inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #76 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Thu 7 Jun 01 23:57
    
Lisa - what was that about Thora Birch and Anna Paquin?  Did I miss
something?
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #77 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Fri 8 Jun 01 00:12
    
Molly - I checked out your online journals, which are highly
entertaining (worth checking out, for those who saw the URL posted
above).  But yeah, clearly they read like "public" journals.  Which
doesn't make them any less entertaining.  In fact, I'll bet your
private journals (like all of our private journals) would be a lot less
fun to read.  So I'm GLAD they read like public journals.  They're
still honest and fresh and real and relatable, but you keep the less
interesting (to us, not to you) stuff to yourself.  I don't think
"public" journals in this sense are any less authentic than private
ones.

In the case of STICK FIGURE, however, I wasn't writing them for public
consumption in real time (i.e., at age 11), the way you are on your
website.  So I had to make the public/private distinction AFTER the
fact, which involved asking the question, "Does this passage inform my
behavior? Does it explain to the reader why I'm making the choices I'm
making; or having the thoughts I'm having?"  If the answer was yes, it
made it into the book.  If the answer was no, no matter how
"entertaining" the passage, it got the kabosh.  

btw, Here's where an editor comes in handy - like parents who think
everything their toddlers do or say is adorable, a writer often thinks
his/her childhood ramblings are utterly scintillating. I remember an
early draft of the manuscript with polite markings from my editor:
"Cut?"  
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #78 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Fri 8 Jun 01 00:54
    
Oh, going back to Cynthia's question, as promised last night:

You bring up so many issues, but I'll just address the obvious ones. 
First, top question I get asked a signings: "What did your mother
[parents] think of the book?"

Now, first I have to mention that my feelings about the book being
public changed over time.  When I got my book contract, I didn't
actually have a manuscript.  I sold the book based on a proposal and
samples from the diaries.  So I'm not sure I really had a clear sense
of what the final product would contain.  I mean, I must have had some
idea - I wrote the proposal - but I wasn't sure SPECIFICALLY what
passages I'd be including.  

So when I got the book contract, I called my parents and said, "Hey,
guess what?  I'm gonna publish a book based on my diaries from when I
was eleven."  And, like any parents of an adult daughter who calls with
news what she's publishing diaries from a period of her life in which
most kids find their parents to be horribly embarrassing and dorky and
incapable of "getting" anything - I don't think my parents shared my
enthusiasm.  At least that's how I interpreted the gaping pause on the
other end of the phone line.

My parents, being very private people, obviously weren't thrilled with
the idea that their lives would be made public.  And while I believed
(and still do) that I was writing MY story, not theirs, but that in
order to tell my story, I couldn't cut them out of my life (at eleven,
your parents are very much in your daily life), I also realize now that
the book is out what that means.  

At the time of that initial phone call, I made a deal with my parents.
 I'd show them the book before it appeared on stores, but after it was
in final, hardbound form.  They'd never ask me to change anything, but
at the same time, I didn't want to be influenced by a tone of voice or
sigh or anything when I heard their reaction.  And in fact, when the
book was in galley form, I deleted an entire chapter that my editor
really liked, but that I felt went a bit too far. My editor was
probably right about keeping the chapter from a "what makes a good
book" perspective (her instincts were always right on), but from a
this-is-my-mother perspective, I felt I needed to take it out.  

What I realized in editing the diaries into book form was that much as
I didn't mind coming off, personally, as misguided or limited or
unflattering (I was eleven, people remember being that age), I was
exposing my family at one particular time in our lives.  Which is
unfair, in many ways, because my family doesn't get a rebuttal.  They
don't get to say, "Hey, yes, this was how we were that year that you
were eleven. But things have changed."  And it's completely my
eleven-year-old point of view, which I think is ultra-objective in some
ways, but probably less so in others. 

By the time the book was bound, I gave it to my parents to read right
before they were leaving for a trip to Europe.  I didn't want them to
call me while they were reading it; I wanted them to read the whole
book, then talk to me about it.  So while I didn't consciously give
them the book as they were about to leave the country(!), I think on
some level the fact that this book was going to be in stores three
weeks later was sinking in.  And their reaction, while not necessarily
agreeing with all of my impressions and interpretations of what was
happening, was one of support.  They knew why I wanted to tell this
story, why it was so important for me to share.

The public response to the book was something I was utterly unprepared
for.  The questions about my family, the references to them by
strangers using their first names, by reporters, the way the press has
handled this issue in print - you're probably thinking, "WHAT DID YOU
EXPECT?!"  But I guess I just thought, "I'm publishing my journals.  I
want to tell this story.  I think it says something incredibly
important about growing up female in our culture."  I never really
thought about having real, live readers and real, live encounters with
these readers.  (I'm not saying I don't enjoy these encounters.  That's
actually the BEST part of publishing a book - hearing what readers
think, knowing you struck a chord, etc.)

And so when it comes to my parents, especially my mother, I feel like
I have to tell people, "You know, they're good people, they were
clueless about what was going on with me, but they meant well, or had
their own problems, or did the best they could."  That doesn't excuse
the behavior that made you "wince," Cynthia.  Believe me, it makes ME
wince. But the diaries are so one-sided, and people grow and change
over time.  And because these were my actual diaries, I didn't have the
luxury of infusing these events with some adult insight or
perspective.  So for anyone planning on publishing diaries - this might
be some food for thought (no pun intended).  

Just to be clear - I'm glad I published these diaries and feel like
I'm getting the response I'd hoped for when I initially wrote the
proposal.  I don't know a woman on this planet who can't relate to our
cultural confusion around dieting and body image.  My only point here
is that had I been a bit less naive, I might have prepared myself
emotionally BEFORE the book came out.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #79 of 286: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 8 Jun 01 04:43
    
The idea that posting is like journaling is an interesting one. Someone once
called The WELL the "diary that talks back."

For anyone who ever did anything quite public as a child or youth, living
with it later has got to be an interesting kind of pressure.  Kids tend to
have less empathy than adults, and teenagers are practically another
species, but most can leave that self behind.

That's a powerfully difficult thing you did.

I have a question about your current judgements about size.  Do you have a
snap emotional reaction to people who look too fat or too thin?

If you had or have a daughter, can you tell which direction would be more
alarming to you, progressive weight gain or loss?

And is this book opening you to a lot of questions you wish hadn't been
asked, in case you don't want to speculate and confess about those above.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #80 of 286: Molly Wright Steenson (explode) Fri 8 Jun 01 09:00
    
Lori, I don't know that you were emotionally naive -- but most people
don't publish their journals or chronicle things early. And just one
comment about your 11 year old self: you were hilarious and eloquent,
and it's neat to hear your voice now in this forum, compared to then.
There's an interesting evolution. 

You were also talking about your book signings, and how they almost
become a sort of therapy session. How do you feel about this? On one
hand, it's great that your book opens up these discussions -- hey,
we're in the middle of one here. On the other hand, that could feel
burdensome. How do you feel?
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #81 of 286: David Gans (tnf) Fri 8 Jun 01 09:20
    

The story about your parents is interesting to me.  I have a journal right
here in the Inkwell, too -- topic 51 (which is in serious need of an update)
-- and I keep an unedited version of it offline.

I have, on occasion, deleted things from the public version, and I have
prevented myself from posting certain entires (prior self-restraint!) out of
concern for the feelings of people close to me, and on occasion to protect
myself from the wrath of potentially litigious people.

But someone said that every writer betrays his loved ones, or something like
that, and I think you have to be willing to do that if you are committed to
the work.  It's less risky for me to talk about my musical odyssey than it is
for you to talk about your childhood and family life, of course -- but there
is a balance to be struck between protecting the feelings of others and the
telling of the urgent story.

A good friend of mine accompanied me on a drive to Vermont for a gig last
month, and while I was encouraging him to publish the story he's been telling
in private about his experiences as a father, he said: "In order to talk
about my life as a father, I would have to talk about my life as a son, and
I'm not ready to do that to my parents."

All good things in all good time, as the song says.  When I publish the
forward-moving story of my life as a late-onset troubadour, it will include
the backstory of the 25-year detour I took from my original plan, and how it
turned out to be the right thing to do.  And betraying my family's con-
fidences will keep.

Sorry for the digression.  I am realy interested in your answers to these
questions from Gail in <79>:

>Do you have a snap emotional reaction to people who look too fat or too
>thin?

and

>If you had or have a daughter, can you tell which direction would be more
>alarming to you, progressive weight gain or loss?
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #82 of 286: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 8 Jun 01 12:38
    
Thanks, Lori, for responding to my question. I've always though it was
amazingly brave to publish unflattering things about one's loved ones (as
opposed to publishing unflattering things about people one doesn't love),
and I wondered how you'd felt about it.

BTW, there was a passage in the book where your mom's love for you shone
through so strongly that even your 11-year-old self sat up and paid
attention. I wish I'd marked it so I could quote it. Darn. It was when your
mom suddenly came over and held you in her arms when you weren't expecting
it. It was clear you were pleased and warmed by her gesture of love. So I
understand that your parents really WERE doing their best, and I also
understand that -- when filtered through the eyes of a kid -- the telling
of the story is definitely slanted.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #83 of 286: Mary Eisenhart (marye) Fri 8 Jun 01 13:31
    
I just stumbled on this, and yow.

Linda's thing about the LA Stare some zillion posts back sure has a lot
of resonance for me; I'm from LA and, at this point in my life, long
since past caring about that kind of thing, but it sure resonates. It
is also what I stereotypically think of as typical of the reason
junior high school girls should be locked up for about five years....
and a lot of women never outgrow it. 

It's all reminding me of the fact that when I was in 8th grade, roughly,
and at my present height of 5'6", I suddenly and inexplicably lost
interest in eating and dropped to 82 pounds, and stayed that way for
about a year. This freaked my parents out, of course, and they packed
me off to doctor after doctor, who could of course find nothing wrong
with me except I was getting a little anemic. By the time I got to
high school, equally inexplicably, I was eating like a normal human
again.

It definitely wasn't a peer pressure thing, and it wasn't deliberate in
the usual sense. In retrospect, what I think it was was a major Hell No
I Won't Go on the whole business of puberty (which I regarded as a
completely unwanted invasion of my life) and the "ladylike" baggage,
since then as now I found ladylike pursuits and "lady" culture downright
repellent. I liked boys to hang out with, play sports with, etc., not
to get goopy over, and to be precluded from doing so on my former
terms was something I resented a whole lot. (With rare exceptions,
my female contemporaries bored me silly from early childhood. The
exceptions had to do with horses. So the adolescent bitchiness didn't
bother me as much as it could have.)

I now have nieces far more beautiful than I ever was who work hard on
maintaining a state where a strong wind would blow them away. They're
much more socialized than I was, much more popular, etc., and I think
it matters to them what their peers think of them quite a bit, and
what the culture's telling them. For one thing, they live in LA, and
in the sort of neighborhoods and schools where I suspect the LA
Stare is a way of life. It sucks.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #84 of 286: Dr. Leda Horticulture (leroy) Fri 8 Jun 01 14:05
    

I guess it depnds where you live, but where I grew up (Florida) we were
slaves to the twin tyrants of dieting and tanning. Ironically, it was
usually the more intelligent and high-achieving among us who carried both to
horrifying extremes.

For all the books and attention paid lately to the various eating disorders,
I don't see much about the whole tanning syndrome. Where I live now
(Louisiana), almost all of the caucasian women and girls I know are still
slave to the tan, even the ones who manage to rise above the dieting. Maybe
because it's so hot here, arms and legs are bare and exposed much of the
year. But because of the intense heat, it's almost impossible to lie in the
sun long enough to tan, so most women go to tanning salons. They pay an
anverage of $30 per session, several times a week. Even women who've had
skin cnacers removed! Even women who know, intellectually, that they're at
high risk for melanoma. Just like with the vicious starving, they're not
rational about the dangers. Women I know from 10 to 70, they act like they'd
rather die than let the world see them with pale white legs.

At 47, I've long since given up on both the dieting and the tanning, though
for the rest of my life I'll pay the price for both. I have disfiguring
facial scars from squamous cell carcinoma, and smaller scars from the basal
cells. I'm also suffering from painful and progressive scoliosis. Lori, are
you aware of any medical research linking scoliosis with adolescent eating
disorders? I've read something about a suspected link with, maybe, magnesium
deficiency? Lord knows when you're living on chewing gum and diet coke from
ages 10 to 25, you're bound to have some deficiencies.

Still sometimes I have the recurring nightmare: it's the night before the
first day of school. Maybe eighth grade? Tenth? And suddenly, in a panic I
realize I wasted the whole summer, I *forgot* to get tan and lose weight. I
have twelve hours to get the perfect dark even tan and lose 15 pounds. I've
GOT to do it. Somehow, my whole life depends on it. I wake myself gasping
and sweating in terror. That I might have to go to school with fat white
legs. I imagine I'll still be having these nightmares in the nursing home,
if I live so long. It's that brutally and deeply ingrained.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #85 of 286: Mary Eisenhart (marye) Fri 8 Jun 01 14:08
    
I admit it, I was a tanning junkie. But not till I got to college.
I was so tan when I took my PhD exams that one of my professors
said they should flunk me because no one with that tan could have
been studying. I still feel a lot more human when I'm tan, but 
I really can't do it any more.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #86 of 286: Mary Eisenhart (marye) Fri 8 Jun 01 14:49
    
The tan/thin nightmare variant on the today's-the-final-and-I-never-went
to-class nightmare. Holy moly.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #87 of 286: Kelly (kellyhills) Fri 8 Jun 01 15:00
    
Lori wrote:
"...What's fascinating(and becoming quasi-addicting to me) about the
WELL
is that we share very personal information with complete strangers.
... it's not at all the kind
of stuff I think we'd find in each of our journals.  Or am I way off
base here?"

That's always been addicting about IRC/chatting and the internet in
general, at least for me, Lori - being relatively shy, hiding behind a
computer and words is a relief. I can convey myself much more
positively here than in person (tho I'm getting better about that).

Anyhow, what would you find in my journals? Certainly not much about
the topic of looks and eating disorders, tho I do believe I twinged at
one point when I heard someone my husband (he and I are separated) was
dating was a lot thinner than I was. It did made me think "I really do
need to lose these last 50 pounds..." Apparently unlike most people, I
do post my journal online - typing at this point is much easier than
writing (and a lot more legible). However, most people don't have the
links to it - those that do are generally privy to my private thoughts
anyhow.

So, I find that my content does vary. In fact, I recently gave my
husband the link to the journal, which was odd. Most of it is about
him. When writing the other day, I found myself paling and thinking for
a moment - do I actually want him to know that? I went ahead and
posted, but it gave me pause... I can see how most people would have a
very different criteria for what is shared to the public and in more
private settings.

-Kelly
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #88 of 286: this American incuriosity (crow) Fri 8 Jun 01 15:13
    
leroy, that's fascinating. I live in the sunny silicon valley, and there are
TONS of tanning places around here, and tanned women.

I'm lucky. When I was a teenager there wern't sunscreens and I burned like
crazy. Although I grew up in LA, I decided to be "different" and cherish my
palor. Now my skin looks good compared to many women my age.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #89 of 286: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 8 Jun 01 16:31
    
Another former tanning fanatic here. *another* reason goth is cool!
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #90 of 286: Tara (taragl) Fri 8 Jun 01 16:45
    
uh oh, now were on weight AND tanning? I feel my self esteem
plummeting like the mercury in a Canadian thermometer! ;)

I recently returned to office work after 2 years as an at-home mom and
I was shocked at how weight plays such an important role in our office
culture. I don't know if this is universal, but the women in my
department talk about their weight, food intake, exercise and clothing
sizes several times AN HOUR.

The first comment of the day to each woman as she arrives in the state
of her clothing and whether the item is baggy or tight, the size and
how many pounds each has to go to her 'ideal' weight. They take breaks
during the day to run up and down the stairs and one long break for a
jog at lunch. I think they're more than a bit obsessed, but as the only
overweight one, I feel like I'm the one who is wrong.

I am also very interested in Lori's answer to "Do you have a snap
emotional reaction to people who look too fat or too thin?" As an
overwieght woman, when I hear average-sized women make comments like,
"I'm so fat!" I tend to project them onto myself. If she thinks she's
fat, what must she think of me?
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #91 of 286: I have captured you by the short rabbits (hex) Fri 8 Jun 01 19:36
    
I am resonating with everything you all are saying.

In my own experience, when I say I'm too fat, it has nothing to do with
the possibly overweight person in front of me.  I don't think they're WAY
WAY MORE overweight.  My judgments are harsh and exclusively come down on
me.

I have that same horrible goal that so many women seem to have: To lose 25
lbs.  If I lost 25 lbs, I would be within spitting distance of my high
school graduation weight.  I was so skinny then!  Why do I want to be that
thin?

Sigh.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #92 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Sat 9 Jun 01 00:25
    
Since Gail wins the "Most Popular Questions" contest, I'll start with
hers...  

(1)  Do you have a snap emotional reaction to people who look too fat
or too thin?

I think I'm clueless about the former, and hyper-sensitized to the
latter.  Women (who, as I've said earlier, can be the harshest judges
of other women's bodies) often comment about how "fat" another woman
looks, and I'll look at this alleged "fat" woman and scrunch my
eyebrows together into a baffled "Huh?"  On the other side of the
seesaw (I've NEVER said that before - NO IDEA where that came from!), I
often comment on other women's bodies as being too thin.  So I'll say
(judgmentally, I might add!), "God, doesn't she look emaciated?" and
the woman I'm talking to usually shrugs, "Um, she's skinny, but..."  

In other words, no one sees emaciated as a "problem" - which is why
many women make snap emotional judgments about heavy women but not the
ones walking around in a dangerous state of starvation.  LOVELY value
system, no?  

(2) If you had or have a daughter, can you tell which direction would
be more alarming to you, progressive weight gain or loss?

Oh, man - BOTH! If my daughter started using food - either too much or
too little - to compensate for some sort of internal Vietnam, I'd
wonder if I'd done enough to help her feel loved and worthy and
self-confident from an early age. I'd see inordinate (this is key - I
don't mean a few pounds in either direction) weight loss or gain as a
barometer of what's going on inside her head and heart, and excess in
either direction is often a sign of
emptiness/insecurity/depression/rage/you name it.  And it would
abso-f'ing-lutely break my heart if my daughter felt she wasn't good
enough and didn't know how else to express her feelings of deficiency
other than through her body. 

Gail's question also brings up an interesting misconception about "too
much" or "too little": I find the disdain that the two "camps" - fat
people and thin people - have for each other amusing.  In my
oh-so-unprofessional-and-based-only-on-my-experience-opinion, the two
are using food for the same reasons, but simply manifest it
differently.  

What I mean is - You know how people say that you're jealous of people
who are very SIMILAR to you?  Well, I think thin people mock fat
people because they realize how similar these folks are to them. 
They're THIS close to being "one of them" - ask any super-thin person
who's binged uncontrollably all night. And I think that terrifies most
ultra-skinny women.  So to deal with this terror, they mock "heavy"
women and label them as "other."

(3) And is this book opening you to a lot of questions you wish hadn't
been asked, 

Yes and no.  Most people haven't asked anything so "out there" that I
hadn't thought about it myself while putting STICK FIGURE together
(btw, THAT was an interesting time in my life, in terms of "reliving"
the experience of being eleven).  But I'm one of those people who seems
very open - my friends would say I'm extremely open; my "hi" is
usually followed immediately by what seem like extremely intimate or
"revealing" feelings/thoughts/anecdotes - yet I'm actually pretty
private in a lot of ways.  I joke a lot in a say-it-like-it-is-way
about what seem like personal things in my life - I'm very
self-deprecating and irreverent (you'd never know - I sound so freaking
EARNEST when you get me chatting online about body image), a
personality tick that people can mistake for my being "open."  

So, I don't mind the questions, and I think most of them are
reasonable ones that I'D have for an author if I'd read her diaries (I
talk about this in a Salon piece I wrote called, "Enough About Me: Does
Writing Memoir Give People Carte Blanche to Analyze Your life?").  

But that doesn't mean I don't feel a little "icky" or Joyce
Maynard-esque when I answer them in a public forum.  It's like, is a
boundary being crossed here? And sometimes a boundary IS being crossed,
I think.  Like when a reporter asks if I have a boyfriend and I think,
"What does THAT have to do with anything?"  And if I say I'd rather
not answer, they wonder if I'm making some sort of "feminist"
STATEMENT. When the only statement I'm making is, "Butt out (um,
please?)" - I try to be polite, being a reporter myself (professional
courtesy?).  

But then, here I am having a blast answering all these questions on
the WELL.  I guess the bottom line is, I enjoy discussing the issues
and questions the book brings up for people, even if it means talking
about my personal life as it relates to these issues.  It's the
irrelevant stuff I have trouble with.  Or maybe I'm just being a diva
and should answer whatever people ask.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #93 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Sat 9 Jun 01 00:41
    
Molly - I sort of addressed your question in my reply to Gail.  But
one thing about book signings and your "Is it burdensome?" question - 

Because there are often about 60 people in the room at a book signing,
and the whole thing lasts an hour which leaves about 30 minutes for
Q&A (I blabber on about God-knows-what then read a few passages for the
first 30 minutes), not everyone gets his/her question answered.  

So what happens is, people leave their phone numbers and email
addresses with the bookstore events person, who after the signing then
hands me these pieces of paper/business cards (actually, sometimes
people are asking me out on a date - ANOTHER story entirely), and I'm
left with the dilemma - Do I write my articles so I can meet my
deadlines and pay my RENT this month, or do I spend hours and hours
calling/emailing these people who say if only I'd call/email, I'd be
HELPING them so much?  Arg...

Obviously, I want to do the latter, but if I do, I might starve (not
as in anorexia, but as in - no money cuz I'm not doing my job of making
a living).  I shouldn't admit this to a bunch of folks who may read
this and then go to one of signings, but I'm such a sucker for these
requests.  I mean, I'm always calling people or trying to help.  Or my
publisher gets letters and they get forwarded to me: "What should I do?
My daughter/sister/roommate/best friend is on a diet and I think it's
gone too far?"  

How can I not respond to these letters?  I dunno.  A friend said I
should re-read "Codependent No More" - that I'm not taking care of MY
needs and getting my work done.  But, I told her, if I'm answering all
these letters, who has TIME to re-read the friggin' book?

Oh, I should mention, I've had two signings where I had, like, ten
people there.  Once I got over feeling like a complete LOSER, I
actually enjoyed these signings the most.  Lots of time to have a real
discussion... both times I had people arrange their chairs so we were
sitting around in a circle.  Lively, compelling, hilarious Q&A!  Guess
being a loser has its advantages?
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #94 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Sat 9 Jun 01 00:46
    
Mary wrote: In retrospect, what I think it was was a major Hell No
I Won't Go on the whole business of puberty (which I regarded as a
completely unwanted invasion of my life) and the "ladylike" baggage,
since then as now I found ladylike pursuits and "lady" culture
downright repellent. I liked boys to hang out with, play sports with,
etc., not
to get goopy over, and to be precluded from doing so on my former
terms was something I resented a whole lot. (With rare exceptions,
my female contemporaries bored me silly from early childhood. The
exceptions had to do with horses. So the adolescent bitchiness didn't
bother me as much as it could have.)

Oh my God - Mary, you were my teeny-bopper doppelganger!  If you
haven't read my book, you HAVE to read "Part One."  You could have
written it yourself.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #95 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Sat 9 Jun 01 00:53
    
EVERYONE should re-read Tara's post (#90)!  SO TRUE.  

When people ask why I published STICK FIGURE, I say, "Because women
are obsessed with weight - it's pervasive, it's incessant, it's toxic. 
Even if we don't personally care about it in a major way, it's all
around us." And some women say, "Really, do you think so?"  And I'm
like, "What PLANET do you live on?  Planet Denial?"

David - I'm gonna check out your journals when I get a chance.  They
sound cool.
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #96 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Sat 9 Jun 01 00:56
    
Hex - Yeah, women judge their OWN bodies so harshly.  I'll bet you
wouldn't judge your worst enemy's body with HALF as much critical
harshness.  Why do we do this to ourselves?

And I urge you to ask yourself, "If I lost those 25 pounds, would I be
HAPPIER?  I mean, in a substantial way?"  (That is, if you're already
at a relatively healthy weight and losing the 25 pounds has more to do
with a screwed-up sense aesthetics than with health.)
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #97 of 286: Lori Gottlieb (lori-gottlieb) Sat 9 Jun 01 01:02
    
You tanning goddesses?  Two words: skin cancer.  Thing is, I used to
do the tanning thing too.  And I'm like an albino.  (The euphemism for
my skin tone is "porcelain."  As if.)  I stopped right after college,
but by then I'd done major damage to my skin. I used to have a
"routine" - I'd put the oil on, bake on one side for X number of
minutes, go in the pool, bake on the other side for Y number of
minutes.  It's was very ritualized, just like the eating behavior had
been for me years before.

I agree that tanning shares similarities with weight.  Seems we'll do
anything to our bodies - no matter how unhealthy or dangerous - to look
good. Even if we know it can cause CANCER.  Yikes!
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #98 of 286: Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 9 Jun 01 01:05
    

Lori, would you talk a little bit about ritualized behavior?  You mention
it in conjunction with eating and also in conjunction with tanning.  Are
there are areas that women especially behave in a ritualistic
fashion?  Are they related to appearance and weight?
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #99 of 286: Molly Wright Steenson (explode) Sat 9 Jun 01 13:39
    
I wonder too if these ritualized behaviors have to do with power --
power over your own will, power over the way your body looks. Or on the
flip side, powerlessness and obsession over how perfect everything
would be if we just lost 25 pounds. It would all be great. 

As for the way people talk about food and their bodies, I decided to
see what Weight Watchers would be like (like many people here, I think
I'd look better if I were, oh, 15 pounds lighter, like I was a couple
years ago). I hadn't been eating a healthy diet at all, and so I
figured that their regimen would be good for me -- better to eat
healthy than not at all, or just eat junk. 

During the half hour meeting, the 99% female group was chatting about
food as if it were velvet, or sex, or sumptous, or the most beautiful
antique in the world. "sorBEEEEEEEEET!" one woman sighed. Other people
talked about cheese. "Ohhhh, cheeeeese!"

It seemed like the food was almost fetishized. It made me crazy on my
own and obsessive about food in a way I'm usually not. But there was
something about that -- it was like the food was a deep, gorgeous, lust
object. And the people there couldn't have it, couldn't have what they
wanted. 
  
inkwell.vue.112 : Lori Gottlieb - Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self
permalink #100 of 286: Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 9 Jun 01 15:12
    

I used to work for Weight Watchers back in the late seventies, and I
sometimes think that my REAL problems with food started back then with all
the obsessions and food one-upmanship that had never occurred to me
before.  For example, somebody, usually a class leader or the person who
supervised the class leaders would start moaning about some binge they'd
gone on, and instead of sympathizing, someone else would say, "Hey, you
think THAT'S bad, you should have seen the binge *I* went on."  It was
almost a competition to see who could outdo who on the subject of
forbidden foods and quantity consumed.
  

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