Thursday, March 24, 2011

The mysterious case of the missing bodies

Does anyone else find themselves harrumphing and becoming ticked off while at the supermarket checkout? And not because you're asked to fork out an amount roughly equivalent to 23 per cent of NZ's GDP for a tray of chops and litre of milk, or because you're here again while your husband is at home watching season 4 of Dexter. That is probably just me.

But rather because of the daft magazines on display, lined up in a smorgasbord of nonsense. And their increasingly ridiculous coverlines. “Jen's tears”, for instance. Followed three days later by “Jen's joy”. Or “Kim's plastic surgery shame”. Since when are reality stars are ashamed of anything, besides failing to capitalise on a photo op?
And among my favourites: How I Got My Body Back. Usually accompanied by a beaming beauty (thanks genes, and Photoshop) in a bikini. Where exactly did the body in question go? On a weekend break? Blown away by Cyclone Yasi? Run off with another woman - perhaps one that had a greater appreciation of it and its capabilities?
Oh, that’s right. It went to the forbidden land of ‘fat’.
It's not the celebrities I ultimately take issue with. Unfortunately, their industry demands they be as thin as possible. If they've complied they likely feel entitled to crow about it.
What I detest is the blatant passing on – for which magazines serve as an important vehicle - of this body obsession to normal women, which in turn prompts many of us to avidly consume these stories.
I would like to think - indeed, have tried to think - that women are not besotted with the minutiae of celebrity waistlines, diets and fitness. That such stories are flicked over in a moment of boredom and forgotten.
But the abundance of the articles, and sales figures of publications containing them, sadly proves otherwise. And to further convince me of the depth of this fixation was my unfortunate discovery of 'The Skinny Website'. Yes, that is what it's called. In big, bright letters.
I refuse to provide the link because the fewer visits it gets the better. Suffice to say it is the creation of one fan with celebrity-weight mania and recounts every bit of gossip on the topic.
I also won't go into a dissection here of how women becoming obsessed with both their own figures and those of the stars stems from society's expectations, delivered via almost every media format. Or who benefits from this system and therefore perpetuates the stereotype. We've heard it before and I'll likely say it again later.
But I will indulge in a bit of wishful thinking: that our preoccupation with appearance dies a hasty death (ok, extremely wishful thinking). And that, in the meantime, publications have a stab at some semi-intelligent and worthwhile content and headlines.

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