Body as Aesthetics

So I'm in the supermarket checkout line, trying to ignore all of the stupid and toxic tabloids and celebrity magazines. The had an evaluation of "Top Beach Bods" and arrows pointing to "belly bulges" and cellulite.

Holy shit! You mean the people in Hollywood are...people? No way! I never would have guessed.

This brings up several points, namely: WHO CARES??? I don't get it.

This, combined with many of the headlines and features on women's and men's magazines, makes me realize: the body isn't about form and function. It's not even about function. It's all about form.

On those muscle magazines, do they ever say "Do these exercises so you can help save a person's life?" Or kick a potential mugger in the balls so hard they come flying out his nose?*

No. It's so potential partners will think you're hot, or you'll have six pack abs, or your biceps will be more defined, or many times, just because. Because you'll look better. Because you'll be healthier. Which is really the first one.

Weight loss is rarely promoted for health, not really. The doctor says to lose weight to lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, you name it. Many of them are no doubt well-meaning. But when you lose weight, your friend doesn't say, "You've lost weight! How much did your LDL levels go down?" No. They say, "You look great." Even when you're in the death throes of anorexia. My heart was failing and people were asking me for weight loss tips.

I'm sorry, but that's messed up. It's like asking a cancer patient how they get their cells to divide so freaking well.

Take one of my caveman analogies. I love them. They're so illuminating.

So we have our typical group of cavemen (oh, around 4 or 5) out hunting antelope. When they go to throw their spears, they're not precisely admiring their biceps. They're thinking "Mmmm...dinner." They might also be thinking "My wife is going to kick my balls out my nose if I don't bring dinner home" or that their buddy off Stage Left is going to do the same if they miss again. Whatever it is, they're not just staring at their biceps.

And can you imagine the women around the campfire, skinning the antelope. I doubt there's anyone in leopard-skin print legwarmers going, "Pull that skin back, ladies. Feel the burn. Feel the burn! Let's step it up! And march!" They're skinning the freaking antelope.

Yes, there's a lot to be said about form, function and the mating game. It's not purely one or the other. There should be a bit of both- you can't have function without form.

But think about it- that belly bulge on one of the celebrities? She had just given birth not all that long ago. A belly bulge. That woman nurtured another human life with her own body for nine months. And now she's supposed to get rid of all traces it ever happened? I hate to break it to you, but that's not how the human body works. Why don't we celebrate the process of life and giving birth, rather than pointing "There's a belly. Tee-hee, tee-hee." No shit it's a belly. People are dumb, but they're not that dumb.

*By the way, I love that image. On so many levels.


Faith said...

Laughing out loud at the balls through the nose image! Brilliant!

Re: the point of your post, I often think I use my body as protection, fat on to protect myself, muscle on to protect myself. It seems like it's all about protecting myself from the big baddies out there and yet I still haven't had an opportunity to kick some guys balls so hard they come flying out his nose! What the fuck is that about?


carrie said...


I took a self-defense class and the teacher made that comment when I slammed my knee into the pad. Val is still one of my favorite people. ;)

Jeanne said...

Love the image - ball snot... 8-)

Personally, when I look down at my "belly bulge," I consciously remind myself that it housed my son for 9 months. It's my purple heart darn-it! I earned that belly bulge!

It saddens me how weight-obsessed the world is (because America's culture has infiltrated just about all corners of the world now.)

disordered girl said...

It's so hypocritical, really. The reason people give for looking down or being prejudiced against overweight people is because obesity is unhealthy and deadly. But then, you are so right, if they then "succeed" and lose the weight, it then becomes primarily about how great they look.


em said...

Great post! What gets to me about those magazines is that in ONE edition, you'll have an article about all the anorexic celebrities and then on the next page there'll be an article about celebrities with celulite, or those who have gained weight ... even the celebrities can't win...

I've had three babies... my belly is now like an empty handbag and I permanently look about 5 months pregnant, but interestingly i don't mind it too much (i guess i've got an "excuse" - sad, hey?)

carrie said...


Hell yes it's a purple heart!


See that's the thing I don't understand: if obesity is a health problem, then why is losing weight a matter of "willpower"? Cancer is a health problem, and not having enough willpower isn't the reason that treatments fail.


Or in the same edition. Seen it. And I know what you mean about finding "excuses" for bodily imperfections. My stomach is big because I'm bloated, constipated, TTOM, etc. Okay, those are reasons, but do we really need to excuse it?

One day I'll get there. I think. I hope.

Kirsten said...

Those mixed messages can mess with your head. Tabloid headlines like "OMG she's fat WTF?" and "OMG she's too thin WTF?" are right next to the candy display and coolers of soda at the grocery store checkouts. And think of it, if you're a kid, and you go to the store with your mom at least once and week and see those headlines...and candy...week after week...ay carumba. How could anyone NOT feel confused on some level?

Sarah said...

looove the "balls through the nose." that's awesome.

I'm not in the habit of feeling overly sorry for rich celebrities, but it must be quite awful to be under the microscope like that.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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