When Did… Become Better Than… ?
Health nuts kind of annoy me. Having to sit through another dinner where my step-mom goes on one of her health rants sounds a little bit like torture. Let me have a little butter in peace, why don’t you?! If you were going to give me the evil eye while I ate a piece of blueberry pie, why did you make it in the first place?!
Don’t get me wrong, while I want to eat my huge sticky bun in peace, I also believe that drinking 2 to 3 liters of water is a miracle cure for everything and I dig the whole yoga holistic scene just as much as the next chick. What really gets me though, is the discourse between health and beauty, or health and being thin, and the contradictions and assumptions that smack you right in the face every time you open a women’s magazine at the checkout line.
Take the meme pictured above for instance, not only is it mean in nature by pitting one woman against another in some kind of beauty contest, but it makes the assumption that health and beauty are somehow related.
At first glance, it seems kind of funny. In a “yay, meat, butter, and desserts” kind of way, suggesting for once, that a healthy diet and lifestyle won’t make you beautiful and that it’s okay to eat all those things on the forbidden list. But one thing has nothing to do with the other. They (whoever they is) are creating a false discourse between food, health, and beauty. The picture and copy don’t take into account genetics, perceived notions of beauty, and the tricky use of photography.
When I first saw the “When did this… become hotter than this” meme on Facebook, I liked it. I will never have Keira Knightley’s body. Not unless, I starve myself half to death, which isn’t to say anyone who is thin had to starve themselves, just that my genetics don’t lean towards that side of the scale. I’m just as tired as everyone by the whole “thin is better” discourse and I love seeing examples that speak to the opposite in the media, but there’s a real problem when it’s done in a careless manner.
My personal aesthetics lends themselves well to the women portrayed in the bottom half of that picture. I love curves, and some of those women are vintage icons. I like it. But that doesn’t mean that skinny women aren’t equally beautiful. Pitting one set of women against another is just more of the same discourse. Supporting body acceptance and fat-positive discourse doesn’t mean excluding other types of bodies, it’s about including everyone. It’s about giving a voice and a place in society for every kind person, every kind of body.
So, although, I think it’s great that people are finally getting interested in the ways in which beauty and the idea of beauty have been shaped by media, I don’t think it’s fair, or even nice, to do it in a way that suggests one is better than the other. When women who looked like Marilyn Monroe were considered the height of beauty, magazines bombarded women with ads that were aimed at making them feel bad about being too skinny. How is it better to shame someone for being too skinny than shaming them for being too fat?
More of the same… I’d like the above picture much better if it read: “Fuck society, this is as attractive as this.” Instead of “more than.” Although, I find Marilyn Monroe to be one hell of a pretty lady, the above rhetoric is much too dismissive and reductive for my taste.
The above picture is much better. At least, it doesn’t fall back on comparing one type of body to another. It just points out that you can be desirable even if your thighs touch, which is true (duh?), but it doesn’t do so by dismissing the fact that you can be just as attractive if your thighs don’t touch (also, duh?).