This little story, in its many forms, has been making the internet rounds again. Whether there actually was a gym in Paris (as the original tale goes), with such a sign in the window, has yet to be determined. To be healthy is what matters: not how thin or how curvaceous our bodies are, but how strong, fit and well we keep them - be they petite or full or anywhere in between.
French model, Tara Lynn
Recently, in a large French city, a poster featuring a young, very thin and tanned woman appeared in the window of a gym. It read:
“THIS SUMMER DO YOU WANT TO BE A MERMAID OR A WHALE?”
A middle aged woman, with children all grown, and a life well-lived, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.
To Whom It May Concern:
Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans). They are powerful and wise. They have a fabulous social life, stuffing themselves with shrimp as they frolic the sunset hours away. Whales play and swim in the seas, visiting amazing places like Patagonia, the Barren Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia. They speak and sing to each other in a language no one else has been able to master. Whales are wonderful musicians and are featured on many recorded CDs. They have an active sex life - both for pleasure and procreation - and birth adorable whale babies. Whales are incredible creatures and have virtually no predators other than humans. They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.
Mermaids do not exist.
But if they did, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis: Fish or human? They would the kill men who came too close, have no sex organs, and be unable to bear young. Yes, they would be lovely, but potentially lonely.
The choice is perfectly clear to me - I want to be a whale.
We are in an age when media instills in us that the only beautiful people are the skinny people. That those who carry around an extra ten pounds are lazy, dumb and unattractive. Yet, I prefer to enjoy an ice cream now and then with my kids. I love a good dinner with a partner who makes me shiver, and a drink out with my friends. With time, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom - our heads cannot hold anymore and it simply must be distributed to the rest of our bodies. See, I am not heavy... I am enormously cultured, educated, and happy. I am fit. I am strong. I am healthy. But I will never be skinny.
And beginning today, when I see my curves in the mirror I will tell myself, "My goodness! Look at how amazing I am!"
Lizzie Miller: The beautiful, REAL woman on page 194
Killer at Large
Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media
Female Chauvinist Pigs
That Takes Ovaries! Bold Females and their Brazen Acts
The Good Body
The Beauty Myth
The Body Project
Survival of the Prettiest
Captivating [Christian faith based]
The Lolita Effect
Wonderful story! I would rather be a whale :)ReplyDelete
I am so much happier at my "heaviest" weight than I ever was when I was anorexicly thin and spending all of my time starving myself, over exercising, and binging and purging. There is so much more to life, and the number on the scale has very little to do with true health. Eat well, exercise in moderation, and enjoy ice cream and cookies when you want them. Life is too short and cookies are far too delicious :).ReplyDelete
I love it!!! A much better message to give our children.ReplyDelete
You should also add Life Without Ed by Jenni schaefer to this list. That book was essential in my recovery and is a beautiful book. Also note that Thin can be extremely triggering if you are suffering from an eating disorder <3.ReplyDelete
This story *almost* gets it right, the only thing is, it's mixing two very distinctively different problems, (1-body image and the importance of the female body, 2-unhealthy lifestyles leading to being overweight and early death) Stories like this serve as a diversion to the significance and distinction between the two problems. Women being raised to believe that their worth rides on their physical appearance is such a disservice and hindrance to us. It leads to mental and physical trauma and inequality. There also is a real problem with what we eat and how little we move and we will continue to get more unhealthy and overweight the more it goes on. The above mentioned problem is only made worse by this one.ReplyDelete
On a side note, some women are naturally skinny, like myself and women, particularly mothers have been "rude" towards me and called it "flattery" or blamed their jealousy. I however, see no excuse for deciding how to treat me based on the size of my body, big or small.
I'd rather be ME than a mermaid OR a whale. Just saying. :)ReplyDelete
"On a side note, some women are naturally skinny, like myself and women, particularly mothers have been "rude" towards me and called it "flattery" or blamed their jealousy. I however, see no excuse for deciding how to treat me based on the size of my body, big or small."ReplyDelete
This. I find it a bit upsetting when people push for "heavy" or "curvy" girls, just as I get upset when people push being skinny on my heavier friends.
The idea that one is better than the other is also ridiculous. Some people are just built larger. If my friends who are roughly my height, but built bigger, were my weight (currently about 100lbs), they'd look deathly ill. If I weighed another 60 or more pounds, that would not be healthy for my build at all.
I've seen this posted around, and every time it pops up I think of this article: http://www.hanneblank.com/blog/2011/06/23/real-women/ReplyDelete
This article also seems to ignore the real health problems associated with obesity... and the fact that you can enjoy your life, treat yourself now and again, and still maintain a healthy body (what that means varies greatly depending on a person's body type and lifestlye, and is not necessarily skinny.)
I really like what Tori said. We must be careful in our society and culture to discern between 'weight' and 'health'. A bigger person can be much healthier than a thinner person, but obesity is a serious issue in this culture. Even though we have disgusting, misleading body-image ideas pushed upon us from the media, we still have extremely overweight and unhealthy people. Maybe they are related. However, I love this post and it speaks to me so well because I am a mother and struggle with self image and my post-baby body sometimes. It is a beautiful analogy... I would just be sure to keep the emphasis on health rather than size.ReplyDelete
But the thing is, that whales spend their lives in the water. They don't suffer from aching ankles, knees and hips while they walk. So I think that it is all about finding a golden mean.
PS forgive any mistakes, English is not my native language.
How fantastic. That even got a good chuckle out of me. All the lovely things about whales and then simply "Mermaids do not exist." Priceless.ReplyDelete
I believe that as long as one is healthy, happy, and satisfied with ones self...there is no reason to feel pressured into doing what others may feel is best for you. Only you can determine the route you take. Live life as the one and only beautifully wonderful you! :)