This I Believe

Katharine - Torrance, California
Entered on October 5, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe that I’m too critical of people on TV and that I’ve turned into some type of appearance police.

Two events led to my acknowledgement of this badge of shame. First, when the U.S. was focused on Olympic women’s ice skating and Sasha Cohen bringing home gold, a Japanese skater swooped in and stole the competition with a flawless performance. The skater’s face glowed with pride and disbelief. Her coach and her family wept in each other’s arms and reporters talked about how she was the pride of Japan.

“Glad she won,” my husband Mark snapped, seeing all too clearly that the skater’s smile was NOT as white as the ice. “Now maybe she can get her teeth fixed!” Ouch. Of course I acted shocked that Mark could be so shallow but the truth is, I was thinking that she could use some white strips too.

Recently, I watched CNN senior international correspondent Chrisitane Amanpour reporting from Afghanistan. She once-again placed herself in grave danger for her work, this time to report on Bin Laden’s continued significance in the Muslim world and I knew this was important but I only partially heard what she said because I was distracted —when WILL she grow out those bangs?!

Appalled at myself for dispensing yet another critical citation, and THIS one to the world’s most respected journalist, I had to turn off the TV and ask—how did I get here? It’s like I’m going all Microsoft Word on people and whenever anyone on TV has different hair or funky teeth I shoot them with the dreaded red or green squiggly line. Then, I imagine the spell check.

Last night in line at the grocery store I think I figured out where I got these critical handcuffs. Staring at me from the cover of almost every magazine was Angelina and Brad, Jessica Simpson or Tom and Katie. Actually. I want to know if Angelina has another baby if Brad will marry her, so I might just buy that one.

But if I don’t buy the magazine, then I just turn on the TV, check my mail at Yahoo, or ride the elevator with someone who gets text-messaged from Entertainment Tonight and I’ll find out. It’s all celebrities all the time and I’m buying it, ingesting it and expecting it not just on TV but also in my every day life. I wish I could get MY teeth as white as Jessica Simpson.

The good news is that I’ve decided to arrest my own behavior. My sentence includes the following:

Taking a good look in the mirror. Tyra Banks is not calling me to be on “America’s Top Model.”

Next, I’m LISTENTING to TV. Oh, I still tune into CNN and Amanpour but for the time being, I turn OFF the actual picture and listen to the news through the receiver.

My husband thinks I’m crazy lying on the floor staring at the ceiling with a slate gray TV on the wall —but it doesn’t bother him as much as my final punishment –

“Hey… uh,” he asked. “What did you do to your bangs?! “