Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bettie Page

The Notorious Bettie Page. Do you know who she is? Do you know that she has suffered with mental illness her entire life? In her late 50's she was jailed for stabbing her roommate (and 2 other people at an earlier date) while claiming that God told her to do so. Although, with the changes in paparazzi, news, & publications, that little fact is much lesser known by the general public, and came to light after so many had forgotten her already.

Bettie Page (or Betty Page as she was legally known)changed the world of pin-up models. She was the first S&M model, and as such gained the attention of the government. After a ban on such prints, most photos of Bettie during that time were destroyed.

Sometime yesterday, I believe, Ms. Page slipped into a coma. Her time here is almost over, and yet her story is still unknown. "The Real Bettie Page: The Truth about the Queen of Pinups" is an unauthorized account of Bettie's life. Though, more truthful (most believe) than the ones she did approve. It is a dark story, told almost in a way that makes you want to dislike the woman.

How many women go through life with mental illness and nothing is done? Either because they are afraid to speak about their feelings, or because they are unaware that the things they feel aren't normal. Bettie Page was flocked by minders who claimed to have her best interests at heart, yet she was still able to stab a woman 40 times because, 'God told her to'.

That was 40 years ago. Mental illness was much lesser known. And, there was a much larger stigma attached to it. That stigma is still there, and it's our fault.
Every time we look at someone and dismiss them as a nut, or a whackjob, or a loon...we are widening the gap. Every woman that hears the words, "You're Crazy!" while she's reeling from emotions even she can't understand, is broken a little bit more. We just took away another chance to help her.

Talk to the people around you. Do you have a friend that you think is dealing with something a little deeper than the usual crap life throws at us? Remind her that your phone works 24/7, Show up at her doorstep with a couple starbucks & a deck of cards, send her an email that doesn't include the header, "FWD". But most of all, simply show her that you have a shoulder for her to cry on and when she says she needs help..Do Something. Don't give up if she does, and she may, hiding and denial are part of the disease. Fight for your friend. You may be the only one doing so.

1 comment:

ladyfi said...

Good post! It is shameful how many women had mental illnesses about 50 yrs ago, and yet nothing was done to help them!