Tuesday, July 04, 2006

repulsion, concern and guilt

The Los Angeles Times has an article this morning about "sausage casing girls," young woman who insist on shoving their less than tiny bodies into tiny clothes. It's an interesting situation because of the wide range of issues that are in play: rising obesity rates among children in this country, pressures on women to look a certain way, and ethnic and racial variations on standards of beauty, to name just a few. I'll admit that it's something that I have spent my share of time thinking about -- torn between repulsion, concern and guilt.

When I see girls in the mall wearing clothes that are too small for them is to think (as my dad did when I came out dressed in black tights and droopy army shorts in the middle of July, circa 1986) that the look is perplexing because it is anything but flattering. Wearing a pair of pants that fit would not accentuate their extra pounds in the same way. It's not just their bellies hanging over the top of their pants (like the fat high school basketball coach). The layer of fat above the pants goes all the way around (hence, the term, "muffin top"). In addition to looking bad, it also looks horribly uncomfortable. Can they breathe?

This evolves into, "I am a bad feminist because I should be celebrating the fact that these girls feel okay about their bodies and aren't hiding them," (again, like I did); coupled with, "There are different standards about body types among racial and ethnic groups and you are being narrow minded."

That lasts for about ten seconds (okay, it lingers in the background) before I get angry and think about the likelihood that these girls are going to die of heart disease by the time they're 40 and they won't be celebrating sh*t. Plus -- and this is where I get really pissed -- they're going to teach their children their poor eating habits and pass down the health problems and limitations that come with them. Why are there so many young women with enormous bodies? What are they going to look like when they don't have the luxury of an 18 year old's metabolism?

Little did you know that going to the mall could be such a morally and intellectually complex situation . . .

Jill at Feministe thinks the article was crap. But she's a better feminist than I am.

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