Friday, April 12, 2013

Thoughts from the Audience

One of the stories I edited won a fairly major award last night. I sat with my colleagues at the fancy schmantzy award dinner, the table setting to die for (I notice these things now that my daughter aspires to be in the hospitality business), and listened as they announced our win. I was relieved, as usual, that I wouldn't have to go up to collect the award. At this event, the editors-in-chief went up on stage for the photo op and the small speech thanking the ones who actually made the story happen. The story editors and writers collected our plaques from a table afterward. I was fine with that, but should I have been?

Throughout the ceremony I noticed something: All the editors-in-chief, the power players, are beautiful thin people. This, I think, is not a coincidence. I'm not even dealing here with the fact that they are also almost exclusively White and male and for the most part come from privilege. That's another post. Right now, I am dealing only with the bodily ease with which they move through the world. They ran nimbly up the stage steps the get their awards, moving sleekly and gracefully to the podium, no self-consciousness in their movements, nothing awkward at all. Those of us who have spent our lives deflecting other people's gaze don't tend to ascend to such positions. We don't have the body comfort, the attractive ease of movement that makes some people unhesitating about stepping onto the grandest stage of their lives, putting themselves in the spotlight.

Studies have shown that people are drawn to those with whom they have body comfort, who are more like them than not (and no, I'm not going to find and cite any of the studies because this is an unmonetized blog post, so I get to play a little fast and loose). I could see how that applied to the power group up there on stage last night. They had such a physical sameness. The chummy air as they thanked one another and praised their long-standing friendships made it clear who was in the club and who stood outside.

No doubt membership in the club might require one to be more extroverted than I am. It definitely requires a level of body comfort I will never have. The power group certainly seemed supremely comfortable in their skin, the men joking easily like chosen princes as they addressed that room filled with their peers. Let's be real: I envied them. I felt like an underachiever, a shrinking rose, the one laboring in the wings whose name makes it onto the award plaques but whose feet never walk across the stage. Perhaps it is neither a good thing nor a bad thing but simply a fact that last evening I had no desire to be up on that stage.


11 comments:

  1. I've never been in a similar situation but I know just what you mean about body comfort. I look at old photos of myself and wonder why, even then, I didn't have it. Oh well. Job Well Done on your fine editing job and you award, even if you did have to pick it up off of the table.

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  2. I honestly believe that fat is the LAST AMERICAN TABOO the one thing all GOOD AMERICANS can focus on point fingers at bully laugh at make fun of taunt often pushing people (especially children) to suicide and that particular brand of bullying is never called out because it's okay for us to "make fun" to be cruel to people who are fat. 90% of the population that is. I don't understand it at all and it is a peculiarly American idea the THIN IS BETTER idea. Ugh. I am so proud of you for winning your award. I think you're a rock star.
    love,
    Rebecca

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  3. I can SO relate to your feelings here. It is sad really. I feel determined to get to a place where I feel more comfortable in my skin so that I can fully participate in life. It is the weight and it is the aging and together it makes it so hard. I even feel uncomfortable with my closes friends, especially those who are younger than me or who work out constantly. Anyway, I feel this post profoundly. Sweet Jo

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  4. I'm not sure whether this post about accomplishment or being overweight or both...all I know is never say never. If you wish to be up on that stage you can be! Speaking for myself..that is why I work out everyday...not to be thin but to be comfortable in my own skin. Not easy but worth it for me...Have you started your work out program yet?...take the first step.

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  5. Oh, lord. I hear you, Angella! And I'd be quick to point out, too, and I hope I'm not transgressing here by saying this, that I have gone to hear Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou speak (both of whom are very large women of color) and so envied the goddess-like women in the audience, most of whom were equally as large. I am a largish white woman who wishes I could move comfortable with largish black women but feel like an impostor!

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  6. Congratulations! How cool is that?!! And the sad the thing about the body comfort issues isn't the body at all.....it's the amount of energy we waste worrying and fretting and keeping ourselves in the shadows. That is energy that should be used living confidently in our own light.....and walking across our own stage wherever we find them in our lives. It is only we, ourselves, that keep us locked in our cage. Stand proudly and accept that award! You deserve it!

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  7. This is so deep on so many levels. Congratulations on the win, of course. I think about these things often. People gravitating to those like them. . . .what does it say about humankind? I don't know. I think of this, too, sometimes. I do.

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  8. you're a winner, no matter who else knows it. the people who know you and matter know this.

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  9. Interesting. It does make me wonder about the chicken-and-egg question. Have they risen to the tops of their profession because of their physical and psychological confidence, or does being a power player instill that confidence? Or maybe a little of both?

    In any case, I think having your name on a winning plaque is pretty darn excellent all on its own. Congratulations! :)

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  10. Congratulations on your award! Hey I agree with Candace...who care what other people think. We love you. I have a feeling you may be a bit like me where you are everyone else's cheerleader but not the best cheerleader for yourself. Don't forget to say Go you! I know this may be easier said than done...but all change starts with the idea. Then you implement it.

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  11. Yes, congratulations! I can't imagine the difficulties faced in working in this white male realm of privilege, and I don't want to discount them. But I do want to say that you are worthy of all that, Angella. Of every good thing.

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