Archive for June, 2010

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The iPad Is Thin; The iPad is Beautiful…

June 2, 2010

This part of the current iPad commercial makes me cringe. Am I the only one?  I mean, obviously I get it. I get that we like computers that are thin because we like to carry them around.  I get that the iPad is beautiful because it’s a sleek new toy we can all play with, and is a window into the future of computing.

But.

There’s something about the juxtaposition in that phrase that hurts me every time I hear that particular commercial (which seems to be playing constantly).  Am I the only one?  Am I the only one who wants to throw balled up socks at my TV every time I hear even the insinuation that beautiful MEANS thin?

I’ve had exercise and body on my mind recently, because, as many of you know, I’ve taken up a couple new passtimes in the last week: biking and rock climbing.  It only took about a day and a half for me to realize that increased energy expenditure means I have to change how I’m eating.  I didn’t learn this the easy way, though; I learned it the hard way.  I learned it by not eating enough, or not eating at all, and attempting both activities to woeful result – nearly passing out after a bike ride, and becoming completely unable to climb after just one ascent at the gym.

I’ve learned my lesson – lots of small meals and tons of protein – but something came up in my mind a couple times during this struggle that is particularly disturbing.  It’s an old pattern from puberty which has emblazoned a pathway in my brain that will take a lot of work to repave:

“If I don’t eat anything at all, and work out really hard, think of how much weight I’ll lose!”

Believe me, I know that’s not even logical – metabolism doesn’t work like that – but it’s an old, recurring theme that’s reared its ugly, hurtful head. I’m grateful I have the tools to recognize this pattern for the conditioned response that it is, and to move on and get a Cliff Bar.  But I know I’m not alone. As I’ve recounted this story to women friends of mine, I’ve found both solace and deep sadness in the fact that, yeah, we’ve all been there.

When I was 13 I remember going to the gym regularly, and each subsequent trip I ate a little less, and a little less, in the hopes that take-in-nothing-burn-everything would help me lose the body I hated so much. Eventually, one day I got on a treadmill after over an hour of exercise on no food, and the black circles started to cave in around my eyes, the buzzing began in my ears, I lost my orientation, I started to trip on the machine, until finally I fell off,  managed to sit myself down and narrowly avoided a black out.

Today in therapy was the first time I told that story and became particularly moved by it, not because it was my story, but because it is the story of so many women.  So many of us have waged war against our bodies at one time or another in life.  It’s scary to me that that impulse still lives within me, no matter what I know logically.  That the echo of, “woman is thin; woman is beautiful,” still rings in the shadows.

Like I said, I get it. I get that this particular commercial isn’t actually claiming “beautiful is thin,” but I do believe it’s part of the insidious, incessant work of the entertainment and consumption culture to keep our internal wars waging – after all, isn’t the diet industry one of the most successful in the nation?  We can only be responsible for ourselves, but I think women need to realize we’re not alone, and that at some point, you have to just decide to stop the battle.