I had a discussion with some friends over coffee yesterday. It began with talk of my new book and moved on to the topic of the book, eating disorders and what I perceive to be the cause of most eating disorders (be it anorexia or obesity).
The root cause? A lack of positive self-concept. Somewhere along our evolutionary way, our society has stopped teaching children that they’re valuable because they’re smart, funny, clever or sporty. Above any and all other personal characteristics, we’ve begun valuing beauty.
My friend yesterday, pointed out that it’s a natural human instinct to identify and value beauty. He’s right. It is. But what I’m talking about is the globalisation of a single ideal of beauty. I find most flowers beautiful but they are not all the same. Neither are the birds I love to watch or the foods I love to eat. Without variety in these things I’d probably go crazy.
Yet across the world, women with naturally slanted eyes are having operation to make their eyes ‘rounder’. Women are buying bleaching creams to lighten the tone of their naturally olive or tan skin tones. With the aid of diets, meal supplements and laxatives, girls everywhere are starving themselves into shapes that aren’t naturally theirs. None of this is instinctive.
It’s manufactured. And it’s global.
What I find fascinating about this, is our unquestioning acceptance of this occurrence within the human population. If somebody came along and tried forcing us all to live in the same kind of houses, all painted the same colours and all containing the same furniture, we’d scream and kick and revolt. But when we’re offered a single form of beauty and one way to be valued, we nod and quietly acquiesce. This is not normal.
It’s marketing. And it’s insidious.
So I say, let’s host a revolution. Let’s love our bodies for the miraculous works of engineering they truly are. Let’s wear shoes that look good only if they also feel good. Let’s develop our own, unique sense of style and fashion. Let’s topple those hungry-looking catwalk models right off their toe-crushing stilettos!
Let’s give ‘normal’ a bad name!