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October 25, 2004

Comments

La Lubu

Oh, great! Lovely! I was wondering when you were going to bring up annual income as a basis for power in choosing a mate....who one's purchasing power can buy, so to speak. 'Cuz, I while I was taking the little one out trick-or-treating, I was just thinking about money, and how it relates to this conversation.

Earlier, many posters brought up how the modern-day conception of thinness (read: not the healthy, lean, muscle-toned thinness of the athletic, but the starving, skeletal thinness that you seem to prefer, since you keep pointing to what wealthy and/or celebrity males prefer), relates to asceticism and femininity....that females are always supposed to deny ourselves of even life's little pleasures. Even the necessary little pleasures, like eating.

And I thought...how convenient for advertisers! That we would all be starving, hungry, with empty bellies! That we would feel this emptiness inside...an emptiness that could be filled by....products?!

Because really, eating is one of the real simple pleasures in life. And the time and effort it takes to cook a good, delicious meal is an excellent way to show one's love, whether to one's friends and family or to one's self. Breaking bread is a traditional celebration. Mealtime is an easy daily ritual of thanksgiving. And increasingly, it is one we are expected to deny ourselves. Calories are supposed to be "the bad guy". Cooking supposedly "wastes too much time"...speed, not taste, is supposed to rule. And I say, "screw that".

And Ilkka? Maybe your time would be better served not really worrying about what "men" find attractive. Men, like women, come in all personality types. And there are more than plenty of men who find regular-ol' women, not drug- or starvation-wasted supermodels sexy and attractive. Trust me on this.

La Lubu

And for the record, if you take the time to leave your house, you will see plenty of tall women, butch women, fat women and strong women with male companionship; you will also see "feminine" men, short men, skinny men and fat men with female companionship. You'll find all of the above with same-sex companionship too. Along with the transgendered or androgynous. Old folks have companionship too.

Look outside every once in a while. It's a big world out there.

But you do have a point about the "old" not getting any play from celebrities or the wealthy. You just have to lower your standard of what constitutes "old" for women...say, anyone over 26.

La Lubu

And to revisit your statement about the "smoker's only" high school dance...are you aware that the main motivating factor that prompts teenage women to smoke is weight loss??!!!

Yeah, they'll lose a lot of weight while they're getting chemo later in life. How many of these young women would take up cigarettes if it made them gain five pounds? Ever seen a cigarette ad that used a full-figured model? Me either.

mythago

But very few people, even disregarding the poor people, exercise enough in an average day to burn even a donut.

And that, not uncontrollable eating, is the cause of obesity. I can stuff my face with sugar and LOSE weight if I run a triathlon; I can live on chicken breasts and celery and get fat if I am a couch potato. Thermodynamics, y'know.

Being sexually acceptable to only 1% of the opposite sex has no better consequences than being employment-wise acceptable to only 1% of the employers.

Ooh, I like this analogy. Can you expand on it, please? How is 1% of the world's population equal to 1% of available employers?

Anybody want to sneer how I must be such a short and unpopular loser myself

No, no, a simple rundown of your diet and exercise routine would be sufficient, so we can determine if you are a morally fit human being or a loathsome glutton.

Lynn Gazis-Sax

Eating too much due to lack of control is the sole cause of fatness, at least in an universe governed by laws of thermodynamics.

You're kidding, right? In the universe I live in, which is governed by laws of thermodynamics, there's plenty of evidence that genetics plays a role in who gets fat (a lot of people don't need any self-control to stay thin, especially when young, but for some even into middle age), that what kind of food you can afford plays a role, that exercise plays a role (sure, most people don't exercise enough to burn many calories - but some do, and those who do are better off all around), etc. But, hey, make it all a moral failing if you like; just don't expect me to take you seriously if you do that.

Being sexually acceptable to only 1% of the opposite sex has no better consequences than being employment-wise acceptable to only 1% of the employers.

You know, I don't see those two cases as at all comparable. Consider, how many people find only 1% of their potential employers acceptable? Virtually none, right, because, bottom line, we've all got to work to pay our bills. And, since your employer could go bankrupt or lay you off, and since you can't go that long without a job, most of us need to know of a sizeable number of places where we'd be willing to work, and keep up a few contacts, just in case.

On the other hand, how many people find only 1% of their favored sex desirable enough that they'd be willing to sleep with them? I'd guess that the answer is a lot. You don't have to have sex as urgently as you need to eat, so you can afford to be choosy.

So, given that I, personally, am only interested in sleeping with less than 1% of the human race, I'm perfectly happy if less than 1% of the human race is willing to sleep with me. Sure, it meant that I had to wait till the ripe old age of 27 before I found someone to marry. So what? We're still married, sixteen years later, and I don't feel the least bit of regret that he doesn't make over $200,000 and doesn't have "star" in his job title. (And yeah, I'm thin enough, but I still fit your list of women no man with "star" in his title wants to sleep with, since, besides now being as old and decrepit as Madonna, I don't wear make-up or shave my legs.)

By "fat" in the sense that it affects things that are important in life, I mean someone with a BMI of 35 or more so that it is mainly fat, not muscle.

Well, that's good to know. I bet every one of Hugo's students can fulfill his assignment, and eat as much as she likes of something she truly loves, without getting anywhere near a BMI of 35. I guarantee you that I, personally, can eat as much as I like of something I love every single week of my life, and still not get anywhere near a BMI of 35. Heck, I didn't get anywhere near a BMI of 35 when I had coworkers who made it their job to ensure that I had a constant supply of good German chocolate (my very own stash, as a thank you from the German sales staff for my support to their customers).

Ilkka Kokkarinen

La Lubu: "Oh, great! Lovely! I was wondering when you were going to bring up annual income as a basis for power in choosing a mate."

Greater annual income provides more power and freedom in everything, including the choice of mate. Since I assume that everyone here supports welfare and wealth transfers, I take it as given that with more money, the same man or woman becomes more acceptable to others, even if this is a bad thing to say out loud.

Surely nobody believes that an average man among those who make $200,000 is no more desirable to women and gets no more female attention than an average man among those who make the minimum wage.

As a result of this greater desirability to women, I bet that if I was shown the wives of ten randomly chosen men making $200,000 and the wives of ten randomly chosen minimum-wage joes, I would have no difficulty guessing which group is which. Even without the makeup and clothes.

"Men, like women, come in all personality types."

Men, just like women, generally have an extremetely high correlation in their preferences, and even though some of them may superficially disagree on what exactly they consider to be the most attractive, they are quite unanimous about what they consider to be the least attractive.

If men really "come in all personality types", the enormous differences in how much competition pressure there is for the sexual attention of different women could not really exist.

Of course, one could similarly claim that some men actually prefer dirty and menial minimum-wage jobs, or that the homeless really prefer to live outdoors in the fresh air.

People who claim such idiotic things are usually considered cruel and heartless. Yet this is no different from claiming that some men prefer to be so undesirable themselves that they have to settle for the least desirable women, the better men having taken all the desirable women.

"And for the record, if you take the time to leave your house, you will see plenty of tall women, butch women, fat women and strong women with male companionship; you will also see "feminine" men, short men, skinny men and fat men with female companionship."

At least as for fat women, the existence and message of various fat acceptance groups is highly inconsistent with the hypothesis that fat women are no worse off in the relationship market than thin women.

(Yes, it is a "market". Free choices plus scarcity equals market.)

And "for the record", you will also see an unspecified "plenty" of minorities with good jobs. Therefore they are no worse off than straight white males, and surely there is no more need for any kind of affirmative action, right?

Mythago: "Ooh, I like this analogy. Can you expand on it, please?"

Yes. Those who are acceptable only to few are generally much worse off and have fewer options than those who are acceptable to many. Some of them might of course get lucky and find a good partner/employer, but most won't.

This may be a difficult idea for a typical twentysomething woman with enough wealth and leisure to study fashionable nonsense such as "women's studies" in an university to fully grasp, but everyone gets there eventually.

And it is a lot worse if the group that you belong to is significantly larger than the group that finds the members of your group to be acceptable. That is one game of musical chairs I wouldn't want to be playing myself.

mythago

Twentysomething? Oh, you flatterer.

Those who are acceptable only to few are generally much worse off and have fewer options than those who are acceptable to many.

By this logic, women who seek any kind of education or well-paying job are doing themselves a disservice, as they are making themselves less attractive and reducing their options in a mate. Where is your cautionary tale for women who spend money on college? Surely we can all agree that movie-, rock- and sports stars do not select women based on the prestige of the women's alma mater. For the cost of six or seven years at Harvard, a woman could easily buy enough surgery and personal training to put her at the top of the food chain, man-findingly speaking.

I'm noting that you still won't discuss exercise, nor explain to us why your own virtuous habits set an example.

piny

Do they have Maxim where you live? FHM? Uncut? Heck, Cosmo? There's nothing shameful about sleeping with strippers. Stripping was last year's jazzercise. My point was, that for all you know, Colin also has sex with zaftige transsexuals. He just isn't about to let the tabloids know. Go through back issues of Life and see how many mentions there are of Rock Hudson's boyfriends.

The other posters made the excellent point that you aren't seeing those people with partners because you don't want to.

I'd like to add: go out after dark. Go to bars in queer districts. Talk to sex workers. Shop for porn. Like I was saying, fat people and other different people are in plenty of demand as sex partners. We're just not allowed to be spouses. In other words, sexual desire for people like us abounds. It's just hidden because (unlike topless bars) it's considered shameful. And since our personalities are probably much the same as those of the taut and beautiful, that points to social prejudice rather than real lack of romantic attraction.

And if you talk to us, you'll find that most of us eventually find loving, hot partners. Being fat or freakish is kind of nice that way, actually: it's a built-in jerkwad identifier. If you listen carefully, you eventually realize that all those people you're missing out on aren't such a loss, anyway.

piny

Do they have Maxim where you live? FHM? Uncut? Heck, Cosmo? There's nothing shameful about sleeping with strippers. Stripping was last year's jazzercise. My point was, that for all you know, Colin also has sex with zaftige transsexuals. He just isn't about to let the tabloids know. Go through back issues of Life and see how many mentions there are of Rock Hudson's boyfriends.

The other posters made the excellent point that you aren't seeing those people with partners because you don't want to.

I'd like to add: go out after dark. Go to bars in queer districts. Talk to sex workers. Shop for porn. Like I was saying, fat people and other different people are in plenty of demand as sex partners. We're just not allowed to be spouses. In other words, sexual desire for people like us abounds. It's just hidden because (unlike topless bars) it's considered shameful. And since our personalities are probably much the same as those of the taut and beautiful, that points to social prejudice rather than real lack of romantic attraction.

And if you talk to us, you'll find that most of us eventually find loving, hot partners. Being fat or freakish is kind of nice that way, actually: it's a built-in jerkwad identifier. If you listen carefully, you eventually realize that all those people you're missing out on aren't such a loss, anyway.

La Lubu

Ilkka, you are missing the point entirely. Apparently, you have reading comprehension problems. Let's try this again.

The starting point of Hugo's post was that the young, thin women in his classes were highly body conscious, to the point where they couldn't and/or were afraid to enjoy eating (you know, eating? necessary for one's body to function?) because they were afraid of getting fat. Are they in any danger of getting fat? No.

Then, women came out of the woodwork on this post with testimonials on how this fatphobia/foodphobia has affected their lives to their detriment. That they feel a pressure to conform to a certain body ideal, not out of any sense of health. That women feel that this pressure, and not the size of their bodies, is what is unhealthy.

Women, particularly young women, are going to extremes to achieve this media-driven body "ideal"; an ideal that is actually not healthy physically. Anorexia, bulemia, and drugs---both legal and illegal---are used to achieve this "ideal". Not exercise. Do you know why not exercise? Because muscles are not part of this ideal for females. Muscle is considered "fat".

Demonizing fat people, as you are doing, is part of the continuum of convincing the rest of us that we're "fat", and thus not only lacking in moral fiber, but sorely in need of things to "fix" us, from clothes, makeovers, weight-loss....to more extreme measures like plastic surgery. Whatever, as long as it's something that someone else is ultimately in control of, rather than ourselves. Exercise is empowering. Perhaps that's why you're not mentioning it.

Anyway. You apparently don't see very many rich folks; without the fancy clothes, they look just like everybody else. Know why? Because they ARE just like everybody else!! The young women on the arms of older rich men are not thinner than the population of young women in general. They're not. Look around. And frankly, most female models aren't better looking than the population of women in general....out on the street, you can only tell the models apart from the rest of us by their height and extreme thinness. Makeup, padding and camera angles make all the difference in the world. And older rich women are not thinner than the population of older women in general.

I find it alternately hilarious and sad that you have bought into the idea that in order to be acceptable, you have to have been chosen by a "star" or wealthy man. And that if you weren't, well, some poor bastard just "settled" for you! Money and fame do not really make anyone better off when it comes to relationships, in case you haven't been paying attention to their divorce rate! I will allow this: good-looking people, regardless of size tend to choose and be chosen by other good-looking people. In other words, you tend to find people paired up on the same scale of "looks", no matter their income. That you regard the non-wealthy as having to "settle" for anything, from partners to jobs...is sad. Nope, I'm not wealthy. I still love what I do for a living, even tho' it'll never make me a millionaire. And I actually prefer a "working class hero", someone I can relate to, to a rich man as a partner.

Bottom line: fatphobia is unhealthy. Foodphobia is unhealthy. Extreme thinness causes as many health problems as morbid obesity, it just isn't demonized....or even mentioned, for the most part. Bulemia in the quest for thinness causes osteoporosis, tooth loss, degeneration and cellular changes in the esophagus, damage to the intestines, etc. I shouldn't have to spell out the types of damage that drugs (legal or illegal) do to the body, all in pursuit of that elusive Fountain of Thin. Bullshit.

Eat healthy. Enjoy. Eat when you're hungry. *gasp!* Indulge! You're worth it! Hell, if you woke up this morning, you're already off to a good start! Celebrate life! And that includes with the food on your plate.

kelly

Illsa, where did you come from? The planet of Mean?

"This may be a difficult idea for a typical twentysomething woman with enough wealth and leisure to study fashionable nonsense such as "women's studies" in an university to fully grasp, but everyone gets there eventually."

Ummm, when I took Hugo's class I was 32, while doing so I worked two jobs and took two college classes. I have little wealth, I make under 40 grand a year and have virtually no leisure tiime w/or without classes. I would hardly call Hugo's class fashionable nonense. Take it, maybe you'd learn something. Oh and btw? I eat healthy, I try and exercise at least twice a week (after work when I don't have school or on Sundays, during my only day off and so called "leisure time"). Still i'm what you would deem fat. Today i'm taking another fashionably nonsensical class (can no longer take two, my commute is too long to accomodate) it's called Geology, I hate it, it's loathesome and boring, but it fulfills the credits I need to transfer to a 4 year university. You know what? I probably could be thin, if I had enough wealth and leisure time to focus on my weight, but I don't. There are other things that are more important, than forcing my body into thinness, being pretty and catching a fella. There you have it. Oh and one more thing, for the record? I lost a boyfriend of 6 years because I refused to lose weight, I didn't weigh as much then as I did now, I was 5'6 and 120lbs. He thought I was fat (?!). I didn't lose the weight (as if there were any to be lost) because I realized that I would spend my entire life with him trying to please him visually. I wasn't about to give up my life and the pleasure of eating what I want, when I want, for THAT. Yes,now i'm single, and horror of horrors 33 and ALONE, but i'm so much happier now than I was then. Fancy that.

mythago

Not exercise

Oh, yes, exercise--as long as it's "girly," and not muscle-building. Which leads to osteoporosis and physical handicaps later in life, but what's important here, right?

La Lubu

Naahh, mythago...even "girly" exercise doesn't take long to build visible muscle, especially on a thin woman. And once those muscles start appearing....well then, it's time to drop that pesky exercise. After all, "my thighs are getting bigger *sob*! I thought exercise would make them smaller!!"

According to the media funhouse-mirror image of female bodies, muscle is redefined as "fat". The only women "allowed" to have muscles are professional athletes. This means that Marion Jones gets a pass for being a gold-medal winner, but Alicia Keyes (who, from the looks of her videos has the thighs of a track star) is told by a record company that she's too fat to play the piano and sing.

Nope. Not exercise. Exercise clothes, yes. Actual sweating, no. It's a marketer's dream....shunting the need to consume food into consuming other products. And perhaps hungering for those products in the same way. Get out your credit cards...

mythago

Maybe it's a regional thing. California is all about exercise--as long as it's aerobics, or StairMaster, or something that "firms" rather than bulks up.

Nancy

All this talk about feminism, food and pleasure reminds me that... Next Tues. is my turn to bring coffee and bagels to the office. Give me your order...don't forget!

Nancy

Is it okay to bring coffee/bagels to the office? I haven't been told 'no', so I assume everyone is aggreeable...I'm the new kid on the block, so let me know if I'm stepping on any toes...

La Lubu

...don't forget the cream cheese! ;-)

Coco

Society puts pressure on women to fit into certain molds, eating disorders are the result of women trying to fit into these societal norms. Sometimes these women are professionals and want to be accepted for their intellectual value, rather than for their femininity. Other times they have leftover feelings of insecurity which go back to their teens. None of us are perfect.

It is impressive to see men that live with, and love women for who they are, rather than for who they want them to be. Nothing could please me more, than to see a couple that is together for all the right reasons. I applaud men who can see beyond superficial physicality to what the true essence of a woman really is.__These men score at the top of my list!

Kirsty

I'm very late to this thread, but it's an area I'm interested in so...
My feeling is that the culture may be training women in particular to associate food with sin as a way to reinforce the idea that sex is sinful. All the women I know who have issues with food also tend to have issues with sex, and I don't think I've ever met an anorexic who doesn't display some serious guilt about acting on her sexual feelings, or ever having them to begin with. There's also some psychological research that suggests that anorexics are more likely than the average populations to have been victims of some kind of sexual abuse as children or adolescents. Some psychologists believe that they are attempting to keep their bodies in a childlike state specifically in order to avoid sex, or in a futile attempt to avoid further abuse. I'm no expert on this and it's been a while since I studied this in college (graduated 1997), maybe some other reader might know of more up to date research?
Anyway, I think that the ability to enjoy food and the ability to enjoy sex are intrinsically linked, as both are very much sensual pleasures. I do wonder what effect rigidly supressing one's desire to eat and labelling the enjoyment of tasty food "evil" has on a person's sex life. I'm one of the wierd ones who doesn't view food in terms of sin and virtue, but that my be a result of growing up in the Middle East where attitudes towards food are very different, and where extreme thinness is not considered a good thing. Whenever I hear people saying things like "oh this is so bad of me" when eating dessert I have to stop myself from looking at them like they have two heads. Interestingly my husband grew up in Asia and he has pretty much the same attitudes towards food as I do, so maybe it is because American culture both values thinness in general and tends to view it as a sign of high class status, which is not the case in many other cultures.

Kirsty

Also, one more thought. Does anyone else feel that the whole "oh, I'm being so bad by eating this piece of cake" thing is oddly infantilizing? Again, I know I'm coming from a very different cultural background (Scottish but raised in the Mid East)so I may be reading this wrong, but it almost seems as if people feel that they need to first ask for permission for ordering/reaching for the "wicked" foods and then apologise for actually eating them. Why should any adult need to justify to others what they choose to put in their mouth?
(and think how many other issues THAT could apply to!)
And mythago - kudos to you for not laughing at the guy who told you that you "eat like a man". I probably wouldn't have been nearly as nice.

Kirsty

Apologies, my last comment should have been addressed to zuzu.

Kirsty

And Ilkka, I'm not going to bother covering ground that La Lubu, Amanda, Mythago, Piny etc have already taken care of, but just to nitpick...
Feminine men don't get any love? Does the name Jude Law ring any bells? David Beckham perhaps? I'm from the UK, and I hate to break it to you but British women LOVE girly boys. Ever looked at your average Japanese male pop star? Girly boys one and all, and women there adore them. Some also adore Sumo wrestlers, and those two wildly divergent sets of female preferences exist within the same culture. People are complicated, and not everyone has the same preferences. Why exactly is that so difficult for you to understand?

Kirsty

"Greater annual income provides more power and freedom in everything, including the choice of mate. Since I assume that everyone here supports welfare and wealth transfers, I take it as given that with more money, the same man or woman becomes more acceptable to others, even if this is a bad thing to say out loud."
I have to say, Ilkka, this is bizarre even by your standards. Do you really believe that the reason leftists support welfare is because we think that it will help poor people get laid?

Joseph

Society puts pressure on women to fit into certain molds, eating disorders are the result of women trying to fit into these societal norms.

I really do not understand it. I assume that women are stronger than this, that they are not slaves to societal pressures.

Kelsi

So I'm a bit late.

All I can say is thank you.

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