I wrote a piece over the weekend about weight and women. The idea came to me after I had watched a very old flick in which a quite young Angelina Jolie had a role. I was struck by how plump the camera made her seem in comparison to the tabloid photos you see of her these days at the grocery, and it occurred to me that the same contrast could be seen in many actresses as they advance into the thirties and especially their forties. Several comments on that blog entry took me to task because they misread the piece as an attack on Ms. Jolie even though I made it clear the piece was not about her as much as it was about society and its unhealthy physical expectations of women and how that effects us as we age. I am not going to claim to be a fan of the woman however. I mean she is just an actress and, her humanitarian work aside, I think she’s weird. Frankly, celebrities make poor role models overall because many of them, in my opinion, live frivolous, high consuming lifestyles that are more the result of their genetic windfalls than of anything approaching true artistic talent or hard work. Still the original blog entry was about women as a whole, and I don’t think I am off base when I say that most of us have body image issues to some extent and much of this is a result of the constant emphasis on our exteriors from the time we are quite small. One has but to thumb through the dozens of fashion, women’s and celebrity magazines at the checkout of any grocery to see that how a woman looks is not an insignificant part of how the world judges us. We are pummeled with all sorts of messages that cannot help but reinforce the fact that we can never be too thin, too coifed or too perfectly coutured.
As a result of that entry I had close to 400 views in a twenty-four period and it is still the most read piece of the last week. I haven’t had this many hits since the days when I was still posting at the YWBB, and my blog was linked in my sig line, so any time I posted a comment or started a thread people would check out my blog and photos. It was a creepy experience then, and it is just as creepy now because I know that the majority of the people who took a peek were hoping to find photos of a fat Angelina. How sad is that? People trolling the Internet in search of fat actress photos. Voyeurism at its worst? Probably not, but still quite icky when you think that many of the searchers really wanted to see a hefty Angie because it is that kind of thing that make others feel better about themselves in comparison.
Which brings me back to the original point of my first entry, body image. I spied copies of the new Valerie Bertinelli book at Chapters when I was out with my husband Sunday. Her book was all about losing weight. She had gained quite a bit of it. I remember seeing her meaty self on Touched by an Angel a few years back and not being that surprised really. She is, I believe, a bit older than I am and it is normal to put on weight as one ages though she may have been a bit too heavy for someone so short. On the cover of her new book, she looked very much like I remember her from her TV woman in peril movies of the 1980’s. Normal sized and healthy. It was a relief really to see a female peer who didn’t have that extremely bony appearance that seems de rigueur for famous women these days. I didn’t pick the book up. I am not interested in these types of books, but I wondered why, with everything she has gone through, the most important thing she could think of to share with the world was her diet and exercise plan?
It’s all about looks isn’t it? I flipped through Glamour and then More magazines while I was at the library today waiting for my yoga class to begin. The ads were all for make-up and clothes and hair products. The articles were about hair, and clothes and getting in shape and staying in shape and how all of these things will help you feel good enough about yourself to find a man or keep the one you have satisfied enough with you to stay.
In the film, Garden State, Natalie Portman’s character keeps a well-stocked pet cemetery in her backyard. It is mostly full of hamsters who were too dumb to get off the exercise wheel and died running. I was reminded of this when my husband asked me how many of my “sisters” I hoped to save from the hamster wheel by writing some of the pieces I write, like this one for example. I told him “none”. Salvation comes from within.