Monthly Archives: September 2012

In Defense of Thin People

As an avid Tumblr-enthusiast/homework-procrastinator, I find all sorts of time-absorbing blogs that I identify with. One that I found recently is geared toward “skinny girl problems.” Spending 2 hours perusing all the problems and reader remarks reinforced the notion that naturally thin people are not without their problems. As a thin person myself, I’m cognizant that we do face a certain kind of discrimination but it’s not acceptable to complain about them. I’d like to list some problems slender people face:

According to the haute couture would, clothes should fit slender people better because their bodies show off the clothes best. Somehow, off the runway and in the real world, that’s not always the case unless you have clothes tailored to you. Some shirts are boxy on thin people. Pants that fit well around the legs are baggy around the waist. Sometimes the smallest size isn’t small enough and you end up looking like a five year old playing dress-up.

This may just be me but sometimes bones stick out and it’s a part of your natural build. My ribs, wrists, hip bones and spine stick out. On a traumatic anecdotal note, I have a particular hang up about my spine after someone rubbed my back and pointed out that being able to feel my vertebrae is “weird” and “gross.” It’s not something I can pop back into place. But thanks for scarring me from ever accepting a back rub again.

People feel compelled to physically pick you up when you’re thin. It is quite unnerving to know that about half the population, excluding (most) small children and elderly individuals with brittle bones, can pick you up at any moment and move you against your will.

It is socially acceptable to say “Eat a cookie/sandwich/burger” but it’s definitely not okay to say “put down the cookie/sandwich/burger.” In my opinion, it’s okay to offer someone a cookie if you’ve just baked some. It’s not okay to say “Eat a cookie” if someone looks too skinny for your standards. Similarly, it’s perfectly acceptable to say “Put down the cookie” if you see a spider crawling on it. It’s not okay to say “Put down the cookie” if you think someone weighs too much. Neither remark should be made in relation to someone’s weight.

Anorexia accusations are another hot button for thin people. It’s become socially acceptable to label someone as anorexic with no proof other than their appearance. It’s not right to flippantly diagnose a disorder like that by sight, especially sans a medical degree. If someone is suffering from an eating disorder, hearing whispers on the street about looking terrible, so they must be anorexic or hearing “(s)he must be bulimic,” isn’t going to help any.

My biggest grievance concerning thinness, perceptions and body image in general lies with a recent media turnaround. In an attempt to be more inclusive to different body types, there’s been a media trend promoting “Real women have curves.” So a skinny woman without curves is not a legitimate woman? While making it clear that the thin body type does not come naturally to all people, these ads have also fostered the sense that attacking the rare “ideal” type body is acceptable. Facebook is littered with images comparing the likes of small modern day actresses to Marilyn Monroe type women with the title “When did this (Kate Bosworth) become sexier than this (Marilyn Monroe)?” My issue is that it approaches beauty/sexiness in a divergent manner. It’s creating a war between body types. Let’s quit knocking one body type in favor of another; embrace whatever your given body type is. The best way to combat media, culture and social pressure to fit the current mold of beauty is to define beauty for yourself.

This is college

Life is demanding. Or perhaps it’s not life that’s demanding but other people and institutional requirements and the pressure jumping through too many hoops just to earn a living because for some reason we have to justify our own existence in an overly complicated society in which selling yourself is more important than being yourself.

Anyway, I’ve been in academia for practically all of my life, and since schools are supposed to prepare you for the next year (as if the whole goal of being ten years old is become eleven) until you eventually enter the real world, I suspect that both schools and the real world are pretty much skewed to around the same degree.

This is college. Read this book. Write a paper. Take this test. Quiz on Monday. Change the fonts on all of these files. Organize these folders. Application due next week. Go to this conference. Do a giveback project. Go to another conference. Another giveback project. Go to this event. Write an article. Training session this weekend. Get involved. Start a student organization. Join a student organization. Join an honor society. Join another. There’s a meeting tomorrow. Deliver these papers. Can you make a flier? Put up these fliers. We’re tabling next week. Support your fellow organizations. Work together. Go to Bursar. Go to Student Records. Can you write about this event? Coordinate a group project. Send out those emails. Reply to these emails. Organize a discussion event. Apply for funding. Lunch meeting today. Do an internship. Get another internship. Update your resume. Go to this meeting. Make a plan. Make sure you network. Fill out these forms. Assignment is due at midnight. Plan out your future. Go to a workshop. Find a working printer. Return a call. Request recommendation letters. Return emails. Read the next chapter. Do service learning projects. Join a committee. Become a tour guide. Request a transcript. Check BlackBoard. Translate these sentences. Talk in class or your participation grade suffers. Catch up on emails. Meet with your adviser. What are you doing after you graduate? Can you help this weekend? Do this. Do that. I need something from you.

That’s not everything. I have more meaningful memories from college, but not much that could be put on a resume or be found in a syllabus or a transcript. Maybe a recommendation letter, but that’s still a stretch.

There is probably more reason to college than academics, resumes, and meetings. Perhaps email or maybe sports teams.

The real meaning is probably under the noise of the demands and deadlines.

The Meaning of Everything, revisited

Remember back in grade school when you would come across an unfamiliar word while reading a fable about a fox that wanted grapes or something? You could either flip through a dictionary to find its meaning or you could save yourself the hassle and use context clues, which could be rather obvious in a grade school story book.

Context clues can work because things only have meaning in context. It’s easiest to notice when things are taken out of their original context, such as when politicians are quoting each other. You don’t have to watch the news for too long before someone claims that their statements are being taken out of context, and everyone intuitively knows that changes the meaning.

The same is true of the Bible. For some reason, several people who want to make the lives of the LGBT community less awesome often like to quote single Biblical passages, even though religious experts agree that the holy books do not really condemn homosexuality and such phrases are taken out of context, both Biblical and cultural.

Meaning can also be unclear. For example, “I want water or tea with ice.” Does that mean that I want either water without ice or tea with ice, or does it mean that I want ice in whichever drink I get?  It’s a bad English sentence with fuzzy meaning.

Meaning could also be completely absent, such as in Noam Chomsky’s grammatically correct statement, “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” In this context the individual words contractdict each other and render the total meaning nonsensical.

As the Indian speaker and teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “Action has meaning only in relationship…” For example, let’s say that I throw a punch into the air. There’s very little relationship in this case –just air being moved– so it’s not a very significant action. However, if I punch my roommate’s nose, that action has a much greater relationship, and thus more significance.

So meaning can only exist in context or relationship, but that says little about how it is created or even what it is or if it’s all just a figment of our minds, but lets ignore that for now.

With the understanding that meaning can only exist in relationship, what is the meaning for everything? The question itself breaks down because there is nothing else for everything to relate to. Thus everything simply is as it is, and that is it. No meaning, no purpose, just existence.

Although, you could mention everything’s relationship in respect to nothing or perhaps to itself, but this is getting beyond me.