Become a martyr for America, chiklits!
Paul Campos connects the dots. Cause none of these dumb media fuckers is willing to do it:
As I write these words, Terri Schiavo is being starved to death because she was once a chubby little girl.
Almost everyone has heard about how, 15 years ago, Schiavo's heart stopped for several minutes, causing massive brain damage that left her severely disabled.
What very few people are aware of, because it has gone largely unreported, is that Terri's heart stopped as a consequence of an eating disorder.
Terri was a chubby child, in a culture that tells children, and especially girls, that not being thin is both a disease and moral failing. And our children get the message: fully half of all 9- to 11-year-old girls either are or have been on a diet.
Terri was one of these children. She spent much of her childhood and adolescence dieting, in a desperate effort to deal with having the "wrong" kind of body. Like most dieters, her weight fluctuated a great deal, but she was unable to remain thin.
Eventually, according to evidence introduced at the trial following her collapse, she started forcing herself to vomit after meals. This, combined with a regimen of 15 glasses of iced tea per day, made her thin and "beautiful." (More than 200 articles have commented on Terri's beauty. Almost none of these mention her eating disorder).
On the night she collapsed, Terri had just eaten dinner. She went into the bathroom and forced herself to vomit. Apparently, the chemical imbalance brought on by her bulimia stopped her heart.
I find the irony of this situation deeply, deeply sickening.
I went out to lunch today, this being a Friday, and sat at a table across from two men and two women. They appeared to be work colleagues. The men were average-looking, 30ish, on the overweight side, looked like they could pass for, say, computer programmers, so I thought they were quite good-boy nice looking, but MTV would call them boring couch potatoes and Queer Eye would have a field day. They ate cups of soup and cheeseburgers and fries and talked in loud voices about work.
The women, at first glance, looked and acted much younger. Their hair was straightened, bleached. The one closest to me had that perfect bronze tan. They were both about a size four, though the tan one looked like she was aiming for a 2. They ordered salads, and spent their time waiting for those salads... talking about food.
The tan one salivated over the dessert menu, said something like, "I haven't had chocolate sauce in two years."
The other one, not so classically MTV-girlish, with more of a midwest softness to her face and complexion, said, "Don't you ever treat yourself?"
"No," Barbie said.
"Not even once?"
Barbie was little and very slender, wearing a short-sleeved dress shirt I wouldn't dare wear in public, and had just enough defined arm muscle to be considered hot.
And, the thing was, looking at Barbie, that's what I was thinking: she's the way I'm supposed to look, the way women are supposed to look. Thin, tan, straightened, dyed-blond hair, those pert features, the flawless-appearing complexion. It wasn't that she was beautiful: there was nothing behind her look to make her beautiful, no amazing wit or cute laugh or witty turn of phrase or particularly striking feature. The thing with encouraging all women to look like a certain "type" is that eventually they'll look that way, and it'll take so much time and energy to cultivate that "type" that they're not exactly going to have a lot of time for an internal spiritual journey that makes them really interesting people. Mostly, they're just going to talk a lot about diet and excercise and what they can't eat this week.
When the food came, Barbie scarfed down her salad like she was starving: and, likely, she was. Most women don't look like Barbie into their thirties without being very hungry as a result.
I had ordered a burger, no fries, coleslaw on the side, and an iced tea. I've learned to balance out my hunger: if I really want a burger, I'll eat a burger, I just won't have the crap I don't want, which is usually the fries, and that cuts the calorie count pretty neatly.
And eating that way will keep me at what I consider a reasonable size, in reasonable health, but I will never, ever, look like Barbie.
Not even if I ate salmon ceasers and started getting that dull-eyed hungry look that supermodels carry around.
But oh, God, sitting there next to Barbie, I felt so guilty for eating my cheeseburger. What must everyone think of me, scarfing down my burger for lunch? Had I no shame? I could see everyone turning to look at me, thinking, "Look at that fat girl scarfing down that cheeseburger! Grotesque! Look at that fat woman, eating! A woman, eating, in a restaurant! How revolting! Has she no respect for herself?!"
I wanted to curl up and die.
And that's what a lot of women feel like: we'd rather die than be fat. We'd die to be thin for a decade, just give me a decade of hotness! Please! Please! I'll starve! I don't care!
Careful what you wish for.
Yea. I've had nights like that.
I used to think it must be a pretty neat thing, to be thin and beautiful. And, in fact, it has its perks. You get better jobs, people treat you more respectfully, treat you like you're important.
But you know, if you're doing it the way most women are doing it, you're also going to be weaker, and stupider (try doing complex math equations while suffering from extreme hunger and fatigue caused by overexercise), and ultimately, you're risking your life for a pound of flesh, for a beauty ideal.
And today's a good day to decide if you're interested in martyring yourself for Christan America and the MTV beauty machine.
We've got a great example of the end result.
Friday, March 25, 2005
Become a martyr for America, chiklits!