The Difference Between Boys And Girls

Body Image Perceptions Between the Sexes

I am frequently writing about how baffled I am that more men are not taking advantage of bariatric surgery. As I might have mentioned before, the most recent numbers I have suggest that over 80% of bariatric surgery patients are female. Obesity, though, is not related to sex: it is pretty evenly divided across the spectrum. However, two conversations I’ve had in recent history have given me some new perspective on the whole issue…

The Feminine Outlook

I had a conversation with a woman recently who is concerned about her current weight. Two years out from bariatric surgery, she feels like she just isn’t succeeding. She remains 15 pounds away from her goal weight and “nothing is working.” Whenever she looks in the mirror she sees nothing but fat. She has no familial support, and what she feels more than anything is alone.

Her weight loss sin? She has “only” lost 95 pounds and kept it off for two years.

Give that a moment to sink in. This woman dropped 100 pounds and kept it off for two years, and considers herself a failure.

Needless to say, I encouraged her and told her the truth: she’s doing great. Goal weights are tools, nothing is set in stone, etc. But, all the while, I couldn’t help thinking about how I will feel if I successfully keep 100 pounds of weight off for two years.

Hint: I won’t be disappointed.

The Male Perspective

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a man whose wife reads Misdirected. She was “on his ass” about weight loss, and he wanted to share his opinions with me.

Just looking at him it was obvious that there was a problem here. This guy was, at a minimum, 70 pounds overweight. In fact, his build was almost identical to mine a year ago. Climbing a few steps from his entryway into his house left him winded. However, once he and I got settled in his man cave, he had a few things to say about the subject of his health.

Men in his family have always been heavy, he told me. He was active – he didn’t need to go to a gym! He could maybe stand to lose a few pounds, but surgery was just a stupid idea. No offense to me, of course.

All this while he worked his way through 4 beers in less than an hour. (I politely declined.) At lunch, he annihilated a plate twice the size of his wife’s in a couple minutes then began picking off her plate. Shortly thereafter I thanked him for his time and opinions and went on my way.

Somehow he remained blissfully ignorant that there might be a problem or two that needed to be addressed here. And I couldn’t help but think: This is me before last February, isn’t it?

The Can Gap

The sociology of why women believe they are overweight and men believe they are fit is beyond the scope of Misdirected. Many very intelligent people have looked into the issue and even they can’t arrive at a consensus.

But, the fact remains: we, as a species, are not seeing ourselves realistically. Women who have gone through lifestyle changes including bariatric surgery are thinking they have not done enough. Men who have given up wearing anything but 3x sweatpants are still flexing in front of mirrors.

So, instead of tackling this from a “body awareness” standpoint, or pulling out BMI charts, I want you to ask yourself a simple question.

Does your body allow you to do everything you want to do?

If the answer is no, you have a problem that should be met head-on. Stop making excuses and start making changes. Go talk to your doctor. Make an appointment with a nutritionist. Sign up for a session with a personal trainer. But do something that will point you towards what you really wish you could be doing.

If the answer is yes: Go do it. Stop looking in the mirror, stop worrying about sizes, stop obsessing over what people might think. Instead, go do the things you want to. Go sign up for dance lessons, climb that mountain, take that vacation. There is no “perfect body”. There are only bodies that can, or that can’t.

Make sure you are in the “Can” line.

Still Working On Moving Into The Can-Can Line,




(Fiction Friday:) Two For The Price Of One!

This morning I decided to get some ideas for my introduction to Steve Cotterill’s Fallen by looking at last week’s article. Only one problem: it wasn’t there.

So I went digging through my posts, expecting to find that I had once again written an article then forgotten to post it.


There is literally nothing there. Not an article, not a draft, nothing. I completely forgot to write an introduction to C. Charel Kunz’ Reborn last week.

Life with epilepsy: it’s a thing. But it’s a thing you won’t remember.

So, with sincere apologies to Ms. Kunz, here are two introductions to the latest properties from Ash Falls.


You all know my phobia about hospitals, yes? The emergency rooms, the operating theaters, the shared rooms where everyone speaks quietly to avoid disturbing the dying person in the next bed…yeah. Hospitals. Not my thing.

So, I will admit that the opening to Reborn scared me more than any other piece I have read associated with Ash Falls.

Loss of identity. Inutterable longing. Voices from beyond. And, through it all, completely evil hospital staff in a completely evil hospital. Did I say evil twice? I meant it.

This character and this setting belong in Ash Falls. No politics, no vampires, no werewolves. At least, not yet. Just some of the scariest atmospheric writing I have read in a long time. I put down the first episode and was this close to calling Ms. Kunz and demanding to know what happens next.

Reborn is now available at Fiction Vortex. And has been for two weeks, since I forgot to write it up last week. Sigh. I can’t promise it won’t happen again. Because, you know, epilepsy.

Apologies to the author. Again.


Horror has common themes, or “tropes.” It is one of those things that makes a new book in a specific genre easy to approach while you work out plot elements. There will be familiar sign posts along the way.

And then there is Fallen.

The protagonist is not at all what you would expect. In fact, he is a disembodied petty criminal of Kurdish descent. Get all that? I am not even giving up spoilers by telling you that: this is all established on the first page.

Then it gets really weird.

I have seen more of the character of Ash Falls in Fallen than in any other story I’ve read, including my own. Given that I created Ash Falls, that is kinda impressive. It is a view of the city from the bottom looking up. You thought Brian Drake was a broken character? He has nothing on Jay, the protagonist from Fallen. He takes existentialism to a whole new level.

The protagonist is most certainly not a “good guy.” There are a host of antagonists. Everything from familial relationships to social interactions is skewered. The primary bad guy erupts from the pages in an explosion of supernatural activity.

Seriously, take a look at Episode 1. You will never look at Ash Falls the same way again.

I know I sure didn’t.

Still Creeped Out,