Thursday, June 6, 2013

Real Women: The war on the body

It hasn't come up yet, but I've been meaning, for a rather long while, to talk about my views on women. More pointedly, my views on society's views on women. So it begins...
Body Image.
This subject has always been hard for me to approach. What I mean by that is that as a man, it's hard to express one's adoration for certain body types without coming across as some sort of fetishizing creep. Personally, I've always wanted to have a t-shirt made that says "Yes Fat Chicks" but the veneration of one thing so often translates to the exclusion of another. When it comes down to it, the thing I'm most attracted to in a woman is her qualities, and that means just what it sounds like. I don't have a physical type, because who can settle on one? Red hair? Cool! I love hair! I think you get the picture. Now, some people will read this and think "low standards" but in my words, it's more a priority of standards. Imagine it's you're wedding night. Now, what the fuck are you marrying? Are you marrying a body? Is that really all? If so, I feel sorry for you.
It's generally a universal constant that I am single, and in truth, that is very often, very much by choice. I'm incredibly particular about who I will engage in a relationship with, and by this point it should be obvious that it's all about compatibility and personality for me. Physical appearance is just icing on the cake, and again I gotta say, there's no such thing as a bad icing.
It's kind of funny talking about this, because it's something that seems to have confused a lot of women about me. I identify as bisexual, and in my personal experience, that has been met with a lot of skepticism on literally all fronts. Gay people think I'm faking, and secretly straight, and a lot of girls that I've become involved with seem to think that deep down, I'm totally gay. Now the reason for the latter, is probably because I'm a major fangirl. If we get down to talking about celebrity crushes, mine are just about all male. The reason, though, is pretty simple: why would I idolize an actress for her beauty when in my eyes, just about every girl I walk past is as gorgeous?
Every time I try to explain myself, I feel like I'm alienating more and more people.
I know this viewpoint isn't the most common; it seems that a lot of people know what they like and go after it single-mindedly, and I know a lot of damage has resulted from this societal norm. Sometimes I look at myself and wonder "why does a slender figure matter so much to some people and so little to me?" and I typically end up citing the way I was raised. I remember as a kid seeing ads for Rita MacNeil's albums on TV. One time, I made reference to Rita Repulsa, the big bad from Power Rangers. My mom heard me, didn't get the reference, and tore a strip out of me for being a douche. It was just a misunderstanding, but I still think that was probably a good indicator of how not fucking okay that sort of attitude was to have.

Musical Interlude: Anyone else forget just how fucking metal the theme to Power Rangers was?

Now, I'm not going to pretend that I was some sort of paragon of virtue when it came to body image. If we're being totally honest, I used to call my younger brother fat all the time. He wasn't even fat, I was just skinnier, I guess. This sort of thing kept up until I finally realized how much I was hurting his feelings. Kids can be cruel, but that's no excuse... I remember getting called anorexic all the time at school. I remember thinking I was hideous because I was so tall and emaciated. Thinking how maybe people would like me better if I had filled out more... or if I were a girl... when you're a girl, skinny is attractive. I suppose I developed a bit of animus towards other body types because I was so unhappy with my own. I got over it, of course, as I grew older and realized that a scrawny goth was still totally a hot goth, but that phase came with it's own set of troubles. *shudder*
But still, the crap I got about being skinny when I was younger is no excuse for taking it out on my brother.

Along the same vein, there's no excuse for the way people react towards those who fall within the established strictures of "beauty." I see more and more platitudes being thrown around about how curvy women are a million times more desirable than someone who's rail thin, and while I fully support the celebration of heavier body types, it doesn't have to be divisive. There's a lot of "skinny hate" going around now, and yes, I fully appreciate the well-deserved resentment of the fashion industry, but that's where it ends. I know plenty of people who fit the societal standards of beauty, and that's their healthy weight. We're so prone to comparing ourselves to others, but it shouldn't matter who's thinner or heavier. To some people though, it does, and it breaks my heart every time I think about it.

There's so much pressure put on women, and I don't feel like people think about that enough. Every woman you meet must be so fucking strong from a lifetime of scrutiny and self-scrutiny. The ones who make it out with a healthy view of their bodies are smart, and fortunate, but every single woman is so strong for what they have endured.
Well, those are my thoughts, and I'm not taking them back.

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