Thursday, March 23, 2006

Unfair

I have a plan to write a long post about the responses to False Advertising a post in which Morphing into Mama says that she believes that to significantly change your appearance after you get married, for instance by cutting your hair or gaining weight, is false advertising.

Before I go any further I do have to quote Twisty:

And, lard-jesus no! MIM, who says she “works” to maintain her figure “for myself and my husband,” goes on to suggest that a person’s weight is indicative, not, as a rational person might imagine, of how much she weighs, but of her degree of “self-respect.” Overweight people, MIM asserts, are probably “depressed.” She asks, “can you imagine still maintaining the same level of physical attraction for your mate when he’s depressed?”
There has been a huge response to MiM's post, and it's that collective response that I want to write about. But before I can do that I have to express disbelief at the context in which she reached this particular conclusion:
Recently, in my psychopathology class, I was reminded of this conversation with Husband. My classmates and I were discussing a journal article on bulimia nervosa and speculative reasons were being tossed around as to why the majority of the women sampled were married.

“Maybe married women feel more pressure to be thin for their husbands,” one young, unmarried classmate said.

“Really? Because when I’m in a relationship, I get all comfortable and actually tend to plump up,” said another, very honest young woman to my left.

“Well, first I don’t think it’s fair to say that being married caused these women to be bulimic – especially since being in a relationship can make one conscious about one’s weight just as being single can. When you’re single, you want to be in good shape not just for yourself, but so that you can feel confident about how you look and feel like you can attract a partner. When you’re married – and especially after having kids – you’re conscious about your weight, which may motivate you to watch what you eat and exercise, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop an eating disorder. I am conscious of my weight, so I don’t snack, and I exercise. Personally, I think it would be unfair to Husband if I gained a bunch of weight and did nothing about it.”
She was having a conversation about why eating disorders were more commmon among married women, she thinks about her body, food and exercise within her relationship, and her conclusion is that it wouldn't be fair to her husband to gain weight.

I'm reminded of last year's anti-feminist women's rights co-ordinator at the local university. She wasn't into 'No Diet Day' so she renamed it 'Love your body day'. How do you love your body? By eating fruit and doing yoga.

I don't want to blame her for thinking like this, there's a lot of resources poured into to making women feel like this. It just makes me terribly, terribly, sad and angry.

Also posted at Alas

7 comments:

  1. No offence, but I'm guessing you just don't understand what it's like to be married to someone. Taking their opinion into account becomes a factor in everything, no matter how much you would have considered it no bastard else's business back when you were single. I'd certainly look on it as unfair to my wife to gain a whole lot of weight and do nothing about it, and the very reason it would be important is that her opinion matters more than anyone else's, quite possibly not even with the exception of my own. I can easily tell myself "Fuck 'em" when faced with the contrary opinion of anyone on this planet - except hers. If I suspected she was looking at me wondering how the guy she married turned into such a fat slob that she ought to be embarrassed to be seen with him, that would be some seriously depressing shit. I'd be willing to take fairly extreme measures to prevent that happening. And yet in the odd way that humans tend to lack consistency, I'd hate to think of her acquiring some kind of eating disorder trying to stay the same shape she was 20 years ago, especially if she was doing it for my sake - but this is a subject a husband broaches at his extreme peril.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ok PM I am married and I fail to see how gaining a whole lot of weight is "unfair" on your spouse? It's not usually something someone sets out to do after all...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Graham Watson12:41 pm

    My partner finds fatness in a man aesthetically displeasing and is always at me to go more to the gym.

    She thinks if I put on weight I am being inconsiderate to her and her desires, as it is something I can avoid with sensible eating and good excersize. She also does not want to be made an early widow.

    While I have some sympathy for women who are opposed to 'diet days' and the like for political reasons, managing one's weight has merit. To eat and drink as much as you want and say 'I don't care about what others think of my body image' is as silly and as extreme as those who starve themselves to achieve waif like figures.

    Both are very bad for body health. Balance is required.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Esther4:37 pm

    Are wrinkles false advertising? Grey hair? What if you suddenly need glasses?

    I wonder if MiM would consider it 'unfair' on her husband and 'false advertising' if, after she was married, she was in an accident and lost her legs, or got breast cancer and had to have a mastectomy. And if not, then why are we taught that our alignment with other beauty standards is something we can and should control?

    Also I'm assuming it's not 'false advertising' if a woman loses weight after she gets married.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I too find this incredibly sad. Her comments on self-esteem and depression make me think that these are problems that she has experienced herself. How could you not if your self respect and self esteem are so closely linked to your appearance, which you at best have a very limited control over?

    Leaving aside such disturbing aspects as her thinking her husband is only with her because of how she looks, and that a man couldn't possibly stay interested in her unless she is able to maintain those looks - How is she going to keep up her own self respect and esteem as her looks fade? Perhaps she will just turn into a nutcase like my aunty.....

    ReplyDelete
  6. Span, I think the significant bit is "do nothing about it". Most people get heavier as they get older, and I don't expect either my wife or me to look like we did 20 years ago. But suppose your husband was sinking a six-pack of beer a night and starting to seriously overhang his belt - wouldn't you want him to take some action against it? If I was him under those circumstances, I'd be ashamed that you had to be seen with me. In short, I'd feel it was unfair on you. Maybe I'm just assuming my own feelings about my wife match everybody else's about their spouse, but like I said in the post above, if I suspected she was starting to look at me and think her husband had turned into a fat slob, depression would set in right then in a big way.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous10:56 am

    Hey there
    This isnt a comment about anyhting particular but my friend and I are interested in finding more out about your group. We were impressed about your protest against the Louise Nicholas case and we both feel very strongly abput this as well and believe that she is completely innocent and that they are only getting away with it because they are police officers and its obviouslay a very patriarchal institution. We were wondering if we could offer our services to your causes and we want to say that we admoire all you girls for yuor bravery and determination. Our email address to contact us is kellbells17@gmail.com

    Keep up the great work, there are many of us that think you are great; especially to stand up in a time when people think all women are equal and that feminism is over. We both know its not!!
    thanks and good luck!!

    ReplyDelete