I found a new blog the other day (not really new, just new to me), called Majikthise. I was looking through her posts on Gender Issues, and I came across something that had slipped by me a few weeks ago…do any of you watch America’s Next Top Model? I have never seen it, and never plan to, especially after reading about an episode a few weeks ago, in which the models were all posed in photographs as though they had been murdered. WTF? Majikthise linked to an article at Women in Media and News about this episode.
If you want to see the pictures, and read the truly creepy comments from the judges, you can find them here. I’m so disgusted by this whole thing, I don’t really even know what to say. People who find beauty in the violent deaths of scrawny women make no sense to me. Perhaps this is symptomatic of the detachment that we feel toward violence, as expressed so well by Py Korry in his post about the murders in Virginia on Monday. Or perhaps this is symptomatic of the misogyny of our society in general. Perhaps people should be just a bit more disgusted and up in arms about crap like this. Or, perhaps they should just go out and see if they can find snuff films about people in concentration camps. I don’t know. I’m just disgusted.
Then there’s this study from the AP, which I saw first on Broadsheet about women in Mauritania. As twisted as our ideal of stick thin beauty has become in the United States, their ideal of obese beauty is equally sick and twisted. I had never heard of the practice of “gavage” used on people before. Here, from the A/P, via Seattlepi.com:
In Mauritania, to make a girl big and plump, ‘gavage’ – a borrowed French word from the practice of fattening of geese for foie gras – starts early. Obesity has long been the ideal of beauty, signaling a family’s wealth in a land repeatedly wracked by drought.
Mint was 4 when her family began to force her to drink 14 gallons of camel’s milk a day. When she vomited, she was beaten. If she refused to drink, her fingers were bent back until they touched her hand. Her stomach hurt so much she prayed all the animals in the world would die so that there would be no more milk.
To end the brutal feeding practices, the government has launched a TV and radio campaign highlighting the health risks of obesity. Because most Mauritanian love songs describe the ideal woman as fat, the health ministry commissioned catchy odes to thin women.
These efforts, combined with the rising popularity of foreign soap operas featuring model-thin women, has helped reduce the practice, especially among the country’s urban elite.
Only one in 10 women under the age of 19 has been force-fed, compared to a third of women 40 or older, according to a survey conducted by the National Office of Statistics in 2001, the most recent available.
I wonder how long it will be before the government jingles praising thin women, and foreign soap operas of model thin women, will bring anorexia and other eating disorders to the ‘urban elite’ in Mauritania? I wonder if any society will ever relax enough to let naturally skinny women be beautiful and skinny, naturally fat women be beautiful and fat, and naturally average women be beautiful and average? That, to me, would be a fantastic improvement on this kind of madness.
On a much brighter note, (though one that owes itself to more evil/creepy/bad behavior) if you want to read another story that passed under my own personal radar screen, one that impressed me, check out this tale, in which a bartender and a waitress notice some very not-nice behavior on the part of one of their patrons…they noticed him putting some powder into his date’s drink when she went to the bathroom. They claimed the drink before she could get a drink of it, saying that her beer had come from a fermented keg, and they replaced it. Being wise women, they saved the drink for the police, and told the woman what was going on when she went outside to smoke a cigarette. The patron, however, wasn’t giving up so easily, and while she was outside hearing of his nefarious deed, proceeded to drug his date’s next drink as well.
The would-be attacker is currently in prison on narcotics charges related to the incident, but is scheduled to be released in May. I’m not thrilled that all he got was 6 months in jail, I’m not thrilled that he worked for the SF Unified School District, but I am thrilled that these two women saw what was going on, and handled the situation so well. They’re surely heroes in their neighborhood.