We learn from history that we do not learn from history
– Gerog Hegel
We learn from history that we do not learn from history
– Gerog Hegel
THIS is proof things have gone too far. That when you try to click on Instagram #thighgaps, you are shuffled to an information page about eating disorders. That we have a wide vocabulary concerning body image, disturbed eating patterns, binging and purging. That we have developed a system of warning for possible triggers. That a five years old girl is afraid of looking fat. That Wikipedia has page after page about anorexia, bulimia, EDNOS, orthorexia… Of course, I think it’s great that they are there – it’s the need for them that disturbs me. It’s not OK that there is a reason for those things to exist.
I am aware that overweight and obesity is a massive threat to the public health. On average, the American woman has increased her waist measure by 10 inches (25.4 cm) and her weight by 25 pounds (11.3 kg) during the last 50 years. 30% of the world population have a BMI higher than 25. 43 million children under age five are obese or overweight – a 60% increase between 1990 and 2010. Yes, those are indeed scary numbers because overweight can lead to astonishing amounts of trouble.
Yes, it is a problem and we need to do something. But don’t for a minute think that “doing something” can’t lead to other problems, problems that can be infinitely more severe.
It does not require a particularly careful look at statistics to see that half Swedish men and two thirds Swedish women are NOT overweight. They are within a healthy weight range, or underweight. A majority of the population, a minority of the health related advice.
Physical activity, vegetables and water are good for everyone BUT everyone shouldn’t eat/sweat the same amounts. Telling an underweight person (not by necessity face-to-face, newspapers and blogs are at least as effective) that s/he should eat more cucumber is likely to make his/her underweight even more severe – whereas an overweight person would benefit from that advice.
There is endless amounts of information about weight loss, easily obtainable and instructive – because it is automatically assumed that we want it. Health related or not, we want to be slim. I suspect the situation might look slightly different to another target group, but I am constantly exposed to a beauty ideal that isn’t good for my body (or wouldn’t have been if I’d achieved it). Advertising is everywhere, and it is mostly done with models that are either starved or photoshopped to fit the current ideals. Social media is flooding with fitspiration: gorgeous running shoes, healthy food, dream bodies and motivational quotes. A lot of it is in fact inspiration that can motivate me to achieve the healthiest version of me – but more often than not it is inspiration that can motivate me to achieve the skinniest version of me. Even teachers seem to have given up, and instead of teaching nutrition in the style of “eating this will increase your risk of heart disease” they teach in the style of “eating this will make you fat”.
Beauty ideals are growing thinner as the average woman grows thicker. Because in a world where being skinny requires hard work and being fat does not (for most people, in the Western world of today) it isn’t strange that we want the former. It isn’t strange that this desire is played upon to earn money. It isn’t strange that there is a market for slimming socks, protein enriched cereal and liposuction. It isn’t strange that these products are advertised to play on our emotions (diet coke is not only a sugar free version of the real shit – it will unlock your potential!). It isn’t strange, but it is WRONG.
A while ago, I reviewed the book that this film is based upon.
My impression was essentially that it was a good book, but it took a while to understand. With the movie, I was a little more “prepared” and my expectations were mostly correct.
It was weird. Just like the book, only not at all similar. More straightforward.
I did notice something I hadn’t before. The setting, “world” is not entirely surreal. It obviously isn’t this reality, it is – sometimes – a metaphor (on another note, I’ve been extremely fascinated by metaphors recently. It really is a wonderful thing to get your point out, but with more elegance and less obtrusiveness). Jean-sol Partre… seems now like the exact same thing as Fall Out Boy’s “sunshine” or Sixto Rodriguez’s “sweet Mary Jane”. And the water lily… would be cancer.
Skilled actors can enhance any movie quite a bit… Beautiful dresses do something too.
I like reading the book first. Seems that wasn’t necessary this time though, because my friend enjoyed it too, without having read it. I don’t recall either of us touching the bowl of chocolate during the movie. Instead, we sat quietly, absorbed. And that’s saying something.
One year ago on the day – a few days before Chip’s birthday – I made the decision to cut meat out of my life.I didn’t know then if I was going to last this long… I was reluctant to tell people at first because I was afraid I would break down and quit after a couple of weeks, when the first excitement had worn off. Now I feel as strong as ever in my decision, and haven’t for a minute regretted it. Below are some I’ve experienced and learnt during this year, though not by far all.
My stomach wasn’t happy, but that passed in a few days. However, a little later I realized (or, rather, people around me realized) my new diet didn’t quite fill the caloric requirements. Fuck.
I’m fortunate enough to have very few cravings. The first month or two I wanted salmon a couple of times, steak a couple and bacon once but that was it. Now I’m actually disgusted by meat. Not only the production – I’ve always been disgusted by that – but also the meat itself. I guess my taste buds have gotten used to the new food, because I’ve also learnt to love tofu, spinach and black beans. I can even eat bell peppers!
There is also a social aspect. I don’t want to get into detail with the world watching – basically some people (a majority) have been absolutely wonderful and some people absolute assholes. Nevertheless I love you all…
A more serious, less personal aspect is that I have come to a painful realization: It’s impossible to live without causing harm.
By not eating meat I no longer contribute to unnecessary killing of innocent animals. I guess I’ve saved some lives, by not eating them. I guess I make a statement that encourages others to do the same. I guess fewer chicken, cows, pigs and other animals live horrid lives and die painful deaths. I guess the environment is not being destroyed as rapidly. I know that my mind feels more at ease. And I know that’s not all there is to it.
My breakfast quinoa might have been grown on land that used to be a sanctuary for wildlife, and flown across the globe to my local supermarket. The blueberries in it might have been picked by Chinese workers for a fraction of minimum wages. The bowl I eat from might be painted with toxic color.
We need food. We need clothes. We need houses. There is certainly room to discuss how much and what kind we need of those things, but we need them.
Even if I only ate berries grown in my own backyard and used grass for clothes some insects would still be killed in the picking. There will still be baby birds who starve to death, but would have survived if they got to eat the berries instead of me. I would still fart out methane gas that destroy the ozonosphere. I would still cause harm in the form of emotional suffering if I died.
We will always cause harm to someone or something simply by existing. But we can limit the harm we cause. Limit it quite a bit. And we can inspire others to do the same thing. At least, that’s the hope I cling to.
I understand vegans now, simply because I know more, know that vegans cause less harm than vegetarians. Milk and eggs aren’t corpses, so no one had to die in the production, right? Actually, those two industries are built on killing. Cows don’t produce any milk unless they have a calf, and male calves are useless for milk production, so they become veal instead. The eggs you buy in a store aren’t fertilized, and taking them doesn’t hurt the hen. However, egg-chickens are different from meat-chickens. When a male hatches from an egg-chicken-egg (in a hen factory), he is simply killed, while the female go to egg production. There she lives – often under horrid conditions – until she is too old to produce as many eggs as she ought to, and goes to slaughter.
I know that it’s possible to produce milk without hurting the cows. I know that a lot of milk is in fact produced without hurting the cows. But it’s not enough.
Wool was even harder for me to understand. Until I watched the news yesterday. A few minutes – edited – about the Australian wool industry, where sheep are brutally beaten while getting their wool trimmed. Clip with a Swedish wool farmer who promised such things could NEVER happen here. Yeah, sure. Besides, Australian wool is a quarter of the world production.
I hope this didn’t scare anyone away from pursuing “the veggie path”, because that would be the complete opposite of my intentions with writing it.
I have a new obsession: Laura Jane Grace.
I found the band browsing around my Spotify suggestions. The tune of Thrash unreal caught me… It didn’t take long before I realized that the band is more than just catchy songs and punk spirit though.
In cosmopolitan, singer Laura Jane Grace talks about growing up as a transgender boy in the 80’s and 90’s. Coming out and transitioning. And my god, it’s a miracle that I didn’t cry. I cried when I read her Wikipedia article though, which is strange because Wikipedia language is boring even for the nerdiest of the nerds. Although perhaps that’s precisely why I cried – the objective, emotionless descriptions of her divorced parents, gender dysphoria, confusion, that she began experimenting with drugs at the age of thirteen… It broke my heart.
I’m not transsexual, but I kind of imagine these songs would feel very solacing for someone who is. I don’t know the first thing about transitioning, but I can understand the pain Laura must have felt. Or rather, I understand that there was a lot of pain. “One night, a couple of weeks into transitioning, as I was putting her to bed, she said she didn’t want me to be a girl anymore—she wanted me to be a boy again. I had never felt more self-doubt in my decision than at that moment.” she says about her daughter, Evelyn. I mean…
If you read this blog, you probably have something in common with me, and that means you will probably love this song.
(sometimes I wonder if any of the lyrics are written by other band members)
Someone once said that there is no such book that it wouldn’t improve from being half as long. I disagree, because I have read many such books. This one is a prime example, because 1) It’s a collection of short stories, and the stories are by definition short. and 2) There wouldn’t be much of a story left if cropped any more.
#2 is one of the traits I love most about this book. Because Munro’s writing is the opposite of in-your-face-ness. There is no over-explaining or unnecessary descriptions, but short and powerful statements that have just enough information to make the stories come to life in my mind (and I hope the mind of any reader). Still, it’s not hard reading, like a physics textbook, that require energy and focus to be understood. I mean, they do require focus but it’s not difficult to find it.
Dear Life sounded like a brilliant title long before I read the book (it’s one of those that are received as a gift, and then left to collect dust until I’m out of more exciting things to read) and even more so after I read it. Because it’s about “ordinary” life, in all its glory. Or lack thereof.
There is a sort of calm. Even though the plot often revolves around tragedy (mostly on a smaller scale), I didn’t shed any tears. I certainly felt it, but not in a way that made me want to go out and change the world. A quiet sad.