful, the vital, the adventurous, the creative
geniuses. It's almost a cliche, but still hard to believe in or care
much about when you're fourteen and suffering in the thick of it.

I just wish there was some way to tell that girl, yes, maybe what you
say is true. But so what? Whether or not you go to the prom with this
or that cute boy will some day be so insignificant when you look back.
But believing that your appearance is the most important thing in life
can do you some severe, long-lasting damage. The starvation, the
tanning, the exposure to carcinogenic chemicals, eventually there may
be dangerous cosmetic surgeries and spiraling debt, and then the time
wasted on it all...these things can wreck your life for real. 

I know I wouldn't have listened or believed it when I was in high
school. Still, I just wish there was some way to get through. 
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #277 of 286: Ruth Greenberg (ruthchava) Thu 28 Jun 01 09:08
    
I also wouldn't have believed it then, but I think I was lucky to
learn that lesson at a fairly young age. I also remember a teacher
telling me, when I brought up the same subject as the young woman who
spoke with Lori, that she felt sorry for many of the girls in the most
popular categories because this was their crowning achievement, being
popular and beautiful in high school. 

She told me she thought I was lucky because my life was only going to
get better. I'm not reflecting it well here, but she managed to say it
in such a way that it made me feel really good.

I also don't think you need to lie to her, since I believe she's
wrong. Why would she want to be with those boys? Are they so
interesting, or handsome, or gallant, that she feels like she's missing
out because she's not dating them?
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #278 of 286: Molly Wright Steenson (explode) Thu 28 Jun 01 13:03
    

in high school, the boys i actually ended up liking weren't that articulate
-- or for that matter, visible. and maybe that's part of the problem --
those people, the genuine ones, are often harder to find.

i hated high school so much for these reasons. i feel like it was a waste of
four years, and the best thing that happened to me was going to college in
11th grade (you could go to college in 11th and 12th grade in minnesota and
get full credit for both) and germany for the year in 12th grade. i was a
skinny geeky kid for a long time, and a late bloomer -- for me, the issue
wasn't one about being thin but about being a late bloomer. i got laughed at
a friend's bat mitzvah swimming party as we changed into swimsuits because i
didn't have breasts or pubic hair really to speak of.

so for me, those were the issues. and they were so painful, more painful
than almost anything.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #279 of 286: Mary Eisenhart (marye) Thu 28 Jun 01 13:39
    
Yeah, getting to college and discovering one's fellow Martians was
one of those life-changing epiphanies for me as well.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #280 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Fri 29 Jun 01 20:05
    
I so enjoyed reading the last few posts, because I think there's a lot
of truth to them.  But at the same time, while I remember getting to
college (I went to school on the east coast - SO different from
California!) and discovering my fellow rebel anti-girly-girl chicks, I
also remember girls on my hallway throwing up after dinner every night.
 Several of them.  And not just freshman year.  And I remember a lot -
I mean, A LOT - of pressure to look good, even though we were the
brainy girls, the ones who used their smarts and not their looks to get
into a very prestigious Ivy League school. 

So while we may not have worn makeup or gone shopping or overtly acted
concerned about appearance, and while we may have felt that our
group's "culture" was anti-Cosmo, you aren't throwing up in the
bathroom or eating two bites of salad ("no dressing!") in the dining
hall for dinner because you're UNconcerned about how you look.  So you
can still hang out with kindred spirits and the larger cultural
messages manage to creep in.  It's that pervasive.  Which, I guess, is
what I was kind of saying, or trying to say, with STICK FIGURE.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #281 of 286: Mary Eisenhart (marye) Sat 30 Jun 01 13:46
    
I would not say that my fellow martians were all female. 

And indeed, college was also full of people with whom I felt
no affinity whatever, but there were enough weirdos to form a good
culture.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #282 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Sat 30 Jun 01 23:26
    
Speaking of high school, I just saw a friend from high school the
other day.  This is a woman who went to elementary school with me, and
we were in the same "group," but then in high school she stayed with
that group and I went off and did my i-don't-belong-to-any-group thing.
 So it was really hot out, and we went to go get a drink, and she
ordered a lemonade.  

"I never used to drink lemonade," she said.  

"Why not?" I asked.  

"All that sugar and wasted calories."  Then she smiled the way I
remember her smiling as a kid, with a genuine sense of joy, and added,
"But now, at this point in my life, I treat myself."

Amen.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #283 of 286: Molly Wright Steenson (explode) Mon 2 Jul 01 13:32
    

good for your friend, lori! it sounds like she's maybe had some similar
epiphanies to yours.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #284 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Tue 3 Jul 01 11:25
    
What's also interesting about her comment is that, growing up, I
always thought of her as so free-spirited, so her-own-person. She was
never super thin like the rest of her crowd (not fat either, just
"normal") and she always had a sense of humor about, well, ANYTHING. 
She didn't seem to take life's day-to-day too seriously (in a good
way). I, on the other hand, was the girl always worrying about what
something MEANT.  She didn't strive to be popular - she just was,
people just genuinely liked her.  She didn't wear the trends or get the
hip haircut.  She was just, well, her.  Happy, fun, always smiling. So
she's the last person I'd have thought ever worried about sugar and
wasted calories in lemonade.  Just shows how almost no adolescent girl
- no matter how strong a sense of self - is immune to this stuff.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #285 of 286: David Gans (tnf) Wed 4 Jul 01 08:22
    

>there were enough weirdos to form a good culture.

I love that, Mary.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #286 of 286: Mary Eisenhart (marye) Wed 4 Jul 01 12:16
    
So did I at the time!:-)
  



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