Sunday, January 15, 2012

Miss America

When I was eleven I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. I had been a very early developer, but I discovered when I didn't eat and did things like run up an down the stairs to our basement for 45 minutes without stopping, my breasts and hips shrunk back to that of a little girl.

I remember sitting in our living room during this time, watching the Miss America pageant. I had my little diet journal in my hands and each time they announced a contestant, I'd hurriedly jot down their measurements--height, weight, bust, waist, hips. I had my own measurements listed at the top of the sheet for comparison.

It seems like I'm watching someone else when I think back on that time in my life. But that was me. Not some dumb girl. I was a smart kid, just completely brainwashed by society's fascination with the female body and what it is "supposed" to look like.

Don't worry, I'm completely over that bullshit now. I'm all into the Health at Every Size® movement now. It's been about two years since I've overcome my tendency toward disordered eating, something I was only able to achieve after I finished reading Dr. Linda Bacon's book, Heath at Every Size®.

Some friends of mine were commenting on the Miss America show last night. Will and I dropped cable. Our TVs are so old they need that digital thing to pick up a local TV station's signal, something we never bothered to get, so we have no working TVs in our home. We use them to watch DVDs and, yes, VHS tapes. Kickin it old skool, hells yeah. So I had no idea the Miss America pageant was still a cultural phenomenon.

I don't care one way or the other about the Miss America pageant. If people want to put themselves on display in a chance to win some scholarship money, that's their business. But I hope girls today aren't sitting in front of the TV, comparing themselves to these rare body types like I once did. It's sad to think that women and girls today would still feel like our bodies are on display in some fucked up competition. Most people I know who really dig women think ALL kinds of bodies are sexy. And they also know women have meaning far beyond just their bodies.

Not everyone has a problem with beauty pageants. I think her argument that competing with our so-called God-given talents is harmless is too simple. My problem with any competition is when it causes the so-called losers, and the spectators, to think they are somehow lesser beings for not having won.