Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Weight Loss Demons Strike Again

Today, I have a gripe with the media. Yes, that’s right, the media. My daughter, who is a beautiful little girl with delicate features and breath-taking blue eyes, informed me today that she is “fat”. Upon further questioning, she disclosed that she felt “fat” because “no one on T.V looks like this! You can see their ribs on TV.” Which, I have to concede, for the most part is absolutely true…but it begs the question of why? Why do we, as a society, only assign a person the title of “pretty”, “beautiful” or “gorgeous” if they weigh less than 90 pounds and look as though a slight breeze would carry them off into the sky? When did looking as though you are dying become a beacon of beauty? I think I must have missed the memo on this one.

I, for one, and sick and bloody tired of the Paris Hilton’s and Nicole – (I lost so much weight I now fit into toddler’s clothing)-Ritchie’s of the world defining what the rest of us consider attractive. I want to smack each and every designer in Hollywood, New York and wherever else they only design their beautiful clothing in size 0-4. That’s lovely, thank-you…but the only person in my household that’s going to fit into it is my cat. All this ridiculousness might even be palatable if it was kept to its own sick little part of the world, but that’s not the way it is, is it? Every time you or your child turns on the T.V, a woman that weighs 2 pounds is smiling happily from the screen. The commercials continually capitalize on the diet industry at every turn, advertising for diet pills, gyms or programs. No matter where you look people the size of your left leg are telling you to lose weight already, because God knows that if you don’t, you’re going to never find a boyfriend, get a promotion, or generally succeed in life. Is it any wonder that, with all that pressure on them, our children finally give in and try to look like their idols?

My daughter absolutely adores Hillary Duff, who used to look like she had a healthy body weight. Duff now looks like this:

For those of you who can’t recognize her, she’s the one on the right. Remember when she used to look like this?

Something is seriously wrong when a pretty girl like that feels the need to starve herself down to toothpick with eyes status. Clearly its Hollywood putting on the pressure, because a lot of the girls in California start out their careers at a healthy weight; a year or so later, they look as though they are about to faint at any moment...

Though a firm believer in live and let live, these women are in my living-room, God damn it, and my daughter is looking at them!! Each time she sees an idol shed pounds until they are so thin they are transparent, she believes that is the way she is supposed to look!! Is it somehow impossible for Hollywood to bring more than the one token “larger girl” up the ranks into stardom?? Instead of focusing all one’s energy into the “perfect look” I think recruiters need to start looking at sheer raw talent. If we had a bunch of very talented, average sized women beaming brightly into our living-rooms, those little people watching the television would be much less likely to get scary ideas of what they “ought to look like.”

I admit to wanting to believe that all folks are judged in their lives on the basis of their actions, not their looks. However, I’ve had to face the cold, hard reality; in this ole world of ours, there exists certain places where looks are the only thing that really matters. I find it very sad, to say the very least. How can you possibly garner a proper perception of a person based solely upon their looks?? I’ve known a few people in my life that were very striking on the outside and downright nasty on the inside. I can’t really expect Hollywood to ever get that, mind you. It’s too simple an equation for such a complex house of cards.

All I can do as a mother is ensure that Puddin’ knows that she is gorgeous as she is, and watch for those heart-wrenching signs that she might feel differently. It’s all any of us can do, isn’t it? Sad and frustrating as it is; most of us are incapable of effecting real change. I mean to say, beyond the odd activist group, or perhaps firing off an angry and generally pointless letter to the network, we are trapped either watching the programming available, or turning off the television set. I know I’ve made my choice.

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