Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Book That Changed My Life


Book title: Wintergirls
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Summary: Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia’s mother is busy saving other people’s lives. Her father is away on business. Her stepmother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia’s head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way – thin, thinner, thinnest – maybe she’ll disappear altogether.

Wintergirls was unlike any other book I've read. It's not just the author's unique writing style or the brutally honest narration from a self-destructive girl that held my interest. This novel just really made me think. It led me into the mind of a person like Lia, and this changed my opinion on people who are victims to such eating disorders. I have read reviews of this novel criticizing Lia's character, stating she was too selfish and pathetic. But she's supposed to be human, people need to accept that not every main character will be likeable and heroic.

Wintergirls was everything from creepy to inspiring. I spent hours staying up at night, reading and taking it all in. It was hard to put down... I had to know Lia's ending. She suffers from anorexia, she wants to be the skinniest girl in school, skinnier than her best friend Cassie, who herself is a bulimic. What intrigued me was that in normal circumstances a friend would try to help you out of your disorder but here we have two girls who are practically competing to see who can turn into a bare skeleton before the other.

If you read it over, you'll realise the only thing Lia has her mind on is her weight. She's not living her life. She's simply trying to shed the pounds one day at a time until she reaches what she calls 'Dangerland' (her ideal weight goal). But it doesn't stop there, once she reaches her ideal weight, she'll want to take it further.. a few more pounds.. then some more until she's size Zero. She's so good at hiding the disorder, that her parents don't realise how bad her condition has gotten until it may be too late.

It's a little freaky how her friend Cassie's ghost is always haunting her, cheering her on to lose the weight so Lia can join Cassie in death. I think one of my favourite parts of this novel was their friendship and the irony behind it (won't ruin the plot for you).

Basically, this novel changed my life because I learned to sympathise with people who suffer from these disorders. There's always a story behind the scars and the visible bones. Lia had a story too, so did Cassie. There's always a reason people feel the need to starve or cut or whatever. We shouldn't shake our heads at them in disappointment, we should try to get through to them. Wintergirls really made me want to reach out and it inspired me into believing that there is hope for these people who are slowly killing themselves.

We turned us into wintergirls, and when she tried to leave, I pulled her back into the snow because I was afraid to be alone.



Wow that was a long post. But anyways, have you read Wintergirls? Are you going to read it?
Is there a book that changed YOUR life? :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tree Man (Half human/ half tree?)

Note: I'm going to try to make this post as interesting as possible because I don't know if other people will find it as fascinating as I did...

A few months ago, I watched a documentary about an Indonesian man, Dede. Long story short, he looks like this:



He has a skin disease called Epidermodysplasia verruciformis, people often refer to him as Tree Man, because his physical features are half human and half tree. There are only two others like him in the world.

Dede Koswara is a 35 year old fisherman in Indonesia. As a teenager, he cut his knee, and ever since then strange growths have covered his body. The growths on his hands and feet look especially like tree roots, and the large patches on his skin resemble the bark of a tree. As such, he’s simply called Tree Man.

Unsurprisingly, Dede has difficulty functioning, since he can’t use his hands and his feet are often a hindrance. He lost his job and his neighbors shunned him. His wife abandoned him, despite their two children. To support them, he began working at carnival freak shows.

I felt terrible after reading that! Here's another picture:



Doctors in the United States believed they could treat Dede. After months of negotiations, Dede was finally treated. He underwent extensive surgery, and 13 lbs (6 kg) of overgrown warts were removed from his body. The surgery had three parts. Firstly, they removed the thick layer of wart tissue and the immense “roots” from his hands. Secondly, they removed the smaller patches of warts from the rest of his body. Thirdly, they grafted skin over his hands, where the skin was removed. The hope was that his growths would not return, or would at least return very slowly.

This, sadly, was not the case. Though 95% of his warts were removed, they grew back, and doctors estimated that it would take two surgeries a year for the rest of his life to keep them away. However, the surgery was far from a total failure. Though he will never be fully cured, Dede regained much functionality. He could feed himself, use a cell phone, and hold a pen, for example – all of which were things he could not do before. From the hospital, he remarked: “What I really want first is to get better and find a job. But then, one day, who knows? I might meet a girl and get married.” It’s reported that he has become a fan of Sudoku, since he can now hold a pen.




This is just so unusual and things like this really interest me. It really sucks that not many people know about this skin disease and how the people who suffer from it live their lives struggling. So I guess you could say I posted this on my blog to create awareness.
What do you guys think about this disease?
Personally, I feel bad for the people who have it and the fact that Dede is looked at as a 'freak' in a circus is very disheartening. I hope they find a cure!


Click here for further information and more pictures and videos!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Stereotypes

I like to observe people. I don't know why but somehow the way certain people react to certain situations is intriguing to me.

That said, often times I look around and I realise what a prejudiced world we live in. People here can be so judgemental and biased. Now, you might be thinking 'I'm not like that', but more likely than not, you are, whether you realise it or not. In my opinion, society nowadays runs on stereotypes.

I'll be the first to admit that I can be judgemental at times. If I see a big guy wearing dark clothes with tattoos and piercings everywhere, my first thought would be that he looks scary and unapproachable. Similarly, if a guy's wearing bright pink pants, carrying a shoulder bag, I will find myself immediately make judgements on his personality. But that's the thing, we've grown up thinking that people have to be a certain way.

Whether it was from our parents or group of friends, as we grow up, our brain categorises how society runs, what is acceptable and what isn't. Often, I find myself not doing or saying things because I'm afraid of how people would judge me after seeing that type of behaviour.

Not many people realise how their judgemental actions can have effect on how a person behaves. For example, I came across a poet online who wrote amazing dark poetry. She literally managed to paint a picture in my head with each stanza. But she felt the need to add a little note at the end of some of her poems telling the readers that she is not emo or depressed or anything, she simply feels comfortable with writing this genre of poetry.

I could go on with this topic forever, but my main point is that we should all try to break through these stereotypes. Think a little before judging someone at first glance.

"Instead of being presented with stereotypes by age, sex, color, class, or religion, children must have the opportunity to learn that within each range, some people are loathsome and some are delightful."
- Margaret Mead