uepixie: Ueda and Masami - MousePeace2010 (You are loved)
[personal profile] uepixie
Okay, right. I've been thinking about this for a while, actually, and I'm not sure where to begin.

It's to do with being fat and being ugly.

Being fat.

I am not sure from which survey these results were taken, how long ago it was done or from what range of people the results were obtained. The only thing I know is that this was based on results from the US, and I'm using them because the majority of my flist is from that continent, and the rest of us get the message well enough anyway.

So:

- 81% of ten-year-olds are afraid of being fat.

- In the US, at least 10,000,000 women are suffering from anorexia or bullimia. That's more than are suffering from breast cancer.

- Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women.

- If shop mannequins were real women, they would be too thin to bear children.

What gives anyone the right to dictate what one's weight ought to be, other than a doctor or other adequately-trained medical person? Even one's BMI is not always an accurate measurement.

Despite the fact that my BMI is currently smack in the middle of the 'healthy' range, I have been both oh-hey-I-can-see-your-ribs underweight and the squashy type of overweight in the last 6 years. When I was thin, I got comments like, "Wow, you look really good!" and "You're too skinny, go eat a burger" on the same day. When I was technically overweight, I got "You look so much healthier!" and, on more than one occasion, "You're fat."

You're fat.

I knew I was overweight. What good did it to do tell me this? All it did was dent my self-esteem, and drill into my brain the message, over and over, you're fat you're fat you're fat you're fat.

I wound up with a huge complex about my weight. And what good does worrying about your weight do? The media is full of plastic surgery/weight loss stories; "I'm so happy now that I'm a size 12 from a size 20!" (US 18/European 46 to US 10/European 40) and so on. Really, now. Most of the people I've known who have made a bid to lose weight have a) been unhappy whilst dieting, and b) still had exactly the same life problems that they did when they weighed more.

Being thin doesn't make you happy. Rationally, we all know this to be true. Why, then, do we constantly reinforce this distorted body image as the "ideal"?

This is me lecturing, now.

Stop the fat-talk.

Do not criticise other people for their weight, either to their faces or behind their backs. All you are doing is reinforcing this distorted image and showing yourself up to be judgemental. Even if you think you are being helpful, I am 95% positive that the overweight person in question knows perfectly well that they weigh more than you do.

Do not feel guilty for eating. We've all been there. And really. Will that one slice of cake make you morbidly obese? It's okay to enjoy food. Why not? Food is tasty!

Do not compare your body to others'. I know I'm guilty of that one, too. How, exactly, is thinking he/she is taller/thinner/more toned than me going to help? We all have different body types. Half of the time, it's genetic anyway, and getting miserable because of DNA is just... pointless.

A friend of mine lost her friend to an eating disorder. The two of them were basically each other's ED enablers, and as a result, one of them died. The one who survived has recently started drastically cutting down/not eating again.

There is something seriously wrong with our cultures if things like this are happening.

Being ugly.

The concept of ugliness is not something that we are born with. It something that is drilled into us through socialisation. Yes, there is a 'scientific' model of beauty based on facial symmetry, although I can't find the link now, fail. However, even that is cultural, not universal.

Mediaeval artists believed that the 'perfect' face
could be divided into seven — one-seventh for the
hair, two-sevenths for the forehead, two-sevenths
for the nose, one-seventh for the space between
nose and mouth, and the final seventh for the space
between mouth and chin.

The ancient Greeks believed that the 'perfect' face
could be divided into thirds, with the eyebrows one third
of the way down from the hairline and the
mouth one-third of the way up from the point of the
chin.



When I was little, I didn't watch much television. I had really bad eyesight (I was almost blind until laser surgery saved my vision) and as such, I had no concept of physical 'ugliness'. I read more books than I watched TV, and in my books, ugly monsters were always green and beautiful people always smiled (and were drawn in crayon).

What about now, though? I was thinking just earlier of the movie Nanny McPhee. In this movie, Emma Thompson arrives at the household with a bulbous nose, snaggle-toothed and warty. She is 'ugly'. Does this mean that people whose noses are imperfect are ugly? Do wonky teeth make you bad-looking? Are facial warts the devil?

Furthermore, in this movie, Nanny McPhee's 'negative' physical characteristics magically disappear as a result of the children's 'good' behaviour, and by the movie she is back to her lovely, Emma-Thompsonish self. Physical beauty is therefore a reward for good behaviour? Does this mean that ugliness is the result of a bad personality?

(Don't get me wrong, that movie is cute and I want to squish Thomas Sangster for being so adorable.)

Anyway, I've become distracted.

Like I said, when I was little I had no concept of physical ugliness. This changed when I was 7 years old.

I was playing one of those stupid kiddy playground games that was the current Big Thing at school. Anyone remember Pogs? Yeah. So, I was playing Pogs in my school's playground, and this guy whom I had a crush on asked if he could have a game with me. At some point during this game we ended up talking about the game of Kiss Chase, and I commented that I'd never been kissed.

"Yeah, well," he said. "You're ugly."

...

I still remember this, 15 years later. It was the first time I had any concept of physical ugliness, and it was someone I admired and respected, telling me that I was ugly. Regardless of whether or not this is true, telling someone that they don't look good has a powerful impact, particularly at such a young and impressionable age.

We seek attractiveness. We want to be beautiful like Snow White; we know that Cinderella's Ugly Stepsisters are nasty people and we don't want to be like them. Everyone harps on about this notion that 'true beauty comes from within', but it's really hard to believe that when the rest of our societies bombard us with ideals of physical perfection day after day after day.

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some people say that this guy is ugly/has fish lips/looks like a donkey/looks like a dinosaur/looks like a girl. Personally, I think he's one of the most physically beautiful people on the entire planet. There is debate as to whether Angelina Jolie is beautiful, or Julia Roberts, or Britney Spears. How can we say whether a person is or is not beautiful when there are such widely-varying perceptions of attractiveness?

There is no such thing as physical ugliness.

This may be a bit of a bold statement for me to make, but really. It's true. Everyone has someone, somewhere, who thinks they are beautiful. I used to go to school with a girl who had a strawberry birthmark over one eye and part of her cheek. She tried to have surgery to cover it up (it failed). But you know what? She is one of the most beautiful people, inside and out, that I have ever met.

Confidence is beautiful. Smiling is beautiful. Caring is beautiful. Love is beautiful. Hope is beautiful.

Everyone has something good inside them. Everyone. Even your worst enemy. There is no such thing as an 100% Bad Person, I promise you. Therefore, everyone has something beautiful about them. You could have five arms, purple skin, no hair and be covered in slime; if there's something good about you, then you are beautiful and somebody loves you.

Nothing that I have said in this post has not been said before. I have not broken any new ground or come up with some amazing, original idea. It's just that sometimes, I feel like we all (including myself) need to be reminded to have a little more common sense and thoughtfulness.

tl;dr: Stop worrying so much, and be excellent to each other.
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