I remember being in junior high school and traveling with a church group to perform in their musical one year. I had a few girlfriends in the group, although now, looking back, I can’t report any of our interactions back then as being very friendly.
I remember how we stopped at this famous dairy on our last leg of the trip that had its own ice cream parlor. Our leaders told us to order whatever we wanted, and many of the boys ordered sundaes piled with scoops and scoops of ice cream.
My three friends and I finally decided on chocolate malts, and they were enormous when they were delivered to our table. There were many exclamations about how there was no way in the world that any of us could possibly finish all of that. So we sat there, all four of us, sipping at one of the most delicious chocolate malts that I have ever tasted in my life.
The tension was thick as we all carefully monitored the levels of the four glasses, each working to make sure that we were not the one left having consumed any more than anyone else. In the end, we left the malts on the table well more than half full. It was a terrible waste.
I believe that some of the boys finished their giant sundaes. There were cheers of accomplishment for the ice cream that they managed to get for free.
We teach men that it is of vital importance that they become big and strong and fierce. There is nothing that lends better assistance to making something appear large and powerful than placing it beside something that is small and frail.
Hundreds of years ago in china they bound women’s feet. Many people do not understand that this entailed actually bending the toes beneath the foot and breaking them in half, before binding them tightly so that they would set permanently in that position. The goal was to make the woman’s foot appear petite and dainty. The actual result was that these women were disabled for the rest of their lives, and could not walk well or very quickly, which was especially horrible when they were attempting to flee their enemies.
Today we can find pieces of clothing available in stores for women that are labeled with the size zero. Women aspire to be capable of fitting into these garments. What is zero? It is nothing. Do we want to be invisible? Are we willing to disappear so that we will be desired by men who are big and strong?
Men suffer greatly at the hands of gender inequality as well. Not all men have aspirations to be big or fierce. Some men just aren’t physically large to begin with. Some men suffer for feeling too large in the same way that most women do.
Do we ever consider the damage that we are doing to our own minds by constantly attempting to make ourselves smaller and smaller? Our bodies are our vehicles for reaching out to the world, and if we are only seeking to make our bodies smaller, are we actually seeking to limit our own abilities to make ourselves seen and heard?
Isn’t it time that we put a collective foot down and stop putting up with this oppression? We live in a society that promotes eating disorders, unnecessary cosmetic surgery, and a complete disregard for the health of our own bodies. We can see the results of the damage being done everywhere that we look. Are we going to change it, or are we all just going to allow ourselves to shrink down to nothing?