Sunday, October 13, 2013

Why I'm tired of hearing about "body image"

The internet is full of positive body image literature. I recently ran across this one and it got me to thinking.

Why is this a women's-only issue?

To be clear, it's not a women's-only issue. It's just spun that way. The most of the body-pride crowd and many feminists argue the issue in a way that you'd think it's only women that are victimized by over-sexualization and physical perfection.

This is nonsense. Watch any modern romantic comedy or TV show aimed at women (Grey's Anatomy, for example) and you can see proof that women aren't alone when it comes to being sexualized, objectified, and held up to a standard of physical perfection.

It is common to hear women fawning over their favorite movie stars and musicians. Men are expected to keep their own thoughts on movie stars and musicians to themselves. "Do as I say, not as I do" is no way to rectify a problem.

In fact, I would argue that body image issues in the modern day are in some ways worse for men. I know that sounds crazy, but hear me out: who would a man talk to if he has a body image issue?

The internet is full of positive body image resources for women, but they are few and far between for men.

Are you going to go talk to your buddies about it? Unlikely. For that matter, I don't think many women talk to their friends about it either. Too close for comfort, perhaps.

Would you talk to your girlfriend? Ah, here we go. Let me relay, from personal experience, how that conversation would go:

  •  Boyfriend--I need to lose weight. I look and feel like garbage.
  • Girlfriend--Oh, babe, don't be crazy! I love your little gut and love handles! They're cute!
Now imagine how that conversation would go if the roles were reversed. I don't think I need to type all the profanity and verbal threats that would ensure for you to get the gist of what would happen.

Why is it okay for men to feel like crap, but for women to be treated delicately?

In short, it's not.

If the answer for a man is "Eat better and exercise more" then that's the same answer for women, too. We're doing a great disservice by allowing people on the margins an "out" by rationalizing poor health choices. "Love your body" is great unless you are one of the people who has an actual weight problem and need to lose weight to be healthy. Healthy doesn't mean "thin" but it also doesn't mean "fat".

If you're fat, like me, you need to take off the kiddie gloves and own it: I hate exercise and I love food and I'll die sooner than necessary but that's worth it to me. I can respect that. But when you're living an unhealthy lifestyle and using positive body image propaganda to rationalize your poor choices and be in denial about your health, I can't respect that. You are fooling yourself and hurting yourself in the process. You don't need to talk to a doctor to know that's not a good thing.

Eat healthy and exercise and feel better, or continue your ways and own it. Pick one. But don't keep pissing on yourself and telling yourself it's raining. And don't expect to be treated with kiddie gloves on the sensitive issue of body image if you're not going to do the same for the men in your life. Believe it or not, a lot of us suffer from the same insecurities as you. The difference is that it's okay for women to talk about it and lean on one another, but we men are all stranded on our own islands feeling less-than.

If your goal is to be treated equally, the way to accomplish that is not by imposing a double-standard or demanding special treatment. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, the Golden Rule, and so forth. We all know these principles from the age of preschool, but we tend to lose sight of them when we get older.

"Treat others the way you want to be treated." It really is that simple.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

You mad, bro?

When did we slip into this vortex? If you listen to people talk in restaurants and bars or (gulp) read the comment sections on blogs, it seems like everyone is angry. Angry at the EPA for "destroying coal;" angry at the IRS for "committing unconstitutional acts of robbery;" angry at the media and it's "liberal bias" that hides the crimes of the Washington elite; and overlaying all that, people are mad at that "black Muslim socialist" that's the root of all this evil.


Everything is so extreme. People you don't like "surrender" if you win a point; someone with an alternative viewpoint "blasts" others; everything you don't like is "destroying" America and is "Anti-American;" disliked leaders are called "dictators" and "terrorists" just because their plan to get from A to B is different than your plan to get from A to B.

Why aren't people allowed to pick a middle road? The "extremification" of America is forcing moderate people to pick the left or right side, and it's pushing those already on the left or right way out onto the brink of insanity. You only need to watch C-SPAN or read Facebook comments on news stories to see that it's happened and it's happened in a big way.

America's new religion is anger. Angry all the time and at everything, persistently persistent in not listening to alternate viewpoints. "You're wrong and I hope you die at the hands of a wood chipper" is not a great attitude to have toward anyone or anything you deem to not be on your side of an issue.

I recently got into a Facebook battle with a guy I didn't know. I had commented on a mutual friend's post about the Affordable Care Act (which featured some very out of date and demonstrably inaccurate claims). Even though my post was even-handed and at its core was completely aligned with the viewpoint of this stranger, he took offense with one element of my analysis and implemented a scorched earth policy. He attacked my intelligence, age, experience, manhood, and national allegiance. The fact that we were on the same side of the issue was irrelevant to him. He was looking for a fight from the safety of his computer and he got one. I engaged him a little bit because, hey, I'm only human.

But after typing a long, point-by-point analysis of his attacks and why they are bogus and stupid, I realized there's no sense in this. Why spend time being angry and catty and rude? I took the high road and immediately felt better. No more aggravation, no more elevated heart rate, no more bad feelings. It was over more quickly than it had begun.

I'm sure it's too much to ask of people to remember that we are all human beings. Our views are different, but we should still be able to be civil and get along. Differences should be discussed politely and thoughtfully, not shouted out in a series of ad hominem bursts and strawmen. But with the ability to say anything you want at any time, what's to stop you from calling the president a "black Muslim faggot" or telling a stranger you hope he and his family are murdered in their home?

A little common decency would prevent it. Is that really too much to ask?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

When Douchebags Get Together #fitchthehomeless

"Abercrombie & FitchBy Taymaz Valley
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.
"Upset about Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries' recent explanation that his brand refuses to cater to plus-size people and would rather burn its returned clothes than donate them, an LA video producer named Greg Karber got a big idea: Give Abercrombie a “brand readjustment” by giving Abercrombie and Fitch clothes to people who are homeless.

. . . 

But as New York homeless-advocacy group Picture The Homeless explained,  'If you give to the homeless only to punish douchebags, you’re probably a douchebag yourself.'"