Tearing Each Other Down: The Body Debate
We back each other, and we bash each other. The extreme dichotomy between these opposing positions seems to show up in all areas of our lives. And lest you think this post is for women only, it’s not. So keep reading, lads and lasses.
Misogyny, I’m sensitive to this. Defined as the hatred of women, misogyny, I’m noticing a lot of it lately. Not that this is anything new, it’s been standard operating procedure for much of what of Madison Avenue, the Hollywood machine, and Seventh Avenue spews forth, but the issue seems to be surfacing with increasing venom.
There’s a back and forth argument out there in the world wide web-o-sphere that looks like this or this . One camp touts the beauty of the ultra-slim runway model, and the other camp is in favor of the voluptuous form that Marilyn Monroe embodied.
You know, curvy is hotter than stick-thin, or stick-thin is so much prettier than fat (and fire her if she puffs up to a size 8, or size 4). Arguing about which body type is better or hotter, often under the guise of health (a related, yet separate issue), is polarizing women, pitting them against one another.
Women (and men) engaged in bashing women who don’t adhere to a body type that conforms to the fascist standards-du-jour perpetuate the myth that women’s worth is measured by her outward beauty; that a woman’s self-esteem should be derived from the reflection in her mirror.
Externally imposed ideals are impossible to uphold—whether the pressure is to morph our bodies into the airbrushed, ultra-thin type that stares back at us from Vogue or into the curvy Bettie Page body shape—the damage is still the same: women at war with one another and themselves for failing to fit into a false and dangerous norm.
I know a woman who is very thin. Her entire family has the same build—athletic, runner types. She had an eating disorder in her college days (even she felt fat), but that was many years ago. By the time I met her, this woman had a hearty appetite and no food issues. Sadly, women would come up to her at work and ask her if she was anorexic. To her face. As if asking her what shade of lipstick she was wearing, except with disdain in their voices. I worked with her for a few months and witnessed this on several occasions.
So, this body bashing needs to stop. And yes, health issues: obesity, anorexia, body dysmorphia, etc. are epidemic. We are an overweight culture, we make poor food choices, or we over-exercise and count every calorie within a 3-mile radius of our lips, but all this makes me wonder: without the emphasis on body-as-cultural-currency, would we have half the food- and health-related issues that we do? What do you think?