It's been almost two months since my last update. Oops.
I don't mean to neglect this journal... I love blogging very much, just that it no longer takes up a central part of my life as it used to be. I mean, I sometimes even think about the stuff that I want to write here just before I sleep... and I end up being insomniac and not drifting off to sleep until the morning light filters through the white blinds and by then, my husband is up and ready to go for work.
And when I finally wake up groggily at 12 or 1pm, half the day is gone. I start my day doing house chores, preparing myself a light lunch, learn my Japanese, surf a little internet, prepare dinner... and then my dad has ended, sort of. But I do have things I want to write about, it's just that I never got around doing it.
Recently I started to watch 康熙来了, which is a very popular and long-running Taiwanese talk show that is akin to Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen DeGeneres, just that it is ten times more sarcastic and the talk show hosts often go all out in an attempt to expose their guest stars' secrets etc. While I don't dig the gossipy part of it, it is indeed very funny and comical sometimes and the witty repartee helps me to retain my Chinese skills I think.
Just a few days ago, my husband and I were watching this show and they invited several men who were known in the Taiwanese entertainment industry to be 'good' at guessing women's ages from their physical appearances, such as their arms ('butterfly', i.e., flabby arms), shins, kneecaps, necks and etc. To a Westerner, this is obviously very devaluing and rude to any ladies but the truth is, men do this all the time to women. While they might not verbalise their thoughts always, most men do sort of 'grade' women through this kind of evaluation, which of course, needless to say, is hardly accurate and extremely dehumanising. Afterall, women are not cattle where you can just focus on one physical aspect of a body and give it a value (in this show, age). But the point is, women often judge other women based on their appearances and they often voice it out loud (which might be worse); I am guilty of this too. Sometimes when I see obese women wearing mini-skirts, I can't help but to think why would they want to show off their unshapely legs and cellulite-embossed thighs to the public? Are they trying to attract attention, albeit the wrong kind? Or are they trying to make a statement that perhaps, obese women can wear mini-skirts too? This goes the same for skinny women; I can't help but to sigh when I see them because they really look like a pair of chopsticks to me.
So I am guilty of this too, I admit.
But you know, women knows this too. And this is why we want to make ourselves pretty, keep our bodies in shape and etc. It's because we know how harsh this world is, and that people do judge other people by their appearances, and first impressions go a much further way than we think. They stay, and they stay with us for a long, long time. We want to create and maintain a positive image in other's minds, and while I don't think that itself is necessarily wrong, it's not necessarily healthy either. There's already so much discussions and flak happening in the society and internet that one would think that people would know judging women based on their physical appearances is bad and unhealthy... but we still continue to do it. Beauty pageants are one of the best examples; judges, usually men, rate beauty contestants based on their external appearances. I wonder what goes through their minds, both the judges' and the contestants'. Are they choosing a cow? Or a horse? The legs are not long enough, check. The chest is not big enough, check. The nose is too flat, check.
As a woman, I find this very sad. I personally don't think I judge women to this extent, but when I catch myself doing it, I tell myself not to do it again. There's just no meaning in it. An obese woman might not be very physically attractive, but if she has an amazing character/personality, wouldn't you want to be her friend or even date her? When I asked my husband about this, he looked at me as if I'd asked a stupid question. His answer was no. And I understand. I'm not even defending my husband, because if I put myself in his shoes, I wouldn't be very interested in dating an obese guy too. Perhaps you might think we are shallow (I assure you that the both of us are neither attractive nor slim) but the cold, hard truth is that, physical appearances do matter. Society has sort of attached a stigma, a negative connotation to obese people and it's hard to erase this off people's minds. No matter what people say, or try to detract away from this, the truth is that gyms and health foods industries flourish because people WANT to look good and appeal to the rest of their kind. There is nothing wrong with this. Everyone wants to be in a group, any kind of group, instead of being osctracised and alienated from the rest with a label that says, "Too Fat. Out.".
But enough with the size and weight. Humans are never going to escape from labelling other people fat, and it's better for obese people to get their weight down not so much of this (although it sure is a very compelling, and very good reason too) but more because of their health. We all know, fat clogs up our arteries and no one is out to die young. This of course, excludes people who are genetically predisposed to be fat.
What I really want to talk about, is how we humans, have become so harsh on our fellow people, and so shallow together with this outward appearance issue. It has almost become like a religion, I feel. We get bombarded by so much media and advertising and for younger people, who are also subjected to extremely strong peer pressure in school and clubs etc., that we have to come to subconsciously idolise skinny and beautiful people. Adults might not feel it so keenly, but teenagers start to worship these models or actresses and suddenly, it's no longer just size or weight. It's also how your arms are, your nose looks, your teeth etc. I personally don't find myself very fat; I am a bit chubby because I've gained weight recently and the truth is, compared to the Caucasians living here, I'm smaller than them. Yet on the other hand, I'm a little concerned about my image too. Am I getting 'butterfly' arms? My love handles are more visible now? My thighs are getting thicker? Rationally, I know that as long as I am healthy it's good enough. But why is it that the images that appear inside my head are of beautiful slim women who do not have an extra ounce of fat on their bodies?
I think I am digressing (I am now thinking of female objectification too) but I guess, I just feel overwhelmed by that talk show that I'd watched. Women are judged on their external appearances. By men, by women, and by themselves too. The contestants seemed proud that they could have a body of a twenty year old while they were in fact hitting forty or fifty. The focus of (what? I wonder) nowadays has shifted dramatically; it's no longer character, intelligence, integrity, charm, etc., but whether you have a washboard tummy, a high nose, double eyelids, pearly white teeth. And young women, inhale and embrace this in its entirely, conforming themselves, shaping and moulding their bodies, to try to achieve a certain kind of image that they think is the golden standard of beauty.
It's not a sin to want to be pretty. I want to be pretty too.
But it's wrong to sacrifice certain things for beauty, things like self-identity, self-esteem, confidence. Many women's confidence nowadays have become so fragile and brittle; a perhaps careless negative mention or remark of their external appearances sends them into a downward spiral and they soon struggle to climb up that ladder of assumed beauty again. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe women throughout centuries have been like this. I don't know. I'm just verbalising out my thoughts now.
But I think, whether I've been clear and rational and composed, or whether you've understood my entry or not, is really not that important. I just hope that when men, or even women, wants to make a certain remark about somebody else's external appearance, to be a bit kinder if possible. Or better still, don't make any remark. Imagine that stranger as one of your spouse, or one of your siblings; would you want them to be subjected to meaningless verbal attacks on their facial structure or body shape?
I've remarked many times on obese people. It's not so much that they gross me out, but more that I find it amazing how anyone can get that big. But I repent, and I would like to be a better person next time. If that obese person were my child, I would not want others to make disparaging remarks on him/her.
- Women are not cattle.