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Former model Anna Nicole Smith is not the only overweight bodacious babe out there [TELEVISION, July 22]. Writer Joel Stein said, "Despite the fact that she weighs more than 200 lbs., Smith is still beautiful and sexy enough to make men do" what she wants. I too weigh more than 200 lbs. and, like Smith, I can make men do pretty much what I want. There are many women like us walking around. It's all about what a woman exudes, not what her scale says she weighs. Though stereotypes about fat women are alive and well, it's a shame that TIME plays a part in propagating them.
Praise for a Corporate Scold
I appreciated your interview with activist Ralph Nader [10 QUESTIONS, Aug. 5]. Nader's powerful intelligence, grace and wit never cease to impress the open mind. His insights into the serious imbalances and blind spots of the American corporate structure are penetrating, yet he is surprisingly optimistic and even humorous at times. We desperately need leaders like Nader truly in touch with the fundamental realities that are shaping our lives and our world and courageous enough to speak up strongly.
Tim Padgett reported on the political movement in Bolivia and elsewhere in South America to let the growth of coca leaves flourish, even though they are the raw material of cocaine [LETTER FROM BOLIVIA, Aug. 5]. Despite the fact that it is American citizens who abuse drugs, the U.S. government targets the farmers who grow coca rather than the users of cocaine. Other countries are told that they are responsible for restricting drugs supplied to the U.S., but it is clear that without a market here, the farmers, drug cartels and pushers would have no one to buy the products of their coca leaves. When will the U.S. understand that the government can't stop people from taking drugs? And when will the U.S. stop spending taxpayer dollars to force the rest of the world to accept our values?
Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.
On a recent trip to South America, I found coca leaves sold everywhere in the market, at the store, on the streets. But they are sold as "an anesthetic and a salubrious chew." The porters I hired chewed these leaves to alleviate pain or sickness while hiking the steep trails. Chewing coca leaves is as much a part of South America's culture as drinking Coca-Cola is to ours. Eradicating coca-leaf farms would be stamping out part of another culture. Getting rid of coca leaves will not miraculously eliminate cocaine as a problem.