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Category Archives: anger

Breaking out is hard to do

I am in an abusive relationship, and I need it to stop.

We’ve been together for a long time. It showed up when I was about twelve, all excited about life and ready to start my teenagerdom, which I would, without a doubt, totally win. I was very much looking forward to this new adventure, which, I was sure, would bring a boyfriend, and the ability to fill out a tank top like no one’s business, and a new cutting-edge teenage attitude.

However, I woke up one morning with a huge red swelling to the right of my mouth. I’m not talking about some cute little blemish. No, sir! Not me! Everything about me has always been very go-big-or-go-home. So I’m talking about – well, have you seen those photoshopped photos, the “before” photos in the late-night acne product commercials? I mean, you can tell they’re photoshopped. The eyes always look like they’re on the wrong level, and the acne looks cartoonish. Well, I looked like one of the cartoonish acne before-photos on late-night television.

I have my doubts about Proactiv. I think if you need to market on television at 3 am, you probably aren't very good.

I have my doubts about Proactiv. I think if you need to market on television at 3 am, you probably aren’t very good.

Mom and Dad were all “uh-oh, sorry for the genetics, kiddo” because there are very few photos of them from high school, but the ones there are show a couple of pretty miserable teenagers with really rocky complexions.

Well! This was not acne’s only appearance. Oh, no! It decided once it arrived, it’d set up shop. It was like those disgusting phlegm-monsters in that cough medicine commercial that makes me disgusted. It packed little greasy suitcases and moved on in. My face was its resort town, and it decided to live it on up. No part of my face was exempt, either! Forehead and nose and chin and cheeks! Once, close enough to my lip so it swelled up as if I’d been stung by a bee! Sometimes, right on TOP of each other, like it was living in little apartment buildings! Sometimes? In my ears, so my ears would swell up like a boxer’s! And sometimes it’d take little vacations and move onto my back or chest! And it HURT. Imagine huge swellings on your face and back and chest, sometimes more than one in the same place, as if you’ve been stung by a number of angry wasps. OUCH.

Ugh, seriously, I hate these commercials. STOP MAKING MUCUS TALK.

Ugh, seriously, I hate these commercials. STOP MAKING MUCUS TALK.

It got so bad at one point, someone stopped me in the hallway at school and asked me what had happened. “With what?” I asked. “Were you in a fire?” he asked, in a hushed tone. In a fire! Well. Isn’t that nice! YOU MADE ME LOOK LIKE A THIRD-DEGREE BURN VICTIM, ACNE. What the hell did I ever do to you?

Thanks for the reminder, helpful sign!

Thanks for the reminder, helpful sign!

My parents, who’d suffered through the same thing, finally were grossed out enough that they brought me to a dermatologist, who visibly recoiled when I walked through the door. Nothing ups the self-esteem like having a doctor who DEALS with such things for a LIVING recoil as if you’re Frankenstein’s MONSTER.

BACK! BACK I SAY CHILD OF SATAN! Oh, it's my next patient, come on in, then.

BACK! BACK I SAY CHILD OF SATAN! Oh, it’s my next patient, come on in, then.

Back in the late 80s, if you had terrible skin, they prescribed you Retin-A. I don’t know if they still do such a thing. (Apparently they do, but don’t have babies while using it, or their skulls will be too soft, and I assume babies with Play-Doh skulls are bad. Also don’t get waxed, or it will PULL YOUR TOP LAYER OF SKIN OFF. Good grief.) I also got this…I don’t know, alcohol solution I had to dab onto my face. These things had to happen every morning and every night after I washed my face. Also, I wasn’t allowed to go out in the sun, or if I HAD to go out in the sun, I had to wear like SPF 1,000 sunscreen. (Retin-A thins the top layer of your skin. Somehow this stops your acne. I am not a doctor. I don’t know how that works. But this skin-thinning thing also makes you burn in the sun, and you can’t get waxed, and your face gets really, really red when you first start using it.)

Good grief, it still looks the same 20 years later. Who's your PR person, Retin-A? Time for a packaging overhaul!

Good grief, it still looks the same 20 years later. Who’s your PR person, Retin-A? Time for a packaging overhaul!

I was somewhat skeptical, but at that point, I would pretty much try anything.

Well! Come to find out, RETIN-A WAS MADE OF MAGIC. I don’t remember how long it took, but one day I woke up and although my face was a little red (and I had to hide in the shadows like a vampire-person) I HAD NO ACNE. All the acne had taken off for sunnier climes. I LOOKED LIKE A HUMAN AGAIN. At one point, I even got a – GASP! – BOYFRIEND. (A few of them, actually. Well, not at the same TIME, I wasn’t a teenage WHORE. They were nothing to write home about, in retrospect, but at the time I felt like this was the BEST THING EVER.) One of my mom’s friends, when she and my mom were talking about my skin problems one day, said, “Amy has skin problems? You’d never know! I was just saying to my husband the other day she has just the most beautiful complexion!”

I HAD WON! I HAD BEATEN ACNE!

Yes, I looked JUST LIKE THIS! Oh, wait, no, Retin-A doesn't turn you into a model. Sorry. Sorry.

Yes, I looked JUST LIKE THIS! Oh, wait, no, Retin-A doesn’t turn you into a model. Sorry. Sorry.

I stopped using the medication in college – my doctor didn’t think I needed it anymore, and it was very expensive on our prescription plan – and all was well for quite some time.

Until probably four or five years ago.

Acne! YOU TRICKED ME! What IS this shit?

Apparently, what this shit is, is ADULT acne. It is ACNE that appears when you are an ADULT. It is the ghost of terrible complexions past COMING BACK TO HAUNT YOU.

Oh, stop. I had to.

Oh, stop. I had to.

It’s not as bad as it was when I was younger – oh, thank goodness – but it’s very hard to be almost 40 years old and have the occasional breakouts of a teenage face. It’s very embarrassing. I mean, yes. Odds are good that people aren’t going to make fun of you now (what kind of asshole mocks you for breakouts when you’re an adult? we know better now) and you know (hopefully, at least, if you’re female, although I’m sure men can use cover stick if they want to) tricks with makeup to downplay the fact you’ve got a gigantic blemish on your chin or your cheek or whatever.

And NOW, adult acne, you complete wanker, you have decided to pop up OVER ONE OF MY EYES and I’m waking up with ONE EYE SWOLLEN SHUT EVERY MORNING BECAUSE OF YOU and it takes like TWO HOURS for that swelling to go down and I LOOK LIKE SOMEONE BEAT ME UP or maybe THE ELEPHANT MAN. Dude, I have to go out in PUBLIC like this. SOMEONE IS GOING TO ASK ME WHAT IS WRONG. “Oh, just a gigantic pimple above my eye, like normal almost-middle-aged women get all the time,” is a thing I will not love to say at all.

I look a little like Rick from the Walking Dead after he got all beat up, which is nice, right? Very classy.

I look a little like Rick from the Walking Dead after he got all beat up, which is nice, right? Very classy.

My mother’s still getting you adult acne. SHE IS IN HER 60s. THIS IS NOT RIGHT. Somehow, my dad avoided this and his torment ended when he was in his late teens, but me and my mom? We’re still sporting the skin of teens. Sad, sad teens who don’t get asked to the prom.

Acne, you’re going to have to take a hike. I think I’m too old for Retin-A (and at this point in my life, if I don’t get waxed, I’d have a whole other problem to deal with, called My Eyebrows Have a Mind of Their Own and Would Make Me Look Like a Yeti) but there must be another solution. And I’m calling a dermatologist. Tomorrow.

You don’t get to win, bub. I have an excellent prescription plan this time, and I’m a lot angrier than I was when I was a teenager. If you’re not going to leave, I’m going to kick you out. I’m changing the damn LOCKS this time, acne! I am not going to my grave with you still in my life!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go figure out the best eyeshadow to go with one normal eye, and one eye swollen 3/4 of the way shut. I’m thinking a kicky bejeweled eyepatch. Arr, matey. Walk the plank.

Pretty sure everyone would just think it was a fashion statement and not ask me what was going on, right? Right.

Pretty sure everyone would just think it was a fashion statement and not ask me what was going on, right? Right.

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They’ll hate you for it, but that’s the point of Batman; he can be the outcast.

OK, so yesterday we talked about how non-outraged I was about Miley Cyrus. From the comments, it seems most of you were about as meh on that as I was (or maybe you were super-outraged but too shy to speak up. FEEL FREE TO SPEAK UP! I promise I won’t bite. I only get mad at tornadoes of constant negative energy, passive-aggressive ragemonsters, and trolls. If you want to disagree with me, I’m cool with that. Hell, Jim used to disagree with me on the regular, and I still think he’s just the best, even if he’s dead to Dad and Dad called him “that cigar-chomping fancyman” last night.)

Let’s see how offended you are that I WASN’T offended by the other thing that didn’t offend me recently.

Yes.

It’s true.

I am not at all offended by Ben Affleck being chosen to play Batman in the new Batman vs. Superman movie.

I KNOW. TAKE AWAY MY GEEK CARD RIGHT NOW.

I have many reasons for this decision.

REASON THE FIRST: I WON’T WATCH THE MOVIE ANYWAY

I don’t care for superhero movies. When I was young, I’m sure I watched some. I think I watched one or two of the original Superman movies. I liked Michael Keaton as Batman; Clooney and Kilmer, not so much. As an adult, I watched The Avengers because Joss Whedon (and honestly didn’t get most of it because I hadn’t seen the movies it referenced, except for Iron Man.) I’ve watched the first two Iron Man movies, because SHUT UP, is why. I’m crazy in love with Robert Downey Jr. and I love him in that role. He makes me so happy. I might have accidentally watched some of one of the X-Men movies but I didn’t care. I watched the first two Batman movies (the Christian Bale ones, I mean) because I wanted to see the second one (because I’d heard so much about Heath Ledger’s Joker) so I wanted to know what was going on so I watched the first one. Was there a third one? I feel like maybe there was. I didn’t care enough to watch that. They were fine. I liked the dark grittiness and the lack of camp. But superhero movies and me – eh.

Those EYES. The FACIAL HAIR. The SNARKERY. I am head-over-heels for this man. Sincerely.

Those EYES. The FACIAL HAIR. The SNARKERY. I am head-over-heels for this man. Sincerely.

Thing is, I like superheroes. I don’t know why, exactly, I don’t like superhero movies. I think I like them in the abstract more than in the flesh, or something. Because the special effects are usually silly, and what seems noble just comes across as cheesy.

So right now you’re like, “THEN WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE?” I’m a loudmouth with a blog, and I’ve had to listen to you all screaming about how terribly Ben Affleck’s going to ruin the WHOLE WOOOOOOOORLD, is who I am. So I get to judge, just as much as you do. Back off, grumbly.

REASON THE SECOND: PEOPLE HAVE WAY TOO MUCH DAMN FREE TIME

Seriously, you all got SHOUTY. Like, BEYOND shouty. It was kind of frightening to watch. People immediately fell into two camps: the “Affleck? AFFLECK? IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD!” people, and the “Meh, give the guy a chance” people.

You guys. YOU GUYS. You know it’s just a movie, right? Like, yes, I get it, people get all invested in their stories. I get it. I guess I just don’t have that in me. I mean, I was super-sad when the movie version of A Prayer for Owen Meany was THE WORST THING EVER ZOMG, but I didn’t go online and put up memes about how we needed to murder Ashley Judd, either. THERE ARE MEMES ABOUT MURDERING BEN AFFLECK. OVER A ROLE IN A MOVIE.

THIS IS NOT OK. This is a MARRIED MAN WHO HAS CHILDREN. What the hell is WRONG with you people?

THIS IS NOT OK. This is a MARRIED MAN WHO HAS CHILDREN. What the hell is WRONG with you people? Yes, I KNOW it’s a movie quote. THAT IS NOT THE POINT HERE.

Guys, I’m all for geeky passion. I totally am. I am one of you. I AM ONE OF YOUR CROWD. I am passionate about uncool shit. I was a geek back when that was an INSULT. But there’s geeky passion…then there’s taking the express train to crazytown. I think a few of you took the express train to crazytown when the Affleck announcement came out. I’d like to say I’m not judging you? But that’d be a lie. I totally am.

(You do know that Ben Affleck is a real person with FEELINGS, right? And that by screaming how much you hate him and how terrible of an actor/person he is ALL OVER THE INTERWEBS, his feelings are probably getting a little tender? “WHO CARES HE CAN DRY HIS TEARS WITH HIS MILLIONS!” Yeah, shut up. People with money have feelings, too. And it’s shitty to be that mean to ANYONE.)

OK, here’s the third point, and here’s where you all start yelling at me; I don’t even care. I stand by this one.

REASON THE THIRD: I THINK BEN AFFLECK IS A GOOD ACTOR

Shush. JUST SHUSH.

Yes. I am aware that he’s done some questionable movies. Can you think of a single actor who has a long resume who DIDN’T do some questionable movies? I can’t think of a single actor who’s only been in hits his or her whole career. Acting’s a tough game, kiddos. Sometimes you take roles because you need the money; sometimes you take roles because you owe the director or producer or production company a favor; sometimes you take roles because going into it, it seemed like a different role/movie/production/play than the final product proves to be; sometimes you take roles because you’re guaranteed exposure, or because you want the opportunity to work with a certain actor/director/producer and don’t know when you’ll get that chance again, or because if you do this project, the Powers That Be might look kindly on you for another (good) project.

I’m the first to admit I haven’t seen everything Affleck’s been in (I mean, seriously, the guy’s been in a lot of movies) but I’ve seen more Affleck movies than a lot of other actors’ movies…and that’s saying a lot, considering I don’t watch movies much anymore. I have enough to do to keep up with all the television I watch.

I just looked at his IMDb. I’ve seen all of his Kevin Smith movies. I’ve also seen Pearl Harbor, 200 Cigarettes, Shakespeare in Love, Armageddon, Phantoms, Good Will Hunting, and Dazed and Confused. I have Argo sitting here, but I haven’t seen it yet. I also saw Gone Baby Gone, which he directed. I’ve seen him every time he’s hosted Saturday Night Live.

No, I didn’t see the movies people like to shout about when they’re all “OMG NOT AFFLECK!!1!” like Gigli and Daredevil and Reindeer Games. I know people point out Jersey Girl as one of the bad movies. I didn’t think Jersey Girl was one of Smith’s best films, but I didn’t hate it like most people did. I thought it was fine. A bad Kevin Smith movie is still, for me, leaps and bounds above a lot of other movies.

Here’s the thing, you guys. I’m a fan of Affleck’s work. I think he’s come a long way. I think he was good to begin with, if a little raw; I think he’s matured into a very poised, talented man, and his directing proves this. His acting has also matured.

(I also think he’s come a long way since the Bennifer days, and I didn’t think he’d bounce back from that. Good for him.)

Thing is, I liked him before. I liked him when he was a goofball in the early Kevin Smith movies, and I think he has one of the single most affecting moments in my favorite Smith movie, which is Dogma. You’re all probably going to say “WHATEVER! CHEESY!” but the scene where he meets up with God (yes, the Alanis Morissette God) and he realizes she’s forgiven him, and is going to send him home, and he apologizes with that little catch in his throat, and thanks her, and just breaks down?

This scene. This one RIGHT HERE.

This scene. This one RIGHT HERE.

Every time, you guys. Every damn time. I don’t care what you think about the movie or that scene or Affleck as an actor; I find that tremendously powerful. When I think about Affleck as an actor, that’s the scene that immediately comes to mind. That scene cemented him in my mind as someone to watch.

I also think he does tremendous work in Shakespeare in Love. It’s not the lead role, but when he’s on-screen, you watch him. You can’t help but. He commands the screen. He’s funny and brash and intelligent and he’s a damn MOVIE star. You can SEE that in him.

I also sometimes get "Gentlemen upstage, ladies downstage...are you a lady, Mr. Kent?" stuck in my head in Ned Alleyn's sing-song and it makes me grin EVERY TIME.

I also sometimes get “Gentlemen upstage, ladies downstage…are you a lady, Mr. Kent?” stuck in my head in Ned Alleyn’s sing-song and it makes me grin EVERY TIME.

And as we all know? He was the bomb in Phantoms, yo.

(And shut up, I LOVE ARMAGEDDON. It makes me cry. IT MAKES ME CRY SO HARD. No, not because of the Affleck parts, because of the daddy/daughter parts, but I don’t hate Affleck in that, either. I actually like that movie quite a bit, when I’m in the mood for an end-of-the-world type thing or when I’m flipping channels and it happens to be on.)

I think the guy can act; I think the guy can direct.

Do I think the guy can play Batman?

I DON’T KNOW. And neither do you. NEITHER DO ANY OF YOU.

Seriously. SERIOUSLY.

For everyone who’s ever played a superhero, there have been people who screamed, “NOOOOOO!” Those people are sometimes right and sometimes wrong. As people are.

(And if I’m remembering correctly, the internet was pretty split on the performance of the new guy who’s playing Superman, right? Henry Cavill, or whatever? So a lot of you are going into the movie not even liking SUPERMAN, for the love of Pete!)

I sincerely hope that Affleck turns in a kickass performance in this movie. As mentioned, I probably won’t watch it. I just don’t care about superhero movies. (I do, however, love me some Affleck, so there’s the chance I might watch it on DVD or Netflix or something someday.)

But in the meantime?

PLEASE TRY TO KEEP YOUR NERDRAGE TO A REASONABLE LEVEL. Wait until it comes out, and judge the movie RATIONALLY on its MERITS. Don’t go in all pissy-faced and PREPARED to hate it. That’s the sure way to hate something. I’m a REVIEWER, you guys. You need to go into something all clean-slatey. It’s the best way to judge something. I’m telling you. It’s only fair. I GET PAID TO REVIEW THINGS ON THE REGULAR.

Let the guy ACT, you know? It is not life-or-death. He has not been tasked with operating on Betty White or coordinating a tactical strike on Yemen or something. IT IS A ROLE IN A MOVIE. I know it’s a BELOVED role, but it’s also a role played by THIS guy…

(Sigh, Kilmer…you will always and forever be my Tombstone boyfriend, but this made me laugh so hard I cried.)

So…seriously. Not at all life or death.

Calm it down, ok? Thanks.

Because it’s not going to change anything. Affleck knows what’s up.


The road less travelled by may make all the difference but the low road is a LOT more tempting.

I try very hard to take the high road.

I have not always been this person. I consider life a work in progress; there is always room to grow and improve. So, yes. In the past, I may not have been a high-road kind of gal. And there are times that, even now, I take a walk down on that low road. It’s often Frost’s road-more-travelled by, which makes it the easier choice, even though I know it will make me feel disgusting and dirty and have trouble getting to sleep at night.

A heavy conscience makes for a terrible bedfellow, you see. Always stealing the sheets and the cool side of the pillow. Always kicking you in the small of the back, right smack where your kidneys are. Talking just as you’re nodding off and then saying, “Oh, I’m sorry, were you trying to sleep?” in a totally mock-innocent tone.

Taking the high road may not be the easier option, but it’s the one that makes you feel better about yourself. It’s the one that allows you to sleep at night. (Well, most of you. Sometimes I can’t sleep at night for no reason at all. Just because. It’s the fun of having a messed-up brain, you see.)

However, some days it’s a hell of a lot harder than others. (No. Not even close to being a euphemism. But a very good euphemism, were it to be one.)

Some days, you try very hard to stay up on that high road, but you just keep getting pushed down to the lower one. And all that pushing, well, it gets a little infuriating. And I don’t deal well with being pushed, people. Not even a little bit.

I honestly just wrote an entire post explaining exactly what happened, with links and all. Then I rewrote it, in more passive-aggressive terms, leaving out the links. Then I re-read it. And I deleted every bit of it.

High road. This fucking high fucking road.

People who attempt to tell me what to say, think, do, or feel, and then, when I balk against being put in this cage of their expectations of me, hate me for not lemming my way right off the cliff with them: these people make it very, VERY hard for me to stay on the high road.

This is as close as I can come to coming right out and explaining exactly why I’m furious right now without coming off the high road with a huge fucking crash.

The internet has felt less and less like a fun place to be and more and more like navigating an obstacle course filled with live landmines lately. BAM! You angered someone with a benign comment. BOOM! You found yourself in the middle of a pissing war between two people you barely know. KA-POW! You’re being called a bad person for speaking up, but not saying the right thing. Or not speaking up at all. Or for saying the right thing, but not worded the way someone would have liked. Or one of a million different things you can do wrong in a day. And each day is really, really long. There are a lot of places you can step in it. Or ON it. And then you’re vaporized.

And there are a lot of times you just want to go live in a cave with no internet service and just kind of rock and randomly hit your head against the wall.

High road. HIGH FUCKING ROAD.

Listen. I had something amazing happen this week. Something utterly out-of-the-blue unexpected amazing. I don’t have time to be furious. I don’t have time to be caught up in your reindeer games of petty grievances and “you’re doing it wrong” and your constant fucking NEGATIVITY. I want to bask in this awesome thing. Just for a little bit. I want to look at this thing that happened and say, “Look. This happened. This thing that you had pretty much given up on ever happening? This HAPPENED.” And I want to grin like a moron. And I want to cry happy tears over it. And I want to belt stupidly cheerful songs to and from work at the top of my lungs and scare the other drivers. And I want to fucking REVEL in the fact that yes, there is still MAGIC in the world, and somehow, I CAUGHT SOME OF IT.

I do not want to spend the day dealing with being passive-aggressively called out on someone’s blog I DON’T EVEN KNOW for not being, doing, acting, behaving, whatever-ing the way they would do it, and therefore, being found lacking. Being found a bad person because I’m not the person THEY are. The perfect person they are, who (obviously!) has it all figured out. What do they have figured out? Well! How to fix all the world’s ills, of course. And if I’m not part of the solution, I’m obviously part of the precipitate problem. I’m part of the problem. And you know what we do with problems, don’t you, kiddos? We internet-shame them. Because that is what we do in this day and age. It is how we get our problems to shut up and go away; by making them feel small in front of a large studio audience.

Here’s the thing.

I’m not part of the problem. I’m a human being. I’m a human being with feelings. I’m a human being not ONLY with feelings – but with empathy. Empathy which, I’m sorry to say, even extends to those who shame me on the internet and seem to have only the most tenuous grasp on that which the rest of us call “reality.”

So I will not call this person out. I will not link to the post where she calls ME out. I will stay up here on my high road. I will sit here and I will let this fury go. I will let this fury go, and I will hold onto the fact that this week, a very, very good thing happened. Something so good that, if you had asked me last week, “What’s the one thing you want? I mean, more than anything?” I’d have said this thing, like, as a stretch? Like, you say things like “I’d like a million dollars!” or “A trip around the world!” because you know you’ll never get them but we’re taught to shoot the moon when wishing for things.

I got my fucking shoot-the-moon wish this week.

And I’m going to sit here on my high road, and nothing, absolutely nothing, is going to drag me down from it.

And I do so sincerely hope that once you’ve shamed people publicly on the internet, you can sleep at night knowing you’re on the side of truth, justice, and the Merkan way.

Because I know I’ll be sleeping soundly.

Up here on my high road.

With a huge smile on my face.


You’re gonna carry that weight; carry that weight a long time

I was a skinny kid. Photos of me from back then are all pigtails and smeary glasses and I’m usually covered in mud. And I’m sometimes brandishing things like frogs or buckets of mucky water, for whatever reason. I probably had a plan for those buckets. Maybe I was going to put the frog in them. I don’t know.

Then puberty hit. You can’t fight science, people. I come from hearty peasant stock on both sides of my family. Dad’s side are all, in his words, “built like tops – big on the top, skinny on the bottom.” (I attempted to explain to him that’s not exactly how tops work, and also we don’t spin very well, but he was all “WE ARE LIKE TOPS!” so who am I to argue with him?) and my mom’s side are all built like the Goddess of Willendorf. Curvy doesn’t even begin to explain it. Genetics decided I needed a little of both, apparently.

Now, Dad had been heavy growing up, and teased about it mercilessly. He lost quite a bit of weight when he married my mother (who was, and remains, thin; she’s the only one in her family that is.) Dad saw that I was starting to gain weight and immediately feared that I was going to be teased about it at school.

His solution? Constantly watch everything I put in my mouth, tell me how disgusting being fat was, tell me I needed to be working out and/or being active every single minute of every single day, tell me I was never going to find anyone to love me if I was fat, and call me things like “elephant.” If I got upset about this, he was genuinely confused. “I just want you to be happy,” he’d say. “I just want you to be pretty and thin.”

Now, I don’t know what size you’re imagining me in high school, but if I remember correctly, I was about a size twelve. A twelve. I was probably around…oh, I don’t know. 140 pounds, maybe? 150? Just about the thinnest I’ve ever been in my adulthood, anyway. I certainly wasn’t fat. And I’m fairly tall. 5’8.

I WAS COMPLETELY NORMAL.

However, years and years of being told, by the person you love and admire most in the whole world, that you are ugly, fat and worthless, take their toll. My self-esteem, never overly good to begin with, wasn’t getting much better.

Senior year, I was tired of being so ugly and fat (although I was neither – I look at photos of myself from that time and think “GOOD GRIEF, WHY DIDN”T YOU REALIZE HOW GORGEOUS YOU WERE?!?!”) and went on a crash diet. This diet was basically a bowl of cereal at breakfast and a can of Chinese vegetables at dinner. Sometimes some chicken. No lunch. This was what I ate every day for about 8 months. I worked out for hours at a time daily. I lost about fifty pounds. I could see my hipbones and my ribs and my cheekbones. My collarbones were so prominent I would sometimes accidentally bump them and leave bruises.

It was the first time my father ever told me I was beautiful. He followed it with “See? All you had to do was lose weight. I knew you were beautiful underneath that.”

I was starving. I had headaches constantly. I was tired all the time. But I was THIN. Boys were paying attention to me. One of my teachers told me, “Don’t you dare ever gain weight again. Don’t you DARE” which at the time I was all “Aw, nice!” and now, looking back, I’m all, “Um. CREEPSTER!”

I think you can see where this is going. Can anyone maintain that kind of diet and exercise regimen in the long-term? And not get scurvy? And not go CRAZY? I mean, I couldn’t eat ANYTHING. I was counting the calories in CORNSTARCH. I’m not even kidding you about this. This is not a way to live a life.

I gained the weight back over about a year. I felt terrible shame. I’d let everyone down. I was disgusting. I was ugly and fat again. I had no self-esteem; I didn’t like to go out in public, I didn’t like to go out with my friends, I didn’t date because who would have me? I drank a lot, though. Liquid courage, right? Mmm-hmm. Works every time, except when you start needing it for everything, ever. Like getting out of bed in the morning, or to get to sleep at night. Or for everything in between.

I’ve fluctuated in weight ever since. Sometimes I’m heavier; sometimes I’m lighter. And here’s the thing; as I age, it matters less to me. I still don’t love what I see in the mirror every day; I still see photos of myself and think, “Good grief, that’s an unflattering photo.” I still have residual shame. I still think “If only I was thinner, life would be easier, in a million different ways.” But it’s not a daily thing. It’s not even all that often anymore.

And before you start to hate him, Dad understands, and has repeatedly apologized, for what he did when I was younger. I often think most of parenting is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants affair. He really, truly thought he was doing the right thing. He thought he was stopping me from the ridicule he’d experienced as a teen. He didn’t realize – and did anyone, back then? – the long-standing effect that kind of treatment would have on my psyche. I’ve forgiven him. He doesn’t say a word now. And he’s said, without prompting, many times since, that I’m beautiful – no matter what size I am. He loves his daughter.

We live in a culture where it is not allowed (well, it still happens, but it’s not appropriate) to make racial jokes, or jokes about someone’s sexuality, or mental illness. But we’re still allowed to make fat jokes. Because fat jokes are funny. Fat PEOPLE are funny, right? Because, well, we CHOSE this. We chose this because we eat ALL the Twinkies and chips and cake and pie and sit around all day doing nothing. We chose this, and because we are fat, we are lazy and we also smell. Of course we do! And sometimes we fall. Ha ha! How funny!

So the best thing to do is make fun of us. To shame us. Because, as this VERY scientific study proves, it’s the only way to make us get off our lazy asses and get thin. Thin and therefore healthy. Oh, because, I don’t know if you’re aware – if you’re fat, you’re immediately unhealthy. There’s no such thing as a healthy fat person. We’re all one HoHo away from our first (or second, or third, or last) coronary. So the thing to do is shame us. According to this “prominent bioethicist” (I don’t see “ethics” coming into this at all) what you should say to any fat people you know, I mean, if you care about them at all, is “If you are overweight or obese, are you pleased with the way that you look?” Because of COURSE they’re not! And they just didn’t realize it until you shamed them! Oh, what a favor you are doing for them. They will thank you on the finish line of their first triathalon! They will shout your name from the top of Kilimanjaro!

Or they might tell you to shut your nosy piehole. Because I’m going to tell you something right now, and if you take anything away from this, I want it to be this.

My body, his body, her body, their bodies – anyone’s body but your own – ARE NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.

I don’t care if you’re fat-shaming them, thin-shaming them (yes, it exists, please read sj’s amazing post about it, and the comments, and I know from personal experience, as I have a dear loved one who has constantly been picked on about being too thin, which she can help JUST about as much as I can help my body shape, so it’s real) or ANYTHING shaming-them, or if you say you’re doing it because you’re worried about their health, or what, exactly, your impetus for putting your nose in someone else’s business is. You have no right. None. You have no right to tell them they should lose weight (unless you are their doctor, and even then, sometimes, it gets worrisome, because there are some doctors who prescribe weightloss as an easy out for everything from asthma to a sprained toe because they don’t treat the patient, they just see a fat person and think, “I KNOW WHAT’S WRONG IT IS FATNESS!”); you have no right to say things about their lifestyle choices, their clothing choices, who they’re dating, what they’re eating, how loud they’re talking, or anything whatsoever. Keep your eyes on your own test, buckaroo. I’m sure you have something you’re not proud of. Would you like someone walking up to you and saying, “Man, that’s a huge nose you have there. You should get that surgically reduced. You know, for health reasons.” Or, “I noticed you have a very small penis, Man I’m About to Have Sex With. Have you thought about getting that surgically enhanced? You know, for health reasons?” IT WOULD BE THE SAME THING.

Here’s some Fun With Fat-Shaming. Don’t even think I didn’t research the hell out of this.

First, we have Kate Upton. Who is, I think we can all agree, STUNNINGLY GORGEOUS.

She also really likes bikini shots, so it was hard to find a photo of her clothed. Hell, good for her. She is smoking hot.

She also really likes bikini shots, so it was hard to find a photo of her clothed. Hell, good for her. She is smoking hot.

Well! Were you also aware she is “well-marbled,” “thick,” “vulgar,” and – this one’s my favorite – a “little piggie?” Or – well, how about a whole paragraph of hate? Sure!

Huge thighs, NO waist, big fat floppy boobs, terrible body definition – she looks like a squishy brick. Is this what American women are “striving” for now? The lazy, lardy look? Have we really gotten so fat in this country that Kate is the best we can aim for? Sorry, but: eww!

YES! She has been called out as too fat to model by a VERY reputable blog site called Skinny Gossip. Two things I loathe! People who judge others’ bodies and gossip! (Also, she tagged the post with “fatties” and “thunder thighs,” because, well, why not?)

Guess why she’s not model-material? BECAUSE SHE’S NORMAL-HUMAN SIZED. Well, no. She’s actually quite a bit less than normal human sized, as normal humans are, what, a size 12 now? 14? Something like that? I don’t think she’s that size. But she’s not waif-thin, and apparently, Skinny Gossip thinks that’s what size you have to be to model clothing.

Psst, Skinny Gossip, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS. She’s stunning. And it can’t possibly make you feel any better about yourself to call people pigs, can it? Really? Do you sleep well at night knowing you put something like that out there in the world? That kind of hate?

Next: employees at CVS will now be forced to take a BMI test and a blood-glucose screen to remain on their healthcare plan, or risk a fine. Why?

The company’s rationale? Coercing employees to submit to health testing will provide incentive for workers to get—and stay—in shape.

Huh. “Coercing.” Forcing, really, because the fine is $600 and they don’t pay much above minimum to work at CVS. And what happens once you take the test? Do you have to see a counselor about your totally fat fatness? Are you told if you don’t lose weight, you’ll be let go? Are your test results posted in the breakroom next to a photo of a bag of Cheetos with a red circle and a line through it? WHO KNOWS.

Or, how about, let’s fat-shame our children with this new ad campaign? Because there’s nothing that kids need more than to be shamed. I mean, it’s worked out so well for me, right?

Please read the article that accompanies this photo. It’s kickass. It has excellent examples of fat-shaming. HEARTBREAKING examples. And, sadly, TRUE examples. People think it is ok to walk up to perfect strangers in the grocery store and QUESTION THEIR FOOD CHOICES.

(True story: I had a woman come up to me in the grocery store and tell me she worked for Herbalife and they had an excellent line of diet pills I might like to try. First thought: shame. Second thought: WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE. Second thought won out over first thought; I told her I was not at all interested in a pyramid scheme for products that don’t work in the first place, and I was sorry she felt the need to walk up to strangers and judge their body type, and walked away. She was offering them to the next woman that walked past as I checked out. So apparently my words meant nothing.)

So, anyway. Yes, that’s an ad campaign for (well, against, I guess) childhood obesity, targeting overweight children. Because they probably aren’t aware they’re fat. So let’s do a whole ad campaign for it. That’s a good way to help kids with positive self-esteem. Way to go, guys.

Of course, there’s also good old Southwest Airlines, who expect their fat passengers to spring for two seats. And even their not-so-fat passengers. Whoever THEY deem as a little too fat. They SAY it’s if the passenger can’t put the armrests down, but as Kevin Smith found out a few years ago, that’s not it at all – it’s racial profiling, only with your weight. It’s fat-profiling. He was able to put his armrests down; the passengers on either side of him told the flight attendant they had plenty of room. They still kicked him off the plane. And when he got back on a later flight that they hurriedly put him on once they realized who he was and that he was tweeting millions of people about this practice, they fat-profiled another person, then put her in his row, so she’d tell him about it, and he’d know it wasn’t just him, and feel better.

DEFINITELY taking up way too much room. He should have purchased the WHOLE DAMN PLANE. *eyeroll*

DEFINITELY taking up way too much room. He should have purchased the WHOLE DAMN PLANE. *eyeroll*

Yes! Because nothing makes us feel better than to be shamed in front of a crowd of people than to do it to someone else. NOTHING. (I read his book Tough Shit recently which went in detail into the incident, and my heart just broke for him. Because no matter what you think of Kevin Smith – you all know I think he’s fantastic, but you can hate him if you want, just don’t tell me about it, ok? – when that happened, he was just an average guy, being fat-shamed in front of a full airplane of people. Worse, he was a FAMOUS guy being fat-shamed in front of a crowd of people, and if it was an average guy, it might be a laugh or two, but with a famous person, it’s news, you know? He took control of the news and labeled it “too fat to fly” himself – he’s very good at self-deprecating – but it hurt. Of course it did. Because no matter who you are, where you are in the world, being shamed for your body size is not something you can laugh off. It just isn’t. The shame should be on Southwest Airlines, not the people they’re profiling.)

Then there’s this. I can’t embed a Facebook thread, so sadly, you will have to click. Here’s a screenshot, though, because pretty pictures, right?

Now, you have to click to see the comments. The comments are really what makes this. Because this STARTS OUT as normal, then this person shows up who hates fat people. HATES THEM. Only, no no! She doesn’t HATE them. She has MANY FAT FRIENDS! (Does this sound at all like someone who makes a lot of racist comments, then says, “What? I’m not a racist! I have MANY MANY BLACK FRIENDS!” Yeah, to me, too.) So she starts writing things like “no, it’s a known fact that all fat people are unhealthy and many doctors refuse to operate on them because, well, they’ll just die on the table. Because, well, fat, you know?”

Don’t worry. There are some kickass commenters on there. They give her the smackdown. She doesn’t ever shut up, but they win intelligence. She doesn’t win anything but idiocy and mouth-flappery.

This is, by the way, called “concern-trolling.” It’s like being a troll, only you’re pretending it’s because you CARE. Isn’t that nice? A whole new way to be a douchecanoe!

Sara, from Laments and Lullabies, wrote an amazing post recently about fat-shaming, which you all should read. Her post, and the terrible comments on that Facebook post up there, were what finally made me realize I needed to write my own post. Here’s her post. You should all a., read, and b., comment. Oh, and c., follow her blog.

There are more. There are so many more. But this is edging into way too many words for a Saturday territory, and also I’d like to get to bed at some point.

I will leave you with some bullet points. Because, who doesn’t like bullet points, am I right?

  • Other people’s bodies are none of your business. Keep your words off them. Unless you’re telling them they’re beautiful. Everyone likes that shit. Even if they pretend they don’t.
  • Pretending you’re “worried about someone’s health” is not an excuse for commenting on someone’s weight, whether they’re heavy or thin. Again, see the first bullet point. Even if they’re naked with you, their size is none of your business. Whose business is it then, Amy? THEIRS. No one’s but theirs.
  • Making fat jokes is a., not funny, and b., lazy. There are actual funny things in the world to point out. Like misspellings. Who doesn’t like a good misplaced apostrophe or missing comma? The answer to that is NO ONE.
  • To reiterate what we learned in the first bullet point: before making a comment about someone’s weight, please think the following quietly to yourself: “What is my least-favorite attribute. Now, would I like someone to loudly mention it and say it is ugly and/or unhealthy for me to have, and publicly shame me about it?” The answer to that question is always no. ALWAYS.
  • Also: if you think you are too fat, and everyone’s judging you, and you’re ugly, and OMG I CANNOT LEAVE THE HOUSE, guess what. No, seriously, guess. Hardly anyone even notices. The only people that do are assholes. And who cares what assholes think? I hope you don’t.
  • Finally: I’m going to tell you something I’ve learned in my old age. Ready? Shh, don’t share this one around, it’s kind of radical. WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL. I know! Every single last one of us. Fat. Thin. Tall. Short. We’re a lovely bunch of coconuts. Except – there is one thing that makes you ugly. Guess what that is? Hatefulness. Being hateful. You can’t be beautiful with hate in your mind, soul, or mouth. So get rid of that, and guess what? You’re gorgeous again. And everyone will see it. I can see it right now! Whoa, babe, dial that back, you’re blinding me with it.

We’ve become a culture of shaming. We’re rape-shaming and we’re slut-shaming and we’re thin-shaming and we’re fat-shaming. It’s repulsive and this shit’s gotta stop. Like, immediately.

Stop shaming anyone. Including yourself. You are beautiful. The people around you are beautiful. No one should be shamed for how they look. The next time you look at yourself in the mirror, be amazed at how gorgeous you are. And tell the people around you how beautiful they are. Don’t allow them to blow it off and say things like, “Oh, I look like a cow in this top” or whatever, either. Nope. Not today, buckaroos. Tell them they’re beautiful AGAIN. Until they actually believe it.

Then, all of that stuff? Do quadruple that for your kids. Make sure your kids enter the world with the strongest self-esteem possible. They’re going to need it, and you can help them with that.

We might be surrounded by shame, but we can combat that with love. Is that the opposite of shame? Don’t care. For our purposes it is.

Love you guys. You’re gorgeous. Every last one of you.


An Open Letter to Jane Doe, the Victim of the Steubenville Rape Case (Trigger Warning)

What was done to you was not your fault.

Before I say another word, before I go any further, I want you to please re-read that. Not just read it, but absorb it.

It was something that was done to you. It was done TO you. You were not capable of consent. It was done to your body because mentally, you were not present, and you did not give your consent. You did not give your consent by drinking at the party, by being at the party, by what you wore to the party, by whatever you might have said or done at the party. You did not give consent; therefore, it was done to you, and done against your will.

And it was not your fault. As much as you did not give consent, nothing you did can be blamed on you. You weren’t at fault for drinking. You weren’t at fault for being there. You weren’t at fault for dressing, acting, talking, or walking a certain way. Nothing you did caused this; you are not at fault in this situation.

However, not only did the golden gods of Steubenville, Ohio do what they would with you that night, America has victimized you all over again. Because, you see, those good young boys, those football-playing, intelligent young men, would never have done this. Right? So it must have been your fault. Because you’re female. And if there’s anything we like to do, it’s blame the woman. It’s something we’re very good at, going all the way back to Eve. You’re just one in a long line of women taking the fall.

So we call you a whore. We bemoan the fact that these boys’ lives are ruined. We disparage you because you were (gasp!) underage drinking. Someone pipes up with the fact that you might not have been a virgin before the night of the party. Someone else shouts that in one of the photos, it looks like you might be standing on your own, so therefore were obviously wanting to be there, to have these things done to you. Even better: people send you death threats. Because this is clearly your fault.

What we don’t say: that a group of boys, so many boys (some of them, age-wise, if not mentality-wise, men) that no one has ever been able to provide even a potential possible count of how many there might have been, took a sixteen-year-old girl who was either blackout drunk or who had been roofied and raped her, repeatedly, over one long night and into the next morning. Not only did they rape her in every single orifice she had, they urinated on her as well. Because it was funny. And because they could. And of course, because it’s the digital age, they videotaped and tweeted it every step of the way. With things like “I have no sympathy for whores” and “never seen anything this sloppy” and “some people deserve to be peed on.” When they were finished, they dumped her on someone’s lawn. Like you do with garbage that you have no further use for. Because that is how we treat human beings. We dump them when we’re done with them. Like garbage.

We concentrate instead on the fact that the two boys who were caught – not the multitude of boys who are guilty, just the two boys who were caught – will now be labeled sex offenders for the rest of their lives. That their lives are over. How will they play professional sports now? How will they get good jobs, go to college, move into good neighborhoods with this hanging over their heads? And who among us at that age didn’t make poor decisions? How unfair. How unfair for those poor boys. These poor boys, who cannot, apparently, be held responsible for possibly drugging, then holding a semi-conscious girl against her will for hours, passing her around like a plate of cold cuts, and raping her repeatedly, then recording it. These are not the actions of children. These are not actions of someone making a bad choice. These are actions of rapists. They got off light, sentencing-wise. The other boys who weren’t caught? Well, aren’t they lucky. They are free to do it again. Or something even worse. Because by not catching them, we’re telling them what they did was alright. What they did was acceptable.

And we either vilify or ignore the central character here. You. Because you are either the evil devil temptress woman who ruined these poor boys’ lives, or you aren’t even worth our time.

You are the victim of a terrible crime, and you have been further victimized by the woman-hating society in which we currently live. And for this, I apologize doubly. I have been reading comments on blog posts and screaming myself hoarse on your behalf for days. I have been weeping because I know what it feels like to be in your skin.

We don’t believe our rape victims. Even when they have the courage to come forward and say, “I was raped.” Even when there is video showing it being done to them. Even when there are tweets and recordings of people admitting they did it. We refuse to believe it, because it’s much easier to believe that the woman somehow deserved it.

By drinking too much at a party while underage – even though the other people at the party were also underage and also drinking.

By dressing a certain way – as if men can’t physically control themselves when faced with certain apparel.

By not being a virgin – as if you’re not allowed to say no if you’ve said yes once, whether to that person or to someone else.

By flirting with someone – because flirting is just subtext for “I want to be brutally raped now, please.”

By daring to be female around people who happen to be male – because, well, it’s what we deserve, right? For not having a penis? And not offering every man in the room a place to stick their penises?

If I could, I would like to sit you down. I would like to tell you that you are not broken. That your life doesn’t end here. That not every man you meet will be like these boys were. That there are very, very good men out there that understand that no means no, even if you’re not physically capable of saying no. That not everyone in the world thinks you are to blame for this, even though those people seem to be the most vocal right now. That none of this – none, not even the slightest bit of it – is your fault. These boys are to blame. Even the ones who didn’t touch you and just stood by and recorded it or tweeted, or just stood by and laughed. You are not at fault. You didn’t ruin these boys’ lives; they ruined their own lives the minute they decided to assault you. This is their fault. This is not on you. Nothing about this is. None of the hateful words people are spewing right now have anything to do with you; they have everything to do with small minds and fear. I hope your family is holding you close; I hope your family is telling you how much they love you, how cherished you are, how special.

You are sixteen years old. Possibly seventeen, now. You have your whole life in front of you. You can be anything you want. This does not define you. You are stronger than this. You are stronger than you know. You faced down that entire town. The strength that had to take – I can’t even imagine. I think about you refusing to back down on this, seeing it through to the end, and I am so, so proud of you. You stood not only for yourself, but for every other girl that this has happened to. You showed them what bravery was. You showed them that this is not allowed. You showed them that we will not allow this to happen to us, to our sisters, our daughters.

You have started a national dialogue about rape shaming, about how to teach our children about rape, about how far this will go before someone says, no. No more. This is not something we will allow. This is not something we will permit people to do to our children.

None of this is your fault. None of what they did to you is your fault, no matter what the media says, no matter what the people in the town say to you or about you or behind your back. You can hold your head up high, and I hope you do.

You are not broken. You are not broken, or even bent around the edges a little bit.

In my eyes, you shine so bright we all need to squint a little just to look at you. I am so proud of you. I am so humbled by you. I thank you so much for your courage when you could easily have run, backed down, locked this behind a door in your heart and never spoken of it again, never looked at it again except at 2am when sleep won’t come and the morning seems like it’s a million years away.

You are my sister, my daughter, my friend. We should all be flocking around you to protect you; instead, the world threw stones. And you refused to run, and you refused to back down, and you refused to turn away.

We could all learn a lesson from the internal strength of a sixteen-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio who was assaulted, accused of ruining people’s lives when she told the truth about it, and stared them all down and refused to change her story because she had truth on her side.

I expect great things from you. Those of us who have been tested in the fire often come out stronger than we’d even imagine on the other side. Please know there are people out here who are raising their voice with yours. There are people out here who will not let you walk through this alone. And we are just as loud as the people who hate; only we’re twice as powerful. Love always is, you see.


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