Fashion, Fat, Femininity, Pop Culture, Sweet Machine

Photoshop’s greatest hits

It’s nothing most of our readers haven’t seen before, but Newsweek has a refresher course on the “biggest airbrushing scandals” of the 2000s. Consider it a visual illustration of the impossibly narrow standards of beauty that we’ve been talking about this week (and note especially how the women of color involved have had their skin lightened to fit that epically narrow ideal).

ETA: For shame, Newsweek! Looks like you got the “inspiration” for this piece — along with many of the examples — from our friends at Jezebel. Thank heavens for the mainstream media, doing all that original reporting, am I right?

172 thoughts on “Photoshop’s greatest hits”

  1. My 22 yo daughter was watching Real Housewives of Orange County the other day and she said “I hate this show.” I asked her why and she said “Because it makes me feel ugly, fat and poor.” I wonder if that is the the way the show is designed to make people feel?

    Obviously these women were not air brushed, but they are the beauty standard of the day. I think (but am not sure) most have had plastic surgery. One said something to the effect: “looking good has a cost, the cost is not eating.”

  2. Forgive me if this is being too down on people who happen to fit the beauty ideal better… but I don’t get this stuff at all. I don’t understand why people think it’s attractive for someone to look like a porcelain doll. While I have trouble accepting non-doll features in myself sometimes (although I have to admit, I actually really love my happy trail), I love them in other people. My beloved has the most incredible laugh lines you’ve ever seen, and a missing eyetooth and funny shaped ears and whenever I look at him I just love him a hundred times harder for it, because they’re so deeply a part of who he is.
    This kind of manipulation feels very anti-love, and very anti-sex to me for that reason, in the same way that pornography does. These people don’t want you to be attracted to another real live person; they want to you to be attracted to an absolutely fleshless ideal, and it makes me incredibly sad that there are people who really think they want one of these totally smoothed-down and soulless creatures that photoshop creates and will rid themselves of all their small, disinctive beauties because they think they’re “flaws.”

  3. I picked up a copy of Cosmo or Ladies Home Journal or some other magazine targeted at women while I was riding the bus about a year ago. I don’t read many magazines anymore, and I don’t watch MUCH tv other than PBS. So most visual advertising doesn’t hit my eyes.

    The women in the ads in that magazine were so photomanipulated it was creepy. They didn’t look human. They looked like close approximations of what an alien race might consider human. It was really weird. It didn’t leave me feeling “ugly, fat, and poor” (which is why I stopped reading those magazines in the first place, actually) but it did creep me out. There was this tremendous disconnect.

    Pala, I think you’re on to something with the anti-love anti-sex sentiment as well. There is such a high degree of artificiality.

  4. I stopped reading most magazines aimed at women a long time ago for my mental health – best decision I ever made! I pick them up sometimes in waiting rooms or at the check-out, just to flip through them and holy plastic complexions, Batman! It’s kind of scary. And that ‘best of’ just drives the point home.

  5. Photoshop in itself isn’t evil. We used it to spiff up one of our wedding photos by taking a person out of the background who wasn’t supposed to be there.

    That being said, like Autotune, it’s sure used for nefarious purposes!!

  6. I stopped reading most magazines aimed at women a long time ago for my mental health – best decision I ever made! I pick them up sometimes in waiting rooms or at the check-out, just to flip through them and holy plastic complexions, Batman! It’s kind of scary.

    Same here. If it weren’t for the internet, I wouldn’t really know much about what was going on in women’s magazines. I noticed when I was a teenager that they made me feel like crap, and I gradually phased them out of my life…from Seventeen to Elle to Cosmo.

    It makes me sad, too, because I have always loved fashion. I will longingly flip through a Vogue in the store until I get annoyed with all the advertising and some of the more clueless editorial.

    When Mode magazine was out, I wanted to jump in the air and click my heels for joy — though I’m sure they had their fair share of airbrushing and whatnot. Just, for the first time, it was a magazine that made me feel included, as though it were possible that maybe, just maybe, I could be considered beautiful too.

  7. I have scaled back my women’s magazine reading quite a bit. We’re talking only the september issue of Vogue and only for making collages – oh and staring at the purty shoes. It does change the way you approach these images. When you don’t spend so much time reading the magazines you can be shocked when they airbrush away Faith Hill’s entire arm instead of going, “Wow she’s gotten ripped!”

  8. When I was very young, I used to look at magazine photoshoots and wonder about certain things. I noticed that nobody had any vellus hair on their faces, so I reasoned that in order to make it in show business, you needed to wax your entire face. I went to a waxing salon and asked about full-face waxing (including forehead, nose, neck, cheeks, etc.), and was told, sure, they’d do it, no questions asked. I went home and gave my parents a price quote. My mom (who looks like essentially an older version of Heidi Klum), said it sounded reasonable, and that maybe it was a good idea. My dad, on the other hand, said it sounded strange, that he’d never heard of anything like that before. My mom admitted then that yes, she too had never heard of forehead waxing. I said I’d gotten the idea from a magazine. “Which one?” my mom asked, thinking I’d picked up the latest “beauty technique.” I told her my “full-face waxing” hypothesis. I wish she’d known about photo-retouching. Also: don’t wax your forehead, nose, cheeks, and neck. It does not make you look airbrushed. It just makes your face sore.

    I agree with both Pala and Brigid Keely – as the years have gone by and Photoshop has gotten cheaper and easier to use, so many images have gone the way of the uncanny valley, and don’t look like anything I’d want to “aspire” to be, as much as they don’t look like people (see: Phillipa Hamilton as an alien/bug/doll hybrid), and nothing like anyone I love. It does seem as if the growing preference for the artificial image is meant to create disgust for the actual people you encounter, alienating yourself from them, separating people from one another, until we’re all alone, in dark cells, afraid to see anybody and afraid anyone will see us. Oh, yeah, that’s already happened. Oh, dystopia, who knew you’d arrive so quietly and be welcomed with such open arms?

    I recently went to see an exhibit of some archeological finds from about 5000 BC in what is now Bulgaria at the New York University Institute for Studies of the Ancient World. There were lots of gold and copper and shell jewelry, some awesomely decorated pots, some tools for decorating cloth (and bread!), and lots of small human and animal figurines. The human figurines were abstract, and didn’t look terribly human (no arms, no heads, no feet, that sort of thing). I made a joke in my head about strange beauty ideals. It’s hard to know what ancient people were really like, and we can only guess from the artifacts they leave behind, but for some reason, I suspect that one of the people who owned these gold rings or small statues, if given a modern glossy to examine, would feel not too differently than I do when looking at the images from his or her culture: doesn’t look like people!

  9. By the way, it seems that some quack named Mercola (how quacky is he? He says you can meet all your nutritional needs by “feasting on sunshine”) is taking fatty potshots at Dr. Rachael Dunlop because she’s about to win a Shorty Award for science-based blogging and Twittering:

    Dr. Mercola explained the situation himself in a Facebook post, “An arrogant group of science bloggers that have vilified me for the past few years have started a campaign to have an Australian shill to win a health award on Twitter. This overweight non-physician has arrogantly bashed nearly every alternative therapy and encourages reliance on drugs.”

    If you Google Dr. Dunlop’s photos, you’ll see that she’s not even close to “overweight” — though she might seem so to someone who thinks one need only eat sunbeams and thrive.

  10. Oh, Dr. Mercola! He’s my fave. He made a huge ass of himself about H1N1 too — said it was overblown to sell vaccine, so he could sell his vaccine alternative (vitamin shots and herbs).

  11. I cannot stand Dr. Mercola. I have to deal with hearing about him often because of my interest in natural birthing and birthing choices. He and his plant ghosts can go suck it.

    re photoshopping – It does seem as if the growing preference for the artificial image is meant to create disgust for the actual people you encounter, alienating yourself from them, separating people from one another, until we’re all alone, in dark cells, afraid to see anybody and afraid anyone will see us.

    What a powerful image you create here, Krishji. Yes, human beings are treated as commodities. And individualism comes with its problems.

  12. Oh, Dr. Mercola! He’s my fave. He made a huge ass of himself about H1N1 too — said it was overblown to sell vaccine, so he could sell his vaccine alternative (vitamin shots and herbs).

    The sun king strikes again. I love the idea that in sunless Vermont, I am to go “hungry” or move some place where I can get more sun.

  13. When I was a tween (like 11 or 12), I thought that the photos on magazine covers were like the photos in a family scrapbook – I hadn’t heard of photoshop and had no clue that magazine cover photos are retouched. I remember looking specifically at the smooth skin on the models and then feeling bad because I did – and still do – have very very acne prone skin, and an uneven skin tone.

    And lately, my roommate has been offering lots of suggestions on how to improve my appearance. I recently became single again and so now she wants to help me look “hotter.” But every suggestion she makes usually makes me cry by myself later on, because obviously I’m not “hot” in her eyes. I don’t know why I care so much about what she thinks is hot. She doesn’t like my straight hair – according to her it would look better curly – my clothes are a little frumpy in her eyes although I actually like the way I dress, and apparently wearing glasses is very “not hot.” Oh, and having pasty skin is unattractive according to her and so she wants me to go to the tanning salon. I haven’t taken many of her suggestions – mainly because I don’t want to spend the time or money chasing after her vision of what is attractive. But, it’s really hard to keep the self confidence up when you live with someone who insists on offering constant advice/criticism of your appearance. And she also thinks that I need help learning to flirt and she tries to give me instructions on how to talk to people because I guess in her opinion I’m too shy and reserved when I first meet someone. If I sound overly upset, it’s mainly because just yesterday she was telling me how I needed to curl my hair because it looks so good curled. She doesn’t know how much it hurts people to say things like that. I know she’s trying to be helpful, but it always comes out sounding like I am awful the way I am and I need her to rescue me from myself.

  14. Oh and re Dr. Mercola’s comments: I hate the phrase “reliance on drugs.” It always seems that when people use that term, it’s in a negative way, implying that those of us who need modern pharmaceuticals are morally inferior or just trying “to take the easy way out.” I have to take 3 different antidepressants – a total of 8 pills a day – in order to make it through my day. I have a whole host of mental health issues and although it kind of infuriates me when people suggest that I should just try some alternative therapies or that I’m just trying to take the easy way. I’ve even had people – actually the same roommate as above – suggest that perhaps I really don’t need the drugs and that maybe I should go off of them. I tried to explain to her that when I try to taper off my meds, my condition slowly deteriorates, and I often end up suicidal, but she still thinks that maybe I’m “overmedicated” and should take her advice.

    I might just be overreacting to that phrase Dr. Mercola used. It’s a touchy subject for me.

  15. I might just be overreacting to that phrase Dr. Mercola used. It’s a touchy subject for me.

    Yeah, that tends to rub me the wrong way too. Particularly since it sounds like he’s using as a dodge to avoid using the obviously judgmental “over reliance”

  16. Madeline!

    I think you should tell your roommate to mind her own business and to shove it. Okay, maybe just the first thing lest you upset the balance of being roommates. First of all, going to a tanning salon is a great way to get cancer. Secondly, all her suggestions are her own opinions. Everyone has a different opinion of what they like and she has no right telling you to change how you act, your hair, or what you wear. And in my opinion, glasses are HOT.

    I live alone now but my last roommate was like very much like yours is. She also expected a lot of attention and feedback on her appearance without ever saying anything positive in return, which was infuriating to me at the time. Now I know better and am a lot more comfortable with myself.

    All this superficial nonsense means shit. Be happy and comfortable with what you chose to wear and who you are. And don’t ever let ANYONE tell you to change things you are happy with. That includes magazine covers.

  17. Madeline:

    First, I am sorry your housemate has decided you’re her personal improvement project. Does she think she’s starring in some kind of reality show version of Emma? It sounds like it, if only because she seems to think your story is all about her.

    Secondly, yes. Yes, I dislike the language that implies if one requires drugs to remain alive and functional, one is flawed by weakness.

    My insulin pump was on the fritz last wee. The implication from Institutional Powers that I somehow broke my multi-thousand-dollar piece of equipment when it’s not covered by insurance is just a sign that I am *irresponsible* and *bad* caused me to grind my teeth. Cause… you know what? If medical technology designers didn’t want pumps breaking at inconvienient times, they should design better equipment.

    And, I know I am only the eighty-gazillionth person to say so, but the Ralph Lauren ad in particular is distressing. And Go Kate Winslet With Your Rage!

  18. Emeraldcat:

    Thank you; your comment made me smile. :)

    I really do feel like telling her exactly how I feel sometimes, but we will be living together for a few more months and I am trying to keep the peace until then. I have definitely spent many hours with my therapist and many hours on the phone with my mom crying over things my roommate has said. But, looking at the bright side, I am developing a thicker skin; this situation with my roommate has forced me to work harder on not placing so much weight in the personal opinions on attractiveness that someone else has. And, I am trying to be understanding because I know that she is genuinely trying to be helpful and really doesn’t seem to get how her statements can really hurt someone’s feelings. I was able to explain to her recently why a lot of people find commentary like “You look so much better now” or “you look great now” offensive and hurtful. She seemed genuinely surprised that people could be hurt by that – so I know that she is not trying to maliciously hurt me.

    But thank you again; your comment really did make my day!

  19. Actually I think surviving off of sunlight sounds kind of cool. After the ability to have 3-hour orgasms, that might be my choice for snazzy superpower.

    @ Madeline

    That kind of attitude drives me buggy. Like, sure, a lot of things are overprescribed, but it’s absolutely intolerable when people act like you’re just being a hypochondriac.

    Gratuitous anecdote, ’cause this makes me feel stabby: I went to a screening of a movie about big Pharma wherein they were talking about how these folks are inventing diseases that they can medicate. Among these “invented diseases” were Restless Legs Syndrome and Social Anxiety Disorder, the latter of which I have/had. And then they showed these commercials for the corresponding medications which, admittedly, were ridiculous, and made SAD seem like nothing more than typical shyness.

    But that was not why people were laughing. Their understanding was nothing so nuanced. They were laughing because clearly it was SO ridiculous that anyone would suggest THAT SUCH A THING EXISTED.

    And so I had to sit there in a theater full of people laughing hysterically at how silly it was that anyone might think that this horrible, horrible illness which landed like a bomb in the midst of my adolescence and thoroughly fucked up my life for the better part of a decade was even real. It’s infuriating just remembering it.

    Anyhoo, screw the haters and do what works for you!

  20. AnthroK8:

    I love it – I guess she does see me as her own personal improvement project! Thank you also for your kind and witty words. I think I will print these out to pull out later when I get another group of suggestions from her.

  21. Pala:

    I’m so sorry you had to listen to those people in the theater. Reading what you wrote really resonated with me because I suffer from OCD and having to constantly listen to the jokes about people with OCD makes me so mad. OCD literally stole my childhood from me and finally, at age 20, I feel like I’m living for the first time. And then people around me – who don’t know about the OCD – think it’s funny to joke about, because obviously those people with OCD are just uptight neat freaks who just need to get a grip and then they could cure themselves…

  22. @hsofia – Thanks for the compliment; it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who notices these sorts of things.

    @Madeline – I think you’ve expressed yourself clearly and maturely, and your roommate is not being compassionate and is not respecting your emotional needs: you should not worry if she has to endure a moment of discomfort for treating you the way she has during a difficult time.

    @Pala – What was the name of the film that you saw? Was it a documentary that is going to have a limited metropolitan release? I might want to see it because I’m masochistic, and it’s a shame that only people who laugh at other people’s problems should see this load of steaming horsewhatsit.

    I had not heard of Dr. Mercola until today, but I’d heard of another person (in the United Kingdom, I think) who was talking about Breatharianism, which can’t be that different from living on sunlight. I hate quacks.

  23. Pala, that’s just ridiculous! I periodically get restless legs (mostly when I don’t exercise regularly), and it’s unbelievably maddening. The people in that theater should try falling asleep when it feels like ants are crawling all over the bottoms of their feet. And I have a very mild case. *shudder*

    Madeline, I was going to say that your roommate sounds a bit toxic, but from your expanded description, I think she’s just really clueless. I mean, we can’t control other people and it’s definitely important to learn how not to take things personally, but it also sucks when a friend isn’t considerate.

  24. Madeline, FWIW, my boyfriend has pretty much the opposite opinion of your roomate about the attractiveness of the traits you’ve mentioned. Some people just don’t seem to realize how subjective beauty is.

    As for the antidepressants, I’d be tempted to say, “Are you a doctor?” Maybe another thing to try saying to her would be something to the effect of, “I’ve discussed it with my psychiatrist, and I don’t feel comfortable going against their advice…”

  25. Among these “invented diseases” were Restless Legs Syndrome

    Wow. My mom had this a few months before she died, and as she was already experiencing advanced dementia I am pretty sure she wasn’t, you know, inventing it to get pity or make herself feel special. I mean, I saw her legs do this.

    Madeline: One of my favorite responses to rude statements, which I am sure we didn’t invent but which we have often championed on this blog, is a calm, “What a rude thing to say. You must be so embarrassed!”

  26. I don’t know what happened, but I tried to post this earlier. :P They identified the woman in the plus size shoot as Crystal Renn and it’s not her. There’s a page that lists the models from that shoot, but I think maybe linking there is what held up my comment in the first place. :P

  27. Krishji: Thanks – I’m trying to find that balance between being polite/keeping the peace and sticking up for myself/protecting myself!

    Meems: yeah, I have a grandfather who says all sorts of insensitive/creepy things (like for instance that I would scare off boys because I’m too smart and then later that day I guess he felt bad so he told me that if he were younger he would have been interested in me – I’m pretty sure he meant “and if I wasn’t your grandfather” but it was still kind of creepy) so I’m trying to put into practice the strategies I use for dealing with his commentary – like not taking it to heart and trying to just ignore it – when dealing with my roommate.

    Closetpuritan: I try to keep reminding myself that people have different tastes. Yeah, the problem is my roommate is a biology major, so she knows more than I do about how the brain works and she starts using lots of terms that I don’t know so then I feel flustered because I don’t know how to defend myself. Finally I just said that I trusted my psychiatrist.

    Sweet machine: I love that phrase, but I still struggle to say anything to defend myself. I’m getting better though, definitely in part thanks to this blog – I don’t want to sound overdramatic, but your blog really has helped me change/save my life. I found it a couple years ago when I was in the depths of anorexia, was intrigued and started reading. And then I kept coming back to read because it offered this viewpoint that I had really never been exposed to before. And now, I really am changed – I practice intuitive eating (I read those posts multiple times on intuitive eating when I was first trying out the whole listen to your body thing), I exercise when I want to and do exercise that I enjoy, etc. Of course, I’ve been in therapy too, but your blog has been an important part of my recovery. So I just wanted to say thank you. I don’t comment much, but I read often.

  28. I can understand the skepticism about Restless Leg Syndrome, though — I think people worry about the Latisse/hypotrichosis of the eyelashes phenomenon, where the disease term is invented, the definition is stretched, and/or the condition is overpublicized to fit the available medication. I don’t think anyone is saying that the symptom doesn’t exist, or if they are they’re being stupid. I think the concern is about considering and medicating it as a stand-alone disease because a treatment is available, instead of seeing it as a symptom that may be indicative of a larger systemic issue.

    Putting social anxiety disorder on that list, however, is asinine.

  29. @Bob – the only thing I wish I had like the “Real Housewives” is their money. Doesn’t matter if it is Atlanta, Orange County or any other place, I find those women very sad. They were all probably very attractive in their own individual way at one time, but they decided to go the fake boobs/fake tan/fake nails/Botoxed foreheads/collagen-enhanced lip/fake hair route and now they all look virtually the same.

    The Photoshop abuse pisses me off big time. It is bad enough that women are supposed to try to attain the looks & lifestyles of actresses and models but then you throw Photoshop into the mix – a human woman cannot compete with that technology.

  30. “What a rude thing to say. You must be so embarrassed!”

    Thanks, SM – I love this!

    Jasmine, that’s been bugging me, too. I didn’t think that picture looked like Crystal Renn.

    Madeline, I wish you so much strength in dealing with everything. I understand, to some extent, how hard it is.

  31. . I think the concern is about considering and medicating it as a stand-alone disease because a treatment is available, instead of seeing it as a symptom that may be indicative of a larger systemic issue.

    That’s fair.

  32. I must admit that the first time I heard of Restless Leg Syndrome I was like, “WHAT?” I just thought it was ridiculous, not the idea that the legs could ache or be painful, but the “syndrome” piece. Years later, when I was pregnant, I got RLS, and was like OHMYGODTHISISDRIVINGMEUPTHEWALL. My midwife saved me by suggesting I take a magnesium supplement, which took care of it within minutes. I had to take it almost daily or else the pain would come back at night, but post-pregnancy, it’s not been an issue.

    I think the concerns about Big Pharma are valid, and people’s need for medicines are valid, too. I think the US society at least is dealing with some major changes in the way pharmaceuticals are handled – like being marketed to consumers right alongside cars and potato chips. Also, I think a lot of the fear stems around medication of children and ballooning health care costs. People are trying to figure out who/what is to blame because there is so much media about how “sick” and “unhealthy” US Americans are. I think it’s a blow to our national ego, among other things.

  33. Putting social anxiety disorder on that list, however, is asinine.

    No kidding. My dad’s anti-anxiety meds meant the difference between him donning a tux and walking me down the aisle at my wedding and him hiding in the car, alone, having a panic attack. Thanks, I’ll take the former. Dad sometimes has a rough time in social situations. He’s a great guy and well-liked. Anything that makes it easier for him to participate, I’m all for it. And my husband has mild RLS. It sucks. I second the poster who says that anyone dissing it should have to suffer it for a night.

    People really suck sometimes. I’m gluten-intolerant; this was finally figured out late last year after about 15 years of being told that I had IBS and there was nothing to do except eat more fiber, especially whole-wheat things (um…yeah). I haven’t had much static about it yet, my family and friends have been super understanding, but apparently I’m really lucky. Some other celiacs I’ve encountered have immediate family members who deliberately contaminate their food in the hopes of catching them in a lie about the condition. The celiac in question then spends several days recovering while the relative tells them they’re overreacting. Sick, sick, sick.

  34. Actually I think surviving off of sunlight sounds kind of cool. After the ability to have 3-hour orgasms, that might be my choice for snazzy superpower.

    I’d rather have the 3-hour orgasms and then go for an all-day breakfast buffet.

  35. i-geek: I was just diagnosed with celiac disease a few months ago. Like you, my family has been mostly understanding. I know I am very lucky in that sense. Anyway, it’s just neat to meet another gluten-free-er!

  36. I think the concern is about considering and medicating it as a stand-alone disease because a treatment is available, instead of seeing it as a symptom that may be indicative of a larger systemic issue.

    I totally agree with this, and I also think that it’s worth looking for ways to mitigate symptoms that don’t involve medication first.

    Also, three hour orgasms sound like a bit too much for me…

  37. “Some other celiacs I’ve encountered have immediate family members who deliberately contaminate their food in the hopes of catching them in a lie about the condition. The celiac in question then spends several days recovering while the relative tells them they’re overreacting. “


  38. I commented on this over at Feed Me!

    This is what I had to say about the Photoshop Trickanery:

    These photoshopped images simply just anger me. I feel duped….and so should everyone else. These advertisers/entertainment industry types are doing nothing but selling a lie. The magazines claim that they can’t sell magazines unless they enhance their photos….that we (mostly women) won’t buy their magazines unless there is an image of perfection on the cover. I understand the desire for perfection that we all have. Hell, I have a hard time looking at unretouched photos of myself now and again, but I have enough integrity that I don’t want to be someone I am not. Sure, I wear makeup and style my hair when I leave the house, but it is for my own reasons, not other’s approval/acceptance. I just want to look like me….and most of those celebrities/models don’t even look like themselves.

    When I was growing up, Farrah Fawcett was the epitome of desire for males and females. Everyone wanted to look like her. Her famous poster showed freckles, tan lines, creases and laugh lines. I’m sure there was some retouching done then, but nothing to the extent it is done today. She was real….and still very desireable. Today, most images plastered to the walls of teens and fans are nothing more than a fantasy and impossible to attain for anybody.

    But this is nothing new to me. Ten years ago my then 15 yr old daughter was caught looking at porno sites on the computer. I didn’t freak out. I understood the curiosity. What I did was sit down with her and explain that even those women don’t look like those women….and if you get caught up in believing that their body is attainable for you, then you are in for a lifetime of disappointment. Nevermind the fact that pornography is not a realistic representation of sex, with the edits and acting and makeup and script etc. etc. Don’t fall for that trap because you will be severely disappointed.

    I just don’t buy what they’re selling. It’s just sad that there are so many that do.

  39. ““Some other celiacs I’ve encountered have immediate family members who deliberately contaminate their food in the hopes of catching them in a lie about the condition. The celiac in question then spends several days recovering while the relative tells them they’re overreacting. “”

    That is so fucked up and disgusting!

  40. thefatnutritionist- I think surviving off sunlight would be a badass power because, of course, when I go on my magical quests to save civilization and defeat the forces of ultimate evil, I wouldn’t have to lug around a backpack full of hardtack and other unpleasantly adventurous foodstuffs. But yeah, I’d rather have the orgasms. Civilization can save itself while hubby and I get freaky.

    littlem- Oh! I didn’t mean in looking like a porcelain doll in terms of whiteness, although obviously beauty standards and whiteness can’t be seperated. I meant the totally plastic complexions, the complete absence of wrinkles or scars or stretchmarks or cellulite, the way everything seems to be geared towards straightened and reducing, etc.

    Madeline- I have to confess I can be one of the OCD jokers. I’ve been trying to scour my speech of such references, but it’s an ongoing thing. But yeah, there were few things that made me angrier than shitholes telling me, at a point in my life when I could scarcely leave the house or speak to people, that I should just “get out there” and “live life to the fullest” and that if I just stopped being so uptight it would all be sunshine (the non-edible kind) and roses.

    Fuck the fucking fuckers, and I’m never ever making an OCD joke again.

  41. littlem- Did you just miss the part where I already stated that I know they’re linked? I was talking about reducing the size of their bodies, as evidenced in the link. It would be awesome if you could quit it with the patronizing assumption that I need 101 level instruction on this.

  42. That wasn’t my assumption.
    But reading your own last comment back, I’m certainly not going to argue with you about it .

  43. When you decide to point out something I had already pointed out myself in a comment, then send me a link to a post I have already commented on multiple times as, I think, something other than a total meathead, and keep assuming that I’m revealing some deep prejudice before even bothering to clarify what the fuck I’m talking about…

    Yeah, that’s gonna come off as patronizing. Cool if you don’t want to get into a shitfight about it, but I’d rather you actually try discuss things with me instead of simply assuming (as you really seemed to be doing) that I need you to swoop in with your enlightening links to lift the veil of my ignorance.

  44. @ AnthroK8– sorry to hear your iron pancreas was on the fritz. Definitely one of my worst fears.
    @Madeline– wait, haven’t you tried just snapping out of it? You know, NOT being depressed any more? No? Well, this coming week I’m going to try snapping out of MY clinical depression. Also, I’m going to disconnect the aforementioned insulin pump in an effort to snap out of my non-functional pancreas. Yay sunshine!

  45. I heartily agree with Madeline and Palo, it’s so frustrating to hear people denigrate medication. My husband and I both suffer from depression (treated); and so we keep a close eye on our kids for it too. All of them also have ADHD. My eldest, eleven, needs Prozac, Adderall, and propranalol for his migraines. At Thanksgiving my in-laws mentioned that maybe he shouldn’t be relying so much on pills, grrr!

    I love these people, and respect them too; but it still made me enraged. Hmph, ;maybe I shouldn’t rely so much on my glasses either!

  46. The most disturbing thing about reading this post is that I’ve discovered that Dr Mercola isnt my own private doctor as I had previously assumed. I thought it was just me that his e-mail newsletter was for….now I’m wondering if I really do need to have my pillows made from Vitamin D and fish oil capsules. That two timing sod…I suppose he made you all wear the pointed hat made out of dried seal femur and puffin’s sputum?

    No? Oh…

  47. I haven’t had much static about it yet, my family and friends have been super understanding, but apparently I’m really lucky. Some other celiacs I’ve encountered have immediate family members who deliberately contaminate their food in the hopes of catching them in a lie about the condition. The celiac in question then spends several days recovering while the relative tells them they’re overreacting.

    This is seriously one of the most fucked-up things I’ve ever heard.

    Celiac disease and gluten intolerance is a REAL THING and can cause (and has caused) terrible suffering for people who go undiagnosed.

    People really need to keep their opinions out of other people’s health.

  48. Yeah, count me as another one who’s annoyed at the “reliance on pills” comments. Funny, I recall trying a lot of non-pharmaceutical methods to deal with my anxiety. They helped, but not to the extent that an SSRI did. Yeah, you* can have my meds when you pry them out of my hands, and I’ll relieve some of that now untreated anxiety by thwapping you upside the head with a mackerel.

    I wonder if some people just don’t get what terms like SAD or clinical depression actually *mean* and they relate them to their own experience, in a flawed kind of way. Everyone’s experienced shyness or depression as emotions, rather than as illnesses that take over your whole life, so it’s possible for someone to assume that that’s what people are talking about, and wonder what the big deal is.

    That’s not to excuse the stupid comments–it takes a serious lack of empathy not to listen and believe someone when they say, “No, I don’t mean just being sad–I mean that the things that used to make me happy feel like nothing and I don’t even remember what happy *feels* like.” or “Um, when I’m around people I don’t know, it takes all my mental energy to not *hyperventilate* or run screaming; I think this goes beyond ‘shy.'”

    *the hypothetical “you” who’s talking out of their hypothetical rectum about other people’s meds, not anyone here.

  49. I haven’t had much static about it yet, my family and friends have been super understanding, but apparently I’m really lucky. Some other celiacs I’ve encountered have immediate family members who deliberately contaminate their food in the hopes of catching them in a lie about the condition. The celiac in question then spends several days recovering while the relative tells them they’re overreacting.

    Yeah, I second Michelle on “most fucked up thing I ever heard.” Except that I know I shouldn’t say that, because something more fucked up will instantly pop its head up to prove me wrong. But deliberately poisoning your family members because you think they’re exaggerating displays an impressive amount of fucked-upness.

  50. Yeah, littlem, linking Pala back to a thread where she herself has commented thoughtfully several times and appeared to stick with the whole long discussion is not helpful. If you want to talk about links between the doll-like appearance and standards of white beauty *in this thread,* I’m all ears.

  51. I think broken legs are overmedicalised and people shouldn’t be so reliant on crutches and splints and casts, it’s a con from the plaster-steel-and-lumber industry and if people would just take enough comfrey and arnica they’d be fine.

    Or something.

  52. I’m always boggled at the complete lack of empathy a lot of TAB people show towards others – my brother actually said he’d try feeding me mushrooms to see if I was really allergic, which got him roundly chewed out by both me and my friend who knows a lot more (medically) about allergies than him. Madeline, I take anti-anxiety meds too, and pain meds – alternatives do not work for me. And glasses are hot. :)

    Airbrushing is fraud – and deeply entwined with sexism and body hatred and racism. It seems to go hand in hand with the disgust I see towards the frailty of the human body, and the cult of self-determinism that infects so much of society. If you’re not perfect, it’s your own fault, and you deserve what you get. *eye roll*

    The Body Perfect has always been a thing, but in the past ten years, it’s taken on frightening new forms as the medical establishment has discovered a new cash… erm… heifer in the pathologization of normal body traits. Lashes too short? No problem! Smile or worry lines? Gone! Butt too flat? Belly too big? Thighs too cellutlite-ey? We can fix it! And this just feeds into the idea that people who don’t look “perfect” are just not trying.

    And thanks, Sweet Machine – you gave me grist for my own blog today! :)

  53. Sometimes even the more “alternative” methods get dismissed by people who just think you need more willpower. My father suggested that using a CPAP machine for my sleep apnea was “taking the easy way out” and I’d be fine if I just made my house hypoallergenic and lost 100 pounds.

    I just rolled my eyes, but my husband almost went for his throat. We have three small children – Momma’s well-being is VERY IMPORTANT.

  54. I think one of the most hideous side effects of the “you don’t need pills if you have willpower” people is what it does to the untreated sufferer. It is incredibly common for people with clinical depression to resist medication. And depression can be relied upon to produce a toxic stew of guilt, shame and sadness unrelated to actual events about which one ought to feel guilty or ashamed or sad. So having jerks throw the shame-and-guilt thing on depressed people–“Oh, if you were only strong enough, you could handle this on your own”–is so fucking damaging that it makes me start eyeing sharp objects.

    I really began to hate the religion in which I was raised after one memorable Sunday in which I was informed that people who really have faith and love Jesus will be happy, and sad people just are faithless and not righteous enough.

  55. Madeline: I just had to comment on what you said about your roommate being a biology major and “knowing” how the brain works and therefore trying to make “scientific” arguments as to why you should follow her advice about appearance.

    Your roommate is full of horseshit. That’s right, pure, unadulterated horseshit. I have a bachelor’s degree in biology, I’m working on a master’s, I have taught human anatomy and physiology at a university level over the course of my master’s degree. Your roommate likely has taken some courses about neurology and/or brain function and now thinks that she understands how these things work. She doesn’t. I would bet my left arm she doesn’t. She’s learned a few basics and is now trying to apply them to things far beyond the scope of the experimental conditions in which those conclusions were originally drawn. The science behind human perception is so vastly unknown and so damn near impossible to disentangle from social conditioning that making any statement about how the brain interprets beauty beyond something like “humans tend to find more symmetrical faces more attractive” is pretty much idiotic. And even in statements like that, “tend to” is the key operative there–exceptions always, always exist.

    This reminds me of a quote I heard once somewhere that read something like “Knowledge is dangerous. A little knowledge is MORE dangerous.” And it’s true. I would almost guarantee that your roommate, in her biology major, has a tiny, tiny bit of knowledge in this subject and is now trying to apply that teensy bit of knowledge to a subject on which it was never meant to be applied. Forgive my long, angry response but as a scientist it just makes my blood boil when I see science misused to this degree. Tell your roommate to get her head out of her ass! :p

    I like the suggestion of using the line “That was such a rude thing to say, you must be so embarrassed~!” She should be embarrassed!

    Good luck to you with everything, and hang in there! I’m assuming you’re in college? College can be cruel. Oh, and one thing I see around my campus that always makes me laugh is the fake tans (I’m thinking of it because you said your roommate suggested you get one). If you have pale skin a fake tan will make you look orange. Don’t do it, ever!

  56. @Madeline: There’s nothing wrong with whatever color your skin is naturally. I wish more people would embrace that. I’m living here in Norway and people fake bake like MAD here. Norwegians actually get darker in January than July. It’s really nuts, and it shows in their skin by the time they’re 25 or so with sun damage and a lot of wrinkles. I would hate to know what the rate of skin cancer is here.

    As pointed out so well earlier, “attractive” is really subjective and just because one doesn’t look like Barbie (Heidi Montag? Same thing) doesn’t mean that one isn’t attractive to at least a few people in the immediate vicinity. Even if one isn’t, big deal. While it sucks to not have a date and kind of want to go on one, or want to be asked at least, things work out. If someone can’t see you for the intelligent person you are, well, nertz to them.

    As for the know it all roommate, I third the “What a rude thing to say” idea, but sometimes just saying thanks, smiling and doing something the exact opposite will drive the point across. A bit passive aggressive, but I’ve seen it work in the past (and had it work for me).

  57. @starling, word. It is insidious and dangerous. The pull-your-self-out-of-it crowd probably sees the folks who commit suicide because they didn’t get treated for depression as “weak.” It makes me want to smack them. Or (better) let them spend a day with real, serious, depression in their brains and then see if they think they can just shake it off.

    Back to the photoshop disasters, Ralph Lauren WTF?!?

  58. I think part of the problem with the backlash against “over-reliance” on medication is the fact that Pharma is all too willing to expand the definitions of actual conditions simply to increase their customer base. And that kind of waters down the actual condition. Like with Latisse: there are actual conditions that can result in problematic lack of lashes, but that market share is rather small, so if you want to make more money, just medicalize the lower end of the normal range of lash density. Make it into a biological problem to be solved, rather than an acceptable variation in hair density.

    Unfortunately, the same thing happens with medications for mental health. It’s kind of a boy who cried wolf thing, except it’s not the patients crying wolf, it’s the Pharma companies.

  59. Some other celiacs I’ve encountered have immediate family members who deliberately contaminate their food in the hopes of catching them in a lie about the condition. The celiac in question then spends several days recovering while the relative tells them they’re overreacting.

    Yeah, my mom did this to my step-brother once. He gets violently ill when he eats mayonnaise, but my mother is convinced he’s just looking for attention or pity, so she served him some dish that had hidden mayo in it. He was sick for the next two days. My mother still wouldn’t admit she was wrong, though: she just claimed that somehow he must have tasted the mayo and made himself get sick.

    This would be the same mother who told me she was terribly disappointed in me for having to be hospitalized one weekend when I was really depressed. Basically, anything that requires her attention or sympathy is viewed as an unreasonable burden.

  60. What, no love for Twiggy’s deagifying magic? (

    That was my favorite. :( I admit, it’s not as dramatic as Ralph Lauren’s debacle, but it’s the subtlety that really makes the image.

    I’m always shocked just how much medical knowledge random folks have about all kinds of conditions. Anything psychological or currently invisible seems to draw a wide field of experts. There’s always a sure-fire cure, or the disease is made-up, or both!

    I’m currently working on snapping out of the early stages of a Category Four hurricanemigraine. (Thanks, barometric pressure!) And yeah, already one person has already told me that she gets “really bad” headaches sometimes, but if she just drinks some water, it goes away!

    If I could find meds that worked, I’d hug them and pet them and squeeze them and call them George. And if they were affordable, we’d get married and have imaginary children together. Until then, I pay a half hour’s wages/dose for pills that don’t work more than half the time.

    And I’m *lucky*, because as far as invisible diseases go, migraines aren’t bad. Migrainees are way privileged because at least 75% of the population* believes they are an actual thing, and they don’t kill you or anything if they go untreated.

    * As determined by a carefully randomized statistical sample of people I know who offer their unsolicited opinions on stuff.

  61. Anita, my husband uses Topomax to control his migraines. It has some serious side effects, so it shouldn’t be used if you have infrequent migraines; but he went from having two or three a week to one or two a month. Made a huge difference for him. A teeny tiny silver cloud for you may be that you have a lower risk of breast cancer:

    I was surprised to learn that if you consistently take more standard drugs for migraines, they can make the pain worse. Our nervous system is weird. Google rebound headaches for those who are interested.

  62. Oh, by standard drugs I mean the OTC and narcotic pain relievers. Not the other usual migraine specific drugs!

  63. Anita: I’m so sorry to hear about your migraine – if you find meds that work, I’d like to know to! With some of my migraines, nothing works and I end up having to wait it out; I tried topomax but it didn’t prevent any migraines and it gave me awful side effects. Anyway, I hope it goes away really soon.

  64. Fat Actuary: It’s not the broken pump that gets me. They break, you take shots for a couple of days, they send you a new one. I have survived that before.

    It’s the timing. How cosmically unsurprising is it that my pump broke the week after the warranty went out AND the week it appears our healthcare overhaul has gone West thanks to the Republican 41-vote supermajority?

    Thankfully (and no one told me this till I broke down on the phone with a repair tech in tears of frustration because I can’t replace the thing right now), these gadgets will sometimes succumb to electro-static fritzing from being tucked in synthetic clothes (bras or whatever- since today’s dresses have no pockets and I wear dresses…). Evidently they’ll often re-set themselves if you take out the battery and leave it be.

    And lo, that is what happened with mine.

    Speaking of superpowers, if I could metabolize glucose on sunshine alone, I’d move to AZ in a minute. I’ll take the 3-hour orgasms over the no-food superpower any day, however.

  65. already one person has already told me that she gets “really bad” headaches sometimes, but if she just drinks some water, it goes away!

    Pfft. Dehydration can trigger migraines for me – drinking water, however, does not make them go away. That honor goes to heavy duty painkillers and attempts at sleeping in a dark room. And I get fairly mild migraines. Sadly, typical meds don’t work, since most contain sulfa, and I’m allergic. I hope you feel back to normal soon, Anita!

  66. My mom buys me subscriptions to magazines like “Good Housekeeping” and “Prevention” because she likes them. I started to feel, a long time ago, that the magazines’ JOB was to make me hate my body, even while telling me that I shouldn’t. Like, they’ll have a two-page article on how “normal” (as they define it) and “plus” sizes are beautiful, but the 12-page photo shoot of fashions for this fall are all the super-skinny models, as usual.

    Heck, the most recent issue of “Ladies’ Home Journal” had a cover-story interview with ZOMG JILLIAN MICHAELS (*eyerolls*) and when they asked her off-handedly “what about all these studies that say that diets just don’t work?”, she responded, basically, by shouting at the interviewer that that was crap. And that was presented as somehow…a scientific rebuttal. Okay, then. (A single paragraph on page 138 mentions, in passing, that being overweight on the BMI is no longer considered automatically a health risk. This was NOT mentioned in the Jillian interview, of course.)

    I’m so grateful that I found SP last week – I’ve been crash-reading all the archives and I’m on such a high. I came here via Pandagon, as you were a link posted in a – what else? – discussion about how, jesus, it’s so SIMPLE, just eat fewer calories, GAH. I can’t remember WHO linked you, but by god I want to send them some baby flavored donuts. Thank you! :)

  67. re the anti-drug sentiment – I think it’s worth pointing out that a lot of people who are anti-drug/big Pharma are so because of the terrible experiences they’ve had with the medical industry. So a lot of this is backlash after years of being misdiagnosed, mis-medicated, and underserved. I have mixed feelings on the subject – modern medical procedures saved my baby’s life, but they’ve also killed several of my relatives.

  68. And that was supposed to tie in with the actual TOPIC on-hand, in as much as I can’t help but muse that probably even Jillian Michaels is/was photoshopped, if not in the tummy, then probably in the face because *no woman is naturally beautiful enough to go on the cover of a magazine*.

    But, no, I got all excited and forgot my original point. /sheepish

  69. hsofia: I hear you, as they say. Modern medical procedures – specifically unnecessarily medicalised childbirth – made me doubly incontinent and unable to have sex, aged 25, but they also repaired me reasonably well, aged 26, and medical childbirth saved my nephew’s life some 8 or 9 years ago.

  70. @Laura: The pull-your-self-out-of-it crowd probably sees the folks who commit suicide because they didn’t get treated for depression as “weak.” It makes me want to smack them. Or (better) let them spend a day with real, serious, depression in their brains and then see if they think they can just shake it off.

    The one that enrages me is that suicide is “selfish.” Like, more selfish than demanding someone live through that kind of pain just because you* don’t want to have to grieve for them?

    *not you-you, generic you.

  71. “Knowledge is dangerous. A little knowledge is MORE dangerous.”

    I totally agree with this (though I’m sometimes guilty of extrapolating beyond my abilities, myself, mostly just cause I like to hear myself talk.)

    My favourite way to put it, when I’m talking about science to people who make simplistic assumptions about stuff is, “Reality is complex.”

    Because, you know, it really is. People tend to forget sometimes.

  72. So, modern medical procedures, though not without their downsides, have probably saved all of our lives at least once, no? I mean vaccinations, iodine in our salt, hand washing….all these “Western” medical evils that enable us to live past 30…

    Even childbirth is better than it used to be by a long shot, given as it used to be the number one cause of death in women.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to improve the system, or that people have not had terrible experiences in it, but it’s certainly more good than bad.

    RE: the actual thread topic, I’m of somewhat mixed feelings. I mean, the women are already physically thrice removed from most of our bodies. I’m not sure Photoshop changes that other than to make them look surreal. If anything, things like the Ralph Lauren ad can perversely bring a positive influence about by inadvertantly shedding light on how twisted our image of the “ideal” woman is (as does the skin lightening of WOC, who as SM pointed out, are usually lighter of skin anyway just to make it in the door).

  73. Ailbhe–I worked for 9-1-1 for six years, and I talked to a LOT of suicidal people. Sometimes people who were in the process of committing suicide. The suicidal people I spoke to talked about how much they had hurt or disappointed family and friends by their weakness, and how much better off their loved ones would be without their presence. Even writing about it now makes me want to cry. Sure, it was disordered thinking, but selfish? No.

  74. @Ailbhe – I have heard the “suicide is selfish” thing a lot, which always puzzled me. I think people who make that statement simply don’t understand real depression (as opposed to feeling bummed, grouchy, stressed). Interestingly, I’ve found some of the same people who say “suicide is selfish” are not opposed to assisted suicide laws. I think what it comes down to is what they can imagine. They can’t imagine things being “so bad” that you’d want to die -unless- you are injured or sick in some way that THEY think would make life no longer worth living.

  75. @i-geek I can’t believe people would try to sabotage a coeliac diet by adding gluten to things. That is disgusting! Like feeding peanuts to someone with a peanut allergy. Okay, so the gluten might not give you anaphylactic shock, but it’s still doing permanent damage to the celiac patient’s body. I have family members with coeliac disease, diagnosed by small-bowel biopsy, and I know it’s serious.

    I think where some of the scepticism comes in is with the term “gluten intolerance” and the fact that some people self-diagnose. Coeliac disease is more than just intolerance to gluten, it’s a full-blown allergy. Once you stop eating gluten, the antibodies disappear. Therefore you can only be tested for coeliac disease while you are actually eating gluten. The problem with self-diagnosis is that if people aren’t 100% sure that it’s coeliac disease then they may occasionally eat small amounts of gluten in the belief that a small amount won’t hurt. A proper medical diagnosis also helps shut up the obnoxious people who don’t believe it’s real.

    A lot of people who don’t actually have coeliac disease claim to be gluten intolerant. The only reason I use the word “claim” is because medical experts I’ve interviewed on the matter say that gluten intolerance (not coeliac disease) is rare and is because women’s magazines and trendy diets made avoiding gluten fashionable at one point, so in some cases there can be other motivations. Now I’m not saying that individuals are or aren’t gluten intolerant and I’ve no desire to catch anyone out – their bodies, their lives. But gluten intolerance is definitely not the same thing as coeliac disease, as I’m sure you know.

  76. To be fair, I’m reading the News Week article now and they do give credit to Jezebel for some of it.

  77. I’m with The Other Caitlin–There is a subset of health nuts/dieters who are not allergic to gluten, do not have celiac, and insist that they are “gluten sensitive,” as a way to get out of eating carbs in public. It frustrates me as my sister-in-law actually HAS severe juvenile Chron’s (different but similar symptoms) and these people just trivialize what is a very serious disease.

  78. (I had a similar comment but I think I deleted it. Brainfart).


    My understanding is that the “taking narcotics makes it worse” thing is just another insidious myth about how narcotic dependence works. Starting and stopping a heavy narcotic will give anyone a headache from the withdrawal, but a steady low dose of oxy is the only thing to control my mother’s migraines.

    Topamax saved my life. I was very lucky and able to see a permenant reduction after ceasing to take the meds (did a six month course). It doesn’t work for everyone but it’s worth a shake.

  79. Migrainees are way privileged because at least 75% of the population* believes they are an actual thing, and they don’t kill you or anything if they go untreated.

    Although apparently 75% of the population also thinks they GET them. That makes me crazy, and I’m not even a migraineur — I am just a person who gets bad headaches and knows PERFECTLY WELL they are not migraines, and doesn’t appreciate other people overdiagnosing themselves. (Note I am not talking to anyone on this thread; I have no reason to believe you don’t get migraines!) I actually started a sentence once, trying to be sympathetic, with “I don’t get migraines, but I do get bad headaches that come with nausea and light sensitivity” and my interlocutor said “um, those are migraines.” Um, no they’re not.

    The people who claim “gluten intolerance” to get out of eating carbs also make me crazy — man, pathologizing is bad enough without you courting it. But I do also have some sympathy for how difficult it is to sort out one’s own food sensitivities. I am pretty sure I’m sensitive to some foods or food elements, but damn if I know which, since it’s rare that I eat only one macronutrient at a time… if I were the type of person to do this, I might guess gluten, cut it out, cut down thereby on eating whatever it is that is making me feel shitty, feel better, and define myself thereafter as “gluten intolerant.” Though I hope I wouldn’t be as tiresome about it as people are when they’re secretly using it as a diet. (I’ve never met an actual celiac who considers it identity-constitutive.)

    Wow, this thread sure spun off topic.

  80. It can be annoying when people who can safely eat gluten make a show about not being able or willing to for woo “health” reasons. But, because people think gluten free=health food, and health food always has a market (except sunshine, which is free), more gluten free food is more widely available to people who really need it. I’d say it’s a net gain.

  81. @Puffalo I’d say it’s irritating for anyone with actual food allergies/sensitivities/can’t eat foods or will die syndromes. I have a lot of food allergies, peanut, carrot, apple, blahdeblah, so hearing people willingly cut out foods that they CAN eat?! Holy begonias, makes my blood prickle. I so miss apples with peanut butter.

    I will say the only thing I will not eat that I’m not allergic to is pork, and that’s because I’m Jewish. Besides that, man, bring it on (Unless I’ll need an epi-pen, because I’m too sleepy to go to the hospital).

    Sadly, Norway doesn’t do a lot of peanut butter, so almost or cashew butter is impossible to find :(

  82. “I actually started a sentence once, trying to be sympathetic, with “I don’t get migraines, but I do get bad headaches that come with nausea and light sensitivity” and my interlocutor said “um, those are migraines.” Um, no they’re not.”

    Those DO kind of sound like they could be migraines, FJ. You don’t have to be in screaming agony to be on the spectrum of migraine sufferers. Have you had it checked out?

  83. “And I’m *lucky*, because as far as invisible diseases go, migraines aren’t bad. Migrainees are way privileged because at least 75% of the population* believes they are an actual thing, and they don’t kill you or anything if they go untreated. ”

    Sorry to bust the bubble, but actually they CAN. It’s rare, but the nausea can be so debilitating that you can actually die from dehydration. It’s nearly happened to my mother a few times.

    That’s not counting the double vision while driving, the weakness and neuropathy during an attack on one side of the body, also dangerous while driving, or while, you know, *trying to walk/go down stairs/etc*

  84. Re drugs. So I, who gets headaches that my doc calls migraines but I don’t think are real migraines because I have friends who get real migraines but mine aren’t that bad, am supposed to not take painkillers because that’s just relying on pills and I don’t have enough willpower to overcome the pain?


    Another thing to say to rude people is, “Why would you say a thing like that?” Just throw it back on them. Or, “I beg your pardon?” as if you can’t believe you just heard what they said.

  85. While we’re on the topic of diseases that are treated like fluff by people who don’t have them, let me throw chronic fatigue syndrome onto the pile. I’d heard of it when I was younger, and while I didn’t deny that it probably existed, I couldn’t imagine fatigue ever really being that debilitating. Then two years ago I got it. WOW. It’s not even the fatigue itself that’s the debilitating part- it’s the fact that it comes almost completely out of nowhere, and it’s extremely hard to predict what kind of activities will actually make you that tired. I kind of knew there was a problem when I came home from out of town, got into bed, was asleep for essentially TWO SOLID DAYS (with I think one half-asleep bathroom run and a few periodic moments of opening my eyes or turning over), and then waking up to find I still felt completely exhausted, I had absolutely no appetite, and my whole body just ached. It’s pooh-poohed as a “yuppie disease,” but somehow I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the people who predominantly get it are people who have extremely high-stress lives and/or trauma victims (of which I am both, although the onset of the disease for me came while I was in the thick of an incredibly high-stress job). Mine luckily is manageable right now, but there have been times when I’ve been unable to complete very basic tasks or I’ve not enjoyed myself in social situations just because I am SO TIRED. For apparently NO REASON.

    Certain people want to see this as simple laziness, but there is a huge difference between mentally not wanting to do something and literally not having the physical energy required to do something. At least in my life, the same certain people who want to think a disease is pure laziness are apparently not paying attention to how hard I actually do work most of the time. Or at least taking it for granted.

  86. A couple of quick things: Restless Legs Syndrome can also be caused by low ferritin, which can be fixed by taking iron supplements, which are cheap. I didn’t think my iron was low — I’ve never been anemic — but my ferritin levels were a power of 10 lower than they should have been. It can take a while to build it back up, but as long as I keep taking my iron, I can sleep at night.

    Regarding “suicide is selfish”: I’ve been dealing with recurrent major depression since 1995. I’ve been borderline suicidal several times. I’ve made one not-fully-serious suicide attempt. And I think it’s extremely selfish, especially for anyone who counts a child (their own, a younger sibling, etc) among their closest loved ones. In most cases, once you find the right treatment or combination of treatments, depression eventually passes. It may take months or longer (my worst depressive episode was about 4 years of bleak misery and hellish side effects), but it does go away. My sister’s former classmate still misses his big sister, who killed herself back in the early 90’s, when he was 13. Not wanting to do that to my own sister has sometimes been the only thing that kept me alive.

  87. There’s a bunch of other proteins that wheat makes, and due to the glories of our immune systems, we can be allergic/sensitive to any of them. I’m a little uncomfortable with sweeping statements that people are wrong about their own experiences – very possibly certain syndromes are overrepresented, or used as a cover for disordered eating, or whatever, but claiming to know more about someone else’s body than they do makes me anxious. (Unless you’re a trained radiographer holding fresh test results, in which case: go for it!) I mean, there’s a horde of people out there convinced I’m eating hundreds of calories every day that I instantly forget about, in order to maintain my weight. There’s not much difference between that and people assuring me that I’m not “really” sick after I eat X, Y, or Z. (Thankfully, I’m not sensitive to wheat, but still.)

    Although apparently 75% of the population also thinks they GET them.

    Yeah. To be fair, since there’s no migraine test, it’s kind of an open field. We don’t have good language for relating levels of pain, so moderate to severe headache is a self-defined term. Very few of mine hit the “curled in the tub shaking while my brain explodes soon” level – they don’t even all hit the “railroad spike through the left eyeball” level. And very occasionally, I just get the rush of endorphins at the end, without a noticeable level of pain at all.

    And since most people don’t get auras 100% of the time, it can be a hard line to draw, usually based on those fun “two or more of these symptom” things. I’m just grateful that I, personally, get to keep my chocolate, sushi, and red wine – how much would it suck to have instant retribution for eating? (Although instant retribution for changes in the damn weather gets pretty fucking old, too.)

    That’s not counting the double vision while driving, the weakness and neuropathy during an attack on one side of the body, also dangerous while driving, or while, you know, *trying to walk/go down stairs/etc*

    Ahem. Yes. I suppose I should count these. I was thinking of the disease itself destroying kidneys or something dramatic. But you’re just as dead if you get hit by a car because you can’t really look both ways before crossing the street because of the railroad spike driving through your eye. No one has ever done a Lifetime movie about it, though, which means that it doesn’t count as an appropriately tragic Death by Disease.

    I find it interesting that short of these photoshop disasters being pointed out to me, I’m vaguely oblivious to them. Sure, now that you’ve mentioned it, Sarah Michelle Geller has three arms, but before then . . . I didn’t really notice. I wonder what this means? (Probably that I shouldn’t apply as the next Sherlock Holmes or anything.)

  88. Have you had it checked out?

    Nah; I’m a terrible role model for health self-advocacy (read: hate doctors, don’t have a GP) and it’s not like I’m very productive on a normal workday. So if I get a headache I put on sunglasses until I can go home.

    I did try to get my weird visual symptoms (static all the time) checked out once, and it wasn’t immediately apparent that it was anything, so then I had a huge amount of shame over even asking. Same thing when I got my digestive idiosyncrasies checked out. The shame about having the gall to think I might be sick enough to go to the doctor is generally much worse than the actual symptoms, so I don’t.

    HOWEVER I do not judge people for having migraines, treating them with drugs, etc. :) (Just for deliberately faking gluten intolerance as a cryptodiet.)

  89. Lucy, I have CFS too – was just diagnosed about 6 months ago, and I had almost the exact same thing happen to me where I literally slept an entire day straight. That is NOT normal, but it’s hard to explain because I feel like people will think it is just me being “lazy” or something.

    Exercise – of almost ANY kind – seems to deeply exacerbate it. And yet people will sometimes say, “Oh, you just need to exercise more, because exercise gives you energy!” Yeah, well, no, not for me, kthx?

  90. Other Becky:

    I’ve also been suicidal – at one point spent the night in the psychiatric ward of the local hospital because of it. And despite the fact that that was three years ago, it still really stings to hear someone call being suicidal “selfish.” It’s something I’ve struggled with for years – feeling that all of my mental health problems were my fault, hearing people say that I am self-absorbed and vain because of the anorexia, etc. Honestly, I’m actually crying now remembering those times when I thought that suicide was the only option. I wasn’t being selfish; I genuinely thought that it would be better for everyone if I were gone. I felt that I was too much of a burden on my family and that it would make everyone happier in the end if I killed myself. And to hear you say that suicide is extremely selfish hurts a lot. Because for me, I didn’t want to kill myself because I didn’t care about how anyone else in my family felt, I wanted to make their lives better – I hated myself so much that I figured they’d be better off without me.

  91. The gluten thing is odd… after all, people don’t generally claim to be diabetic to excuse their decision to cut out sugar.

    I’m sympathetic to how tricky it can be to sort out food intolerances too and I don’t want to discount other people’s experiences. All I know is that if I ever suspect I have a problem with gluten, I’m going to get tested for coeliac disease and rule that in/out first. If I had coeliac disease, I would eliminate any trace of gluten from my diet because the smallest amount would be damaging my long-term health. If I had some other sort of gluten intolerance, then I would just vaguely cut down on gluten and wheat without going overboard about it.

    I’ve never had a migraine but if I had @fillyjonk’s symptoms, I would probably think I had.

  92. I didn’t see Other Becky’s post until now, but let me be another person to throw down on this ridiculous “suicide = selfish” thing. (Trigger warning?) Just one of the things that a lot of suicidal people worry about is the people they leave behind, making sure they understand that it wasn’t their fault, and just the general afterward clean-up (literally and metaphorically).

    The whole thing just feels like a shaming that a depressed person can’t win. “If you were a STRONG, SELFLESS person, you would keep living in depression, like the REST OF US do.” Only you don’t know what another person is going through, yeah, not even if you’ve been suicidal.

    And that’s not even getting into the fact that women are constantly told to NOT be “selfish” when I think a little bit of selfishness is healthy and justifiable. “Selfish” shouldn’t be a bad word.

  93. Re: the severity of migraines–We also get used to the pain and thus rate it lower when we finally get to a doctor. I know I can function reasonably well with a migraine that would make most people curl up in the tub–you can pretty well get used to anything. On the other hand, stomach trouble knocks me flat, because I’m just not used to it, while my sister in law’s definition of a “stomach ache” involves a draining fistula. So.

    FJ, you might want to consider an MRI just to rule out anything severely abnormal, especially if your headaches come with any sort of numbness or tingling on one side of the body.

    Re: the gluten thing–I tend not to judge new people one way or the other. Honestly it’s usually pretty apparent with close friends/family when it’s a cryptodiet and when it isn’t. My family is very diet/health nut heavy, so I’m extra sensitive, given the constant attempts to make my issues all better if I would just stop eating all!those!bad!foods!

  94. fj, it might be worth checking out the IHS criteria for diagnosing migraines. You can do it yourself.

    (Short form: Do your headaches focus on one side of the head? Do they tend to throb, pulsate, or spike? Have your throbbing, nauseating, lopsided headaches lasted at least 4 hours? More than three times? If yes, congratulations! You are now an official member of Les Migraineurs! Don’t forget to pick up your awesome club jacket at the door and practice the secret club handshake before the next meeting.)

  95. @Lucy – I never really understood CFS until I read Laura Hillenbrand’s essay about her struggle with it: (hope this link doesn’t break my comment)

    She really conveys how difficult it is to live with CFS. There’s quite a bit there on how hard it was to be diagnosed correctly and how doctors told her she was crazy, etc.

  96. I’m about to try to tie where this thread has gone back to what started it. Let’s see if it works!

    So, the thing about people self-diagnosing, is that generally SOMETHING actually is wrong or needs attention. And we live in a culture where we are bombarded daily with the message “You are flawed and therefore unhappy. Buy this X, and that will be FIXED! You will be magically happy!” We also have direct-to-consumer marketing of medical treatments, and a medical delivery system that is being made to treat us like consumers of medicine.

    In this milieu, it becomes perfectly understandable that I, looking for the meaning of my negatively-experienced symptoms, begin to try to match them to what’s out there.
    U.S. culture presumes that the “normal” state for people isn’t only thin/white/cis/het, it also presumes able, pain-free, hair-free, care-free, happy, productive, sleep-optional, regular BMs at the exact same time each day, not hungry, not thirsty, and not distressed in any fashion whatsoever.* So of COURSE, if I have anything causing distress, I must immediately 1. Diagnose/define the problem 2. Identify the solution 3. Buy the solution.

    “Aha!” I say, and I am subconsciously, or even consciously forming equations that go like:
    “I’m too fat, I need to buy that product so I can fit into those clothes, then I’ll be happy.”
    “I feel unhappy, so I must have X condition making me unhappy. There must be a product for that. Oh, look, there’s that drug. I’ll ask my doctor for that.”
    “I’m too sad, I need to get prescribed that pill, then I will feel good enough to go to the gym, then I will become thin enough to shop at Hollister, then I will be happy!”

    And to be clear, I am NOT saying that absorption diseases, brain diseases, genetic conditions & etc. don’t exist. Nor am I saying that people can’t diagnose themselves, or don’t know what’s going on with their own bodies. I am also not saying that medicines don’t work or all doctors are quacks. But we all are immersed in this. I with the negative emotion or experience, my friends and family, and my clinicians, are all being affected to some degree by the very narrow definitions of what is acceptable in terms of our looks, health, mood, emotions, reactions and responses (at least all of us who live in the US, YMMV). We’re inclined to believe that X is a problem, because “normal” is only one certain way, and therefore everything else is abnormal. Our clinicians are inclined to treat us with medicines, because that’s how they’re taught to deal with it. As we see time and again here at SP, it takes a lot of work and effort to challenge those presumptions, and to make meaningful alternate scripts.

    And as for the bootstrappers those loverly purveyors of “You’re making this up, pull yourself together, stop making a big deal of this” & etc., they clearly subscribe to the myth of independence, which I ran across in a simply amazing essay by Mia Mingus here:

    And also, many many people who struggle with EDs use glucose (and lactose) intolerance as a cover. It’s a pretty frequent tip on pro-ana/mia sites, actually.

    *BTW – in neurological terms, if we ever actually achieved this, it would indicate the complete breakdown of all of our interoception, viceroception and proprioception and would be, as the medical saying goes, incompatible with life.

  97. Thank you to other people for responding to “actually suicide IS selfish” because I am way, way too… upset by the very thought… to even go there. Luckily most of the times I’ve been suicidal I have ALSO retained enough rationality to prevent me from actually carrying it out, but that’s not selflessness, it’s luck. Pure, unadulterated luck.

  98. @OtherBecky – Sometimes people don’t know they are depressed. I mean, they know they feel awful, or that they can’t even feel at all, but they don’t know it’s got a label and some possible treatments. And unfortunately the treatments don’t work for everybody.

  99. The Other Caitlin: I’m sympathetic to how tricky it can be to sort out food intolerances too and I don’t want to discount other people’s experiences. All I know is that if I ever suspect I have a problem with gluten, I’m going to get tested for coeliac disease and rule that in/out first. If I had coeliac disease, I would eliminate any trace of gluten from my diet because the smallest amount would be damaging my long-term health. If I had some other sort of gluten intolerance, then I would just vaguely cut down on gluten and wheat without going overboard about it.

    Or you (rhetorical “you”, aka “me) could spend 15 years dealing with doctors who don’t want to pursue adequate testing (including one who is concerned enough to run an emergency CT scan but not concerned enough to do any follow-up), finally get a doctor to acknowledge that gluten might be the issue, only to 1) have her run an incomplete panel of tests and 2) find out those tests might be giving a false negative due to the fact that you are already eating a fairly low-gluten diet since you feel crappy on a high-gluten diet (which is pretty much required for a positive blood test- equivalent of four slices of bread per day for about 3 months). And then you reason that 1) you have a massive history of autoimmune disease on both sides of your family, 2) you feel about 1000x better when avoiding gluten completely, and 3) when you introduce it back in, even in the form of crumb cross-contamination, you go through a highly uncomfortable and extremely predictable set of symptoms for several days. You decide then that for you, “gluten intolerance” = “celiac disease without official diagnosis” and adjust your diet accordingly.

    That’s my story. And right now I’m dealing with the day after the crumb-cross-contamination thing (crouton mixed in with the sunflower seeds at a salad bar I’ve safely used in the recent past- apparently I’m more sensitive to trace amounts than I suspected). The nasty headache is gone and my lips have stopped bleeding and splitting, but the exhaustion, constipation, bloating, and rumbly stomach are very much present and probably will be for at least another two days. Thankfully I didn’t end up with the mouth sores that I got after guilting myself into eating my MIL’s homemade bread and SIL’s cookies at Christmas. Vaguely cutting down on gluten foods doesn’t help worth a bean.

  100. Being furiously angry with someone who has committed suicide–or died of natural causes, or died at all, in any way– is a normal reaction to go through, and a healthy part of the grieving process. It’s understandably exacerbated for families of suicide victims. I think when we don’t have a tangible disease or an accident to direct our anger towards, often people will focus their anger on the person who died instead.

    Doesn’t mean “suicide is selfish” works as a blanket statement, but I think that statement often comes out of grief.

  101. I think what confuses people (maybe) is that depression is an intensely self-focused disease. Your own pain becomes completely foregrounded, to the point where it keeps you from doing things that other people might want from you (and gives you a distorted impression of what other people want, also). That’s very, very different from selfishness, but perhaps reads as selfish to certain types of people in certain types of relationships with the depressed person.

    chava’s point is good too — “why didn’t s/he care about me enough to not do this” is a normal reaction for which “suicide is selfish” could be a hamfisted shorthand. Though it does by definition come from a lack of understanding of what suicidal depression is like.

    And bravo bringing us back on topic, IrishUp. This thread is bananas. But everyone is being pretty civil so thumbs-up on that.

  102. Suicide is incredibly difficult and often damaging for the loved ones left behind. There’s no question of that. I’ve seen that, too, and trust me–being the person on the phone when a mother discovers her son and his wife have both killed themselves is in the beyond-ability-to-express levels of heartbreaking. But it’s also a terrible and debilitating disease for many people, and one of its consequences is a skewed perspective vis-à-vis one’s own effect on others. Doing something permanently bad while under the influence of a poorly-understood brain disease is not the same as, say, blowing Mom’s 401(k) money on a yacht.

    And sometimes you see people with a long history of depression who simply don’t see another answer. I believe that David Foster Wallace had been treated for over 20 years when he went off his last-ditch MAO inhibitor with the assistance of a doctor, discovered that it no longer worked when he went back on it, and then could find no other medication that could affect his symptoms. Chronic pain is no joke, and when you add the insidious perspective-warping chronic guilt/shame, I for one can’t bring myself to blame or judge the man. Just to say that it is a goddamned waste to have him killed by illness.

    One of the hardest parts of actually dealing with the suicidal was to find a way to convey that there was a hope of mitigation, that medicine could change things, and that the situation was not unchangeable and hopeless because of their bad characters or irretrievable mistakes. It is really hard to believe this while depressed. From a big-picture perspective, society blaming them for being weak or selfish is not helpful. Society actually acknowledging the value of proper treatment and medication would be.

  103. Oooh, FJ, excellent point. It’s living exclusively in your own head and hating everything about it.

    Although I did also encounter a smaller group who used the threat of suicide as a bargaining chip in emotionally abusive relationships. Very nasty manipulation, and never in my experience combined with actual behavior requiring medical intervention. Those tended to pan out into domestic violence calls. (This is anecdotal evidence only, and not intended to imply that I actually know jack shit about these people’s mental health diagnoses or conditions.)

    Dealing with that sort of thing might lead people to assume that suicide is used to get back at people for being insufficiently whatever (loving, attentive?); in my imperfect and limited sample of suicidal people and completed suicides, I didn’t see this.

  104. Back to the food sensitive/intolerance:

    I’m allergic – we’re talking throat clutching, epi-pen stabbing allergic – to vast array of foods from peanuts to bananas to saffron and I’m fat! I definitely see there’s a way in which people talk about very food sensitive eating habits, which sound very much like diets and I do get eeked out by it.

    That said, I also have experienced folks of the “eat around it” variety whenever I’ve mentioned out I couldn’t eat their death cookies, cakes or muffins because they touched, fraternized or went to high school with some ingredient I’m allergic to.

  105. I think what confuses people (maybe) is that depression is an intensely self-focused disease. Your own pain becomes completely foregrounded, to the point where it keeps you from doing things that other people might want from you

    Oh, um, well, that’s kind of different from my own bout with depression. Maybe it’s a “YMMV” type of thing, but… when I was really, really, REALLY depressed – to the point of suicide – I didn’t think about myself or my wants or needs – literally – at all. I had genuinely internalized that everyone I loved and cared about either (a) truly wanted me to die (in case of exceedingly abusive boyfriend) or (b) would be MUCH better off with me gone (in case of pretty much everyone else).

    Indeed, I had a very hard time reconciling how to best serve my loved ones: I believed that I needed to die to save them from pain, but I wanted to ‘clean up my affairs’ first (close bank accounts, clean out possessions, etc.) and I literally did not have the energy to do so.

    During my depression, I lost massive amounts of weight – largely due to an unfocused bout of bulemia (I say ‘unfocussed’ because it wasn’t to lose weight, it was just a strange control mechanism) – and my doctor at the time gave me a depression test. I had never, EVER thought of myself as “depressed” – he came back and told me I was depressed, and then took the necessary steps to get me some help. (Pills that didn’t work because the underlying causes were situational, not chemical, but that’s another story.)

    So, not to make it all about me, because I probably need to shut up now, but I can say that at least to me, depression did not feel self focused at all – indeed, I honestly do not believe I thought about myself one little bit that whole time. Had I done so, I think I might have told the toxic people in my life to fuck off and, indeed, when I finally did so, things got worlds better.

    But if someone had told me at the time that my contemplation of suicide was ‘selfish’, I would have felt that they didn’t possibly understand my situation – because at least ONE person in my life DID want me to die.

    I’ll shut up now, sorry to thread-jack. :(

  106. Other Becky, I’m also more than a little angry at your statement that suicide is selfish. I have a feeling your sister’s classmate would rather have not been in such mental trauma that she could only see death as a way out, and I say that as someone who has been very, very seriously in that place.

    I’m also angry at your insistence that depression will go away. Your ‘in most cases’ doesn’t go very far to mitigate the rest of your words, which to me imply “you just have to stick with it!”

    Some people will have to be on medication the rest of their lives to keep depression at bay; this is managing it, not making it ‘go away’. If they somehow can’t afford those meds, back down the rabbithole they go. Some people can’t afford to get treatment. Some people don’t even know that there are names for what they’re feeling, or are misdiagnosed. Some people have great luck with one medication… that then stops working. Or have no luck with anything they try. Or find that the best they can get is ‘only somewhat depressed’. Some people are made more depressed and suicidal by their medications!

    Please try to be more informed and thoughtful. The things you wrote are actually very judgemental and hurtful.

  107. Sorry Fillyjonk, I know this is still off topic, but I just have one more remark on the whole “suicide is selfish” topic.

    At one suicidal point in my life (different from the one I mentioned above), I was 13 years old and had just been diagnosed with severe OCD. I could barely function – my mind would get stuck on a loop and I would be convinced that I was a monster, an awful person who should just be removed from society. I would spend days terrified that I had shoplifted because dust from the store I had been in had stuck to my coat and I walked out with it. It might sound ridiculous, but this fear gripped me for several days over Christmas 2002. At other points, I would be terrified that because I felt angry at someone it meant I was trying to hurt them and so I would have elaborate rituals to try to prevent anything bad from happening. I was sitting in history class one day, and I felt angry with this girl who had been kind of mean to me earlier – and then my mind started on this track that if something bad happened to her it would somehow be my fault. And then, I thought that I needed to hold my feet a few inches off the ground, because that would keep her safe. I spent the entire class period keeping my feet a couple inches above the ground – it’s hard to do and was exhausting for my legs. Anyway, my point is that at that point in my life, I felt like my brain was going haywire and at a certain point I just felt like I couldn’t take it anymore. And yeah, at that point, I wasn’t thinking about anyone else or how they would feel – I just wanted to save myself from the personal hell that I was experiencing day in and day out.

    In my later suicidal periods, I was thinking more about relieving the burden on my parents and truly felt like I would be doing them a favor by killing myself. But, my point is that to me, using a word like selfish implies that someone is being “bad” and cares only about themselves. It just makes me really angry sometimes because no one else can know exactly how I felt at those times, so who are they to tell me that I was selfish?

    Sorry, this might not even sound totally coherent; it’s been a rough few days and my emotions are kind of raw.

  108. @ Renatus:

    Thank you for what you said; I for one will probably be on meds for the rest of my life. For me personally, OCD, depression, anxiety, and anorexia don’t just go away eventually.

  109. Okay, I am just going to put this out there since this thread has ended up talking about suicide a lot:

    I am sorta tempted to ask that we stop the massive threadjack that happened on this post (which, after all, was about distortion of media images!), but it seems like people are getting something out of the discussion so I won’t. But let’s tread carefully for now, okay? Remember, it’s not all about you, and your experience of X condition is not necessarily the One True Experience.

    Also, sometimes what is otherwise a tolerable medical issue can become intolerable in the presence of other factors. I’m currently on prescription medication for depression, anxiety, insomnia, acne, birth control, and IBS. As you might imagine, four out of those six things are at least somewhat situationally correlated, and none of them is always SO bad on its own. But together? Hoo boy, I feel like I’m barely treading water sometimes. This time last year, I sprained my ankle pretty badly and was pissed about it but dealt. If that happened again now (knock wood), I don’t think I’d have the willpower to leave my apartment for months.

  110. I think people must have very different experiences of depression. A male friend told me that his untreated depression lead to thoughts not only of killing himself, but as many other people as he could. He’s firmly convinced that you aren’t really suicidal if you can still think about other people. My reaction to that was utter astoundedness. OTOH my deepest depression manifested by waking up and going to sleep running scenarios of what I could write to my family to reduce their pain after my death, how to make sure my toddler wasn’t the one who found me, and how to avoid the major holidays and birthdays so they wouldn’t have to associate them with my death. Spent about four hours a day just ruminating on those things. SSRI’s are wonderful things, truely.

  111. Thanks, Sweet Machine. Hopefully, we can somehow get back to distorted imagines in the media. I am still sifting through the images and the Faith Hill one is especially jarring.

  112. It annoys me when people say “suicide is selfish” (and I used to say it when I was 16-8, after I had been suicidal myself at 14). First because it assumes selfish = bad and I do not agree at all. Caring for yourself and putting your own needs first is not bad, it is a valid life choice. Second, if suicide is selfish then asking someone to live on in abject misery because YOU don’t want them to commit suicide is EQUALLY selfish. Sigh.

  113. To be fair, since there’s no migraine test, it’s kind of an open field. We don’t have good language for relating levels of pain, so moderate to severe headache is a self-defined term.

    We also get used to the pain and thus rate it lower when we finally get to a doctor. I know I can function reasonably well with a migraine that would make most people curl up in the tub–you can pretty well get used to anything.

    That’s the problem – I’ve been diagnosed with migraines by a doctor, but sometimes wonder, since no migraine medication I’ve been able to try (i.e. the few without sulfa) has done anything to help. The med I ended up with is a muscle relaxer+painkiller+caffeine. I’m fairly non-reactive when it comes to meds, so I still need to take two pills for any effect.

    The other thing is that individual pain tolerance levels vary. I remember going to the doctor in middle school because my ear was popping weirdly. I wasn’t in any pain, so imagine my surprise to find that I had a raging ear infection. Different people experience pain very differently. Like, Chava, I can usually function when I have a migraine. I’m not happy to have to and would rather crawl under the covers and not move for a day or so, but I’ve gone through days of class, work, etc. with a migraine.

  114. So, about this “standard of beauty” thing. I’m 5’0″ and weighed about 205-210 when I weighed myself out of curiosity while visiting a relative’s house a few weekends ago (I have no scale in my residence). I mentioned my weight to a colleague who is 5’7″ or so, and the colleague looked at me and said “There’s no way you weigh two hundred pounds!” Now, the colleague may very well have been trying to Be Polite, but I’m pretty darn proud of my weight, height, and build, and it irked me to have it discredited. My fantastic husband once said to me, “I’m glad you’re as short as you are, because if you were any taller you’d be less awesome per square inch!” It was at that moment I had reached the pinnacle of acceptance of my body, because darnit, he’s right! I am a pretty cool, awesome, and kickass person, and the fact I manage to compact it into a 5’0″, 200lb. frame is amazing.

    One of these days, I plan to create a theory based on the concept of Awesomeness per Square Inch, in which every person is amazing and it’s awesome just how much coolness people can pack in themselves, whether they’re tall or short or thin or fat.

    To tie this all back to the original post above, I bite my thumb at these magazines and their airbrushed realities! I far prefer my own.

  115. It’s living exclusively in your own head and hating everything about it.

    Exactly. What’s that line about “you’re the piece of shit the world revolves around”?

  116. Regarding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: I’m convinced that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is real. I’m also convinced that it is basically doctor-speak for “we don’t know what’s wrong with you”, and that the fact that they can’t find a cause is one reason that a lot of people to think it’s not a “real” disease. One of my sister’s friends has had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for years. A couple months ago, due to using a better laboratory that evaluated samples more quickly, they found out that the cause of her CFS is Lyme disease.

    Another reason that people think CFS, Restless Leg Syndrome, etc. are not real: they listen to the name, decide they know everything there is to know about the disease based on the name, and, well, obviously it sounds ridiculous, so obviously it’s not real. Because obviously they’re smarter than the people who have the disease. Or the people who have the disease are lazy, or whatever it is that goes through their minds.

    Back to sort-of on-topic:
    RigPixie @Madeline: There’s nothing wrong with whatever color your skin is naturally.
    This is good advice for everyone, everywhere.

    I personally tend to dislike anything that looks fake/artificial to me. Not surprisingly, it matters less whether it actually IS fake/artificial than whether I think/know that it is. (I hope that didn’t sound too postmodern–we are talking about how my perception affects my perception, not how it ALTERS REALITY.) I’m not sure how common this attitude is, but if it’s at all common, making sure that it’s well-known which pictures are photoshopped would be even more helpful than it might seem at first glance.

  117. @ Ven Detta – I love it! Awesomeness per square inch is the best measurement form I have ever encountered.

    Because in Real, Undocumented, Quiet Life (which is what most of us live on a day-to-day basis), people love each other based on awesomeness per square inch far more than any other form of measurement. Do I love my husband because of the number of hairs on his head? Do I love my friend because of his blood pressure numbers? Do I love the children I teach because of their grades? Nope. It’s all about the awesomeness.

    Growing up, I was head-over-heels in love with my dad and my uncle, one of which was barely 120 lbs, and the other who exceeded 300 lbs on a regular basis, and ranked in my child’s heart the handsomest and second handsomest men in the whole world. Why? It’s the awesome.

    I think Faith Hill has a fantastic voice and would love to see her sing in concert. Would I love her less if her arm weren’t narrow enough? Heck no! That lady’s voicebox is crammed densely with awesome. Thus, a deep flaw in our visual culture: should we really learn to care about these sorts of things, these stupid number-and-dimension things, and learn to judge people based on them, instead of the awesome?

  118. I think my last comment got lost because I included a URL (to a gluten-free cake recipe) for the first time. Maybe it will be posted later, but mainly I just wanted to say this:

    @i-geek I am sorry for your experience. I hope you don’t feel that I was judging you – I don’t presume to know what you went through in your diagnosis or to tell you how to treat your body. I intended my comment to be about gluten intolerance more generally – the main reason my comment was addressed to you was because the whole gluten conversation was not the topic of the main thread.

    @Sweet Machine Sorry for my part in the threadjack!

  119. Krishji–
    Word. It is the awesome. Not the resume or the bank account or the education or the pretty. Thank you.

  120. SM–
    Thanks for your tolerance of the depression/suicide threadjack. I’ve had major depressive disorder this decade and more, and I’ve dealt professionally with suicide and people close to suicide, and I still sometimes question the validity of my experience. Attitudes about mental health being what they are, it’s uncommon to hear a lot of people say, “Hell yeah, it sucks and this is what the suckage feels like.”

    We need a ribbon, and a walk-a-thon, and a star-studded awareness campaign (maybe we can steal those nekkid people away from gingivitis awareness, hmm?)

  121. I stay as far away from Women’s Magazines as I possibly can because the women in the mags have no pores, no veins, no anything that identifies them as flesh and blood real life vibrant women, which since most of them are highly paid celebrities–they most certainly must be right? So if those women who are pre-approved to be naked in movies are altered then that’s just psycho-sick to me and i want no part of it near me.

    As for the roommate— Might I sugesst a non-combative easy to use phrase? Simply “I LIKE…” I like my hair straight, I like my glasses, I like my clothes…. now the response from gumby will be “yeah but…” and then repeat what she’s already said… So shrug and repeat back “yeah.. but I LIKE…” Eventually she’ll STFU!!!

    Migranes.. I suffered very bady ever since I was a child until in my early teens a doctor realized I had TMJ. Once it was correct I have never had a migraine since. And they used to be soo bad breathing hurt, so I was grateful that this doctor had thought to simply put her finger on each of side of my face (near the ear) applied light pressure and asked me to open my mouth. I couldn’t the pain was soo great. TMJ is when the jaw slowly over time moves out of alignment and it causes severe migraines. So anyone who suffers I would recommend seeing a doctor and being tested for TMJ.

  122. @ snarkys why did you think the Faith Hill one was especially jarring? I agree but I don’t know why.

    Partly, it was my first experience seeing photoshop blunders annotated so comprehensively. I have always fond Faith to be such a sweet spirit and I guess that factors in too.

  123. ‘What’s that line about “you’re the piece of shit the world revolves around”?’

    Perhaps this could be scattered recklessly and indiscriminately all over LiveJournal?

  124. Another thanks for allowing the threadjack in this case—my primary emotion in bouts of depression is one of utter isolation, and it’s helpful (and healing) to remember that others can relate to that, and that are people who don’t judge the use of medication for it. Just something I’m going to tuck away until the probably inevitable “next time.”

  125. So if those women who are pre-approved to be naked in movies are altered then that’s just psycho-sick to me and i want no part of it near me.

    Hey, let’s stay away from mental-illness-stigmatizing language like “psycho,” in general here at SP but especially on a thread where many of us are talking about mental health.

  126. From way up thread:

    Some other celiacs I’ve encountered have immediate family members who deliberately contaminate their food in the hopes of catching them in a lie about the condition. The celiac in question then spends several days recovering while the relative tells them they’re overreacting. Sick, sick, sick.

    You know, if somebody in my family pulled that kind of crap I’d be tempted to press charges. Is that not deliberately poisoning someone? What is wrong with people?

  127. I agree about not using “psycho,” and also the word “crazy” was used up-thread numerous times.

  128. just wanted to thank everyone for the enlightening and interesting conversation. i especially thank everyone who spoke out against the “suicide is selfish” POV. I really appreciated the comments along the lines of – if x person is selfish for wanting to pass on, then y person is more selfish for expecting hir to stay. the sentiment was especially interesting for me tonight because I had to watch “mar adentro” (the sea inside) for spanish tomorrow – I know it’s not exactly the same issues, but it really struck me that even though it was so hard for the people that cared about ramon to let him go, that was what he wanted and in the end they stood by that and supported him. such a tender movie, and so powerful…

    mm..i dunno, I feel so lucky that when i was struggling with depression i had the resources available to me to a) get the treatment i needed (i even spent a few days in the psychiatric ward at a hospital nearby, which was REALLY helpful for me in terms of my emotional whatever, and it was also one of the first times i came face to face with a lot of my privileges – educational, wealth, etc) and b) have doctors and psychiatrists who were helpful and supportive and c) treat my thyroid problems successfully, because they were the root of it. it was such a horrible and dark period of my life and i have nothing but empathy for people affected by depression – whether because they have it, or because someone they love does. my little brother has never been able to find a successful treatment for his bipolar and it is so hard for him and sad for me because he’s so wonderful.

    going back to the airbrushed pictures, i wish that we could fight back with… some kind of magazine that just has pictures of people and says supportive things about them. i wish we could start one! everyone could submit a picture or pictures that they like of themselves and the rest of us could build them up and leave compliments in the comments :P I thought of this because i was staring at myself in the mirror earlier feeling totally hideous, and then I was like “oh, if only the entire comment section of kate harding was here, they would knock some sense into me”… and then i wished we could do that for real :P too bad it would probably be overrun by wicked trolls. :( but if something like that exists please let me know!

  129. @ gottalovemn – OMG I am on board with this! I love to tell people that I love them and that they are fantastic. Unfortunately, I mostly get negative responses: “Ugh, I am totally not fantastic, I suxorz, I can’t take compliments, I’m actually awful and ugly and why are you my friend again, you lying, incredibly embarassing person, you?”

    I think it’s sheer rebellion: growing up as I did (starting as a baby, moving on to childhood, and so on), it was NOT COOL to express friendship or affection to ANYBODY. It was cool to rag on people, to diss them, to hate on them, but NOT cool to be kind and supportive. I suffered every day, trying to feign disdain for people I held very deeply in my heart, trying to teach myself to become mean and cold, in hopes of being considered “normal.” I would love a website where I could love on people for exactly who they are!

    Sheesh, I’m so excited about this idea, Ima start right now: gottalovemn, you are brave, compassionate, and sympathetic! A million blessings to you and your brother, from me and my big soggy heart.

  130. @ hsofia – I love I like how it discourages competitiveness, unlike every “I shed the baby weight in two weeks!” tabloid cover, and appreciation for women from other women. If I ever get pregnant, I would share my story too. hsofia, did you share your story on theshapeofamother? You just totally strike me as such an intelligent and generous mother, who not only wants to teach her children well, but other people, too.

  131. Some people have great luck with one medication… that then stops working. Or have no luck with anything they try. Or find that the best they can get is ‘only somewhat depressed’. Some people are made more depressed and suicidal by their medications!

    SSRI poop-out is pretty common. Try another med if the one stops working, sometimes even one that’s really really chemically similar will pick up.

    If you have no luck with what you try, keep going. There are so many drugs that can be used, on or off-label, to treat depression that if you consider that most of them take six weeks or so to be sure if they really work, you’ll be trying for five years before you run out. I sure hope you don’t have to, because trying meds sucks sooooo bad.

    If only somewhat depressed is what you get, that sucks pretty bad, too.

    If you got one that works, by funder, please take a long long pause before you consider going off it just because people keep saying you take too many pills, and all the social crap that goes with being drug-dependent. Some of them, you stop taking them, they won’t work when you start again.

    Antidepressant/anti-anxiety meds are great. They make my life so much better. I’d send them flowers and sing songs under their balconies, they’re so great. They deserve respect. As do the people who take them. There’s no shame in doing what makes you feel better, and it’s completely batshit that people are so ready to say it’s wrong to make yourself feel better by taking a pill, but that it’s cool to do it by eating giant handfuls of mint and doing nekkid handstands while chanting to recently invented deities and paying $60 per half hour for sacred foot massages or whatever the heck.

  132. SM, I also appreciate you allowing the threadjack. As you can see this is a very important topic for me; I find it very important to stomp out judgemental nonsense about it when such pops up. And, of course, to show my solidarity with others who were dealt crap cards in the area of mental health.

    Ven Detta, I LOVE the units of awesome idea and fully support it. Unlike other often arbitrary measures, everyone has the potential to be awesome!

    gottalovemn, much sympathy from me to your brother. Bipolar disorder (only type II, AFAIK) runs in my family and it’s a whole ton of suck.

    Grafton, good advice, and thank you for your concern! For me, the lack of SSRI/SSNI success (or rather, the nearly diasterous failure of such) was because I don’t actually have depression, but bipolar disorder. I had to fight to get that diagnosis, despite a family history, tons of research when my mother was diagnosed, and tracking of my dramatic and quick cycling mood swings. They fought it because I don’t have manias/hypomanias, but agitated depression that in me manifests as undirected rage… just like it has in my mother.

    The rather unhelpful psychiatrist who finally diagnosed me said that the current medication might take up to a year to have full effect. I don’t know about that, but honestly? Mild depression is far preferable to being terrified that my teeth gritted, iron-clad control over my rage would slip and I would do something very, very bad. Now, I still feel things strongly, but I feel everything strongly, and I never feel like it’s going to spiral out of control. I can live with that if I have to.

    And although my meds are goddamned expensive, they are more precious to me than gold. No WAY I’d go back to that horrible state I was in, no matter how sniffy anyone gets about ‘dependence’.

    On the subject of rampant photoshop abuse: I’ve noticed that at least some of the Finland-specific women’s magazines–or the covers, anyway, I haven’t bothered with female-oriented magazines since the awesome years of Sassy in the early 90s–have women with visible facial lines, even wrinkles, skin texture, all sorts of features… they look like women I see out and about in regular life. The women on the covers have makeup and the photos are airbrushed, sure, but they’re allowed to look like themselves.

    With the really glossy, more international mags like Cosmo, I like to play “spot the photoshop abuse” when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store.

  133. I’ve just come back to this thread after lurking for a day and feel that I want to comment on the suicide threadjack. Sorry…

    My closest friend took her own life nearly 5 years ago. I miss her terribly, and her death caused a lot of pain to her friends and family. I have raged at her memory, and the way she took her life. However, with the benefit of time and healing, I don’t see her act as selfish. She had been suffering a long, long time with badly treated depression, and the effects of various things that had happened to her in her life. I am glad that she is no longer capable of being hurt.

    I once made an attempt on my life. I genuinely believed my friends and family would be better off without me, that their lives would improve. I ballsed it up, for which I am grateful. I’ve had SSRI’s on and off since for periods of depression. Depression is living hell. It’s the only illness I’ve ever had that tells me that I’m shit, and worthless, and I should never have been born. And thankfully I have had the help I’ve needed to get through it, which includes the medication I needed to bring me back from the brink.

    Anyway, back on topic…

    I try not to buy women’s magazines any more. It beggars belief that women (and some men) no longer look human in them, it’s as if they’ve been beamed in from planet plastic. Not one wrinkle – not even a fold where joints naturally bend. Missing hip bones. Plasticised skin with no pores at all. And not one single extraneous hair. For a while, I genuinely thought there was something wrong with me, that I had down on my face and pores and veins that show and a stomach that wrinkles when I bend (now I’m older, it rolls over, but this was some time ago). I had to look at the women around me to realise that these photos represent women only in the way that Disney cartoons represent women. Some strange cartoony representation of women, the template being Jessica Rabbit. And women of 22 being used to advertise wrinkle cream ack ack.

  134. Renatus, my husband’s depression also manifests as anger and also as attempts to push away everyone who is close to him. He had some minor surgery where he was given some steroids to prevent inflammation, and spent the next week in free floating rage to the point where he went into self-imposed isolation because he really didn’t want to kill anyone. His psychiatrist said that steroids can affect some people who need medication for severe depression that way. The surgeon had no idea it could happen, so I suspect it’s pretty rare. Corticosteroids are fine, fortunately, because he had tennis elbow; but we asked his psychiatrist first!

  135. @Pala I don’t think you are sounding harsh. Even people who are conventionally attractive generally don’t look like a “porcelain doll” (though I remember being told that I did when I was 12 and being highly offended by the intended compliment!). There is still something real and therefore beautiful about every person’s natural features. What I find problematic is cosmetic surgery that is deliberately trying to create doll-like features. That does look a little odd to me and not attractive in my eyes, but maybe some people like it.

  136. In an attempt to bring the conversation back on topic, I should add to my previous comment – not just plastic surgery but Photoshop too!

  137. I apologize to those I offended or hurt. I think I cling to the “selfishness” thing because, as I said, it’s sometimes been the only thing that has kept me alive. (I still can’t listen to the Dar Williams song “After All.” The sentiment of choosing not to kill yourself because you’re not worth the pain it would cause other people… speaks to me a little too deeply.) And now that the depression has receded — not gone; it’s still a part of everyday life and I’ll probably be on meds forever — I’m glad I didn’t do it, so I’m grateful for the mindset that kept me from it. The thing is, I’ve lost people to suicide, and I don’t condemn them for it. I know my earlier comment sounded — hell, was — condemnatory, and I should have been much more careful with what I was saying and how I was saying it. There is nothing selfish about being suicidal. I feel it would be deeply, unforgivably selfish for me to ever attempt it again, because I always improve eventually. It may take a lot of time, a lot of different treatments, and a not-insignificant chunk of my budget, but it does happen.

    Let me join Grafton’s paean of praise to antidepressants. I used to be on four, but have “cut back” to two, which I will stay on as long as they work. As a biology-type person, I’m perhaps a bit better equipped than some to deal with people who tell me that I really shouldn’t be taking so many pills. Ask anyone who’s ever suggested it to me, and consequently had to endure my ever-so-patient explanation of the precise mechanisms of neurotransmitter release and reuptake. (It includes diagrams.) I also have a pretty good spiel on the history and origins of homeopathy for people who want me to switch to that. (Not to bash homeopathy — if it works for you, go with it — but I don’t enjoy the proselytizers.)

  138. I had a very strange moment the other evening. I was in an old fashioned schvitz (Turkish bath) in the centre of London and it was a women’s only session. There were a lot of women aged, say, 20 to 50s, all either wearing bikinis, swimsuits or naked in the saunas/steam rooms. But then I suddenly realised something.

    I no longer realise what women’s bodies actually look like.

    We no longer have communal changing rooms in the UK; I don’t go to the gym and when I did the kind of women who were *very* naked tended to be those with the most conventionally approved bodies; porn features certain types of bodies; newspapers and magazines are airbrushed to hell and even those that appear in them are typically already conventionally approved bodies to start with and realistically they aren’t often naked/near-naked pictures in any case.

    Basically I had totally forgotten what real women’s bodies look like in terms of age, shape, size (alas for my body acceptance issues, many of the girls were very thin as schvitzing become quite the fashionable thing to do for hipsters lately), skin tone, hairiness, folds, rolls and etc. And this is definitely and unequivocally a result of the media. I have had real women’s bodies erased from my mental landscape and life and I was literally quite shocked to see a moderately-sized podgy tummy and it not be next to a picture of OMGDEATHFATZ heading in a magazine.

    Effectively, airbrushing is just one facet of this collective brainwashing, and we women are wasting our lives on this rubbish. How can we overturn this massive media machine and preserve our collective well-being?!?!?!

  139. @ WestEndGirl – I live in New York City, and whenever I hustle a good lump sum, I go to the Tenth Street Bath House to schvitz and get beaten half to death with a platza (it’s like a rebirth experience – give it a try!). I usually go during co-ed hours, but have gone during women’s only as well. What I will say is that there is very little in the way of clothing during either time.

    I LOVE going for a schvitz, not only because I love getting the heat in my blood, clearing my mind, and not being able to read or type for a few hours. I love being in a forum where really nobody gives a crap about the size and shape of their bodies. I don’t know if that’s the case for the bathhouse that you frequent, but really, nobody cares, or if they do, they’re not showing it. People slump and sweat and it’s really easy to strike up a convo with a person of either gender. Nobody’s going to give you the “mean girl” sneer. Many quite elderly people come, because it helps them feel better, and because it’s part of their traditional culture, and many people of size to be found. Aside from Igor, the superhuman Eurasian guy from Siberia, there’s nobody who looks anything remotely like what’s in a typical glossy magazine.

    I think it’s important to remember what actual, non-Photoshopped people look like, of all ages. There is a grandmother who I often see at the baths, and she is a brilliantly fascinating person who I will stick beside for hours at a time, soaking up the genius. She used to play tennis on the tour in the thirties and forties, and her skin is perma-tanned, with a complex, papery texture. She will often remark that at my age, her skin looked like mine, and she doesn’t remember when it changed. Not only have I learned about tennis, and England, and marriage from this dear lady, but also the future of my skin. Invaluable.

  140. How can we overturn this massive media machine and preserve our collective well-being?!?!?!

    Make our own clothes? That would be the death of the fashion magazine industry…..let’s see…..
    Rejecting it and ridiculing it?

    In all honesty, in the 70’s during the Second Wave, acceptance of one’s NATURAL BODY with all it’s hair and flaws was FEMINIST and COOL. THose who adhered to the 50’s standards were SQUARE and FAKE. So for a little while, things did get better, because of FEMINISM. (ANyone else remember the couple in THe Joy Of Sex? Au Natural! Kids today are totally grossed out by the 70’s couple drawn for the book, which I think is sad. They are just average looking naked humans. Now, an average looking naked human is THE GROSSEST THING EVER!)

    One of the tenets of Second Wave Feminism was Acceptance of the Natural Female Body, for a reason. It is not a bad tenet.

    The funny thing is, women could shave their heads and wear orange jumpsuits, and men would STILL want to have sex with women. So all the effort to change the actual body is just….a really expensive mass headtrip.

    (Sometimes when I look at famous old paintings of beauties, pre-1900, like Sargent, I think to myself about how these great ladies are TOTALLY UNSHAVEN underneath their finery. Hairy pits, hairy legs, Pubes: the whole normal human female. And the men had NO PROBLEM with it, because, it isn’t a problem!)

  141. One of the tenets of Second Wave Feminism was Acceptance of the Natural Female Body, for a reason. It is not a bad tenet.

    Though let’s not forget that many white Second Wavers were willfully ignorant of the issues of WOC.

  142. @Krishji

    Really thank you for your schvitz experiences. Particularly about the older tennis grandmother. It is so easy to get stuck in your own head about your body and not be able to get any sense of proportion about what is ‘normal’, ‘valuable’ and ‘acceptable’ given the unrelenting pressures of the media.I mostly fail at it, to be honest.

    p.s. if you ever come to London, I’d be a happy tour guide to take you to mine! :-)

  143. I loved the stories about the schvitz(es). Awesome stuff. And it’s true … we are told over and over again that you only get to show your body if its “perfect.”

  144. On the subject of photoshop distorting body images… It also seems to mess with our perception of body VARIETY. I’m considerably heavier than a lot of girls I know, yet people honestly don’t read me as fat… because it’s all in my gut and back. I gain weight like a man. Most people I know tend to read “Fat girl” as meaning “Large hips, butt, and boobs.” Which isn’t true in every case, but it’s interesting. (People estimating my weight are usually anywhere from 30 to 70 lbs under the truth. Part of this is that I’m built like a linebacker with bones made of adamantium, but part of it is just our culture.)

  145. Actually I think surviving off of sunlight sounds kind of cool. After the ability to have 3-hour orgasms, that might be my choice for snazzy superpower.
    I’d rather have the 3-hour orgasms and then go for an all-day breakfast buffet.

    I knew someone that could have 3-hour orgasms from sunlight! Ok, I didn’t “know” her and she was a plant-based life form from the other side of the universe and a character on a TV show, but still!

    (I know that was way up thread and a bit OT, but I couldn’t resist)

  146. @ WestEndGirl – You’d better be careful when you offer to do something incredibly fun with me, because I never forget an offer! And likewise, if you ever find yourself in New York, you know who to call…

    @ hsofia – It’s educational, seeing real-life, everyday people undressed; I would almost consider it a public service! Un-Photoshopped folks, unite!

  147. This is completely tangential both to the point of the post and the major digressions therein, but:

    RigPixie, it makes me so goddamn happy to see someone else say they have a carrot allergy. Because people don’t believe me about it, and I fucking like breathing.

    The number of times I’ve heard, “But NOBODY’s allergic to carrots!”

    … sigh.

    Thank you for making me a little less alone in the world.

  148. I knew someone that could have 3-hour orgasms from sunlight! Ok, I didn’t “know” her and she was a plant-based life form from the other side of the universe and a character on a TV show, but still!

    Oh good, I’m not the only one who thought “Zhaan!”

  149. @Renatus — Thanks. I didn’t mean you in specific, really. Just in general. I’m on some sort of antidepressant praise mission. People fucking DIE because they give up on the meds after just one doesn’t work, and they break perfectly good meds by quitting them for no real reason except to see if they can get by without them because being on psych-meds is stigmatized. Hell, my mother’s best friend, a retired nurse, has told me to get off them as soon as possible. No way. I’m gonna stay on ’em ’til my shrink suggests I stop. I never knew it was even possible to feel this good, and there’s no way I am going to risk destroying the efficacy of a drug that works so well and, lucky me, is cheap, just to see if maybe my brain chemistry has been jump-started back into some normal state. As if that’s likely for me. Hah.

    p.s. OMFG being bipolar on the wrong drugs. I am sorry that happened to you. Yikes! Ouch! Aaaaiieeeee!

  150. Other Becky: Thank you.

    Photoshop fails: Today I saw an advert for a Thomas Cook Cruise; a man and a woman were standing by the ship’s rail, embracing. Except somehow they had disappeared the man’s lower body, so he was floating in midair, sort of resting his torso on the rail itself.

    Does Photoshop actually affect people’s ability to see anatomy? Is it like when you write a word down too often and you stop being able to tell whether it’s spelled right?

  151. Oh, yes, but not for ages and I’d forgotten it! The cruise advert I saw today was very like the crushing-child-against-wall-with-bathtub picture from that site.

  152. Warping people’s perceptions of reality can be dangerous, a couple thought the husband was too fat (six foot, one eighty five); so they determined that their daughters wouldn’t be fat and starved them. When CPS took the baby and she gained weight with foster care, the mother said that she looked fine when she was with them (born at five pounds, gained *one* pound in two months, fostering she almost doubled her weight in two months) and looked fat now. To the point that the mother apparently snuck laxitives into the baby’s formula.

    And, more anecdotally, my sister worked in a child care center and she had to explain to one set of parents that their baby needed more than the one bottle of formula they wanted her to have at daycare. Fortunately they were educable.

    But serious warping of perception has taken place when babies can be expected to be thin, when people worry they aren’t thin enough. And it doesn’t seem this was done from cruelty, like other starvation stories I’ve heard, but from this obsession with fatness our society has.

  153. @Piffle- I was born in Bellevue, ages ago… I winced a little reading that. I was still skinny back then, but I remember the fat kids getting teased. I don’t think it was any more fat-hating than any other upper-class area back then, but it’s been a long while.

    Also, I was allergic to MILK as a kid. You would not believe how many people don’t believe that’s possible, and thought I was a freak for not eating ice cream…

  154. I have something relevant and new to say about the main topic of the post. Yay!

    In Australia OK! magazine ran an article about a reality TV star and her post-birth weight loss secrets. They digitally recreated the lower half of her body for the cover image. The magazine cover and the original photo really have to be seen to be believed – this is far more than digitally slimming Demi Moore’s hop. Hopefully this link will work:

  155. Sorry, correction. It’s the US version of OK! magazine. The link is from an Australian blog, hence my confusion.

  156. @The Other Caitlin – You know, why don’t I just automatically assume every photograph in every magazine for sale is completely altered? Why does it still come as a surprise? Why can’t I learn, dammit?!?? I mean, even the colors of Kourtney and her son’s clothes are different, and Kourtney’s face angle is changed! The baby’s hands are changed as well! And Kourtney’s entire body, ENTIRE BODY is different. Why do we even bother with photographs anymore? Let’s just go back to painting, or something, if we don’t want accurate representations of the photographer’s subject? Or maybe we should just assume that this is a new “art form” and isn’t supposed to be real. Maybe I should learn.

    I do appreciate Kourtney saying the truth, and do understand that her career is “famous person,” and heck, as much as some people dislike that career path, in 2010, it is a legitimate one. It’s not being a teacher or a cook or a corrections officer, but it’s not a bed of roses, I’m sure, and saying the truth about something that might harm her celebrity for the sake of honesty and other women’s psychology is admirable.

  157. Other Becky:
    Thanks for the apology. I hope it didn’t sound like I was jumping on you; it’s just as soon as I see the phrase “suicide is selfish” it just reopened an old wound that is pretty big. I guess just a sensitive area of mine – so I hope I didn’t sound too angry/overly combative towards you. It’s just that so many people have said “suicide is selfish” in order to shame those who have ever been suicidal so it has really negative connotations for me.

    And I actually have a relevant comment now (sorry for my part in the thread-jack):
    The roommate I mentioned above seems to think that the skin that you see on the covers of magazines – with no blemishes, no acne spots, no splotchiness, no random bumps, basically not my face because my skin is far from perfect – is what every woman’s face should look like and those of us to don’t have “perfect” skin should first feel bad about it and then fix it somehow. So I was washing my face last night – I have a breakout on my forehead right now that’s been healing but it was pretty inflamed for a while – and she just randomly walks by the bathroom and comments that “my face still looks really bumpy” and then proceeded to give me tons of advice about what I should do to make it better. I never asked for her opinion, nor even mentioned the breakout problems!! Anyway, I was proud of myself because I said in response, somewhat sarcastically, “yeah thanks for pointing it out” and then she was like “oh I didn’t mean to make you feel bad.”

    Yeah, so yay I felt inspired after this thread to actually say something in response instead of just letting her treat me like that. She’s also the one who is constantly contradicting the dermatologist tells me – like for instance I’ve been wearing spf 15 sunscreen on my face each day because the dermatologist recommended it; because of my ancestry, my skin is more prone to skin cancer so I’m supposed to be extra careful, plus sun is bad for my acne. Well, my roommate informed me that it was silly because it’s wintertime here where we live right now. I was like yeah well my dermatologist told me to do this, so I think I’ll just follow the doctor’s advice. But apparently in my roommate’s mind taking a few science classes as an undergrad qualifies you to act as a medical expert in a number of areas, including dermatology, psychiatry, psychology, etc.

  158. I grew up in a decade when retouching was much less blatant and crazy than it is these days and I know that seeing those retouched women affected me negatively. I was in my 20s before I finally understood that I could never look like those women because those women didn’t look like those women. I refuse to buy “women’s” magazines anymore. Man, I miss _Mode_ and _BBW._

    A few years ago, somebody wrote to Dear Abby or Ann Landers (can’t remember which) about a problem with an upcoming dinner. The letter writer had been getting together regularly for potlucks with a group of friends. She had recently developed an allergy to tomatoes so severe that she had to carry an Epi-Pen. She happened to overhear one of her friends tell another friend that she (the letter writer) was going to be _so embarrassed_ when she found out after the next potluck that tomatoes had been sneaked into the dish the “friend” planned to bring. Because obviously nobody is ever that allergic to tomatoes, so she must be doing it for attention and needed to be taught a lesson. So what should the letter writer do?

    Abby’s (or Ann’s) reaction was as close to OMGWTFIDON’TEVEN–RUNAWAYRUNAWAY as I’ve ever seen in an advice column.

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