Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Carol's Article

Here's a wonderful piece of writing about body size and people's thoughts about that. The author, Carol Hiller, said of the article:

The point of what I wrote was that making assumptions about someone, commenting on his/her private biz is wrong - say anything you want about the effect of fat people on the pocketbooks of society, that's just a bullshit justification for bullying. One's body is one's own, and its size and shape are nobody else's business (except for penises, of course, fair game in anyone's book).

Here's what she wrote.

This is going to be a rumination about common wisdom, but it starts out with lunch. There is a connection, just be patient. Recently I found myself South of the Border in Tijuana at noontime, feeling peckish. I wandered up to one of the street vendors for a little something. You don't have to know Spanish to get fed in TJ, just how to point, and I did. He prepared my order with a nice bit of showmanship, flourishing the tortilla and the aromatic filling together into a tightly-rolled whole as I watched, standing patiently under the gaily-striped umbrella shading his charming curbside establishment. (Sorry: I love Mexican food, but it makes my prose sort of florid.) Anyway, back to Avenida Revolucion. The amiable street chef handed me my lunch,double wrapped, first in foil and then in paper. I noticed he'd helpfully labeled it "CAT". After a moment, I realized this was shorthand for Carne Asada Taco, but that moment had been one of those "time-stands-still" ones. Well, gee, everyone knows foreigners eat pets. Well, everyone doesn't know that. Everyone's been told that, but can you actually "know" something that is untrue? Goats, just as an example, are not always pets. But I digress! I think the main point here, despite the gourmet opening, is that questioning the veil we call reality, as a former radio boss intoned in the opening to his show, ought to be a constant pursuit. Common wisdom, that which we all believe without question to be universal truth, fails us more often than it elevates us. I am a fat person (Hello, nice to meet you.) Therefore, the examples of common wisdom which come immediately to my mind are: Fat people are repulsive, and because their unaesthetic bodies are the result of self-indulgence, they are natural targets for righteous scorn. (In re-reading this point, I see that it actually ought to be four points, but I don't want to tax the attention-span limitations of someone who actually believes any of it.) Scorning ourselves for being fat, apologizing to those whom we offend withour bodies, promising to diet, mitigates this only slightly. Everyone knows fat people have no willpower. If a fat person could by some miracle stick to a diet, she would lose a lot of weight and be welcomed into decent society. Everything would be solved. Everything. Calling a fat person a miserable fat person, by the way, is redundant. This is because diets and losing weight are The Answer, for a fat person. But fat people will never really be happy, because they have no willpower,and can't stick to a diet anyway, which everyone knows would solve things. Gosh, what is up with those fat people? Oh please! Gimme a break!...and if you're a fat person who swallows this common wisdom whole, without question, give yourself a break, too. The facts are that just as the word "cat" can conjure as many images, from tabby to tiger to lunch, as there are folks doing the imaging ~~ so can the word "human." And so can the word "beautiful." Plato's Cave notwithstanding (oh, look it up: it's in your Philosophy 101 textbook), there are no absolutes. God loves variety. We could do worse than taking a page from His book, and start loving, admiring ~ hey, even accepting ourselves and other people as fascinating aspects of divinity. To do less, wasting time and energy being judgmental, narrowing the focus, imposing limitations. Well, words fail me here.Which is a good thing, I was getting preachy anyway. I think I'll just wrap this up - oops, taco reference again, sorry! Here's the way self-esteem works. It's very simple. Trust yourself, love yourself, do good works, celebrate all that you are. When you finally get to the point where you can stand up to the bullies and tell them they are wrong - no matter how hard it seems - mirabile dictu, Other People mirror your attitude.They will automatically validate whatever you project about yourself. Which is what they have been doing all along anyway. You want to change the world? Start with yourself. Question common wisdom and create your own model of beauty, with you as the star. Sure you can!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barb, your blog is a delight. Thank you for posting my thoughts, and thank you more for opening the door for me to your own thoughts. Love the rainbow rickrack, love that there even IS rickrack any more, and love finding someone who is pleased to have had an opportunity to work on her godet technique :)

It's a lovely apron, and you are an artist, and I hope you sell your crafts as well as making them for their own sakes.

Love, Carol

1:54 PM  

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