by Mr Meanor
A very brief history of body image
|Dear Mr. Meanor:
I have to lose some weight. Any tips?
Looking at the Pounds
Dear Weight Watcher:
Weight is one of the banes of our modern society and is a largely artificial concern. Our society bombards us with images of the "perfect" body almost everywhere we turn. One problem with the "perfect" body is that it has had more plastic surgery than a Hollywood block party and contains enough silicone to caulk every window in New York state. A second problem is that the "perfect" body is maintained by either binging and purging or eating a saltine cracker once a month and nothing else. And that's just the female side of the equation.
Males are bombarded with images of 20 year olds with six-pack abs, full wavy heads of hair, and biceps the size of mature oak trees. We're told that if we get the creams, pills, transplants, and exercise machines we too can look like a 20 year old male model and hang out with attractive members of the opposite sex (or same--whichever you prefer).
There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve our bodies, but a lot of Americans (and other people worldwide) are making themselves suicidal and/or broke over the obsessive pursuit of a body that not much short of a magic wand will provide. If it's so difficult to get the perfect body and people stress themselves into the poor house and a straight jacket over the goal, is it really worth it and why do people do it? Let's examine some history of the search for the "perfect" body.
Thousands of years ago, it did not really matter what men looked like unless they were wealthy or powerful. Still true today to a lesser extent. Greeks were really the only ones who did care. Even then it was really only the statue models who had to keep themselves in exceptional shape. Everyone else could let themselves go a little bit (those baggy robes hid a multitude of sins) and just sit around voting, inventing geometry, and ogling the statue models. This was normal behavior for a long time although some people substituted a scantily clad milkmaid (no accounting for taste, I suppose).
Then along came the Puritans. These people were English and even their fellow countrymen thought they were weird which is saying something. The Puritans wore black wool (even in summer), thought everything but going to church was a sin, and just generally knew they were better than everyone else. Eventually they got tired of living around people that weren't them and decided to go to America. Most people were glad to get rid of them. All of that black wool just reeked of sweat (bathing was a sin) and they always tried to break up the all night grog and ale parties (having fun was a sin). When the Puritans arrived in America, they started in on anyone who wasn't as uptight and moralistic as they were. Since it would not have been possible to be as uptight and moralistic as them that meant everyone else. Fortunately for the rest of the world, an all night grog and ale party was being celebrated and nobody else went to America with the Puritans. Unfortunately for the Native Americans that meant they had to bear the brunt of all that repression. It started off with names. Since the Natives were "heathens" they came up with "obwee" for these new people. "Obwee" means "frowny people who wear too much clothing, hate fun, and have skin the color of polar bears". Another name was "opmilokeee-kliynhiteert-plmbredw-o" which means "stupid". This became obvious when the Puritans tried to convince the natives that God wanted everyone to look like the Puritans. God really wanted everyone to look like walking skeletons? The natives may have had primitive cultures, but they were not stupid. Why did these people come here if they didn't know how to raise food? Why did they dress like thunderclouds When were they going away and when were they going to stop bothering everyone? These were all very good questions but before too long the natives were too busy dying from all the diseases that the Puritans brought with them. The Puritans considered everyone else dying a sign of God's favor and strengthened their resolve that their thin, dark look was God's favorite and proceeded to mess up everyone else who came to America. This is why, when the rest of the world was painting women who looked like Divine with less clothing, American painters were depicting bony old women who looked like they were on their way to a funeral.
After a while people realized that if they were rich and skinny they looked poor and nobody likes to look poor. So they bulked up. Soon, poor peoples diets caused them to bulk up too, and rich people scrambled to lose weight. It's been a vicious cycle since then.
The point that you should take away from all of this is that you should be happy with yourself. Do not let people and a society that do not even know you tell you what you should look like to be happy. As long as you genuinely enjoy food, eat food. If you are using food to fill some sort of void, fix the problem. Just be happy with yourself. Look at me. I'm happy enough. I mean, I am well past gay middle age, I should go to the gym more often, I really should watch what I eat more, most of my friends have moved, I don't have a boyfriend, I don't ------if you'll excuse Mr Meanor he's going to go eat a whole German Chocolate cake until he feels better.