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.