366 Days of Gratitude and Good Things: Day 80

Before I write up what should have been Day 80, a.k.a. 2/14/16, a health update:

FEELING BETTER!! The glue-in-the-sinuses feeling? Almost gone. Coughing-until-breathless? Nope. Still a bit of a cough, but even less annoying than yesterday.

I like this part. Now to figure out how to get my I-don’t-get-sick superpower back…  😉

Anyway, I intended to write this earlier in the evening in the hope of also cranking through Day 81 (that is, yesterday). And instead I’ve been scrolling around on the Book of Face, reading linked articles, writing the occasional phrase mentally but not on the blog. This sort of self-delaying tactic usually pops up for me for one of two reasons: I’m more bored with the topic than I thought I’d be, or it’s hitting closer to home than I like.

Despite the fact I planned to write the post expressly because A Thing on the Internet hit home.

Brains. Funny old things, aren’t they? It shall not, however, defeat me; Day 79 was the Meaningful Cartoon, and so today I share with you The Resonant Blog Post!

Here it is. I’ll wait…

Okay. Similar in theme to the cartoon, and yet different. Less about the society at large (heh) and more about how our cultural conditioning leads us to say and do things that, were we to stop and think about it before the words fell out of our mouths, we’d realize how hurtful they can be — even if hurting someone is the furthest thing from our minds.

On the other hand, when you do intend to hurt, it makes a hell of a weapon.

I went to a private, non-parochial school for K-6. Kindergarten was a block or so down the street from the main school, and the three or four first-grade classrooms and the first-grade playground were separated from the 2-6 playgrounds by a chain-link fence. The 2-6 playgrounds were divided between the boys’ section and the girls’ section, and the only time you crossed the boundary was to go to class.

The girls’ portion of the playground was itself “unofficially” subdivided into grade-specific sections called “properties”, e.g., the second-grade property was a particular playhouse, while the sixth-grade property was an otherwise unremarkable patch of dirt and grass near the sixth-grade classroom. And the reason this has any bearing on the story is this.

When I was in fifth grade, one of our assignments was a report on a state. I don’t remember whether we got to pick a state or were assigned one, but I was assigned Oklahoma. (That Mom was born in Oklahoma tends to make me think we asked for a state rather than being given one at random.) In order to do the assignment, I’d checked out a library book about the state. And at some point in the proceedings, it went missing.

I was pretty much in tears when I told the principal, because (a) BOOK! MISSING BOOK! and (b) LIBRARY book that my hardworking mom would have to pay for if I couldn’t find it. It never occurred to me not to tell the principal. Problem is, the kids apparently thought I was accusing someone of stealing it, and they made their displeasure known by ignoring me as often as possible. No one in my grade would play with me, and for some reason (status, I assume now) it was generally considered not the done thing to play with younger kids.

The fifth-grade property (see, I told you there was a reason) was a concrete-floored covered patio between the rec room and the long L-shaped building holding the third-, fourth- and sixth-grade classrooms. Because this patio was “roofed” with thick ivy that also made the back wall of the space, it was called the Ivy Room. And for a week or so, as I recall, I would sit in the Ivy Room and eat my lunch absolutely alone. I still sat at the table facing out to the playground — a wall of ivy being fairly dull, visually speaking — and on one of the “ignore the snitch” days, a couple of my classmates passed by, made a point of slowing down a bit and really looking into the Ivy Room as if they thought there might be people eating with me, and then one of them said, “Oh look, there she is, all by her itty — uh, FAT self.”

Is it irony that the girl walking with the speaker and laughing at her comment was in fact heavier than I was? But I don’t recall her ever getting teased for her size.

Fat-shaming in fifth grade. Comments about the externals, whether positive or negative, considered acceptable, the norm, because why would you care that the girl might be smart or funny or shy or an extrovert or a good athlete, as long as she was pretty by the standard of the day? It’s even worse now, and it isn’t just fat chicks who get commented about, or to, about their weight. I have friends who are fine-boned and naturally slim and get told, they need to eat a cookie now and then, or have a sandwich, etc. It’s as “bad” to be at the thin end of the bell curve as is it to be at the fat end.

Except, really, if our bodies are otherwise healthy, why should they be considered bad in the first place? Because society is still laboring under the delusion that you can judge a book by its cover, and being too fat or too thin is a sign of some kind of moral failure, or laziness (if you’re on the end I’m on), or being too stupid to figure out how to eat properly, or whatever.

And yes, I know that physical beauty is a thing humans seem hard-wired to appreciate, but pretty doesn’t mean anything but a combination of genetics (or these days, having a skilled surgeon if you care to go that route). It says nothing about character or intelligence or maturity or fitness as a parent or anything else, and I do get rather tired when I hear “Oh but it’s instinct” trotted out to explain why the advertisement featuring the bikini-clad hot chick dripping ketchup on a sports car is perfectly acceptable advertising.

Also, yes, I know guys also get body-shamed, but the difference is you can have a comedy show where the fat shlubby guy marries the hot chick, but I can’t recall one where the fat chick marries the hot guy. (Truth in advertising: I don’t own a tv and had canceled my cable service a couple of years before losing the house, so if there is, in fact, a recent show where the fat chick got the hot guy, by all means enlighten me! No, really.) And in general, as long as a guy dresses appropriately for the location (e.g., wears a suit to work if that’s the dress code), he still won’t be judged as harshly as an overweight woman.

I also know there are exceptions all over the damned place, but I’m going mostly by my personal observations and some commentary about society at large, so it’s entirely possible individual situations don’t fit this mold. Enough of them do, though, to be more than a little depressing.

So the idea that we could all start looking at each other as people first, and not using the flesh envelopes (if you will) to make value judgments, as suggested by the article I linked earlier — that we might all want to start loving our bodies as they are — is one that strikes me as a good thing.

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1 Comment

Filed under 366 Days, body acceptance, body shaming, fear, gratitude, self-acceptance

One response to “366 Days of Gratitude and Good Things: Day 80

  1. My labels were not always weight related…I was called Bucky, snaggletooth, brillo head and toothpick. What is the word….sad, maybe, that we still carry the pain from those bitches and assholes.

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