Letters to the Editor

The last thing we need is more diet mania; what's so scary about Jesus?


Letters to the Editor
June 22, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)

The wages of thin
BY MARY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS

(06/14/99)

Three cheers for Mary Elizabeth Williams' thoughtful pan of a book of the sort that ought to be burned. The last thing we need is another hymn sung in praise of diet mania -- even a sort of vaguely self-aware one as this tome appears to be.

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I will not take Williams up on her invitation to call her
petty and shallow for crash-dieting in college to get more male
attention. But I will respectfully suggest that the men who would only pay attention to her after she lost
weight are the petty and shallow ones. Williams concluded instead that getting thin was
obviously the solution because it "worked."

Worked at what? Getting the attention of insensitive, egotistical men?
I have a teenage daughter and I have already told her: Any man that asks or tells you to lose weight, stay away; do not give him the time of day.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that not enough women are willing to say
"No" to such boors. Indeed, women are frequently the ones telling other
women that they need to be a size 4 to be attractive -- from Jenny Craig
to the women who write and edit many fashion mags to mothers telling
their own daughters.

I suggest that if petty and shallow men would lose their weightist
attitudes, and if women would move that process along by refusing to
participate in their own victimization, the heavy and stressful burdens
that would be lifted from the shoulders of young women would be the most
beneficial weight loss of all.

-- Frank Perch

Philadelphia

If women want to lose weight, why don't they just watch their diet and work out, instead of getting all weird about it? I've worked out pretty much consistently since the age of 14 (I'm 34). I'm no hard body (not by a long shot); as a matter of fact, I'm heavier than I want to be. But I know that if I want to get the kind of healthy, strong attractive body that I desire, I need to eat healthy and work out consistently. Yes, when I look like I do right now, women don't look at me in a sexual way. But when I get back down to about 150-155 pounds, with "big guns" (arms) and a flat stomach,
I get a lot of attention. It's not right and not fair, but men have to deal with those unfair, shallow preconceived notions of weight too.

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-- Richard Ornelas

Sanitation department
BY ZEV BOROW

(06/14/99)

While one can certainly argue that some film violence is justified by the subjects a filmmaker chooses to explore, Zev Borow does not do this. He merely mocks the idea that some
restraint on the part of directors in portraying graphic violence would
be appropriate in some situations. One can accept the violence in
"Reservoir Dogs" or "Bonnie and Clyde" or, to a certain extent, "Natural Born
Killers" as necessary to the point those directors wanted to make. But
does this necessarily justify intense violence in all films?

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Honestly I don't know the answer, but I think that there is a real
argument here -- one that Borow could explore without trivialization.

-- Bryant Gries

Gore gets religion
BY CHRISTOPHER SHEA

(06/15/99)

As an active Democrat working hard to get Democrats voted in, I believe Al Gore is making the worst mistake in his political career. If he insists on going over to the other side -- ripping down the separation of church and state, in alliance with the Christian Coalition -- most Democrats will turn from him entirely. Including me.

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-- Perri Natalizio

Snack time with Jesus
BY NATALIE PEARSON

(06/16/99)

I find it a little hard to understand why Natalie Pearson would be so disturbed
at the prospect of her little daughter seeing Jesus as a friend. After
all, angels are politically correct. Why not Jesus?

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Most mothers would hope that, should their little one be in danger, a
loving higher power would protect them. I certainly hope that for my son.
Why does the fact that Elena sees Jesus as a
real, present friend and protector qualify her for the rather harsh label
of "fundamentalist." These days, the word "fundamentalist"
seems to be synonymous with "fanatic" or "religious nut."

I am a college-educated, professional woman, and a wife and mother. Since I
work as a writer, I have quite an affinity for the fine arts. I consider
myself to be an intelligent, well-rounded person. Like Elena, around the
age of 5, I came to think of Jesus as my friend. It hasn't done me any
harm, quite the contrary. My relationship with Jesus has been the
touchstone of tremendous personal growth in my life. Christianity is not
just a nice set of rules or concepts; it is a relationship with a living,
loving God. I chuckle at the thought that my kind of spirituality might
earn me the label of fundamentalist.

-- Robin Jackson

Pearson takes issue with a traditional -- sorry, it's "fundamentalist"
now -- Lutheran day care who (shudder!) cares for her daughter. It sounds like
that place is filling her head with all sorts of dangerous ideas -- faith,
confidence and an awareness of worlds outside of cartoons.

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Her fear of "missing the opportunity to introduce [her daughter] to all the
fascinating pieces of the world" is unfounded. Religion does not make
children less aware of their world. Indeed, religion can instill every
living thing with wonder and purpose completely lost on other children.

Without espousing any one faith over the other, I marvel at this reversal of
concern. We are more comfortable handing over our youth to any system, however less
caring, so long as that influence is securely God-free. Calm down, Natalie --
your daughter may become a devout Lutheran, but she'll likely never be a
nihilist gunman.

-- S. Brady Hale

Some advice for Natalie Pearson from a son who, only
now, is thanking his parents for a strict upbringing: The next time your
4-year-old fundamentalist decides how the family will say grace or sounds
disapprovingly of an answer you give her, rather than refraining from asking
what she's been hearing from Jesus or questioning your own wishy-washy
parenting skills, why don't you tell her who's boss.
Oh, sorry ... sounds like she is.

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-- Marc Plaisant


Put a price on his head

BY JOE CONASON
(06/15/99)

Joe Conason's suggestion that civic-minded individuals put a price on Milosevic's head actually
makes a lot of sense. So why doesn't Salon put it together? I will happily contribute $100 to any reward fund, assuming that the planned disposition of the money if Milosevic is not captured meets my approval. (Perhaps contributors get to specify a secondary charity?)

-- Mike Friedman

Hong Kong

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Conason has the start of a good idea that could be enhanced by making any future NATO aid to reconstruct Serbia conditional on Milosevic surrendering to the War Crimes Court in the Hague. Milosevic could even qualify for the bounty and use the proceeds for his legal defense.

-- Bill Sproule

Sharps & flats: Santana's "Supernatural"
REVIEWED BY SETH MNOOKIN

(06/16/99)

Anyone who doesn't like "Black Magic Woman,"
Santana's most famous cover, should not be reviewing Santana. It is clear
from Seth Mnookin's review he likes nothing of Santana's work, past or present.
It appears that nothing on Santana's new album -- including several emerging stars who think highly of Santana and have him on their albums -- could have changed Mnookin's mind. Apparently
these artists have been fooled silly but Mnookin has not.

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Painter Francis Bacon was happiest when people had a strongly negative reaction
upon viewing his work because then, to him, something was there. I
haven't bought a Santana album for several years, but thanks to Mnookin's review, I
can't wait to hear "Supernatural."

-- Chris Stevens


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