mental health, psychology, social media

Triggered…

After writing yesterday’s lofty post, I found myself a bit triggered last night. When I say “triggered”, I mean I melted down in tears. It’s been a long while since I last did that. Those who have known me awhile might be surprised that I had trouble crying. I used to cry at everything. Now, it’s somehow physically difficult for me to break down in tears. It’s like I’ve mostly lost the ability. I noticed it when I was taking antidepressants. When I stopped taking them, I still couldn’t cry like I used to. It’s mostly a good thing, although it is a bit curious for me. At least I no longer have embarrassing hyperventilation episodes, I like I used to.

So what made me melt down? It was something pretty dumb, actually. I’m sure a lot of people in military communities would laugh at me and call me a snowflake. It all started over a spam email and trying to make conversation.

I got bored yesterday and posted that I just got spam for treating “ED”. ED, for your edification, is the current euphemism for erectile dysfunction. As a woman, I don’t have a problem with erectile dysfunction. “ED” is also a euphemism for eating disorders. Some people with eating disorders name them– they use names like ED, Ana (anorexia), or Mia (bulimia) as code for the eating disorder, which has become almost like a person. It’s basically like a voice in the head, telling its victim what to do, berating them, calling them disgusting, weak, or fat. People refer to them by those names online a lot. It’s one way to disguise what they’re writing about in forums or chat groups.

Anyway, I had posted that I got spam for getting rid of my ED. A friend didn’t know what ED was, so I explained– it’s either a euphemism for erectile dysfunction or eating disorders. Somehow, she ended up cracking that, for sure, I didn’t have a problem with an eating disorder. All of a sudden, I felt like someone punched me in the stomach.

I know she didn’t mean any harm, but that comment took me back to a really bad place. What she doesn’t know is that for years, I did have issues with eating disorders. It wasn’t obvious to most people. I never “looked” the part highlighted in movies of the week back in the 80s and 90s. I certainly was never hospitalized for it, nor did any I visit a doctor to talk about it at length. Actually, one of the main reasons I don’t go to doctors is because of this issue, which has haunted me since I was about eleven years old.

Most people don’t know that there are more than two eating disorders. Anorexia and bulimia are just the best known ones because they are so dramatic and potentially deadly. But there are others… like binge eating disorder and compulsive overeating and orthorexia (hyperfocus on “clean” or healthy eating), as well as damaging behaviors. Then there’s the catchall term, EDNOS- eating disorder not otherwise specified. There is no specific “look” for someone with an eating disorder. You don’t have to be super skinny to have one. You don’t have to have scars on your knuckles or rotting teeth, blood pressure that bottoms out, blotchy, dry skin, or unusually thick hair growing on your body. Not everyone who has an ED has anorexia or bulimia, and it doesn’t always lead to severe medical consequences that are obviously related to the disorder.

I probably could have taken that comment from my friend as a teaching moment, but I was too mortified and humiliated. Aside from that, she’s a lot older than I am. What made things worse is that I know she didn’t mean to be hurtful. So there I was, sobbing at the table, talking to Bill about these really old issues that I thought were mostly gone. They aren’t totally gone, though. They always lurk in the shadows, popping up like a bad case of shingles when my guard is down.

I remember hearing comments from the people who had created me… supposedly the people who should have been my biggest supporters. My dad touching my back and saying, “You have some fat that you need to lose.” My mom looking at me in disgust, saying “I wish you would lose some weight. My dad calling me names like “hog”. My mom pleading with me, telling me she’d buy me a new wardrobe if I’d lose twenty pounds. The night before my wedding, my grandmother, whom everyone adored, looking at me in my wedding gown and saying, “Oh, so you do have a waist, after all.” or comparing me to another relative’s very obese ex wife. Or my sister telling me that I’d never been the “ideal” size and encouraging me to do sit ups and go jogging because once I stopped growing, I would get fat.

I’d hear them from medical professionals, once I was an adult. The very first (and only OB-GYN) I have ever managed to visit was an Air Force doctor who told me I was going to gain weight in Armenia, as I sat trembling in her office, having been tortured and traumatized by her oversized speculum. I was a virgin at the time… felt too unattractive to date anyone. She confirmed it by making comments about my weight. She asked me if I wanted a prescription for birth control and sent me on my way. I was absolutely horrified and humiliated by that exam. It was twelve years before I had another, that time done by a much kinder physician’s assistant. And it’s been fourteen years since that second exam.

I even heard them from mental health professionals. One doctor put me on a medication used for migraines and seizures, not because I had either of those problems, but because one of the side effects is appetite suppression. I remember him telling me, with glee, that the medicine would make me forget to eat. It did suppress my appetite, but I didn’t lose any weight. It made some things taste weird and made me disinterested in most other things besides food. Bill didn’t like the way that drug affected me, and every time I went to get the prescription filled, I had to get the third degree from the pharmacist, since I was also taking Wellbutrin, which is contraindicated for people who get seizures because it can cause them. I don’t have seizures, but the fact that I was also getting medicine used to treat seizures would raise red flags. My psychiatrist just thought I was too fat and wanted to fix me with a drug.

Or, when I lived in Armenia, I’d hear them from perfect strangers who wanted to sell me Herbalife. In the late 1990s, Herbalife had come to Armenia, and there were many people on the streets trying to peddle it. They saw me, a foreigner, with an obvious “problem” that they could fix with a dubious product from a notorious MLM scheme. They’d approach me with before and after pictures, thinking I’d be dying to buy from them, since I was an American who clearly had money (NOT) and just needed a magic bullet cure for my grotesque body. I’d tell them to fuck off, shaking my head at the intrusion.

The way some people talked when I was younger, I realize I must look hideous today. But I wasn’t a particularly fat kid, and I still got those comments back in those days. I was in good shape from riding bikes and horses, and I was dieting a lot then. I would go days without eating, trying to muster inspiration from books and movies. Sometimes I’d faint, or become really hyper bitchy or moody. But I didn’t have a terrible figure, even though I was obsessed with dieting at the time. It probably came from watching my sisters, who were also obsessed with calories, jogging, and slimming down. And for what? Men?

I gave up those behaviors years ago. They probably mostly stopped when I was in graduate school, living on my own. Then, I met Bill and he made me feel beautiful. He doesn’t care that I’m not the “ideal” size. He loves me for who I am. Moreover, I look around, and I see that many people look like me. So I just kind of tossed away that issue… and it stayed mostly buried until last night, when someone made a comment that came across as unkind, even though it wasn’t meant that way. She doesn’t know about my past… it’s not something I talk about very much anymore.

After I finally calmed down following my crying spell, I took a deep breath… and I saw Wil Wheaton’s Facebook page. He was wearing two face masks. I’ve got no quarrel with that. I know a lot of people think it’s a good thing to do in the wake of COVID-19. However, I have no desire to wear two masks myself. Despite having told myself, yesterday, not to comment with negativity, I felt compelled to post when I saw commenter after commenter leaving thumbs up and kudos for Wil Wheaton’s responsible double masking. Others were chiming in about how they double mask, too. Once again, I felt triggered, because all of the virtue signaling about double masking makes me fear for the future. Before I knew it, I typed:

“I am not wearing double masks. Forget it.”

I know I shouldn’t have. In fact, as I hit “enter”, I knew that I would get comments. Much to my surprise, there weren’t too many of them. I thought I would get bombarded with them. The first came from a friend who explains what he does. I clarified that where I live, cloth masks aren’t allowed anymore. We have to wear medical masks in Germany. In some places, not even a surgical mask will cut it. I understand that this is due to the virus and it’s a necessary step. However, I am feeling so overwhelmed by depression, anger, and hopelessness, and the overall attitude of people who feel like hyper-reaction is the best reaction… and if I am not cheerfully complying, I need criticism and “re-education”. COVID-19 has taken most of what I enjoy about living, and I’m getting ready to snap.

Then some guy wrote, “What’s your problem?”

My response to him was, “You.” He gave me a laughing emoji.

Someone else asked if I had been “forced” to wear double masks. I haven’t, but I suspect it’s coming. If I complain, I’ll get a ration of shame and shit for not getting with the program and doing my part to crush the virus.

It doesn’t matter that this lifestyle is soulcrushing and makes me wonder why I stick around in this fat, hideous, unsuitable body that so many people, some of them total strangers, feel fine commenting about… It doesn’t matter that it’s a healthy body that, at least until very recently, has taken care of me perfectly well and allowed me to do most everything I’ve wanted to do. It doesn’t matter that it makes pretty music or allows me to write this tripe in my blog. It doesn’t matter that it houses the parts of me that make people smile or even laugh. All that matters is that it’s not as beautiful as I’d like it to be… or apparently, others would like it to be. And that makes people feel like they have a license to add their opinions.

I unfollowed Wil Wheaton, not because I don’t like him or his posts, but because the crowd following him are the type to crawl up in people’s grills about things like mask wearing, and the “proper” or “best” way to do it, or any other “cause” that people like to preach about. One guy on another post wrote that he thinks pepper spray is a good way to teach the “anti-maskers” (of which I am not) to properly social distance. I thought that was an unnecessarily hostile comment, so I posted that I thought the pepper spray idea was a good one. I’d carry it for perfect strangers who feel it’s necessary to confront me about my mask wearing habits instead of practicing social distancing and staying the fuck away from me. Or really, for perfect strangers who want to confront me about ANYTHING that is not their business. Just leave me alone.

And now, Bill has made breakfast, which I will sit down to eat… even though maybe I shouldn’t. I didn’t manage to eat much dinner last night after that conversation about ED.

We’re all under a lot of stress. We all have different ways of coping. I probably need to unplug from social media. I probably need to unplug from everything. I’d like to go to a spa or enjoy a lovely meal in a restaurant… but that’s off limits. So here I sit in snowy, rainy, depressing Germany, writing about crying over an unintended slight that brought back pain that I thought was long buried. I really hope things turn around soon.

Standard
complaints, dogs, social media

People love to dump on a good story.

Last night, as we were about to tuck into take out Thai food, Bill noticed he got a call from the vet. He also got an email. I was immediately thinking the worst, since I figured no news is good news when it comes to medical or veterinary stuff. But no… it turns out the vet who did Arran’s surgery on Monday was contacting us to let us know that the mast cell tumor she removed was low grade (a two, but a low two) and had excellent margins. She also wrote that she would call us today.

Naturally, we were glad to know this. I’m not surprised it was a low grade tumor. Arran had one in 2015 on his head that was graded 1.5, which meant it had very well differentiated cells. A 2 is not as good as a 1.5, but the grading system is kind of subjective anyway, since it involves individual pathologist’s opinions. Arran’s tumor was in the skin and we got him in to the vet the day after I discovered it. So I would have been surprised if it was deemed high grade.

Nevertheless, I was marveling that the vet called us on a Friday night AND sent an email. When we lived near Stuttgart, both of our dogs, Arran and the late Zane, had mast cell tumors. I remember getting the news for both of them at the next appointment. The one time that didn’t happen, Bill had to call for the results. I liked our vets down there, but they were a lot more conservative and not quite as high tech as the ones up here are.

So… feeling kind of happy about this news and wanting to share our good experience, I went off to the Pets of Wiesbaden group. I know a lot of people in there are looking for vets. Many of them are military folks who are finding out that the vet on post isn’t the best option for anything but the most basic of care. Really, it’s best to have a local vet, even though it may mean dealing with language issues.

I posted about Arran’s good news and that we’re happy with our vet, who happens to have a great reputation anyway. Then, along comes some lady who wants to write about how great Tierklinik Hofheim is. I inwardly groaned, because this happens all the time. Someone posts about something with a specific idea in mind. Someone else comes along and craps on it. I fought the urge to post a bitchy response. Instead, I wrote that I know Tierklinik Hofheim is excellent, but I wouldn’t want to trouble them for a mast cell tumor removal, which is a pretty run of the mill procedure.

Tierklinik Hofheim is a very highly regarded veterinary specialty clinic in Germany. In fact, when we lived near Stuttgart, our vet down there even recommended them over the more advanced facilities in Stuttgart. Tierklinik Hofheim is a good three hour drive from where we lived at the time, but if it came down to it and I needed state of the art experts, I would go there. In fact, now that we only live twenty minutes away from it, we have used Tierklinik Hofheim for emergencies. Arran hasn’t been there yet, but Zane went a few times before he died. They really are outstanding, but they had nothing to do with my original post. I wanted to post about my happiness with our vet. If someone asked for a specialty vet or an emergency vet, then yes, I would absolutely want to post about Tierklinik Hofheim.

This is a pretty common phenomenon, I guess. We all like to chime in on things, and sometimes in the course of doing that, we lead things astray. Sometimes, we take things in an unappreciated direction. I remember one time, a woman got upset with me for pointing out that men can be victims of domestic violence. She wanted to paint the narrative that domestic violence is strictly a women’s issue. While I don’t think I was wrong to point that out, she was upset that I was kind of changing the subject she had introduced. I remember she gave me a ration of shit over it. Now that I think about it, maybe she was right… although as someone whose husband was a victim of domestic violence, I kind of bristle when someone tries to paint women as the only victims.

The musician Janis Ian recently posted an article about “conversational narcissism“. I just recently started following her again after unfollowing her for awhile. She had written about the Holocaust and a bunch of people were engaging in “whataboutism”. Like, they brought up slavery in the United States, or other cases of genocide. Janis rightfully got annoyed about it and dished out some shame.

I have to admit, Janis has a point. People can become thoughtless and self-centered when it comes to social media. We’re probably all guilty of it sometimes.

I’ve found myself changing the way I post… most of the time, anyway. For one thing, I make a conscious effort to try not to post anything but positive stuff on other people’s pages. It’s just not worth it to me to post my real thoughts about some subjects and get into drama with people. Most people aren’t interested in having a real discussion. They just want to post their opinions and aren’t interested in being challenged or arguing about them. Since I have pretty strong opinions, I try to only share them on my space. That way, if people get upset, it’s their own fault. Most people who know me, know I don’t mince words very often. In fact, just the other day, I noticed in my memories that four former friends had posted…. they are former friends because they got offended and blocked me. Three were Trumpers who were upset because I compared him to Hitler, and one was a lesbian who was upset because I expressed appreciation for Mike Pence. At least three of them were on my page when they got offended. Go figure.

For another thing, I try to stop myself from going off topic when someone posts. Like, for instance, this morning I read a post from a woman who rescues dogs from countries like Romania, Cyprus, and the like. There are very serious stray dog problems down there, and the dogs don’t get the best care before they get rescued. Basically, the woman’s post was about how some dogs end up with fleas or parasites that don’t get properly treated before they come to Germany to their new homes.

I was about to post about how our new dog, Noyzi, came from Kosovo and is completely healthy. But I stopped myself and realized it wasn’t a relevant point. She was writing to those who adopt from her. Noyzi didn’t come from her rescue, so my comment that he was healthy when we got him is irrelevant. And, by the way, he’s damned lucky to be so healthy. Kosovo has the same kinds of issues Romania, Cyprus, and other stray heavy areas have. Even the lady who brought him to us advised us to have him tested for diseases like heartworm infestation, leishmaniasis, and hepatitis. Noyzi lived in a big pen with lots of other dogs. He got basic vet care, but the care down there doesn’t compare to what’s available up here.

After reading about the plight of rescue dogs in Romania, I moved on to the Washington Post, where I read what many considered to be a “cute” story about a woman whose obese cat was stolen, along with her rental car, and returned with the help of a self-proclaimed pet psychic. I was kind of amused by the story. Back in the early 00s, I used to watch Sonya Fitzpatrick’s show, The Pet Psychic, on Animal Planet. I even read her book. I don’t know how much I believe in pet psychics. I suppose it’s possible one can communicate with animals in such a way… but like a lot of people, I’m a little skeptical. Or maybe I’m just cynical.

Anyway, I could tell the story was meant to be “feel good”. Many people were reacting to it in such a way. I had a little trouble not shaking my head when I read that the woman’s car was stolen while the cat was in it because she’d left the motor running while she went to take a quick pee. She thought she’d locked the door, but hadn’t. So naturally, some shithead came along and stole the car, along with the cat and all of the woman’s belongings. But I didn’t leave a comment, because clearly other people did. No need to crap on the story myself.

Then I looked at the comments, and there were all sorts left that were not really the point of the story. Like, for instance, one person was upset about the cat’s weight… a hefty 19 pounds, because she eats fresh fish every day instead of dry food. Others wanted to add their two cents about traveling during a pandemic. Incidentally, I also noticed in the story, the reporter was so careful to mention the COVID-19 precautions that were taken for the trip. Why is this? Because you just KNOW that if she hadn’t mentioned face masks and COVID-19 tests, people would be bringing that shit up in the comment section. So few people can’t simply read something and not make it about virtue signaling, shaming, or showing everyone else how smart, considerate, or how “above you” they are.

I was kind of tickled to see that the pet psychic in this case, name of Nancy Mello, was actively commenting. She even left her contact information. I’ve got no quarrel with that. Maybe she really can speak “cat” fluently. And if she helped get the cat home, that’s all that really matters, anyway. I’m glad the story had a happy ending. Hopefully, the lady learned her lesson about leaving a car running, especially when your furry friend is in there. But I sure don’t need to say that, since so many other people are saying it. It was a fun read, anyway, and that’s what matters.

I guess my main point is, nine times out of ten, it’s best to start your own thread if you have something to say that isn’t on topic. Having said that, I admit it’s something I work on every day. Sometimes I fail. My other point is, it’s probably best to keep criticism and negativity off other people’s pages. I think of my Internet spaces as my homes. I wouldn’t go to someone else’s house and be rude. At least I wouldn’t do that intentionally… and at least I wouldn’t do that today, now that I’ve kind of left the id somewhat. I might have done it when I was younger… like, when I was 46.

Anyway… I’m glad Arran’s tumor wasn’t so bad. He still has a huge gash on his leg where the tumor was removed. The vet up here was a lot more aggressive than the one in Stuttgart was. That’s basically the way mast cell tumors are supposed to be dealt with. Unfortunately, if they don’t get removed completely, they can recur with a vengeance. Hopefully, he won’t have any more of them. And I’ll try not to be annoyed by those who want to pimp their vets on threads I start about pimping mine.

Standard
Biden, politics, social media, true crime

Step into my Parler…

I have not given in to the temptation to check out Parler or any of the other “alternative” social media platforms. I have many reasons for not taking the plunge. The main one is that I have absolutely zero desire to add more social media to my life. Facebook already annoys the fuck out of me, even though I am hopelessly entrenched. But there are other reasons…

First of all, I’ve noticed people cabling posts from Parler and, quite frankly, a lot of what I’ve seen is very negative. There’s a lot of scary right wing shit on there, posted by nutjobs who still think Trump won the election and was unfairly ousted from Washington. Naturally, if you have followed this blog for more than a few minutes, you know that I am DELIGHTED that Trump lost the election. I believe the election was fair and free, and Trump is by far the worst president in the history of the United States. Not only did he suck donkey balls as a leader, but he also inspired people to be violent and stupid.

Secondly, I’ve noticed that a number of my relatives have apparently abandoned Facebook. While I think a couple of relatives blocked me, I also think most have simply moved over to Parler, where they can spew their nauseating Trump worshiping crap in relative peace. I would not want to be on Parler to see what my relatives are posting. Some of them have legitimately scared me over the past few years… and some have just made me sad. I feel like I’ve lost a bunch of loved ones, thanks to Donald Trump. I’m not sure the rift will ever be healed.

And thirdly, I am really tired of writing about politics. I’d like to move away from that subject. I probably will, if Biden succeeds in making the country less crazy. But if I hang out on Parler, I know I will fall down several rabbit holes and feel compelled to keep writing about things I read over there. Facebook provides way more than my recommended daily allowance of political craziness.

Speaking of families being divided by politics… I recently read two different stories about parents and children going through significant strife thanks to Trump. The first one involves Claudia Conway, whose mother is Kellyanne Conway. I wrote about her a few months ago, when she was in the news for going off the rails a bit online. Claudia’s rants against Trump and videoed meltdowns were the reasons cited for Kellyanne’s exit from the Trump administration. Kellyanne had famously remarked that her family needed “less drama and more mama”.

A report from October 2020. Claudia was 15 at the time. Now she’s 16.

Well… according to recent news reports about the Conway family, things haven’t improved so much since Kellyanne came back to the nest. Claudia recent shared videos of her mother screaming profanities at her. A police officer came over to do a wellness check and told Kellyanne that she should take away her daughter’s access to the Internet. Claudia then said that she pays for her phone and her computer belongs to her school. Claudia’s dad is George Conway, who has publicly trolled his wife. George Conway is not a Trump fan at all. So I’m sure there’s a lot of stress in that household. There would be anyway, since Claudia is going through major growing pains at her age. But add in the rest of the shit– politics and a mother who apparently has quite a temper to match her public persona– and it can’t be easy for any of them.

I don’t envy Claudia OR her mother. Claudia is not at an easy age… And although I don’t like Kellyanne Conway, it can’t be easy to have children who air dirty laundry the way Claudia is. I think it will be a long two years before Claudia is a legal adult.

The second story involves a much less famous family in Wylie, Texas. 18 year old Jackson Reffitt, is the son of Guy Reffitt, a man who toted at least one firearm to the Capitol on January 6th and allegedly told his son, Jackson, if he told the authorities, he would be a traitor. And then, Guy allegedly told his son that traitors “get shot”. Wow…

If this story is 100 percent true as reported by Jackson, I think he’s a hero.

Jackson told the FBI anyway, and Guy Reffitt was arrested. Jackson says he did it because he felt it was his duty to his country. He also says he “knows” he and his dad will make up at some point. I truly hope that will happen for him, although Jackson’s sisters have said Jackson took their father’s comments “out of context”. Frankly, I have a hard time imagining how someone can take those words “out of context”, particularly when they are said by a father to his son.

Jackson is also at a tough age. It’s not easy being 18. His dad is my age, which makes me feel old. Anyway, Jackson has a GoFundMe going, because it appears that he’s no longer welcome in his father’s home. At this writing, he’s gotten more than $129,000 in donations. Apparently, he’d only hoped to raise a few thousand dollars. Personally, I think he should probably stop collecting money, lest people turn on him. Everybody loves a feel good story, but when GoFundMe fundraisers go crazy, sometimes people have a tendency to get skeptical. Besides, that amount of money is enough to get him through college and help him with his expenses as a young man. It’s crazy that we feel like we have to reward people for simply doing the right thing. But I know it was hard for Jackson to turn in his father. He will probably pay a heavy cost for that.

Anyway… it wouldn’t surprise me if Guy Reffitt is on Parler, too. I don’t want to be rubbing virtual elbows with people like him, even if some of my relatives are probably also there, commiserating about how we’re all “doomed” because a sane, rational, decent man is now the president. Yes, Joe Biden is 78 years old, but he looks pretty vibrant to me, and he is definitely a better role model and a better person than Trump will EVER be.

I hope to God that we all learn from history– look at the rise of Hitler, for instance— and stop Trump from doing any more damage. I am fucking serious. Be a conservative if you must, but keep it sane. And I think insanity abounds on Parler, so I won’t be stepping in over there, no matter how curious I get.

In other news… Arran had his surgery yesterday, later in the day than was planned. He has a cone of shame on his head and an incision in his left thigh, where the mast cell tumor was removed. He seems to be feeling better today than he did last night, poor guy. He woke us up at 3:00am because he was ravenous.

Standard
complaints, condescending twatbags, social media

Thou shalt set a “good example”… especially if you’re a celebrity!

This morning, I read an article in the Washington Post about the late Charley Pride, who recently died of COVID-19. Well, if I’m honest, the article wasn’t “just” about Charley Pride. It was mostly about the backlash surrounding Pride’s death at age 86 and how COVID-19 has been affecting musicians– country musicians in particular. Yes, the article did lead with Pride’s death on December 12, a month after he received a lifetime achievement award at the annual Country Music Association awards. There was also a picture of Charley Pride, who was notable for being Black and singing music typically associated with people who have southern accents and light colored skin (not that the only people who like country are “rednecks” from the South, or that everyone who is southern is a redneck).

As many people know, the CMA awards took place as usual this year, indoors and maskless. Charley Pride happened to die of COVID-19. Many people assume he caught the virus at the Nashville event, which featured lots of people appearing on camera without masks. Now… I sure don’t know where Charley Pride came in contact with COVID-19. It’s possible that he got infected at the CMA awards. Or, maybe he got it from somewhere else. The fact is, he got it, and he’s now dead. I saw quite a lot of people wringing their hands over Mr. Pride’s death, acting as if he wouldn’t have died if he hadn’t accepted his award in person. It was as if the CMA awards organizers, who have been putting on this event for as long as I can remember, had “blood” on their hands.

Folks… I get that COVID-19 is a terrible thing and we should all be doing our part to limit and even eliminate its spread. But Charley Pride was 86 years old. I don’t know how many years he would have had left if he hadn’t caught the virus, but given the average lifespan of human beings in 2020, my guess is that he probably wouldn’t have had a really long time. He was 86 years old. Eventually, he was destined to die, as we all are.

Would people be just as angry if Pride had had a heart attack or a stroke? Would we be angrily pointing fingers at his (hypothetical, since I don’t know anything about Pride’s lifestyle) decisions to eat fried foods, smoke cigarettes, and avoid exercise, complaining about how his decision to not live “the right way” led to Pride’s “untimely” death?

I think I heard of Charley Pride for the first time on an ad for an album like this one.

Maybe Charley Pride could have lived to be 87 or 88 years old if he’d just done the “right” things and lived the way the experts recommend? No… I don’t think so. 86 years is a good run, and Charley Pride was lucky enough to live the bulk of his life without a pandemic going on. I am sorry that Charley Pride died, especially since he did have such a groundbreaking career in country music. But what happened to him will eventually happen to everyone. It happened to be COVID-19 that killed him at age 86, but it could have easily been something else. The end result is the same, any way you look at it. He’s dead.

Furthermore, while we are all being asked to stay away from others and wear face masks when we can’t, the fact is, people are still getting the virus. Sometimes, they’re getting it even when they do everything “right”. I don’t think it’s helpful to point fingers at those who get sick. I think we should have compassion for them, for I have read that COVID-19 is NOT a nice way to go. I have been trying to do the best I can not to get the virus. I haven’t ridden in a car since October 4th. I haven’t left my neighborhood since then, either. I walk my dogs, and that’s about it. I am lucky enough to be in a living situation in which I can do that. Not everyone is that lucky. We all have to get by in life the best way we can.

The rest of the article pointed out that the masses are being pretty hard on celebrities who flout the COVID-19 rules. Musicians and other performers have been particularly badly hit by the virus. Nine months ago, they lost their main ability to make a living. At the same time, people who earn money as performers as are lucky enough to be well-known are being hassled about their choices. They are expected to “set a good example” for everyone, and people go fucking berserk if they dare to post a picture of themselves doing anything popularly deemed “wrong”.

Part of this phenomenon, I think, comes from people being really bored, and angry that they’re bored. So, when they see someone like Jason Aldean at Disney World with his family, taking a photo without a face mask, they go into outrage mode and leave shitty comments. Mr. Aldean recently got a keyboard lashing from some woman who was outraged that he’d dare take a family photo while unmasked. Aldean’s response was, “Chill out lady. They are in our pocket. We took them off for 5 seconds to take the pic. Believe me, Disney didn’t give us a ‘free pass’ not to wear them. We had them on all day just like everybody else.” Later, he deleted the photo.

The same thing recently happened to actor Wil Wheaton, who dared to post a photo of himself and his wife at a red carpet event that happened in 2016. Wheaton got shitloads of disapproving comments from his followers, which he angrily addressed the next day. Celebrities are people too, and I’m sure most of them don’t appreciate rude comments from random people who are just reacting to and criticizing a photo without any context. The pandemic has made it almost taboo to post photos indicating “normal” behavior, even if the photo is older than March 2020.

For some reason, people feel compelled to call out “bad” behaviors, especially in our hyper connected social media age. Everyone has a cell phone these days, and most of the phones are capable of making videos. So, even before the pandemic started, folks were taking pictures and videos and calling people out online. But now, it’s gotten epically bad. God forbid someone post a photo of a large gathering or a maskless face… or a child who isn’t properly and perfectly strapped into a seatbelt or a car seat. Someone will post a criticism. Hell, I changed my cover photo to one I took of our village’s annual Christmas market. The photo was taken in 2019. I felt the need to add a disclaimer, just to head off any negative comments about crowds and a lack of face masks.

Some people, celebrities in particular, have stopped sharing photos at all, because they are tired of people calling them out. Thomas Rhett, and his wife, Lauren Akins, recently posted photos on Instagram of a trip they took to Mexico. Fans were quick to chastise the couple with self-righteous comments like, “Wish I could be happy for you but the rest of us are not traveling to try to keep covid at bay.” Rhett’s response was to “take a break” from Instagram because he was sick of dealing with the annoying comments that completely lacked contextual awareness. I can’t say I blame him for that.

Personally, I don’t see the point of calling people out for their photos. It’s not like leaving a nasty comment is going to change the behavior in the moment. What good does it do to criticize someone for not setting a good example when the moment has already long passed? Telling off Jason Aldean for daring to pose for a photo maskless at Disney World isn’t going to change the fact that he took the photo. And why shouldn’t he be allowed to take the photo and share it without a bunch of critical bullshit from strangers? Can people not comprehend that a photo is but an instant of someone’s life? Can folks not understand that a video of someone is just a drop in the bucket as to who someone is?

But… I really think people are just bored, scared, frustrated, angry, and bereaved… and they’re lashing out, particularly when they think someone is “privileged”. And a lot of the people who are judging others for their behaviors and being “privileged” have appointed themselves as having the right to keep score. I’m not sure what makes someone qualified to judge others, but suffice to say, if you’re not in a group that is deemed oppressed or disadvantaged in some way, you’re gonna hear about it when you aren’t doing the “right” thing, especially if you also have the nerve to publicize it on social media.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I think COVID-19 is awful on many levels. It’s made things very difficult for so many. I have nothing but compassion for people who get the virus– yes, even the ones who got it because they were doing “wrong”. What is now considered “wrong” wasn’t even on the radar a year ago. We all miss our lives, and most people really are just trying to get through this epic shitshow. Yes, some people could be taking the virus more seriously. Some people are egregiously taking risks that I wouldn’t take. But I think they must have their reasons for doing those things. It’s entirely possible they’re doing it because they’re selfish, but it’s also possible that they have other reasons that I don’t know about. And personally, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, whenever I can, because trying to believe the best about most people brings me more peace than simply assuming they’re selfish assholes (even if they actually are). I have enough problems with depression without assuming that everyone who isn’t doing what experts deem “the right thing” and not “setting a good example” is a jerk. I’d like to think that more people are good, than inherently bad.

In any case, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, for now. I don’t mind. But that’s just me. I don’t know what someone else is going through or what will make living through this strange time easier. And it’s just easier to let people do as they will. A judgmental comment from me isn’t going to change anything. On the other hand, when it comes to spelling and grammar, all bets are off. 😉

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advertising, social media

Models who “need to be fed”…

Lately, I’ve noticed I get a lot of ads for cashmere. Facebook, in particular, has been bombarding me with ads for cozy cashmere sweaters and pants, which look a little itchy. I’ve also been getting a ton of ads for Neuhaus chocolates, which I actually decided to indulge last week. Consequently, my most comfortable garments are of the nightie variety.

I would never buy a garment from a Facebook ad, even though some of them are tempting. I don’t think most of the ads for clothes found on Facebook realistically represent the garments they’re selling. I’ve read a number of horror stories from friends and strangers alike, lamenting how the quality of that nice looking sweater leaves much to be desired when it finally arrives months later. And good luck actually being able to wear the garment, which is probably sized for a pygmy. I’m size challenged myself. That’s why I buy my clothes from familiar American retailers whose sizes I know.

Last week I noticed an ad for a shapeless cashmere sweater dress. It was being marketed by an outfit called Gentle Herd. The ad featured an extremely thin model. The dress she was wearing basically hung on her, as if she was a coat hanger. Looking at the comments, I could see that I wasn’t the only one who thought she looked way too thin. I wondered how it was that anyone of a more normal size would even have an idea of what that dress would look like. I didn’t comment on the ad itself, but I did see some comments that were much like what I was thinking. Here’s one written by another woman who saw the ad:

Your models are unnaturally skinny. Who knows what the clothes will look like on normal-sized people.

Another person wrote this:

Calling skinny people “unnatural” is just wrong, some people can’t get fat no matter what they try… For a lot of people this IS normal.

To the above comment, I would beg to differ. The definition of “normal” is “conforming to a standard or typical”. I would not say this model represents the typical. Being that thin may be “perfectly normal” for her, but it’s not normal in terms of the general population, unless you’re living in places where people tend to be very slight, such as in parts of Asia or Africa. On the other hand, I do agree that saying she’s “unnaturally skinny” may be wrong. For all we know, this may very well be her “natural” size.

I shared the ad on my page and wrote that she “needs to be fed”. In retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have written that. I don’t know the model. Maybe she eats like a sumo wrestler and never gains a pound. I do know there are some people who have a hard time gaining weight. I also know that it’s not nice to body shame, not that I was trying to shame. Honestly, my first visceral reaction to that photo was alarm. To me, she looks unhealthy, although she may be perfectly fine. I’m not her doctor. I don’t know.

Sure enough, someone took me to task for that comment, which appeared on my personal Facebook page. I was a bit irritated about that. First of all, most people don’t like it when their friends criticize or scold them in front of others, particularly over something that, in the grand scheme of things, is insignificant. It would be one thing if I was being outright cruel to someone I know personally who might read my comments. But the model isn’t on my friends list, so it’s unlikely that she would be offended by an offhand comment I made about her and the dress she was modeling on my personal page, which isn’t open for public consumption.

Secondly, even if she did have access to my personal Facebook page, she’s a model, and as such, she should probably be prepared to hear comments about her looks. She presumably makes a living selling fashion to the masses. Since that’s her line of work, people can and will judge her for her appearance. She’s not just some chick on the street who’s really skinny. This is her JOB. She has chosen a career that puts her on display and people are going to comment.

The Gentle Herd dress may or may not be considered haute couture. I don’t know anything about high fashion, since I doubt most of it would fit me, nor would it appeal to me. I like clothes that are comfortable. If they happen to be stylish, that’s a bonus, but above all, they must be pleasant to wear. The cashmere sack dress being modeled by the thin model might or might not be comfortable. I’m not sure it would be flattering on me, though, and this model isn’t really helping to answer that question. She doesn’t have a body type like the vast majority of women I know, with one or two exceptions. Gentle Herd comments that they have different sized models, but none of them are wearing the dress they’re selling.

I remember when I used to watch America’s Next Top Model, Tyra Banks would, on occasion, take some models to task for being too thin. I am no fan of Tyra’s. I think she’s an obnoxious bully. But when it comes to fashion, it’s about art– but it’s also about business. If you’re selling someone’s artistic vision at a fashion show, yes, you probably should be stick thin. But if you’re selling a sweater dress on Facebook, presumably marketed to the everyday housewife, maybe it would be better to use a model with a more common size.

Anamaria was kicked off ANTM for being too thin. In this case, the judges were saying her “body sent the wrong message”.
At 5:51, Tyra asks Nikeysha what she eats, because she looks so thin. Nigel Barker says he would have to retouch her arms and legs.

But maybe I should have phrased my comment differently. I have been on the receiving end of rude comments from people about my body. It’s definitely offensive, no matter who it comes from. The difference is, though, I am not in the business of selling clothes. And honestly, my comment about the Facebook model was prompted because I couldn’t tell if what she was selling would work for someone like me. I thought that was the whole purpose of using models in the first place.

Anyway… the comments on that ad were pretty much like mine. Some were a lot more offensive.

It’s entirely possible that model is happy and healthy. And I do now regret saying she “needs to be fed”… even if she actually does.

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