I’m back from the fabulous Birthdacation that my awesome girlfriend Julianne took me on. In addition to hiking over rocks to get to amazing beaches (pictures up soon on the Fit Fatty Forum picture gallery), viewing the stunning coastline of Northern California, and marveling at Big Sur, we went to a very cool shop in Morro Bay called The Shell Shop.
They had shells from all over the world. I was admiring the beauty and differences between all of the shells when I was jarred by a piece of paper that said, in big blog letters “IMPERFECT” It turns out that there was something wrong with these urchin shells, and so they were less valuable. Stick with me, I’m going somewhere with this.
It occurred to me how sadly human that perspective that is. The idea that there is one right way for a sea urchin shell to look and anything outside of that is somehow less valuable is a uniquely human idea. Happily, since there are no under the sea fashion magazines or photoshopping these urchins probably had no idea that they were IMPERFECT – they likely lived very full lives with no idea that some slight imperfection meant that their shell would someday be less “valuable.”
I wish that we, as a society, could shift our perspective on this. The whole “there’s only one right way to have a body” perspective doesn’t help anyone as far as I can tell. Most people will never achieve that look but many will spend their whole lives, and a large portion of their time, energy and money trying. Those who do happen to have the “perfect” body can spend their whole lives trying to keep it, terrified of losing it. People are allowed to choose to do that if they wish, but imagine how different things would be if we lives in a world where all body sizes were celebrated: Where you turn on the television and the fat leading lady get the guy or you go to the movie where the fat dude is the hero. Where Disney and Barneys demand a designer talented enough to design a dress for Minnie Mouse, rather than trying to make Minnie into a 5’11 size 0 . Where there are models who are 5’4 and nobody worries that their body will prevent them from being appreciated for their talents. Where we choose actors based on acting ability and singers based on singing ability and people of every size see themselves represented in all aspects of culture. We could create that. Here are some ideas and options for how:
Opt out of it for ourselves. Stop all negative body talk about our own bodies and assert that there is nothing wrong with the bodies we have. Here’s an idea to get you started.
How about an end to body snarking as we know it – no more “fat” as a negative descriptor, no more “she needs to eat a sandwich” when we see very thin women.
Stop confusing weight and health – no more making guesses about people’s health based on their weight – absolutely no assuming that fat people have health problems or that very thin women have eating disorders.
Stop concerning ourselves with other people’s health and stop using health as any kind of barometer of worthiness or sucess. Health is multi-dimensional and not entirely within our control, health is not a personal, or societal obligation and other people’s health is none of our business which is cool because it means that our health is nobody else’s business.
Stop allowing these behaviors to go unchallenged. You can engage directly “Body snarking is just not ok” or say something more gentle like “I wish we lived in a world where we could see the beauty in every body” or whatever resonates with you.
Stop giving time and money to places that perpetuate this ideal – don’t buy fashion magazines, don’t buy anything with a weight loss message, stop clicking on “worst bikini body” links. This system is fueled by our time and money and we can make it run out of gas.
Of course these are just ideas, there are lots of ways to opt out of the system (feel free to add your own in the comments!) So maybe you love the current system where one body type is seen as “right” and the rest are “wrong” – you have every right to feel that way. But if you’re not having fun here, then let’s make here someplace else.
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