I live in a “civilized society” which is mentally conditioned to judgmentally believe in the parameters of stigma, generalization and normalcy. “Normal people” a.k.a “positive” socializers incessantly pester with incoherent questions about weight, height, caste, gender and class (as if it is a matter of urgent interest). This tribe is incessantly “affected”, when their misconceptions are challenged by the “dissents”. In this case, dissents are the one who live their own life the way they want to (without intervening into others’ business, privacy or life). Dissents are scorned, insulted, disdained, isolated and mocked because they dare to disobey the “social norms”.
The structure of this “civilized society” is functionally built on the subconscious belief that “everyone is obligated to mandatorily live the way ‘people’ want to”. In such society, to talk about freedom, liberty and individualism is like administering medicine to a dead person. This “civilized society” is brutally obsessed with looks, figure or size zero, skin color, muscles, eyebrows, etc.
The intensity of this obsession has killed the art of valuing aesthetics and subjectivity. Instead it created a social belief of incoherent legitimacy and mindless obedience through the enticement of TV or graphical media conceptualization, conventional wisdom, illogical thinking, etc. The motto “fat is bad, dark is ugly, thin is sickly” is strong enough: 1) to suffocate anyone, 2) to oppress the oppressed, 3) to make one feel guilty for these attributes, 4) to promote consumerism, 5) to alter the pattern of seeing, and 6) to finalize the attitude of ad verecundiam. These points are strong enough to prove that normal people pretend normalcy and tend to stimulate their perspectives in a very judgmental way.
The burden of proof is not on the “ugly” individuals to prove their profile. In fact, it is on the “beautiful” or socially accepted zombies to prove that “why their gazing behavior is not intrusive?” It is not universal and compulsory to comply with the “ideal body” structure or rules. Everyone is different. It is immoral to force anyone to become a brick in the wall.
Everyone is unique. Every individual have choices and consequences, and it is “none of your business” to gaze, intrude and judge their lifestyle, standard of living or body and looks. There are plenty of areas like wars, inflation, poverty, sun, moon, etc. to focus or discourse on. If anyone’s face or figure pisses you off; if poverty, individuality, wars, etc. does not piss you off, then you are part of the problem. If you cannot understand “live and let live” philosophy, then you would face someone’s intrusiveness too. Today or tomorrow, change is in your mind.
Binita K, blogger, writes, “It is hardly enough for one’s body to be their own as they must constantly live up to the benchmark of the ‘ideal’ setup by societal prejudices. What is personal hence is constantly subjected to external influences and is forever caught up in tumultuous ideological clashes.”
Those who don’t conform must naturally fall under the category of an anomaly, an alien and an outsider who must rise to ‘normal’ standard or be subject to ridicule, advice, and well-meaning ‘concern’. Further, the idea of ‘health’ feeds this intrusive gaze. Under the garb of healthy and holistic living, people with no medical qualification pass instant judgment as to how a certain body type breeds illness better than others. It takes doctors a slew of tests to determine if there is a problem with someone, and more often than not body type, shape, weight and height have little to do with these results.
“People” must be made to realize that the body is a personal space and it is impolite to discuss or comment on something that belongs to someone else.
1) Who is to tell them that a person who looks thin might be as healthy or unhealthy as someone who looks fat?
2) Who is to tell them their notions of health is less based on scientific observation and more on skewed cultural perceptions?
To all those who have been at the receiving end of such inquiries, next time please don’t remain silent. Please engage with the person and ask them politely where they derived such bizarre ideas and judgments from. To your surprise, you may find the person fumbling with vague sentences about ‘obesity’.
The problem with our cultural perceptions is that we teach girls to be petite, to confine themselves to smaller physical spaces, and to live up to a stereotypical image of the docile, meek and obedient figure. While men are often burdened with the responsibility of appearing physically empowering, muscular, and imposing with a booming voice – a perfectly dominant image.
Our society ignores the fact that such benchmarks often pose serious repercussions where children grow up with the burden of living up to a ‘perfect’ body image; some starving themselves, some bleaching their faces, some pumping steroids into their bodies. What’s even more problematic is the mental image one grows up with – constantly looking down on themselves, perpetually aspiring to be something better, and in turn developing low self-esteem and depression. It is high time to understand a simple logic and that is “we must stay undefined by our way of living, eating, looking, etc.”
Better to rise above parochial wisdom and embrace the principles of libertarianism. Numbers or figures or biceps or ideas don’t define us. Our attitude towards each other define us.