I can’t prove it, but I think that one of my comments on a friend’s Facebook thread got deleted. I say I can’t prove it because I hesitated before hitting “enter” to submit since I knew it would offend some of the people commenting. So maybe it just never posted.
But in case it got deleted, here it is again: “there are people who are attractive in spite of being fat, but I don’t know of anyone who is attractive because of it.”
Now you can see why I hesitated. People who are overweight and don’t want to be are really sensitive about things like this. And it was, of course, that kind of thread. I won’t quote it in full, but the post was something about a woman who was walking into a gym and saw a poster on the wall that offended her. The poster apparently showed one of those impossibly thin and healthy beauty queens and carried the caption “When you go to the beach this summer, would you rather be a whale or a mermaid?”
To a certain extent, the woman’s online rant in response makes sense. Mermaids, she points out, are impossible fantasy creatures, while whales are real, have real families and real sex and experience real love. Which is a good point. People SHOULDN’T hold celebrities up as their bodily ideal, because these people ARE like mermaids. They lead lives that for all practical purposes are pure imagination. I mean, what other class of people gets the luxury of making a full-time job out of looking good? OF COURSE they look better than the rest of us! They are professionals at doing just that, they have more time and resources with which to accomplish the goal, one presumes they have some genetic advantages thrown into the mix, and best of all, 80% of it is camera tricks anyway. Catch them on an off day without the hours of makeup and grooming and they’re really not so impressive.
So sure, it’s pointless to try to pursue impossible goals. Mermaids aren’t real, don’t try to be one. But how does it follow from that that you’d want to be a whale?
Yes, I’m going to do my normal thing and point out that this is a classic false dichotomy: we’re given two choices, when in fact more are on the table. Why be a whale when you don’t have to be? Just because Jennifer Aniston is implausibly skinny, it hardly follows that overweight people are attractive! There’s PLENTY of middle ground here. And the clever trick of pointing out that mermaids are not real doesn’t make any of it go away.
What is so annoying about the fat lobby is that they seem to want to be attractive for free. Well, sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. “Attracive” pretty much implies that people are attrated to you – and there’s the rub: these people you want to attract get to decide on their own standards about that. Now, I understand that a lot of the “pretty at any size” movement is motivated by trying to change social assumptions about what’s attractive. We could argue all day about how posisble that really is (it can’t ALL be social construct). But even accepting that a lot of it is social construct for the sake of argument, changing perceptions about what body weight is ideal isn’t going to solve your problem. Being a standout in a crowd is STILL going to take hard work, because it’s just never going to be the case that roughly everyone is equally acceptible to everyone else. Beauty of the kind people who complain about supermodels being impossibly thin are after is an exclusive thing. By definition, not everyone or even most of anyone can be a head-turner! So even if you get weight off the table as a qualifier, you’re not going to be any nearer to the top of the class than you were before. Something else you don’t have will just come along to take its place.
Now, if there really are people out there who would rather be whales than mermaids, then I say “more power to them!” The one thing you CAN control is whether you’re comfortable with who and what you are, and if you are comfortable with it, then I think that’s great. You’ve won! But if you’re not completely comfortable with it – and that’s most of us – then there are really two attitudes you can take to solving your problem. You can indulge in fantasies about a version of the world that isn’t real and isn’t likely to be, or you can take steps to be the kind of person you want to be. If the kind of person you want to be is a good musician, get an instrument and start practicing. If the person you want to be never loses their temper, buy some self-help books and get to work on controlling yours. And if the person you want to be is thinner than you are, you’re in luck: there are known 100% effective ways to lose weight. It goes without saying that the positive effort approach has some chance of success, while the sitting around and dreaming method has none.
And of course it’s ironic for people to complain about the mermaid poster on the basis that mermaids are fantasy creatures if they themselves prefer indulging in fantasies to making a real effort at self-improvement.
Now, to make my own position on this clear, my own type veers toward heftier girls. I don’t like fat chicks, but I do like my girls with a little meat on their bones. Too skinny is not attractive either, and most celebrities are too skinny. Not to be crude about it – but the 130-140 range is what usually “does it for me.” What’s more, when I look around, I see a lot of guys who think like me. So, if you’re worried about the fact that you don’t look like Jennifer Aniston, don’t. Really. She takes that shit too far.
But if you’re outright fat you’re missing the mark too. And if you feel oppressed by the mermaid poster, I’m guessing you’re not actually comfortable with your body weight. And if you’re not comfortable with your body weight, I guess I really have to ask why that’s my problem? Either get comfortable with it, or do something about it, because dreaming won’t solve your problem. Attractive isn’t free and is never going to be, so if you want to turn heads, you have to stand out in the right ways, and that can involve effort.
As for my Facebook friend, if she indeed deleted my comment, I feel sorry for her. Tuning out what you don’t want to hear never helped anyone.