Here's a post my students -- and about 3/4 of the women I know -- need to read:
The violence embodied in the Western harem is less visible than in the Eastern harem because aging is not attacked directly, but rather masked as an aesthetic choice. Yes, I suddenly felt nor only very ugly but also quite useless in that store, where, if you had big hips, you were simply out of the picture. You drifted into the fringes of nothingness. By putting the spotlight on the prepubescent female, the Western man veils the older, more mature woman, wrapping her in shrouds of ugliness. This idea gives me the chills because it tattoos the invisible harem directly onto a woman's skin. Chinese footbinding worked the same way: Men declared beautiful only those women who had small, childlike feet. Chinese men did not force women to bandage their feet to keep them from developing normally—all they did was to define the beauty ideal. In feudal China, a beautiful woman was the one who voluntarily sacrificed her right to unhindered physical movement by mutilating her own feet, and thereby proving that her main goal in life was to please men. Similarly, in the Western world, I was expected to shrink my hips into a size 6 if I wanted to find a decent skirt tailored for a beautiful woman. We Muslim women have only one month of fasting, Ramadan, but the poor Western woman who diets has to fast twelve months out of the year...
My mother has lived her entire life focused, very nearly, entirely on what she eats: what she weighs: whether she is fat or not.
So have many of the woman I know.
So do many of my students -- to the extent that they will take dangerous drugs, that they will destroy their bodies and their minds (that comparison to footbinding up there is apt) and their futures in the attempt to become some ideal woman's shape: because only that shape will make them of value: because if they do not have that shape, they are worthless.
I've had women insist to me that they aren't doing this because they want to please men, or because they want that ideal shape, but because being thin is healthier: but this is proving, of course, to be untrue -- dieting is the killer, not weight -- and none of them are stopping in the face of that news.
And really. Really. No kidding. This is the only life you have. Surely you have something more important to do with it that worry about how many pounds your scale registers this week?
Come on. It's just a body. Fuck it.