Monday, April 28, 2008
[all photos by Fresca]
“Take bubble baths.”
--From a list of tips for girls with anorexia about how to feel better about their bodies and stop starving themselves to death
I suggest, on the contrary, that if we are de-, re-, op-, or otherwise- pressed by a culture that has colonized the human desire for beauty and health in order to gain money and power, then, in fact, bubble baths will not save us.
Body-image advice for American women often sounds like advice to colonized people on how to assimilate better into the master culture:
work harder to please, and you will be rewarded.
And so we will, but it will take our valuable energy, and it will not be on our terms. That is a recipe for domestication, not liberation.
French rule in Algeria, for instance, offered full French citizenship to native Algerians. But only to those who would give up their religion and language. Those who did benefited, but remained, of course, second-class citizens no matter how fluent their French.
(Watch the fantastic French thriller Caché (Hidden), by director Michael Haneke, for a take on the mix-up of guilt and responsibility in such situations.)
Like the nationalists in Algeria under the French, I don’t want the ruling system to determine whether I am acceptable, and on what terms.
I claim self-rule and self-determination.
In terms of body image, I don’t accept that feeling bad or ashamed about my body is a natural or inevitable state. It is learned. It is software. Software can be rewritten.
If I want to do that in the bathtub, then, sure, bubble baths are nice.
What language do I speak? What language do I hide?
To whom and to what do I listen?
My body is my land.
Who determines my beauty? my worth? my future?