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Instantly, mobs formed and torches were lit.
Over the past few days, more than 30 of my readers sent me the link to her article, most screaming anger and disgust at what had been written. I finally had no choice but to go see what the hullabaloo was about. I read the article and shook my head. It was wrong. There was no doubt about it. Things were said that should never be said, let alone published.
Then, I started to read some of the comments left by readers. I’ve never seen such levels of viciousness and ugliness. I’ve never seen such horrible attempts to destroy a person. And I thought I’d seen it all here at Single Dad Laughing.
I went back to her essay and forced myself to read it again through kinder eyes. I forced myself to try and understand why she would say the things she said. When I did that, I saw a beautiful, but hurting woman. You see, I believe what I have said on this blog. People who love themselves don’t hurt other people.
People who love themselves have no reason to hurt others. People who love themselves are not disgusted by others. People who love themselves have no need to compare any longer. They no longer see fat people or skinny people. They only see… people.
Shortly after the venomous responses began pouring in, she put a follow-up message on the post, which also caused controversy. You can read it if you like. While the follow-up was still a long ways away from fixing things, she said something that spoke volumes to those who could put their pitchforks down long enough to listen. She mentioned being brought to ponder on her lifelong struggle and obsession with staying thin, including a personal war with anorexia.
When we whittle that down, what she said is no more complicated than this. “I have always felt fat and hated myself for it”.
Damn. I won’t lie. I cried. She is what I was just months ago. She is what so many of us are and have been. She is a sad and hurt person running from something. Simply put, she is a person who looks at fatness and is terrified of having it define her, so she attacks it and makes fun of it. I have done that, you can read about it here. I have done that more times than I can count.
And oops, she did it, too. She made a mistake. She took that desperation to not be labeled by what she’s fought so hard not to be, and she said some words that I’m sure she’d give anything to take back now.
Yes, she said some words that shouldn’t have been said. But, can we drop that issue for a moment? Can we take a few seconds and look at what was beneath those hurtful words?
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Maura, I am very late coming here to comment. I came here after seeing a link from single dad laughing. I will be honest, and say I am overweight, not morbidly so but definitely overweight. I was not upset reading this post and to be honest from what I have heard I really expected to be. When I read this, I don't see hateful words; I see a beautiful person who has obviously struggled with their own issues regarding weight. Please know I heard what you said and I heard your apology and I believe that it is honest and truthful. I know that you did not mean your words to be taken as hateful, and I Thank you for the apology. Keep your chin up girl, we have all said or done things, that we wish we could take back. This too shall pass....
her article still burns me up. How hurtful... reminds me of the bullying and constant ridicule I survived all through school. We need to stop judging people on their appearance and instead appreciate their soul.
I feel such pain for Maura - I know how it feels to have "said" something wrong - made a mistake (actually wrote it in a note / high school which ended up being shared with others). I ended up feeling like Frankenstein's Monster and have NEVER fully forgiven myself for it. Another mistake on a long list. What all these people don't realize is that she can beat herself up over this mistake and do more damage to herself over the words they are using. Two wrongs don't make a right. I am 53 and still have a hard time convincing myself that I am not a BAD person. Life is difficult enough already - thank you Dan for trying to spread a message of forgiveness, love and tolerance.
Same thing happened on the "My Faith: What people talk about before they die." article on CNN Faith blog. I was OVERWHELMED by the amount of comments made in HATE at the most - pure INTOLERANCE at the least. I believe hatred comes from an intolerance and refusal to understand that people will have different experiences in life and draw differing feelings from those experiences.
I'm getting the impression from some of these posts that offending someone is the sacrilegious sin that can't be forgiven. All I can say is that I'm no longer worried about getting laid off from my job now. (I work for a glass manufacturer.) now if only I could sell some of you some rocks at a really high mark-up. Mistakes. Something said can never be taken back. So accept the apology. Don't analyze it or assume its insincere, it ultimately doesn't matter. Forgiveness is ultimate. And if you believe in god, or the flying spaghetti monster or nothing. But you know the serenity prayer because you e heard it before a million times. Think of this
"Forgive us out trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us"
Back when the whole thing went down, I went back and read an article she wrote for the NYT about her experiences with her eating disorder. At the time of writing it, she was supposedly coming from a place of recovery. However, in her writing, I could SO CLEARLY see her disease still talking through her -- particularly in the way she continued to glorify herself and pat herself on the back for her "will power" in controlling her food intake and body size. And all I could think at the time was that someone so utterly damaged and self-delusional should not be permitted to routinely sound off on such well-established public media.
It clearly got the readers-and isn't that the ultimate goal? Of course she could have been more diplomatic, less controversial... but then who would read it and comment? If you don't like it, don't comment and repost and give it more attention. It only gives Marie Claire the idea that posting articles like that gets readers.
Had to go read the article, apology, and some comments. Yep, she sure got blasted. The best I can do is "no comment". It's pretty damned icky stuff.
Sorry but, no matter how hurt you are on the inside it does NOT give anyone the right or excuse to be cruel to others. I read the article and although I'm skinny myself, I can clearly see why people would be offended by it. Plus, before she sent it in she had to know it would be seen as offensive. She made the choice. I don't think the horrible backlash she received was necessary but, she doesn't get my sympathy either.
Dan, has anyone told you today, that you are a really good man? A really good man. What a heart of compassion you have.
Maura, here is an arm of support. Not for the words you have written in your original post, but in the fact that you are a writer with your own opinions. I feel that as long as someone is not encouraging crime upon another, they should have the right to say how they feel, even if their feelings change, they have the right to free speech. I am not sorry for the negative reactions you have received, but I am sorry for the hateful ones.I have found you through Dan from Single Dad Laughing. If you haven't checked out his blogs, it might be worth it! Keep writing and publishing girl !
I understand her pain, Dan, and I agree she needs compassion. The bigger problem here is that her EDITOR let her harpoon herself with this piece. S/He should have rejected it ON THE SPOT. Maura herself recognized her folly, but after the fact. I am sure she has since learned a thing or two and probably upped the ante in therapy. It was just SOOOO insensitive, it's amazing that she missed it. But, people do make big, egregious errors in life--no one is immune. So, I'd say she deserves forgiveness, at the very least.
Yeah, sorry. Not one issue earlier in life calls for being cruel. It's immature, immoral and stupid. That woman will never get my sympathy.
I remember when I first read Maura's article. The first thing I thought of while reading was, "Damn, bitch!" The second thing I thought of while reading was, "She either has obesity in her family that embarrasses her, OR she used to be a fat kid or teen and was tortured because of it." That hurt was easy to see. And only hurt can spill out that kind of hurt.
Hi Maura - you know what? I read you article and I saw your apology. I want you to hear this! You are a good person with a viewpoint. We all have viewpoints. What I saw in you is a woman who is passionate about a persons health, period. I have been struggling with weight loss for years and am now diabetic. The points you made about how to eat and excercise to be healthy are valid. Hugs Maura for speaking your mind. In regards to Mike and Molly the TV show they don't gross me out - what I see is two people who love each other and we always have to remember we have to love ourselves regardless of our cover. :) Hugs to your Maura to the woman and to the little girl.
You have said it well. A person who loves themselves will not make another feel horrible. If a person hates themselves, they want everyone else to feel as miserable as they do. I know, I do it when I don't like myself. I have done it more times than I can count. It's when I started doing to my kids that I realized I needed to change. I needed to stop and think, is what I am about to say True, Loving or meant to build up another? Then I try my hardest not to. it is an unfortunately trait of human nature. When we are hurt, we wish to hurt back even if the person who we are directing our rage at did nothing. Thank you for your thoughtful post.
As a plus size person I have faced this judgement all my life and it was just another article of someone trying to tell others how they should be. I have friends who are underweight, gay, heavy, atheist, christian, poor, well to do, etc....I wish people would just focus on their own problems and not others. Then maybe we could all start to get along. Being upset with someone for expressing their opinion coming from their own insecurities will not help. By attacking her we are essentially doing the same thing. I saw some horrible name calling on those posts from people to others that they don't even know. We all have our own stories of how and why we are so instead of continuing the hate lets encourage and pour in love. Then maybe people with those views will reconsider.
Unfortunately, society has made it very easy for us to dehumanize people that are morbidly obese, smokers, gay people and the like, due to our own fear of being like them. It is very sad. Society has tainted the way we look at people. Truly it has. I know many people who would cheer along with this article very quietly.
I believe Maura thought she'd be backed by these same people but to her surprise they stayed very quiet here, as well.
I also feel she is afraid as well and needed a team to back her in her endevour to help these people see the light and try to 'fix' their lives because she cannot imagine they can have good ones.
It is the best I can say in her defense. She has bought into the society of this world that is run by hate and fear and not love. I hope she can find happiness in her own life and feel beautiful no matter what she looks like.
I read this article when it came out, and I'm sorry, I can't even give this woman a finger. Why feel so much sympathy for someone who used a public, widely-dissemated pedestal to spread hate and disdain for those who already receive plenty of it from various corners of society?
Why not put an arm around bigger people who struggle throughout their lives to lose weight and their bodies betray them regardless of their efforts, or teens who struggle with body image due to their weight and see yet another message in a famous magazine saying they're too disgusting to be seen being romantic in public? Where's your sympathy for them?
Maura has lived to write another day, and beyond people flaming her on the Internet, she is not suffering. However, people who feel worthless already due to not being an "accepted" weight get to read articles like hers, and who is to say that couldn't have been the thing that pushed them over the edge?
@marinabreeze I understand what you're saying but I think the point is that absolutely everyone needs love. Period. So why not spread love to everyone you can? What's wrong with that? What can it hurt?
@Marlia Of course, everyone needs love. But I think that's beside the point. She chose to use a public forum to belittle other people. Why should she not be responsible for the hurt that she causes to others? Having issues doesn't give a person the right to use her position to pile on the denigration towards women who experience that all the time by society as it is. If this involved another type of identifier like sexual orientation or race, then I don't think people would be so sympathetic towards the perpetrator. But when it comes to size, especially for women, want to feel bad for the perpetrator just because she's been hurt too. Everyone has their cross to bear, but it doesn't mean we should use whatever power we have to belittle others. And if someone does belittle others, their pain does not exonerate them from the consequences or responsibility for their actions.
Maura Kelly, We all suffer from some kind of body image problem. I wish you well and hope you can one day accept your own body image. You are beautiful! Chin up and continue writing. I myself love to watch Mike & Molly. It is very funny and entertaining.
As some one who has struggled with weight issues most of my life, I could take offense at what she wrote...but I won't. It would simply be a waste of time. I agree it was written in poor taste and some of it was patently untrue (as well as many of the comments). She made a mistake, she apologized - case closed as far as I am concerned.
This is what I posted on her article. Thank you, Dan, for reposting this and providing the opportunity for me to spread love to someone whom I would have initially been very angry with. I feel that using love purposefully with people is much more conducive to productive change that hate and anger ever will be. ::: I am coming to this discussion a bit late, but I was linked here by Dan Pearce of the blog Single Dad Laughing. His message is one of love. Love and acceptance for all people. Forgiveness of hurtful words and actions. Extension of a supportive arm for those who are in need of it. Rejection of judgmental and mean-spirited comments. I agree with him. Although what was said in the article is very inflammatory and extremely painful to read (especially as someone battling with obesity myself), I am here to show love. Maura admitted her own life-long struggle with body image. She opened up in her apology a part of her that she did not have to do. She made herself vulnerable in her attempt to explain and understand the reasons behind her words. We are all people with unique yet equally dynamic stories. Size, color, gender, religion, it doesn't matter. We are all people, and all people deserve to be loved. So in response to her words I say this to Maura: You are human. Humans are never perfect and we all make mistakes. You are worthy of love and support, and I am offering both. This will not hold you back from the great things you can do with your voice. Everyone is capable of changing and spreading love.
I can't do it Dan! i can not hug this women. Yes she maybe hurting but aren't we all. Just because your hurting does not give anyone the right to lash out and hurt people. All thou I don't think is ok to write hate posts or become as mean spirited as her because two wrongs never make a right. I do think it alright to point out what she wrote is wrong and mean and uninformed. I didn't leave any comment because I'm sure it wouldn't make any differences. What I will say here and this something I have never said out loud to anyone. I don't eat. I have been starving myself for years because of people like her. I don't want to have people look at me and think I'm lazy or repulsive. I don't know why i give a crap about what other think but i do and always have, and apparently more than I care about myself. Whats funny is I look at over weight people and think how great it must be to love yourself and be comfortable in your own skin and wish I could be like that!
I read the article and honeslty, I didn't find it to be nearly as offensive as the comments she recieved from people. All of them were extremely cruel, many of them I would consider bullying, and NONE of them productive!
I can't do it. I had avoided reading that article until now, and quite frankly, her apology makes me even more angry. Anorexia is a disease, and no matter how many people tell her they feel badly for her hurt, those thoughts won't change. SHE is the one who needs medical intervention.
On a positive note, I did not leave a note telling her my opinion either.
I am not fat, was not particularly offended and have no great stake in this, but I dont agree with the author of the original post at all. Maura has not been fired; her magazine has stood by her and in fact backed up her comments with such fluff as calling her 'provocative' and saying that she's 'excited by the massive response' (what a dishonest PR-esque response). She is still writing for big magazines and doing very well for herself, and from the quality of her writing and intellect (as evidenced by the infamous 'fattie' post and others) I think she is very lucky to be in that position.
No matter how you've suffered or are suffering, its your responsibility not to hurt others. She has apologised and its fair enough to accept that and move on, but I draw the line at the virtual hugs you're asking for - I think they are better saved for someone who is actually unfortunate (eg people who have lost their jobs for a lot les) and actually deserving. By your reasoning Hitler deserves the most virtual hugs of all (he hurt people so much that he must have hurt tremendously inside) and I think that reasoning is facile.
I told her this, after reading her post and the horrible comments:
Honey, I'm so sad there's been so much backlash about your article. You may have said some ignorant things, but they were just that--ignorant. You didn't know. And the fact that you've struggled with weight and self-image in the past helps what you did say make sense. You're not a bad person. Trust me.
I'm a person who's struggled with body image for my entire life, and I'm just starting to get over it. Hating fat people stems directly from hating ourselves--hating the part of ourselves that feels fat and wants to eat all the delicious cakes. But I'm starting to see that when we get over ourselves and start loving people--ourselves included--it's easier to look past our prejudices.
Being ignorant and broken doesn't make you a bad person. It makes you entirely human. The people who have left you 368 comments are hurting, too--and some have lashed out at you in their pain. I just want you to know that even if you make mistakes and say some stupid things, you can learn from them and grow to be an even better person. Loves and prayers.
However, I quickly came to the conclusion that when people use hurtful words in an attempt to make fun, bully, or whatever the purpose, it is a reflection of their own insecurities and has little to do with the person(s) targeted. I hope that Miss Kelly will learn from this experience, but I mostly hope that all of those negative posters will stop and think about the damage they are doing. I will also extend an arm to Maura and will learn from her intent, not her unfortunate choice of words.
First, let me clarify that I am a morbidly obese woman who has been "fat" since childhood. With that said, when I read the article I wasn't nearly as offended as I expected to be. Miss Kelly could (and should) certainly have been more productive in expressing her point of view. I think it is the choice of words, not the sentiment, that people find offensive. Her words were thoughtless and mean, but I believe that she is probably a decent person who chose an unfortunate way to express her opinion. Too me, it is the response to her article that I find offensive. So many people, on both sides of the fence, were cruel and hateful...much more so than Miss Kelly was. I recently had to deal with being made fun of in a public forum, with no provocation, and it hurt...a lot.....Continued...
What makes this post so wonderful for me is that I can completly relate! I've been in a situation where I've written something and people took my words and labeled them. If only they had taken the time to realize, yes, we all make mistakes. I think we should take these moments and embrace them as the lessons they are.....as opportunities to become better versions of ourselves. I hope this woman keeps writing!
I appreciate what you wrote, Dan. Everyone who hurts deserves an arm around their shoulders. Compassion is necessary to change people's hearts and lives. When I read what she wrote, I wasn't offended, but I winced. It wasn't sensitive or PC at all. Something she perhaps should have kept to herself, and didn't . But she, along with everyone who states an opinion, doesn't deserve our hate, she deserves our pity.
People should just read the article and move on. Or don't read it at all. And if you do want to comment, there's no reason to get really ugly about it. You make a bigger impact by keeping your cool. If you're comfortable with who you are, how you look, what you do, etc, you won't care about what she wrote, and you certainly won't foam at the mouth because of it. I do admire your kind nature, though. I'm not sure I can go to that extent (really trying to figure out why people do what they do and feeling compassion for them) but I do make an effort in that direction. It's the best I can do.
So I just heard about this article from your post and clicked the link to read ir, expecting something horrible - but I didn't find it horrible at all! It was all true and I don't think overweight people should be offended about anything she said. I lost 60 pounds in the last year by doing basically what she suggested. From what she wrote I did sense a desire to help people who have weight issues! If I did it, anybody can (like she said) and through my struggle I also learned that you have to be mentally ready to do it. You have to be done with living like that AND you have to be GROSSED OUT at yourself - that is what made something click. It is not as hard as people think, but I understand that feeling because I was in that dark place before where it seemed impossible.
This is the same stance that I take on a daily basis with someone that I recently befriended. She made a mistake a while back and she is constantly being attacked by someone who was a friend on mine. A mistake is a mistake and you should not be defined by it!
I haven't read Maura's article, but I appreciate your wanting to put an arm around her and asking others to support her as well. We all need that.
My husband does that for me. If I'm sick, scared, tired, angry at myself and taking it out on the world he can see (usually) that I am scared, hurt or somehow feeling raw and vulnerable and he puts his arms around me and I will turn to mush and cry while he holds me (even if he was the person who somehow hurt my feelings) and when I have finally let it all out he'll hold me still. I thank God for those times. When I've acted like a monster and he just puts his arms around me and holds me until I come to my senses or when he has acted like a monster and I am crying to try to release the pain.
No one is perfect. Everyone has been hurt somehow and has caused hurt to another somehow. At some point we all act like monsters and at some point we feel like we need to protect ourselves form monsters. At some point we all need to have someone's arms around us- protecting us, comforting us, forgiving us. I know when I grab my pitchfork it is because I am trying to protect myself from more pain. It's easier to lay the pitchfork aside when I know I have those arms to go to for comfort and healing instead. Sometimes when I'm most vulnerable I find it difficult to go to those arms. That's when I need them to come to me the most- when I'm feeling to raw, when there is too much pain or fear and I'm stuck, paralyzed in my own hell.
"I'm sorry" can be some of the most meaningful and important and difficult words to say. I hope we all will learn to accept those words when offered in sincerity. Thanks Dan, I always get something from visiting danoah.
If I allowed myself to be THAT offended every time my Christian beliefs were assaulted, I would never buy music, magazines, food, clothing, cars, watch TV or listen to radio....Pray for Maura AND yourselves so she can understand what drives her to write something like that and you for the instant hatred toward her.
I was happy to see Maura's update :)
Just a misunderstand thankfully and yes, maybe fueled by her own weight issues admittedly.
Thank you for showing the way to man's humanity to man :)
UPDATE: I would really like to apologize for the insensitive things I've said in this post. Believe it or not, I never wanted anyone to feel bullied or ashamed after reading this, and I sorely regret that it upset people so much. A lot of what I said was unnecessary. It wasn't productive, either.
I know a lot of people truly struggle to lose weight — for medical and psychological reasons — and that many people have an incredibly difficult time getting to a healthy size. I feel for those people and I'm truly sorry I added to the unhappiness and pain they feel with my post.
I would like to reiterate that I think it's great to have people of all shapes and healthy sizes represented in magazines (as, it bears mentioning here, they are in Marie Claire) and on TV shows — and that in my post, I was talking about a TV show that features people who are not simply a little overweight, but appear to be morbidly obese. (Morbid obesity is defined as 100 percent more than their ideal weight.) And for whatever it's worth, I feel just as uncomfortable when I see an anorexic person as I do when I see someone who is morbidly obese, because I assume people suffering from eating disorders on either end of the spectrum are doing damage to their bodies, and that they are unhappy. But perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to judge based on superficial observations.
To that point (and on a more personal level), a few commenters and one of my friends mentioned that my extreme reaction might have grown out of my own body issues, my history as an anorexic, and my life-long obsession with being thin. As I mentioned in the ongoing dialogue we’ve been carrying on in the comments section, I think that's an accurate insight.
People have accused me of being a bully in my post. I never intended to be that — it's actually the very last thing I want to be, as a writer or a person. But I know that I came off that way, and I really cannot apologize enough to the people whom I upset.
i can't find the article now. the link is not taking me to it and searches have been fruitless.
but i wanted to address something going on in the comments here. i want to say that skin color and eating disorders are not the same thing.
i just got out of a verbally abusive relationship with a guy that was formerly fat (but still felt fat on the inside) AND turned out to be a bit of a racist. they are not the same thing.
but they both came from a place of pain and insecurity inside of him.
my love couldn't heal him. but it did cause him to try to love himself a little.
i think that is all that Dan is asking of us here, not to pardon Maura's wrong action but to meet her with love anyway. like he said in his post about bullying: the bully needs to be loved, too if we want him/her to change and stop hurting others. LOVE ANYWAY. because that is what i want when i make mistakes. forgiveness, love, acceptance. don't you?
Dan you must be so proud of your reader family here at SDL! Compared to the hate & filth that was put out in response to the article, the people here seem to be able to see objectively! It's amazing & refreshing to see!
I feel for the writer of the article, and honestly hurt from the ugliness that was spewed from one comment to another. Thank you again & again Dan for being someone who can be ok with being the imperfect creature that God intended each of us to be.
I posted for her. She really is a gutsy woman to say what she did in such a public forum. So praise is definitely in order.
Maura, I salute you. You said some mean things, but to come back with an apology for them took courage. To explain what you have been through, and how it affects your point of view takes real strength of character. And to admit that you said things the wrong way takes guts. So, kudos to you. Some of us overweight people need a swift kick to make us stop feeling bad for ourselves and make us get up off of the couch. Thank you for posting your true feelings and for not holding back. I hope to read more from you in the future.
Maura's personal story moved me to tears. Here is the comment I posted:
Maura - I don't like the tone of the article about overweight people on TV.
However, I extend love and forgiveness to you. Your own story of sadness and loss during childhood and your struggles with weight had me crying. It is obvious this is where your feelings about weight and control over it come from. It is also obvious this is where the ugly tone of some of the comments comes from - an obsession with weight and with life, and our struggle to come to grips with it. If your dad is still alive, please try to be at peace with him as well. He too is/was just trying to cope. Life is never easy, and losing your mom under those circumstances must have been DEVASTATING. I'm sending love and forgiveness your way. The storm will pass.
I'm with you about the comments. I thought what she wrote could be considered offensive, but if you only read blogs that contain info that could never possibly offend anyone, you'd have a much shorter, much more boring, reading list.
But it never ceases to amaze me how people who are intelligent enough to use a computer don't see the blazing hypocrisy in rebutting an "offensive" article with nasty, often profane, and ultimately equal or greater offensiveness. It probably boils down to an issue of savvy. Where as an author like Ms. Kelly puts forth something questionable, she is expressing opinions that offend. Whereas offensiveness was not her point, but a byproduct of sorts, the commentators and starting off with the idea in mind that they have to thwart the author who wrote the piece. Unfortunately, the majority of these folks can't make a good argument using reason, logic, and/or wits. They have to use disgusting, bile infused rants because that's the only way they can be "confident" that they get their intent across.
(message to Maura continued)
I just want to tell you I understand your viewpoint. I have seen pictures of myself in a swimsuit and wondered who would ever want to be with me. I have watched people on the little riding carts at Walmart and thought, "If they would walk through the store, they wouldn't be so fat".
But I also have seen myself in my favorite outfit and thought "I look really good today". I have looked at an extremely thin person and thought, "I am so glad I don't need to look like that anymore".
You were just expressing your feelings on a subject, but unlike most of us, you didn't keep it to yourself. You put it out there for all of us to read, and made us think about our own insecurities.
I think it was a wake up call we all needed. Thank you.
(My message to Maura)
I am a 41 year old woman who is currently 275 lbs, but I have been as heavy as 305 lbs.
I was anorexic throughout my teens and into my early 20s, and back then, I thought my best friend, who was 135 lbs, was HUGE.
When I got married, I gained 60 lbs in 3 months, then got pregnant and gained another 80 lbs. I have been fighting that 140 lbs for 20 years now, and as you can see, the weight keeps getting the upper hand.
I have tried exercise, diet, etc., but the easiest thing for me, (carried over from my teen years) is to just stop eating. I lose 50-80 lbs, start to get compliments from people around me about how good I look, get invited to more parties & dates, and treated like what I have to say is actually important. Then I start to feel myself falling into that old pit of needing to be "perfect", and the stress makes me gain it all back.