In the Blog

Plus ca change…

September 4th, 2009     by Mir Verburg     Comments

(Via: feministing)

In 1986 writer Jeffrey Zaslow asked a class of 4th grade girls if they were on a diet, most said they were.

Recently Zaslow went back to ask the now 32 and 33 year old women whether they feel it is even harder for girls to love their bodies and avoid eating disorders and unhealthy habits today. He received a resounding “Hell yes!” from his interview subjects.

How did this happen? I am not surprised by the results of the studies quoted in the WSJ article, but I am disappointed. As a 32 year old feminist who has fought a pretty uphill battle not to hate all 140 pounds on my 5’4” frame, I had hoped that it would be easier for my younger sisters. That they would not find themselves packed into washroom stalls at lunch hour learning how to binge and purge.

Guess I was wrong.

So the question is, who’s to blame here? To a degree, I think I am.

As a third generation feminist I got excited by goals that seemed the most progressive: queer activism, women’s labour, globalization and feminism. Worse yet, I didn’t follow the K.I.S.S rule of politics (Keep It Simple Stupid). I let myself get caught up in the exciting, but fundamentally confusing, world of post-feminist theory. That means I can define transitional identities, bio-boys and girls, hyperspatial, translocal, migratory and situated experiences of gender or embodied praxis, etc. But I can’t really make a convincing argument against a week-long laxative purge anymore. I wouldn’t know where to start.

I guess I thought since I had stopped struggling with my weight the rest of the world would too - breaking free from body politics was like leaving the boring second-generation feminist stuff behind. I didn’t want my fat to define my purpose, so I decided to ignore that whole issue, and pretend it had been figured out.

Maybe I am taking on too much of a burden here. I should blame the media, and the fashion industry, and parents. Frankly there are all sorts of people and industries I could blame, but if I truly believe (and I do) that the purpose of feminism is to make life easier for girls and women, then I feel that by choosing to focus on issues that don’t resonate with teens I have failed the generation that follows mine. What do you think, my younger sisters, cousins, and friends - do I have a point?

Tags: body politics

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