Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Women are from Venus, but They'd Rather be from Mars.
I have learned this little tidbit of information fairly recently and I learned it from the young. For anyone concerned about body image issues solely in North America, they should perhaps take a gander at the culture of thin that exists in Korea.
While teaching my middle-school kids about the nine planets in our solar system this past week, I discovered that the girls were particularly excited about Mars and Mercury.
Why? I assure you it has little to do with the Gods after which the two planets are named. It does, however, have everything to do with the fact that their gravitational force is less than half that of Earth. Ergo, a 100 lb person would weigh only 38 lbs on the surface of either Mars or Mercury. When I told my class this, there were murmurs and whispers and looks of longing. I asked what was up and they offered to tell me that they'd like to live on Mars instead of Earth. They said that they would prefer to live there so that they could weigh less. These girls are maybe 15 years old.
You might expect that they were saying what they said with an acknowledged sense of irony, yet there was a certain resignation in their voices and faces. Then the discussion began. I found myself somehow remembering what Professor Rebbecca Sullivan said in my only option of Women's Studies during my brief dip into post-secondary introductory feminism, and I started letting them know that weight should always be about health, and never about they way we look.
But then they let me know that that is not how things are - at least where they are living.
On a recent trip into Gangnam - a fairly busy and fashionable district of Seoul, we came across this aptly-named store. Can you think of anything more true than this name? At least it's honest. Though I wonder of the ladies and gentlemen who frequent it recognize the truth in the idea that false beauty is only borrowed, and eventually, someone's gonna come collecting. We went into the store and found crazy amounts of cosmetics and skin creams - among them: "whitening creams" for men and women so that they can closer approach the western ideal of what it means to be beautiful.
It made me a little bit sad, and it made me a great deal more than thankful to count myself among the apparent minority who could give less than a rat's ass about taking beauty out on credit.
Age gracefully, eat healthy food, and tell the haters to piss-off. Their only getting deeper in debt anyway and when that bill comes, they're going to be some pissed. I'm going with the freedom 55 plan, and I'm sure I'll look like James Cromwell with love handles by then, but at least I'll be happy and prepared for it. I will probably also have traveled around the world twice with the amount I will have saved from lack of plastic surgery. There's beauty in living that shows.