So, as mentioned in my previous post, I've been sick. Which means I've been sitting around watching movies. Nothing that would interest you, gentle reader. I've been watching brain candy, mindless fluff that requires little to no thought. For example: Phat Girlz. Yeah, okay, I know, not exactly art, but something that's been surprisingly thought provoking, especially in light of the recent developments that have led the fashion industry to consider imposing a ban on models under a BMI of 18, which is the cut off for the healthy mark.
Now, before I proceed: I want it known that I do not accept the BMI as the end all in weight advice. Mostly because this chart was developed not by nutritionists and doctors, but by health insurance companies to point out which individuals are more likely to be affected by weight related health issues. Also, the chart doesn't take into account frame size. What that means is that someone with teeny aristocratic bones is going to be told to weigh the same weight as the sturdy peasant type. Not exactly logical.
Alright, now that that's out of the way, for those of you who haven't seen it (which would encompass every reader I have, would be my guess) Phat Girlz is the fat chick's equivalent of Weird Science as far as geeks go. It's a fantasy in which all the sudden, the rules of the world are reversed (at least for these three girls) and suddenly the skinny girl is the ugly one and the fat girls are the goddesses. Basically, these girls meet a group of Nigerian doctors who, being from another culture, don't buy into the American need to starve our women to be beautiful. While it's completely unrealistic and unfairly bitter to the skinny women of the world, it makes some damn good points. Not the least of which is that not every woman is going to be a size 5. Not every woman meets that standard of beauty and we need to start addressing the way this unrealistic standard dictates the way we talk about ourselves and the way we feel about ourselves.
Okay, so before you start thinking...oh, this is just a fat girl (which I admittedly am) trying to justify why it's okay to be fat....let me post for you a portion of a recent e-mail from LQofU's best, and skinniest, friend, Erin the God (Archaeogoddess):
I'm also dismayed because I seem to be so very close to a size 10. I thought
i was a skinny stick thing. The sizes in the so-called normal sized section only
go up to a 14. The clothing industry has a very sick, narrow view of what is
normal. The normal size may go up to a 14, but it also goes down to a 2. If I
only just passed the BMI and am a size 8, that's three sizes below me that
are "normal" by clothing standards, but not by science. I just checked and I can
gain another 39 pounds before I hit "overweight". I bet if I gained those 39
pounds I wouldn't fit in "normal" sized pants.
So, it isn't just me, it isn't just the fat girls of the world who feel affronted by what's "normal" or accepted. Even my thinnest friend, the one that is constantly asked if she has an eating disorder, doesn't fit with the fashion industry's ideal of beauty. Because while the fashion industry may call "normal" sizes up to size 14, it isn't what they advertise as normal. The girls we are seen paraded on TV and in magazines are size 4, 2, or 0. Now, if Erin isn't thin enough to fit this ideal of "normal" the rest of us haven't a chance in hell.
Let me tell you something about me. At my thinnest, when I was a bulimic head case who dropped 40 pounds in a month and a half, and looked disgusting, with that alarming bobble-head effect where my head was way too large for my body, I was a size 12. I was literally killing myself to be thin and the closest I came was a 12. That's two whole sizes larger than Erin has ever been and 4 to 5 sizes larger than any model out there. What that means is that it will never be possible for me to be both healthy and "normal." And I'm not the only woman built the way that I am. And Erin's not the only woman built the way she and think of all the women in between.
And it's easy to say, just ignore it. Just accept yourself, just love yourself, blah, blah, blah... We would love to, I would love to. But women internalize this vision of beauty that is completely unattainable to us to a degree that we're never satisfied with ourselves. I've never met a woman (besides Erin) who said, "I don't want to lose any weight. I'm thin enough. I'm good enough." And even Erin, (who despite being my best friend, the other half of me in a lot of ways, still inspires that sick jealous feeling about half the time, who has been on the receiving end of ugly, bitter comments from me because I could not look at her and not see how much closer she was to "beautiful" than I was) has felt that her body wasn't good enough because she was "too thin." It's never just right, or good enough, or acceptable. There's always a betterness to strive for, and it's killing women and girls all over the world. It's sucking away our chances at happiness and self-acceptance. We can't be happy with what we see in the mirror because we're constantly being told how it's not acceptable, and what we can do to make ourselves better, prettier, thinner, younger, whatever.
Then, I look at my daughter. She's 7 fucking years old and already questions whether she's "thin enough." And she's going to have problems, she already has problems, because she's tall, and she's strong. There's hardly any fat on this child, but she's bigger than most of her female classmates, built like her Irish peasant mother, and German peasant father. She can already hit a softball farther than I ever could, she runs fast, she's athletic and healthy and so damn beautiful, and she doesn't fit in with what we think pretty little girls who are going to beautiful women should be. And there isn't a damn thing she can do about it. There are going to be boys who call her fat, or think she's too big and won't want to date her. There are going to be skinny girls who feel so insecure about themselves and call her names to make themselves feel better.
And all I can do is be one voice in her head that says, no, you are enough. You are tall enough and beautiful enough and smart enough and good enough. Not too much and not too little, but just enough. One voice, when there are hundreds booming at her everyday, on the TV on billboards, on magazine covers, on the covers of beauty products, in her classroom and on her playground that will be telling her you aren't enough, you will never be enough but buy this, or torture yourself in this way and maybe you'll get just a little closer to being enough.
So, what do we do? We can't stop wearing clothes. We can't stop looking at the world around us, the world that tells us how we aren't good enough. All we can do is try to protect ourselves and our sisters, and friends and daughters from this illness. Because it is a sickness. Looking at what you see in the mirror and trying to figure out how to make it something other than what it is sick. And how many women have died from this illness? More than we can count. I was so close to being one of those women at one time. I stood in my hallway at my parent's house while Erin screamed at me to stop killing myself, and all I could think, is why can't I look like her? That's not healthy.
I think the fashion industry's attempt to rein in the raging epidemic of "not good enough syndrome" by telling them they at least need to be healthy to walk down runways is a great start. But it isn't going to save lives, and it isn't going to make women feel better about about themselves. Not as long as we hold to only one ideal of beauty. As long as we are paying women 10,000 dollars a day to walk around and be "beautiful" there's only going to be one ideal of beauty. After all, if we're all beautiful, why does that one girl get $10,000.00 for being herself when the rest of us don't?
Beauty belongs in the eye of the beholder, not in the bank accounts of an industry.