Bobryk, Jim. "Navigating My Eerie Landscape Alone." Newsweek 8 Mar. 1999: 14.
This article is one example of the kind of work that is published in Newsweek's My Turn column, which incidentally, is one of my two target publications. This article is a personal account of how one man adjusted to the sudden and very tragic loss of his vision. Although the topic itself has nothing to do with either of my portfolio pieces (body image and the value of an English degree), I can nevertheless learn a lot about how I should structure my own work by observing the author's writing style. For example, his evidence is 100 percent drawn on personal experience - there are no statistics, facts or examples anywhere to be found. The point of view is first person reflective; the style descriptive and humorous. His purpose in writing seems to be twofold. One, to give readers insight into a new and different world, and two to show that obstacles, no matter how big they seem, can be overcome. In addition, although his blindness is a definite problem, he poses no solution. He simply wants to open our eyes (no pun intended), not try to take on the world.
Brogan, Jan. "Depriving Yourself is the Worst Approach to Weight Loss." Health Features 0131hf2 (31 Jan. 1999): 6pp. Online. Internet. 20 Mar. 1999.
This article is more factual (statistics-based), set up to first describe how common dieting and body image preoccupations are in our society today, and then justify why this trend is such a bad thing. The author uses a limited amount of personal experience and touching examples to prove her point, such as the 10-year old girl who wrote a letter to her grandmother complaining about what a horrible person she was because she'd just blown her diet by eating too much birthday cake on her own birthday. I chose this article as appropriate to my portfolio because in addition to the wide variety of sickening facts and figures about how weight issues dominate the thinking of the American public, there are individual profiles on the habits of three very real and different chronic dieters that I can use to evaluate how to effectively incorporate personal experience. Doing so would really help my understanding of the distinction between showing my point and telling it!
Fraser, Laura. "Body Love, Body Hate." Glamour Oct. 1998: 280+.
Perhaps one of the most helpful and entertaining of my sources, this article reveals the results to an in-depth body-image survey that Glamour magazine administered to 27,000 readers nationwide six-months ago. Alongside the statistical answers to questions ranging from "How much more could you weigh and still like yourself?" to "Is there anything better than losing weight?", Fraser offers an interpretation on the significance of her findings; in other words she begins to venture into the same territory I am exploring - why are people so obsessed. However, unlike others who have tackled the same question, Fraser gets beyond finger pointing at the media to the psychology of it all. For me to be able to note the various approaches she took, the kinds of questions she is asking, and compare what turned out effectively to what bombed is undeniably invaluable to my research. After all, I've never attempted to analyze the situation in the past; these questions provide a great model for the types of questions I can ask myself while writing. In addition, I have to admit, the statistics she came up with are great; shocking, maddening and interesting to read. We really are a sick culture!
Harris, Ron. "Fat's In After Fitness Ad." Denver Post 16 Feb. 1999, natl. ed.: A3+.
This article appeared in the Denver Post courtesy of the AP to describe a recent uproar that occurred on the streets of San Francisco after a local 24 Fitness gym posted a membership-recruiting billboard depicting a hungry space alien alongside the caption "When they come, they'll eat the fat ones first." This ad was insulting and intimidating to many overweight people, who organized a protest outside of said gym, chanting things like "Eat Me!" and carrying skeletons with signs glued to their abdomens that said "Am I skinny enough for you yet?" Clearly, this article does a great job of illustrating a real-life, tangible scenario in which fat-phobia is at it's highest. You can complain that you're discriminated against because of your weight, but it's all hearsay without concrete evidence; well, stop the presses guys, because here is the evidence. This article outlines another potential "essay opener" for me, a horrifying example of what some people will stoop to emphasize thinness. Another plus is a couple of direct quotes from Marilyn Wann, author of Fat!So?, which directly allude to how stupid it is to carry weight obsession to the extreme. "We've got an epidemic of eating disorders, an epidemic of exercise disorders, people who have to work out twice a day or they're not worthy human beings," Wann writes. "It really makes me sad to think the fitness isn't about health, they're about looks." Even if I do not use these quotes, this article serves as a powerful illustration of the types of emotions that can be arisen when weight is the issue. By understanding the effect of this article on myself, I can better understand what kind of examples will be most effective to my target audience.
Hunger Pains: Learning to Understand Eating Disorders. 1998. 26 Feb. 1999. http://www.members.xoom.com/_XOOM/edrecovery/index/htm.
This is really just the home page that lists links to many, many other cites on eating disorders and body image related topics, all put together by the same group. Nevertheless, it does have one standout detail; a "quick fact" that again shocked and sickened me (are you beginning to see a pattern regarding my thoughts on this subject?). Try this: In India, one of the poorest countries in the world, the very poorest women eat 1,400 calories a day, or 600 more than a western woman on the Hilton head diet. We're literally starving ourselves to death! This fact is another possibility for my introduction, which if I haven't outlined for you before now, will be aimed at illustrating in not so many words the enormous obsession that plagues our country today. Hence, the importance of said statistic. However, I am leaning more toward using personal experience in the intro. This is my focus, after all. Which leads me to…
* Hurd, Shannon. Personal Experience. 25 Jul. 1977 - present.
Twenty-one years and counting of nothing but the best! (Just kidding). Actually, I have acute experience in both of my chosen areas; body-image wise I've been a severe anorexic, partial-bulimic, and a definite compulsive overeater and exerciser since I was 15 (present day status - almost entirely recovered), therefore I have an enormous interest in getting below the surface of this issue, not to mention well-based qualifications. English-degree wise, I'm a senior English major and I've had some run-ins with both the real-world and my over-praised advisors, which have caused me to call into question the validity of what I'm spending all these semesters worth of back-breaking work on. I'm ready to voice my frustrations and hypothesis on a subject that already receives much attention, but most likely from a more positive point of view. Just call me the anti-Christ (not really). Seriously, I intend for my real-life experiences, thoughts and observations to constitute a hefty 90-95% of both pieces one, because it is more striking and vivid than any statistic, and two, because I really know what I am talking about. Therefore, it's probably worth citing in my bibliography, no? (Note: in one of my pieces - the Newsweek one, I refer to a conversation I had with friends regarding the frustration of arbitrary requirements. I include this under my own personal experience because while it does show others' opinions, the conversation itself is something I remember as having a large influence over my own life).
Jones, Abbie. American Women and Their Bodies. 1997. 17 Mar. 1999. http://www.electra.com/bodyart1.html
Abbie (in a very neutral manner) goes over the facts and figures revealed in a 1997 Psychology Today survey on body image, and then provides links to a few different cites on body image, eating disorders and weight for those of us who are interested in reading up further on any of these topics. Again, there were a few stats that caught my eyes as potential openers, such as this one that literally scared me. (This doesn't happen often, by the way). A whopping 89 percent of women said they wanted to lose weight (big deal, we could have guessed this, no?), but what got my attention so strongly was that 15 percent of those women actually said they would sacrifice five or more years of their lives to be the weight they wanted. This is beyond sad. Nevertheless, besides providing a great opener for my paper, this article serves another useful purpose. It gives me more of an idea of the kinds of questions I can ask myself while writing. From reading this article, I get the idea that part of Abbie's passion on the subject stems from her own personal experience (a struggle with anorexia, perhaps?). Maybe I could try to contact her.
Menter, Marcia. "Why Don't Magazines Show Clothes On More Real-Size Women?" Glamour Nov. 1998: 244+.
Finally, a magazine responds to a question that almost every woman (and I'd be willing to bet most men) have asked at some point in their lives…so why don't magazines give us a more realistic portrayal of the body types that are actually out there roaming the streets? According to author Marcia Mentor, Glamour alone receives thousands of letters to the editor each month from angry and discouraged readers who are tired of measuring their own frames against wafer-thin models, so through use of a list format, Mentor attempts to justify their appearance in her magazine. Attempts is about all I can give her credit for; she continually insults the reader by insisting that whether we want to admit it or not, the "thin is in" message still rules in most of our brains, and makes the possibility of more realistic-looking models a marketing no-no. She says bigger clothes would cost too much to produce; that the job of a model is essentially to be a clothes hanger, and that like it or not, this phenomenon is not likely to change anytime in the near future. Her list of lame excuses goes on and on, honestly this is one of the most condescending pieces I've ever read and I intend on using her sophomoric explanations as perfect examples of the one-sided views that prevent real women from being viewed as socially acceptable in this industry! However, I will use her view only as fuel for my passion, and not statistically within the piece.
Mitchard, Jacquelyn. "Seeing Your Book on the Big Screen." Newsweek 1 Mar. 1999: 16.
Another My Turn example; altogether I have collected sixteen, although I will only be looking at six in semi-depth in my attempt to analyze both the publication itself and the types of work they are looking for to fill that publication. This time, the author is a middle-aged woman writer who systematically compares the "loss of innocence" surrounding the sale of her first novel to a Hollywood movie producer to the marriage and departure from home of her first daughter. Again, this article is 95% personal experience with the small exception of select movie and book titles that have followed similar paths, and instead of trying to solve a problem, the purpose of this article is to open the public's eyes to a new and fairly uncommon situation. As far as who can actually relate to what she is describing, the obvious answer is not too many people. Fundamentally, this is the biggest diversion from all of the other My Turn stories. There aren't too many people out there who can't find some way in which to relate drug abuse, divorce, death or discrimination to their own lives, but the sale of a novel to Hollywood? We're talking a select group here! Nevertheless, this diversion is helpful because it shows me that Newsweek is more concerned about the manner in which the story is written rather than the universality of its content.
Norman, Michael A. "Eating Disorders Not Worth the Athlete's Life." The Latern 919864335854 (17 Mar. 1999): 2 pp. Online. Internet. 20 Mar. 1999.
This article is written by a guy who has recently lost a friend to the fierce clutches of an eating disorders (which disorder this might be is not specified), therefore the personal spin on its contents is touching. There is only one statistic, which I may or may not use; instead, this piece is a theoretical reflection on the price of obsession. Very vague in where it draws its conclusions from, its content alone does not offer me much help, instead I cite this article as an example of what kind of emotional appeal is effective to your average audience. Norman does not talk to us as if he's the all-knowledgeable professor and we're his average uninformed students, he talks to us as people with real human concerns, understanding, and fears. His vagueness is a little thin for what I'm envisioning my article to be, but his overall tone is good and will be of immense help when I sit down to set the "mood" of my piece.
Pal, Shalmali. "Looking For My Prince Charming." Newsweek 15 Mar. 1999: 12.
My Turn again. A most interesting topic - arguing for the validity of arranged marriages within the Indian culture - and perhaps on of the strongest pieces of writing in all that I have checked out thus far. I will use this article to begin composing a list of addition features that must be present in My Turn columns. Hmm, let's see. Anywhere from 80 to 100 percent based on personal thoughts/experience/opinions (with the minimal factual information used strategically as a transition to move from point to point)? Check. Written in the first person point of view and drawn largely on a reflective, illustrative style? Check. Introduces a subject (what this subject is can really vary) from a new and unique point of view; in each case the author is intimately acquainted. Check. Lastly, offers no solution per say, just attempts to open you eyes and promote some serious thinking? Check. Well, now, as a result of reading a few My Turn articles, I already have a much clearer picture of the style I need to aim for.
Ragaza, Angelo. "I Don't Count As Diversity." Newsweek 8 Feb. 1999: 13.
Do I run the risk of sounding hopelessly redundant if I again say I selected this article because it is yet another example of a Newsweek My Turn column? This time, a middle-aged businessman is questioning the way the United States buys into the Asian-American as hard-working, smart and infinitely successful stereotype. He talks about the ways in which reverse affirmative action have negatively affected his life, and goes on to suggest that he is as much a minority as an African-American or Hispanic out there. Plus, he takes apart the idea that all Asian Americans are successful, using lots of statistics on their poor employment and wage rates to back himself up. In addition, to conforming what I already suspected about the style of My Turn articles, Ragaza'a piece gives further insight into how factual information can be used beneficially during those rare occasions when a writer should chose to do so. Here, he uses them to prove a myth to be false; clearly statistics are the only way to do this, since personal experience would be too easy to dismiss as an "isolated incident" should he have tried to prove the same point using only his own salary and employment history. So now, I have a model as to how to effectively incorporate the nitty-gritty with all of that other emotional stuff.
Scaggs, Boz. "My Son's Unfinished Life—And Mine." Newsweek 22 Feb. 1999: 15.
A unique point-of-view to appear in My Turn, which is why I selected this particular article to appear on my bibliography. In this case, a father who recently lost his son to a heroine overdose is struggling to understand why this tragedy happened, as well as warn other parents on the dangers of drugs so that they can intervene before anything similar happens to their own children. Another first for My Turn; that is, the father did not have personal experience with drugs, so he is unable to get into the head of the user, which therefore makes him almost like a narrator of someone else's story. Perhaps this would have been different if he had focused more on his own grief, by instead he spent 75 percent of his essay theorizing about why, second-guessing and trying to interpret his son's behavior during the last few weeks of his life. Clearly, this man is hurting, the piece is touching and the tone hopeless, which I found to be almost more effective in getting his point across. The main message is clear - a warning to parents today - but there is also another, more subtle and disguised message that readers must work at to get. Drugs hurt. Not just the abuser, but those who care about him. With this article, I've almost finished my study of My Turn; as I stated earlier, I chose this article for its unique point of view, and the effectiveness of its subtle message. I plan to use this one as a model of how I can add complexity to my own piece.
Sheff, Nick. "My Long-Distance Life." Newsweek 15 Feb. 1999: 16.
The last article in my My Turn study, this one I selected because of the age of it's author, a sixteen-year-old high school junior. True, I've got five years on him, but considering the fact most of the adult authors have twenty years on my, I figured it was more relevant to relate myself to Nick Sheff than Boz Scaggs or Jim Bobryk. Sheff writes about the ways in which the divorce of his parents has effected the normalcy of his life, and of the difficulties of being shipped across the country annually to visit his parents. I wanted to se if My Turn expected different things from a teenager, but essentially this article is the same as any of the others, with one small exception. Because Sheff is a largely a child, this allows him to play off of the emotions of his adult readers by offering an alternative to the traditional wedding vows - Do you promise to have and to hold, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live? And if you ever have children and wind up divorced, do you promise to stay within the same geographical area as your kids? (pause as the chill shoots down your spine). Touching, definitely, useful, certainly. How? Now more than ever, it is clear who the target audience is for My Turn. Middle-aged Americans, and not children or teens. Okay, I got it. I'm ready to write…
* University of Alberta Health Centre. Food, Weight and Body Image. 1997. 17 Mar. 1999. http://www.ualberta.ca/~jhancock/bodyim.html
After I finish this one, of course. Chock full of shocking (there's that word again) statistics, facts and figures, this article leaves little room to doubt the presence of a body image preoccupation in today's society. Six pages in all, I've highlighted many statistics that are potential candidates for that coveted spot in my home-opener - every day, 28,493 Canadian women begin a new diet…out of 100 supposedly normal women surveyed, only one was not actively waging the war against fat…by fourth grade, over 80 percent of young girls have tried dieting, the list goes on. There are oodles of facts but nothing else of use to me in this article; therefore, its purpose ends with helping me to structure my piece. I will probably use at least one fact.
Shott, Joshua. Universities in the United States. 1998. 13 Mar. 1999. http://www.geocities.com//theTropics/Cabana/5191/usuniv.html.
Shott has composed a list of 868 universities across the United States, with links to the home pages of each one. They are arranged alphabetically by state, and the list includes both public and private universities, as well as community colleges, military academies and religious schools. By scrolling down to whichever school you want and clicking on the name, you can find out virtually anything about that university ranging from athletic programs to colleges to what they're serving for dinner that night in the dorm. I plan to use this most helpful link to access information on different creative writing programs nationwide (specifically, the programs which are considered "top-notch"), so that I may have a strong basis for comparison when I venture into discussing the effectiveness or lack of of CSU's program. I might not actually discuss it, but it will sure be interesting to me. Actually, I've decided. The only way I will cite this source is if I find a major discrepancy. Otherwise, I'll let it be. After all, I'm of the opinion that a college education is a pretty universal experience.