Friday, January 11, 2013

Last night I saw this article on xoJane talking about Lena Dunham. I didn't know who Lena Dunham was but the title (The Audacity of Lena Dunham, and her admirable commitment to making us look naked) caught my eye.  The author started out describing an incident in film class where her professor called Kate Winslet in Titanic "grossly fat". I paused. I have seen Titanic. It was a long time ago but I definitely do not remember Kate Winslet being "grossly fat".

I quickly looked for the drawing scene online and as I expected, she was NOT fat. What was this film professor talking about? The author even mentioned at first that Kate's figure was "historically accurate". What were these people seeing that I was not seeing? This reminded me of a day I was teaching a Social Psychology class. I don't remember the specific articles that we were discussing but it was relevant for me to post pictures of women with different weights. I posted this picture of Lindsay Lohan:


One girl spoke up and stated that she loved the way Lindsay looked and thought that it was attractive and wanted to be that skinny and if not, skinnier. I was wholly unprepared for this. It never occurred to me while I was prepping that there would be students who would not see anything wrong with this. Rookie teaching mistake. Why did I expect that the students in my class would be different? My classroom is after all a microcosm of the larger world.

All of this saddens me. I still don't have the words to fully express how this made me feel. We denigrate girls who do not look like stick figures and praise those who are unhealthily thin. Will this ever stop? Will we ever promote being healthy over being stick thin? I don't want my nieces and nephews to grow up thinking that stick thin is the ideal. I don't want my niece developing unhealthy relationships with food and exercise. I don't want my nephew dismissing a girl because she doesn't have a 20 inch waist.

I need to head to bed. I'll continue this in the morning.

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