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 Post subject: Historical conjecture
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:35 pm 
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Split off from another thread, to those wondering where this came from:

One of the theories about why some people have this trigger in their amygdala is that it allowed communities facing famine a better chance of survival. When non-ED people experience food restriction, they get grumpy, lethargic, irritable and hungry. Initially, the opposite feelings occur in people with a neurobiological trigger: they experience a sense of calm, well-being, often a burst of energy and happiness (note the use of the the word, "initially", as this changes). In a communal society, those persons with the neurobiological response are better able to go out to forage and hunt for food, which they can bring back to the community and better protect the entire community's survival.

So, why don't they continue restriction? Again, conjecture, but unlike contemporary society where many industries make large profits by promoting "skinny", these communities would have had a vested interest in protecting people who could forage for food in famine, and it would be seen as a social responsibility to both eat and to be fed. In other words, the action of consuming nutrition, especially in the absense of any reinforcing factors (and the presence of antagonistic factors) to continue restriction forces such people to eat and survive until the next famine or food shortage.

It's all just theory, but it's interesting. I have also read - but don't remember and can't lay my hands on - that community members who experienced other "mental illnesses" such as schizophrenia were revered, rather than reviled, and held distinct positions within their communities.

But then the socio-economic structure of "primative" communities changes, and these things become counter-productive or unnecessary and are then seen as problems. So different internal justifications were developed for self-starvation; you can read about women starving themselves as a holy gesture to their faith, and other developments over the centuries.

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 Post subject: Re: The truth about recovery
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:49 pm 
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This is all crazy fascinating to me. It's likely the reason behind my being a psych student.
I think it's strange how, just maybe 200....300(?) years ago, to be bigger, was reveled. It made a woman attractive, it made men attractive. Having more than just "skin and bones" was a blessing. It was a sign of wealth, thus attraction.
I never understood the reason for that calm, or that "euphoria", initially. I think I knew deep down, I shouldn't be feeling it, but it was better than whatever else I was feeling at the time.
I remember reading about the schizophrenia being revered, and women starving themselves for a faith. It's almost scary how quickly society changes. My thought (and this will probably be my psych thesis someday) is when and why did society begin glamorizing eating disorders (or just being unhealthily thin, rather)? When, just a few hundred years ago, that was a sign to society that you weren't able to provide for yourself?
(I don't mean to create a spinoff within this thread, like I said, these studies fascinate me)

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 Post subject: Historical ideals of women's bodies
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:58 pm 
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If you like, I can split it off into a different thread and we can make it just about this discussion, because I think it is fascinating, too, how the shape of women's bodies, particularly in western societies, has been intertwined with economic and religious changes over the years.

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 Post subject: Re: The truth about recovery
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:01 pm 
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I would definitely appreciate it! It would be like a history and psych lesson in one thread.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical ideals of women's bodies
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:55 pm 
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There is a hypothesis stating that that which is difficult to obtain is considered attractive. In times of want and poverty that might be a fuller body, something only rich people have. In times of abundance... "Hey, see what I can do, I can totes afford to not care about my health and the bad times".

I'm not sure what to think of that, a lot of that stuff seems like speculation to me.

But anyway, there is a lot of variation across cultures and across ages.
Specific beauty standards are not universal, but what about the existence of such standards and the pressure on women and emphasis on women's appearance they create?

What beauty standards neglect, sadly, are individual differences in preference. And it's also said that a certain look in a girlfriend is seen as a status symbol for men.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical ideals of women's bodies
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:03 pm 
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Something that I found just recently: men are attracted to the literal definition of the "hourglass" figure, which is either surgically or genetically attainable. No amount of diet or exercise can rearrange our muscles and bones, etc.
The pressures and standards on women have always, since biblical times (if you will) been there. Women were meant to dress modestly, and take care of the home and family. If a woman was dirty or messy, she instantly became unworthy. And yet, a man could come home from work without washing or cleaning, etc and it would just be him doing his part. Unfortunately, this stigma still exists in many environments.
I wish I could find more background on the pressure to starve oneself during times of abundance to prove a point. It makes sense on a level, but on many more (especially the historical side) I can't quite get my head around it.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical ideals of women's bodies
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:35 pm 
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VitaminDesi wrote:
Something that I found just recently: men are attracted to the literal definition of the "hourglass" figure, which is either surgically or genetically attainable. No amount of diet or exercise can rearrange our muscles and bones, etc.
The pressures and standards on women have always, since biblical times (if you will) been there.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but if anything was universal, it was the proportions and not the absolute size?
Not that that's much better.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical ideals of women's bodies
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:40 pm 
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Yeah it was the proportion. "x inches for bust, x-10 for waist and x+1 for hips"
It is literally unattainable unless someone wants to undergo surgery or they're born with that shape. I'm not writing the actually numbers I found, as not to be triggering to those who want to join this discussion. Does anyone else think that's ridiculous though?

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 Post subject: Re: Historical ideals of women's bodies
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:21 pm 
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Something that I've noticed lately (maybe this isn't historical, just societal pressure?) is women asking one another for permission to "be bad" i.e have dessert, a bite of cake, etc.
The whole thing infuriates me honestly. Where did it come from that we need to ask our peers permission to have something that we enjoy? And why is that considered being bad? And why do we need to justify it with "Oh, but I've been good all week!"
I diffused a situation like this when my boyfriends mom asked me if she could have some ice cream. WHAT? I told her, "Just have some! It's delicious, you've had a long day at work, it's raining and hell. It's just ice cream!"
Where did this come from and why did it start?

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 Post subject: Re: Historical ideals of women's bodies
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:07 pm 
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I think the ideals about women's body shapes have been a socio-political construct since we evolved from hunting and gathering communities (where women did actually produce the greatest amount of food and were also responsible for inventions such as the simple, yet incredibly powerful idea of a bowl), in that the subjugation and disempowerment has required us to be constantly seeking to be different.

How disempowering is it to be wearing a dress that took two maids to fit you into by pulling the corset so tight that you were unable to breathe properly or even eat, much less live a life where you own your freedom, attend univeristy, work outside the home and even be rich and successful at doing it? How disempowering is it now to be expected to achieve that body without the "benefit" of a corset - we end up making sacrifices that render us unable or less able to chase all those dreams of education, enriching employment, often even families as our bodies respond by ceasing menstruation due to failure of hormone production?

The enslavement of women's bodies, whether the ideal was curves or rib bones, other than during WWII where women were needed in the workforce (think the happy and healthy body of Rosie the Riveter), has been a political act, a political statement, about our roles, status and worth in market economies.

There is something that has been weighing on me; something I have not dared to speak since I found out about it; something I feared would be fodder for all of our eating disorders; and yet something that needs to be spoken, to be crushed and thought of in the same way we think of child enslavement and sexual exploitation. It has been bursting out of me and I almost stop breathing at the pain it causes me.

It is the development of a now growing and booming "anorexic porn" industry. Yes, pornography has often been built on beautiful bodies or fetishes, but this is new, an industry that seeks out women to sexualise and abuse their bony bodies, their skeletons, their "flirtation" with death.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical ideals of women's bodies
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:38 pm 
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Spender wrote:
It is the development of a now growing and booming "anorexic porn" industry. Yes, pornography has often been built on beautiful bodies or fetishes, but this is new, an industry that seeks out women to sexualise and abuse their bony bodies, their skeletons, their "flirtation" with death.

There is an industry of that kind of thing??? What on Earth are they hoping to promote, to gain, what kind of message are they trying to send out?
It frustrates me that a woman's body has been part of socio-political issues so much when there's so many other issues going on (like child slavery, you mentioned)
I'm thinking this probably hasn't just been since we've evolved. I feel that it was likely something that came up back in almost biblical times (I'm thinking of the story of Queen Esther; a woman who the king chooses as his own and she is pampered and dressed up, etc, etc. to be presented to him). That ideal that our bodies need to be so dressed up and shaped just so before we go into the presence of others has been around for a ridiculously long time.

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 Post subject: Re: Historical ideals of women's bodies
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:59 pm 
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Spender wrote:
I think the ideals about women's body shapes have been a socio-political construct since we evolved from hunting and gathering communities (where women did actually produce the greatest amount of food and were also responsible for inventions such as the simple, yet incredibly powerful idea of a bowl), in that the subjugation and disempowerment has required us to be constantly seeking to be different.


It's really hard to disentagle the nature and the nurture part in anything... but the malleability of the ideals and the increased pressure over the last decades suggests to me that a huge part of the problem is out there


Quote:
The enslavement of women's bodies, whether the ideal was curves or rib bones, other than during WWII where women were needed in the workforce (think the happy and healthy body of Rosie the Riveter), has been a political act, a political statement, about our roles, status and worth in market economies.


I think it's even more far-reaching, but at the same time more subtle. Like society being soaked in all these tacit assumptions about women's roles, status and worth in general.
No conspiracy, no easily identifiable enemy sworn to destroy us (at least that type has grown rarer and is not widely held in high esteem).

Just our prejudice and untested assumptions. The norms to which we subject both ourselves and others. The gossip we fear, the gossip we may take part in so we aren't at the receiving end. Our wishes to be loved and accepted, to be valued and to fit in. And the ideas and pictures we're fed about what it means to be lovable or beautiful, about what is desirable.

That awkwar moment when it dawns on you that "they" might be "us". :shock:
And I'm part of this culture and it would be naive to think I can shed it totally. Which leads to uncomfortable questions, like: Are some of my wishes perverted? Am I longing for things I shouldn't be striving you because they contribute to something really fucked up?
Sure, it's me being here today who wants to look "sexy" and doll up and who chooses to put on a pair of uncomfy heels. I'm quite sure that just letting go of it would mean to let go of something I care about. It would mean denying something about me, even if it is "just" my style.
But under different circumstances, I might not have gotten caught up in this beauty clusterfuck in the first place.

Oops... this post kind of took up a pace on its own. Sorry if it went of topic, but these thoughts felt important to me....

Edited to add: I guess my solution is to be accepting and non-judgemental about other women, even if they work to conform to these beauty norms. Or their style conforms to them etc. etc..


Quote:
It is the development of a now growing and booming "anorexic porn" industry. Yes, pornography has often been built on beautiful bodies or fetishes, but this is new, an industry that seeks out women to sexualise and abuse their bony bodies, their skeletons, their "flirtation" with death.


Ugh... that's kind of morbid. Not to mention it's using people. Because yes, getting someone elses suffering served on a silver platter (or flatscreen) is just so cool. 7up

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 Post subject: Re: Historical ideals of women's bodies
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:12 pm 
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Sure, it's me being here today who wants to look "sexy" and doll up and who chooses to put on a pair of uncomfy heels. I'm quite sure that just letting go of it would mean to let go of something I care about. It would mean denying something about me, even if it is "just" my style.
But under different circumstances, I might not have gotten caught up in this beauty clusterfuck in the first place.

Oops... this post kind of took up a pace on its own. Sorry if it went of topic, but these thoughts felt important to me....


I try to marry comfort with style (ie wearing flattering clothes but with low heels or stylish flats..I struggle with shoes anyway because of my squared off toes). I definitely have been caught up too though. I own makeup and a hair straightener and some uncomfortable items of clothing that I wear to look thinner. I think it's hard NOT to. I am glad that I realize how silly it is and make sure to tell my friends they are beautiful (which I'm SURE they find weird sometimes but I want them to hear it because they ARE) and try to catch my own thoughts about myself.

You know what else bothers me beyond what you guys have discussed? Shapewear.,,stuff like Spanx. I own it. I wear it. I hate it. I can't breathe well in it. I can't eat what I like in it. It's like a modern corset....I have done corsets because of renfest and it feels much the same. One day maybe I'll feel ok not having it under formal clothing (thankfully I mostly keep it to date nights which we don't have often and interviews, which happen rarely for me)...

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 Post subject: Re: Historical ideals of women's bodies
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:49 pm 
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Quote:
You know what else bothers me beyond what you guys have discussed? Shapewear.,,stuff like Spanx. I own it. I wear it. I hate it. I can't breathe well in it. I can't eat what I like in it. It's like a modern corset....I have done corsets because of renfest and it feels much the same. One day maybe I'll feel ok not having it under formal clothing (thankfully I mostly keep it to date nights which we don't have often and interviews, which happen rarely for me)...


I don't think I've ever worn shape wear / spans stuff but I've seen it around in stores and I know people who do. But we all pick clothes based on style and flattery. We are not exactly going to look for clothes that make us look ..anyway in which we dread or feel self conscious about. I'm fairly relaxed with clothes because well, I don't own much that fits and I'm usually chasing after a 3 year old but at the same time, I put on concealer and make up type stuff. Not much but I do it because god forbid someone see me looking my worst (which unfortunately means, natural). I think its society, its ego, its perception of ourselves as well as how we see that we fit in the world.
I have a good friend who loves to feel sexy, she wears clothes that will show off particular parts of her body shape that she appreciates. She is also very confident about herself and all the rest. Perhaps its society's norm to want to look this way. The difference is she wears something to highlight what she appreciates (right or wrong) instead of wearing something to correct or hide some part of her she is ashamed of.

Im going way off topic and I'm not even sure what I'm getting at :smile:

I suppose I would feel more OK about society's ideas on women if it had the effect it has on my friend who loves fashion and loves her body. Mostly though we seem to be caught up in "sexy" or "beautiful" or an ideal being something we try and force ourselves into instead of making our own unique versions of this.

Then add feminism where we somehow think if we dress up, wear make up, want to be sexy or pretty or flattering then somehow we are moving that movement backwards. I don't know. I think its OK to want to look a way you see as positive and makes you feel good aslong as you are not hurting yourself to do so. I think its about embracing more of yourself.

Sorry for these rambles.


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 Post subject: Re: Historical ideals of women's bodies
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:30 am 
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Quote:
You know what else bothers me beyond what you guys have discussed? Shapewear.,,stuff like Spanx.


Perhaps this will help you to never look at shapewear in the same way even again (and yes, I did also own and wear it for a long time, and have found myself absently standing in front of it again recently).

Anyway, my sister came in for me to dress her for a party, and I picked out one of my lovely dresses, but she was not comfortable with the indentations created by her underwear so I gave her a shapewear full body slip with built in bra. She slipped (well, hauled) it over her head and was much more satisfied with how she looked and decided the outfit worked for her.

I of course, other than telling her she looked great, and sat back to wait for the impending disaster about to unfold right in my own bedroom, and sure enough, she did not disappoint. Instead of pulling the slip down (which I learned very quickly was the only way out of it), she pulled it up and got stuck, half "dressed" with her arms stuck straight up in the air by the confinement of the shapewear and leapt frantically around my bedroom shrieking, "Help! Help!", something I was not able to do at risk of soiling myself from laughing so hard. Not only has she never forgiven me, she has steadfastly refused to ever even consider wearing "shapewear" again.

My sister, disaster attractor.

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