Keep Your Head Up

On Sunday I saw my wife had posted something on Facebook that really struck me. It was a “Share” of another friend’s “meme” graphic, and here it is:

'Princess' saying

I really liked it, but couldn’t stand the thought of reposting it myself because of the horrible punctuation. Plus, I couldn’t quite get into the “stars” background. I had a much more provocative picture in my head: how much more powerful would it be if I put the words together with the picture in my head?


After ignoring it for awhile as I worked, and finding the image in my mind wouldn’t go away (in part because I was also thinking about the horrific rape/murder of a young woman in Delhi, the capital of India), I checked Flickr’s “OK to Use” section and almost instantly found a photo that matched the picture in my head. I yanked it into my graphics software and came up with this:

'Princess' saying redone

I posted it on Facebook dedicated to my wife, with the caption:

Inspired by something my wife posted this morning, but it needed a photo (and fixed punctuation). SO many girls (and women) don’t think they’re worthy of being seen, or heard. Feel free to Like or Share this if you appreciate the strong women in your life.

…and it was an instant hit, with scores of women and men “Liking” it and sharing it on Facebook.

By the next morning, more than 200 people had Liked it, and more than 200 Shared it. According to Facebook, more than 2,000 people saw it. Comments included:

  • Thank you for posting this. every female needs reminded they are strong, and should be proud of themselves. —Nancy
  • What a wonderful tribute to me and all women. When I posted the one this morning that gave Randy the idea to redo it and share it as a tribute to me, my comment was that you can see what’s ahead of you better when your head is held up. I still like that idea. Thank you, Randy. —Kit (my wife)
  • I married my strong, independent, wife partially because she would do just as well in life without me than with me, yet she chose to do it with me anyway. —Chris
  • Real men are not intimidated by strong women. In fact, they appreciate and love them. —Louis
  • Thank you…so needed to be reminded of this today. —Donna


  • Randy Cassingham, Kit is a lucky lady. —Tiffany


Universally liked, then? Not in this world!

Three minutes after the posting, I commented on it myself: “I’ll hasten to add that it wasn’t my wife who messed up the punctuation in the original. :-)” — but it was too late.

One of my readers who reposted it on her own Facebook page got a bit of grief from one of her own friends.

“I like the photo, but I do find this husband’s action with it, the public criticism of his wife, unnecessary.” (emphasis added)


The reader pointed out to her friend that I had noted it wasn’t my wife’s punctuation that needed fixing, but her friend wouldn’t let it go.

“My point is simply that the public criticism of his wife is totally contrary to the point he is so gallantly trying to express. ‘Speak up, but I’m going to criticize you publicly for your mistakes?’ Know what I mean?”

The reader again told her friend she wasn’t getting it, so the friend then changed her criticism:

“I see it now, and I’m sure he’s a nice man and loving husband. But, I still don’t understand the need to criticize the abilities of any woman with the statement made in the picture.”

Choosing Offense

Sorry, but I just don’t see any criticism in the statement in the picture. None. Perhaps she’s talking about the caption saying I “fixed the punctuation” — but her assumption that it had to be a woman that created the original graphic just doesn’t compute. So what that it was more powerful, and more communicative? She couldn’t just look at the result and appreciate the idea; some people just have to choose to be offended, no matter what the sentiment.

What a sad way to go through life!

Thus this is a quick apology to the reader who was doing a feel-good gesture to spread joy — but was shot down by someone who just insisted on taking offense: she “got” to see just a little of the frustration of doing “battle” with someone who refuses to see what you’re trying to say (something I’ve grown very used to myself).

Life is short, hard, and often frustrating all by itself. What’s the point of trying to drag people down when it’s actually easier to lift them up? It’s all a matter of perspective. Or, as my wife put it when she posted the graphic in the first place: When you lift your head, “You can see what’s ahead better, too….”


My New Year’s Resolution is to be even more careful to look for, and appreciate, the positive in any situation. Even here: the reader’s friend prompted me to do the work to post this on my blog so that even more people could see it, and appreciate it, and maybe even be inspired by it. And that’s a positive thing!

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64 Comments on “Keep Your Head Up

  1. I agree that the punctuation was in error; in fact, besides the apostrophe, the comma seems to be the most improperly used punctuation mark.

    But among many others, it seems, I thought that the original statement with the photo was your wife’s. Rereading the original statement, I can see that is not what you said. I apologize for admonishing you on Facebook due to an incorrect interpretation on my part.

    Thanks, Cliff. You suggested there that I “rephrase it” — but Facebook doesn’t allow edits to posts, so I couldn’t. All I can do is add a comment, which I did within 3 minutes. -rc

  2. Just goes to show that some people will nitpick everything to death, and when told their interpretation is not correct, will dig in and fight.

    I can see how they might have read it as you criticizing Kit about it, but it’s silly that when you clarified they fought the clarification.

    I would probably have written the second line as “If you don’t, your crown will fall.” – “If not, […]” doesn’t seem quite right to me (it doesn’t flow properly to me), and my “internal editor” (I’m a professional writer as well) kinda looked sideways at it for a second before I beat him somewhat into submission. 😉

    I liked the poetic effect of the original, so I kept that. -rc

  3. It was a nice quote and a nice picture.

    As you noted, some people feel the need to nitpick everything to death, or find a reason to be offended by it. I’ve occasionally run across people like that, and have learned to distance myself from them.

    Some people are happy when they’re happy and miserable when they’re miserable. Other people are miserable when they’re happy and happy when they’re miserable. The two types don’t mix.

  4. Too true, some people are determined to miss the point and cannot be educated otherwise. I usually respond to such a person once and then walk away from the conversation.

    Life is too short to waste on the wilfully clueless.

  5. This is really fascinating to me, because I never assumed that Kit had written it. You said “posted”, not “written”, I just figured that’s what you meant. If people insist on jumping to conclusions. they are only going to get themselves in trouble and make themselves appear foolish. I, too, will rewrite a poorly written post before I post it — although sometimes I fail to proofread adequately and then have to go back and correct myself — like you, three minutes too late to avoid the JTCs (jumping to conclusionists).

  6. Randy, too many times women are told to keep their heads down. Unfortunately, we do, not realizing that others are afraid of the power of a straight gaze. Too often, we find the power of that straight gaze late, but never too late. If we are very lucky, we find someone who encourages us in that strength. I did, but not until I was 50.

  7. I am very active in my hobby and frequently send out mass emails about upcoming events. It never ceases to amaze me how critical people will get over the tiniest details. As my wife says to me “Overlook the obliviots!”

  8. I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m still blown away when I run into people like this. That level of closed-minded takes a lot of work! Just imagine how much better life would be if these people would apply that much effort to a positive purpose!

  9. The attitude of that one person brings to mind a favorite phrase of my mother’s: Some people would complain if you hung them with a new rope.

  10. Some people are simply not happy people in life & can only derive happiness by being critical of others. I love this wonderful meme & story! I am female, and I have daughters. The greatest asset a woman can have is self-confidence. (It took me until I was almost 40 to learn this.) Thank you, Randy.

  11. Funny that I did NOT see your comment about punctuation as a form of criticism other than a resistance to perpetuating it. Normally, just to share a picture, it’s more information than necessary, sounding like a rationalization, a justification. But in this case, you were describing an evolution. (Yes, the graphic is perfect for the sentiment.)

    Leo Notenboom (of “”) just wrote a dissertation about proper English, grammar, AND punctuation, in order to reduce/eliminate confusion. Remember the story about the panda who eats shoots and leaves? Blam, thanks for the sandwich, bye! Since Randy makes his living by his writing, he pays more attention to errors and avoids them assiduously. Of course, proper writing still requires good reading comprehension. And as we see in his example, some people read only part of something, eagerly jumping at a chance to be “offended.”

    And I love the graphic. I’m a Type A personality and a timid woman would be steamrollered by me. It takes a strong woman to SHARE our lives together. But she still likes reassurance occasionally. (So do I.) I’m showing this to her that she’s earned her crown, not simply had it given to her.

  12. My wife was one of those ladies who didn’t realize she was a princess. I spent forty years trying to convince her of the truth. I hope she knew before she left.

    She knew, even if she didn’t admit it out loud. -rc

  13. Perhaps I am one of the “wilfully clueless” [sic] that Don, California bemoans. Or the nit-pickers that others are deriding. I didn’t misunderstand his reason for making the grammatical correction, nor did I think that Randy was criticizing Kit. And I don’t think that correcting errors, especially on the republication of any text, is a criticism. It’s generally a good idea.

    On the other hand, I don’t fully agree with the comments above. One of Randy’s constant messages, in This Is True, is that details matter. If anyone can be accused of being a nitpicker, I think Randy can. That’s one of the reasons that I appreciate his work and viewpoint! I think he is fully justified in criticizing his critics — those who didn’t read carefully, and won’t think logically. While there may be a difference between nitpicking and careful analysis, either one is better than obliviousness.

    Caring about the details doesn’t mean you have a sad life (I’ll offer Randy’s life as evidence). But if you are going to be a nitpicker, then pay attention, think before you speak/write, and get the details right!

    To be sure, I didn’t say it was sad to nitpick (or, to say that more positively, to be a perfectionist). Rather, it’s sad to choose to be so negative that you must find a way to take offense when there’s clearly none intended, and in fact the message is very positive. There is a big difference between the two approaches. -rc

  14. Randy, as long as Kit got your message, ignore the ones who find fault. Men who like strong women in their lives will continue to find them. Strong women need to help other women be stronger and true to themselves and realize men are not needed just to fulfill their lives.

  15. Hmmm! I’ve always been able to delete an entry. So, for editing, immediately after posting, I copy the whole post, then delete it, and start a new one with my edits after I paste. Have they changed the rules now? Maybe I’m WAY behind like I am in other areas!

    Yes, I could have deleted and reposted, but you’ll notice that even though I only took 3 minutes to comment, it wasn’t the first comment! There were already quite a few Likes and Shares by then, so if I had deleted, a lot of momentum would have been lost. Oh well: press ahead! -rc

  16. I tend to be like you, “fixing” grammar before forwarding many, many emails. The difference is that I never say anything about it. I just do it.

    I usually don’t either. That might change to “never”! -rc

  17. I prefer the original version. I’m not sure why, maybe because I find the cosmos more inspiring than people, maybe because I’ve learnt to associate images like in your remake with requests by a myriad charities for money, maybe because the original just looks more professional somehow.

    I can accept everything but “more professional”! Pros don’t punctuate like high school dropouts. -rc

  18. Love the new graphic! It conveys more of the message than the original one.
    However, I prefer the original words, font style, and font color. They seem more regal to me.
    My 2¢. YMMV.

  19. Besides sharing senses of humor and outrage, you and I also share the compulsion to correct grammar and punctuation. It’s one affliction I would never, ever wish cured.

  20. Thanks for this statement: “What’s the point of trying to drag people down when it’s actually easier to lift them up?”

    This is something I’m mindful of in my life and I look for excuses to help and encourage others, even if it’s just to tell them how good they look today. You put it so succinctly and simply, I’m going to share this quote around. With full credit to you, of course 🙂

  21. It seems to me that feminists sometimes do their (very fine) cause no good at all by taking offence at things where no offence is intended.

    I posted a humorous remark on another forum about likes and dislikes and I wrote about beer. As a lady contributor had written about chocolate I wrote, “Men will often drink beer when they’re not thirsty as women will often eat chocolate when they’re not hungry” — which I thought was a clear enough exposition of the attractions of the two comestibles.

    To my surprise I received a reply from a feminist lady who accused me of making fun of women. I replied trying to make the point that my posting was a joke and, wow, did I get it in the ear from her and other feminists for suggesting that humour about women did not necessarily demean them. By the time the moderators closed the thread the exchange had become truly vitriolic.

    But I suggest that she did not help her feminist cause by her extreme and aggressive response.

    If your comment about women is “offensive” (and I don’t think it is), then the comment about men in the same sentence is even more so (and I don’t think it is, either!) Another good example at someone insisting on taking offense, rather than choosing not to. -rc

  22. Been telling my daughter this (well, something like it) all her life. The only trouble has been convincing her to ease up sometimes, but she is doing a great job of putting balance in her life as she matures. She was an outstanding wrestler in high school and college until an injury sidelined her, and easily stands up for herself — and anyone else who needs help.

    Yep: some princesses wrestle! 🙂 -rc

  23. I have two comments about this issue.

    The first is a reply to Jenifer from Moorpark, CA. One of my favorite quotes that I found online is to “Never argue with a fool. They’ll just drag you down to their level and beat you through experience.”

    The second is a memory I have of a man who used to listen to a discussion and ALWAYS pick the other side. He enjoyed playing “devil’s advocate” and would encourage some really lively debates. Unfortunately, that is not possible when writing comments as the visual quirks of the writer cannot be seen nor the voice inflection heard. These “tells” would notify the listener of the person’s intent. Are they playing the advocate or are they truly “obliviots”? (I love that title, by the way). If the person doing this critique was playing a game, there is no way to know. I do tend to side with you, Randy, in that he/she is just incapable of understanding the written word and looking for anyway possible to drag others down.

    I do sometimes do the “devil’s advocate” thing, usually by asking questions. Sometimes people don’t like the questions, but it’s the answers that are important. -rc

  24. I love the sentiment/message that your corrected version conveyed and am shocked that anyone would think that the original version which is grammatical/logical nonsense — how does instructing someone to pick up their “head princess” — not certain who that is, but grammatically CANNOT be be the person addressed — have anything to do with the crown falling — with two periods at the end of the sentence — I guess that really ends it!

    Your correction not only makes grammatical sense there is the delightful play on words -s good job my friend. Your critics might actually earn their own story in “True.”

  25. Maybe it is just because I am under 45 and raised after the demonization of the male gender, but 99% of the women I know are certainly NOT afraid to speak their mind, and the rest are all autistic.

    Oh yeah, I am autistic too. And fully understand the general fear of human beings that often comes with that disorder.

    I’d guess that you’re overestimating the confidence of the women around you. I sure don’t find 99% of them (or men!) to freely speak their minds. A lot are very shy. -rc

  26. Shouldn’t “princess” be capitalised as a proper noun? 🙂

    Nope. Look up “proper noun” and see why. One might capitalize it as a title, but that’s not the way it’s used here. -rc

  27. The original didn’t do much for me, but I liked your version. And speaking of strong women, here’s a quote from my ex-wife (and best friend) that I think fits:

    “If I can leave you with one thing it would be this: Live life with your heart and your mind. Those are the two most powerful organs. And have the courage to show the world your soul. Put it out there — some people will love it, some will hate it, but at least you took the risk. And that’s what matters.”
 –Shirley Kirk 2009

    BTW, we’re both computer artists.

  28. i like your version randy. i’ve seen too many women walking arond looking down and slumping through their days. i’ve taught both my wife and daughter “head up, shoulders squared, back sraight and look the world straight in the eyes.”

  29. I’m a reviewer/blogger, and in my “world” over the past year there has been a LOT of dissension as a few of those who enjoy creating drama and dissent have gone on a witch hunt against authors who are (in their words) “behaving badly” (or, in MY words, acting like, you know, humans…). So this whole situation really resounds with me. This is EXACTLY the sort of thing those people who pick as an excuse to go after an author (Randy, better watch your back if you ever go into Goodreads! *laugh*). And your statement: “What’s the point of trying to drag people down when it’s actually easier to lift them up?” This is something I have been trying to explain to my followers and people I know — even sometimes the people responsible for the witch hunts. But the saying not to argue with the fools — they WILL beat you with their experience — it is true. Better to walk away.

    Let’s hope this next year is better all around.

    Well, you can walk away, Katy, or you can use their whining as fodder on your own terms, on your blog, to illustrate a point. It helps to set the tone: is your blog a place for whiny grumps, or a place for thoughtful adult conversation? -rc

  30. Thanks. Loved the meme, even more loved the resolution… especially since it’s half of my 2013 resolution too! Mine is to find the positive in everything and to be more like a cat — if I want/need something I am going to not only seek it but also ask for it, not just hope others will realise it’s what I’m looking for!

    A nice addition. -rc

  31. All this, over something so innocent?

    Only one conclusion: Randy, you’re a troublemaker!!!

    Not just innocent, but overtly positive! -rc

  32. This is a bit off-topic from the original thread, but my late husband was a big fan of yours, and seeing this discussion caused me to think of him and how much I miss him. I always knew how he felt about me, and I think, had he lived to see this, he might have forwarded the original posting to me, as he would often do such things. So, I’m considering your posting as a message from him, too. (You get to play “angel messenger” today ;^) )

    Re: the topic of looking for offense where none exists, I’ve occasionally been guilty of that, but usually have the sense to realize and acknowledge it when someone points it out to me.

    Still working on keeping my head up, but it gets better with time. Thanks, Kit, too.

    Glad to be a special messenger. Just don’t tell me your husband’s name was Randy! 🙂 -rc

    Update: Kit popped me a note later on Facebook to say no, her husband’s name wasn’t Randy, but, rather, Andy! -rc

  33. Along with Dick from San Francisco, I also share the compulsion to correct grammar and punctuation. It’s one affliction I would also never wish cured, although my two girls bemoaned it (until they became adults themselves).

    Now their children do the same! The circle continues, with quite a few grammatically proficient humans resulting.

    Just not enough! -rc

  34. I seem to find a particular song that’s somehow applicable to just about ANY topic, and as I read these comments, one plays in my mind now. “Hold Your Head Up” by Argent (1973).

    “And if they stare, just let them burn their eyes on you moving. And if they shout, don’t let them change a thing that you’re doing.”

  35. I recently had a Facebook exchange with another Oregon woman about ATV (Quad) safety. I sold them for many years and as such was schooled and learned MUCH about them. This woman made statements that were simply wrong. I pointed them out and she dug in for a 4 day long fight. I gave up after 3 days and her Facebook “friends” fought on. There were well beyond 200 posts and about half were hers — mostly repeating her imagined “facts” — which were, in fact, against all laws of physics. The content really matters not. Just the lesson that there are folks out there that will simply not admit they are wrong. 🙂

  36. I have no criticism of your punctuation edit, but…

    The expression “the crown” in the original appears to me to refer NOT to a piece of royal jewelry worn on the head, but is a synecdoche for the royal institution itself, or perhaps the dynasty. The original as posted is more of a dire warning than the “your crown” version.

    Perhaps (though I doubt it!) But if so, I consider that part of my efforts to improve it — to make it much more evocative. -rc

  37. On *this* side of the pond, I guess we would phrase it slightly differently – e.g “Chin up, Princess, or your crown will fall off.”

    Oh, and for Dennis, PA, (above) a person would be hanged, not hung. [A tip of the hat to Leo]

  38. I like the original picture more for a couple of reasons. When I saw the first one what went immediately through my mind was to reach for the stars. The second reason is because it doesn’t show a person, it allows the reader to inject themselves as the princess and not have a set standard of what a princess is, regardless of race, age or even physical beauty or deformities.

  39. Thank you for a great thread and excellent discussion, and for a beautifully improved message! I too feel sad for those that choose discord. I try to live by the philosophy “don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s ALL small stuff.” That lets me live and let live in comfort. Thank you too for This is True. I hope someday that my finances will allow me to become a premium subscriber, but until then will continue to enjoy your great eye for irony! Happy New Year!

  40. Strong women are feared by weak men, as is evidenced by all the laws against women’s rights. Yes, keep your head high!

  41. I guess I tend to be a bit more pessimistic (or possibly to accuracy obsessed), but while I like your corrections of the text, I think a better picture for it would be of a young girl walking with her head looking at her feet.

    I think too many people, not just females, let themselves be put down. But I’m also really tired of the obliviots strutting around with their noses in the air looking down on everyone else. This applies to nearly all politicians and way to many actors and actresses.

    I’d also like a version along the lines of “Not only will your crown fall off if you point your nose to far up, but you’re more likely to step in something while walking!” Maybe with a picture of a banana peel or a field with a herd of cows in it. 😉

    Yes, too many people (not just women) let themselves be put down. Looking down on others/being snooty is taking it to the other extreme. Neither extreme is healthy. -rc

  42. I consider myself lucky to have had one friend in my life that I could depend on taking everything I said the right way, no matter now outrageous the statement. She knew I loved her and would never, ever intend to hurt her. She moved to England years ago and I still miss her terribly. She left a hole that has yet to be filled.

    It’s “easy” — “all” you have to do is find someone who needs that kind of friend, and be that to them. -rc

  43. I like the sentiment. Even strong women need to be reminded of their strength from time to time. I realize that a writer said that they change punctuation etc prior to posting but don’t say anything about it. (I do the same.) Your response, as I read it, indicated that you may do the same in the future, based on on the fuss it has caused. A couple of comments later, your response to the writer finding the original more professional is what I want to comment on. I think that describing the skills of the poster as those of a high school drop out was unnecessary and unkind. Your intent of encouraging women has been clearly stated. We don’t know if the writer was a man or a woman, but clearly their intent was the same as yours. I just don’t get why you find it necessary to criticize anyone so publicly over a few misplaced punctuation marks. That all being said, I enjoy This is True very much. I wish you and yours all the best in 2013.

    You misread my comment. Someone said they found what is agreed to be horrible punctuation to be “professional”. I disagreed, saying that “Pros don’t punctuate like high school dropouts.” And they don’t. Simple as that. -rc

  44. Here’s a thought on that.

    (visually impaired: young guy says to young girl “yeah well ok so he wasn’t criticizing his WIFE but it was some gal’n you can’t correct’em or they get mad …” and then the young girl gets him with a left hook)
    I don’t recommend left hooks to anyone as a comeback, since there are polite ways to correct others, but it’s a cartoon. Meanwhile, if someone is affirming the female right to a good self-image, it is counterproductive to imply that women can’t take criticism, even if the original post was possibly from a man, even if the original post was formatted differently, and even if the format wasn’t the point of the post in the first place. The idea of “Keeping Your Crown On” is a good one. Thanks for posting it, to both Cassinghams.

    Excellent point. (And to be sure, we don’t know the gender of the original image’s creator — nor do I think it much matters.) -rc

  45. Many years ago, my wife was pursuing a college degree in Child Development. During that study, she was astounded to find that a high percentage of children entering Kindergarten have a high level of self-esteem. (I’ve forgotten the actual percentages over the years.) However, by Second Grade, those children have been systematically reduced in their self-esteem to a pathetically low percentage.

    Remembering my own years in school (and not necessarily just myself as the “victim”, but also many others), plus putting MY 4 kids through school, it’s a highly believable fact. I couldn’t say whether such institutional destruction is a deliberate part of the curriculum to “mainstream” our children, or whether it’s nothing more than the innate nature of teachers and administrators to exercise their own “right” to bully over those placed in their charge. Since not all teachers are natural bullies, I’m more inclined to believe it’s our institutional culture. An equalization to the lowest common denominator.

    Think about it. How OFTEN are we admonished not to think “too highly” of ourselves, that we’re no better than anyone else, and that we should simply accept our lot in life that we’re just part of the crowd? Even as adults?

    I have self-esteem to spare. (Trust me!) And I’m quite happy to let anyone absorb some of it from me for their own self-esteem. So I’m even more surprised at the number of “professional victims” I’ve met who not only have little self-esteem, but resent anyone else who does. And demands that everyone reduce themselves to the same “victim” status. You’ve met them. Those are “bullies” of a different nature. They throw tantrums because life is unfair and it’s important that you give them credit for their failures in life. Perhaps those are the ones that gravitate to the institutional culture in our schools.

    And while it affects all of us, women are still subject to more of it, even in the 21st century.

  46. Maybe it is the autism, but I don’t see a problem with too little self-esteem anywhere in neurotypical society. If anything, normal people are far too good at speaking their mind and hurting others whenever they do so. That’s where bullying comes from, huge numbers of people with far more self esteem than their talents would support. It is also at the core of most criminal behavior, as well as all that aristocratic nonsense.

    We can’t support 300 million chiefs, some people need to be Indians — and there should be equal honor in following as well as leading.

    Why the disrespect for those who have no self-esteem for themselves? What, in short, is wrong with actually helping society instead of being a greedy psychopath?

    I’ll just repeat what I said above: “Looking down on others/being snooty is taking it to the other extreme. Neither extreme is healthy.” -rc

  47. As with the majority of people who have posted a comment here, I agree that the “corrected” punctuation has greatly improved the impact of the message.

    To those people who have suggested “improvements” to the image that Randy posted, did you follow his course of action and post your “improved” version as a means to propagating the message? Randy did state his approval of his meme being shared, so why not take this as tacit approval for doing what he did with what he originally viewed?

    The background image and the font are not important here. It is the message that we should be spreading as far and wide as possible by whatever means we have available to us.

    A great suggestion. It’s obviously not proprietary to me: anyone could do what I did. If any of you think you can improve on it, then do so! -rc

  48. I am also a stickler for grammar and appreciate the changes. The background means less to me than the message. And I have gotten a good laugh off of this thread, especially the comment about women and chocolate vs. men and beer. I am surprised that any feminist would take offense to that when ‘all those alcoholic men’ in the statement are willing to let it go.

    That being said, I am very tempted to use that comment on my own daughter. She has rather low self esteem, due mostly to a series of (neuro-related) learning and social issues. She is so easily frustrated by her issues, and admittedly I can be also. I have told her (and others) how I am more inspired by her than by any adult I know — she works twice as hard as any other child just to keep up, and that is admirable. I hope one day she realizes how wonderful of a trait that is, and how much she deserves to hold her head high.

  49. Loved the photo, the changes you made, and the idea behind it. It isn’t that life is too short, it is that death is too long….

  50. What would be your reaction, and that of your readers, if the gender were reversed in the picture and caption?

    We all need affirmation and support, but do you think one gender needs it more than the other? I don’t believe in a weaker sex!

    No, but men tend to be more confident than women (even when they aren’t as good as they think!) But yes, the message applies to a lot of men, too. Except maybe they’d prefer not to be addressed as “princess.” 🙂 -rc

  51. I think it would apply equally (well, not quite for the word princess). All people need to keep their heads up. However, women tend to be the more oppressed gender — especially in either domestic abuse relationships or in countries where women are considered less valuable. And some women thrive on these reminders more than men. But we are all equal and should all stand proud.

  52. This is the first time I’ve actually considered unsubscribing since I first got the newsletter in 1994 (I think). I’m only jumping into the fray to say this… The topic of publicly criticizing someone might have missed the point of your graphic but the diatribe about someone on their opinion about it was worse. I understood the initial meaning of your post, that the original graphic was not created by your wife and didn’t initially take it as an offensive thing to say, but to follow up what could have been a positive conversation with calling this WOMAN nitpicky in her opinion is antithetical to the initial point your graphic made. It’s like you’re saying, “Hold your head up but keep your opinions to yourself” or “Look up, Princess, so we can see your pretty face…but keep your mouth shut.” I know this is not really how you feel, but after reading your comments and those of your readers, I was left was an uneasy feeling. I’m not acting on my initial disgust at this diatribe by unsubscribing. I am just going to try to forget it. Sometimes what you mean and what you express can be two very different things. This is true of both what you say and what you choose to omit.

    Exercising self esteem doesn’t mean one is exempt from all criticism. Someone who goes out of their way to infringe on someone else deserves to be called out for it. Remember the bottom line of this page: Life is hard enough without going to effort to make it worse for others. There is no “diatribe”, just commentary. -rc

  53. Sorry to comment twice, but I had an addendum to my initial comment… You stated a few times that “Looking down on others/being snooty is taking it to the other extreme. Neither extreme is healthy.” I got the impression from most comments on this page, both your comments and those of your readers, that lots of groups of people were being looked down upon in the process of proving yourselves correct in your opinions: Women, for having the audacity to be offended; feminists, for being offended too often for the tastes of others; people with poor grammar; people who read your comments incorrectly; people with low self esteem. If your intended purpose was to lift people up, what’s with calling them obliviots for disagreeing with you? Your readers seem to really dislike people with low self esteem, I would have thought those people were the intended audience for the message in the graphic…Instead most of the comments seem to be people with high self esteem patting each other on the back or talking poorly about those that have low self esteem, like it’s something completely under their control.

    There is a massive difference between criticizing someone for who they are (based on gender, nationality, race, etc.) and questioning what they do. -rc

  54. No, Carol, those of us with high self-esteem look down upon those who would demand that OTHERS remain in their own lack of self-esteem. Often, those OTHERS are people with low self-esteem, themselves, and for whatever reason, seem determined to keep it that way. Those are the ones I refer to as “professional victims.”

    As Arnie said in that movie, “Come with me if you want to live.” But don’t expect me to join you in your pit, nor should you take offense for my refusal. It’s not my place to decide what’s best for you; only to offer you an option if you choose. It IS your choice, after all.

  55. I think part of the problem is like the word appropriate. I have problems with the definition of self-esteem. So in my autistic way, I judge by the results. The result of having high self-esteem is arrogance. The result of having low self-esteem is humility. Given the reputation of America being filled with arrogant people hurting each other with their arrogance, is it any wonder that somebody might see high self esteem as the problem?

    And yes, despite my autism, I do realize that the above statement is in and of itself quite arrogant.

    I don’t see it quite the same way. I believe it is more of a continuum, with negatives on both ends (for instance, to use your terms, arrogance at one end, and humility at the other). Healthy self-esteem is in the middle, not at either end, aka the “extremes”. -rc

  56. Indignation can be an addiction (… that idea I got from David Brin, the SF writer/scientist).

    I know *I* enjoy a hit of indignation now and then, and it really pumps me up, but some people just can’t quit it, perhaps explaining the inappropriate responses to your post.

    Great quote. Brin can be pretty insightful. -rc

  57. To Mike from Dallas: Regarding your comment about self esteem dropping between Kindergarten and 2nd grade, have you ever read any of John Taylor Gatto’s work? Dumbing us Down and Weapons of Mass Instruction are perhaps two of his best books.

  58. On the recommendation of Tor in Hawaii, I looked up the two titles, Dumbing Us Down and Weapons of Mass Instruction, by John Taylor Gatto, on the internet. Interestingly, there are free downloads of both in PDF format. Thank you, Tor; they’re very informational.
    With my own experiences going through school all over the U.S., my children’s experiences through school, also all over the U.S., and my wife’s work with children, and now my children facing the same issues with my grandchildren in school, it’s necessary to have as much information and viewpoint as possible. As problematic as our public education system may be, it’s still better than none. Still, it’s paramount to be informed to prevent our children from simply being steamrollered into malleable little robots for adulthood.

  59. I happened to see this item in “The Lookout” titled Anonymous and encouraging message posted in university restroom in which women have publicly posted some of the bad experiences they’ve endured. And an anonymous reply of encouragement to them.

    I’m sure that, from a woman’s perspective, it’s a reassurance of their own self-worth. But from a guy’s perspective it says that only from the validation of OTHERS does a person own any self-worth. With that in mind, it occurs to me that it’s a cultural tenet that women are raised and programmed to believe that they must be validated by others. Without feedback, they’d be incapable of relying upon themselves for survival or worse, be like men with “too much” confidence. After all, it’s inconceivable that a woman could survive without the protection of a man, right?

    Even in the 21st century in America, our Grandmaster insisted that my wife should appoint a male in the role of Chief Instructor at our dojo as no one would want to be trained by a female Black Belt instructor. (Strange that, to the contrary, our membership continued to increase with a mostly male patronage.)

  60. @Mike From Dallas: Yes, it is a cultural tenet. But in early child education, there is a genetic bit to it as well. Female human beings are born craving attention from parental figures more than most men are. A good parent will use that tendency to build up a girl’s character, give her that inner strength she needs to hold her head up high. A bad parent will use exactly the same tendency to tear a girl down and make her entire self-worth external. The WORST parents will use that tendency to raise a girl to be a sex slave, only happy when she is pleasing her master.

    And thus we get the commercialized sex trade — from women who have NO internal sense of self-worth, and the dirt scumbags who prey on such women.

  61. Randy, you are wrong. It was rude and unnecessary to even mention that YOU had to fix it. I didn’t realize all this time you felt you were so superior.
    You ruined the sentiment by avenging the distruction of proper English. You took someone else’s idea and “fixed” it. Well I guess you built a better mousetrap. Congrats.

    You forgot to put a blank space between your paragraphs, and you misspelled “destruction”. -rc

  62. @TedfromBeaverton: “Female human beings are born craving attention from parental figures more than most men are.” Utter codswallop. It would appear (judging from the juxtaposition of “female human beings” just born with “men”) that you’re taking popular notions of adult social norms and projecting backwards.

    Besides, isn’t all this “princess” and “crown” hoohaw just a reinforcing of reactionary stereotypes providing a fairy tale sheen to what was a repressive and authoritarian sociopolitical and economic system? Life ain’t no bleeding Disney movie; if you want to model true toughness, look to a peasant’s wife, not some whiny aristo’s get.


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