The Business of Unhappiness

Body image. Stand any one of us in front of a mirror, ask us to reveal what we dislike about ourselves, and an unhesitating list would be quickly forthcoming.
Industry knows this. They count on it. All the way to the bank.
If you’re happy about yourself, why would you ever spend all that disposable income on beauty products, clothes, and other distractions that keep you from looking inside, where true self-image resides?
I read a fascinating Huffington Post article on the economy of waif-thin models. It spoke of how having models thin is benefiting someone, somewhere, and until the public starts demanding differently, designers will kowtow to those in the industry who have everything to gain from keeping women thinking they need to be a size zero to four for any real chance at happiness in life. (I’ve written about anorexic models before and, as an overweight feminist, it’s always been an issue for me.)
You ask me, I think that fashion will never show real women for the same reason that science will probably never really “cure” cancer. There’s too much to gain from the downside — illness and our discontent. The upside means people become healthy and well. If they’re healthy and well, they’ll be happy. If they’re happy, they won’t want or need as much. If they don’t want or need as much, then how in god’s name will industry get their hands on all that tasty money in people’s pockets?
Your insecurities, people, are keeping industry going strong. Your insecurities are helping you contribute to the overall good of society. Productivity, consumer confidence, retail bottom lines — they’re all fed by your insecurities.
Why in god’s name would you want to feel better about yourself? Is that really the Modern Way? C’mon! Don’t smile on one another, don’t love your brother, don’t even love yourself! Piss, moan, whine, and feel shitty in the morning. That way, you’ll feel like you need to “treat” yourself and swing by Starbucks for a Venti Caramel Macchiato, and why the hell not one of those tasty apple fritters? Then, you’ll feel like shit for being so bad, you’ll beat yourself up at work, and say you need to go to the gym. That’ll cut into your day more than you’d planned, you won’t have the time to cook properly, so now you got to go blow your wad on take-out. But the take-out’s all cooked with oils and fats you can’t even imagine, so what would be 450 calories if you made it at home’s actually closer to 1,000 in take-out, and now the workout you just did’s completely pointless. But that’s okay, you’re planning to buy a new pair of jeans and shirt on the weekend anyhow.
See? It’s a cycle. It seems to work for you, it sure as hell works for industry, so why would we ever want to start feeling like it’s all right to be a few pounds overweight with a grabbable ass?
Personally, I’m losing weight. Most of the time, anyhow. Lately I’ve gone off the hook and have eaten badly and not exercised, but I’m back on track.
I’m doing it because I don’t like feeling fat. I don’t like having little to no energy. Or not feeling strong. And not meeting goals. I didn’t like movie theatre seats cutting into me. I didn’t like my doctor looking at me with grave concern as he told me I was toying with the odds on diabetes. I don’t want to be THAT way.
But I sure as hell don’t want to be skinny.
All I want is to be happy. It may have taken a lifetime to realize it, but it occurs to me that Happy doesn’t come off a shelf in a store.
Too bad there’s a few billion consumers who’ve missed out on that epiphany so far. Which keeps industry wringing its hands with glee.
This brilliant image is by a San Francisco photographer named Cheryl McLaughlin and you can find her here. This image is for sale.

7 thoughts on “The Business of Unhappiness

  1. Kat

    Oh goodness. I totally agree. I have spent my whole life being told Im too fat, too pale, too this or not enough that. Hell, and this was even before I became an artistic nude and aspiring fetish model.

    My YouTube is filled with comments to my latest video about my “weight problem”. I see no weight problem. I see discontentment and your blog hits the nail right on the head.

    Insecurities are a powerful tool. Anything like this can be used against you by the school bully or cheerleader, so why cant it be used by a rich fatcat? Yup.


    PS: Im Catwoman69y2k on Twitter. I found this through following you.

  2. Father Bob

    oh my… i do love to stick a stiff dick into a woman that has some meat on her bones.

    some skinny little sprite has no sex appeal what so ever. they just look good on a runway, not when you’re doing them doggy style.


  3. a

    what a great post, steff. i have to say that i am a smaller woman, but i still have to deal with body image issues….but i choose to be happy with what i have and make a point to getting fitter. that’s all that matters in the long run. i just wish that more people (not just women) would realize this. sigh.

  4. Scribe Called Steff

    Kat — I know, I know. I’ve actually been having body image issues myself the last couple of weeks. It’s been really doing a number on my self-esteem, too, just because I’ve not been exercising, so then I “emotion-eat” and all that shit. And, funnily, it started because of construction filth at work and a lack of office cleaning for six weeks — dirty environments make my skin break out, so here I am, pushing 35, and I’ve had non-stop acne for six weeks. Very demoralizing, I guess.

    Anyhow, yes, when I start going through this shit I try to think of it in “the big picture” and write about it in a way others can identify with, and it helps to get my head screwed back on right at the same time. Fabulously cathartic. πŸ™‚

    Bob — Uh, all rightie then, thanks for weighing in.

    Tits-Perv — Geez, judge much? Thanks for the levity, as always, Gayboy. πŸ™‚

    A — Finding contentment and satisfaction within oneself is a lifelong struggle that many of us never win.

    So, buying shit makes us feel better for a week and the cycle continues.

    I talk a good game but I love the way I feel after I buy new shit, too. I’m just broke enough that I can afford the sanctimony of saying Buying Things Is Not The Answer — ‘cos if it is the answer, I sure as fuck can’t afford it. πŸ™‚

  5. Invisible G.

    I was in the same position 5 years ago. The person staring at me from my bathroom mirror was not the person I was inside. Not that I was an anorexic waiting to escape. What I craved was energy and wellness. The desire to look snappy in a thong didn’t hurt either. πŸ™‚

    I’ve noticed a pattern time and again – some former fat girls go from one extreme to another – obsessed and paranoid about losing weight, to obsessed and paranoid about staying skinny. I made a conscious decision to not be that type of FFG. I worked like mad on my internal issues as well. Where my emotional eating stemmed from.

    Anyhow, my point is the trials you’re going through are once again achingly honest, relatable, and healthy.

    Don’t be mistaken, I’m not composed of armour. My sister tried to give me some clothes she planned to get rid of last weekend. I tried on a few jackets, and could not button them over my breasts.

    “Did you gain weight? My other clothes fit you before,” she said. In quite a snarky tone I might add.

    I examined the clothes in more detail, thus noticing they were all size 2!

    I tossed the clothes into a garbage bag, then handed it to her to indicate her time was up.

    “By the way, I was never a size 2. I don’t know what gave you that idea.”

    After she left, I actually felt shitty about her mean comment for a couple of days. My memory raced backwards in time to episodes of late night eating or jamming some fries in my mouth. Eventually the feelings dissipated. I know I’m healthy, can run across the street, and fuck, my ass looks smoking in a thong.

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