It's a terrible thing to get up a Good Head Of Steam--and Self-Righteous Steam at that--and run smack up against a Huge Wall Of Startling Self-Realization. It's a humbling thing, too. But because it helps to illustrate my point all that much more, I'm going to Embrace it and lay it all out there, my own cracked armour on display for all to see.
For some reason, in this Day And Age, we still have women who agree to participate in so-called beauty pageants. I am not going to present nor argue their reasons, nor am I going to entertain the discussions regarding whether or not it is Feminist to be the one deciding to put your own body on display for whatever purpose or reward. None of that is my point, and I can end most of the discussions by asking where the Male Counterpart for these beauty pageants is.
My purpose for raising the topic is due to the uproar on social media following the appearance of Miss Indiana in a bikini during the Miss USA pageant televised 8 June 2014. Here she is.
To quote one news outlet: "Nia Sanchez, aka Miss Nevada, may have won Miss USA this week, but it was Mekayla Diehl, 25-year-old Miss Indiana, that grabbed Twitter's attention. Why?...Diehl, who is also the first registered Native American to represent Indiana in the pageant, stood out during the bikini portion of the two-hour-long competition for the fact that she had 'womanly curves'."
Here also is Miss Indiana's Facebook page, where it is revealed that she is 5' 8", 137 pounds, and a size 4. She has also inspired a teeshirt that reads I'm The New Normal. People from all over the country have posted positive messages, thanking her for being a role model for normal women everywhere. One woman enthused, "God picked YOU to travel this road and speak for others! You are so poised and a true inspiration."
I have no problem with Miss Indiana, aside from the fact that she makes the egregious lose/loose error in spelling. She is lovely and seems to be sincere about her Platform for her pageant issue. (Her shoes in this photo are absolutely unforgivable, but maybe they were not her choice.)
No, Miss Indiana is fine. But can someone, anyone out there, please tell me how a Size 4 is curvy and The New Normal? Are American Women so incredibly brainwashed by airbrushed magazine advertisements and anorexic fashion models and wispy, starving film actresses that a Size 4 looks chubbily robust to us? Was there really someone out there--or several Someones--watching that night saying, "Whoa! Get a load of Miss Indiana! Bet her car knows the way to all the buffets in Muncie!"?
That was the gist of my Rant to my husband after I read a few blurbs about the Voluptuously Curvaceous And Womanly Miss Indiana. I had just gotten into my Zone, using a ton of SAT Words and Emphatic Gestures (for lack of Pretentious Capitalization), when suddenly, I stopped and fell silent. Shocked, I looked up at Rick.
"Oh my god. Oh. My. God," I said, as the realization struck. "I'm no better than any of them. What have I been crabbing about for weeks now? Why have I been so down lately? Because I have gained weight. Because I'm not a Size 2 anymore like when I was working. Because now, thanks to my new migraine meds and menopause and a lack of killer stress, I'm never seeing a Size 2 again. And Size 4 is looking iffy. Because I'm Huge. Holy Effing Crap. Do you know how, even when I was twenty, I would have killed to be this size? What is wrong with me? I am so much smarter than that, but...apparently not. Even I have fallen for the years and years of marketing and airbrushing and false representation of the Ideal Woman. I'm fifty-five years old, educated, well-read, a Feminist, and the most pressing issue on my mind right now is that I hate my body because I can't fit into certain clothes like I used to and that they aren't labeled with a certain number which I find desirable or acceptable."
And at that moment, what made me really, really sick and disgusted was that I knew, deep down inside, if my neurologist told me that I could either be a Size 2 again or have no migraines ever again, at that precise moment, I would have chosen being a Size 2.
Something is terribly wrong. With me, yes. I'm admitting that, owning it, and without delving any further into my personal trove of the wherefores behind it, putting it here for the Interwebs to see. Beyond my faults, however, are those of the Others.
It's Terribly Wrong that, despite the public health campaigns regarding eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, the bulk of advertising continues to promote only one body type, a sylph-like, slender, and angular female with jutting hipbones and no discernible padding underneath her skin unless it is zeppelin-like breasts for a bra manufacturer.
It's Terribly Wrong that, when Mattel redesigned Barbie's body, it was not so that it was a more realistic reflection of what a young woman's body really looked like. It was in order "for her to have more of a teenage physique," says Mattel spokesperson Lisa McKendall. "In order for [the new doll's debut outfit] to look right, Barbie needs to be more like a teen's body. The fashions teens wear now don't fit properly on our current sculpting." It's also Terribly Wrong that this occurred in 1997, and almost twenty years ago, the writer of the article observed, "Barbie may not be the cause of eating disorders and body hatred, but her universally recognizable profile makes her a flashpoint, an image of female perfection, a symbol of the drawbacks of any such images, and a convenient scapegoat for our cultural troubles with them."
Pageants are part of the problem. Miss Indiana is being lauded by many for things like "starting the discussion" and "raising awareness" and "being a role model." I have to disagree. Until there is an identical pageant for men in which they are walked in front of a judging panel in various outfits, asked questions, required to showcase their talent, and perform some hokey song and dance in a state costume along with a host of other inane activities, I can't see a true and meaningful purpose for any pageant. For anyone. Hasn't anyone--any woman--ever asked herself why there hasn't been a male pageant like the Miss USA, Miss Universe, or Miss America pageant?
What sponsors would pay for time on that? What network would want that ratings dog? Who would watch it (besides Mumsy and Popsy of each contestant)? And let me tell you why it is a ratings dog. This. The summary is all you need to read.
But there I go, preaching again. There's nothing worse than the sinful preacher preaching against Sin. (Ask Hester Prynne.)
I'm currently on a jaunt in Maryland. While I'm here, I plan on doing a great deal of deep breathing and re-centering. It's obvious that I need some Redemption. And a helluva lot of New Normal.