Monthly Archives: December 2011

Body Impolitic’s 2011 Guide To Sane Holidays

Laurie and Debbie say:

This list is for those of us fortunate enough to have people and resources to celebrate with. Even if you love the holidays, love your family, and are looking forward to the season, you still may find useful hints here.

1) To the extent possible, do as much or as little holiday stuff as you want; it’s supposed to be a celebration, not an obligation.
2) If you have enough to give to someone who has less, this is a good year for it.
3) Spend time with people you love and who are good to you.
4) Wear what you think you look terrific in; accept compliments and ignore digs about your clothes.
5) Eat what you enjoy. Desserts are not sinful, they’re just desserts.
6) If you must spend time with awful people, remind yourself three times (out loud) before you walk in the door that they are awful people. Then do something really nice for yourself the minute you can walk out the door. (If the people are not just awful but abusive, here’s some good advice. [The original link died – this is a live link to the same material.])
7) Plan your responses to inevitable comments beforehand. Try not to spend energy on what they say, because they probably aren’t going to stop. For example, if you know that your mother will overfeed you and then, just as dessert is being cleared off the table, say “You look like you’ve gained weight,” try, “That was really a fabulous meal. Excuse me, I haven’t had a minute to talk with Aunt Mabel.”
‘8)’ If the holidays make you sad, or you just hate them, you’re not alone. Participate as little as possible. They’ll be over soon.
9) If you know someone who is having a crappy holiday, take a moment to do something for them that they will enjoy.
10) If you think kids are fun, they can be a great escape from the adult follies. If kids drive you crazy, be as patient with them as you can or keep your distance: they didn’t overstimulate themselves with sugar and toys.
11) You have a right to enjoy things in your own way.
12) Be effusive about every gift you get; then be discreetly rude about the awful ones later to your friends. If they’re really awful, throw them off a bridge in the middle of the night.

If these aren’t your holidays, have a great Chinese meal and enjoy the movie!

We’ll be back in the beginning of the New Year.

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Heightism: What They See Is What We Get

Debbie says:

It’s no secret that people, and especially men, are judged by their height and that height in men is linked to power and perceived power. Here’s an anecdotal illustration from The Social Complex, a blog focusing on “heightism.”

For a “person on the street” experiment, this one is well constructed. Two white male actors who look rather alike, are dressed alike, and are extremely different in height: one is 6’4″ and the other is 5’2″, are recruited for the project. I would have liked them to include a third man of a more average height.

Passersby in New York City are asked to speculate as to the men’s occupations and salaries. The tall man is a doctor, an executive, a tycoon. His estimated salary goes up to half a million dollars a year (the average was $220,000). The short man is a cook, or holds a minimum wage job of some kind. They guessed his average yearly earnings at $20,000. And one woman volunteers the theory that he’s unhappy. So we have this experiment’s conclusion: $5,000 annually per inch. And many studies, some reported here, bear out this discrepancy, although not quite so dramatically.

This is just another of the many ways we make assumptions based on what we can see, without any other information about a person. In some ways, height is especially interesting because it is so completely understood to be outside of a person’s control. (Skin color, of course, is also outside a person’s control, except for some extreme interventions. But skin color is loaded with all kinds of–incorrect and noxious–preconceptions about character, history, and experience.)

If anything about people’s bodies was perceived as a neutral characteristic, height would be a logical choice. So along with illuminating heightism, this little video illustrates just how deeply we are affected by how the people around us perceive what’s visible about us.

Thanks to Sociological Images for the pointer.

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