Well this video recently surfaced in my facebook feed (thanks Gina) and I woke up singing the song and thinking of these adorable animals. It was much more pleasant than the mental tug of war that is finding a topic for a blog post today. And then it hit me–do a blog post about adorable animals playing with their pals. Win. Win.
So today, I’m going to talk about body diversity. The super cool thing about this video is how all the animals are different. The monkey can play with the dog without telling the dog to look more like a monkey. The dog and the dolphin can swim together without the dog having to engage in a streamlining program or getting a blow hole cut in his noggin. And the dolphin can swim with the dog without feeling any particular need to join “Crazy LEGS(TM) a new process to grow legs in just 8 weeks!”
And it really made me think about our current standard of beauty. It made me think about how so much of our society is shaped around the notion that if we just looked like a movie star or a beauty queen or a male stripper, everything would be just peachy keen and wonderful. This is so silly, and so sad and so very, very wrong. It’s a Barbie world, where all the girls should look like Barbie–tall, tiny waist, large breasts, smooth and flowing blonde hair, tiny feet and all. Never mind that many believe that Barbie’s proportions are not only unlikely but also perhaps impossible. (Some suggest if Barbie were an actual women, she would be 5’9″ tall, have a 39″ bust, an 18″ waist, 33″ hips and a size 3 shoe. She would have a BMI of about 16 and would likely not menstruate.) Yet as we’ve heard before and will undoubtedly hear again, it’s a Barbie world.
But seriously, where’s the fun in that? It would be pretty boring if we all looked the same. And trying to turn dogs into dolphins or vice versa could be endlessly profitable (if anybody could convince them that this needed to happen) but doesn’t seem likely to meet with any success or lead to happier canines or aquatic mammals.
So here’s to our diversity. Here’s to our beauty in all it’s differences. And here’s to keeping our money to go out and have a whole lot of fun with our very best buds.
Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)
P.S. Want me to come and speak to your school or church group or organization or business about body diversity? Check out my speaking page here!
It seems like everywhere I look in the last week or so, I’ve seen more and more stuff about the power of being pretty. We’d love to deny it. We’d love to move past it. But this video interview from Dustin Hoffman, which has gone super viral in the past two days, really brings it home. In case you haven’t seen it, I’ve attached it here:
There is a lot to take in during this short video clip from Dustin Hoffman. I think many of us feel heartened that a man, any man, gets what it’s like to be ignored because you are not conventionally beautiful. We are inspired by the fact that he has this epiphany and we are moved by the level to which he is moved. But for the purposes of this post today, I’d like to concentrate on what Dustin Hoffman says he learned at an “early age” and how he said he was “brainwashed”.
Dustin Hoffman says that although he thought when he was dressed up as a woman for “Tootsie” he was an “interesting woman on screen” but he realized that if he met that character at a party he would have “never talked to that character because she doesn’t meet, physically, the demands that we’re brought up to think women have to have in order for us to ask them out.” He later laments that, “There’s too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed.”
It’s really interesting to me the way Dustin Hoffman describes so succinctly one of the deep tragedies of living in a society absolutely obsessed with the way that women look. He quickly gets to the heart of how this obsession is a tragedy for all people–both those who are overlooked because they are not conventionally pretty and those who lose the experience of meeting some pretty amazing people–including potential business partners, close friends and even soul mates, because they are brainwashed by the dubious power of pretty.
And I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how this comes to be. How and when does this brainwashing start? And in one of those not at all rare cases of serendipity, I’ve also run across a lot of stuff about how girls are socialized at a very early age to understand the dubious power of pretty.
One of these things is of course, Barbie (R). Much has been written about the impossible dimensions of the body of Barbie. We know that in real life, Barbie could barely stand up, would most likely not have a menstrual cycle or be able to produce babies and despite having the outfits for being everything from a doctor to an astronaut would probably find real life pretty taxing for her impossibly willowy and busty body.
Just last week, artist Nickolay Lamm posted some pictures of what Barbie might look like were her proportions more similar to the average woman. These pictures are a continuation of a larger project/study in which the artist compares the measurements of Barbie with that of average women. The pictures are striking. And they really make you think about the aspirations and goals we are giving to our young girls.
Now, unless you want to read a whole lot of nonsense from unenlightened, chest beating, non-Dustin Hoffman-like males, I recommend that you save your sanity points and skip the comments. But in a way, the comments on this post are deeply instructive. Despite the fact that there are links to research about how Barbie’s image can lead to unhealthy behavior and thought patterns in little girls and young women right in the post, and the fact that these studies are in no way obscured within the post, the comments are full of men commenting about how Barbie is just fine, how stupid feminists are, and whether or not they would “do” either the traditional barbie or the doll modified to look more like real life. There’s also a fair amount of moralizing about the “obesity epidemic” and a few women who claim to look like the traditional Barbie and don’t see what the problem is. See? See how many sanity points I saved you by parsing the comments on your behalf?
So is Barbie(R) part of the brainwashing that Dustin Hoffman was talking about?
And what about the princesses? There has been a lot written over the years about the influence “princess culture” has on our young girls. I was super excited to see this video from the folks at GoldieBlox, a small company funded by a Kickstarter campaign which is creating toys encouraging girls to learn engineering skills:
So what is the answer? We can’t keep our kids in a bubble and keep them from all the toys and media and images in the dominant culture. But perhaps we can strive to ensure they also have access to toys that encourage them to learn math and science and engineering. Perhaps we can help boys understand that not all girls look like Barbie and that confining their attention to a very narrow view of acceptable appearance is going to mean that like Dustin Hoffman, they will miss out on meeting many amazing and extraordinary women. And maybe like this incredibly talented poetry slam champion, we can fight–fight for our children to understand that they are so much more than pretty (NSFW):
As always, I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts and experiences! Record in the comments below. And remember, if you liked the post, please share it with your friends. Clicking is caring!
The Fat Chick
Like my posts? You’ll love my stuff!
Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions
Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)