Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Way Of All Flesh

Is not the same, you know. Women's flesh is something different from the general human muscles and tissues. It's all very complicated, this fat-and-females business.

First, you are supposed to have plump lips and plumb breasts. Second, you are not supposed to have any other fat on your body whatsoever. But, third, you are not allowed to be too thin, either, because we have now learned to point out that it's bad to be too thin. But, fourth, obesity really is a health problem, especially for women. But, fifth, it seems that the women who worry about obesity are not necessarily the obese women. Sometimes they are really young girls, and they're not worrying about the health aspects of obesity but about their own desirability in the societal lens. But, sixth, the society isn't forcing any woman to follow its requirements and in any case men like women who have some meat on their bones and if anyone is enforcing the rules of extreme thinness it's fashion designers. But, seventh, if you read the comments threads on various pictures about women which have to do with their weight you do find lots of men criticizing all that flesh or its lack. Or at least comments by people who use male handles and sound like men in what they say. But, eighth, body weight has become a moral indicator for women, much more than for men, and it's not only about health (or at all about health in some cases). It can be about maintaining an impossibly low weight because doing so demonstrates strength of character and denial of bodily pleasures and power over the animal aspects of ourselves. And you win! But, ninth, all that energy spent on fighting your own body! How it could be used for something else, not for hating your body all the time, but for something that would be enjoyable and meaningful!

I had to write that the way I did, because the whole topic is just a giant tangle in my head. Thinking more about it may help or it may lengthen the list of 'buts.'

Here are two stories which relate to all this:

First, Lindsay Lohan is too thin.

Second, Heidi Klum is too fat.

Of course these stories are gossipy items from different sources and apply to only women in the limelight. But young girls read about the women in the limelight and then they learn what is expected of such women in this culture, and what is expected of them is a tightrope act which is essentially impossible.