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Marni: My True Story of Stress, Hair-Pulling, and Other Obsessions (Louder Than Words) Paperback – June 26, 2009

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Marni: My True Story of Stress, Hair-Pulling, and Other Obsessions (Louder Than Words) + The Hair Pulling "Habit" and You: How to Solve the Trichotillomania Puzzle, Revised Edition + Help for Hair Pullers: Understanding and Coping with Trichotillomania
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Marni Bates is a freshman at Lewis & Clark College. She wrote her first novel, That's Debatable, between filling out college applications and is currently looking for an agent. She loves writing and hopes to do it professionally throughout her life. Marni was recommended for this series by the The Oregon Writing Project at Willamette University.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

I have a ton of irrational fears. I refuse to cross streets without a clear sign that it is my turn to walk. I am afraid of driving because I have trouble telling my left from my right. I am scared of snakes, spiders, beef jerky, unnaturally-colored foods (like Jell-O), and technology in its many forms. I also fear spandex. Don't ask me why. What I try really hard not to fear is the truth. I always want to know who should be held responsible, even if it's me. And a lot of the time, it is me. Sometimes I don't even realize that until years later, when I wake up and think, Wow, how lame am I for trying to blame someone else for that? Answer: exceedingly lame.

So I don't blame anyone else for my hair pulling. I refuse to bore you by wailing about how if it hadn't been for my dad, or my sister, or our beauty-obsessed consumerist society, my life would have turned out differently. Partly, because it just isn't true. All of those were factors (maybe even large factors), but they don't explain why I have an insistent craving to reach up and pull out my hair. Why I long for the rip and relish the sensation. And I suspect that blaming my love of pulling on other people is just as fruitless as blaming Toll House for my love of raw cookie dough. There are times when people need to stiffen their spine, nod their head, and admit they do it to themselves. For me, that's pulling.

It didn't start out as this big convoluted heap of ugliness in my life. It turned into that, sure, but at the beginning it was something much purer. I wasn't doing it to be mean to myself, or to punish myself, or to abuse myself. It wasn't nearly so dramatic or masochistic. I honestly thought I was beautifying myself. A little part of me even thought that pulling might make my life better. Maybe if my eyebrows were more attractive, people would notice me as being someone special. Maybe then I wouldn't feel like I was always being passed over and slotted in the role of the understudy sidekick who would only be in the play if something happened to someone else. I honestly thought that if I were prettier (and had the self-confidence that goes with it), maybe my life would be better. I thought pulling my eyebrows was one way to get there. It didn't work out that way.

Instead, I found myself clutching long strands of hair I had ripped from my head, unable to stop myself from reaching up and wanting more. My pulling was never supposed to take on a life of its own―it was never supposed to take over mine. I knew it had, though. When I stared at the mirror and tried to recognize the girl without eyebrows, eyelashes, and bangs as myself and failed, I knew something had gone horribly wrong. It's hard to recognize yourself when you've pulled at your eyebrows so consistently that there is almost nothing left. It's hard to believe you could have done something so destructive to your face, and that tomorrow you have to go to school pretending nothing is different.

At some point in my life, I stopped being Marni and instead turned into an addict who ravaged her head when she didn't think anyone was looking. I pulled during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I pulled at school, in restaurants, in grocery lines, in my room, in the bathroom. If I were in a Dr. Seuss book, I would pull in a box, I would pull with a fox, I would pull here and there, I would pull most everywhere. There was no way to escape it. Hair has a tendency to travel with a person―it's even more persistent than a shadow that way―and mine came with an incredible temptation to zone out and lose myself in the soothing rhythm of my plucking.

How did I get this way? I still wonder that sometimes. How is it possible that I am so consumed, so obsessed, with something that brings no real comfort to me? Why can't I stop? Why must I make a New Year's resolution to kick the habit, only to end up hating myself even more when I am at it again the next day? Why am I so ashamed of something I don't feel I have control over? How did I go from a happy-go-lucky kindergartener who believed in fairies, to a teenager with the urge to yank, pinch, and pull until there is nothing left to grab? Some of these answers I just don't have. To be honest, I don't know if anyone has them. How did I get here, though? Well, that I should be able to tell you. All we have to do is go back to my childhood and my very first lie.

©2009. Marni Bates. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Marni. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Series: Louder Than Words
  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: HCI Teens; 1 edition (August 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0757314120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0757314124
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #873,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marni Bates began her writing career at the age of 19 with her autobiography, MARNI, for HCI's Louder Than Words series. Her debut fiction novel, AWKWARD, has been translated into Portuguese, Spanish and Hungarian and has also been optioned by Disney Channel as a made for TV movie. She has three other novels with KTeen; DECKED WITH HOLLY, INVISIBLE, and NOTABLE. She is addicted to Thai food. Oh, and she is the worst cook ever. For more information, please visit

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mint910 VINE VOICE on October 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
I really liked Marni's voice, she is and writes in such a way that you are cheering for her, wanting her to succeed and get through the tough things in her life. From her troubles with her father and her sister and problems at school. She just seems like a nice person that doesn't deserve an ounce of the bad things that happen in her life. And really some of the things that she goes through with her father, sister, and a unbelievably rude debate coach almost seem like fiction. It's sure a lot for one girl to go through. But if you listen to Marni speak, which I had the privilege to listen in on online a few months back, she's a very cheery person, none of her past pain comes through her personality!

The way Marni describes her trich really makes sense. How it's a compulsive behavior and something you can't just stop, it's right there on your head and face asking you to pull. Her trich isn't as much as the main storyline as I had originally though. But it was ok, because Marni fills her memoir with a lot of other interesting things from her life. From homeschooling to her love of reading as a child to being a self proclaimed geek. I could definitely get along with Marni, I think we'd have a lot of things in common.

My main issue with the book was that I just wanted more. It seemed almost too short and almost truncated. The chapters are little glimpses into her life, but I felt like they kind of jumped around time-wise and it made it a little hard for me to get my bearings at times. Did this happen before that etc etc. So I think more pages would have allowed for smoother transitions between the different times in Marni's life that she talks about.

I've heard from Marni herself that she's working on some fiction and really hopes that comes to something because I definitely would love to read it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By NickyScott on July 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
Marni sometimes seems to have the world out to get her. Her sister hates her guts, when she tries to talk to cute boys she accidentally sprays on them, and her dad uses her to get attention at the bar mitzvah's of some random relatives they always attend. The only person who seems to care for her is her mom. But even then she can't always confide in her, especially when she wants to gain the love and approval from her dad. After her parents divorced, Marni tried all that she could to obtain appreciation from her father. She would go to his place in California ready to spend the weekend together for some real father-daughter bonding time. That didn't happen. But when it was time for her to leave, she wanted more time with him, since he mainly ignored her the whole time she was there. And her wish came true at the airport: "We arrived at the airport and discovered my flight was delayed and I couldn't leave until the next morning. Suddenly, time wasn't an issue anymore...I was ecstatic...for all of three seconds...He looked like he'd been told he had a cavity...and disappointment settled in his eyes" (Bates, 35). As her stress level began to rise from no acceptance from her dad, sister, fellow classmates, and the world surrounding her, Marni began to pull.

Marni is a fun but shocking book as you go with Marni through her stressful life; however it causes her to start pulling her hair, a stress disorder called trichotillomania. First she found comfort in reading books but then she finds comfort in the ripping and popping sound as she carefully pulled out the hair from her eyebrows, eyelashes, and head. She definitely shows her emotions which helps draw you to her reasons why she starts. Since this is a non-fiction, based on the writer's life story, it can be very inspiring.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Susan Saladoff on July 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
I read "Marni" in one day because I could not put it down. What a wonderful first novel for 19 year old Marni Bates, who overcomes her fears and has the courage to share her secret with the world. The book is so well written that it made me laugh and cry. I know that this book will help all teenagers who have secrets of their own in one form or another. We all deal with stress but in different ways. Hopefully, this book will be a vehicle for open communication for parents and their teens. BRAVO for "Marni!"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Informed Reflections on July 27, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have great appreciation for the strength it took Marni to share her story, and great empathy for her struggle. BUT, as an expert in child development and a mother of a thirteen year old girl who struggles with anxiety and trich, this book is not a great read. Very few pages of the book actually discuss the urge to pull, the relief it creates, the fluctuation between not wanting to quit and/or the embarrassment and self loathing that occurs when one is no longer able to hide their struggle. The book's discussion questions and tone imply that trich is related to poor parenting and a challenging childhood.Yet, many children with trich and other forms of anxiety come from supportive, caring, informed, and loving households (where they have strong bonds with their siblings and their parents). Marni compares her trich and her cousin's drug/alcohol addiction. Substance abuse and trich can both be connected to anxiety, stress, and untreated mental health concerns. Through treatment, it appears Marni's cousin has successfully battled his addiction. In contrast, Marni voices her thoughts that medication and therapy did not work (although she does not appear to have tried more than one therapist and no medications). Instead she seems to have made a conscious decision to continue to pull. If you are a young reader or a parent looking for a book that provides a role model and someone to relate to (hoping you or your child doesn't feel so alone in their experience) is this the messages you want to send? I am choosing not to pass the book along to my daughter. Instead, I will continue to look for someone who is equally as honest as Marni about the challenges of growing up (escalated by having an anxiety disorder), but someone determined to continue to do the hard work needed to overcome / squash the impulse to pull (cognitive behavior therapy) and be open to using a well researched medication to lessen anxiety to a level in which the therapy can be successful!
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