"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. " -Helen Keller

Monday, August 17, 2009

Barren Bitches Book Brigade: Moose by Stephanie Klein

Welcome to the twentieth tour of the Barren Bitches Book Brigade--a book club from the comfort of your own living room. Today we are discussing Moose by Stephanie Klein. Grab a cup of coffee and, when you are done reading my review, you can hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens. You can also sign up for the next book in this online book club: It Sucked and Then I Cried... by Heather Armstrong (aka Dooce).

Unlike most of the books read by the Barren Bitches, Moose has nothing to do at all with infertility. Moose discusses author Stephanie Klein's struggles with her weight as a child and how those struggles affect all areas of her life. I identified with the struggles in this book in many ways. As an adult, my weight has been an issue. My body doesn't conform with society's standard for beauty. Most days, this isn't an issue. However, there are days when my weight maddens me. I see other people exercise a bit and moderate their diet slightly and they have no trouble losing weight and there have been times I have counted every calorie and exercised like a fiend and I didn't drop a pound. Sure, I dropped inches but the gain in muscle mass during those times actually caused my weight to go up. Having my body fight me at every turn can be infuriating. I also ran across that frustration with my body when my husband and I were struggling to have our third child. Despite all the efforts on our part, for the longest time, my body just wouldn't function the way it was suppose to function. It was maddening, frustrating, and just plain crazy making. Having my body refuse to behave the way thousands upon millions of other women's bodies worked played with my emotions and made me question my self worth in much the same way Ms. Klein did during her struggles with her weight.

Moose takes you back into the halls of secondary education and exposes you to the emotional roller coaster ridden by a young woman who doesn't fit society's beauty image. Despite the fact that this journey can hit way to close to home for some of us, it is a thoroughly enjoyable read. Take a chance and add this to your reading list.

Reading about Ms. Klein's journey through her middle school years and how others' opinions of her weight and appearance affected her has reinforced my decision to do my best to make sure my children have a strong but realistic self image.

Now, for the questions...

What from your childhood led to a positive body image? And what, if anything, caused you to struggle with your own body image? I was lucky and have a wonderful set of parents who always told me I was wonderful and beautiful even on the days I doubted it. Having that to fall back on is a boost to my body image even now when I way far more than I should. My body image has take hits in other areas. For years, I was teased horribly about my hair. My mom has stick straight hair and didn't have a clue how to deal with curly hair. As a result, my hair had its ummm, errrr interesting moments while I was growing up. While we lived in Hawaii, my hair caused me to get targeted and I was frequently called ugly nicknames like birds nest because of it. For many years, this caused me to HATE my hair and that meant I wasn't too fond of the rest of myself. These seem like little, trivial things but it is amazing how long throwaway comments like that can stay with you.

Stephanie Klein writes "Years later I'd feel slightly superior because I'd once been fat. That's the thing...when asked if I'd change my past if I could, I think for a moment and always answer no. There's something...that just makes it mildly worth it. Because a sensitivity is tattooed on a part of you no one else can see but can somehow guess is there. It's always with you." How do you relate to this with regards to infertility? I don't think going through infertility has ever made me feel superior. IF sucks and there is no way around it. However, being exposed to infertility, suffering through it, brings you an awareness and sensitivity that can be invaluable in other areas of your life. Most people who have been through infertility or loss are more aware of the nuances of another person's reaction to children and questions about family. This level of awareness can help you avoid hurt feelings and can even lead you to offering emotional support or (in some cases) medical advice you might not have thought to offer otherwise. A big part of me wishes I had never gone through all the losses I experienced but I can't imagine having all the wonderful friends I have made through infertility missing from my life. I wrote a post called Reflections about this very idea last year.

In this book, Stephanie Klein describes different types of female friendships. From Leigh who she doesn't fully come clean to about how much weight she lost, to Kate who she chooses over a guy. Who is a presence in your life who brings out the best or worst in you? I am very picky about who I call a friend. As a result, I can't say I have anyone in my life who brings out the worst in me. When I was younger (much), I did have people I considered friends who played on my insecurities but, as I got older, I discovered enough strength and self worth to separate myself from people like that. Now, I surround myself with people like my friend Jennifer who is the epitome of sweetness, generosity, and resilience. Having her in my life encourages those tendencies in myself. And, my friend Rys is someone special too. She has encouraged me to believe in my own artistic abilities and has always been available to support me when I needed it most. Someone like that can't help but encourage you to be a better person.

Once again, hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens (above this one). You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: It Sucked and Then I Cried... by Heather Armstrong (aka Dooce).

9 comments:

WiseGuy said...

Wow! Seems like a nice book to me....Good work Kristin...

And I like the phrase --"a sensitivity is tattooed on a part of you no one else can see but can somehow guess is there". What has IF made me...maybe I could answer that eloquently when I finally do get over it.

Lavender Luz said...

I picked up on the same phrase WiseGuy did. Love the tattoo metaphor.

And I'm with you on the hair! Those comments can cut deeply and last a disproportionate amount of time.

Rebecca said...

The hair comment totally resonated with me. My mother does have curly hair but she hides it in the closet - she's one of those who always has it straightened. For me, going to the fancy hair salons in NYC was so liberating! They talk about straight hair like it's the devil. I highly recommend Devachon if you want to feel like a curly-haired goddess.

I like what you wrote about your friendships. I also never felt like I had the have-to-have friends and after reading Moose, I was very grateful to have been spared of that experience.

Cara said...

Kristin - missed you bunches during my hiatus. I must get caught up, but just wanted to stop by and say hello.

So much happinging and I have to jump back in slowly or I might overwhelm...

becomingwhole said...

Sounds like an interesting book. Body image is so tricky, and seems to be getting trickier for those growing up now.

I also loved that tattoo phrase.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

Oh sweetie, I hear you with the hair thing--no one knew what to do with my curly hair. And I still don't. I don't really have a real style--I just twist it up a lot.

"Having that to fall back on is a boost to my body image even now when I way far more than I should."

I love that your parents supported you so fully and that you carry that with you still.

loribeth said...

I definitely agree with you that infertility & loss give many of us who go through it a heightened awareness of others' pain.

So glad you have supportive friends & parents. It can make such a huge difference, particularly in those painful growing up years...!

Deb said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

I agree with Rebecca that Moose did help me realize that those had to have friends really did turn out to be those that could hurt the most.

I hear you on the hair... mine has decided that it doesn't really want to be curly anymore and is this wierd limp wavy mop that is driving me crazy. I want my full blown curls back so bad even though they were a cause of so much pain growing up.

Cassandra said...

I am guessing that there wasn't a lot of curly hair in Hawaii! I wonder if there were kids there who were jealous of your curly hair because theirs, like mine, wouldn't take a curl or a perm. The grass is always greener...