love for sale

love_sale.gif (this image was produced by the great feminist artist Barbara Kruger–

So I thought that I would let this blogosphere argument pass me by. I mean, there's a whole bunch of stuff going on that I could blog about. But the reality is that it's been weighing on me since I read about it, (and hell yes, I'm using that pun). So I'm jumping in, although I realize that in internet time, I'm writing about something that effectively happened in the Pleistocene era.

Why? Because I'm a woman not a commodity. I did not 'advertise' myself to my husband, nor have I advertised myself to any of the many people that I've slept with/dated/lived with/given birth to/loved/made out with/flirted/befriended/ parented/engaged in casual conversation with/or ever interacted with in any way in my life.

The idea that I have some kind of money-back return policy, that my husband or lover might have the right to return me if I don't meet his or her expectations of physical beauty, sickens and angers me.

I'm angry that we still have so much commodification of women's bodies in our society, that women have internalized this bullshit, and actually would use the word 'advertise' to describe their own premarital relationship. I'm angry that we focus so much attention on what we look like, we spend so much time dieting and exercising, so much time obssessing about our own weight, that we stop paying attention to the weight of the world.

There's a part of the movie Manufacturing Consent where Noam Chomsky talks about how how sports and fandom prove that ordinary men can understand complicated and arcane issues, since they can discuss complex rules and retain whole seasons' worth of statistics. I think that weight and dieting prove the same thing for women. I can't even ennumerate the number of conversations that I've had in my life with women who knew the calorie and fat content of every thing they put in their mouth. Women who knew every dieting theory under the sun. Women who went on the cabbage diet, on Atkins, on South Beach, the Zone.

What if, instead of worrying about how many carbs we're eating in every meal, we instead decided to memorize the phone numbers of all of our congresspeople and senators? Or we took the time to understand the political situation in the Sudan? What if, instead of worrying about our bodies going to hell, we worried about our minds going south?

Like probably every parent these days, I wonder how to keep my daughter from developing an unhealthy relationship with her own body, and with the food that fuels it. My high school best friend was bulimic, and by the time she was 25, she had to have caps on all her teeth, because they had been so eaten away by acid. Her skin is permanently blotchy from malnutrition. She can never get away from the effects of her eating disorder.

If you think of yourself as a product, how do you keep your kid from feeling like one?


March 26, 2006. politically motivated. 15 comments.