December 15th, 1997
About-Face is about as grassroots as it gets. We all work full time and squeeze in About-Face around other obligations. This year it looks like we only raised about $600–but spent over two thousand. We’ve volunteered many, many hours toward the effort; in particular the webmistress, KT Handler has put in hundreds of hours for free. There have been so many times when I’ve thought I just can’t continue the campaign with so few resources.
A few months ago, I wrote about some hate mail we had received. In total, this year, we received about six letters telling us to get a life, and about a thousand letters from people thanking us. In the spirit of the holidays and the new year, I thought I would share some of the positive mail with you.
We get the most amazing letters.
Below is a completely random sampling of some of the email we received one week. These are our compensation.
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There’s no way to convey how impressed and affected I am by this website. THANK YOU! This is so important today, yet so ignored. Again, thank you so much!
-Stephanie, Artist/Student, age 32
I LOVED IT -so good to know that other people are noticing the inanity and stupidity of the media! Keep up the good work – it’s fab to know that women can face the world head on and still have a sense of humor and a healthy dose of chutzpah.
-Lorraine, Trainee Librarian/Student, age 23
(The site) is excellent as far as knowledge and helping goes. When I looked at the gallery, I was apalled, offended, hurt, and disgusted. The women in the (Harpers) Bazarre ads were disgusting. All of the ads were. Someone should actually force feed those women. It made me so scared that I might one day look like that that I’m fixing to go and eat. I have to lose some weight forthe Air Force (I’m 5’4 and weigh about 140)and I was thinking of doing it through bulimia. You’ve changed my mind. Thank you.
-Christine, Data Entry Specialist, age 18
Hello! I just visited your Web site for the first time this morning and I am very excited about it. Congratulations for this very nice piece of work. I’m extremely glad that this kind of initiative is starting to emerge, especially in California, where great waves of changes often start.
At 15, a doctor (who would be in a very dangerous situation if I met him again today) put me on a diet. No details, no explanations on good alimentation. He just gave me a tiny booklet in which were listed kinds of food and number of calories by portion. He told me not to eat more than 1000 cal a day. That’s it.
At that time, it is true than I was a bit heavier than normal, but still very ok, if I believe the pictures of that time. From then, you surely know the story: I lost the weight, was thin for a couple of months, gained it all back, and more, of course. Dieted again, gained again, and so on, I don’t know how many times…
I’m young, successfull (I’m a lawyer at Department of Finances), I’ve got a wonderful son of 2 1/2 years old, a good husband, a nice house. But this weight thing is killing me inside. The crying about my weight is part of my ordinary day… I don’t know what I would give to feel thin and attractive. It’s the way people look at you, in the bus and in the stores, where of course nothing ever fits properly or else, looks like if your grandmother bought it for you. Sometimes, even the relations with the colleages (men AND women) are affected. I’m always reminded that my body is not accepted (don’t even think about being appreciated) in my environment.
-Chantale, 31 years old, QuÃˆbec City, Province of QuÃˆbec, Canada
Yes!!!!!! This is the kind of information that more young women need to read and see. Our junior high girls (and girls even younger than that) need to have access to this type of information so they can avoid growing up with the deep-seated ambiguity towards their bodies that many women my age have. Thanks for being our voice.
-Jennifer, Journalist, age 23
This website is the best!! I found a lot of useful information for my Anorexia research project. Thank you sooo much – About Face is one of the most worthwhile websites ever to grace the Internet. Keep up the great work!!
-Nicole, Student, age 18
I think this site is provocative and eyeopening. I am glad to see that a site like this exists. The media is a real problem…. I received my Master’s in Rhetoric & Communications from U.Va. in 1991. I wrote my Master’s Thesis on the pernicious effects of woman’s fashion magazines on the women who read them. My main point was that these magazines contribute a great deal to the proliferation of eating disorders among women. I won’t bore you with the stats and details of my thesis. However, I was convinced and remain convinced that these fashion magazines are silencing women – keeping them so preoccupied with their weight, their skin and anti-aging “technology” that women become increasingly narcissistic, insecure and withdraw from real issues in the world and in their own lives.
-Nancy, Project Manager, age 31
Your site is awesome and amazing. I teach an anthropology/women’s studies course, and as soon as I found your web page, I sat down and created a homework assignment for the class, requiring them to spend at least an hour reading the web site, and then write a reaction paper.
-Katherine, College Professor, Texas A&M University, age 42
And the FOLLOW UP AFTER THE ASSIGNMENT!: I’ve been grading the journals students wrote after I sent them off to view your web site. The students were overwhelmingly affected by this site, and many mentioned that they made their friends,boyfriends, room mates, and family member go look at the site as well. Many commented about how often they had seen these images (in the gallery of offenders) without ever really thinking about them. Some were skeptical of the power of throwing away the bathroom scales, but they all agreed to try it. Thanks so much for putting this site on the web — it *is* making a difference. P.S. Several mentioned that they were so surprised to read that size 16 was the “average” woman size. They were even more surprised when I told them that was what size I wear, and the smaller ones had this image of someone sized 16 being grossly overweight. They didn’t realize how tiny the increments are between one size and the next. Anyway, thanks again.
-Katherine, College Professor, Texas A&M University, age 42
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Just another week in the life! It sure is fun to get the mail everyday! Thank you to everyone who takes the time to visit the website or write us a note. Please keep the letters coming as we love hearing from you. About-Face is all of our forum for discussion, a few laughs and real change.
Wishing you an unorthodox Holiday Season and a downright radical New Year!