Analysis, body image and Joyce Carol Oates

“Did you know she’s anorexic?” He looks at me with honest concern, but I’m really just annoyed. It’s a fucking book, I think. I won’t get sick  from reading it. It’s fiction, I don’t exactely use it as an instruction of ethics or whatever.

I don’t want others to mind my business, telling me what I should do or feel. I may not know everything, but I believe I have the ability to think. Some advise is too obtrusive, sometimes we see dangers that don’t exist. One of my favorite singers was “experimenting” with marijuana and LSD at the age of thirteen. I’m fifteen and haven’t even tried a cigarette, and never wanted to either. I’ve read a few books by an author who might have an eating disorder, without having one myself. Is that really so strange?

At the same time it’s impossible to “consume” fiction and not be affected. I mean, no one (I hope) use Joyce Carol Oates’ novels as a guide on ethics but… it’s impossible to shrug of every thought you get when reading as “a work of fiction”. And everything you see makes an impression, everyone who reads a certain book is in some way or another affected by the values it contains.

Similarly, it’s impossible not to be affected by expectations and others’ opinions. Sometimes reversed – a desire to rebel – but mostly we do what we are told will make us happy, or what the world wants us to do. I once got the question if I think playing with dolls when I was little gave me my picture of an ideal family, which I don’t think it did. I think my family (its awesomeness and its flaws) and the families I’ve met and heard of gave me my picture of an ideal family. An idea of what is normal, some ideas of what is good or bad.  I also believe that if you see someone do something strange, dangerous or abnormal (et.c) enough times it will become part of your normal.

I don’t know what to think. I can get really mad at a book about women who are making themselves weak, men who act dominantly and cruelly, and that being described as if it was something normal. (read: Twilight) But I can read a book about a girl who is trying to protect her abusive father  and not think much about its message. (read: Freaky Green Eyes). Am I one of those, who see messages only when they look for them, and only when they find it useful? I don’t want to be. God damn it, people are strange.

(a bit of track, but I’m reading a third and fourth book of Joyce Carol Oates. I think I like her, after all)

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