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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Here's my beach body, plus 'Mother Bruce'

This is a beach body — one of many models available.
A spread from 'Mother Bruce'

Perhaps you read about the slender young thang who accidentally went viral last week by posting a photo of herself and an unawares naked woman in a gym locker room with a caption that said something like "Since I can't unsee this, neither can you." I will not characterize the victim of this act other than to observe that she did not appear to be as slender or as young or as genetically advantaged as the perpetrator.

The internet delivereth instant karma, and I'm fine with that. It's hard to imagine a time when people will not be mocked for the ways their bodies look, but at least there's some movement in that direction. We even have shorthand for it now — body shaming — and in certain company, you can find yourself quickly chastised for judging or joking about someone else's looks or size. 

That's true even if the object of judgment is so thin as to invite fake concern about anorexia. "I wonder if she's getting any help." (No you don't.)

And it's true if the person is so large as to inspire comments such as, "I'm just worried about her health." Actually, you're undone by such a wanton affront to the aesthetic you've been trained to respect. Geez. Have some self-awareness.

But back to the photo of the naked woman in the locker room.

More than my loathing of the culture that encouraged the chick with the cell phone to violate someone's privacy in the interest of venting her hatred, the incident left me filled with optimism and admiration. Why? Because the non-thin, non-young person who was violated was naked in a gym locker room.

From that, I have decided to extrapolate the following: That she went there to move her body. More than that, that she went there to move her body for the sake of moving her body, and perhaps because she likes how it makes her feel, and finds joy in movement. That she did not go so she could become like the skinny bitch who secretly snapped her picture, but because she has this one body, with which she's going to do as she wishes, including working out, showering naked in front of other women, showing up on the beach in a real swimsuit and feel joyful about the breeze on her skin, and having a whole lot of crazy sex in wild positions with someone who feels love and lust for her.

Take that for what it's worth. There were two women in that viral photo. One was rendered ugly by her own ... oh, hell, let's just call it what it is: thin privilege. 

The other was showing us who we can be when we cut the ties to shame.


Author/illustrator Ryan T. Higgins demonstrates that he has the whole package — art skills, writing chops and a great sense of humor — in Mother Bruce, the story of a grumpy black bear who just wants breakfast but ends up with a gaggle of goslings who adopt him as their mom. Despite many attempts to shoo them back into a more gooselike existence — including slingshotting them into migration — they will not leave him.

I loved every single thing about this book, from Bruce's expressions of grumpitude to the layout and design of the book itself, which is rich with detail on every page.


valorie grace hallinan said...

What a great, great post, you're such a good writer. I'm happy to say that is one viral photo I'm so glad I missed. I find Facebook (if that's where you saw it) barely tolerable any more. I have one FB friend who lives in NYC and snaps pix of people he doesn't like the looks of on buses and in the subway, then posts them.

I hope you and everyone survive the convention this week. We're visiting Cleveland next weekend when, thankfully, it will all be over.

valorie grace hallinan said...

When I wrote "it will all be over" I didn't mean that in any doomsday sense of the word.