Friday, April 20, 2012

Lady Gaga on health and our bodies

Here's the tweet that prompted the discussion:

Just killed back to back spin classes. Eating a salad dreaming of a cheeseburger #PopSingersDontEat #IWasBornThisWay

And here is a good reaction to the tweet:

There is no shame is talking about all the work you do to be thin and there shouldn’t be, but we should be very critical of how health and “what you look like,” seems to have become the same thing. Doing what it takes to look like Lady Gaga and “being healthy” are two very different things. The problem is that our fat hating culture has fused these two things together–as though what you look like and how thin you are is an accurate measure of your health.

That's a very good distinction. In general, you can say that being on the thinner side is more healthy than being on the thicker side. But I don't think it's necessarily the case that being as thin as someone like Lady Gaga is being the healthiest you can be. It could be that she would be a bit thicker if she were to be fully healthy. It also depends on your body type. Lady Gaga is a small woman to begin with, short and seemingly slender frame. So even if she ate cheeseburgers instead of salads I'm not sure how big she would get.

I think Lady Gaga is very sexy. And part of that is due to her body. But I tend to be attracted to shorter and thus more slenderly built women. I think most of that has to do with facial attributes. And I say that because I could care less if you are stereotypically skinny but don't have the facial attributes I like. I'd probably be more attracted to the taller and thicker built woman with a pretty face. I don't want to say women's bodies aren't important as to whether men find them attractive. I just want to say that I think they are a bit overrated, at least for me.

And I'm talking about this because I want to encourage women and even men to embrace their body as unique. You can't change whether you are tall or short, or whether you have a naturally thin or thick frame. I'm naturally tall (about 6'3) and have a slim frame. I'm pretty unhealthy but I weigh under 200 pounds. And if you saw me in normal clothes you would probably never know I had a beer belly. My arms and legs are pretty skinny despite my unhealthy lifestyle. I've started to jog and eat a little better in order to get healthier. But I don't expect to look like a body builder any time soon. Even if it were possible given my body type it would take way too much work. And it wouldn't be necessary to look that way in order to be healthy.

The reason Lady Gaga's tweet sparked this discussion is because it's different for women than it is men. There are certain expectations for male beauty. But the pressure men face isn't anywhere near where it is for women. And I don't think it has to be that way. In order to change it I think we need to focus more on being healthy than being attractive. If you take care of your health then most everything else will fall into place.

Even if you aren't very physically attractive, if you are healthy you will feel better about yourself and it will reflect in your personality and that will make you more endearing to others. And that's the real point. Be happy with yourself. I know that we are biologically wired to be mindful of what others think of us to a certain extent. But we should spend a lot more time satisfying ourselves rather than worry about what others think of us.

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