Sunday, February 05, 2012

Oh To Be Slim and Pretty

This sort of ignorance bugs me. If she's truly in the dark about it, then she must be completely insensitive and self-centred. If it's just a writing tool, then... she must be completely insensitive and self-centred.

Unhealthy body image seems to be the domain of women. But it isn't.

Does Feeney imagine for one second that little boys don't notice the world around them? Does she think they don't hear and see the messages little boys, teenagers, and adult men are bombarded with every minute of every day?

I don't know when she "grew up". I'd like to give her the benefit of the doubt, but I don't see an ounce of maturity in her article so I'll assume she's a really old, wise, 20 something knowitall. I'd wager she's thin and doesn't have a "cellulite concern" either.

Ahh... what would we do without Google. After writing the above I looked her up, and check, check, and probably check (although, to be fair she might be an old, wise early-30-something knowitall). And she's "an expert" on sex and relationships. The mind boggles.

What magical formula in Feeney's Universe allows girls and women to see and understand the negative body messages surrounding us, but delivers boys and men from their harmful effects?

I was born in the 60s and the 70s were my adolescent years. Not much has changed in terms of what people think. It's fair to say that the medium has changed and become a lot more ubiquitous and invasive, but the messages are the same. Little boys, just like little girls, are keenly in tune with their environment and the subliminal ideals they are encouraged to achieve. Boys, too, have to process important information that relates directly to who they are and who they should be.How bout learning very early on that the ideal man is "tall dark and handsome". When you discover, by the time you're five or six, that you're never going to be "tall dark and handsome" (because you're short, fair and buck-toothed) you simply start giving up. And when it's usually your mother talking about "tall dark and handsome", and she's backed up by movies and books, but you notice Dad is short fair and buck-toothed too, it becomes obvious that giving up is part of the disappointment inherent in human nature.

The only way you will ever amount to anything, then, is to become captain of the First Fifteen.

When you further discover, however, that you have two left feet and you can't tackle a lamb without getting hurt, your ego firmly takes a back seat on the bus to LOSERVILLE and you start seriously thinking about a sex-change operation because surely girls don't have these kinds of problems!

So, by the time you're leaving High School and you're pimply despite spending a fortune on Clearasil, you're horribly average (or god forbid, below average) academically, you're not going to be an All Black, but in fact you've put on a few pounds because of your two left feet, and your buck teeth have straightened out a little but you're still short and fair, you don't exactly have the confidence to announce to the world that you're about to take over!

If only it stopped there! In every modern generation there is still a stigma attached to having divorced parents, or to not being able to afford the latest gadgets or clothes. These insecurities attack boys as much as or more than girls. In these times when sex sells, just as you never see fat girls advertising lingerie you never see fat guys selling undies either. EXCEPT where those fat guys are the clear target of ridicule and scorn, which happens a lot (in the mainstream media). Not so much to fat women, so the feminists have something to claim victory over. With Dan Carter in boxers on the side of every building, a majority of guys feel just a little bit ashamed of themselves. Every joke about moobs cuts just as deep as the jokes about cellulite. Guys worry about bellies as much as women worry about double chins. And don't get me started about the whole hairy back thing!

If you're a guy and you're not a doctor or a lawyer there is always an element of failure to your life. And the further away from doctor or lawyer you get the greater your failure. Unless whatever you do makes you incredibly rich. You can be short fat bald and ugly, but if you're rich you can still pull gorgeous babes (what does that say about human nature?) There is some salvation for the insecure in being rich, even though your mum still prefers you were a doctor or a lawyer.

These and more leave men as deflated and self-conscious as women are by messages they are saturated in. (And FYI...there's little more annoying than slim, pretty women complaining about how fat and ugly they are)

"When did gentlemen [a strange term in context] begin to bother about their bodies?" Wake up! They started bothering about their bodies the same time girls started bothering about their bodies.

I guess, Katherine Feeney - slim, pretty, blonde, smart (and I wonder if you had wealthy parents?) -  that social phenomenon happened while you were at Spring Break and had your small, cellulite-free bum sticking up and your head deep in the sand.


tracey Edwardes said...

WELL have just made me realise think men have it even harder when it comes to body image. They can't rant to their girlfriends and read endless articles on how beautiful they are as they are,,, or how they can "become slim and pretty" in 21 days. It's easier to feel like the majority/norm as an "imperfect" woman. Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. But a real shame not more woman are like the Dan Carter types somehow turn me off. However,
I married a tall dark and handsome... when i would have secretly preferred a short cute and cuddly. I wonder if that was an image thing? ... but also... WHY do all the short cute cuddly guys seem to prefer the tall leggy blondes ...GRRRR

Julz said...

I have now been educated. Must admit I thought body image issues was very much a womans domain. My partner certainly doesn't appear to have any though. Maybe my Firemans calender is insensitive. I know I would not be entirely comfortable with a Penthouse Pet calender (because of the children of course.....or may not ENTIRELY because of the children) Off shopping for a calender with some nice landscape pictures or even cute kittens.

peter said...

I guess I could have added that just as there are women who are very confident about their size and shape and "don't care" what people think, so too are there men like that. I'm generalising a bit. And of course, men and women exhibit their insecurities in different ways, so just because men don't have eating disorders and self-harm issues in the same numbers women do, it doesn't mean they don't have self-confidence issues that manifest in other ways.

Tracey Edwardes said...

Re: last sentence. Yes... very good thought. I wonder in what other guises it could manifest? ( road rage? for one )

peter said...

probably. and suicide, alcoholism, anger, violence...