Ugh, Betty.

October 10, 2007

If you haven’t watched Monday’s Heroes, and you haven’t been reading the online comics, you might want to go catch up.  Here’s an image of my Heroes-crush Peter Petrelli for some quality spoiler space:


So, we learn that Sylar didn’t bite it at the end of the first season, and the person who is nursing him back to health is Candice, the illusionist/shapechanger from the Company.  Now, I hated her in season one.  The character is just not at all likable.  I suppose, with her working with Linderman and the Company, it’s not all that surprising that she’d pretty intolerable.

Then came her backstory, and my annoyance switched from the present-day character to whoever wrote her past.  I guess it’s both Tim Kring, for the hints that have been dropped in the show (and her final scene as an overweight brunette at Sylar’s feet Monday night) and Joe Casey, who wrote the “Betty” arc for the graphic novel online.

Candice was once a fat, pimply goth girl named Betty.  The perfect, perky, beautiful cheerleaders (who think AP classes are for squares) and the handsome, football-playing, testosterone-filled boys in her class were mean to her and her awkward, pimply goth friend Ren.  Betty gets revenge on a football player, the rest of the team takes it out on Ren, Betty accidentally sends Ren into cardiac arrest revealing her newfound powers and plotting revenge, la la la.  In the end, she stops short of pulling a Carrie and just leaves everyone at the homecoming game freaked out while she strikes off on her new life as thin, pretty Candice.

I understand that comics and hour-long television shows are going to rely heavily on stereotypes.  Can we call the cheerleader/goth themes archetypes yet, or are they still too recent?

During the first season, I rolled my eyes at the portrayal of Claire as the one cheerleader on the squad who was a decent human being, but I let it go.  This season’s episodes with the mean ol’ cheerleaders bullying Martha made me grit my teeth, too, but again, I decided to just deal with it and let them tell the story.

Then, yesterday, while watching the episode online (I missed it Monday night), I had to go back and make sure they hadn’t just filmed Missy Peregrym at a bad angle.  I’d forgotten about an exchange between Candice and Micah during “Landslide”:

Michah: I have a cousin who eats like you. He’s huge.
Candice:  So am I.

After finishing the episode, I went and read the comics, since I haven’t seen them since last season ended.  And lo, the Betty arc. 

I guess it struck a harder nerve because I identify more with the kind of person they’re stereotyping than I did with the cheerleaders.  I was (and let’s be honest, I still am) the overweight, nerdy, slightly goth girl.  I was never quite brave enough to dress like Death (except on Halloween), but I wore my share of black and read far too many vampire novels. 

I realize that there are kids out there like that, who angst it up and believe that The Necronomicon is real.  (Ia! Ia!)  When I went to New Orleans the first time, we went on the Rev. Zombie’s Vampire Tour and the “real vampire” who walked along with us gave me his website and contact info afterwards (because I answered a lot of the tour guide’s questions, I guess.  I was wearing a white blouse and a flowered skirt; I hardly resembling a bloodsucking fiend at all).  He seemed to believe that he was Vlad II Dracula reincarnated, and that the Camarilla truly existed.

So, believe me, I know they’re out there.

What bothers me most about the Betty story, though, was that they did go for the obvious cliche.  I suppose, with her being a minor enough character, they don’t really have to put all that much time and thought into it.   Yet, the story so far has been pretty solid.  Of course they’re going to use sterotypes, but there have been some pretty good twists on them, too. 

Reducing Candice down to “fat girl who used to be picked on” was a missed opportunity.  She could have simply been average-looking.  Kring et. al might have taken a page out of Neil Gaiman’s book and looked at Nuala the fairy.  Hell, Candice could have been a man – now, there’s a plot twist for you (but likely not one that they’d want to explore in prime time, maybe.)

Anyway, yet another two-fold finger:  to the writers for making me overanalyze AND for their lazy storytelling.



(Pretentious Bastard, you may want to skip this one, I certainly don’t want to trigger anything.)

This month is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Summary: My great-grandmother had breast cancer at 35. She had a double mastectomy and survived. My grandmother battled both breast and lung cancer–but I suspect that the lung cancer has more to do with her smoking. My aunt had breast cancer a few years ago. My mother had breast cancer at 60. She had a single mastectomy and a year of radiation treatment. I am happy to say that they all survived.

There is a genetic test that determines if you have a gene that’s been linked to breast cancer. It is being pushed on women, especially on women with family histories of breast cancer. There’s even a television ad to try and get women to take it. I feel that taking the genetic test is somewhat pointless. My odds for getting breast cancer are told in my family history. I don’t think that the genetic test is going to tell me anything I don’t already know–that I have a high risk of developing breast cancer? I already know that, thanks. One look at my family history tells me that. What it will do is force me into a group describing themselves as “previvors”. These women have already decided that they will get breast cancer and survive. Good for them. However, I choose to be myself, and not define myself by a disease that I have not yet developed.

This is why I am ignoring the articles being sent my way about preventative masectomies. I will not mutilate my body from fear over what might happen. Regular check-ups are happening, and will continue to happen until I die (given the preventative attention and family history, it probably won’t be from this). Once I actually develop breast cancer, it will be treated in the most effective way possible. (After all, I don’t see any men at risk for testicular cancer being told, “Maybe it’d be for the best if you just had them removed.”)

The finger below is for people who decide that their way of dealing with illness is the only way, and try to use fear and emotional bullying to make everyone deal with it the same way. Respect that it is my body, and my decision. It’s also for cancer itself, from my great-grandmother, my grandmother, my mother, my aunt, my sister, and myself.

The Salute

Results Typical

September 5, 2007

It should be fairly obvious to people who’ve met me that I’m uncomfortable in my own skin.

The second I see a camera pointed in my direction, I find something or someone to hide behind. There are more shots of my hands blocking my face than actual pictures. It’s definitely a self-esteem thing, and a body image thing – seeing a bad picture sends me into a funk. I am also always the one in the candids caught in mid-sentence or mid-sneeze, or with a wine glass halfway to my mouth. Picking out which wedding pictures could go in our album was an ordeal (and I didn’t even get to have a nice cup of tea first).

I own more pairs of shoes than is really necessary. The logic behind it is simple – when I go shopping for clothes, I will inevitably try on things that look great on the rack, but once I get them on in the dressing room, I’m wondering who switched out the awesome shirt that I found with this piece of sackcloth. I’ll leave the store annoyed and slightly depressed, and feeling like the day was a failure. So, y’know. Shoes are pretty safe – they can redeem the whole trip.

In the interest of improving my self-image, and being more healthy in general, and, just once, being able to, say, wear leather pants before I’m too damned old to be wearing leather pants, I’ve gone ahead and rejoined Weight Watchers online. I did it for my wedding and it worked.

However, a honeymoon in New Orleans (hello, Cafe Du Monde) and buying a house that turned out to be more of a fixer-upper than we realized started me on the road to gaining back what I’d lost. (Home improvement will be the topic of a future Finger post, I’m sure, starting with the nightmare that was our kitchen.)

So, here I am, five years later, trying again. It’s actually fairly easy. I know the system, I remember a lot of the tips and how to make healthier choices. What sucks, though, what I’ve been working up to in this ramble, is the stepping-on-the scale part of it all. They tell you only to get on it once a week, on your weigh-in day. To do it at the same time of day, wearing similar clothes. That looking every morning is counter-productive and can be discouraging, since your weight fluctuates. I’m pretty good about it.

Okay, kind of good.

I’ll look every other day.

For three weeks, even though I followed the plan to the letter, the gorram scale didn’t move. I should be thankful it didn’t go up, I know. But hitting a plateau like that after only three-and-a-half pounds… Ick.

All weekend long, this rant was percolating in my head. It was going to be a pretty bad weekend anyway – two birthdays to celebrate, my dad’s and a friend’s, and I knew for at least those few days, the best I could do was stick as close to the diet as I could between restaurants and a family cookout and hope I didn’t gain.

Then, when the time came for the official weigh-in… I’d lost a pound.

So, this finger is for the scale. Yes, I realize it’s an inanimate object. Yes, I realize I’m in control of my own weight loss – I could exercise more, I could drink more water, I could do lots of things. And yes, I realize giving the finger to the scale for going down this week doesn’t make much sense, either.

Here it is, anyway: