Outrage is an Epidemic

Note: I struggled over whether to post this.  I rarely get into the viral things going around the internet, because usually I don’t care, but this one struck a chord with me.  Mostly because I am really struggling with the culture of outrage right now. I know I’ll offend someone, but I always think it’s better to go with what my gut says to write and not what is going to be popular especially when it agrees with my heart.  I got an email yesterday from someone who obviously didn’t mean to copy me on it….I guess she was writing an article on “Flagrant Americanism” and my views fall into that category somehow:

Flagrant: (of something considered wrong or immoral) conspicuously or obviously offensive.
Americanism: a custom, trait, or tradition originating in the United States.

I’m not that intellectual, so I have no idea what that means. But I have seemingly managed to offend someone with a post about making friends with other cancer patients. It kind of sealed the deal on hitting “PUBLISH” on this post.  Flagrantly I go…

*****

A few days ago I read an article on the Huffington Post that resulted in Nordstrom removing a pillow from their shelves recently because a customer complained about its message. The message:

To hell with beauty sleep, I want skinny sleep.

The saying was on an e-card a while ago that made the rounds. It was one of those funny memes shared over and over:

to hell with beauty sleep, i want skinny sleep meme

Ok, so it’s a bad joke, but I’m more concerned by the fact that someone was outraged or offended enough over a pillow in a store to ask that it be removed.  Outrage is an epidemic right now.  It’s like people look for things to be offended by. It’s easier to blame than to take responsibility.  Here’s the thing, I am sympathetic to the woman who was sensitive to the pillow.  I’m glad she said something about it, it’s good to speak up…because eating disorders thrive in silence. Eating disorders are serious, and also an epidemic.  But eating disorders also thrive on the demands of others, and asking that a pillow be removed is looking to someone on the outside to fix something inside.  Eating disorders are about control, and they sometimes morph into many other types of behaviors: shopping, alcohol abuse, hoarding etc.  Removing a pillow isn’t going to solve the eating disorder epidemic, it’s only redirecting the denial so desperately sought to dampen some desire or hunger.

You see, I, too, am an eating disorder survivor. An entry in my diary from 2001 shows what a dark place I was in years ago:

I’m just so tired. Looking in the mirror today I noticed that my face is a little thinner.  I always tell myself that there is a line I will draw but I think I’m way beyond that.  This strict detox program I’m on is nothing but an excuse not to eat.  I’m scared to go to the dentist. I’m scared to go to the grocery store for fear I’ll buy everything with no self- control when I get home.  My anxiety attacks are at an all time high.  Dr. C’s medication is keeping the heart palpitations at a minimum but the flushed cheeks and constant sweating are enough to bring them back again. I have nightmares that my teeth are crumbling into pieces and falling out.

I have also struggled with other forms of addiction in the past.  I get it. There are triggers everywhere. My triggers include everything from Bud Light commercials and margaritas to P90x commercials and skinny jeans.  I learn to deal with them. That is part of the healing and recovery process.

 

dear nordstrom, the epidemic of outrage via lilblueboo.com

Books on my shelf

 

Eating disorders are not about the word skinny on a pillow.  Skinny is not a bad word.  I am naturally thin, many people say skinny.  Does this make me less of a person? Does this make me a bad example for my daughter? Eating disorders are about emptiness. Eating disorders are about anger. Eating disorders are about a hunger for self-love. Someone very close to me once said: it’s not what you’re eating, it’s what’s eating you.

And the story of appetite became, essentially a story of substitutions, or a chain of substitutions, in which each failed attempt to fill emptiness leads to another attempt and another: longings in search of replacements, forever attaching themselves to things, to people to behaviors which then take on lives of their own, become organizing principles, fragmented of hope that always promise transcendence over pain and longing and always disappoint. –Caroline Knapp, Appetites

The thing is, I want my daughter to be able to walk through public places and discern for herself what is reality….and what is meant to be a funny pillow. I want my daughter to be able to see through advertising messages that play on our deepest insecurities and emotions because they are never going to go away. Anorexia has been around since the middle ages, maybe longer. I don’t want the world to be sanitized for her.  I want her to learn independent thinking.  I want to help my daughter form her own values, by showing her how to question the ones our culture throws at us. It is my job to present her with alternatives.

If we happen to run into a pillow that talks about skinny sleep, it just gives me another opportunity to tell my daughter that she is going to be judged her whole life, regardless of which side of the weight spectrum she falls on. I want her to know that she is going to be criticized, that there will be attempts to make her feel like she isn’t enough. Learning to navigate this trauma, learning to live through disappointment, is how she will grow and become stronger. I want her to know that the media presents an unattainable image of beauty.  When she points out a pretty woman on an advertisement, I show her how it’s been photoshopped. I want her to know that beauty will always be a source of power in our society, but it is fleeting, and beauty is also in the eye of the beholder.   I want her to know that other sources of power are generosity, kindness and gratitude.  Her joy and happiness will hopefully grow from this knowledge.

A startling statistic I learned in a parenting class last year was that 36% of children in “executive” families (where the parents are executives of some kind) end up undergoing some type of treatment for drug abuse. This means that the best education, the best technology, the best clothes etc are not enough. As a parent I will attempt to define a vision for her life that is counter culture, and in order to do that I have to live a life that is counter culture. I stay out of the malls as much as possible unless we need something, I don’t buy beauty and fashion magazines to leave around the house, and I don’t talk about dieting and exercise unless it’s in the context of healthy living: how we spend our money and our time reflects our values.

I DVR shows ahead of time so that I can watch them with her.  I limit her access to TV shows and she doesn’t have unlimited access to an iPad. She doesn’t need it, we have fun in other ways. I don’t expect the culture to change for us, I just don’t buy the culture, and it’s my responsibility to teach my daughter to be strong enough not to either.  And most of all I know that it’s going to be unpopular, she’s going to revolt, but I am focused because the stakes are high.

Each of us first needs to assess the extent to which we have “bought into” the beauty ideal. If a major portion of our time, energy, and conversation is spent on dieting and clothing then we are actually part of the problem. If we are disgusted by our own aging, and chat nervously about wrinkles and upper arms, we provide no hope for our girls. We cannot expect our daughters, students and adolescent friends to be any better than we are. If our ideal of perfection in adulthood is wearing a size 6 and having an absolutely taut pelvis or eyelids, then our girls are doomed.  –Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Fasting Girls

You know what I thought about when I read that article? This:

What about the ramifications of actions?

Someone’s business created that pillow: someone had to design it, someone had to make it. Then they probably sold it to Nordstrom.  I imagine some young woman at a company creating that pillow idea and being all excited that it got into Nordstrom, telling all of her friends. And that excitement led to inspiration for more products. Yeah, not so much anymore. Tweeting publicly and demanding that a product be discontinued because you don’t like it is pretty much a form of bullying.  You’ve forced a store into making a decision for everyone else because of you. Stop making it all about you, that’s the worst message to send to a child. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. That’s how the free market works, when it’s fair. Supply and demand.  Now no one can buy it.  And all the pillows go to some pillow graveyard (or Marshall’s or TJ Maxx, they’ll still sell them somehow, they aren’t going to end up in a dumpster, that’s not how this works either). Let’s get outraged about the victims of world hunger and political unrest, not being a victim of a satirical pillow in a store. Because where or where will it stop…Diet Coke? Skinny lattes? Short stacks of pancakes? Plus sizes? I could find a gazillion things to be offended by everyday if I looked hard enough.

The good news I want to spread is that there is hope: it is possible to unlearn the behaviors of hunger and appetite, but it can only be done by directing the focus inward.  The will has to be there. Blaming the media and everyone else will never work.  After years and years of struggling with body image and dying to be thin, I learned that until I figured out what was missing, I would never be satisfied. For me it was pursuing the things that I loved instead of taking the career track that everyone told me I should. It was also about becoming spiritual, which for me was finding God and focusing on community and charitable causes larger than myself.  These things are now more nourishing to me than food.  They fill what was empty, and my eating disorder is buried well beneath it all. I haven’t had a relapse in over 10 years. My hope is that others can find this as well.

Un-outraged,

Ashley

 

P.S.The ironic thing about the pillow though is that sleep actually does help you lose weight. There are studies that link sleeping more to weighing less. And we all look better when we are well rested right?

 

P.P.S. This advertising plays on my emotions, not because I’d ever want a Maserati, but because I love art and film-making.  This is epic.  I can look past the advertisement and see a bigger message: We had to learn to deal with them, how to overcome them.

(link here if you can’t see the video)

maserati commercial super bowl outrage is an epidemic #quote

 

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Comments

  1. 1
    Leisel says:

    Thank you for being willing to speak your mind! You are so brave and such a wonderful example of a good person and a great mother! Keep up the great work!

  2. 2
    Sarah says:

    You rock, Ashley. Keep up the good work!

  3. 3
    Leigh Anne says:

    Amen, sista! I couldn’t agree more! Thank you for writing this and standing up against the outrage… Seems that everyone wants someone to blame….

  4. 4
    Nicola says:

    Quote from Stephen Fry

    “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.”

  5. 5
    Dawn says:

    Oh, Ashley….so very well put!

    I love hearing you describe how you are raising your daughter. I have always felt that the example we set for our children says so much more than words.

    PS…LOL, Nicola!

  6. 6
    Molly says:

    Did you read the blog of the woman who wrote the letter? I would encourage you to do so. She didn’t say take it down, she said do right by our girls. Help us send them better messages than that. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Don’t we want businesses to know we see what they’re selling, and we’re not buying it? Tracy isn’t a bully. She voiced her opinion, much like you are doing right now. I don’t think it’s fair to call her a bully at all. She’s a bully for voicing her opinion? I’m not buying it. You called her a bully AND a victim. She’s not being a victim, she’s saying that this kind of marketing feeds into the idea that a girl’s worth is tied to her weight and is crap. Our kids deserve better.

    • 7

      I read the whole thing. I linked to it on the Huffington post, it says: “but now it’s time for them to remove the pillow from their stores.”

    • 8

      I think bullying is too strong of word, you are right about that. I don’t think she’s a bully, but I do think the tactic she used by tweeting and writing “Dear Nordstrom” is used all too often now to try to get companies to bend quickly to pressure. I’ve done it….I tweeted Aetna once when they wouldn’t respond to my medical issues. Guess what, it worked, and I don’t think of myself as a bully. My point of the post is that our culture is one of blame. She does say that Nordstrom will “be responsible for adding to this devastating epidemic” by offering a pillow with the word skinny on it. I personally think it diminishes the real roots of the epidemic, it’s misdirected and it’s one of the reasons that the epidemic continues to grow.

      • 9
        Molly says:

        I still don’t agree, but at least I understand you a little better.

        Ok, let me pose another question. What’s the difference between this and the outrage that Sephora carried a lipstick color called “celebutard” (a combination of the word celebrity and the word retard, a ableist slur)? Is it acceptable, in your opinion to be “outraged” over something that contains that word and ask for it to be removed?

        • 10

          Molly, I think there are also varying degrees of outrage. I think skinny is in a different realm than the r-word but sometimes I don’t think the companies are even given a chance to respond and take action before they are pushed against a wall. “Remove it or else” Sadly I think the person who decided to name it “celebutard” probably wasn’t even smart enough to think of the connotation, because there are no real conversations anymore. I haven’t heard that word in a very long time. My daughter probably has never heard it. Social media outrage takes away from the real argument and it shocks the system. We shame people into retreat and there are no raw teachable moments. We don’t even give anyone the chance to explain. We don’t look for the root cause. We are limited to headlines and blips and 60 characters on Twitter. There’s outrage and then poof, gone. As I said to Angela down below: Outrage isn’t an argument, it’s the opposite of public discourse really. Who will even remember about the skinny pillow in a week or a month? Not many I suppose. We don’t take any responsibility for our own role. We still shop at the stores that use tiny stick figure mannequins, we still talk about how bad we feel in a bathing suit, we show up at Walmart at 4am on Black Friday to buy big TVs we can’t afford, we say we are working out for health when really it’s try and fit into our skinny jeans, and we use Instagram because of the filters that smooth out our splotchy faces. We all do just as much harm, probably more, as the pillow. I’m just as guilty as everyone else.

  7. 11
    Dawn says:

    PPS…I do have a question, however. When you said you’re glad the girl spoke up, what exactly do you mean? It seems that kind of contradicts everything else you wrote. Maybe you encourage her to voice her complaint but that requesting the pillow be removed is extreme?

    • 12

      I think it’s important to talk about and voice that something is a trigger for an addiction or eating disorder. Being honest with yourself and recognizing what makes you think about it is part of the healing process. But the part that bothers me is posting on something like the Huffington Post that it’s time for Nordstrom to remove the pillow from the shelves (or they are responsible for adding to the eating disorder epidemic). It puts them in a no win situation.

  8. 13
    Dawn says:

    Yes, Molly, that is how free markets work. Don’t like it? Then don’t buy it. Enough people don’t like it and don’t buy it, the company doesn’t make a profit. Easy peasy. Not everything has to be mandated.

  9. 14
    Julie says:

    Love your posts

  10. 15
    Tavia says:

    I am with you.

  11. 16
    Wendy says:

    I love that you are talking responsibility for how you raise your child and that you are teaching her to come to her own conclusions. So easy to blame the world for all of the bad stuff. This is good. Thanks! -Wendy

  12. 17
    Jenny Joy says:

    I absolutely see your point. And in the case of the pillow, I completely agree with you. But, I will say that sometimes, outrage is the only thing that’s going to change this world. Life is never going to be fair and just. I would never expect that. But, some things are worth fighting for. Some people are on this earth to help make things right. On the other hand, some people (like yourself) are better suited to be a calm, joyful influence. Maybe there is room for both in this world?

  13. 18
    Christine says:

    Yes! To everything you said! You could have taken it directly from my own head.

  14. 19
    Lori P. says:

    AMEN!

  15. 20
    Cathy says:

    I think this is great and I really respect the way you guys are raising Boo. I think sometimes the best perspective is focusing on what I can change/do for me, ie not going to the mall or brining magazines into the home. All you can do is control the things you can control and teach your kids the best way to handle the rest.
    Thanks for pushing post.

  16. 21
    Dara Lynn says:

    I wish there were blogs like yours growing up…corporate households, best schools…never said me from the emptiness, loneliness,…addiction that would grab hold of me for 20 years….but I survived! Live to tell about it…and wish I could have met someone like you …then and now! Keep doing what you are doing Ash…you have a story to tell..each chapter filled with life, and hope. I loved this article….it will be one of my favorites ..till you write another favorite!

  17. 22
    Celena Green says:

    I so agree — while yes, I suppose companies should be made aware that a product can be potentially viewed wrong, demanding it be taken down isn’t appropriate. Like you said, some people will understand that it’s supposed to just be funny, not harmful. I always adhere to if you don’t like it, don’t buy/watch/do it. Express your opinion, educate those around you, but find something besides a pillow to get outraged about. Geez.

  18. 23
    amy johnson says:

    I am so glad you shared this! I felt the EXACT same way when I read that same piece the other day, and then I felt kind of assholish for feeling that way, but you were able to sum up my feelings/thoughts on the outrage “epidemic” perfectly.

  19. 24

    Bravo!

  20. 25

    Sigh, finally. Each day I struggle with how people are so easily offended these days and seem to look to other to “fix” their insecurities/outrage/concern. You so eloquently stated the exact thoughts that have crossed my mind so many times while reading articles, watching the news, and viewing FB statuses in the past. Great post!

  21. 26
    Angela says:

    Do we not owe it to the young people, whose parents are not so enlightened, to be outraged? As a society we should care more about the person who came up with a pillow that perpetuates a stereotype that beauty is the most important thing than about the young girls who will believe being skinny is important? You speak of personal responsibility, but how is it the responsibility of a teenager to know such messages are shallow and untrue? It’s wonderful the message you give to your daughter, but do you believe all parents give that same message? Parents who still suffer from the delusion that beauty/money/things are important and pass that along to their children and continue the cycle. We should care about free market, but not about these children who are bombarded with this message daily? And isn’t speaking up and telling a business we’re not interested in that item you’re selling, part of a free market? Just as you are welcome to let Nordstrom’s know you would like the pillow back. Outrage should be an epidemic. It should catch fire so people can stand up and change our world. Twenty years ago, the general public had no idea models didn’t look exactly as the appeared on covers but outrage lead to the uncovering of the overuse of Photoshop. We now have ads from beauty care companies decrying the use of overly coiffed, airbrushed models. Because outraged people stood up and did something about it. Forty years ago, I wasn’t allowed to be married to my husband, but outraged people stood up and took it to the Supreme Court. They could have sat back and said, “I’ll just move to a state that allows interracial marriage and let VA do whatever they want.” You are welcome to not be outraged, you are welcome to believe other people shouldn’t be outraged. But I sincerely hope that never happens. When people stop being outraged, businesses, politicians, and those in power take advantage and begin dictating the message.

    • 27

      We owe them education around discernment and the ability to choose well. We owe them education around leadership and how to have a conversation, because that is what leaders do. I can’t imagine any leader I know of demanding that a pillow be removed from a store. Why? Because outrage is not an intelligent argument. Outrage destroys any possibility that there can be love and understanding. Offense and outrage needs to be conserved and channeled towards the pressures that caused someone to make a “skinny” pillow the first place….otherwise it fizzles out. Outrage is unsustainable. It’s based on emotion. I think educating my daughter to reject the culture is sustainable, long term, and hopefully she will use that to influence other children. I am just encouraging others to do the same. Imagine the army we could form of smart, independent daughters who have courage and empathy to reject what they see and form their own opinions. Who will even remember about the skinny pillow in a week or a month? Not many I suppose….unless maybe they put it back on the shelves and people see and are reminded of it. Then maybe they would have a conversation.

  22. 28
    Tanya says:

    I completely agree. I feel frustrated by the diversion that outrage over non-eternal issues creates, consistently taking us further and further from things that really really matter. Like poverty. Like heart wrenching injustice. Like children with no parents.
    It is our responsibility to guard our minds from all of the different things that come knocking moment by moment. We are presented with opportunity countless times, everyday, to invest our heart and our thoughts and our very lives into things that will fade…that don’t matter.
    I’m with you on this Ashley. Speak out friend. xo

  23. 29
    Lindsay says:

    I agree 100%. I don’t understand how much time people spend being outraged. I choose not to try and find things to be outraged about.

  24. 30

    This was great. I am sure it will “outrage” some people. First comes outrage, then a demand for action, followed by entitlement-which I think is such a huge problem, especially with our young people and ties in perfectly with what you are saying I think. I love what you said here:

    “The thing is, I want my daughter to be able to walk through public places and discern for herself what is reality….and what is meant to be a funny pillow. I want my daughter to be able to see through advertising messages that play on our deepest insecurities and emotions because they are never going to go away. Anorexia has been around since the middle ages, maybe longer. I don’t want the world to be sanitized for her. I want her to learn independent thinking. I want to help my daughter form her own values, by showing her how to question the ones our culture throws at us. It is my job to present her with alternatives.”

    I have 3 daughters. I want to raise them to be discerning and thoughtful-not just of others, but to really THINK about the things they see and hear, and to question if they aline with our values. Sometimes that questioning may warrant a call for action, but sometimes that questioning and discerning will require them to make choices for or against something.

    From a business standpoint, I think social media and the internet are amazing tools for the most part. 95% of my superhero cape business is done online. I love that. But sometimes its scary how quickly someone can bash, criticize and slam a person or brand via social media. Sometimes it is warranted, but that is not always the case. I think when people so quickly rush to air their grievances online, to tweet their disdain and hate for something- it sends the message that to solve a problem you raise a lot of hell and make a lot of noise. This is not the best first approach for solving most problems.

    There are definitely many things to get outraged about in our world, as you pointed out. I think in society we need to practice problem solving skills that don’t always involve escalating things from 1 to 10.

  25. 31
    barney says:

    don’t believe everything you read. if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. the tv show is not to your liking, change the channel or turn it off. I grew up in the 50′s and 60′s and don’t remember a big deal being made out of beauty and weight. unfortunately, what other kids say has always been a problem. i was happy and carefree until the fifth grade when a girl in my class named mary came up to me and said, ‘why are you so skinny?’ i had no idea i was. if once wasn’t enough, she did the same thing again. from then on, i wore sweaters to try and mask my ‘skinniness’ and tried to blend into walls so no one would call me skinny. i’m over that now but only for about 15 years now. careful what you say. about the pillow, i would choose to walk on by. free speech, free enterprise, free to choose.

  26. 32
    BakingSuit says:

    You’ve so eloquently stated and put in one place the argument I’ve been trying to make for a while now. Thank you.

  27. 33
    Heather B says:

    It isn’t possible for love, joy and peace to live in the same space as anger and outrage. It is also very possible to change the world without outrage as an individual’s prime motivator. In fact, the people responsible for the greatest changes in the world were peaceful. They reached out to people in order to change their hearts and minds, as opposed to widening the gap with rage. The way that women are portrayed in the media will change if we simply refuse to accept it , and we get there by educating ourselves and our kids and voting with our dollars. Outrage accomplishes nothing.

    Good article.

  28. 34
    Elizabeth Kuhn says:

    Ashley, Check out Rosie Molinary…google her, she is an amazing professor at UNCC and has written several books on self awareness and acceptance …I received an email from her today that dovetails with your feelings beautifully. Keep on keeping on!

  29. 35
    Aimee says:

    this is one time I don’t agree with you. I feel maybe with the way it was written that the ultimate point got lost. What is wrong with demanding sensitivity? I think as a whole our culture could use a dose of sympathy. We’re all so self-centered. What’s wrong with asking for sensitivity around a product that could be a trigger to many people? We’re asking to end the use of the R word because it is insensitive to those with mental retardation. We stopped using “Negro” because it was insensitive to the African American culture. Eating disorders are a medical epidemic. One that our media feeds with airbrushing, photoshop and overcriticizing of healthy women.

    I agree with the overall tone of your post, that our society has become so entitled that we think every one of our demands should have people running off to fufill our requests. But I feel that the underlying message of the original article was lost in the faceless world of the internet.

    • 36

      I agree we need more sensitivity, but it goes both ways. I have a history of alcohol abuse but I don’t expect establishments to refrain from selling it, or that the Superbowl ban beer ads. I also think that there’s a big difference between the r-word, the n-word and the word skinny. When I was selling the “Huge in Japan” dress someone was offended….she said it sounded like I was saying Americans are huge compared to the Japanese. I would have never looked at it that way. Or my “I’m not short, I’m elf size” could be insensitive if you think about it. Anything in reference to nerd or geek could be derogatory. Pretty soon we won’t be able to say anything, because everything has the potential to be a trigger.

  30. 37

    You NAILED it! Everyone is always so offended by something. When I read the article on the Huffington Post, I thought “This is bloody ridiculous.” I have fought a battle with anorexia & bulimia & I wasn’t outraged with the pillow, not one bit. For that matter, I laughed hysterically when a heavy friend of mine showed up in a t-shirt that said “I beat anorexia.” I thought it was hilarious & everyone else was appalled. There is so much going on in the world to be outraged by & a pillow is not one of them. I for one am tickled pink that you pressed the publish button & I hope you continue to do so.

  31. 38
    Pat S says:

    When I was growing up, I kept getting taller and hovered over most of the kids and was “skinny”. Some kids called me a half breed (meaning half monkey and half girl). It was a very hard thing but I still had lots of friends and a very happy childhood because I had a family that was present ( Mom is the best). Anyway, I did not grow up to hate monkeys. In fact I think they are cute. So don’t blame it on the monkeys, blame it on the bullies and teach your children they have value and each person has their own unique talents and gifts given to them, as parents help them develop them. Support your children in their interest and try to be active in their schools especially when they are young. I was not offended by the pillow in question even though I was teased growing up , it’s a joke. If your going to be that offended pick something more important to stand up for. Pat

  32. 39
    Stephanie Kohler says:

    How could you have offended anyone with your post about other cancer patients? Seriously? My mom is struggling with stage4 cancer and a good friend whose son is the same as mine (12 yrs) as well. I was smiling with tears streaming down my face as I read your post. Don’t change. Continue to write from the heart. Keep it up sister!
    Stephanie

  33. 40
    Amy says:

    “Tweeting publicly and demanding that a product be discontinued because you don’t like it is pretty much a form of bullying. You’ve forced a store into making a decision for everyone else because of you. Stop making it all about you, that’s the worst message to send to a child. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. That’s how the free market works, when it’s fair. Supply and demand. ”

    And there it is in a nutshell. Teach your kids right and wrong and help them follow their hearts… Amen my friend. Good job standing up for what’s right! xoxo

  34. 41
    Laura-Ashley says:

    Spot on!

  35. 42
    Ramona says:

    I plan to use it with my Sunday School class (High School). The points you make are so relevant on so many fronts. Thank you for sharing this.
    Ramona

  36. 43
    shelley says:

    You are “right on”, Ashley! If one wants to become outraged, let’s talk about how young children are kidnapped and seduced into sex trafficking!!! Love you for you insight and guts to speak out! mom

  37. 44
    Megan says:

    I agree with you, but it’s not just directed at girls. I have two boys aged 8 and 10 who are active and healthy and slim. That is, they are normal. Yet people constantly tell them they are skinny, which they take as a negative comment (perhaps girls would take it as a positive one?). I tell them that their bodies are perfect and that people are probably jealous or have a skewed idea of normal due to all the obesity around. I agree with your post. Education, not outrage.

  38. 45

    Yes yes yes! I am so tired of the constant wars people are willing to rage in the name of what is “right.” That word itself is so specific to any given person, I’m confused how any one person expects to censor the world to their very tiny and specific set of morals. It just can’t be done! Great piece!!

  39. 46
    Lyndsey says:

    Thanks for posting this one! So many great nuggets of wisdom in this one.

  40. 47
    Amie says:

    I’m so grateful that you’re willing to share your life experiences and feelings for others to learn from. You are an inspiration! Thank you!

  41. 48
    RJ says:

    Beautifully written with heartfelt words….I’m in agreement that we live in a culture of outrage. I look into the faces of 148 high schoolers every day and it is unbelievably hard to educate in a culture SEEKING outrage. I hear the word ‘racist’ many times over on a daily basis as students want a reason to be the accuser.

    I blame some of this on reality TV. The students I currently teach (my 20th year in education) have had a steady diet of outrage, blame, and over-the-top reactions shoved in their faces via media outlets promoting the next show. Add Facebook, twitter and snapchat in the mix, and you have young, immature minds that will jump without looking, speak without thinking and react with vengeance. When a student becomes angry, offended or blamed in the classroom, you better believe I’m thinking of the latest media outlet’s report on school shootings.

    Many of these students truly have no voice leading them except the media/social networks. And outrage sells – outrage promotes – outrage gets attention (as noted by the pillow incident). I grieve for our children, our teenagers – so many do not realize how they have been manipulated and used. They need mentors not the media.

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      Honestly RJ I can’t imagine teaching high school! It would scare me to death. So thankful for the teachers like you who have committed to doing it.

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      Michelle says:

      Well said, RJ. I teach high school as well, and every day I continue to be dumbfounded by the over-the-top, out-of-proportion reactions I see from students in regard to the smallest, most mundane things. I, too, think the media plays a large role in this. The sense of entitlement I witness in some (not all) teenagers sometimes makes me fear for the future, and I’m not being facetious. The “right” to not be offended, challenged, burdened, uncomfortable or inconvenienced has reached epic proportions.

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    Janet says:

    Once again you are spot-on and offering me a positive direction. Much to fix in my ways of behaving, and I’ve only recently admitted to myself that I have become a compulsive overeater. Thank you for posting your pile of books. I’m going to get hold of Jane Hirschmann’s Overcoming Overeating.

    God will continue to bless you, Ashley.

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    Bonnie says:

    At first I didn’t want to read your post because I didn’t think I’d agree but you hit the nail on the head. Our culture needs to stop worrying so much about being perfectly PC and start taking personal responsibility. The pillow didn’t say “you’re fat and fat people are bad, go starve yourself”- it was a joke. Like you say, placing blame on external factors will never help our daughters because it’s a monster too big to fight. We could do so much more by creating an eating disorder awareness campaign in our community or by educating those less fortunate about what a healthy diet looks like and how to avoid the pitfalls they’ll see in the media. We control only ONE thing in life and that is our response to the world. Outrage is a knee jerk response and not one directed out of thought, education and compassion. Your thoughts are deep and well expressed, Ashley! Thank you for sharing them, once again!

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    jodie roose says:

    Ashley, I enjoy your posts!!! You are Refreshingly honest. Often, people don’t want to face reality. Your blog is genuine & real. My twin has an . Eating disorder. Triggers are around her all of the time. When people make some things a big deal, like the pillow, it easily could throw someone off course from recovery. Thank-you for writing your blog. You have inspired me to move forward in my life. I have been searching for happiness, a long time, while all this time I Could have had JOY. ….. reading your blog has helped my mindset change. What a gift you gave me. Thank-you!
    Jodie

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    Christie says:

    Ashley, this post is just wonderful and I loved every bit of it. Thank you! I needed a good read tonight. We have not experienced cancer, but with Ruby’s heart surgery just 7 weeks ago, it really puts things into perspective and although I see people’s point of view often, people really do just find the silliest things to become offended over. There must always be a deeper meaning and I conclude almost always that people are just not happy inside if everything is wrong to them outside. I’ve been there–we probably all have. Whiny, grumpy, nothing right in the world. So that’s why although trials are hard, I’m so thankful for them to keep me in line and things in perspective! Thank you for being so awesome. I love this post.

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    Susan Davis says:

    I agree with you Ashley. The politically correct, sensitivity trend has caused outrage that borders on narcissism (everything has to be MY way.) There are many important things to be outraged about: poverty, sex slave, racism. We should be acting on those issues immediately, yet we tend to dwell on everything but the big outrages. We have to keep it all in perspective.

    My outrage (too strong a word), my annoyance is vulgar language. We still bleep it out of regular TV, but blogs, even Pinterest and FB are full of expletives. Because of American movies spreading this kind of vulgar talk, even in Europe, where I live now, they think it is OK to speak F-ing words in everyday conversation. English is their second language and they don’t have a sense that vulgar talk is rude. They sell t-shirts with Vulgar words in English and think it is normal and cool. I try to explain in business, and speaking to people on the streets those words are rude and vulgar. They don’t believe me because of the English movies they watch. Yes, it is commonplace among so many young Americans now to speak in expletives, it makes me look antiquated for wanting some word used beside the F-word. The F-word is a lazy way to speak and can be used as a verb, noun or adjective. Can’t people speak articulately anymore? Can’t they find colorful adjectives to describe things besides the F-word? I have heard some people who can’t put together a sentence without the F-word. I am so tired of the F-word..

    I just work on my annoyance with the F word, one day at a time. Example: I’m a flight attendant and a college age boy comes on the aircraft with a F- you T-shirt on. I ask if he is traveling with family and he says no, it’s just him and his buddies going to Mexico on spring break. The group of boys all laugh and ask when the beer will be served. I firmly ask him to take off his t-shirt and turn it inside out because this aircraft has children and families on board and the language is offensive. OK, I risk getting a bad letter on my file from him, but he quickly complies and turns his T-shirt inside out. I hope I made an impression on the group of boys that there still is civility and we can’t just do anything we want all the time, in spite of the freedom of speech ideology we hold so dear. Just one way we can deal with the small outrages in our everyday lives. Any others out there annoyed with vulgar language?

    I loved your post and hope it gets lots of conversations going.

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    Gailete says:

    Ashley, I haven’t read all the comments, but did read your article and want to commend you for giving voice and a name to what I have been perceiving for years now. Outrage! I’m not just talking about outrage over a pillow, but outrage over just about anything. If it offends one person it has to be done away with, even if it means that the rest of the population has to go without. Things like nativity scenes at Christmas. One person is outraged and so none of us gets to see them. Is that fair? Obviously not, at least in my mind, but I guess the person that objects thinks that they saved the rest of us from some sort of misery from having to look at a nativity scene.

    So many people have become so built up in their own minds that they think their opinion is the only one that counts and if you mention a differing opinion they are outraged and do start in with the bullying as if that will change someone’s opinion! During the last presidential election I voiced my opinion of one of the candidates and received a scathing post calling me an idiot and promising to never speak to me again. Well they seemed to have forgotten the not speaking part because after a few months, they took up emailing me as if nothing had happened. But I remember that I was called at idiot by this person. It seems only certain persons are allowed to have opinions and if they aren’t followed, the outrage comes out full force. If anything it is making our society move so much faster into crumbling.

    Our country was founded by men that wanted to have their own beliefs so that they got on some wooden ships and sailed across an ocean to start their own country and then gave all Americans rights. One of those rights being free speech, yet outraged people are trying to take that freedom away and to tell us what we should or shouldn’t think, very George Orwell, “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others”.

    We no longer are a society that promotes freedom of speech and thought and instead are letting little people dictate to the rest of us what to think, say and do. Instead, I like you avoid malls, crowds, etc. and stick to my stitching as quilting and sewing are still areas that we can be free and have the freedom to create and be different.

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    julia says:

    Ashley, I’ve been following your blog for a long time and never yet commented. I really admire your courage in sharing so honestly around difficult topics. I think you bring up some really good points around the concept of personal responsibility – there will always be things out there that might offend us, and we have a choice in how we respond – demanding that the world adjust itself to better suit our ideals is pretty childish. However, we are all part of this “culture” whether we like certain aspects of it or not – it is us individuals who determine what our collective culture looks like, and us individuals can and do change it. Speaking up or against what we would like to see changed is important, and holding larger corporations responsible to consider their products in an ethical way seems totally reasonable to me.