Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mermaid vs Whale: A Commentary on Body Shapes

This post has been a long time coming.  I've just been having this sit in my "Drafts" area.  But I wanted to give this enough thought, and really I needed time to give I enough thought.

I saw this post on Facebook a while back with the accompanying photo.
French model Tara Lynn
A while back, at the entrance of a gym, there was a picture of a very thin and beautiful woman. The caption was "This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"

The story goes, a woman (of clothing size unknown) answered the following way: 

"Dear people, whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans), they are sexually active and raise their children with great tenderness.
They entertain like crazy with dolphins and eat lots of prawns. They swim all day and travel to fantastic places like Patagonia, the Barents Sea or the coral reefs of Polynesia.
They sing incredibly well and sometimes even are on cds. They are impressive and dearly loved animals, which everyone defend and admires.

Mermaids do not exist.

But if they existed, they would line up to see a psychologist because of a problem of split personality: woman or fish?
They would have no sex life and could not bear children.
Yes, they would be lovely, but lonely and sad.
And, who wants a girl that smells like fish by his side?

Without a doubt, I'd rather be a whale.

At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends.

We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn't enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies.
We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated.
Every time I see my curves in the mirror, I tell myself: "How amazing am I ?! "
Okay....did you get all that?

I feel like this is one of those stories where 1 person shares it, and it becomes a friend's story, then it becomes a friend of a friend's story, then it becomes someone my friend knows' story.  But with the power of Facebook, this happens much faster.  Now, I'm about to take this apart, piece by piece.

The Gym
Let me first address this alleged sign an alleged gym allegedly posted.  I think it was a horrible horrible analogy, and I'm sure we can agree on that.  The fact that it plays on the negative body image as well as the issue of name-calling is just straight up bullying...and you're talking to the girl who goes to early-morning bootcamp workouts. While I guess one could say that this would help bring the gym more customers, it might not bring any real results because the gym is promoting a negative self-image to begin with.

The Woman's Response
Now let me address the alleged response from this alleged woman.  You know, I don't think that putting down the other group makes you better.  People come in all shapes and sizes.  Some people's bodies are naturally skinny, while some people's bodies are naturally thicker.  Nothing wrong with either as long as they're being healthy.  Whales look the way they are because that's how they have evolved, not because they think their curves are sexy (though, I guess I don't want to speak for the whales...).

Also, "who wants a girl that smells like a fish by his side"?  Really?  She's just as guilty at promoting a negative self-image by making women more self-conscious about how they smell.  The whole smelling like fish thing really isn't helping.  Fact: any unusual odor is caused by bacteria or lack your armpits and your vagina.  Does she realize how many women are already so self-conscious about their vaginas?  So self-conscious that it might prevent them from becoming intimate with a partner?  Why make it worse?

The woman goes on to specify that if they did exist that they would have emotional and mental problems, and they would be lonely because they would be unable to bear children.  But in so many stories, mermaids are part of a family. Shape surely doesn't define how satisfied one is with their life or how social they are.

Shape can reflect the health of a person, but being extremely thin or extremely obese are (obviously) extremes that are not desired.  It's so cliche, but moderation is really a good way to go about it.

Mermaid vs Whale
As a fan of ocean creatures and mythical creatures, it's weird to me that this comparison has happened and then was propagated in that woman's response.  Who says that a mermaid has to be super skinny?  Who decided this?  Being that they are mythical creatures, it doesn't seem fair to decide that they look one way versus another.

Don't get me wrong.  Being that I've got curves, I definitely favor a more curvy shape in my mermaids.  But that's a personal opinion.  Some people don't like whales or mermaids, and that's okay.

But using them for the purposes of making women feel less beautiful seems like an unfair and unproductive thing indeed.

1 comment:

Well, hello there! What's on your mind?

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