19 May 2009


When I was in First Grade -- I wasn't actually playing soccer -- but some other children were, and kicked the ball over the fence. They tried to get it by reaching through the fence, but couldn't manage. I realized I could probably reach through a grab it. I was right. I felt so useful! I had a use.

But I learned (in my listless way) that being skinny was socially registered under the emotional response .Shame further nested under .Weakness. Several times in my life throughout the years I've been compared to an Ethiopian. I'm socially in a whole different class -- and not underservedly so. The physical status of a person is under constant social scrutiny, because it has valid practical implications. Can you lift that? Is it too heavy? We gotta squeeze into the car, so can you sit in the middle? Does it come in your size? Lurpy. Twiggy. Effeminate. Sub-male.

I think I hate myself. It's not a predominate emotion, but I feel it; I think everyone does at least sporadically, and people who don't might very well be sociopathic. I think the .Hate has a lot of branches inclusive, and some of them are useful. I ask myself, Why do I hate myself? Because I'm skinny. If I looked better, I could get what I want. I don't accept myself. Why?

.Hate and .Shame have tendrils nested deep and far-reaching into my main program, my psyche. I have issues with my weight. Do I feel that having control over what I eat is the only control I have? I have to ask myself if I dislike eating in childish spite that my weight is percieved as a flaw: I rebell against the idea that my size precludes social status. My response is not to bulk up -- rather, it's a vindictiveness, a depreciating reticence and a smothered fury. Eating is a weakness.

Are my rebellious proclivities rooted in a psychological defense against social normalcy? Is it an emotional outgrowth of the simple difficulty to adapt with the larger, cultural program -- to find acceptance?

I hate myself because I am not accepted, and I am not valued.

That leads to self-acceptance, prehaps requisite to broader acceptance. Do I need a new way of percieving myself and my world -- a new version of the code for psychological adaptation to my environment? Perhaps so: I think so many base assumptions in my psyche could use revision, but they're so deep that I forget they're there.

Yet, I could be imagining things. Eating is a costly chore. I have better things to do: Shouldn't I focus on my strengths rather than trying to compensate for a weakness? It's a simple choice with such far-reaching ramifications. 

Perhaps if I edit the code programmed way back in First Grade, I can change my life, my attitude, my way of thinking, my reality.

And I also realize: In self-discovery, biology cannot be ignored.


Peter McCombs said...

Yes, I remember you were always the skinny kid. You still usually approach manual labor with a certain reluctance, which I think affects people more than their perceptions of your physical stature. I don't notice the "skinny" so much anymore. It doesn't seem to be a defining quality.

I'm also considerably less useful than the average person when it comes to physical work. But my problem has always been clumsiness; an awkward sort of incompetence with any type of manual manipulation. And I always considered myself a bit of an ugly sort of person, ill-proportioned with stupid long flappy feet and thin legs. I have fat girly lips and dorky hair. I have a voice that exudes dumbness with a social elan to match all of my silly presence.

I'm reminded of a quote from Red Dwarf: "Have you ever in dissection class held up a frog by its head? You know the way its belly sort of sticks out above its spindly little legs? Well, that's the picture I see when you get down from the bunk in the morning."

Yeah, that's me. ;) You eat food to bulk up and it just gives you a pot belly.

Possibly most people hate themselves if they really think about it (it's part of the consumer culture to hate yourself, because there are ways you can spend money to try and make it feel better). Or else we just have some sort of family neurosis getting us down.

Dave said...

Well, it's bizarre to me to read your self-image. I've never had any of those impressions. I think people are generally self-conscious about the way they come across to other people, and more likely to encounter social difficulties because of negative self-image than because of any real outward quality.

It seems to me, however, that there are a lot of concepts and ideas that get programmed really young that form the basis of resultant thoughts and behaviors. I often hear stories of a very simple event that happened in childhood that has had dramatic effect in almost every aspect of later life.

I don't really know dot-programming stuff, but I get the general idea that they represent classes and branch out. I think root assumptions called in early age can be discovered by following a thought pattern to the root cause, and then re-assessed for accuracy, which then results in a cascade of benefits. Hard to explain, but probably something obvious.

I also strongly identified with that line from Red Dwarf.

Marketing is certainly affective as far as self-image. Portray an impossible ideal and then imply your product will help the consumer reach the ideal. There's also all those magazines when you check out at the grocery store with headlines either about how to get your best beach body, or commenting on some celebrity's beach body, or something about sex (as if there could possibly be anything new after how utterly scoured and depleted the topic is).

It's petty. It's silly as those crazy birds of paradise with their bizarre dances and feather displays: I'm fit to breed!

It makes me sympathetic to women who have so much more body image stress.