Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Challenge of Body Image

There's an email going around that I've gotten a few times:
Recently, in a large city in Australia, a poster featuring a young, thin and tan woman appeared in the window of a gym. It said, "This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"
A middle-aged woman, whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.
To Whom It May Concern,
Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans.) They have an active sex life, get pregnant and have adorable baby whales. They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp. They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia, the Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia.
Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs.
They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans.
They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.
Mermaids don't exist. If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. Fish or human? They don't have a sex life because they kill men who get close to them, not to mention how could they have sex? Just look at them ... where is IT? Therefore, they don't have kids either.
Not to mention, who wants to get close to a girl who smells like a fish store?
The choice is perfectly clear to me: I want to be a whale.
P.S. We are in an age when media puts into our heads the idea that only skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my kids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver, and a piece of chocolate with my friends. With time, we gain weight because we accumulate so much information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no more room, it distributes out to the rest of our bodies. So we aren't heavy, we are enormously cultured, educated and happy.
Beginning today, when I look at my butt in the mirror I will think, ¨Good grief, look how smart I am!¨
It's cute, right? But the message bothered me and today I finally figured out why.
I have decided that I don’t like either message. The message has to be HEALTH, not appearance and not immediate gratification. It’s not healthy for a human being to be a whale. The first time I saw this, it validated my decision to eat what I liked, when I liked, and who cares if I had to wear tents instead of clothes. But I was close to becoming seriously ill, with issues that would have become permanent.

I’ve decided that the message I’d like my kids to learn is that G-d gave us our bodies. Our bodies are loans. They are not ours to use or abuse as we like. Just as we have to take good care of an object we borrow, so, too, our bodies. We don’t try to be healthy because that will extend our life. Only Hashem decides when and where our life ends, no matter how much damage or care we put in. We try to be healthy because Hashem gave us a commandment to 'guard our souls' which is understood by many to mean that one should not endanger oneself.

What do people think?

1 comment:

freideleebs said...

The poster went to the right, the answer went to the left, and you came right up in the middle. Some of what the woman said is okay - once in a while it is okay to have something - but not all the time. Your take on things is sound, logical and sensible.

good going, girl!