I don’t usually pass on email chain letters and don’t worry I’m NOT going to start now. But one of my readers suggested that I post this story because it pertains to the themes of Tasty Morsels: Self Acceptance, Size Acceptance and a wider definition of beauty. The name of the original author is unknown so I could not cite the source or share a link. I did of course add my own two cents of commentary at the end…how could I not? Here goes!
A poster featuring a young, thin and tanned woman appeared in the window of a gym with the caption:
This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?
A middle-aged woman whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster responded to the question:
To Whom It May Concern:
Whales are frequently surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans). They have an active sex life, get pregnant and have adorable baby whales. They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia, the Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia. Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs. They happily stuff themselves with shrimp, are incredible creatures and have virtually no predators other than humans.
Mermaids, on the other flipper, don’t exist. If they did, they would be lining up outside the offices of psychoanalysts due to their identity crisis…fish or human? They have a compromised sex life according to myth…because they kill men who get close to them…not to mention the anatomical puzzle of how they COULD have sex…? Just look at them…where is IT?
The choice is perfectly clear to me: I want to be a whale.
The part of this “allegory” that I want to focus on is the part about choice. We are living in an age when media mandates that ONLY young and thin women are considered beautiful. I agree, young and thin women ARE beautiful. AND they are NOT the ONLY women that are beautiful. It brings a whole new meaning to the concept of Pro-Choice.
Of course in Dr. Deah’s Hollywood, the obsession with beauty as the ULTIMATE definer of self-worth would be lipo-suctioned out of our belief systems. The choice of mermaid or whale would not be on a gym poster, since neither of those images have anything to do with health, physical therapy, or strength building which are primary goals for going to gyms.
Dr. Deah's Hollywood
But even though we do NOT live in Dr. Deah’s Hollywood, we still have choices available to us. We can choose, as the woman in this chain letter allegedly did, to give feedback to the gym about their choice of advertising. This kind of activism is important, if we don’t let others know there is another point of view, how can we be angry that there is no other point of view?
We can choose our own goals of health that are not based on weight gain or loss as the indicator of success.
We can choose to widen our perspective of what is beautiful.
And most importantly we can choose to embrace who we are, in this moment as we pursue our short and or long-term goals.
And my choice if given the Mermaid or Whale pop quiz would be…
None of the above. I’d like to be me, thank you very much.