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an appointment

All this lying around has given me time for theorizing. Theories ahoy!

First, at Shopper’s yesterday afternoon, the covers of several women’s mags were displaying anorexic movie stars, with their cadaverous bone-jutting bodies. There are some of those bodies at the Y, painful to see. On what planet is that attractive? I thought again about the moment that body type became the universal western goal for women, in the mid-sixties, with Twiggy. Why then, and why extreme thinness? I look at my cat, who is now extremely thin because she’s dying. In any society, in any era, extreme thinness is associated with illness and starvation. No third world country cares about women being “fashionably thin.” Why do we, in the first? (For that matter, most North American women of colour, except Oprah, do not care about thinness. Look at the gorgeous Michelle Obama. Maybe many black women, except Michelle, live in a version of a third world country within our prosperous one.)

I know there are feminist theories about thinness; I did have one myself about gay fashion designers wanting women to look like boys. But there are many straight, thin-obsessed fashion designers, and for that matter, women designers themselves have not helped. And yes, all the stuff about the negation of women’s power, female self-denial and all that. But maybe it’s also that we reached the stage, as a society of extreme comfort, ease and wealth, that the ultimate status symbol is to look as if you’re sick and dying, when you’re not.

Okay, working on that one. Tell me what you think, we’ll develop it together. I’m thinking about this because my cat is dying. Because I came down this morning to find evidence of her distress all over the kitchen floor and on my breakfast table – a definite message from her to me – and sat down and made an appointment with the mobile vet for next Saturday morning. So the equation of thinness with illness is on my mind.

I am not mourning my cat, at least, not yet, though the end of any life is sad, however small. She was a Harlem street cat who has had a fabulous life, especially considering her personality, has lived with comfort and love, is still beautiful, will die neither too soon nor too late, with dignity and in little, if any, pain. We should all be so lucky.

Also talked to a dear friend today who recently had a shower for her pregnant daughter – they as hosts had expressly forbidden expensive presents and were shocked at how much money friends spent nonetheless on gifts. The other day, I noticed a record number of people carrying roses, heart-shaped balloons and other useful Valentine’s purchases. The Me to We international charity run by the Kielbergers, which owns half of Cabbagetown – has anyone looked into their finances? – has a sign above their shop on Carlton Street, which sells stuff from third world countries. “Shop,” it orders. “Make a difference.”

And we do. For baby showers, Valentine’s Day, for ourselves whenever possible, we shop. And that’s why our planet is doomed – because shopping is fun and feels good, and now that we can buy so cheaply, it doesn’t even have to bankrupt us. Just the planet.

Just the planet.



2 Responses to “an appointment”

  1. Anonymous says:

    See, now there's a positive side to my loathing of shopping. And people thought I was just cranky.

  2. beth says:

    You go, girl. Or rather, don't go (shopping!)

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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