Woman: A Disappearing Act
A Manifesto to Take up Space
It is dangerous to be both women and body; the act of surviving and loving oneself in a capitalist society where womanhood is marketed by an impossible ideal of perfection is a rebellious act. Every morning you wake up is another morning you have not starved in the belly of your own-self-hatred, have not yet become part of a statistic from the mental disorder that claims the most lives, eating disorders. When you suffer from an eating disorder, either you recover or you die. Being bombarded with images of an impossible ideal, of women so thin they literally cannot get thinner and when they cannot they Photoshop them smaller, this is violence against you and the fact that you are still alive is revolutionary.
Skip dinner be thinner. A moment on the lips a lifetime on the hips. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. All of these and more, mantras meant to shrink you, remind you that as a woman you do not have a right to take up space, that the size of your body is further proof of how unlovable you are. These phrases serve as a reminder that thinness, and your looks will always be more important than who you are and your accomplishments. Kate Moss would have you believe the heroin chic style that she popularized is the only valid style, but dying is not beautiful no matter what they would have you believe. Destroy these words with self-love, eat dinner even if you have a meltdown and remember that there are men that profit from this, there job is to push you to this point, it is not a sign of weakness that you have succumb to these messages. Live your life against these ideals, tell your daughter they have no obligation to be our standard of beauty.
Crying in dressing rooms and puking after meals are so commonplace that hearing about these incidents is not shocking, it is expected that women should hate themselves and their bodies. When a girl starves herself, she is told she looks so good so “healthy”, even if they lost weight due to starvation, disease, or drug addiction. Like corsets before them, the modern expectations for women constrain us to one ideal, to one image. We may not have steel boned corsets around our waists anymore, but we are encouraged to believe that if you cannot see our bones our waists are not small enough, we are not good enough. A narrow Eurocentric ideal of thinness and beauty accentuates this hatred, this overwhelming push towards the consumerist goal of woman self-hatred.
Erase fine lines and wrinkles! Lose 20 pounds in 20 minutes! Rip yourself apart to please the masses but keep it concealed, just because you have all the emotional and physical burden doesn’t mean you get to show your lady feelings out in the world for the rest of us to deal with. The fountain of youth is a myth no longer, take a visit to your local mall and see the anti-aging creams, the concealer, and foundation, everything meant to hide the nasty imperfections of being born a human woman. Messages that read repeatedly of disappearing, of shrinking, masking women. When 10% of American women report behaviors consistent with eating disorders and 75% support unhealthy thoughts and behaviors the issue of internalizing these messages is clear. Visceral responses to the pressure of perfection need to be viral and public in order to begin to counteract this media colonization of the female body. In order to move forward we must acknowledge as a culture that women are not objects and we should not be treated as if we are, there need to be limits as to what and how corporations can market their products and agendas, and distort the image of women and beauty to the American public.
Eating disorders serve as magic acts; Watch this girl disappear right before your eyes! Notice yourself, feel the space that you contain and know that you deserve and are entitled to inhabit that space. Corporations do not love you; makeup will not hide the hatred the world harbors for you as an imperfect woman, but that does not invalidate your struggle. Eating disorders are a civil war caused by the colonizing of a woman’s body and claiming that it is not her own to exist in as she pleases, that she can somehow “let herself go”, and therefore be displeasing, worthless in the eyes of her colonizers. There should not be billion dollar industries that profit from insecurity. She is a product for consumption no more, fill yourself with food and venom, bite the hand that feeds you and take more than you can chew. There are no guilty pleasures, only those who will guilt you for thriving.