22 September 2009

A Long Way to Go, Goils.

My clothes are chosen for comfort, not style and are often handed down to me by friends who know my tastes and intense dislike of shopping. Makeup left my face forever when I passed my 41st birthday. Silver streaks adorn my once blonde-streaked brown hair. Nearing 60, I have become 'invisible' to most of the population, except to be seen as a looming burden.

I lived through the ups and downs of the feminist~liberation age of the mid '60's and early '70's only to arrive in the new millennium to find that not much has changed for women, especially in the world of fashion.

Twiggy was the first emancipated model I remember, as she was only one year older than I and was in every magazine I leafed through. Being tall and robust at the time, I resolved never to fall for the 'I-have-to-be-thin-to-be-loved' dogma that was being sold to us, at a drastic personal price.

The fashion world claims two sets of victims. The first are the women who it uses as models, for a brief window, before discarding them. They are on average 25 percent below a normal, healthy woman's weight. We know how they achieve this, because many former models say so: they starve themselves. They live on water and lettuce for weeks. When they fall below a Body Mass Index of twelve, they start to consume their own muscles and tissues. Several models have dropped dead from starvation after success at fashion shows in the past few years.

And a lot of the rest of us follow blindly along, punishing our beautiful bodies, starving ourselves in an attempt to live up to the Western social standard that has been sold to us.

But there is a broader circle of victims, far beyond the cat-walk's cat-calls. They are ordinary women who are bombarded with these highly manufactured images of "beauty" every day, and react either by feeling repulsive or trying out semi-starvation for themselves. A Harvard University study found that 80 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies, and only 1 percent are "completely happy."

I belong to the 1% of women that are quite content with our bodies. I am healthy, fit and totally unconcerned with outward appearances. For the other 80% - you've got a long way to go.

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