Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Editorial: Shamans, Body Image, Blood and Reality

I have no idea what to title this post. Suggestions might include, "Long Time Coming?" "Avatarial Confessions?" Perhaps "Too Long, Please Don't Read, And Just Let Me Type." Apologies in advance: duplicate or repeated theses presented. I tell some truth in this post, but like all my writing, it's bandaged with opinion, too. For my real-life friends - remember - this is my safe place to write. Thank you in advance for respecting that.

One of my personal 'sword of a thousand truths' is the crusade about diabetes. It's touched my own life, and altered the course of my personal destiny in many ways. I do not have diabetes myself, but since someone I love does, we share this course. I have never personally suffered from any form of it, neither gestational, or adult onset. One day, I had two very sick people - one was my toddler, and one was my husband. Taking them to the doctor, it was discovered that my husband had diabetes. He was not obese, or a "bad eater," in fact, was a vegetarian at the time. His weight plummeted, and has fluctuated over the years. He then proceeded down the long arduous path of finding doctors, specialists, etc. that would guide him. And he's smart as hell -- he did much of his own research, and asks informed, confident questions. I often think he himself could have been a doctor, but that destiny was out of his reach. These years we've lived with this has meant every decision we make is based on health insurance. Every job loss or change, and the minute we went through a very tough time long before the current recession meant an end to my days as 'princess mommy,' where I enjoyed my time with my children. It wasn't always easy, and at times drove me to sheer bored madness, but I know I did the right thing. But leaving the stay-at-home routine led me to other paths I love, so in hindsight, it was a good thing. When someone gets a chronic disease, every one in the family shares a new path. His courage and strength over making sure he's going to be okay are things I take for granted. He doesn't get to give up, because I don't. Remember: I am one mean witch sometimes.

Now --body image. One of the things that has hurt him the most are many people's assumptions that somehow he caused this. I have vegan/extreme 'grow your own and don't eat anything outside your own garden patch' friends, and he has one friend who ended up having bariatric surgery to help him lose weight for diabetes. I work with two women who both have adult onset diabetes, and they have never been obese. In fact, both of them have the most amazing figures -- they each do yoga, go to the gym, and are two of the most beautiful women I know, inside and out. I have another very dear friend who is by all measures, extremely obese, and can barely walk, yet she has no heart or pancreatic issues.  And yet another, who has crippling arthritis in both her knees and she's in her early 40s. She posted on Facebook the other day about watching all the skinny, fit women walking into the swimming pool and she could barely get out of the car. It made me cry. We know of so many people who have diabetes and gaining weight was not a factor in the slightest. There are things that one can control -- getting exercise and diet are huge factors, there is no denying. But I have a suspicion as with many health issues, and our increasingly complicated, chemicalized world, there is no one cause, nor cure. Someday in the future, we'll all be able to take a "Dammit, Jim, I'm a Doctor" Star-Trek type shot and be all better. The insulin causes weight and tissue damage, and dealing with chronic illness certainly has a link to minor forms of depression. Sometimes, you just don't want to be 'that person.' Being sick sucks.

Honest confliction: Not sure what to think anymore --

My discomfort with World of Warcraft, and feminism, body image is connected with this. I know that must seem like a stretch. I understand that many players, male and female alike, want there to be more female "real body type" heroes, villains, NPCs, character models, etc. I am ashamed to admit that I could not keep Kellda as a Dwarf female -- I had to change her back. I do not see myself as this--in my younger days I resembled Kellda as a human model. So what do I do with my own fantasy of having a perfect pixelized body, playing 'dress up' as I did when I was younger, and just playing to have fun in a make-believe world?

I, too, like Erinys and the Godmother, want the Azerothian narrative to include more complex and interesting female representatives. And like them, too, I am not sitting around waiting for the writers at Blizzard to create them. This entire fan-fiction blog of mine, when I write fiction, is about female characters. Want to go mano-a-mano with Mrs. Whitworth? I didn't think so. And this is where I'll upset some folks - I told my husband a few months ago that I noticed this trend with 20-30 something women; I labeled it "aggressive frumpiness." This active rejection of any trappings of traditional femininity makes total sense though -- because like Joss Whedon's quote, the fact that people are still asking this inane question means we still have a long damn way to go. I know many a young mother of daughters who get so frustrated over the constant princess identity drone. All one needs to do is walk into any Target and see the toxic glow of pink coming from the "girls" toy aisle versus the black and blue of the boys'. The lines are drawn by the corporations: it's up to us to blur them.

Three novels that came to mind when thinking about this post are as follows:

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz -- the protagonist is a complete and total nerd, and his one quest is to lose his virginity. It is one of the best novels I have ever read.

The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons, and Growing Up Strange by Mark Barrowcliffe - the author is clearly conflicted over his own adolescent relationship with playing D&D.

Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman - why this book on motherhood and marriage? Well, it still makes me think about identities and feminity is ways Erma Bombeck never could. (Insert smiley face here.) It is a voice of someone who wanted to say something that many took great and grand offense to, and whether or not one agrees or relates to her in any way, it is one woman defining herself. Why is that so damn hard?

To wit: if my husband wants to spend a few hours looking at a beautiful, leather-clad model who kicks ass, and I have no problem with that whatsoever, and more power to him. If it gets his mind off of his next shot or meal, or whether he's too exhausted to go for a walk, then jumping around battlegrounds is just the ticket. Things are not always what they seem, and we want it that way in Azeroth.

Big Rock Candy Mountain

Postscript: Fresh Air Interview with Amy Shumer (link to the NSFW "Compliments." Only that. Nothing else.)



  1. In a way, Delgada, my undead priest, is an in joke that I have never really explained. I've been having health problems that do nothing to help my weight for years, and so in Delgada I have the figure everyone seems to idolize.

    In reality, I am aiming to look more like my hunter Carlatta, as soon as the plumber comes and I kick out Aunt Flo.

    1. Jeni, have I told you lately that I adore you? No? Well - I do. My Aunt Flo passed away last year, and truth be told, I don't miss her at all. She had a good run.

  2. Sheesh, I got lost watching those videos. I recently met with a friend who takes care of the man she lives with. He's recovering from a bad head injury so she has to monitor what he eats because he also has diabetes. I had no idea what a balancing act that was. I've got my fingers crossed as my husband has to get retested, they didn't like his sugar numbers.

    I remember Ellen Ripley of the first Alien movie being my all time best heroine ever, she still might be except for Mrs. Whitworth.

    1. I know Amy Shumer is controversial, and beyond raunchy, but funny!

      Keeping my fingers crossed for your hubby --when it's caught early, there is a lot that can be done. It's just not that much fun.

      Now, I was not expecting on a Wednesday for servers to be off-line. Maybe I should go use this time to do some writing...

  3. And I thought I went on and on :) you are much more wordy and polite than I am Matty.

    That Joss Whedon comment is really good. I really like that. The reason I like it is why is anyone even NOTICING the hero is female? Should they not just accept it's a hero and that's cool? Why make a big deal out of it being female? You know, I hever even noticed that Joss Whedon made strong female characters, I just knew he made kickass heroes. And that is what I wish everyone was like - accepting that heroes can be female without having to ask WHY.


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