Mini does this thing where he goes through the basket of cars at school and looks on the bottom of each car to determine whether or not they are branded with the Hot Wheels logo or not. I have decided that this is more evidence of his genius because I did not show him that there was branding on the bottom of the cars for Hot Wheels, it’s something he figured out on his own.
“See, Mama, it says, “HOT WHEELS!”
“Yeah, it does, buddy.
“This one is not Hot Wheels, though.”
“But this one is.”
It is important to note here that Mini will play with the non-Hot Wheels cars, but he prefers the Hot Wheels ones. More important than anything, of course, is just the identification of which ones are Hot Wheels and which ones aren’t, and actually if you look at the cars carefully, you can start to identify differences between them even before you look on the bottom to see if they are Hot Wheels or not. [Now might be a good time to pause and point out, again, that this is not a sponsored post, it just so happens that my kid has become fixated on the Hot Wheels brand. Sue me, FTC.]
People are never as impressed by Mini’s genius for noticing detail as I am. Though by now I’m used to people failing to be as impressed by my child as I am, it still seems like this is an unusual attention to detail for a three year old. Sure, Mini is a child of consumer culture, as we all are, but the branding is pretty obscure on these cars: you have to be looking pretty closely to see this logo. I remember discussing something like this with one of the grandparents and having them say, “Well, if something is important to him, then he is going to pay close attention,” a comment that I felt betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding of the common male preschooler’s psyche. When I arrive to pick up Mini at preschool, many of the boys are attempting to bludgeon each other with large sticks and Mini is identifying tiny logos on the bottoms of small cars! Surely he is destined to be a rocket scientist! Why is nobody backing me up on this?
Why is it so important to me that everyone recognizes Mini is a genius the way that I do? Why is it so important to Mini to figure out which cars are Hot Wheels and which cars are not? I don’t know. We like to have things the way we like them. We have that in common.
I don’t know how exactly, but I feel like this is somehow related to that stupid Marie Claire article that everyone is all up in arms about, and that I can’t get upset about, no matter how hard I try. I really want to be upset about it. I do. I’m trying really hard to be upset about it, but I’m not. (If you haven’t heard about the article, it’s here, and responses are everywhere, but I found Deb’s to be particularly insightful.) I’m not a fan of any kind of writing that makes innocent people feel bad about themselves, and this post did that, but so does writing of all kinds, every day. It is not something I like, but it happens all of the time, to all kinds of people. It has been argued that overweight people are among the last groups of people against whom it is still socially “acceptable” to discriminate and I do think there is some truth to that, though I might add Southerners to that list as well if we are talking about making jokes or writing hateful things on the internet.
So, while I don’t like the article, and agree that it’s remarkably out of touch and tone deaf, I just cannot get into the outrage mode that so much of the internet seems to be into this week over the article, and I’ve been trying to figure out why. The easiest explanation is that I live in Los Angeles and I’ve heard that kind of thinking articulated for the better part of my life and it’s almost second nature to me now, but I’m not sure that this is the problem. As I’ve written here before, I have issues with my own body and struggle with my own body acceptance constantly; though I do not think about other overweight people in the manner they are discussed in that post, I do think about myself that way, and I think that may be the problem. I don’t know that this is the problem that the writer has, given that she is a thin person writing about people she sees as morbidly obese, but as a person who is unhappy in their own body and has been for the whole of their life, I can say that I think about my own body in the terms that she used to describe the bodies of other people, and perhaps that is why I’m not so outraged. Those words sounded normal to me, because they are the words I use to talk to myself.
Now, using them on somebody else is a whole other thing entirely. I know that somebody is going to say, “But if you use them on yourself, and you ‘only’ weigh X, then that means,” BUT we are not talking about reality here. We are talking about the messed up mind of a perfectionist and what happens with body dysmorphia. I don’t know that this has anything to do with what that writer was thinking at all, because I don’t know her, and I do know I’d never write anything like what she wrote. But reading it and thinking about why I couldn’t react, when so many other people felt they needed to, was illuminating.