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September 02, 2003 - Image 25

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-02

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The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2003 - 3B

There she is again

Who we are and who we want to be

realized Sat-
u r d a y
evening that
I've been going
about this Miss
America thing all
wrong. I used to
think it was my
duty as a female
columnist and former sullen adoles-
cent to blast the Miss America Orga-
nization for all the right reasons. I
wanted to talk about beauty stan-
dards and eating disorders, stereo-
types and illusions, including wry
summaries such as "OK, we'll give
you a scholarship, but first we're
going to parade you around in stage
makeup and high heels and a swim-
suit and if you fail out of that round,
there's no way you're making it to
the finals. But seriously, um, educa-
tion and betterment of the world are
the most important things. Really."
These complaints are starting to
sound hollow, even to me; nobody
with half a brain or a functional pair
of eyes ever doubted that good looks
mattered to Miss America judges at
least as much as brainpower. Every-
one has heard these arguments
before; they're exactly what you'd
expect to hear from any smug college
student with a far-reaching forum at
her disposal.
I don't want to write that column
again. Because on a very basic
level, it's not my social conscience
or my cynicism that make me

despise the Miss America Organiza-
tion and its pageantry; it's jealousy.
I'm jealous of the contestants. I no
longer care if people look at me and
think, "she's smart," "she's funny,"
blah, blah, blah, things I once naive-
ly considered important. No, I want
heads to turn when I walk into a
room, to be ogled, hollered at, idol-
ized and crowned queen. Dress me
up. Powder my nose. Direct me to
the nearest pedestal and I'll hop
right up in my diamond-studded
four-inch heels and sizzling red
evening gown. Ta-da.
This is what the Miss America
Pageant does to me. My priorities
get all out of whack. When host
Wayne Brady blithely remarks that
the contestants are very anxious to
get through the night because none
of them have eaten since June, I
almost laugh. Pretty dresses mean
more to me than platforms, besides
which the word "platforms" makes
me think of clunky shoes and not
political agendas. Thirty seconds
seems like a perfectly reasonable
amount of time in which to answer a
complicated question about solu-
tions to economic inequality or
youth violence. Too much, in fact.
I'm bored. Is it time for the talent
competition yet?
I'm not a very interesting person
for those three hours. I certainly
wouldn't want to talk to me. Gradu-
ate school? What? I'm not thinking
that far ahead; I can't see past my
soft stomach and utilitarian

wardrobe. Starting tomorrow, I'm
running six miles a day and eating
nothing but string cheese. At this
rate, I should be ready for my bikini
sometime in early 2004. Forget the
scholarship money; I'll pay my own
damn way through school if I have
to sell my spleen on the black mar-
ket. All I want is a tiny waist, a
dozen roses and a tiara. Is that so
much to ask?
And my IQ continues to plum-
met. When it's all over, Miss Illi-
nois and I burst into tears for very
different reasons. She cries because
she's superwoman; she is talented
and smart and drop dead gorgeous
and now she's got a $75,000 schol-
arship to show for it. She's been
through hell and now she can final-
ly go home and eat that prime rib
and chocolate cake. I cry because I
can't take three steps in four-inch
heels and because I have just decid-
ed this is a bigger problem than the
pile of untouched homework
spilling over the edge of my desk.
I'm supposed to know better than
this. I have talked the talk and worn
the cargo pants, but I still turn green
at the very mention of Miss America.
I want to be beautiful, too. Not beau-
tiful like brilliant with a great person-
ality; beautiful like her. I want to
breeze through complex social issues
in 30 seconds or less so I can go sing
and dance and eat cake.
Henrettv can be reached
at ahenrett@umich.edu.

t was just a coincidence that the
actor Gregory Peck died only a
few days after the American Film
Institute named his most famous
character, Atticus Finch, the greatest
American film hero ever. But it is a
coincidence worth the next 700 or so
words. Atticus is the Southern lawyer
in Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize win-
ning book "To Kill a Mockingbird."
He defends a black man erroneously accused of raping
and beating a white woman in Depression era Alabama.
It's hard to deny that Atticus deserves the title that the AFI
has bestowed upon him. He is what most Americans fancy
themselves as being: the optimistic underdog, doing what is
right to fight injustice even at considerable risk. While Atticus
knows that the other residents of his town will despise him for
even defending a black man, he takes the case because he
knows that it is the right thing to do - an aspiration that has
become a cliche, but also an aspiration that is rarely actually
fulfilled. Atticus tells his children that he will not be able to
look at himself in the mirror unless he takes the case.
He is the model of compassion, as he teaches his chil-
dren to consider everyone else's point of view, not by walk-
ing in their shoes, but by spending time in their skin. He
fights the good fight without ever attacking the bigoted
ignoramuses that populate the county. It's a refreshing
model for the civil rights movement, which has recently
shifted away from this mode of inclusion and begun alienat-
ing large portions of the country, dividing people further.
The scene when the black people of the county stand as
Atticus walks out of the courtroom after losing his case is
one of the most moving in American film history. That
someone is willing to quietly sacrifice - without pomp and
without bombast - to fight injustice is what America is
about at its best. It is the heroic ideal that the nation often
does not live up to but still sees in Peck's character.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Far better it is to dare
mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though
checkered by failure ... than to rank with those poor spir-

its who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they
live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."
It's a good way to describe Atticus Finch.
Recently, however, Book magazine asked literary experts
to rank the Top 100 fictional characters of the 20th century.
They chose Jay Gatsby, the bootlegger from F. Scott Fitzger-
ald's "The Great Gatsby." In a partly cynical and partly ideal-
istic piece in The New York Times, Adam Cohen, a member
of the paper's editorial board, defends this selection, describ-
ing with great eloquence how Gatsby embodies what America
is all about. He says that Americans are not perfect, but are
idealistic at the same time. Gatsby is a dreamer in the pursuit
of money, power, a place in high society and love - all sym-
bolized by a green light in Fitzgerald's book. Cohen closes by
saying, " ... mainly we are Gatsby, flawed in a flawed world,
but unable to resist the pull of the green light."
And there is a great deal of truth to these words.
Americans are not perfect. The opinion sections of the
country's papers document these flaws for all to see every
day, and I could tick off such a list if I wanted.
I'm not sure that anybody could actually live up to the
model of Atticus Finch. While we may have ideals, we get
caught up making compromises during our lives just as
Gatsby did. It's a little annoying to be bombarded with
images of perfection at every turn, especially by wealthy
Hollywood-types and young college students who know
only a world of ivory towers and surreal U.S. suburbs.
If Gatsby represents the way that Americans actually are
and America actually is, then Atticus Finch represents what
we want to become. At one point while speaking to the jury
and asking them to fairly consider the evidence in the case,
however, Atticus says, "I am no idealist." And in light of this,
it is certainly a much more attainable goal just to fight the
good fight. While not many people may be perfect like Atti-
cus, we can at least try to fight his fight. If we have one thing
going for us, it's that at least we live in a society that recog-
nizes that Atticus is indeed a hero.
Pesick can be reached at

Bitney Spears is not fat

Freedom from flyers
MSA flyering ban will improve assembly's credibility

uring Michigan Student Assembly elections, flyers
encouraging students to vote for candidates based
on meaningless slogans and fluorescent colors
semiannually engulf virtually every inch of wall space in
several University buildings. Despite the considerable
rsources and manpower expended in the feverish race to
post the flyers, they are largely ignored by students and
trampled upon once they fall to the ground in
the following weeks.
Campaigns for the next MSA election, how-
ever, will be different. Acting at last in direct
response to student complaints, MSA Tuesday
passed a resolution banning the posting of cam-
paign flyers on all campus walls except those inĀ£
residence halls. Although the resolution was
passed for the benefit of the University commu-
nity, it will advance the credibility of MSA, as
well. Once candidates are not allowed to rely so
heavily on superficial flyers to be elected, they
will have to turn to other, more substantial
methods of campaigning. Without the help of
catchphrases plastered floor-to-ceiling at the
Modern Languages and Dennison buildings, MSA Presid
candidates will be forced to choose their words Galardi lead
more carefully; this will perhaps encourage candidates to
spend more time thinking about their platforms than generat-
ing lists of words that rhyme with their names.
The inability to reach students through flyers will steer
candidates toward other avenues of communication. Candi-
dates will only be able to effectively reach their audience
through human contact; by coming out into the University
and interacting with the students they are supposed to rep-

resent. Such alterations in the way MSA presents itself to
the student body will make the organization more legiti-
Most students will react positively to the change. While
previously apathetically passing by vapid posters, this cam-
paign will be given a chance to interact with candidates.
Students will put faces to candidates' names, become more
informed about the issues and party platforms
and consequently make more informed choic-
es in the elections. And perhaps when the
intelligence of the students is respected, a
greater interest in student government will be
fostered, increasing voter turnout. All of this
will allow MSA to act as a true representative
body for all University students.
If nothing else, the ban on posting campaign
flyers will save a considerable amount of
resources and manpower. The paper formerly
used for flyering can be put to far better use.
Candidates will not have to stay up till the wee
hours of the morning in the desperate attempt
A OSHINSKY/Daily to outdo each other in wallpapering the Univer-
t Angela sity. Janitorial staffs will not be forced to clean
a meeting. up the trampled mass of colored paper strewn
about the hallways of University buildings.
The ban on posting campaign flyers will beneficially
affect both MSA and the University community in many
ways; candidates will be forced to focus on issues and
interact with students, students will be encouraged to take a
more active interest in their student government and effort
and resources will be saved. MSA should be applauded for
making such a responsible decision.

4B (ritney Spears is fat. She has a huge stomach
that sticks out and it's really disgusting."
These very words were uttered by a 10-year-old girl I
tutored. Absurd sociocultural standards of thinness and
beauty like this are causing severe eating disorders in 10
percent of college students.
As my pupil and I flipped through People magazine,
she stopped at the
page with a photo of THE DAILY BRUIN

the plastic princess
of pop. Then she



Coffee talk
Honors Commons divisive, futile

promptly informed me that our beloved beauty Britney is
overweight and unattractive.
How could this be? Is not Britney Spears the female
sex symbol of our time? Doesn't every 10-year-old girl
strive to look like her? Apparently not. She's just too fat.
After I recovered from the initial shock of the com-
ment, I insisted that Britney Spears was thin and attrac-
tive, but my pupil would not concede. At that point, I
could not help but worry about the future health of the
girl sitting before me. If she truly believes Britney
Spears is an obese cow, what must she think about her
own appearance? Even more saddening is that my pupil
is not the thinnest girl on the block. So, given her assess-
ment of Britney Spears, she must feel tremendous shame
and guilt about her own body weight.
Remarkably, popular culture and media have gener-
ated these disturbing misconceptions of weight among
the youth. By fourth grade, 80 percent of California
girls have gone on a diet. This is no surprise considering
that young girls are taught Barbie is the standard for
Review's bake sale c
The Michigan Review held a bake sale Monday in
Angell Hall in order to demonstrate its stance on
the University's admissions policies. By selling
goods at a cheaper price for minority students, the
Review tried to demonstrate that the University's
admissions policy is unfairly biased.'
The bake sale offered goods to white students for $1
while it sold the same goods to minority students for
80 cents. These prices were chosen asY
parallels for the University's numeri-
cal admissions system, in which a stu-
dent is required to earn 100 points on
a 150-point scale in order to be admit-
ted, and 20 of those points are earned
just for being an underrepresented
minority student. The Review used
this fact to support its point that
minority students are receiving bene-
fits solely based on their race.d
This bake sale was a truly creative
way for the Review to make its voice
heard on a campus currently split over'
the issue of affirmative action. Stu-
dent involvement, especially in non-
traditional expressions, should always Students visit the b
be encouraged on this campus. It is members of The Re
refreshing to see such a clever stance on affirmath
approach to expressing a viewpoint,
and despite its shortfalls, the Review should be com-
mended for its fresh idea.
Still, the Review's bake sale did not accurately repre-
sent the University's admission policy. The sale had two
prices - a student paid either 80 cents or $1 - depend-


beauty. If Barbie were life-sized, she would stand 5-
foot-9 and weigh 110 pounds, with measurements of 39-
18-33. According to the Barbie benchmark, Britney is
indeed fat.
In our increasingly image-conscious society, the line
between dieting and suffering from an eating disorder is
blurred. A diet may begin as a quick way to lose a few
pounds or get in shape, but it can quickly spiral out of
control and become a full-blown eating disorder.
Most of us have a lot in common with people
6s who suffer from eating disorders. We all have prob-
lems in our lives and feel the need to control events
which affect us. Eating disorders are just one method of
coping with these anxieties. People with eating disorders
feel they are unable to control their lives and problems,
so they turn to eating habits as a means of asserting con-
trol and distracting themselves from their pain.
The quest for thinness is an obsession. The culture of
disordered eating is so pervasive in our society that we
unintentionally encourage eating disorders. A popular
myth that encourages anorexia is the story that the Univer-
sity of California at Los Angeles Dining Services adds
starch to the lettuce so that anorexics can get more calories
and vitamins from eating a diet of salad only. (This myth is
absurd and untrue, according to Joanne McGill of UCLA
Dining Services.)
There are many other ways we might casually
encourage disordered eating every day. Complimenting
someone when they lose weight from dieting reinforces
the behavior and encourages even more restrictive eat-
ing. Expecting perfection and saying that a person is
healthy because they are thin is also dangerous.
d analogy
ever, but incomplete
ing only on the color of that student's skin. The Univer-
sity's point system, however, takes into consideration
not only whether that student is a member of an under-
represented racial minority, but also the socioeconomic
status of an applicant, the geographic location of his or
her high school, participation in athletics at the Univer-
sity and the discretion of the provost - each of which
could earn a prospective student 20 points, or a 20 cent
discount on the Review's muffins.
The bake sale also failed to account
for the 10 points a Michigan resident
automatically receives as well as the six
additional points that resident would
receive should he or she come from an
underrepresented county. Furthermore,
the bake sale did not allow persons
from underrepresented states to save an
additional 2 cents for the two points the
University's policy allocates to those
applicants. If the bake sale were to be
an accurate metaphor for the University
admissions policy, the Review should
have offered savings of up to 8 cents
for a student of any background who
JOHNATON TRIEST/Daily chose to take more challenging courses
iew about theIr in high school or charged 4 cents more
vaction, for students who chose less rigorous
class schedules.
The Review relayed its message creatively to Univer-
sity students, but it should be careful not to omit key
details when crafting analogies for debate. The
Review's argument would have been stronger had it
approached the policy in its entirety.

While milling around the ground floor of Mason
Hall on their way to classes this year, students
may have noticed construction taking place.
Now, with construction complete, the Perlman Honors
Commons had its commemorative opening with Univer-
sity President Mary Sue Coleman and LSA Dean Ter-
rence McDonald speaking to mark the occasion. The
facility will be utilized for students enrolled in the LSA
Honors Program. This new lounge unnecessarily sepa-
rates honors students from their peers enrolled in other
University programs.
The new commons will be a location where students
can chat, do homework and relax while grabbing a cup of
Joe. But the opening of this lounge could be the start of
a worrisome trend in which the Honors Program begins
to wall itself off from the rest of the University communi-
ty, in an unnecessary effort to single out honors students
from their colleagues in other academic programs.
Last year, in a response to a diminishing pool of
applicants and internal difficulties, the Honors Program
hoped that the establishment of the Honors Commons
would provide a shot in the arm to the stagnating pro-
gram. But the opening of the lounge is unlikely to be the
solution that the program's coordinators seek.
Students are attracted to the Honors Program because
of the unique combination of superior academic oppor-
tunities within a diverse and spirited public university
setting. The stuffiness and elitism that the Honors
Commons will perpetuate may further isolate the pro-

gram's students, but it will not improve the quality of
their experience at the University. The unique appeal of
this program, which is best defined by Tuesday and
Thursday mornings listening to tales of Achilles and
Saturday afternoons spent basking in the glory of
Michigan football victories, cannot be matched by any
institution in the nation. The implementation of uppity
measures reminiscent of Princeton's eating clubs will
only weaken the quirkiness that makes the Honors Pro-
gram strong. Expanding academic opportunities for
honors students, such as increasing student-faculty
interaction, will be more attractive to both prospective
and current students, is the time-tested path to a health-
ier Honors Program.
The site of the Perlman Commons, with its panoram-
ic view of the Diag and prime location near Angell
Hall's Fishbowl, is one more disconcerting aspect of the
facility. The ground floor of Mason Hall is a bustling
region in the heart of University activity, which could
be better used for more egalitarian purposes. It should
be a place open to the entire University community.
Instead, only a small group of students will be able to
take advantage of this facility. There should be more
spaces such as this one for the student body at large to
frequent. The University took a positive step by approv-
ing such a nice lounge for students, but it should not be1
developing lounges restricted to only certain students
when the entire student body at large could benefit
from their usage.




Cash I
State should expar

n cans
id bottle returnlaw
well as illustrating that environmentalism should be a bipartisan area of concern in Lansing, it is
important that the task force be the starting point, not the graveyard, for this proposal. While statewide
henrinnc maf Ar an media cveraYe iltimatelv it is legislation that actually turns ideas into law.

__~ Athe characters Kramer and Newman from the seminal I1990s sitcom "Seinfeld" can attest, the
state of Michigan's 10-cent deposit on pop and beer bottles possesses mythic stature throughout
. ~~~ s 4- - T- 1('A 1-- moan A.;hna: natn li-n i n ntP..'v.ti a trs-- -oi-nd

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