Thursday, September 27, 2012

Joining the Body Revolution

What a crazy week!  My performance on Monday went very well; thanks again to everyone who made it out to support us! 
That's me, rocking the silks to a sweet kirtan track!
 And yesterday, we brought home our kitten from the ASPCA!  She's spayed, up to date on her shots, and tested negative for heart worms, FELV, and FEV, all of which are ultimately fatal to cats, though cats with any of the three can still live a happy, and relatively long life.  If you know up front you only want one cat in your life, you might consider giving an animal that has one of these diseases a loving home for the time that it has.  It would be an immeasurable gift.
That's me and our new kitty!
Anyway, lately the issues of body acceptance vs. the health status of the average American (not good, in case you hadn't noticed) have been on my radar.

In response to cruel critics calling her fat, Lady Gaga posted a new section on her social network, littlemonsters.com called "Body Revolution"  She posted pictures of herself in a bra and underwear, and explained that she had struggled with anorexia and bulimia for years, but was committed to being strong and staying healthy for her fans.  She wanted to help give her fans the courage to love and accept their bodies in a culture that only has room for one body type.  As she put it, "But today I join the BODY REVOLUTION.  To Inspire Bravery.  and BREED some m$therf*cking COMPASSION"  You can join Littlemonsters.com to check it out for yourself, or read Jezebel's article about it.

Surprise-surprise, there have been some catty responses.  The main detraction though, is that Gaga isn't fat.  Seriously?  Should Gaga have worked really hard to gain more weight before launching the program?  Is it not ok for Gaga to have body issues because her body fat percentile is outside of a certain range?  People suffering from and recovering from EDs do not see their bodies as they really are.  That's part of the disease, and it's the main difference between someone with a debilitating mental illness, and someone who is willing to use unhealthy methods to reach and maintain a certain size or weight.

Given, Gaga wears skimpy outfits and shows off her body pretty routinely in gorgeous nude photos, the ad for her new fragrance, 'Fame' being only one of the most recent, and it's fair to say that that tells us it didn't take too much bravery for her to pose in a thong, but these photos are not retouched in any way, and what makes them truly courageous is the very public confession of her condition.

Of course, her fans are overwhelmingly supportive, and have added tons of their own pictures and confessions to the body revolution: people of all sizes, and many with disibilities or other physical differences are bravely showing off their bodies and seeking the courage to love and accept themselves and others.

What makes it so interesting though, is the happy coexistance of heavier men and women posing in their undies saying they choose to love and accept their bodies as they are, and the thinner men and women saying they started making healthier lifestyle choices, and have consequently lost weight, and that they are proud of their bodies.

THIS is what I really want: A world where these two things aren't mutually exclusive.  Where one person can say, "I know this is not how my healthy body looks.  I'm not taking good care of it, and I need to."  And that person can recieve support, and encouragement that doesn't revolve around a size or a number, but around embracing a lifestyle that's better for that person.  And another person can say, "I take good care of myself, and this is the body that I have.  I love it, and it is beautiful," and recieve equal support and encouragement, with zero judgement regarding their size or body fat percentile.

I believe that when it comes to health, the proof is NOT in the pudding (no pun intended).  You cannot predict how healthy a person's lifestyle is based on his or her size.  We KNOW this.  We all know people who eat tons of crap all the time and still have a body type that fits the cultural preference.  For some reason, it is way harder to believe in the existence of people who eat a nutritious diet and are active, but still carry more fat than our culture approves of.

This is evolution at work, people.  Back when calories were scarce, humans whose bodies horded fat were more likely to survive than those who burned through it and stayed slender.  These days, when calories are abundant, that formula has been reversed to some degree.

We've assigned moral judgements to size.   Skinny people are good people, and fat people are bad people.  We blame the big person for taking up an extra few inches on the bus seat, and we assume they sit around all night long eating cheesy poofs and icecream.  Maybe they do.  Or maybe the skinny person on the other side of you does.  It isn't actually any of your business.

On the other end of the spectrum, are these ads being shown in Minnesota that focus on parents recognizing the example they set for their children through their food choices.  I'm ok with these ads because I don't see them as attacking a body type or size, in spite of the body type all of the actors in the ads have.  I see the ads as focusing on the choices you make in terms of what you feed your body, and for me, that makes them positive.  On the other hand, I'm inevitably less sensitive to body shaming because I've hardly ever been a victim of it.  Other people might see these ads as shaming the parents for making their kids fat, instead of pointing out that when you make unhealthy choices, you force those choices onto your kids, and can create habits that last a lifetime.

What do you think of Gaga's initiative?  How about the ads in Minnesota?  How do you think we should approach the obesity epidemic?  Personally, I think calling it that is inherently problematic because, as stated earlier, it doesn't matter what size you are, what matters is if you lead a healthy lifestyle.  "Obesity epidemic" makes it all about how a person looks, and, you guys, we've GOT to know that's wrong.  Or do you disagree..?

Live Omily,
~em

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