This is off the writing track, but it’s one of my pet peeves that gets peaked now and then:  fat as in body weight and body image.  Here’s an excellent article in the Sunday NY Times revealing how celebrities contribute to our (at least, women’s) shaky self-image:  Bingeing on Celebrity Weight Battles

My suggestion:  Why don’t we start by not using the word “fat” to describe people.  It’s derogatory, not descriptive.  It demoralizes rather than motivates.  And it’s an industry fed by celebrities, Big Pharma, agribusiness … (pun intended) that needs consumers to be self-conscious about their weight in order to survive.  Best quote: “Americans equate body size with Puritan values. Thin means self-discipline and hard work; fat implies laziness, gluttony and lack of willpower.”  Watch enough TV and you’ll see ads for weight-loss gimmicks following ads for all you can eat country buffets. How can we demand self-discipline when our society relentlessly throws temptation in our way?  Maybe I’m just bitter because I know I’ll never see 120 again (unless I get ravished by cancer), or maybe I just want to enjoy life (and some chocolate) while it’s here.

The Reality of Being You

“Depression, truth be told, is both boring and threatening as a subject of conversation.”  So writes Daphne Merkin in her essay on depression in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.  As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety off and on (and, lately, fortunately, it’s been mostly off), Merkin’s essay resonated with me in a far deeper way than any essay I had read before.  Perhaps it’s the cold truth of her insights:  “Surely this is the worst part of being at the mercy of your own mind, . . .:  the fact that there is no way out of the reality of being you, . . ..”

For most of my life, I found the reality of “being me” often hard to bear.  Like Merkin, “I was fascinated by people who had the temerity to bring down the curtain on their own suffering,” people like Virginia Woolf, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath, who also just happened to be writers.

Merkin takes us on a journey from her most recent bout of deep depression, through her attempts at recovery in a clinic, and, finally, to a seemingly spontaneous resolution.  Granted, this is her own personal story, and others who suffer from chronic depression might have very different experiences.  As with so many other ailments, both physical and psychological, one size does not fit all.  But I finished Merkin’s article feeling heartened, at the least because the fog lifts just enough for her to imagine a life without it.

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