Continuing to think about Ampersand’s blog entry about fat and transgender issues got us to thinking about all the ways in which people can come to feel like they’re not living in the right body: aging, dis/ability, gender identification, and so much more.
How serious is body hatred due to fat? Fattypatties has just pointed out that:
“About 8,304 innocent people lost their lives in 2005 due to bariatric surgeries. (Of course it’s more considering most die slow deaths from years of nutritional deficits and complications, but we’ll disregard those for this exercise.)
“According to CNN, there have been 2211 [American] casualties in Iraq as of January 15, 2006 (covering nearly 3 years).”
(If you do–and we do!–count Iraqi deaths, then of course more people have died in Iraq. Nonetheless, the comparison is important, especially given the amount of news coverage of the two issues.)
One thing we’ve learned from two decades of size acceptance work is that often the most conventionally beautiful people–especially professional models– are the ones who dislike their bodies the most. You look at someone from across the room and think about how attractive they are, and they’re thinking about what they hate about their bodies. Quite possibly, they’re thinking that they somehow got trapped in the very same body that you’re admiring.
And that puts the final nail in the really important point about bodies in the capitalist West, and especially America: your body, which should be yours by the most basic of birthrights, is not your body. The media, big business, and the medical establishment take it over the minute you are born and put an enormous amount of time, money, and energy into making sure they keep it. If you want to own your own body, you have to put in an equivalently enormous amount of time and energy. You also have to put in a lot of time and energy (and a great deal of money) if they own it, but that energy is path-of-least-resistance work: doing what everyone else does, and what you’re told. To make it yours, the work is all uphill and against resistance every step of the way. This, by the way, is one aspect of why people get tattooed and pierced.
So whether your issues are body size, body shape, BMI, aging, ability, or just about anything else, you don’t own your body, unless you do the work to reclaim it. And although that work never ends, it does get easier, and it’s worth every minute!