Thursday, July 20, 2006

oprah and bikinis

I’m growing. In unexpected ways.

There are a few things that I have done in the past little while which I swore I would never do. Here is a list:
1. Eat a Rotton Egg Jellybean.
2. Buy a bikini
3. Live in a basement
4. Like Martha Stewart
5. Fall in love with the Oprah Magazine.

Number 5 surprises me the most. I’m not a big Oprah fan, but her magazine, I would like to tell everybody, is stellar. Very good content, inspirational stories, thinkpieces, serious consideration of women and equality issues. I highly recommend it. The only thing I don’t like is the cover. Oh, and there is a certain amount of inconsistency with some of the articles . . . Such as having a story on body self-hatred which attacks society and corporate media for “decree(ing) what we should look like," when 15 pages later it has a section called “How Not to Look Fat in a Swimsuit.” Hmm . . .

Anyway, I have copied a section of the article which has impacted my life. Copyright info is below. Please don’t sue me, Oprah.

“Body hatred has been defined as a personal problem. But it is a social problem, a poilitical problem, a cultural problem. It is not accidental or incidental. It is induced, injected, and programmed. We Americans like to tell ourselves we are free, but we are imprisioned. We are controlled by a corporate media that decrees what we should look like and then determines what we have to buy in order to get and keep that look. We are controlled by our mother’s idea of how we are supposed to look, and our father’s idea. We are controlled by other women’s ideas. . . .
The antidote to body hatred is social activism and community. None of us alone is strong enough to stand up to the daily onslaught of propaganda, imagery, programming, seduction, and mind control. But as a group we can shift and lift the tyranny. Resisting this ideology requires support. It requires a movement. No diet, no surgery will fix the problem. It is collective, pervasive, and ongoing.
Hating one’s body is an all-consuming occupation and a dangerous distraction. It is an addiction. As we spend our days focusing on our thighs and butts, thousands die in Iraq, 37 million live below the poverty line in America, more rivers become polluted, more civil liberties disappear, more rights for women are being erased. In our isolated pursuit of thinness or the perfect body, we give up our power, our vision, our rights. We abandon a world that is in desperate need of our attention.”
- Eve Ensler, “Belly Dancing,” Oprah June 2006 216-218

I think it is revolutionary to state that “the antidote to body hatred is social activism and community.” However, I am not sure if that is correct. I am all about focusing not on our bodies, but on our community and helping the oppressed and downtrodden. However, is this a permanent solution to this particular body hatred problem? I think that it can only serve as a distraction to the problem, as it does not address the real issues involved here, including our society’s obsession with physical beauty or manipulation by the media at large.



Lori said...

I agree! Even once I've resigned myself to a size I'm not really that store says I'm too big to be that size all the other stores say I am....and my boobs are too big for the size that I am. I think it's no secret that the worse we feel about our bodies the more we spend on stuff that we think makes our bodies look better and anyone who doesn't capitalize on it feels like they are missing the money train. a revolution is definately needed. I must say you've inspired me to action....I'm going to put this Oprah piece on my blog too! Gotta start somewhere

Zac said...

I think that there is a lot of value to the statement. I do believe community and social activism (which really in one way or another is supported or structured by community) is an essential element in the journey to healing and a proper view of our own bodies.

However, I would hesitate to use a word like "antidote" purely because I think the word implies a total solution or a quick fix to a problem. Perhaps it wasn't intended that way, but I think it is important to realize that even with the help of community and organized
social action against improper views of ourselves, it's still going to be a process -- and a process implies time and hurt and joy and all those things wrapped into one. So..I think the statement is helpful, but needs to be clarified a bit.

Maria Jane Tuininga said...

I would like to say, I read your blog, which inspired me to read Ernie's blog - which led me to tears. I need to say as well: that your courage, and honesty is an amazing quality. the ability to be honest with oneself, when in a pit, often feels like weakness (only because of the pit we are in) - however you are full of strength and courage! I think it's amazing. And I appreciate that I could read your blog, and Ernie's blog and glimpse such genuine heart. Stay strong, and I am praying for you! Who knows - maybe you have already been really encouraged. Maybe God is already proving so faithful...
Either way - I just wanted to encourage you.
even though I never see you, I will say that I am praying for you! Oh the love.

ciao bella!


Maria Jane Tuininga said...

as an afterthought:
I think the reason that she is saying that the "antidote" is community, and a social activism, is because USUALLY our "self-loathing" stems from a place of being self-centered... thinking of myself... getting consumed in myself, and how I look, how I should change. When we are reminded how big the world is, it reminds me that those things ARE trivial! And it's much easier to let them go, or have the courage to deal with them. Maybe it's just the first step in the right direction... but without that perspective, it's hard to be encouraged to change permanently... because you can get sucked back into the self-obsessive pit...
dig it? the pit I mean.


anyhow. I had a thought, so I thought (two times? woah!) that I would write it down.


JAnie & DAve said...

Wow, thinking about our bodies is a loaded subject. First off, i think that the problem goes way beyond simply the fact that the media brainwashes us to desire to look a certain way and then of course dictates how we need to look that way; i think it starts with food. Our society is so messed up when it comes to eating, which leads to body fat, which leads to 'body image' thoughts, beleifs and values. I think it is important for some people (like me, who does need to lose weight to have a healthy heart) to be aware of their bodies and obsesse over them, if, it will help them to be healthy. There are so many countries that don't have body image problems because they don't have food problems. I don't have television, but i remeber the many "come eat this greasy meal" followed by "you could look hot in this outfit at our store" commmercials. Some do need to be looking at what they look like, and it seems that to often those are the people who end up saying "i am just going to love myself for who i am" and then comes the heart attack. It seems backwards to me. The distortion with body image lies at the feet of those who just need to keep doing what they are doing. They don't need to shed a pound, they just need to get comfortable, and perhaps a community overflowing with acceptance might help. Now don't take this the wrong way, i am not suggesting throwing insults at every, or any, overweight person, but i am going to suggest that our society maybe shouldn't accept the reality of obesity, and should rally not only for the slender people who can't see themselves clearly, but also rally against the 'food and eating' industry for those who do need to see themselves clearly. I could accept who i am and be very happy (ya know, i think i do accept who i am.. i like me, but i don't like the weight of me right now), but i don't want to. I am going to be obsessed with what my body looks like because if i want to have energy and be around to be a social activist and help others then the best thing my community could do is to say, gently, it would be wise for you to pay attention to you body. Not for the purpose of fitting into a certain size, but for the cold hard truth of health.
anyway, i fight a different battle than the women who need to be fighting against a culture teeny tiny waistlines.

Maria Jane Tuininga said...

janie: I love what you are saying!
Because I undrestand 100% - I think that I could stand to lose at least 10 pounds, not because I hate myself (I think that WHO I am is SUPER... God did a good one on me! he he) but because I want to be healthier, and feel good about myself.
Self discipline is one of the most difficult things in the world, but it is SO important, and it is a Godly characteristic. So when we can control our NEED to eat, and say that we wont LET it control US - I think that God is honored. I think that his strength is made perfect in our weakness. I always struggle with this as well!

I hate it when I am torn between these two conversations in my brain:
"No Maria - be strong, and determined, you CAN say no to things, and that is okay!"
"God wants you to enjoy food, and to enjoy life. Don't be so uptight that you can't have fun, and enjoy what he's put here! (in regards to food)"

anyhow. Usually it comes down to abusing the second point there... that I get so carried away with being FREE and "who God made me to be" - and not wanting to get sucked into this obsessive need to be small... that I take it to the other extreme!

The truth?
I feel SO GOOD about myself, when I have said NO to something. When I have had the strength, to look something in the eye, and say "I wont eat that. I am not hungry, and I don't even need it!"

What controls me? God? Or Food? my body image?

Janie - I LOVE YOU!!!!!
good thoughts. you made me go,
"Mmm hmm!"

so cheers! Good one!!!!