Oct 25, 2016

Some Thoughts About Think

I just finished Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World.  And when I tried to review it for SUYB, I ended up with 5+ paragraphs and knew it deserved its own post:

This book wasn't necessarily easy to read.  The first half is basically, "You're stupid" which no one wants to hear.  But... after making it through and being forced to open my eyes to a multitude of cultural and societal issues and admit that no, I don't educate myself as much as I should, I'm glad I read it.  Sometimes, especially in a society of participation trophies and being told how special you are from birth, we do need to hear that we're not the best and brightest and yes, we could and should be doing better.

Did you know that 22% of women would rather lose their ability to read than their figures?  What the what???  Did you know that 12-18% of women who have breast implants lose all sensation in their nipples AND that women with breast implants are 2-3 times more likely to get several different kinds of cancers?  The craziest part to me is not that people are willing to take these risks, it's that no one knows them because apparently we A) Don't care enough to research and B) Doctors aren't required to tell us (though they are required to tell us all the risks behind vaccines, go figure).  Bloom also points out that in our culture, looks are rewarded to such an extent that the people making these choices (figures over literacy) might actually be making the more career-minded choice.

Bloom talks about our obsession with celebrity culture, to the point that we completely ignored the genocide going on in Rwanda because we were busy being scandalized by the fact that our president had an affair.  To that point that most of us can't name a tiny piece of the humanitarian work done by Angelina Jolie but we all know and have opinions on her love life.  And you can say, "Oh, people don't want to focus their brain power overseas - they only care what happens in this country."  But do we?  Near the end of her tirade against the shallowness and vapidity of our society, Bloom pointedly reminds us that all the missing (and recovered) persons cases that have received long-standing national attention have had white victims.  Pretty white women, to be specific.  She lists a pile of cases concerning minority children that we have never and probably never will hear about because the media knows which demographic we care about.

I don't necessarily agree with all of Bloom's points, and Bloom admits she's not above it all - as a member of the media, she too wastes hours of her time on her appearance in order to be "camera ready."  But I do think the book very much accomplished its goal - it made me think and think hard.  I was all ready to give myself a pat on the back for not reading tabloids, and not wanting to waste money on plastic surgery or more than a fairly small amount of cosmetics and clothing, but this was a powerful reminder that there is a ton I don't know about.  And not because I'm young or haven't had a chance to learn about it yet.  I don't know it because I'm choosing not to seek that knowledge out.  I close my eyes and ears, avoid the news, google selective issues occasionally but the majority of the time choose to remain in the dark.

Bloom has me convinced that this is not an acceptable way to live.  Even if my only contribution to society is to educate myself, it's one I intend to start now.  So I've subscribed to BBC News (global) and NPR because they're the least biased channels I could find.  I'll try to pick up more "real" stories like I Am Malala and 3 Cups of Tea, and maybe a little less YA dystopia.  I don't know if I'll start donating money to global issues over domestic ones but at least I'll be making that decision with full knowledge of what that choice is.

I don't need to tell you guys to read, since most of you are avid book-devourers, but the second half of Bloom's book goes into "the solution" which is not just to read, but what to read and how to make time for it.  She has a few other points on health and family and time management, but my biggest takeaway was this.

You can't make good decisions without educating yourself and most of our country is uneducated.  Don't contribute to that problem.

I don't necessarily think you need to read the book to get that message, BUT I recommend it anyway, because I don't think this short summary can really hit home in the same way.  If for no other reason than to shock yourself, read the book and find out what you don't know.

What's a book you'd recommend even if you didn't necessarily enjoy reading it?  What books have you found the most impactful to your own life?

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  1. EXCUSE ME? I would never give up my ability to read. EVER.
    my friend is considering implants, thanks for sharing that. i will let her know. that's terrifying. she's not stupid enough to go ahead without doing research though, so i'm sure that will change her mind.
    while i totally understand where this person is coming from, and i don't want to dumb myself down, i also have no desire to give up things i enjoy (like ya dystopia), you know? i'd never give up my ability to read or anything else just so my figure would be good, i don't care about my looks to the point that i'd be okay increasing my cancer risk.. but i will still read what i want to read. i am not as obsessed with celebrities as i used to be, and i try not to get caught up in all the drama and i stay off magazine websites and the like for that reason. i hope it doesn't come across that i don't care or don't want to educate myself, that's definitely not what i mean. i just want to educate myself (more now, thanks, i will pick up this book) and also read some ya dystopia. ha.

  2. You mentioned this book in your comment yesterday, so I'm glad to see a larger review of it because it sounds fascinating. It doesn't shock me that so many women would rather lose their ability to read than their looks. It's frustrating as hell but not shocking. So much aimed at us is about our looks - as if that is our only real talent. While I consider myself to be attractive, I grew up one of 3 minorities in a lily white, conservative community, which made me too different. I was liked but not datable, if that makes sense. While I most definitely cared how I looked, I also put more effort into being smart enough, so I could leave and live in a big city. That being said, I have lots of room for improvement because I'm still very insular, as most Americans are. We live in our bubble, whatever it may be, and rarely look beyond what we can see. I am very guilty of doing this and appreciate the reminder to look bigger. Like Kristen, I'm not going to feel bad that the majority of books I read will be for entertainment purposes, but I also am going to make an effort to be more educated about the world because knowledge is what creates change.

    1. Haha, yeah. Once I get fixated on a book, I tend to blab about it to everyone. I can't imagine what it would be like to be so isolated - I don't think I've ever lived anywhere where white was the minority. But we do also live in a community where it's not THAT rare to see mixed race couples. Visiting the South is pretty unreal sometimes, because there's people my age who talk about race the same way my grandmother does (you know, racist but don't even realize it and assume everyone else feels the same way). It's like going back in time.

  3. Those statistics are shocking! I'm very flat-chested. When I was a tender and insecure teenager, I burst into tears over it on multiple occasions (once in public). Once, a guy friend asked my friend and I (both flat-chested) if our future husband was rich and would pay for a boob job, would we do it? And I said yes. Now I'm like NO WAY (even before knowing those stats). Ugh. Also that's such a creepy and offensive question to ask someone. But, I also used to put way too much stock into how guys saw me and what guys liked. Now I care what I look like for myself...and I'm totally fine with my small boobs. Anyway, enough about my chest... Hahaha. I really want to read this book!

  4. I had no idea about the boob jobs. My boobs are unusually large for someone my size sometimes they cause back and neck strain. I've thought about having a reduction but thought I would regret it later so I didn't go through with it. I use to be way more vain than I am now. I cared a whole lot about my looks. I still do in the sense that I always wear sunglasses and moisturize to prevent wrinkles. But, I've also stopped wearing make up and would wear yoga pants 24/7 if I could. I'm at that point where I really don't care if I impress anyone or not. I'm comfortable being a hermit and reading all day.

  5. People would give up the ability to read for appearance??!? Are you kidding me?! While I will admit that I am at fault for putting a lot of value in my appearance and allowing it to make me feel less than at times....I would never put it over my health or my ability to think or read! Society is so focused on how you look, what you weight and who is doing what they we are all guilty on not focusing on what is important so I can see some of these points.

  6. I haven't read an open-your-eyes kind of book in a long time. Typically, I don't like being called stupid or looked down on- though I know often it's to make a point that wouldn't be well received any other way. It's interesting where we, as a culture, put our brain power. It irritates me when I hear people call women's conversation "chit-chat" or girl talk. Too often our real ideals are dismissed as gossip or small talk because it seems like that's the norm for female discussion in our culture. (And I'm just as guilty at times.)

  7. At one point in time (I don't know if this is still true), Houston TX was the city that had performed the most breast augmentations. Not LA. Not Miami. Nope. Houston. So, I know A LOT of people who have had a boob job. I'm related to some. I've been a bridesmaid in weddings for others. Like, I know a lot.
    Admittedly, I have mixed feelings on cosmetic surgery. On the one hand, I say, not my body, not my money, what someone else wants to do with their body and their money is not my concern. On the other hand, I think about the society that we live in that has caused so many people that I love to want to spend money to alter their bodies.
    I'd rather be a obese whale than lose my ability to read.


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