Sunday, January 31, 2010

Body Image

As the paper-thin skin of my belly stretches well beyond what I believed to be capacity, stretch marks zigzagging like purple roots under my belly button, I can't help but think about body image. Though weighing more than I have in my life, and knowing that I now have life-long markers of "mom", for some reason I don't seem as bothered by it as I was when growing in girth before I was pregnant. Maybe it's just the fact that I have so many other pregnancy-related ailments to complain about that I don't have time to worry about my itchy belly. Or, I could be idealistic and claim that I'm so filled with the glow of growing a life that I can't be bothered with such trite sentiments as vanity. (Though I doubt this is true. So far, I have had trouble getting that cloud nine baby-drunk feeling that so many women get while pregnant.)

So, when I came across an article about very thin models in Sao Paulo for fashion week, I paused with a sigh. Why, in 2010, are we as women doing this to ourselves?

Models changing backstage during Sao Paulo fashion week via NYmag

What was worse for me, is that I was not shocked or surprised at the skeletal-thinness of these women. But, I should be. We all should be. Is this the ideal form we want to convey to each other: how are we supposed to live up to this expectation of beauty? I, for one, say forget it, and move on. But, when I was 13, similar images had a much different effect on my body image. Is this what we want for our daughters? No.

It makes me glad that I am growing a son. He will be born into a privilege that I, and other women, do not have. Sure, he will face his own set of battles, his own set of body image issues. But, had he been female, I do not know what I would have attempted to say when seeing an image of paper doll fashion models. What would I have said when she walked up to me at age 5 and said, "Am I too fat, Mommy?". How do you answer more than "no"? By the time they ask, they've already been influenced more than we know.

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