I started Sunday foaming at the mouth about Charlotte Allen’s steaming pile of excrement in the Washington Post. If you’re not inclined to gag on your Cheerios, I’ll give you the short version: because some women are getting overly excited about Obama’s candidacy, all women are stupid. Her supporting argument includes: women’s brains are smaller than men’s and women are worse drivers than men. I kept wondering whether she’d go for the trifecta and assert that Hillary can’t be president because “bears can smell the menstruation.”
I ended Sunday reading another article, this time in Newsweek, that made me cringe for my gender. It’s about brides whittling down their bodies in advance of their weddings. Some of the stats: 70 percent of brides want to drop more than 20 pounds before their wedding day, according to a new Cornell University study. A third of them fast, skip meals, or use diet pills to try to do it. And 14 percent purposely order a bridal gown at least one size smaller than their current size to force themselves to lose weight.
While I’d like to claim that my careful effort to avoid obsessing about things like card stock and shades of off-white for shoes puts me securely on the high ground, I am however, no stranger to the seductive lure of turning my body into a high-stakes remodeling project in advance of the wedding. The closer the event gets, the more the devil on the left shoulder gets his due. No mirror or plate glass window gets passed without me stealing a critical glance. No day ends without me having tapdanced on a scale. Size 8 is slowly giving way to size 6. My arms, legs, and stomach are no longer mere parts. They are challenges to be pinched, pondered, and overcome.
When my fiance asked me to marry him he said several things. Not one of them was “provided you lose 10 percent of your body weight.”
So why have I settled on that, like some subconsciously penned pre-wedding vow? The supposition that there’s nothing wrong with a woman wanting to look her best for the big day becomes moot when the unhealthy is pondered. The damaging. That which corrodes sense and sensibility.
As it turns out, both of these articles are valuable. Allen’s because it reminds me that there are those who, in 2008, firmly believe women to be vacuous and unfailingly stupid. Newsweek’s because it reminds me not to help them make their case.