Please give a hearty welcome to my favorite blogger, Emily Heist Moss, who writes the fabulous Rosie Says blog!
I’ve been avidly reading her well-crafted posts about feminism, body image, gender issues, and sexuality ever since I discovered this gem of a blog about a year ago. What I love most is that although she has strong opinions, she’s quick to acknowledge valid arguments in other camps and to point out profound flaws in the arguments of folks with whom she would usually agree. I admire this kind of intellectual openness and honesty. I’m more drawn to this kind of thinking than I am to any specific topics or political views.
So I invited Emily to do an occasional blog exchange series with me. (She agreed!) To begin, an excerpt: Last week Emily wrote a post I loved—and I know this because I found myself nodding and yessing as I read it. It’s a piece about her decision not to join a certain type of gym because of its philosophy of what fitness is all about. She found that philosophy a bit skewed:
The motto is “Look Good Naked.” They have classes like “Pain and Pleasure,” and “ASSolutely ABBulous” (Note: I have no idea why they capitalize the second B). The trainer, in his reiteration of the gym’s training focus, referred to helping clients “achieve a certain aesthetic vision”…
I want my body to be healthier and stronger, and I measure that by achievement. Run longer, run faster, do more push-ups, hold hurdler’s pose an extra two breaths. I’m not saying I don’t look in the mirror every once in a while and wonder what life would be like with a body different than the one I have, I do. But then I remind myself that this is the body I’ve got, and it’s actually pretty f***ing awesome, and I smile and move on with my day.
I love this. And the day I read it, I happened to find this utterly ridiculous ad on a coffeehouse bathroom wall:
I tweeted it to Emily (@rosiesaysblog), and she quickly added this:
Check out that last line one more time: “You might not get to wear a crown, but your body will get the recognition it deserves.” Let’s parse that, shall we?
1. Wearing a crown is something to be celebrated: I could write a whole other post about beauty pageants, but I’ll save that for another time. Regardless of how you feel about pageantry, note here that the structure of this sentence implies that the goal is not to succeed in the competition, but to literally wear the sparkly thing. This is the adult version of princess culture.
2. Your body, not you, will get recognition: If we grant that a beauty pageant has additional, non-aesthetic components (i.e. community service, leadership, etc), then why is your body the thing that we are recognizing? The personification of “the body” as something different than a component of your multi-faceted self is a dangerous way of reducing you to your “useful” parts, and the parts of you that are still useful are the parts that fit into a bikini.
3. Bodies deserve recognition: Bodies are for being looked at by other people. Bodies are for other people to appreciate. Bodies are for other people to notice, judge, desire, and use. No. Your body is for you to inhabit and enjoy. Manipulating your body for the benefit of someone else–anyone else–is a slippery, slippery slope that ends in Bridalplasty.
Let me rewrite history and this ad campaign. How about the last line says: You might not have won, but at least you’ve been treating your body well.
For more excellence like this, get thee to the Rosie Says blog and enjoy yourself immensely.
Related post: HER Nashville Article about Fitness at 40
Related post: Fun Things I Once Did with This Body