I have self respect; your argument is invalid

I wrote this today as a comment to a gentleman who indicated that the lush and luscious model Tara Lynn “needed” to go to the gym and that she was only gorgeous because she happened to have a beautiful face. To that I say, “PFFT.” I liked what I wrote so well that I wanted to preserve it so I can refer to it myself when I need a reminder of who I am and what I am. I didn’t relate this piece to who I am in Christ, but that certainly forms the basis for these beliefs about myself.

Tara Lynn

The glorious Tara Lynn

Sir, you state your opinions as if they were objective fact, and you state that my being nice doesn’t make me “correct.” Of course it doesn’t; being nice has nothing to do with being correct. The problem, however, is that in matters of opinion, “correct” doesn’t exist, and neither does objective fact.

For the record, no, there actually is no such thing as “ugly.” There’s no such thing as “beauty,” either, and for the same reason – even in a conformist society, everyone has an individualized ideal of beauty. Your statement, on the other hand, makes it sound as if you think there’s some unbiased determination of what constitutes beauty, but that’s a position born from your privileged paradigm as a heterosexual White American male living in a patriarchy. Beauty is nothing more than a socially constructed, culture-centric concept that we internalize through socialization. It’s often based on economics as much as on personal aesthetic sense. In poor societies, weight traditionally has been prized as a measure of wealth. Look at what was considered beautiful 500 years ago, or even 50 years ago. For that matter, check out contemporary standards of beauty in Jamaica, Polynesia, West Africa, India, and other cultures. VASTLY different from Eurocentric standards. Nothing about that is objective.

Today, in this country, it costs more to be thin, so thinness has become the prized standard of wealth here, particularly as applied to women, followed closely by the ability to manipulate the body into unnatural forms through costly medical procedures and chemical treatments. (All of this is also still based on the construction of patriarchy because it’s generally women who are subjected to these standards of image as adjuncts to the men in their lives, but that’s a whole ‘nuther can o’ worms).

Back to the main point, let’s compare the works of Van Gogh, Picasso, and Jackson Pollock. I do not find their work uniformly beautiful, yet each one has his passionate devotees. For example, while I adore most of Van Gogh’s ouvre, and can recognize the fascinating perspective of Picasso, Pollock’s work, to me, has no rhyme or reason. The beauty in their work eludes me, but that’s simply my opinion. I don’t get to determine their appeal to everyone. You may think they’re brilliant artists. Who am I to tell you that you’re wrong? It’s about you and what you think and me and what I think – as individuals. We do not have to agree on anything, and that’s the beauty of living in a diverse world.

Van Gogh, "Café Terrace at Night"; Picasso, "Girl on a Pillow"; Pollock, Unknown

Body size-wise, I  know several fat professional dancers. They eat nutritiously, work out strenuously an average of 5 hours a day yet are not thin. Their leg presses are out of this universe. Their labs are clean, their blood pressures normal. They have incredible stamina. In short, they are perfectly healthy. Thinness is simply not in their genetic makeup and they do not feel a need to cave to arbitrary social standards and are, in fact, deliberately challenging those standards. You may think they are ugly because they don’t fit your ideal, but you do not get to state that as fact because it simply isn’t fact.

Tara Lynn (the model in the photo) is absolutely gorgeous as is, and that’s not just my assessment – she works as a professional model, so clearly there is a significant portion of a particularly harsh image-related population that disagrees with your evaluation. She doesn’t “need” to hit the gym or some man’s bedroom (patriarchal subjugation rears its head again) in order to be validated because she’s happy with who she is and she doesn’t see her value in terms of how others view her. She doesn’t need anyone’s approval to be OK with being herself. She has no obligation to live up to anyone’s standards of beauty, character, size, or health but her own.

I recently made the choice – and it is absolutely a choice – to view people as individuals and to celebrate their individual beauty. As a result, I have found more joy in the world, more peace within myself, and contentment with who and where I am. I don’t need anyone else’s approval to be myself and I’m content to let others make choices for their own lives. I no longer feel that I need or even have the right to set standards for others to follow because I’m happy with myself where I am, a position that I fought long and hard to achieve, and recognize that others have the same right of self-determination that I do. But still I choose to fight against stereotypes and narrow ideals of beauty – not to tell someone that his ideal is wrong, but to point out that there are other ideals out there. It’s hard to command  respect as a fat woman in this world because we are so often denigrated, but I will no longer accept less.