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Well, I got a bunch of presents wrapped in super-annoying paper (it tears easily and won't fold properly), Bob's stocking is filled (though part of it is suspiciously box shaped, because some of the contents didn't fit), drivers have shipped their brains by Fed-Ex somewhere nice but their bodies are still driving, I hurt so bad I stayed home today, and I'm in a snarling holiday mood.  Perfect, I think, for a vent on the whole Diet Industry "You can't enjoy holiday parties because you'll get fat, no one will love you and YOU'LL DIE ALONE OMG!!!!!!" scare machine that goes into overdrive right about now (just in time for eggnog).  Their ads are almost as pervasive as the perfume ads on TV.

(By the way, what is it with all the perfume ads?  Do people really want a gift pack of Britney's perfume, or is this a ploy to trick the guy who's desperate for a gift that is nice, but not too personal?  And J.Lo's perfume?  Is it selling as well as her last album?  And what is the "Armarni Code" - I can only assume it's a secret word that gets you into penthouse parties where everyone gets naked?  I do miss the old Stetson ads, though - and I find myself wanting a bottle of "Blue Grass" perfume, which I wore constantly (but lightly!) as a teenager.)

 

Yeah, the diet ads.  People are supposed to gain a little weight over the winter - without parties and booze, most of us in the Northern Hemisphere wouldn't make it 'til spring.  And you can always work it off once the weather gets nice enough to stick your nose outside for anything other than the obligation of work.  

(Speaking of work, where I usually post, I'm taking the week between Christmas and New Year's off, so I may not be posting much.  If I do, act all delighted - it makes me feel special.  You don't have to be delighted, just act it.  It's the pretense that counts.)

I blame Wallis Simpson.  

(The Duchess of Windsor.  Look it up.)

She was the "skinny bitch" who opined "You can never be too rich or too thin".  Thanks to her, generations of women have hated themselves.  

(This may also be why women buy new purses constantly - maybe they hope the alchemy of the exact right purse and shoes combination will suddenly make them super rich.)

[this paragraph redacted for internalized misogyny.]

But back to Mrs. Simpson; I hear her words quoted regularly, and the question that always comes to my mind is:  Why are we giving credence to the words of a known Nazi sympathizer who thought that the total eradication of all Jewish people was an excellent idea?

(Like I said, look it up.  And be glad that Edward VIII abdicated; he thought Hitler was a swell guy too.)

There nothing wrong with wanting to resemble society's standards of beauty - studies show that pretty people do get nicer things, better job offers, and bigger bunches of roses (mostly from the geeky lab guys running the studies).  Unfair as this is, and no matter how much it should not be the case, it's still perfectly natural to want a piece of the action.  

(I myself, have seen the difference in treatment I get from random shallow assholes who wouldn't have given me a second glance when I was fat.  They're still assholes, though, so oops!  Too bad, so sad.  I'd rather be with someone who likes women for their attributes, not their assets, if you get me.  Everything else, though, has pretty much remained the same, so I'm guessing that the lab guys were making most of those job offers themselves.)

What isn't good is assuming that anyone who doesn't conform is less worthy by comparison.  We all do this - and before anyone gets on my case about how they're not like that, hear me out.  It isn't just the pretty that reject non-pretty people - some of the guys that turned me down were pretty unattractive by societal standards, but somehow felt that I wasnt good enough for them because I didn't fit those same standards.  I've seen women give other women and men a hard time for being less attractive, and I've seen frankly ugly women snark on someone else's beauty deficiencies.  We all do it, even me, and I'm a paragon of tolerance *cough*irony*cough*.  I see this all the time.  It's part of being human - we naturally create hierarchies.  we can break free of this, but it takes effort, and it's hard to leave the herd.  Awareness of the tendency is the first step to curbing the habit.

(If you never, ever, cross your heart, make any mean comment about someone else's appearance, I applaud you.  I'm not entirely sure I believe you, but I applaud you.)

We are all brainwashed women.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  WE ARE ALL BRAINWASHED.  Instead of embracing feminist ideals and saying "to hell with beauty standards!", society has started seriously infecting men with the same ideas.  Or, should I say, commercial greed has started preying on another lucrative demographic, and we're encouraging it.  It is no better to ogle a man and make suggestive comments about his looks (and conversely, rejecting him for same) than it is for a man to do it to a woman.  We do not fix inequality by paying it forward.

And it isn't enough that we occasionally judge others negatively based on appearance; we do it to ourselves, and when we do it to ourselves, we do it constantly.  No respite.  We heap an amazing amount of hatred on our poor bodies, and current societal standards encourage the hate (as do all beauty and diet related companies).

I dye my hair; I worked hard to lose weight and stay thin.  I seriously contemplate going under anaesthesia to have considerable parts of my belly fat surgically excised from my body to achieve an ideal that I know is completely unneccessary to my success.  Most days, I can value my talents, my sense of humour, and my brain over my looks.  On bad days, all I see is my poochy belly, my huge thighs, and my complete lack of attractiveness.  On those days, I think my beautiful body is the ugliest thing on earth.

We are brainwashed.  We have created impossible beauty ideals and made ugly the supreme beauty idols of previous ages.  Elizabeth Hurley has said that she would kill herself before she got as fat as Marilyn Monroe, the ne plus ultra of beauty in the 1940s and '50s.  MM was so beautiful, she seduced an entire nation and its President.  Today, we look at her lush soft beauty and think "fat!".

Brainwashed.

MM has actually become a rallying symbol for the fat acceptance movement.  

Fucking brainwashed.

Yes, she was a size fourteen - in 1940s sizes.  Her waist measurement was roughly 26".  She was slightly thinner than me.  I am a size 16 in 1940s clothing, which translates to a size 8 in modern sizes; this makes her a size 6.  Who's a fat cow?  I'm bigger than her (though we have the same boob size).  Those disgusting rolls of fat that simply hung off her body were 6 sizes smaller than the national average size today (12, and nothing wrong with that).

You could take this information and become utterly depressed, and I wouldn't blame you.  But why give in to the manipulations of the fascistfashion-industrial complex?  They have decreed that women should look like coat hangers with built in high heels.  Why are we listening to the opinions of people who won't even design clothes for three-dimensional bodies?  Do diet companies have our best interests at heart, or are they looking for their part of a multi-billion dollar cash cow?  Why do we need to cover tiny, tiny wrinkles and flaws if the only time anyone sees them is if we stand under a klieg light?  Who's playing on our fears of being unloved and dying alone?

Madison Avenue, come here this instant!  Bad dog!  Stop spilling anti-wrinkle cream on the carpet and telling us we're ugly crones if we don't use it!  *smack*

Instead, take heart in the fact that Marilyn is still considered one of the most beautiful women who ever lived.  The current crop of little girls trying their best to take on the characteristics of stick insects in response to the film and television industry's demand that they look thinner and thinner should be pitied, not emulated.  No-one will remember them like they remember Monroe.  

Damn that Duchess.  Years of hating the very substance of our bodies, thinking that thin is the only beautiful, and all on the say-so of a woman who supported eugenics and the sterilization/lobotomization of genetically "imperfect" people (i.e., Jews, gays, blacks, and the mentally/physically disabled).

[redacted for ableist language.]

I am beautiful.  You are beautiful.  All of us, men and women, are beautiful.  We are so much more than the sum of our measurements, no matter what the media, "diet" doctors, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (who hate eggnog and all it stands for), and that asshole guy wearing too much cologne who said our thighs were "cottage cheesy" think.  Hate is the most truly unhealthy thing we can do to our bodies.  If we are to see the truth of real beauty, then we have no reason to hate anyone, least of all ourselves.

(We could probably hate Asshole Cologne Guy, who was wearing really tacky gold chains and had really bad breath.  But why bother?  He's suffering without our help.)

In fact, in a world where Marilyn Monroe is too fat, and Callie on Grey's Anatomy is a "plus size" (she's maybe a size 12, more likely a 10), it's not us who's insane.  The lunatics are running the asylum, and we must do the only truly honourable thing and lobotomize the lot of them and start over.

In the mean time, have a pastry.  Have two, why not.  And don't hate yourself in the morning.

[2/25/2010: This entry has been edited for abelist and misogynistic language.]

Comments

sarahbellem
Dec. 19th, 2007 08:51 pm (UTC)
Yes, she was a size fourteen - in 1940s sizes. Her waist measurement was roughly 26". She was slightly thinner than me. I am a size 16 in 1940s clothing, which translates to a size 8 in modern sizes; this makes her a size 6. Who's a fat cow? I'm bigger than her (though we have the same boob size). Those disgusting rolls of fat that simply hung off her body were 6 sizes smaller than the national average size today (12, and nothing wrong with that).

You shoulda seen the jaws drop in my class when I told them that the whole Marilyn Monroe-big-beautiful-woman propaganda was a load of tosh. Someone said "Well, Marilyn Monroe was fat and she was considered beautiful back then". To which I laughed and told them that MM was 4 inches taller than me and had a waist 4 inches smaller than mine. Am I "fat"?

Since I'm part and parcel of the evil fashion industry, I felt it necessary to explain the differences between industry sizes and market sizes. Industry sizing is still based on circa 1960s standards, which means an Size 8 industry form has a 34" Bust, 25" waist and 33" hips. A person with those measurments today buys and wears a market size 2, maybe even a 1 in some cases (US sizing here. In UK terms, an industry 8 is about a UK 4). Vanity sizing makes everyone feel ok about their increasing girth!

On a slightly related side note, one of the reasons we're bigger on the whole than our parents and grandparents also has to do with post-war affluence and cheaper, better food more readily available to the masses. Prior to the market revolution in the 1960s, a certain amount of undernourishment was factored into our genepool, and it kept our forebearers less broad in the ribs, shoulders and hips. Give us better/more food, vaccines, etc and viola! We're gigantic!

Oh, and ask me sometime about my philosophy regarding larger waist sizes in women and the adoption of "low rise" trousers in the 1990s. I could go on and on for days about this stuff... It seriously keeps me up at night sometimes! :)
lady_guenievre
Dec. 19th, 2007 09:26 pm (UTC)
I'd be curious about the "low rise" thing... I mean, who decided muffin tops were attractive? (or is it just a conspiracy to show who has them and who doesn't?)
heatermcca
Dec. 19th, 2007 10:06 pm (UTC)
They may be less attractive, but they're also usually unnecessary (says the girl with plentiful lower abdomen scar tissue).

I took a very, very long time to be converted to the low rise, and honey, if I have my way I'll never look back. If the hips were wide enough the waist was too big. If the hips were a bit too tight, the waist was uncomfortably so. And that's just beyond finding some that are in petite sizes.
lady_guenievre
Dec. 19th, 2007 10:13 pm (UTC)
Ahh. I have no hips. Like none, serious - the difference between my (very high) waist and my hips is only about 5 inches. So low rise jeans just... well, they either fall off or they do the muffin top thing. It's rather unhappy...

But then I'm biased.. :)
heatermcca
Dec. 19th, 2007 10:16 pm (UTC)
Hahaha! Biased! LOL.

I'm extremely low-waisted to boot. Curves to hang things upon aren't a problem for me, at all. Unless I'm undergrowing my jeans, which is, after all an issue of fit.
murasakinoyoroi
Dec. 19th, 2007 10:09 pm (UTC)
Personally I'd go with the who has and who doesn't theory. The people they look best on are seriously skinny women, and men. (Really. Guys have the lower waists and thin hips to pull it off.)

The wave of erogenous zones (different things phasing in and out of fashion as sexy things, such as women's backs in the 1930's) one of the major ones is between boyish and reubenesque female figures goes back to the greeks. In general when there is economic spike thin is in, and depressions bring "healthy-looking" back. Good news is that it is starting to swing the other way again in some places. There has been a ban on thin models in Italy for example. Audrey Hepurn and "Twiggy" were both criticized for being much too skinny to be pretty, and women who are naturally skinny, such as my sister (though serious health issues have also contributed) get accused of having eating disorders, bending to the will of the fashion industry, and taking advantage of their "better" looks to get things. The bad news is that there has never been a time when there wasn't an "in" body type and an "out" body type. There will always be some poor young girl either dejectedly binding her breasts or stuffing her bra.
sarahbellem
Dec. 20th, 2007 01:41 am (UTC)
Ok, so here's my completely unscientific theory about low-rise jeans and expanding waistlines:

I was thinking about my mother, who her whole life has had a 22" waist (and 44" hips. She's the eptiome of pear shaped), and how she always wears jeans or trousers that sit at her natural waist. Even in the 60s, with hiphuggers, she'd wear belts at her natural waist. It got me thinking about corset training, and how you can affect your uncorsetted waist measurement when you train to a certain degree (I've never trained in the strict sense, but when I was working at Dickens and in a corset for 20 hours a week, I noticed that at the end of the run, my waist had decreased about an inch overall, and I've heard similar stories from people who actually train. But I digress). It got me to wondering if the adoption of low-rise styles in the late-90s had something to do with my own increasing waistline. Now, I'll never naturally have a 22" waist (dammit), but aside from just regular weight inflation over the last decade, I've also noticed that since I gave up garments that sit at my natural waist that my waist size has increased a couple of inches. Like I said, I have gained and lost weight during this time, and always, the smallest size I've gotten to is 26" and the highest is 29", and it just made me wonder if not having that waistband at my waist is affecting my eating habits. I'm old enough to have worn both natural waisted jeans and low-rise jeans, and I remember how my waistband would cut into me if I ate too much back in the 8" zipper days. That doesn't happen now, because my jeans sit below my stomach and I'm free to just pig out without any discomfort (that is, until I go to put my jeans on one day and discover I can't fit them over my ass).

Same concept with corseting, and even the lapband system used in some weightloss surgeries. You have something there cutting into you when you've eaten enough, and you'll feel the discomfort and stop eating. I'm also guessing with the waistband and the corset, your body will shift the fat into other locations if you wear either long enough.

So that's my totally unscientific take on why women may have had statistically smaller waist sizes pre-1997 in comparison to today. And now that waistlines are coming back up to the natural waist, I'd be interested to see if waist sizes go down over time.

Not that I'm relishing the thought of wearing natural-waisted pants any time soon. ;)
xntryk
Dec. 20th, 2007 05:05 am (UTC)
That makes sense to me.

During my fat years, I wore a brasselette -- a longline bra that came down to the waist. When I started to notice the weight loss, I got properly fitted for a bra and went to wearing real, normal bras again, for the first time in almost 15 years.

At first, I had to work on training my stomach so I wasn't a pooch belly. After a while, I developed better muscle control and this wasn't a problem.

Then come the low-rise jeans. The "Jeans That Will Slim You." I picked up a couple of pairs on the way down in sizes and was amazed by how comfortable they were -- and by the lovely flared legs that went well with the tie-dye. So, started wearing these.

Now, the weight continued to come off... and my at-navel measurement has remained the same. But the remaining fat that hasn't disappeared? Has sunk. There used to be a light layer between breastbone and navel -- and now there's this mound of resentment right below my navel. It can only be the combination of gravity and a freed natural waist; I've continued to lose weight throughout this fat cell migration.

Well, maybe I will be lucky and it will dissolve away like the rest of the former fat layer... or it won't matter, once I get pregnant.

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