Have you seen it yet? That commercial that Macy’s pretends is to be uplifting and “in the holiday spirit” that’s actually just… very odd, and probably trying to outdo the now-defunct Montgomery Ward’s red-nosed reindeer?
It begins with a girl who has a dream. You know how girls are – always wanting to be fucking Santa Claus. Because children don’t all, in their heart of hearts, really want to be amongst the recipients of presents. Because children aren’t, deep down, pretty much the psychopathic toddlers that used their parents as teether toys, shellacked with a thin veneer of propriety and good manners, using their wits and charm to get what they want.
And we’re supposed to feel sorry for her, because her peer group laughs at her. How dare they not support her dream of becoming a portly older gentleman who breaks into the home of strangers unannounced to leave them evidence of the type of person he deems them to be? Like, who doesn’t want to be observed by an unknown, unseen person and then receive gifts from them? It always seems to work out so well for celebrities, right? Just because this girl wants to become your stalker, and comes to school with a padded faux-pregnancy belly, and you’re a hormonal asshole of a middle schooler, you think it’s okay to mock her? Shame on you, middle school kids. This isn’t a sitcom, this is a fucking heartwarming commercial, and YOU ARE RUINING IT.
But, like, it’s okay. Luckily, this girl’s parents are rich and/or racking up credit card debt. They wrap their gas-guzzling truck with a myriad of tiny colored lights, and enable their daughter’s social ineptitude by playing along and asking “Santa” to hop in and bribe her classmates into pretending she’s not super weird. She gets a nod from a kid who can deign to be polite since none of his friends are around, and probably feels like she’s being a good person, when really, she should probably be in therapy.
In case you don’t follow bookselling news (in which case, consider subscribing to Shelf Awareness, a publishing newsletter that has brief updates that are interesting and informative), the ever-increasing monster monopoly Amazon gives 0 fucks about the publishing industry or independent booksellers.
Claiming it was due to a “technical error” on which the Company was vague and which is about as convincing as the dog eating your homework, Amazon sent an unknown (presumably because Amazon chose not to disclose, since, as a tech company, it presumably has the information) amount of customers the much-anticipated Margaret Atwood book The Testaments early.
I know, it seems kind of cool that you can potentially receive a book you have been fervently awaiting earlier than the official publishing date, but the thing is, publishing houses require brick and mortar stores to sign an affidavit saying the store will not sell until the official publishing date, and penalty for breaking is severe. It is unclear whether Amazon had to sign such an affidavit (although, would anyone be surprised that the tech giant decided to throw it’s weight around and refuse?), but if so, it has broken the embargo, which is unacceptable. And if not, it’s being a big ol’ dick, which is also unacceptable.
Publishing houses of the world, I propose a simple and elegant solution to this conundrum: Stop selling your books on Amazon. Just don’t give Amazon access to your hardcover, paperback, mass market, or e-retail.
Since this will never happen, however, because America is nothing if not a country unwilling to hold anyone accountable for their actions if that organization is headed by a white man, let me conclude with this:
Amazon, you suck.
(FYI, while I was previously including Amazon affiliate links in some of my blog posts, I will no longer be doing so, and will also try to remove my foot from my mouth by removing those older links within the next couple of days.)
P.S. Here are links to the Shelf Awareness articles, which are both longer and more eloquent about Amazon’s initial dirty deed, as well as it’s half-assed apology.
For a novel that provides stark detail on the realities of eating disorders, The Girls at 17 Swann Street is a rather lovely book. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC, which I forgot about, then had a pleasant surprise in February that that new book I wanted to read and kept seeing in communications and bookstores was literally on my bookshelf.
At first glance of the cover and/or synopsis, the subject matter can seem a bit too easy. We all know that ballerinas and eating disorders go together like chocolate and peanut butter, which is ironic, since both of these edibles are items that a ballerina is likely never going to eat. Yet this novel really only involves one, particular, ballerina – protagonist Anna, who is a ballerina no longer. And ballet is not the only reason Anna has become obsessive about becoming thin. Like most women, there are a plethora of reasons that Anna has begun to believe the world as it shouted the message to her that thin is the new worthwhile.
To get the preliminaries out of the way – this novel is well done, and I recommend it if the cover, title, subject matter, fiction, etc., is at all interesting to you.
To get to what I am really interested in, could not help noticing as I read, and have found my mind drawn to long after having finished the last page, let’s talk about this book’s broader subject matter. As a woman, I have found myself torn between my desire to consume delicious food and my desire to be thin, but overall, thought I had a pretty healthy relationship with food. This novel caused me to re-evaluate and really think through my motivations when making food choices.
Because Anna doesn’t just stop eating. She’s just not eating enough. But limiting herself primarily to fruit and popcorn? Definitely things I have done, when I want a snack, and tell myself I need to eat more healthy. And exercising without having eaten enough? Also something I have done, generally telling myself I can eat after I have exercised (except I do, because in addition to wanting to be thin, I really, really like food). So while I am not in pain due to extreme fragility if I take a simple ride on a roller coaster, I found myself questioning the reasons why I wanted to eat more/less, what I wanted to eat, and realizing that, often, the motivations behind my eating are not ideal.
I am a compulsive eater, I love food, and I am a former dancer who has difficulty ascertaining of what a healthy weight consists for me and aspiring to be thinner than I currently am. I have to work to try to have and maintain a healthy relationship with food every day, and quite frankly, I don’t know that I have found it. While dancing, wearing a formfitting leotard in a room with a wall comprised of mirrors around other girls who due to genetics, not having hit puberty yet, or eating disorders, did not have any curves, certainly did not help me with my self-image, I would not say it caused my issues, either. If I had not danced, I would still be inundated with images clearly identifying thin as pretty, I would still notice the girls at school who were blessed with genetics or whose struggles were not apparent and who visually appeared to fit society’s mould of “pretty and thin,” and I would have still likely felt “not enough.” Not thin enough. Not pretty enough. Not confident enough to just rock what I was born with, and always comparing myself to those who are what I aspire to be, even when it is completely unrealistic.
One of the tricky things about eating disorders is that those who suffer from them cannot just quit their problem. If you have a drinking problem, and you survive withdrawal, you can subsequently abstain from drinking. It is not easy, but it is a clear and rational response to the problem. With anorexia and bulemia, abstaining from food is the problem. The thing that sufferers struggle with, that the sight of causes them to break out in sweat, is a thing that they also physically need in order to survive. This problem is a point that The Girls at 17 Swann Street drives home very well. And another point? Similar to those who suffer from addiction or mental illness, a person does not simply get better. Anna makes clear progress in the novel, but she could backslide into her old habits at any time.
I don’t think that I have an eating disorder. I think I am a pretty normal woman. Which brings me to the stark and unsettling conclusion that that means that I also think that every woman struggles with eating and body image.
What about you, dear reader? Do you agree? Disagree? I would love to read your thoughts. & although I am human and love agreement/validation, I would also love to be wrong about this conclusion I have drawn.
There is a sense of coziness, as the darkness envelopes my car from all sides, my headlights making a small impact on the surroundings. I am a piece of Americana, a small and insignificant personage in the vastness which surrounds me, yet also a part of something much greater than any single person could ever be.
This sense of rightness with the world around me is confined to the morning, metamorphosing into unease and vulnerability in the evening when there are few cars on the road.
What is it about the morning that furnishes a sense of possibility when the evening just starkly reminds me how easy I am as a target? It would be just as easy for a serial killer to hide and lunge at me from the backseat in the dark of morning, yet the possibility only suggests itself to me in the post meridiem hours. It has nothing to do with visibility; if anything, my sight tends to be more impaired in the morning, when there is sometimes fog drifting across the road and adding yet another layer of difficulty for my glasses to assist me in discerning.
Am I the only one who feels this way? What slightly illogical actions and/or items do you enjoy?
I completely respect any decision(s) to purchase from local, independent stores instead of Amazon. If, however, you were planning to make purchases through Amazon already anyway, please consider using one of the affiliate links below (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases):