German perspective

I ain’t no skinny b*tch, but I also don’t have buns, hon’: Some Notes on Body Image in the USA today

There’s a movement away from wanting to be “thin” or “skinny,” and I think that’s a good thing. Yet this movement seems to be taking us to the other extreme. We have songs about big butts and magazine covers with women who can hire chefs and trainers to keep them slim, but what about the rest of us? The ones with some fat jiggling here and there, but not necessarily in “all the right places”?

This post is a sort of attempt to address a growing concern I have for the US, and I wonder how body image is addressed in Germany. While abroad, that’s one of the things I’d like to find out.

I am not going to attempt to unravel the great knot of health, fitness, beauty advice and see just what  it is that girls are “supposed” to do nowadays, because I know that  a) I am not going to unravel anything, perhaps just loosen the knots a little and b) there is nothing anyone should “suppose” to do, except for maybe be kind to others, be kind to oneself.

These thoughts were brought by my runs  shortly before I left (dear radio stations: no runner should have to hear the same song twice within one workout hour) and the current hits topping the music charts. The one that come to mind (and that I’ve had to listen to most frequently) is “All About that Bass” by Meghan Trainor.

I must say that this is a totally catchy tune and really enjoyable to listen to. Some of the lyrics are even enthusiastically empowering, especially “every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top”; just the question is, to whom and at what cost?

Good lines:

“Yeah my mama she told me don’t worry about your size”

“I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop”

“You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along”

“I know you think you’re fat
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top”

but then there are some not so good lines, like in the skinny girl bashing:

“stick figure silicone Barbie doll”

“them skinny bitches that”

There’s also some boy stereotyping about what boys “really like”:

“Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”

“‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase”

All about sex, as if that’s the magic act that validates how we look. Being happy with one’s body should not be grounded in how it can please someone else:

“And all the right junk in all the right places”

“I got that boom boom that all the boys chase”

“a little more booty to hold at night”

What we should be singing about:

Being healthy, alive… boys and girls being allowed to love any part of the body of their boy or girlfriend. There’s no such thing as universally sexy.

Rather than talking about how the body we have is/matches some set idea of what’s sexy, whether skinny or curvy, we should be saying that because it’s our body, and we live with it and work with it, we’ve learned to rock it. It’s the things our bodies can do that are important, and if we develop good habits of what we do with our bodies, our bodies will begin to reflect it.

Celebrating the things our bodies can do and the resulting confidence is what makes us sexy, no matter what the size.

Just some thoughts.

A German says goodbye to his adopted homeland

Today, I want you to read this article (if you can; if not, send me a message and if enough people request it, I’ll translate): 

Die USA machen es ihren Freunden so schwer by Die Welt correspondent Uwe Schmidt.

It says some things that I have felt, but couldn’t express better myself. Mostly, it is a bitter-sweet recognition of some of the best and worst traits of the US, but somehow, the negatives outweigh the positive. In general, the country’s strong standing in the world, morally, politically, and militarily is weakened by a congress who no longer reflects the opinions of its people, a republican party that has strayed further and further right, an economy that lets its stars shine and everyone else fall, a president who isn’t even recognized by a large percentage of the population… the list goes on. While I agree with a lot of what Schmidt writes, I am envious of his ability to move back to Germany and move on with his life.What about those of us who chose to stay?

Some choice quotes:

Jedes Land hat die Vorurteile, die es verdient. Man muss ihnen nicht folgen. Every country has the prejudices it deserves, but one doesn’t have to believe in them. 

Wer Amerika durchquert, versteht, warum sich das Land und seine Menschen selbst genug sind. Es ist eine gigantische Insel, wir anderen sind das Meer. Those who cross America understand why the country and its people only need themselves. It is a giant island, and we others are the sea.

Nach 50 Jahren Raubbau an der Infrastruktur, Jahrzehnte, in denen mindestens die Republikaner Steuererhöhungen prinzipiell bekämpften wie eine tödliche Seuche, beginnt die dritte Welt, die erste zu fressen. After 50 years of over-exploitation of infrastructure, decades in which the Republicans, among others, principly fight tax raises like a deadly plague, the third world begins to devour the first one. 

Das Problem ist nicht, gegen Amerika zu sein. Das Problem ist, dass es Amerika seinen Freunden so viel schwerer macht, es gegen seine Ignoranten und Verächter zu verteidigen

The problem is not whether or not to take sides with the Americans. The problem is that the U.S. makes it so much more difficult for its friends to defend the country against those ignorant and condemning.