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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Tony Stark’s Super Powered Anxiety

Before I start this blog about the latest superhero movie, I just wanted to start with a sincere thank you. I am blown away by the positive response my last blog received. Thank you to my friends for your love and support, and to all the strangers that my story might have resonated with. An extra thank you to Anytime Yoga for sharing the post on r/BodyAcceptance and to everyone who was linked to here from there. It’s currently one of the top posts on that particular subreddit and because of that, this little blog bypassed 70,000 views today! So again, thank you to everyone who read it!

Also, I updated my About page and added a Friends of the Diary page to help promote some of my colleagues. If you have something that you would like included, let me know!

Now, I’m going to start talking about Iron Man 3 now. It’s been out for a week and I’m sure many of you have seen it at this point. However, if you haven’t, there are some serious SPOILERS ahead. Read ahead at your own risk!

"But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep."

When I saw Iron Man 3 the first time, I had a lot of thoughts I was trying to process at once. About Tony Stark as the audience grounding in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the relationship between him and Pepper, how Pepper used the weapon Killian tried to use against her and Tony to destroy Killian, the full circle aspects between this film and the first Iron Man movie, how it is impossible to really separate Tony and Iron Man, and how the Science Bros. can never truly die (seriously, stay for the credits).

However, it was on my second watch and noticing only one article from NPR touching upon it that I really focused on Tony’s anxiety and how it directs everything he does in the film.

When I was very young, I was diagnosed with a panic disorder. For a while, I had almost daily panic attacks. Sometimes multiple ones in a day. As I’ve gotten older, the attacks happen less frequently, but they’re still something I have to live and deal with. When a panic attack occurs, you feel like your brain has betrayed you and sent you into a nosedive. I once compared it to being stalked by a bear. You know the bear is there and you do everything you can to protect yourself from the bear on a day to day basis. But then there are days you let your guard down and the bear attacks. You then spend time fighting it and trying to get it to go back into the shadows, and people who don’t have bears stalking them on a daily basis look at you strangely and treat the fight you’re having like an overreaction.

And I saw a lot of that in Iron Man 3. And I want to give Robert Downey Jr. all of the awards for the way he portrayed it.

The man and his can.Tony makes it very clear that things have not been the same for him since the events of The Avengers. He doesn’t get a lot of sleep and he’s haunted by the wormhole that nearly swallowed him up. Because of this, he’s made 35 new suits since he returned from New York and he’s begun to have panic attacks.

Maybe this is a result of some sort of undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Maybe this is something that has already existed for Tony and became exacerbated after his near death experience. That is rather unclear. Either way, Tony has put his defenses up to compensate for those moments he feels like his brain has betrayed him.

When I saw Tony having his panic attacks, I suddenly felt more connected to Tony than I had in the past. Even though I didn’t have my heart stop in an alien wormhole, I know what it’s like to break down at inopportune times and suddenly not be able to see clearly. The moment where Harley reminded Tony that he’s a mechanic in the middle of one of his panic attacks took me back to so many moments of clarity during those extreme moments of anxiety.

For those moments of panic, it was just a further reminder to me that Tony is the focal point for which the audience views the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He was the first person we met in the MCU. Despite his genius, riches, and high powered toys, he really is the most human of all the heroes. He doesn’t have gamma radiation poisoning, super soldier serum, mystical powers, or years of tactical training. It’s all him. He’s snarky and self-centered, but tries his best to use his genius to save the world and protect those around him. He compensates for those moments of self-perceived weakness behind bravado and new toys to save the day. There will be moments where that veneer cracks though, and you feel like a vulnerable and exposed nerve without an Other Guy to save you.

This also makes where the relationship between him and Pepper has gone more She's a damsel. She's in distress. She can handle it.believable. Well, at least to me.

I’m not sure how true it is for others with similar issues, but I know that when I’m coming down from an attack or a near attack, I need human contact to ground me back in reality. Especially from those who either know me well enough to know how to talk to me during an attack or those with a kind of energy that makes me feel calmer just from being around them.

Pepper is that kind of grounding for Tony in this case. She has always been there to drag him back to Earth while he’s off being the Playboy Tony Stark, but her ability to stay down-to-Earth makes her even more important to Tony while he feels likes he is falling apart. After New York, Tony realizes how truly important Pepper is to him and then tries his best to protect her. Or at least in his own brand of it. Something that Pepper labels as a distraction.

So are all the suits a distraction? Is the ending justified?

Tony admits that the suits served as a cocoon. They were protection for him during a point of high vulnerability. A protection that didn’t always work out the way he planned, but protection all the same. The anxiety and the shielding shaped Tony’s experience up until that point. He’s still Iron Man at the end of the day with or without his suits, but sometimes, it is essential to take a step back and reshape your world to keep yourself from falling into the patterns that caused the reoccurring panic. The anxiety is always there, but maybe stepping outside of the suit for a bit keeps the bear further back in the shadows for a while.

Besides, if Tony wanted to stop being all about the tech, why would he bother to save Dum-E and You?

No matter how Tony returns, I know he won’t be gone from the suit for long.

Legacies like this never really go away...

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Posted by on May 10, 2013 in Film, Personal

 

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To Abercrombie and Fitch: My weight was never my worth

I know I usually try to make this blog a blog about geeky media and retrofuturism. Hell, I have some thoughts on Iron Man 3 that will come on Friday. I’ve seen it twice. There are a lot of thoughts there.

However, there was something that popped up that made me want to make this personal for just a minute. I already retold this story in private once this week. Might as well share it with the world.

There’s been a story circulating around the internet recently about Abercrombie and Fitch and why they don’t stock any clothes for women above a size 10. Long story short? It’s pure high school logic. I’ll let the quote from CEO Mark Jeffries explain.

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either,” he told Salon.”

Basically, the reason Abercrombie and Fitch doesn’t sell larger sizes to women is because in their CEO’s head, girls with a little more weight don’t belong and will never be his narrow definition of cool.

Now, I’m going to share with you something. Something that was way buried down in my Livejournal until now. It’s a picture of me about to go to my Junior year Homecoming in high school.

Let us 'awww' at the version of me who has no idea what's going to happen to her in the next six years...

I was never really made fun of for my weight when I was in school. At least not that I remember. I know I had issues showing off my stomach for a while due to the fact my mother didn’t want me wearing things that showed off my midriff and I always gave her looks when she tried to insist I was “beautiful” instead of “chubby” as if I couldn’t be both at once. But for the most part, I was bullied in school for my panic attacks (which, spoiler alert, I will be talking a lot about in my Iron Man 3 review) and my nerdiness.

However, it was that homecoming dress that made me realize that my weight was going to be an issue to some people, and not necessarily the people I went to high school with.

I’ll admit, I dress girlier now than I did in high school. Hell, I probably dress girlier now than I did in college. But in high school, most of what I wore were t-shirts from Hot Topic and jeans from Old Navy. T-shirts and jeans don’t give you as many issues, especially with the vanity sizing from Old Navy. But when it came time to find that dress in that old picture, it suddenly became very obvious that finding nice clothes was not going to be as easy as finding a pair jeans.

My mom and I searched for almost two hours across multiple shops in the mall for a dress for the Homecoming dance. All the dresses I liked were nowhere near my size and all the dresses in my size were just completely horrid looking. Shapeless blocks with garish prints that reminded me of my grandma. At some point during this whole thing, I nearly broke down crying in the middle of Macy’s because I was worried that I would not find a dress I liked and I would have to go to Homecoming with a tortoise shell tent that I settled on because all the cute black dresses only fit on girls half my size.

But eventually, we found that little black dress sitting lonely on a rack somewhere in the back end of the store. I tried it on. It fit great. We took it home and I wore it to the dance and to many events after that. I still have it somewhere. It’s a good Little Black Dress.

I wish I could say that was the end all, be all to my weight/clothes issues. But over the years, I realized something: I’m on the borderline, and there is no such thing as consistency in the sizing of women’s clothing.

When I say borderline, I mean that I can fluctuate anywhere between being considered the national average and plus-sized depending on a company’s sizing. This leads to a lot of frustration when trying on clothes across stores. A size 14 in Old Navy jeans may fit me perfectly, but a size 14 shirt from H&M feels like it’s trying to squeeze me to death and leads to my PR Research group looking very annoyed at me when I’m trying to explain that the shirt they want me to wear to match with the rest of them does not fit and will make me look more unprofessional if I wear it than if I just wear a white button down that doesn’t match, but fits and makes me look like a regular human being.

It can be moments like that in a college library bathroom that make you feel like people like Mark Jeffries have won. I can’t fit into some affordable designer clothes. Clearly, I was never meant to be cool or fashionable.

However, it’s when I passed all my classes and kept the HOPE scholarship alive for another year despite all the personal roughness that was going on in my life at the time, the issue of a shirt not fitting was a minor issue.

So Mark Jeffries, here’s what one of those plus sized, not-so-cool kids has to say to you:

I may be chubby, but my sense of style goes beyond your narrow view of who should wear your clothes. And my outfits have cost less than one shirt in your store. I may be purposefully excluded from wearing your clothes, but why would I wear some generic polo shirt and pre-frayed jeans when I can wear galaxy leggings instead?

I was not a cool kid in school, but being a misfit has allowed me to find other misfits. While people like you struggle to hold onto some narrow high school worldview of what’s cool and not cool, we’re creating things goes beyond some brand.

I won’t fit into your clothes or clothes from most stores of the A&F ilk, but that’s no measure of who I am. I am a writer, a creator, a fire spinner, and a media enthusiast with a brain like Netflix. I worked my ass off in school to get an education that expanded upon all of this. I try my best to be aware and good, and that’s a never ending process. I’m plus-sized, but that hasn’t stopped me from being awesome, intelligent, and attractive.

To paraphrase Janelle Monae: Even if it makes you and the people you want to attract to your store uncomfortable, I will love who I am.

And I’m not the only one.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on May 9, 2013 in Personal

 

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