“I’m a Normal Person”

By Gina V.
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Katewinslet02_1 The Associated Press carried a story about Kate Winslet, most famous for "Titanic" and also staring in “The Holiday,” where she said some pretty provocative things about body image and glorification of certain sizes recently.

After describing glamorization of ultra thin celebrities as "unbelievably disturbing" and keeping magazines featuring such women away from her 6-year-old daughter, Kate goes on with my favorite quote from the story (read the full text here)

“I hope that in some small way I’m able to say, ‘I’m a normal person, I’m doing all right.’ I’ve got a lovely husband and children and I didn’t lose weight to find those things, and those things are what should be important.”

It’s odd to think that we live in a world where Kate Winslet – a pretty shapely babe that is definitely not overweight – has to defend herself as a “normal person” because she chooses not to restrict food to maintain an artificially low weight, like others in her profession.

Sometimes this just leaves me speechless – what is really driving these kinds of ideas of beauty? I think back to my women’s studies minor…ovatoriums (ovary sanatoriums), diagnosis of hysteria and lunacy for any inconvenient female, corsets, foot binding, neck stretching, high heels, and can’t see that now favoring and promotion of impossibly small women (do you know that Nicole Ritchie weighs 84 pounds???) is any different. What do these things have in common – several were considered “healthy,” they served to control unseemly exuberance, they limited ability to defend oneself, restricted movement and ability to breathe properly, and all of these "good ideas" are unique to women as a standard of rather odd ideas about health and beauty (I don’t recall reading about removal of testes as a treatment for adultery, do you?).

I don’t claim to have a cure or answer and I can’t really make sense of the motivations for what passes for a good idea, but I can see a pattern that hasn’t changed for centuries. Today I’m joining Kate – I’m going to be an example of  a “normal person.” Join us – stand up straighter today, hold your head high, and realize that pride and self-esteem have nothing to do with size. Refuse to buy into any of the latest health, beauty or fitness trends intended to make women less, instead of more. I hope I pass you on the street, with your head high too.

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4 Responses (Add Yours)

  • AmyKate says:

    What a great post! I read the article on the link you provided – it was so refreshing. I am sick and tired of bone-rack thin celeb’s or who lost 75 lbs on blah blah’s diet. There are women all over the world who are healthy and fit – but according to the National Enquirer (a great promoter of heathy lifestyles, NOT!) don’t meet the societal norm in terms of their size. Women have been suffering for centuries as you pointed out so perfectly – to fit into that mold. And as a matter of fact, I don’t recall the removal of testes as a treatment for adultry!

    Anyway, thank you once again for reminding us all to hold our head up high. Kudo’s to Kate Winslet and to you Gina!

  • Kathy says:

    Your post has been wanting to stand up and cheer! Thank you!

    I have done so much thinking about the “whys” of the predicament women find themselves in right now with weight and body image. I realized recently that some part of this, probably especially in Hollywood, is an extremely strong drive to fit in. And I don’t mean the teenage need to conform, but I’m talking about a more developed feeling of not wanting to be left out, or left behind when defining how we live our lives and who we are. I believe this holds true to the point that if we DON’t diet, we’ll feel uncomfortable, feel we’re missing out, and maybe even feel anxious that the diet we’ve selected is not the “best.” EVERYONE diets, so why wouldn’t I? My friend Lucy is starting a diet, I guess I should too. I wanted to get dessert at Applebee’s but the others aren’t, so I won’t either. If I don’t say I’m dieting, I’ll be criticized for the extra weight I put on—it sounds better that I’m dieting. After all, it’s what we American women DO.

    And the point is that this holds true for even those who are on the insurance charts as a normal weight. The desire to be like our friends and what we saw our mothers do/say overrides that. “Even though I feel fine and people tell me I look fine, I still want to be on a diet. I’m not as skinny as Mary.”

    It also takes on a competitive component. Maybe this is one way some women compete, like a sport? So if you’re not playing the game, and warming the bench, you’re a nobody. And we compete with ourselves also. My lowest weight was xxx and I’ll bet I can drop another 2 pounds. Since when do we treat our bodies and health like scores in a football game?

  • k. says:

    I love Kate. I do. But she still is probably 5-7″ and weighs 140 pounds. That’s slim no matter how you define it, and if she’s not working hard at it, than it just comes naturally to her. Not so for a lot of people. The thing I worry about with quotes from women celebrities like her is that they may actually make things harder for normal women, because they may in fact be lying about how much or how little they exercise or diet. She may be living off 2 salads a day and a cup of fruit at breakfast for all we know. This perpetuates the notion that she’s somehow superior when in fact she may be working just as hard at it as anyone else.

    Of course, I could choose to not be cynical and just assume she’s telling the truth, and not what her publicists told her to say.

  • lisa jane says:

    yay! Im normal too!!!!

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