Thursday, August 26, 2010

Where it all started…

It had always been obvious what I was going to do when I got to college. My whole family knew, from the time I won the Young Authors award in the third grade what I was meant to be. My dad had gone as far as to set me up with a meeting with the head of the department of journalism at NKU long before I enrolled in my first class or bought my first textbook.

During that first year in college, I took a 100-level sociology class called “Introduction to Race & Gender.“ The professor, who shall remain nameless (but will certainly be easily identified by my fellow alumni, probably accompanied by a little chuckle) was well-known around campus for his rambling and somewhat bizarre rants about civil rights. While I certainly wouldn’t call myself a racist by any means, I felt (at least at that time) like I had heard it all before. My plan of attack was to write a few “blah blah blah” essays about how sorry I am that me and all my upper middle class whitey friends have been keeping the black man down all these years, get my easy “A” and get the heck out of there.

I did a lot of eye-rolling and finger-tapping through arduous lecture after lecture, but since the syllabus called for it, the professor at some point had to move on and spend some time on gender issues. I think he was about as excited about talking about gender as I was about talking about race. But as an 18-year-old women, I found myself absolutely fascinated with gender issues. I was, for the first time, really beginning to explore what it meant to be a young woman in today’s society. I had all these feelings and emotions that were simmering throughout my teenage years and they all were all kind of bubbling up to the surface all of a sudden. I wrote an essay for class about how the women that are chosen to appear on covers of magazines create a false ideal for women’s bodies and have societally developed a standard to which most women could never attain without risking their health. (This was waaay before that topic was addressed on a national level, e.g. Calvin Klein last year. These were just my own feelings from being a teenager myself and living through it).

I remember in that essay, that I wrote about a new magazine that I had just bought called Shape. In it, there was an article called “What’s does a size 10 look like?” and it had photos of five different women who all wore a size 10. Yeah, that’s not a typo—I didn’t say a size zero, I said a size ten. Which is the same size it said on the labels of most of my clothes (umm, they were a little tight due to my freshman 15, but nonetheless…). It was mind-blowing to see women who looked like me in a magazine. Further, when we discussed gender issues in class, I looked around and identified with other young women who felt the same as I did. They struggled with dieting and exercise, too. They hated trying to live up to that unrealistic ideal that they saw in magazines. They lived with these thoughts and feelings every day, and they too were in a constant state of learning how to cope with and work through these issues. As a writer, I’ve often found that my best writing comes from topics that lie deep within my heart. And that’s when it occurred to me, this is what I need to be writing about.

Despite my family’s best predictions, I’ve taken my degree in journalism, transitioned to a career in PR, then marketing, and now into management, and over the years, I’ve sadly done less and less writing that actually pays my bills. My hope for Weightless is that I can get back to writing on a regular basis, and back to writing about the things that move me (literally and figuratively). I hope you’ll read along, and if you enjoy it, please feel free to leave comments and share it with others.

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