“Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful” Syndrome

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

Since childhood, I’ve been a book lover. In my young days, I read two – three books a week. Now, I read a few books a month – usually from three – five books depending on length and complexity. Both fiction and non-fiction. However, I’ve never been a fan of biographies, autobiographies or memoirs. Most people are not as interesting as they think they are.

Most of these stories can be lumped into two categories: the statistical account and the sob story. Am I being cynical?

Reading a list of statistics doesn’t help me know a person. Names, places, dates, chronological order doesn’t distinguish a person’s life.

Also, in these times, in order to have the story of a person’s life published in book form, it has to contain bizarre childhood stories. It seems as if your background doesn’t include growing up in a brothel, being pimped out by at least one parent, being forced into being a drug runner, witnessing your parent(s) kill someone and making you help them hide the body, growing up in a traveling freak show, etc., then publishers aren’t interested in your book. It’s not that I don’t sympathize with people who’ve had the misfortune of being born into an abusive family and the far-reaching effects into their psyches, but I don’t like that publishers narrow our reading choices and color our view of the world by presenting  so many stories of this type, that we may be tempted to forget their stories ( thank God) are in the minority and don’t represent society as a whole.

Of course, if you come from a rich and famous family, then any of the aforementioned requirements are trashed, and you automatically become a person of interest. Your parents’ success has a trickle down effect. Then you can write about how living in their shadow led you to a wasted life of  alcohol, drugs and undesirable people. So, now you have a story to tell. Or, if you haven’t rebelled and managed to use your parents as a positive role model, then you can tell about your own success, keeping it positive and not glorifying failure BUT publishers think the general public has no interest in well-balanced people. It’s a better idea to make up some weird stuff, like maybe you spy on your neighbors with binoculars and have considered blackmail as a full time job. That will sell.

These are the types of biographies or memoirs we find in book stores or public libraries. That explains my lack of interest. If I want to fixate on the tragedy of the human condition, I can look at the lives of the students I worked with in New York City schools or world-wide  victims of kidnapping, disease, starvation, torture, enslavement and abuse. These stories are not fabricated or embellished. People in these situations struggle to overcome obstacles to eke out an existence for themselves and their families. These stories are relatable and common and offer a sound basis of comparison. I can’t put the struggles of the lost, low functioning or not all functioning children of the Hollywood, Beverly Hills and New York  elite on the same level with those truly lacking in opportunities and solutions. Often, those in the most pain are the most compassionate, allowing their focus to be other-centered rather than self -centered. Their stories don’t get enough press because they are “ordinary” and deemed unworthy of the spotlight.

I think it’s the “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” syndrome at work here. It’s assumed the public resents accomplishment and success so the high achiever must prove a torturous life with a long list of obstacles so the common folk won’t resent their success. This is nonsensical. Hard work and determination deserve success. I don’t need to know your problems in order not to hate you.

We can be inspired by a person’s story but let’s not make the problems the story. The focus should be what steps were taken to achieve a goal. How did the downward spiral change direction? From where did help come? What was the time frame? Lessons learned? Advice for others? Concentrate on how you solved the problem, not the problem itself.

Horror fiction should shock and scare us, not the story of a person’s climb to success. Biographies and memoirs should leave us feeling inspired and empowered.

Next week’s blog post focuses on the Andy Cohen Diaries. Holy moly! That’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. You’ll see what I mean.

I’m on the search for noteworthy biographical stories. If you have any to recommend, please let me know. If I have anything to share, I’ll let you know.

© 2015  All rights reserved.  No part of this content may be reprinted or used in any form without express permission from Elaine Donadio Writes.

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