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Me and Skeeter Phelan

Monday, January 16, 2012

This is in reference to "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett, which is the book on which the movie is based. In August, with Hurricane Irene approaching, I bought the book so I would have something to keep me busy if we lost power for several days. I was interested in seeing the movie and thought it would make the movie a better experience if I read the book first.

Fortunately, we did not lose power. I started to read the book and then found it on audiobooks. I borrowed the audio book from the library so I could read and listen at the same time.

The book was great. I did not see the movie until a few weeks ago, and I loved it as well. Yes, reading the book first definitely made the movie better for me. Very often the movie is not as good as the book. In this case, the movie stayed pretty true to the book. Of course, some details were left out.

One of the details that was left out concerned Skeeter, the white woman who led the effort to have the maids (the help) tell their stories. In the book, Skeeter's mother was horrified when she returned home from college without a husband or boyfriend. At 5'9", she was awkward. Her height made her undesirable to men who were shorter than her, which was well over half the male population. When she straightened her hair with a home remedy, her mother was thrilled because it made her look shorter, and she could actually wear heels for a date.

Oh man, could I relate to all of this!! I am 5'10". I was the butt of a lot of jokes about my height when I was growing up. I can still hear "How's the weather up there?". I was also was also awkward and self-conscious, and the added height didn't help. Although my parents always told me to be proud of my height and never made me feel bad about it (after all, it was a result of their genetics, but still, they always told me to be proud of it), I never was. I probably would have given almost anything to be shorter.

Somehow, when I graduated college, that all changed. There was no specific reason for it It was like I had an epiphany. While I wouldn't say that I was proud to be tall, I became ok with it, and I actually came to like being tall.. Being tall means you can breathe in crowded elevators. Being tall means you can reach for items on high shelves. Being tall also means that you can carry your weight a little better. However, it also means that if you don't watch yourself, you can easily become very heavy. I am not sure what my ideal weight is, but it may be as high as 170 and definitely not lower than 150. A short person would consider those numbers very high.

I could also relate to the idea of the mother being upset when Skeeter did not have a husband (or a prospective one) when she finished school. I think my parents felt the same way about me, even though I may have read into this too much. Skeeter's mom could have cared less about the career she wanted to pursue. My parents did not feel that way.

Again, you will not get this sense from the movie alone. I highly recommend reading the book. Needless to say, this was not the central issue. Just something I personally could relate to. The book will definitely make you think, as will the movie. Octavia Spencer just won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Minny, and it is well deserved. She narrates Minny on the audio book and does just as great a job.

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
MJK0430 6/6/2012 12:01PM

    Thanks! I loved the movie and after reading your blog I now want/need to read the book. My dd is 5' and would give anything for some added height. I guess it's all in our perspective.

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SWAZY33 1/19/2012 6:00AM

    I loved the book! and haven't seen the movie yet but want to!
My daughter is 5'9 and she hates it also...I keep telling her to stand proudly but she always says she wishes she was shorter...she is, I hope she has an epiphany like you and embraces her tall beauty like you have!

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SIMPLELIFE4REAL 1/17/2012 5:33PM

    I'm glad to hear you liked the movie after reading the book. I agree that so often the movie can be such a disappointment when it's based on a great book like The Help.
I look forward to watching it.

I'm 5'3" and would love to be taller. My husband calls me "vertically impaired" and I'm always having to remind him not to push things back from the edge on the upper shelf in our kitchen....otherwise I have to get a stool to get them down. I think being taller...male or female....helps so much in the business world too.

Times have changed a lot....being a tall woman is now a GOOD thing....not like it was in the '50's, 60's or 70's.

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ZELLAZM 1/17/2012 3:25PM

    Thanks for the insights. It is one of the few newer movies I'd like to see, and now you've inspired me to read the book as well. And thanks for sharing your "tallness" struggle and how you've overcome it. Made me smile!

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JULIENMM 1/17/2012 2:39PM

    I am right in the middle of reading the book, so this is very timely for me. I can't wait to see how the book ends and then go see the movie, too.

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ITS_MY_TURN_NOW 1/16/2012 9:52PM

    The Help has been officially added to my To Be Read list. Thank you. I happen to be one of those people that is as my daughter says "vertically challenged". LOL I have trouble reaching things and breathing in crowded spaces and have always wished to be taller! LOL nice blog!

Comment edited on: 1/16/2012 9:52:50 PM

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FUTUREHOPE49 1/16/2012 7:40PM

    Thank you for the review! I haven't read the book or seen the movie yet!

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AAEEFDCA 1/16/2012 4:39PM

    I have read the book and just saw the movie. Defiantly agree to read the book first. I grew up in that time and both brought back a lot of memories.

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GRANNYSUE9 1/16/2012 2:45PM

    I haven't read the book or seen the movie, although a lot of people say they are both good. Will put them on my "to do" list. I am 5'4" and I always wished I was taller. Guess we are just never satisfied are we? Enjoyed your blog. Thanks for sharing.

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MARTHASPARKS 1/16/2012 1:38PM

    I rad the book first and saw the movie and LOVED both. I'm Southern born and bred and appreciated the sensitivity used in portraying a sensitive issue and a time of great upheaval in the South. I was 5'9 but have shrunk 2 inches because of osteoporosis. I wish I had my 2 inches back...less weight to lose!

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RAYLINSTEPHENS 1/16/2012 11:58AM

    I have the book - and the movie - and will get to them after the series I am currently reading.

Being short is no picnic either - but I don't bump my head, lol, and I have several step stools!

I "liked" your blog today!

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MARTY19 1/16/2012 11:47AM

    Loved the book and the movie.
I am only 5'3" and I have always wished I were taller. My tall friends never had to hem clothes, could carry extra weight better and looked elegant. I guess it depends on which side of the fence you are on LOL!


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WINKERDINK 1/16/2012 10:14AM

    First- wonderful book! The movie was excellent too!

I had to laugh at your height observations. Being able to breathe in a crowded elevator, what's that like? Being able to reach things on top shelves, my wooden spoon and tongs are my best friends in the kitchen, they scoot things out and then I try to catch them as they fall!!! Every extra pound can be seen when you're 5'3"!
How about the nickname "Squat"? Attractive picture?

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LESLIECOY 1/16/2012 9:56AM

    I saw the movie first...then read the book. And Loved both !
The book explained so much that the movie could not.
I was Born in Alabama - and a true GRIT - Girl Raised In the South .
So many changes in my many more to come ! It is Amazing when you think about it ! Esp. today on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Huge Congrats to Octavia Spencer !

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