Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

As The World Turns

with 3 comments

Sometimes I sit here and read back over the last few days’ posts and wonder how I got to where I got to.

This morning, I’m chalking it up to lack of sleep.

But since I did manage to sleep through last night, let me give it one more try.

In the initial post on this topic, I stated outright that cases in which people starve themselves through anorexia or multiple plastic surgeries or whatever were NOT what I was talking about when I was talking about having ideals that are unattainable but that you still need to pursue.

I called those things neurotic, which is what in fact they are.

I was displeased with the whole idea of the “body acceptance” thing NOT because I think people should run around trying to be taller, but because I think it represents a strain of thinking in this era that is almost entirely destructive.

“Things are just the way they are and I have to learn to live with them” is a philosophy for misery without hope.

It’s sitting on your butt going, “well, hundreds of kids die of polio and there’s nothing we can do about it.  We just have to watch then die.”

It’s watching your crops die because of inadequate rain and going “well, that’s just what happens sometimes, we’ll just have to starve.”

Holding impossible ideals and trying to meet them is not subsisting on 40 calories a day and submitting to 400 plastic surgeries.

It’s going “I don’t ever want to see any of my children die of polio again, so I’m going to sit here with this microscope and hammer away at the problem and maybe I’ll come up with a solution.”

It’s “I may not be the sharpest tool in the box, but if I study three times as much as everybody else I may be able to learn this anyway.”

I think that there is something inexpressibly shameful about the idea that we should all just sit here and put up with it.

That our response to the world is “well, that’s the way it is, and that’s the way I am, and I might as well not bother trying to change it.”

To Lymaree, the “body acceptance movement” is about talking people out of starving themselves and getting liposuction every two years.

To me, the “body acceptance movement” is that guy who weighed 1,000 pounds getting the roof of his house cut off so that he could be airlifted out the top of it to get to the hospital. 

But either way, being human is about NOT accepting that things are just what they are.  It’s about NOT being “comfortable” all the time because, hey, we’re just another animal and nothing more can or should be required of us but just being.

And that brings me back to Dating Naked and the people who appear in it.

One of the things I think is required of us is to behave AS human beings, and not as “just another animal.”

Clothing our nakedness is both practical and symbolic.

It is practical because, yes, it does get cold in Finland in the winter, and even in Florida.

And too much sun isn’t necessarily all that physically pleasant, either.

It is symbolic because it is one of the ways in which we distinguish ourselves as NOT “just another animal,” and in doing so show respect for ourselves and each other.

Going on television in front of millions of people stark naked is not about “accepting your body.”

It’s about rejecting your body as an actually human body.

It’s about defining yourself down not only to less than you are, but to less than you’re supposed to be.

And yes, part of that is that definitely that most of us will never even approximate physical perfection. 

No, that doesn’t mean that we should never get naked.

It does mean that we should restrict the revelation of our nakedness to people we can trust not just to accept the imperfction of it, but to treasure it.

And, trust me, that won’t be a standard to be met among a million five television viewers.

Showing up on television for a first date naked says we do not respect ourselves enough to protect our vulnerable, and we don’t have enough respect for anybody else to present ourselves at our best for them.

It’s like showing up at your interview at a law firm with dirty hair, grime under your fingernails, torn jeans and a T-shirt covered with mustard stains.

Written by janeh

July 22nd, 2014 at 9:43 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses to 'As The World Turns'

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  1. “It’s like showing up at your interview at a law firm with dirty hair, grime under your fingernails, torn jeans and a T-shirt covered with mustard stains.”

    Or naked. Hey! I think you just invented the next reality TV show…”The Naked Apprentice.” Only then we’d probably get Donald Trump naked and that would be a sign of the End of Days.

    Gah. Going to wash out my mind with bleach. I am a terrible person.


    22 Jul 14 at 11:43 am

  2. There’s already a show about struggling to survive naked, although I’ve never seen more than a few minutes of it. What bothered me about those few minutes was that there are lots of situations in which people ended up stranded in the life-threatening situations naked and unequipped, or nearly so. Some of them died, and some of them survived. I like stories of struggles against real adversity, but filming some hapless couple naked in the jungle isn’t that.

    I hadn’t give much thought to the body acceptance movement, and had a vague idea that it was more or less anti bizarre demands of fashion. I’ve always had a little difficulty with paying more attention to fashion than that necessary to be more or less comfortably-dressed for the season, but I do, in theory, understand the point about dress as a way to communicate all kinds of thing, including respect for others.


    22 Jul 14 at 4:22 pm

  3. Welcome to the world of naked people on dates and clothed animals out for a walk. I believe the technical term is anomie.

    If you have neither religion nor tradition, why not? There used to be an observation that the five interests of grownups were sex, politics, money, religion and war. Think of them as humanity’s default settings. Each of them seems to have at least a cable channel these days, and sometimes a network. But there also seems to be a drive to be known–or, better, famous. And so to much of the population “I was on TV!” trumps “five million people know first hand that I’m stupid, ignorant and could lose a few pounds.” Of course, lots of people are now famous for being famous. (What exactly does a Kardashian DO?)

    I don’t know that I’d altogether lump “body acceptance” with them, but yes, so nearly as I can see, the tendency toward passivity is growing. Plenty of people watching games on TV: not many out there playing touch football or softball. A nice crowd watching how the rich people live: less interest in hard work and thrift. And we’re living with the consequences. Getting ANYTHING right requires an unwillingness to settle for a first effort. Being really good at something, natural talent or no, involves both hard work and being at least a bit driven. The current state of proof-reading is a pretty good measure of how much of that is left. (A friend received a message yesterday from his home-owners’ association telling him he had bear patches on his lawn.)

    But those driven people only show up on movies and TV as mad scientists, stalkers or the heroine’s ex-husband.

    Me for the Eddie Richenbakers (Sp?) of the world, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the TV movie about a fighter pilot who spent his nights checking his ammunition instead of drinking and wenching. I believe I was saying earlier about the irritation of a good example?


    22 Jul 14 at 6:01 pm

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