How Daytime TV Ruined My Self Esteem

9 05 2012

Alternative title:  Do You Think I Can Sue Anderson Cooper For This?

Most days my goal is to get out of the house as quickly as possible in the morning.  It is the way we function best as a family.  But some days you just can’t avoid the housework any longer.  This past Monday was one of those days.  I needed to finish up some projects that I never manage to complete. ( Like actually vacuuming the playroom in the 10.5 seconds I have between picking up the toys and when toys will next cover the floor.) I decided to turn on the television for “adult company” while I got busy cleaning.  Although I hoped the vacuum would be on long enough to drown out most of the audio.

My kids were playing well together and one show led to another as I moved furniture, hung alphabet cut-outs and actually vacuumed.  I noticed the television as Anderson Cooper began to address an issue he referred to as “Beauty Bias.”

I fully admit I am an Anderson Cooper fan.  I find his self-deprecating humor funny and I think he is super smart.  I rarely watch his evening show and I have never watched his daytime show… but still, I somehow know I like the guy.  But I don’t think I like his producers.  They managed to put together one of the most offensive shows I have seen in a long time.

I actually only caught bits and pieces of it, but that was enough to rattle me.  And when I checked out his website about the particular episode, I just became more and more mystified.  Anyway, if you are interested in the specifics of knowing how beauty bias is bad and then hearing from an “expert” about how we can’t help being biased against fat people because it is our biological imperative to search for the healthiest mate – well, you can read the info on-line here.

You may want to pay special attention to the tips for combating beauty bias.  No, these are not tips on how to be a better person by NOT JUDGING STRANGERS BASED ON THEIR LOOKS, these are tips so you will be perceived positively by people who are allowing their DNA to decide who they should be nice to.   I know that I, for one, want to perfect the “Natural Human Stride.”  Really, check it out.

I am so tempted to delve into a huge array of related issues here.  One point worth exploring would be the fact that the beauty ideal of super skinny is certainly not a reproductive advantage.  Another interesting issue is cultural differences relating to weight and beauty (the topic discussed in this enlightening piece from Sunday’s New York Times.)

Sorry, I can’t focus when I feel so incredulous.  The point of my post is supposed to be – how I was doing fine until the Anderson Cooper show told me I wasn’t.

I was thin until my early 20’s.  I was a normal, healthy weight for most of my late 20’s.  I have been significantly overweight since my early 30’s.  Still, for the last decade and a half, every single day I manage to walk around having a normal life.  Yes, sometimes when I am getting dressed in the morning I am pissed off that everything makes my butt look big – because my butt is big.  And yes, if I ran into a high school boyfriend I would feel super self-conscious. And no, I don’t love putting on a bathing suit.  But I still take my kids to the pool almost every day in the summer.  And when I am at the pool I do not notice that people treat me poorly.

In fact, I can not think of a single time in my life that I was aware of being treated poorly by a stranger because of my weight.  I am not going to say it hasn’t happened, in fact it probably has.  However, if and when it happened, I was too damn busy living my life to notice.

But yesterday I found out while watching Anderson Cooper that EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE WORLD was JUDGING ME.  That I was probably getting bad service and dirty looks everywhere I went.

I am not proud of being overweight, but I am proud of who I am as a human being.  As I go about my daily life mothering my children, being a wife, a friend, an animal advocate, a sister, a daughter, a good driver, a kind person… my physical appearance is very low on my priority list.  And you, well, if you open the door for my family at the grocery store, I will notice you are polite.  If you laugh at some silly joke I make while we wait in line together, I will think you are awesome.  I might notice something you are wearing, your hairstyle or your driving skills, but I am hardly ever going to notice your weight.

Yesterday afternoon was different for me, though.  I spent a ton of time thinking about my weight.  As I carried on with my life part of me was ruminating over the fact that I was so oblivious to all the judgement being heaped upon me.  The more I thought about it the more I wanted to just stay home.  The more I thought about it the more I wanted to eat.

However, the show’s expert offered me some advice that might help… apparently there are a few additional tactics beyond “walking with a natural human stride” to make me more appealing.  So now that I know everyone is judging me and treating me badly I will remember to use the following strategies that she recommended:  the first is to be confident,  the second is to smile.

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8 responses

9 05 2012
barbaloot

Bleeeeeh, yuck. In my imagination, I’m hearing a talk show host actually say ‘ladies, it’s time for you to stop worrying about the economy, violence against women, foreign policy, social justice and the like and get busy buying whatever cr*p our sponsor sells to foster self hatred like good little consumers!’ I dare not even check out what a ‘natural human stride’ looks like.

9 05 2012
casa bicicleta

Wow. That show was twisted.

And btw. What the #@$% were you doing in that photo? Not that I am judging you or anything…..

9 05 2012
Semi-Feral Mama

I did one of those “extreme” mud runs last November. Our team dressed as “the 1%.” It was SO much fun.

10 05 2012
Lauren

When they say that babies prefer “beautiful” faces, they mean SYMMETRICAL. Their sucking slows and they stare, gaze darting around the face, when researchers scramble or distort facial features in pictures shown to tiny babies. THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WEIGHT. Any natural “bias” is towards caution, not hatred. Hatred is learned. Don’t blame it on nature!
I’m going to be catty for a second: how can TV people, well below healthy weight (http://www.thegreatfitnessexperiment.com/2012/01/research-women-are-supposed-to-be-fat-the-flat-abs-myth.html) and deliberately shaping their bodies to meet a public ideal, keep a straight face and blame this kind of descrimination on “the public”? They are talking out both sides of their mouths here, essentially saying that not giving a damn and getting confidently on with your life is attractive (or minimises the perception of your lack of attraction, which is THE SAME THING) while pandering to the us-and-them paradigm of skinny=beauty=happy (in that order) vs everythingelse=mightaswelldienow. Anderson is straddling that by appearing to be one of Them but outing himself as one of Us. You know what? We’re ALL us.
As far as natural gait goes, a) that woman does a terrible job of demonstrating it while flailing in a chair, and b) check this out: http://vibrantsexystrong.com/2012/03/20/7-movnat-lessons-from-an-uncoordinated-stay-at-home-mom/

10 05 2012
17 05 2012
10 05 2012
tesileagh

that is crazeballs. You are amazing.

28 05 2012
D

Hello, and please pardon the rather late comment on this post, but I find compelled to share whenever the opportunity arises as this one did while I was lurking on your blog.

The fact that you were duped into taking time away from the positive aspects of your life and spent even a moment caught by this destructive media clap-trap is bothersome to me, and based on other comments I see that others are equally bothered by this maddening ratings game apocalyptic strategy. I find your blog to be hilariously funny, intensely human, and heart-warming (sometimes all in one word). So please, rock on with your bad self…and woman, know thy enemy – here’s the organization trying to bring about an end to distracting and destructive moments we are being bombarded with:

http://www.missrespresentation.org

The documentary Miss Representation, by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and aired on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

The film explores how the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence.

signed,

a fan

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