It's because billions of women all over the world are investing their energy into dieting and feeling destructively bad about their bodies when instead they could be directing this energy toward constructive, creative, positive ends. How much farther ahead would civilization
be if we didn't waste roughly half the population's potential for growth on negative and pointless picayune matters?
If we could harness the superjoules of energy women spend every year on trying to lose weight so that men and society will love them, we could solve the energy needs of every country in the world in two seconds.
After hearing today about one more fabulous woman whose ex called her a Fat Cow for twenty years, I thought I might explode. This woman is a professional dancer and she's always been as big around as a pencil; in person she's all ribs and drawn cheeks and bony protrusions. She
comes from a culture where the women are really bitchy toward each other in the neverending rat race to be the Skinniest Rat (oh wait...that's many cultures!). But I usually assume that this is a closed circle situation, women poisoning other women, making them hate themselves because they don't look like a six-foot-tall 13-year-old Latvian child walking down the runway at Prada. When I hear men getting in on the game too, men who are supposed to be our champions, who are supposed to be programmed to desire women who look fertile and healthy, I just get sick.
I know men saying horrible things to women about their appearance is about the men themselves, not about the women. I know it's about them feeling bad about themselves and needing to take it out on someone else, so they'll feel better by comparison. But one human
being's insecurity and self-dislike spreads to contaminate the well-being of a whole community. A tsunami caused by butterfly wings. .....The dark secret is that if you go after an emaciated blonde in order to compensate for inner self-dislike, the most skeletal and the most artificially blonde of women will always look like a Fat Cow. We don't see the world as it is: we see it as we are.
Which was why I was thrilled to see that recently tango's Bad Girl Superstar, Geraldin Rojas, has done something truly rebellious and truly hors du commun. In dancerspeak (a dysmorphic world if ever there was one), she has gotten fat. I say it's all relative, but yes, she has waxed and waned over the years, usually waning between “slim” and “hospitalizably, alarmingly sticklike and fragile,” and now she has waxed into a more voluptuous and fleshy creature. SHOCKING. Stop the presses.
It's none of our business. But people are a gossippy, opinionated, meddlesome species. And remember what they say: haters gonna hate. And potaters gonna potate.
Congratulations, Geraldin. You have now done the truly unthinkable, the truly unacceptable, the truly socially unforgivable. All your many other past hijinks (the adolescent running away, the extremely early marriage, the tattoos, the hard drugs) were a mere nothing compared to this huge transgression. Never mind that you're Geraldin f'ing Rojas, never mind that you're a beautiful woman, and never mind that you're a human being with a right to your own life and a right to feel good in your own skin. Tongues are going to wag.
And here's why I love this increased quantity of Geraldin: it frees up some of her formidable energy and allows her to devote it to something other than Being Thin. If she had been born with genetic information programming her to be thin, that would be one thing. But her two
parents are not thin stock. Her dad looks like your average aging porteño guy, and her mom is fat...and a totally bitchin' dancer. Sra. Dispari is a serious handful of woman, and yes, there's a lot of her physically, but there's also a lot of her energetically. She's a real woman, packed with power, and not to be trifled with by lesser mortals. I doubt she could be as powerful or as forceful if she were diluting her power-stock by splitting her focus. As matters stand, she has a surety of presence, a leonine comfort of self, and capacity for knocking you out just with a single look.
But try telling that to her daughter, who spent most of her adolescent and adult life chain-smoking to stay thin. The cocaine probably helped too. There was a year in there where Geraldin looked so much like a huge-eyed starving Indian street waif, I have no idea how she
danced, without the bones collapsing into a frail pile and having to be hauled away to the ER. But the thing is, every ounce of energy that went into that destructive war was an ounce of energy she couldn't devote to creative things, like her dance, or enjoying life.
Geraldin has long held the status of Everybody's Favourite Dancer, although
this title is now more honorary than it was ten years ago.1 And those in the know will tell you right away why she is a great dancer: it's because, according to multiple sources who know her, she only cares about Geraldin. “She's a complete bitch. She doesn't give a shit about anyone else,” is another way I've heard it put more than once. This used to have the sharpness of defiance. It's still true, but now that she's been married a good while and has a kid, this disregard for others' opinions is starting to come off more as, “What you think doesn't matter to me, and I don't measure my personal self-worth with your measuring stick. I would rather listen to myself than listen to you.” And that is something worth considering.
There is, ideally, a growing sense of bien dans sa peau that can only be acquired a year at a time. I have no idea why this is. I wish I could hand packets of it out as party favours to young women on their quinceañeras or their 21st birthdays...or maybe even a packet every single day. But maybe why it can't be prematurely acquired is because growing comfort with the self marches in lock-step with a growing disinvestment in others. And when you're a brand-new young woman, others are Everything. Growing up is a process of learning what the inner voice says by hearing a lot of outer voices talking, comparing the inner and outer voices, and observing dissonances and resonances. When you're still very young, your inner resources are limited. You're like a baby, finding out about the world by putting the whole thing in your mouth,
one toe at a time. But over time, your inner resources—ideally—grow, as you learn what does and doesn't work for you.
What makes me sad is when this natural evolution toward increasing harmony between inside and outside is arrested in its path, and grown middle-aged women still have blurred boundaries between Self and Other that allow them to feel as bad about their body image as some jerk wants to make them feel. Social connection and interdependence are essential, healthy aspects of being a human being and a member of a herd species. But when that interdependence makes it possible for an outsider to negatively influence our inner story...that's not ok.
We probably all struggle with holding fast to our cores and not allowing others to crap on our daisies. If it's not about weight, it's about something else. Most of us (although apparently not Geraldin) care what other people think of us, even though we might wish we cared less. I know I care less every year, and I notice that every inch I care less about others' opinions is like five inches of feeling better about myself. Which in turn gives me ten inches of energy that I can devote toward useful, interesting, and creative output. I wish I could speed up the process...but I'm glad for what I've got!
Life is too short to do anything halfway. If you're going to dance, don't you want to really dance, and be as much there for the dance as you possibly can? Why hold part of yourself back in an internal fight you're doomed to lose? If you love someone and want to be with them, don't you want to really be with them in the precious shared moments life affords you? Why reserve part of your energy from them and keep it locked up in darkness, when it could be playing in the light?
One great aspect of practicing feeling good about ourselves is that we share this gift with others just as surely as we share the anti-gift of feeling bad about ourselves. We're totally contagious. We make others feel as we feel. So if you really love somebody (like, maybe, yourself), why not give them the best present you possibly can? Why not dedicate your whole life to finding out how you can live in yourself with optimal harmony? Because if that's what's inside you, that capacity for peace, joy, and comfort, that's what will come out, and then that's how they'll feel inside themselves.
The next time you're flipping through YouTube, check out a newish video of Geraldin dancing. It may not move you artistically, but after you're done being bored by the dance and noticing that yes, she has expanded, look at her face.
1As soon as I say it, I know I will get remarks from the peanut gallery: “she's not my favourite dancer!” “Mine 'neither!” —And she's not my favourite dancer any more either. But for a long time, she was the commonly accepted Queen, and there's still a general assumption that this must be true. Otherwise Armageddon will arrive. Or something.