The War of the BodiesThursday, May 15, 2014
There's a lot of things in the media/social media/public opinion blur that I get sick to death of. I'm sick of watching people struggle with eating disorders disguised as healthy eating, and how difficult that makes it to actually eat healthily. I'm sick of the competitiveness- that if you aren't going balls to the wall every day you're not fit, not in shape. I'm really damn sick of the war of the bodies.
What do I mean by that?
- I mean the constant debate over what is 'sexy', which way its 'cool' to look, what body shape is 'in'.
- I mean that its impossible somehow to support one body shape without striking another down. Thin vs. curvy vs. muscly. Defending the overweight with saying at least an individual 'doesn't look like a boy'; the phrase 'real woman' which should be banned, 'something is the new something' applied to bodies.
- I mean the idea that somehow an individual has endless rights to comment on the bodies of others and announce their opinion on that.
Firstly, any time anyone groups a gender as having one opinion, they're wrong, automatically. Some men will like skinny women, some curvy, some muscly, and so on (some women also like women, THIS SHOCK NEWS JUST IN!). Secondly, and more importantly, we don't need to pull down the naturally thin to support those who aren't, or those that have muscle. Even on the original article, the appalled comments are mostly, 'but muscly women are so sexy!' and so on and on it goes.
Now, arguably you could say that at least this idealization is healthier. That its better than idealizing either being overweight or underweight forcibly. But a quick look at some of the more extreme measures of the community will tell you that isn't the case. It can fuel the same obsession and unhealthy attitudes to food and body that we see with the others. In some cases its creating whole new classes of disordered eating. To have any idealized group also is psychologically unhealthy for those who don't fit into it or are scrambling to do so.
The same person who made the comment that spurred me to write this also made a great comment- "the article may as well say 'THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO LOOK LIKE WE THINK YOU SHOULD'" (Quoted verbatim, capitalization theirs). This applies to more than just that magazine.
ETA (Oct 2014): A discussion on an online forum much later made me think of this: all these conflicting things that 'real women' must be means that 'real women' are basically the Schrodinger's cat of womanhood. We cannot win.
If we support bodies, we shouldn't need to be at war with another body type. Real women have curves or don't, have a little more body fat or don't, have muscle or don't. Yes there is a healthy way to live (subject to change as scientists and nutritionists weigh it up), but no there isn't an ideal way to look.