B11: Butt

In my childhood home we did not say the “b” word, “s” word, “h” word, or “d” word . . . butt, stupid, hate, or dumb. I saw these words in a comment and I could have written them myself.

I can remember my sisters and I calling each other *stinky butt* when we were little and we wanted to hurt each other, hurt each other bad. Because mom hated these words, I suspect I used them more. Question authority was and is me credo. But, now I have the hindsight (couldn’t resist) to see that the taboo was mostly about not being hurtful to others.

Popular culture has made it a cliché now that ‘big butt’ is the worst kind of curse and seemingly every woman needs to be reassured her butt doesn’t look big. I can remember climbing up Buffalo Street in Ithaca, my first day at the Cornell University campus. I was dressed in black, with a Rocky Horror Picture Show t-shirt and a dead man’s coat. The fashion then, ’82, included wearing retro menswear. The day I climbed that hill it was in the 90 degree range, but I risked heat prostration lugging baggage towards the University campus. I refused to remove my black men’s suit jacket because I was hardwired fashion-wise to cover my big butt with jackets, vests or long tops. I’d dressed this way for several decades and I wasn’t about to reveal my big butt then, especially then. I was attending this school as a mature woman and it was one of the most important challenges of my life.

Truth be known, it took me another 25 years to realize how much consciousness (self-consciousness) and energy I wasted on something that was completely meaningless, fat phobia.

Am I the only one that did not know that BUTT means *Bring Up This Topic * on message boards? Well, I learned that this week and felt it fit this post perfectly. I felt that I had something to say about being a woman and feeling the great loss of so much of my life spent working against my own best interests.

Peak Oil has taught many of us early adapters, using Sharon’s term, that we have long been encouraged to believe countless lies. Whether these lies are personal, cultural, political, scientific or otherwise, I like to call these myths America . . .
  • America have the best health care in the world
  • America’s obesity problem
  • Diet and exercise will eliminate fat
  • Women of a certain age need estrogen replacement
  • Milk is vital to post menopausal women for calcium
  • Meat is vital because you can’t get enough protein through plants
  • Anti-consumerism is what the terrorists want
  • Going green will hurt the economy
I have rambled in this post. I want to pay homage to a true hero Anita Roddick who linked these diverse themes close to my heart: Feminism, Fat Phobia, Sustainable Living, Humanist Causes and Progressive Politics. Let me introduce a writer I really respect, Kate Harding of Shapely Prose, who wrote last September a eulogy of sorts:

R.I.P., Anita Roddick

posted by KateHarding, Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, has died of a brain hemorrhage at 64.

Roddick was well-known for her charity work and her amazing efforts to make it clear that The Body Shop has corporate values other than profit. Those values are listed on the website next to the slogan "Made with Passion":

Against Animal Testing
Support Community Trade
Activate Self Esteem
Defend Human Rights
Protect Our Planet

Kate writes about the third one in that impressive list by describing a famous ad for The Body Shop circa 1998.

One day, on one of the manic, hours-long walks that helped sustain my weight loss, I passed a poster featuring a naked, fat, redheaded Barbie-type doll reclining happily on a couch, with the slogan, "There are 3 billion women in the world who don't look like supermodels, and only 8 who do."

I went to the Body Shop and got myself a postcard of the same ad, and put it on the wall above my desk. Meanwhile, I still thought I was a dieting success story. And yet meanwhile, I still thought my thighs were too fat. I still wanted to be thinner -- if I tried harder, I could be a size 2, not just a 4! I still hated my weak chin and big nose and problematic skin. I did not personally want to look like "Ruby" ever again, and yet, I couldn't stop looking at that picture of her every damned day. I loved it. I loved her. I just thought I would never, ever be able to be as comfortable in my own skin as that plastic doll. I thought I would never, ever be content with my lot as one of the 3 billion.

This is something I wish I could internalize completely and pass along to every woman alive.

There are 3 billion women in the world who don't look like supermodels, and only 8 who do.

On Anita Roddick's website, she wrote in 2001 about the controversy surrounding the Ruby campaign. Mattel sent a cease-and-desist letter in the U.S., arguing that Ruby made Barbie look bad. (Roddick: "I was ecstatic that Mattel thought Ruby was insulting to Barbie -- the idea of one inanimate piece of molded plastic hurting another's feelings was absolutely mind-blowing.") In Hong Kong, the posters were banned for being too titillating -- while genuinely provocative images of real women remained.

Says Roddick:
And there, in a nutshell, is my relationship with the beauty industry. It makes me angry, not only because it is a male-dominated industry built on creating needs that don't exist, but because it seems to have decided that it needs to make women unhappy about their appearances. It plays on self-doubt and insecurity about image and ageing by projecting impossible ideals of youth and beauty.
Like I say, Anita Roddick was a hero. How tragic that she died so young. I wish more women I read on the blogs could have her around as an example of unapologetic environmentalism and unapologetically powerful woman. I quote her again, Roddick once said, "If I can't do something for the public good, what the hell am I doing?"

I’d like to close with mention of BUTT in respect to reality, related to function. Did you know that the butt allow primates to sit upright without needing to rest their weight on their feet as four-legged animals do? This sitting blogger is grateful for the rest.

Somewhat altered Jason Godeke image