from the slackmistress & daisy the wonderdog!
Also, if I do not get these, I will die.
My friend, the fabulous and talented Michael Holmes, stars in a wee Halloween short called My Favorite Holiday. Check out a preview here:
The full-size original can be found here!
My fan has outed himself here.
I think this is a fascinating discussion, which is why I'm continuing it. I'll keep it up as long as it remains a civil and reasoned discussion. No name calling, no personal attacks. Except for me: I have thrown myself on the table as fair game.
My thoughts on the issue? Looks do matter. I've never said otherwise. We all have our preferences. However, I think they're only slice of the whole pie. What's frustrating is that women are constantly judged by what they look like. We're constantly told what's wrong with us. It's always in the guise of "wanting to help."
Mr. Martelli, I know I can look better. I happen to like my hair (I have this weird desire to dye it violet lately) and I think my nose is perfect. I don't think there's anything wrong with striving for physical greatness, in whatever form that may be. (For me, it was being strong like an ox with a 26 inch waist.) You act as if you mentioning this is some great truth being revealed. You don't understand that as a woman, this is hard-wired into our systems.
I am attempting to make changes in my life. I look upon myself as One Big Science Experiment. Part of those changes are indeed, physical. However, to imagine that they will magically fix my problems - that losing 15 pounds will find me a job or a fabulous NerdBoy and make every little thing be all right is silly.
It doesn't mean that I'm not going to try and make those changes (I'm off to the gym shortly), though.
I am vain. I have no problem admitting it. I fought for what I look like. That's why when I packed on thirty pounds with the double-whammy of girl problems plus the thyroid thing, I was devastated. The one thing that I had control over I no longer had control over. It was another case of doing everything right and still, nothing worked.
I don't write about it much because I find it tiresome. I don't want to be another boo-hoo blogging girl on the web. I'm all about doing, which is why I must cut this short and head to the gym.
So I leave it to you guys. Keep it polite, please.
Emailed as well. His email in italics, my repsonse in plain font.
When I checked out your blog last night, I was quite surprised to see my email posted. After I read your reply, or more accurately, your ruminations inspired by my email, I had a difficult time deciding whether I should respond. Well, possibly to your chagrin, I have decided to, both because of what you wrote, and to a lesser degree what others wrote.
Not to my chagrin at all, but the fact is that I write about my life. If you've spent ten minutes perusing my blog and the slack, you'll find that the subject of my appearance is a frequent one.
You say that you no longer feel bad that you don't look like the six foot Brazilian model, and that's great, no one should ever feel bad about their appearance. That wasn't the point. My point was one of optimizing your life by optimizing your appearance. I see that pursuit as no different than trying to improve your writing ability/honing your craft. They're both about being the best 'you'.
If you think for one second that when you make a comment about a woman's appearance that she hasn't thought that comment a thousand times over in her head, hasn't sat in front of a mirror scrutinizing it, has felt like a terrible human being because she didn't live up to it, then you have much, much to learn.
Conan, what is best in life? What's optimal is just as subjective as the beauty standard, The best me is healthy, happy, and productive. And ideally employed. But we'll get to that.
You say you've never lost a job or boyfriend because of your appearance, how do you know? You may have decent enough insight as to whether a former boyfriend didn't leave you, or former employer dismiss you, due to your looks.
And I do. If ex-boyfriends would care to chime in here, please do. I know a few of them read my blog.
Also a former employer has never dismissed me for my weight. In the TV writing world, jobs just end. I was 145 pounds when Disney followed their 65-episode rule and pulled the plug on Lizzie McGuire. TAking in account that I was 15 pounds thinner back then, am I to understand that if I was a size 4 instead of a size 8 as I was back then Lizzie would still be on the air?
Dammit, I would have given up my afternoon visits to Craft Service had I known.
But how do you know that a male acquaintance hasn't asked you on a date because you weren't quite "his type" (we all know what that means)--
If someone won't ask me out because I have 15 pounds that I want to lose (notice the word "want" in that sentence) then they're not my type.
Notice that I'm not sitting around complaining NO ONE WILL DATE ME! Again, I understand that looks play a part in the whole Dating Game. I don't get asked out now, and I didn't get asked out when I was thinner. I do the asking. Because I'm not much for sitting around and bitching, I'm all about figuring out what I want and going after it.
or that a potential employer hasn't passed because, while talented, you didn't have that "extra something" (it's even more clear what that means)?
It's actually not more clear what that means.
Female TV writers come in all shapes and sizes. People are actually shocked when a woman walks in the writers' room and is good-looking.
Bringing it back to my own experience, I've been writing the slack since 1997. Since I never posted photos of myself, all people had to judge me on was my writing. Reaction was almost always positive: I was smart, I was talented, I possessed insight.
I started posting photos this year, and while my writing remained the same, reactions to it changed. I was camwhorey. I was too Hollywood. I didn't understand what it was like to be the Ugly Duckling. It was all a front. There was no way I could be genuine, as I was - in their words, as your point is public perception, n'est-ce pas? - "too pretty."
And those are just some instances when the advantages of physical beauty are conscious. What about the times, which tend to be far more numerous than the former, when your looks are judged unconsciously? People generally gravitate toward the beautiful. We can't help it. It's in our genes. The biological imperative to gain favor of the "fittest" partners in hopes of procreating with them influences others' decisions even when on a conscious-level it'd be nonsensical to do so. Why not optimize your looks so that your "higher qualities", e.g., your intellect and charming personality (both of which you have in abundance), can better reach and influence others?
Again, you need to understand the difference between me wanting to optimize my looks - that might be something I want - versus the content of your letter. Again, please explain to me how me being better looking will help spread my word. In fact, it might be more harmful than helpful, as I've outlined above.
You wrote, "We can't gold medal in everything." That's, in part, the point. You, Nina, can gold medal in physical beauty. Gold medalists need both the raw/natural attributes and they must put in the work.
You assume that I am not putting in the work. And that I do find highly insulting.
Since you were blessed with the foundation (example, those big eyes you cursed as an awkward kid are a great asset as an adult, just gorgeous), the rest only depends on what you're willing to do to make your gold medal in beauty a reality. There are both men and women that even with the desire to undergo many surgeries, diet with a military-like discipline, and workout as though training for an Olympic event, couldn't look near as good as you could possibly look. So, please don't act like the effort would be futile.
Again, see above.
Also ex-BF L,: would you like to address miltary-like discipline with regards to me? I feel as if an outside source would be more credible in this case.
You also wrote, "I'm not offended by the email, mostly just confused. What sort of free ride would I get if I was a "9" instead of a "6.5/7"? What do those extra points buy me? It would make sense if he was offering me a job, let‚s say, something tangible and in-front-of-the-camera. But that's not the case." Two things: (1) I can't speak specifically to the improvements in life you'd enjoy from being more attractive on either a quantitative or qualitative level, but don't you think that it's fair to say that life is easier for those more attractive?
No. And I know attractive people. Do you remember where I live?
And spare me the bullshit about how "everyone has problems", of course that's true. But anyone with perspective knows there is a difference. It's insulting my intelligence to act as if there isn't a difference. That's like Warren Buffett telling you, in your current financial situation, that being a billionaire isn't all it's cracked up to be and that "we all have problems".
No, it's not the same thing. A billion dollars is a billion dollars. If Person A looks at it and Person B looks at it, it will always be a billion dollars.
Beauty isn't so quantifiable.
My guess is, you'd respond to him in kind, "Fuck you." (2) What if I did offer you a job in-front-of-the-camera if you made those physical changes? If you say you'd make them, then why not do it in anticipation of something like that happening in the future? You know what they say about luck being the moment preparation meets opportunity... Conversely, if you say you still wouldn't make those changes, then you're bullshitting your readers by writing that. So which is it?
I never bullshit my readers. That's why they read me.
I would never undergo surgery for a job.
Btw, I assume that those that came to your defense by either implying or outright expressing that my comments were reprehensible are those that have a tough time owning up to the fact that physical appearance is very important. It's not some bullshit construct, it's biology. So, while there may not be an objective beauty ordained by the cosmos, there are certain physical traits that appeal almost universally to "man" (as in kind, not gender).
Your email came off as paternalistic and oversimplified. They were responding in kind. If you have offered specific benefits that would occur as a result of said changes, again, it would make sense. But your advice is akin to those who tell me I should "just write a book."
I thought we were all adults here. They need to stop with the idealistic bullshit.
a) Don't insult my readers.
b) This is my blog, so I get to tell them when to stop.
c) Your world of "if you're a 9 you get a free ride" is just as idealistic, if not moreso.
Sure, anyone can be attracted to anyone else for a myriad of reasons. But on a strictly physical level, there are certain traits that are universally accepted in terms of beauty because of biology. Our genes seek out other worthy genes to procreate with in hopes of survival. A certain phenotype "advertises" for the underlying genotype. Some of those pheno characteristics are symmetry and proportion (in facial and bodily features), healthy skin (having quality pigment, elasticity, etc.), healthy hair (exhibited in luster, strength, etc.), overall fitness (somewhat lean exhibiting strength and lack of disease), and it goes on and on. I think some of your more romantic-minded readers are either being dishonest or naïve to say there aren't general standards of beauty.
Healthy hair: check
Good skin: check
Symmetry & proportion: check
Regarding leanness, you bring out lean, but we all know it's the dreaded Waist-Hip Ratio. In studies on physical attractiveness and how it's changed over the years, the "ideal" WHR has remained the same: .7.
So finally, we have a qualitative measurement.
slackmistress WHR: .72
I am not hideous. You yourself said, I'm a 6.5 to a 7. And that's you, who thinks I need a freakin' nose job.
Anyway, my point was never to insult you, just share my thoughts on how maybe a change in philosophy would help you achieve the type of success in life you want. If this type of thinking isn't for you, so be it. Some think "playing the game" is selling out. I tend to think playing the game well, and to your advantage, is just good sense.
Indeed, I do know how to play the game, and play the game to my advantage when I can. Just because I write that I am happy does not mean that I'm not working toward making changes in my life. Some of those are physical, yes. And it's not because it makes me more fuckable, or because it's going to get me a job.
For you to suggest otherwise is insulting.
And I still don't need a nose job.
Today I received the following email.
First, let me say, that I think your blogs (both written and video) are a joy to read and watch. I'm a fan. I think you have an insight and wit greater than most of the women I've ever known (of course, I don't actually know you).
With that said, this is going to sound unnecessarily mean and "un-PC", but I'm compelled to say it. Again, I feel like shit for even thinking it, but oh well, I've always been brutally honest, for better, and usually for worse.
Here it goes. Have you given honest consideration to the fact that if you dropped a few lbs., got a nose job (assuming you rectify your finances in the near future), and grew your hair out a bit, you'd have a free-ride in life? IMO, in terms of physical beauty, there's no reason for someone that could be a solid '9' accept being a '6.5/7' (Argh, the dreaded scale!). Is this completely shallow? Maybe? I don't think so. Is the pursuit of emotional/psychological perfection (which is almost unanimously accepted as worthy) mutually exclusive from the pursuit of physical perfection (which is almost unanimously met with derision)?
I fully expect you to crucify me in response, or more likely, decline to respond at all. My only concern would be hurting your feelings, which wasn't my intent, but I've likely done (it's only natural when questioning someone's attractiveness). For that I'm sorry. At the same time, I think you can process this with proper perspective knowing my intent isn't malicious.
It took me nearly eight years to post a photo of my face on the slack. In part because I wanted to maintain some sense of privacy, but mostly because I didn’t want to subject myself to the scrutiny of a wide audience. Or any audience, to be honest. I got to be The Great and Powerful Oz and hide behind my words. I didn’t have to be pretty.
Because I was never pretty. Growing up, I was the Smart Girl. But I wanted to be the Pretty Girl. Most Smart Girls do at one time or another. And yes, the world really was that black and white. I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Your friend K. is pretty, my mother would tell me. You’re smart. It was the one compliment I was always certain to get.
I didn't want to be smart. I wanted to be blonde. I wanted to be cute. I wanted that straight-up-and-down stick-figure that every other Pretty Girl had.
But I didn’t.
I had dark hair and bushy eyebrows and big eyes and an hourglass figure on an eight-year-old’s body. I had crooked teeth and an overbite and oversized eyes that I hid behind a book. Adolescence was equally unkind, as braces and bad skin and an even worse perm followed me through junior high and high school. My entire childhood prepared me for the role of the Fat Funny Best Friend. The Wisecracking Sidekick. The Girl with the Good Personality.
A few years ago, I lost sixty pounds. And braces. Again. Then jaw surgery.
I wasn’t a Swan. But I was no longer the Ugly Duckling.
I changed so much that the guy who dated one of my good friends in high school sent me a message over MySpace asking did you know J.? I dated her and she graduated your year. Even with a clear, unphotoshopped picture of my face, he still had no clue who I was.
I realize that there’s more to life than what you look like. I wouldn’t have been able to survive the past thirty years intact had I thought otherwise. A lot of women tsk-tsk and say that they’d never want to look like a Brazilian Supermodel, when I say I’d love to know what it’s like, six feet tall with legs up to there and a face that stops traffic.
But I no longer feel bad that I don’t look that way.
Not being beautiful has never cost me a job or a boyfriend. Sure, I wanted to be prettier. Who wouldn’t? I’ve also wanted a pony. So I didn’t win that particular event in the DNA Olympics. I won others.
We can’t gold medal in everything.
I was saying to a friend of mine the other day that being in front of a camera is still an alien concept. The idea that what I look like is anything but a detriment is an alien concept.
The idea that someone would consider me unattractive is not.
My world fell apart over the past ten months. Injuries, girly issues and a thyroid condition contributed to a thirty pound weight gain in the past two years, fifteen of which I’ve lost. My career is a mess, my relationship fell apart, my finances are a joke.
I wanted to continue to hide behind the curtain. It would have been the safe thing to do.
I didn’t want to be safe any more. I didn’t want to hide. I didn’t want to apologize for what I looked like. I think doing what scares you is a good thing. So I jumped in.
And while the response has mostly been positive, I have received plenty of negative emails. Always on what I looked like, never on what I said. But they were usually sent from throwaway email addresses, sucker punches thrown anonymously. This was the first that was thought out, was reasoned, was sent with an actual name attached.
I’m not offended by the email, mostly just confused. What sort of free ride would I get if I was a “9” instead of a “6.5/7”? What do those extra points buy me? It would make sense if he was offering me a job, let’s say, something tangible and in-front-of-the-camera. But that's not the case.
Anyway, I don’t want a free ride. I want to pay my own way.
That’s not to say that I’m not working at losing these final 15 pounds. I’ve been working my ass off to, well, work my ass off. My hair, well, that’s a matter of personal preference.
And excuse me, but my nose is fine.
I know I’m perfectly cute. I also know I also live in a world where there are girls who are cuter than me. Who are skinner than me.
But they don't have the one thing I do have.
I had coffee with my friend Pot8to at Big Corporate Coffee Conglomerate this afternoon.
Whip cream? is the D'you want fries with that? of our generation.
Which means I should probably start practicing that phrase...
When I started work on Lizzie, I was in debt. Terrible debt. Keep-me-up-late-at-night debt. The kind where you need a miracle, a rich and dying relative, or an Act of Congress to escape.
My salvation came in the form of a writing job. I lived as simply as I could and I started paying things off in large chunks. In nine months, I had crushed my entire debt. The credit cards, the car. I paid it all off.
Never again, I thought, and started saving.
I didn't have a plan for the money. Maybe it would grow to be a down payment on a house. Maybe it would be used to finance another college education. Maybe I'd do something utterly crazy with it.
It was my safety net. It was my security blanket. It was my money socked away for a rainy day.
Of course, life manages to get in the way of the best-laid plans. I had to pay for my braces and jaw surgery. I was sued. I had the whole girly bits thing.
A few days ago, I went to the bank and closed out my account. I let the money sit there a few days, not ready to hand it over to just anyone yet. This morning I woke up and knew it was time. I gathered up my bills and paid them off, one by one. Then I wrote. And applied for a few jobs.
Appropriately productive for a Saturday morning, I took my coffee outside and watched Daisy the Wonderdog chase squirrels. It's nearly eight degrees here in Los Angeles. I sat outside in the sun, amused. This isn't what I thought my rainy day would look like.
People keep asking me if I'm okay. I am really, honestly, truthfully okay. I'm feeling slightly melancholy, pr'haps, but there's only one thing I'd change about my life right now...
It's nice to be liked
But it's better by far to get paid
I know that most of the friends that I have don't really see it that way
But if you could give 'em each one wish
How much do you wanna bet?
They'd wish success for themselves and their friends and
that would include lots of money
Enjoy your Saturday.Edited to Add: My Lovecraftian friends, get thee to this.
You know that it's there, but you just don't know where - but just because you can never reach it doesn't mean that it's not worth looking for. -- Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
It's been an odd few weeks. Four of them, in fact. And it's not just me; everyone that I know seems to be experiencing the similar peculiar turns of events. Random small-world moments, bits of literature dropping from the sky, staccato pieces of personal history filling in blanks that most of us would rather have left empty. I spend my days thinking more than I probably should. It's a luxury, and one that I probably can no longer afford.
I wrote a few days back that I don't believe in some Grand Plan, but I do believe that there are thematic elements that weave through our lives. I'm noticing patterns of my own, some healthy, some notsomuch. I need to finish the projects I've started. I need to start the projects I've said I'd finish. Every time I work on one thing I think I'd rather work on something else. I have files upon files of partially written works, scripts, pitches, ideas....I wonder if I'm being insufferably lazy or incredibly prolific.
I've given myself 'til the end of the year finish Geek's Guide to Girls, which is currently a random assortment of IMs and thoughts and theories crammed into a single MS Word file. The more I work on it, the more I think what right do I have to be giving anyone dating advice? But then again, why not me? I'm also considering for the first time ever, possibly jumping into the NaNoWriMo pool with another idea that's been kicking around my cranium for years.
I'm finding for the first time in ages that I'm inspired by what's out there. My TiVo is chock full of TV I'm excited to watch. My iTunes is filled with music that I had either forgotten about or had completely missed the first time around. I'm re-reading Watchmen and discovering new elements that I couldn't fully relate to six years ago. My friends are creating worlds that I can't wait to see unfold.
I ran out of funds a while back, and now I'm running out of time. It's a weird paradox; I'm both paralyzed and kinetic. I feel like I'm doing everything and nothing.
It's clear I'm completely lost. But am I going in circles or forging ahead?
I'm terrified. I'm melancholy.
And I'm also enjoying the hell out of myself.
I don't know. You figure it out.