Wednesday, May 21, 2003

slim fast

The Blumenthal book talk tonight was interesting, but it wasn't Sidney that made the strongest impression on me tonight. Before the talk began, I was in the bathroom of the Press Club where, inexplicably, 4 or 5 girls who couldn't be more than 12 or 13 years old were changing clothes.
"You didn't eat anything at dinner tonight," said one.
"Yes I did! You're the one who didn't eat anything!"
"I had a dinner roll! And it went straight to my hips."

This last bit was said without a trace of irony--12 year olds aren't reflexive enough for irony anyway. And it bothered the hell out of me. Those girls weren't the least bit worried about their hips. I know this because 12 year olds don't have hips. Oh, there's always the early bloomer who has to wear a bra in 4th grade and tries to bury her curving body in frumpy clothes until the rest catch up. But that girl was not among this gaggle. These were little sticklings barely out of their training bras.

So no, they weren't worried about their hips. But if I remember anything about that age, I know they are damn well worried about being a woman. Or at least being older. Or definitely not being a little girl anymore. So they mimic the language they hear from our mouths because they believe this his how it sounds to be a woman, and this is a concern you should have as a woman. They're trying this behavior on for size, and it's still just posturing, but not for long: they already have an unhealthy relationship with food if they're only eating dinner rolls. We have to do better. The teen idols of today seem to be trying - they're all "girl power" and "girls rule" and "you're beautiful just how you are," which is of course a good message, but Christina Aguilera can sing "I am beautiful" all day long and it still doesn't take much more than a 12-year-old to note: yes, but you're also freakishly skinny and sexual and womanly and I'm none of those things.

We talk empowerment out of one side of our mouths but fall right back into learned behavior. Fridays, one of the attorneys I work with brings donuts in. I always used to leap out of my office to be the first one to pounce on a fresh glazed. A few months later, I shockingly noted that I was hovering back saying things like, "Oh, I just can't. Oh, hide them, hide them!" Not because I thought those things, but that's just what you do. Young girls see these things, and hear them. The auto-response needs to be changed to something like this: "Donuts? No thanks, I brought a delicious grapefruit, and I'm saving room for my broiled salmon! I enjoy eating, as long as it's healthy and nutritious!" Sigh, looks like those young ladies are doomed to a long puberty of sticking fingers down throats.


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