Re: Why are we fat?

Dr. Ernest N. Prabhakar (ernest@pundit)
Sat, 6 Sep 97 07:13:58 -0700

You wrote:
> It seems to go hand-in-hand that we geeks are terribly self-conscious
> about how others perceive us. Either we feel hideously underweight
> or hideously overweight or we shutter at all those 4-eyes jokes or
> we're shy and introverted or we have problems with society's emphasis
> on superficial beauty because as geeks we obsess on every little
> detail of our own superficialities...

Whoa, I don't buy this at all. At least, not as I think you've
written it. Most geeks I know are *un*-conscious of their appearence
(unless you're drawing some subtle distinction between geeks and
nerds). It is not even because they think they are flawed, they just
don't care.

Now, I will agree there is some insecurity behind it. But I think
it is more a case of being unable/unwilling to compete in the entire
appearance-oriented value system dominant in our (all? most?) society,
particularly in high school. We therefore ignore our appearance as a
way of protest -- the way some women deliberately ignore their brains
for the opposite reason.

Take me, for example. I never felt there was anything particularly
wrong with my appearance (you may dispute the reality, but that was
how I felt :). I just realized that there was a whole cultural aura
of being "one of the beautiful people", and I would never penetrate
that level of acceptance, so why bother fighting that battle? I tried
to build my self-image around intelligence, niceness, and a variety
of other 'more substantial' (though I would now argue ultimately
hollow) attributes.

The one area I might agree with you is in terms of fashion. I do
become extremely self-conscious when it comes to selecting clothing
that is anything out of the ordinary, either to purchase or to wear on
a date. But honestly, neither I nor any of the geeks I've known
worry about personal appearance. Even if they have serious or highly
visible flaws, they tend to have submerged their self-loathing and
lost all apparent consciousness of it.

Maybe its a New York thing, Adam.

-- Ernie P.

P.S. I would also like to point out that I've known many cute female
geeks and fashionable male geeks in my time. Granted, this tends to
marginalize them in geek society, but I try to take pity on them and
include them anyway.

P.P.S. I am 'cc-ing' my friend Leland on this exchange because he's
an examplar of geek fashion. He used to hang around homeless people
a lot, which caused a mutual friend to once exclaim, "Leland, who are
all these people you hang around with who dress better than you?"