A little something about the Body Politic.
Throughout most of my adolescent and twenty-something life, I was a strict size 8, once I acheived the height of 5' 9 3/4". I would probably stand at an even 5'10, were it not for the thirty-plus pounds of texts books I carried on my left shoulder for the entire eight years I was in high school and college, while my bones were still soft and forming. Really, there should be rules that prevent dumbass kids who are trying to look cool from giving themselves scoliosis. But I digress.
There was a somewhat unfortunate period in college when I gained ten pounds and moved up to a size 10, but those pounds sloughed right off me every time I went home for Christmas or Summer break. Blame it on the refectory and late night visits to the Silver Truck for egg and bacon grinders.
But something happened in my late twenties, and suddenly I was wearing a size six, though I observed no measurable weight change. I bring this up, because yesterday I bought a dress at The Gap, and was shocked to find that the only suitable size was a FOUR. This happened once before with a pair of their corduroys, which I always assumed was a mislabelling fluke. I've practically got shoulders like a linebacker (shirts and jackets are usually a 12 to accomodate the span, not to mention my monkey arms), so if my hips were fours, I would look utterly ridiculous. But the dress? Well, the sizing was such that I nearly tried on a 2.
What the hell is going on? I am very lean right now, from all the yoga and physical work I regularly do, but the scale puts me at only a couple of pounds fewer than my stable weight of 142. And by the way, that number shocks many people, as they think I seem much "thinner" than my measurable weight suggests. Let me tell you something: stop reading fashion magazines. 1) they must lie a fair amount of the time about the "statistics." 2) those women are unnaturally skinny, and I've been around enough of them to know that most of them are bird-boned and are headed straight for the osteoporosis clinic soon as they hit menarche. 3) the camera does add ten pounds, hence #2. 4) who gives a shit?
Why am I even bothering to tell you this? Because I think the fashion industry is messing with our self perception in more than just the obvious ways. I think they are downsizing sizes, as it were, so that women can feel "better" about the garment they are purchasing. That's what I think, and I think it's sick.
When did we decide that less was so much more? When did the abundant and fertile flesh of a woman (and believe me, I am not that body type), was unattractive, undesirable, lamentable, inappropriate, immoral even? If Marilyn Monroe tried to enter Hollywood or a modeling agency in this day and age, she would be sent directly to Jenny Craig. And really, my choice of photo above is maybe a poor one, because it's about the thinnest image I've ever seen of her.
Where will it end? Is the next stop zero? Will there one day be a cipher on the tag for my garments? Think about what that says symbolically. If I am a good and desirable woman, I am nothing. If I am nothing, if I am zero, I am good and desirable.
But the truth is that none of you really fall in love with that.
I have long been afraid that the consequence of the beauty standard is less love in the world. We limit the breadth and scope of erotic and romantic potential every time we insist upon any standard. Apparently I am a bit right about this - the most recent Post Secret included this doleful submission:
"I dumped you because my friends made fun of me for dating a fat girl. But I am still in Love with you."
What is more tragic than that?
There is something different for everyone, and that's the beauty of it. That's why there is someone for everyone. No body is really perfect, no body is really ugly. I wish everyone would just stop it already.