I got up this morning knowing that one thing I was supposed to do today was write for this blog. And the internal conversation went something like this:
“How can you write about body image when people are starving and drowning? You don’t do enough; you’re just a privileged little snot!”
“But body image matters too.”
“Not as much as human misery!”
This kind of internal conversation can go on ad nauseam (sometimes literally). I’ll spare you.
Anyway, here’s where I wound up.
The disaster that is Hurricane Katrina is in some ways a “natural” disaster. So is the disaster that is the December 2004 tsunami,
In other ways, the results are engineered, human-made, some intentional and some unintentional, some cruel and some thoughtless. So many other disasters are nearly 100% engineered and human-made, like the disaster on the Baghdad bridge, like the lives of the homeless I pass on my way to work. The social choices that lead to this all can be at least partially explained in one sentence.
We do not, as a society, show respect for individual lives, choices, needs, and values.
In our essay for Familiar Men, Richard Dutcher and I wrote (in part) about how you can frame the world’s issues in any number of ways, putting masculinity/gender in the center, or class, or race and ethnicity, or age.
You can also frame the lack of human respect in any number of ways … and body image is one of them.
One thing we all have in common is that we all live in our bodies. Any strides we can make toward appreciating that commonality, toward valuing our bodies as part of our respectworthy, respect-needing, vital humanity are strides toward facing natural disasters with compassion and intention, toward valuing each one of us as “a piece of the continent, a part of the whole.”
So even when bodies are floating, people are desperate, and government madness is turning away needed aid from other countries, even now, this work still matters. As does (thank you, Vicki) the taste of a fresh orange.