Monday, April 09, 2012

Fit is a feminist issue

In, 1984   the book Fat is a Feminist Issue was released. It was revolutionary and important in that it challenged the patriarchal expectations of beauty and how women literally kill themselves to fit a beauty norm.  A recent post by Ashley Judd shows that sadly, we're still fighting this battle. .
But then there is the flip side. The thing I have thought for years but hesitated to say. Have we gone too far? Have the people who rightly rail against sizeism inadvertently given people an out to not care for themselves? I can very much see someone saying to themselves it doesn't matter if they sit on the couch eating ding dongs because it would be WRONG to put effort into fitting America's beauty standard.
This is where I need to sidetrack and say what this is NOT about. This is not about a pants size or a number on the scale. We all know people who eat like crap and don't exercise but are skinny ( sometimes called "skinny-fat" ). We all know people who eat right and work out but will always be heavy boned or pear shaped. For the most part though, fitter people will be more slender and, with those skinny-fat people or healthy pears, you will be able to look at their skin and eyes and tell the difference.
Nor is this about make up, haircuts, or clothing. Or, for that matter, plastic surgery.
It's about fitness, and taking care of yourself so you have the energy to enjoy life, avoid illness, and be there for your loved one. No matter what size that makes you.
How does this tie into feminism? I was reflecting on that this morning as I hauled branches downed by our winter storms to the side yard. I was hauling some pretty big logs, some of them one handed. Back when we hauled the to the back yard in the first place, I was working along side my husband and (then) 14 year old son. And you know what?
I was working as their equal. IN the case of my husband, I can say that this is the first time in 19 years of marriage that I have felt I was his equal in heavy labour. The reason's pretty obvious to me: I work out, he doesn't.
It felt pretty empowering.
Yes ladies, we should not let the patriarchy and the advertisers decide how we should look. (Neither should you, men). On the other hand, if you want to feel like a man's equal, lift some weights, haul wood, swing a sledgehammer.


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