“Light of the Harem,” by Frederic Leighton (1880)
“And it is me who is my enemy
Me who beats me up
Me who makes the monsters
Me who strips my confidence” ~ Paula Cole, “Me”
Well, I finished two Ann Rule books since Friday night, and I have partially sated my book craving. In case you are unfamiliar, Rule writes true crime novels, but she eschews high-profile cases, choosing instead to focus on stories with which more people can relate. Many of her books deal with women who have been terrorized and eventually killed by their husbands/boyfriends.
I reread Every Breath You Take, which is the story of Sheila Blackthorne Bellush and her compulsive, possessive, arrogant ex-husband Allen Blackthorne. I also reread Too Late to Say Goodbye, the story of Jenn Corbin and her dentist husband Bart Corbin, who almost got away with two murders by fashioning them to look like suicides.
I’m not giving anything away with these very brief summaries. The reader always knows the basic characters and the barebones’ scenario when approaching an Ann Rule book. But what makes Rule’s books well-written as opposed to sensationalistic is that she delves deeply into character and background and takes the reader through years of material. One of her first books was The Stranger Beside Me, about serial killer Ted Bundy. As it turns out, Bundy worked with Rule at a crisis center long before he was disclosed as the prolific killer of young brunette women in over three states.
I have read a few other true crime novels, but they never seem to equal the quality of Rule’s work, most depending upon the more lurid aspects of a crime to draw the reader in. I’m interested in the psychology behind these people: their early lives, events that shaped them. Anyway, Corey is on a search for more Ann Rule books in the storage bins.
“It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” ~ Sir Edmund Hillary
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I pay attention to my stats, not just the numbers, but what people are reading. It’s actually pretty interesting, to me, at least. I have two posts that almost always show up in my stats, and both of them have to do with beauty. I wonder why that is, exactly . . . I have reread these posts, and my main point in both of them is that women have unrealistic role models held up for emulation and that we are constantly bombarded to become thinner, more regular, less bloated, have whiter teeth, be more effective at cleaning our houses and to shop wisely.
It’s a bunch of whooey. How many commercials are on prime time television telling young, impressionable women to further their educations, be self-reliant, believe in themselves just the way they are? None. Zero. Instead, we have television programs about people trying to lose weight and get in shape because their lives will continue to be less than ideal if they don’t. Witness, “The Biggest Loser,” “Celebrity Fit Club,” “Diet Tribe,” “I Can Make You Thin.” Well gee, if I had a personal chef to cook low-calorie weight loss meals, and a personal trainer, and that was the only thing that I did in my life for months and months, I’ll bet that I would lose weight too.
Don’t misunderstand: I know that obesity is one of the fastest-growing problems facing Americans, especially young Americans. Obesity, which can lead to a world of health problems, very often arises because people are not taught early how to eat correctly, or eat too much fast food, or foods that are high in saturated fats or overly processed foods in which the nutrients have been leeched out during the cooking and canning.
And then there is the whole problem of not exercising. I know all too well that not exercising, even walking, can be detrimental to individuals who have family propensities for diabetes, heart conditions, and other disorders and diseases. But as a nation, we do not exercise, not like other, more health-conscience nations.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
What I have a problem with is how we as a society continue to perpetuate the theory that being slender is the end-all and be-all without acknowledging that just losing weight is not necessarily going to change a person’s life. For me, I know that I would feel better physically and mentally if I lost some weight, but I don’t have delusions that I am ever again going to weigh what I weighed in my 20’s. But what bothers me is my inability to accept myself until I lose this unspecified number of pounds, as if, somehow, I am going to be a different person when I achieve this goal. Truth is, I am still going to be me—for better or worse—me.
I hate that about myself. I really do, especially because it falls right into that trap that women must be optimum in order to be happy. I mean, I have had all of the courses about empowerment and the psychology and sociology behind what makes women women, yet even armed with that knowledge, I am still easy prey for ads that promise to burn stomach fat. Why???
Why do women who are otherwise secure about their intelligence, experienced in life and all of its pitfalls and nadirs, continue to allow themselves to keep a number in the back of their mind: If I can just reach X pounds, if I can just lost X pounds, then everything will be all right . . .
Obviously, I am not the person to ask because no matter how much I rail against socialization and unreal expectations, I am still smack in the middle of it. I buy this mascara because it will make my lashes longer and fuller. I use this body wash because it will keep my skin soft (well, actually, that one isn’t true. I buy based on smell). I use this moisturizer because it will replace my collagen (that one is true).
Why do I do these things to myself? Conditioning. My mother. My insecurities. The weather . . . yes, it’s that variable and that illogical. Want to know a dirty little secret? I think that if I had the money, I might already have had some work done to my neck, my arms, my belly, and the fact that I know this makes me a little ill because I swore that I would never be my mother, who began having plastic surgery in her 40’s.
“The man who trims himself to suit everybody will soon whittle himself away.” ~ Charles Schwab
Do I ever sit here and think to myself, “I’m a great woman. I’m smart. Relatively witty. Talented, somewhat”? Of course I don’t. I search the mirror each morning to see if any wrinkles have appeared. I play with my neck to see how unfirm it is because my mother has pulled at my neck since I was young, telling me that I need to be careful of my double chins, which I now lovingly (not) refer to as my sixteen chins. If I really want to torture myself, I turn sideways to see how large my belly looks at the moment.
I can say, with all truthfulness, though, that my desires stem not from an attempt to look younger, just thinner. I really don’t like the way that women who have had a lot of work done look, with their taut cheekbones stretched to their ears. Kind of reminds me of Klingons, as in that’s just not normal.
So my rational self says BEH to all of the societal conditioning and yearning for no double chins. My emotional self says, well, maybe just a little. How bizarre. How utterly inane and yet complex. I know but I feel. Descartes never said that. Do you know why? Because he was a man . . .
Enough of this blather. I hate it when I dwell on this.
More later. Peace.
Paula Cole singing her beautiful song “Me”