17 February 2009

Body Fascism

It has been some time since I have posted here. I haven't forgotten nor given up on this blog (thanks for your kind words and urgings bentsocietyblog.blogspot.com) but my life seems to have moved into a different direction and my time was taken up by other things. I have indulged in all the things I decided weren't going to be a feature of my life.
But the one aspect of life in the so-called developed world is the mixed messages which people have rammed down their throats. Here is one example:
Women are encouraged to be a 'size zero', anything else encourages wagging fingers and admonishments from the style/fashion/body fascist police. Women are only considered worth knowing if you conform to a particular image - regardless of your race. Your hair should be straight, smooth and glossy plus should be as close to blonde as possible. Your nose definitely needs some work, regardless of its shape or size.
I say this as I watched a programme recently which horrified and disgusted me. 'The Swan' - you may have seen it. Two women 'compete' to see who could undergo the most radical transformation. The women are subjected to what appears to be inhumane treatment, unnecessary cosmetic surgery to ensure they emerge from 12 weeks of scrutiny, exercise, hair extensions, a mouthful of veneers and therapy. The women are churned out looking like plastic pastiches of Hollywood female stereotypes. All traces of their physical differences are removed: from large noses, belly fat, low brows and all other physical characteristics which scream 'ugly'.
But who has defined what 'ugly' is?
I want to know what happens to these women years down the line when their breast implants leak, their face lifts fall and they have problems with their new screwed-in teeth.
I can't understand body fascism - maybe due to the fact I was raised in a Caribbean home where your size wasn't an issue at all. In my family I have members who are very thin and very fat and many who can be described as in between. You weren't judged by your physical appearance but rather by your personality and this has stayed with me to this day. So it seems this is an illness imposed on society to judge someone by their weight. I recently connected with a friend who I had kept in touch with but not actually seen as we were in different parts of the world. She had lost nearly 100lbs in weight since I had last seen her. After our loud greetings and lengthy hugs she mentioned that I was the only person she knew who did not judge her and accepted her whatever her weight.
I don't care what weight she is - she's my friend and I love her just as she is.
Maybe we wouldn't have some of the problems humans have if we spent less time trying to be something or someone we are not. I enjoy being real and being myself.

Just sharing my thoughts.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Bent Society said...

Zee glad to see your back.

Reflecting on what you write...I think the issues of body fat and health are being used as a lever by others seeking to make money from fear, we need to separate the health aspects of being obese from the cosmetic aspects. I doubt very much that size zero is healthy for a lot of people. For those of a slight frame it might be...for others it is probably a sign of malnutrition.

The trouble is that the whole lot gets mixed up so that weight becomes mixed in with cosmetic surgery etc and makeover TV shows of the kind you mention (we have them over here in the UK too) are fearmongering at our expense.

Anonymiss said...

Maybe we wouldn't have some of the problems humans have if we spent less time trying to be something or someone we are not. I enjoy being real and being myself.

Words to live by.

Ralph Dumain said...

Great to see you back in action. What you say certainly applies to the USA, from what I hear. The ideal is to be young, skinny, blonde (white) with breast implants. Not everyone subscribes to this of course. There is a racial and especially class component. Upper class status and aspiration to same correlate with light skin and thinness. As usual, black women are at the bottom of the totem pole. I prefer my women large and dark-skinned, and I have no problem with "bad hair". The voluptuous black woman is my feminine ideal, but the social pressure is still there to be just the opposite.

philip said...


Good to have you back. I have missed your enlightening perspective. In a sea of people that are concerned with appearances and falsehoods, you have always been a fresh air of truth. Please, keep up the good work!

All the Best,

Philip Winton Townsend

Maithri said...

You have a wonderful blog here,

I agree with you whole heartedly,

Peace and light, M

Doug Kueffler said...

You have some great posts on this site and I enjoy reading them.
I agree with you on female stereotypes and the terrible message it sends to young people, girls in particular. However, I am concerned that the current generation of youngsters who are under 12 years old will be the first generation in history that will not live longer than their parents, and this will be due to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. A better message for our youth would be the benefits of an active lifestyle.

Matthew S. Urdan said...

Welcome back, Zee! Glad you are posting again. Will you still have time to contribute occassionally to Inside Government?

MidlandsMan said...

Doug you make good points

As much as I hate to see the Sex N' the shopping brigade sending out their size zero stupidity - I also dispair when a large woman who is in reality going to die too young and lose her mobility way too early braying to the World on TV that she is proud to weigh 18+ stones and that she is beutiful. Undobtedly she is beautiful but is there nothing wrong also with the fact that she is in total denial that she is eating her way to an early grave... or that she is "feeding-up" her children to the same painful lingering death?

Confusing the health implications of eatring too much salt, saturated fat and calories with the beuty implications of being either fat, thin or average is no more than creating a fog within which the dietmongering fashion industry fearmongers and does no good for anyone but themsleves.

My Autism Insights said...

Nice to see you back, Zee! I get concerned about the messages being sent to our young girls because I don't want my daughter to become weight obsessed. I think one of the best things my husband ever put his foot down about was that he didn't want a scale in the house so that I wouldn't become weight obsessed. I think overall, we just need to reinforce the message of being balanced and healthy.


Shinade said...

oh please don't give up on this blog. I may not comment very often but you are one of my favorite reads.

I got tired and burnt out a few weeks back and left my blogs too. But, I regretted it and now I am working my way back.

But, I have set a pace. I don't have to be a top dropper. I took most of this weekend off.

This is also a wonderful post. I am not obese but I am of a stocky heavy build. If I eat normally I stay this size even with exercise.

I literally have to starve myself to be thin. The I look ill. So I am who I am and the way god designed to me be.

Everywhere all over the world has become so obsessed with being rail thin that it is a terrible thing. My word even girls in the 3rd grade are being treated for anorexia now.

I hope you have a good week:-)

Robert said...

Hi Zee,

I found your website through a link at an atheist web page and immediately informed all of the free thinking ladies that I know (I only know four) about your site...I'm proud and impressed with your efforts. I have a blog page: http://hamptonroads.com/blogs/african-american-agnostic where I'm trying to tackle some of the same issues that you're addressing.
The rational world needs more women like you and the black community needs you even more! Thank you for your courage sister!
Contact info: negrononbeliever@gmail.com