Fat girls and pretty girls use all the same excuses

No excuses

Do you remember that opinion article published last April in The Daily Mail? The one written by a woman who is hated by other woman because she’s so damn beautiful? Yes? No? It created a lot of buzz because the author came across as arrogant and deluded (which was probably the real reason people hated her), plus it was published on April 2nd, so it seemed like it might be an April Fool’s prank. I meant to write something about it at the time, but I’d gone off my meds at the time and wasn’t in a writing mood. So I’ll write about it now. Yesterday’s news today!

When I read Samantha Brick’s article my response was, “Oh wow, she’s taken the fat-girl excuse and inverted it.” You know the fat-girl excuse. No one will ever find me attractive because I’m so fat. I will never make any friends because I’m so fat. People never give me a chance because I’m so fat. The fat-girl excuse is a handy crutch to have because you can use it to explain away anything bad in your life. You didn’t get the job because you’re fat, not because you weren’t the most qualified candidate. That guy won’t go out with you because you’re fat, not because he doesn’t like your personality. Everything would be perfect, if you weren’t so fat. Good thing you’re fat, or else you might find out you have flaws other than the ones you see in your appearance.

Samantha Brick’s not a fat girl, but she’s got a crutch too. It’s the I’m just too damn beautiful crutch. Women don’t want to be her friend because she’s so gorgeous, not because she’s full of herself. Her female bosses hate her because she’s beautiful, not because of her behavior at work. A neighbor didn’t wave at her because she’s so pretty, not because she didn’t see her. It’s a handy crutch to have because it allows you to be the hero of your own story and cast everyone else as the villain.

We’ve all got psychological defense systems in place that help us deal with the world in this way. We spin events so they are positive, not negative. It’s so great that you were fired from that job you hated and have no savings because now you will be really motivated to find a job you love instead! Right? Uh, if you say so.

It’s easier to blame events in your life on a superficial reason, like your appearance, instead of looking closely at yourself and analyzing the flaws that we all have. I have no idea if Samantha Brick is good at her job or not, if her neighbor really did dis her during a drive by, or if women hate her because of her looks or just because of her personality. I do know that when you think you’re fat it’s easy to blame everything on your appearance, and if you think you’re beautiful it’s evidently easy to blame everything on your appearance too. But things aren’t always what they appear to be, not you, not me, nor all the things between us.

In the pink, and not in a good way

As I blogged about two years ago, there is a local business that likes to mix Halloween and Breast Cancer Awareness Month in hideous fashion, namely pink pumpkins and witches that look like there were hung during the Salem trials.

The 2010 display
Pinktober 2010

This year they seem to run out of witches to persecute, so they’ve moved onto flamingos and gigantic pigs.

The 2012 display

Pinktober

Pink pumpkins and flamingos

This tableaux is so hideous that I have to wonder if they do it ironically or if they really have no idea how ugly their front yard is. When I was a kid, the house at the end of the street I lived on always went all out for Christmas. They had reindeer on the roof, inflatable Santas, animatronic elves, and enough Christmas lights that you could see their house from space. I never missed the turn for my street in the month of December, though I did almost collide with parked gawkers regularly. I’m pretty sure they knew their display was gaudy, and they did it because they loved it anyway. I don’t get that vibe from this display. I think they are clueless. I’m glad I don’t drive past this stretch of road that often now that I’ve moved to a new apartment. I kind of wish some college students would steal everything in the middle of that night as a fraternity prank.

I also recognize that it is ironic to write a post slamming something when just last week I went on about how we should compliment people more often. I am a hypocrite complex woman, ok?

Why mean comments are easier to remember

Remember

I’ve gotten thousands of nice comments on my blog entries over the years, but it’s the mean comments that I remember best. Fortunately I don’t get many nasty comments, but when I do they get stuck to my memory with super glue, whereas the nice comments are attached like Post-It notes, easy to peel off and forget. I tend to be a positive person who focuses on the good things in life, so I’ve often wondered why the negative thoughts are the ones that get imprinted so deeply. I’d prefer to erase them like an Etch-a-Sketch, but shaking my head back and forth like that only gives me whiplash.

I’ve got a hunch about why this happens. It has less to do with my attitude and more to do with biochemistry. Research has shown that you make more vivid memories when you are emotionally aroused, and reading an unexpectedly mean comment definitely arouses my emotions. The only time a good comment has created that same passionate response in me is when it’s from someone I respect and admire who I didn’t realize read my blog, or if it’s a particularly poignant comment about how my writing has affected someone’s life. The bad stuff happens more often.

Some of the research is summarized on this site (which includes references if you are a fan of science-y reading with large, unpronounceable words). Various things come into play: your amygdala, stress hormones, your prefrontal cortex. Women are more likely to remember emotional memories, and older people are able to let bad memories fade faster than younger people. But overall the message is clear: you remember a message more clearly if you’re emotional when it happens.

Like I said, my hunch is just a hunch. I doubt anyone has done an experiment to see what types of comments bloggers remember better, and what their emotional state was at the time they read them. I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch though. At blogging conferences I’ve had discussions with other bloggers about bad experiences they’ve had online, and man, does that get people talking like nothing else. If we didn’t remember these semi-traumatic events so vividly, I doubt we’d have so many conversations about them, and I wouldn’t see as many tweets and posts as I do complaining about mean readers.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much you can do to force memories to fade quicker. There has been some successful therapy with soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who were able to tone down their memories by thinking about them after taking a beta-blocker called propranolol, which lowers blood pressure and heart rate. When a memory gets accessed, it is later rewritten back on your brain when you’re done, so you can actually change a memory while thinking about it and rewrite it in that altered way. If you remember it when you’re less stressed, you can rewrite it with less emotional intensity attached. This also means that the memories you access the least often are probably the most accurate because they’ve been rewritten the least amount of times.

It’s sort of sad that good comments don’t trigger a huge emotional response in me, though that might ultimately be a good thing. It means that my readers are typically polite and friendly, and it’s only the absence of those qualities that shocks me. I guess I believe in a good world, and that’s not something I can regret, though it’s something I will try harder to remember.

Dental doubt

Teeth x-ray

I wish we were like sharks and constantly shed our teeth for new ones. This would probably make orthodontics more difficult, but I sooooooooo wish I could get rid of my current teeth and declare a do-over. I did not take good care of my teeth in my youth and I am forever paying for it. Or paying for it every six months when an old filling needs to be replaced or a new one appears. I’ve had two crowns, one root canal and so many fillings that I have literally lost count.

I have my biannual cleaning this week and I’m more anxious about it than usual because my dentist seems a little overzealous. They have one of those new cameras that lets you take close-up pictures of teeth, and I’ve read that it can lead to unnecessary work. I wonder how many of the fillings they recommend definitely need to be done and which ones we could wait on and watch.

Well, Jennette, why don’t you get a new dentist? Well, disembodied voice in my head, this is my new dentist. I saw another dentist the first year after I moved here, but I wasn’t happy with their services. They treated a lot of kids, so there was always someone crying and screaming during my visit (who wasn’t me). The receptionist wasn’t very friendly, and the office decor wasn’t that welcoming either. They also made me wait 30-40 minutes for each appointment. I can understand that the schedule might fall behind and you’d be forced to wait 10,15, or hell, even 20 minutes. But when you’ve made me wait 30 minutes you really should have scheduled me for the next appointment. And if you do it more than once, it’s a systematic problem, not an anomaly.

So, I ditched that dentist and started seeing the new one. The office is much nicer, they never make we wait long, and the staff if friendly. However, the old dentist only recommended 2-3 fillings in my year there, whereas the new dentist has recommended a total of 7-8 in the past year. So, yeah, something’s going on here. Either the old dentist was crap, the new dentist is too eager, or I’ve been brushing my teeth with acid. I really don’t feel like seeking out a third opinion at this stage. There are only so many dentists in this town.

Instead, I ask the dentist which ones need to be done right away and which ones can wait awhile. It still makes me uneasy because I don’t want to neglect a problem that’s just going to get worse down the line, but I’d like to keep what’s left of me teeth if I can. I think the reason I’m unusually anxious about my dental appointment is that I’m 100% certain he’s going to recommend fillings, whereas in the past I could always keep my fingers crossed that I’d get the all clear for another six months.

I long for the day when science allows us to grow replacement teeth for transplant instead of messing with fillings and drills. That, or maybe they’ll create a stem cell paste that you can use to grow new enamel. I think something like this will happen eventually, probably in my lifetime, though I’m not sure if I’ll be able to afford it. If they can’t do that, I’d at least like them to genetically engineer plaque that doesn’t destroy your teeth, but helps strengthen them. Until then it’s just me, my dentist and my dental discount card doing our best to save what’s left of my teeth.

Not your typical computer bug

While we’re on the topic of things going horribly wrong, my younger brother sent me this photo of a special bonus gift that was packaged with his new computer monitor.

Yellow jacket

That’s right! A yellow jacket! He opened up the box to be greeted by an intense, horrible pain in his finger. At first he thought he’d stuck some sort of splinter, but quickly discovered the wasp in the packaging and killed it dead. (The bug started it.) I’m not sure how a wasp ended up in the box. It probably flew into the packaging at the factory and got mailed across the country along with the monitor.

I once found a little piece of red plastic in a TV dinner I was eating, but this story definitely tops that. Lil’ Bro is going to write the company and see if they’ll offer him any kind of apology. I mean, we’ve heard of computer bugs, but this is ridiculous.

Keep reading: 

Want second helpings? Devour more entries in the archives.

 
 
Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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