Yesterday, we spoke about defining ourselves in terms of nationality, culture and religion. Today, I’d like to take the concept of defining ourselves a little more intimately. We all have definitions of ourselves – or ways we perceive ourselves to be. Some are accurate – I am short (there isn’t a lot of leeway here – you’re either tall or short or of middle height). Some not so accurate – I am stupid (I don’t believe in stupid people, but not everyone can grasp every concept perfectly, we’re all different). And for us lady folk, the most used way of defining ourselves is in terms of body image.
And yes, the media is largely responsible for that. Everyday we see gorgeous models and actresses, with absolutely perfect bodies, flaunting what they have to get where they want to be. And the blog, Fooditude explains it so perfectly. But, starving ourselves isn’t limited to only celebrities.
Many, many women today starve themselves in pursuit of what they perceive to be the ideal body. And sometimes, not very often, on the other extreme are those who feed themselves into obesity. Neither extreme is healthy or what the good Lord above intended for us. I think that God would want us to simply enjoy food – be healthy, be fit, but enjoy. I think that on the one hand, we always want to be perfect – we strive for this day in and day out: in our marriages, relationships, jobs, the cars we drive. We always want to be one step better than where we are now.
So, to be concerned about your health and weight may not be such a bad thing. In fact, in today’s fast food culture with consequences like diabetes, cholesterol, heart problems, it probably is a very good thing. However, all in moderation – and becoming obsessive about one’s weight is where the problem lies. I remember watching Oprah a while ago, and Oprah was interviewing an eight year old girl who was anorexic. Her problem started by looking at magazines with all these gorgeous models and she started to eat paper so she wouldn’t put on weight. When I watched this episode, the first thought that struck me, was that our parents didn’t really experience this kind of thing. Yes, you did hear of the odd case now and then, but it wasn’t common. Yet, today, it is very common.
And I pondered what the difference is. You see, my little theory is that in our parents day, they had to work to survive. Character was built through battling to pay the bond or even just finding a place to stay during the depression and probably what was world-wide poverty. You had to work to get anywhere and most people started working in their early teens. Life was tough. People were tough. They had to be. No work meant no food. It was as simple as that.
However, in today’s times, we try to make things as easy as possible for our kids. And life is a lot easier in terms of survival. So, when they have a job, they get to spend the money on what they want. I’m not against this – they earned it, it’s their money. But, it’s a very different scenario to our parent’s day when all had to work for the survival of the family. You have to ask yourself why third world countries don’t battle with first world problems like drugs, eating disorders, suicides, etc. Is it because they are now where our parents and grandparents were when they were growing up? There is no time for these issues – one has to survive and develop the character in order to do so.
Often I wonder if people today suffer from all these body image definitions because as a society as a whole, we’ve become bored. We live in a fast paced consumer society that demands instant gratification – we don’t have the society of our parent’s day that encouraged hard work, and family survival. It’s just a theory, and I realise that things aren’t quite so black and white as that, but it does make one think.
I also think that our parent’s weren’t bombarded with media – newspapers were there to tell the news, that’s it. But, today, we’re bombarded from every angle on what the media think are important. I mean, seriously, who cares if Britney Spears shaves her hair. Again. But, that is what is considered to be news and it does have an impact. And at some point in time, someone somewhere will have to take responsibility for society as it is now. We cannot throw a consumer society at our kids and expect them to be well-balanced, stable adults. It just doesn’t make sense.
I don’t allow Baby Girl to watch TV – well, a little on a Saturday or Sunday morning. When she’s at home, I want her to be creative and play and run and not be ruled by what the TV and media say. And many of my friends with babies are doing the same. So, I see a shift happening – people aren’t allowing TV to influence their homes and their lives quite as intently as before. Neither do they allow TV or the media to define how they see themselves. Hubby and I switch the TV on after supper and after Baby Girl has gone to bed. We watch one program, and then go to bed ourselves.
The trick is that we have to teach our children to define themselves by standards not expressed in the media so that they have a healthy outlook on life and themselves. For me, this will be the standard of Christianity. For you, it will be whatever you feel comfortable with. Just, please, not the TV or the media. (Yes, I know TV and the media can be used for good, but allow our kids to develop their characters first. They need to know who they are BEFORE the TV tells them who they should be.)
The Baby Mama