Can we stop talking about bodies?

Last week, a dear friend ended up in the intensive care unit with, among other things, septicemia.  (She is much better now and at home again, before you worry, but thank you!) So I spent several days in the ICU, mostly with her, but also seeing all the other people who were in there, and it makes you think.  Then, when I opened my computer today, I found this half-finished rant about magazines and body talk and it seemed the right time to share it.  I’m not a prude.  I like a nice bum as much as the next woman and I don’t want us to stop looking.  But can we talk about something else?

Dear Magazines:

It’s not me, it’s you.

Anyone who knows me will know that I love a good mag. I love the frocks, the recipes, the ridiculous life advice, the articles about makeup that I am never going to wear, the book reviews, the crosswords and yes, I admit it, I am as much of a sucker for celebrity goss as the next person. (Although with regard to the last item, I long ago stopped buying magazines that don’t even bother trying to disguise that they are making stuff up.)

I can even put up with the photoshop, if there are enough beautiful frocks (although, as Meghan Trainor would say, ‘we know that shit ain’t real; c’mon now, make it stop!).

But I have had it with this nonsense about bodies.


Do not be telling me one week that it’s all about the new curves and health, then the next trumpet about someone getting fat, then the next plaster your cover with people who are ‘scary skinny.’ Your hypocrisy is showing and I have had it.

And especially, stop it already with this nonsense about someone having a ‘new body’.

Is there any headline more asinine? More ridiculous? More patently wrong?

Allow me to let you in on a secret. She (because, let’s face it, it is 9999 times out of 10,000 a she) doesn’t have a new body. She has the same one she had last week. And last month, and last year, and next year, should she live that long. The same liver, the same spleen, the same bones (although some of them might be a little flaky now, if she’s been crash dieting to please you). The same brain and the same heart, (not that you care about that) and I resent the implication that there was anything wrong with them before or that they are better now because their housing looks a little different.

The person in that body is the same. They might be happier about this particular part of their life now, but how much of that happiness, especially if they are a celebrity, is due to the fact that they know they are being judged for their appearance every time they wake up? And they may feel healthier now, but if they do it’s because they’ve changed their habits to healthier ones and that would have worked whether it had changed their outsides or not.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could really order up a new body? I know several mothers (and fathers, for that matter) who want the one with the extra arm. And my friends who have bung knees and allergies and cancer and Parkinsons would probably be in the market for a new one too.

But we only get one. Bodies are really important things – to the people who own them. They allow us to live our lives in a corporeal world, to work, to play and to give and receive pleasure and these are wondrous things. Sure, one of the many things we can enjoy about them is how they look. But, magazines, until you start treating bodies as part of people, or even as complex, wonderful machines that we have barely begun to understand and not just objects for my leering at, I will not be buying you.

I know, I know. You wouldn’t publish it if people didn’t buy it. You’re only responding to the market. If there is to be change, it has to start with the public. Well, let me start it. Leave the body talk off the cover and out of the pages and I’ll consider your product. Until then, I’m not buying.

Sadly, I think my money’s safe.

Copyright © Imelda Evans 2016

9 thoughts on “Can we stop talking about bodies?

  1. I’m hearing you!!! Personally, I like the idea of a healthy temple… I don’t however aspire to be Amal Alamuddin-Clooney. I like to think I’m brain capable for my own good and my own “George” is – like normal people – ageing gracefully. BUT I get on the treadmill every morning to be a happy temple ‘cos I like to treat it right. I am kilogram conscious but I AGREE WITH YOU not ‘cos the sausage factory mag tells me to. My 19-year-long husband ain’t the undulating Adonis of our early days but we still like the odd snog (sic) and we like to think we want to be around as long as we can in order to do so said snogging. So we keep an eye on our bodies beautiful… (Or more accurately, bodies healthy beautiful) Snogging is cool. Great post!

    • I hear you too! I am all for the healthy and even for the vanity, if you care about it. I don’t have a problem with people wanting to look attractive and working at it. More power to them, I say from the couch… 😉 But let’s at least be honest about it. I swear, one time I saw a cover that simultaneously sanctimoniously whined about the health of some very skinny people and asked what had happened to someone who had dared to put on weight. It’s the hypocrisy and nonsense that gets to me. More snogging and less hypocrisy, I say! 🙂

  2. Absolutely, whole-heartedly agree with you, Imelda. I am a reformed mag-aholic–like you I loved the frocks, goss, recipes…well, all of it. I mean whats not to love about sliding that delicious glossy paper through your fingers! That said, I haven’t bought a magazine since 2002. I too was sick of the body focus, the disregard for the people they report on, and to be honest I just find the whole body shaming/judgement/comparison sooooo boring. We need to stick together & stop buying the trash-mags until they present us with something better. If only we all knew just how much power we hold in this situation.

    P.S. Glad to hear your friend is better 🙂

  3. Thanks, Jaimee! I have been gradually dropping off because I just couldn’t take it but the ‘new body’ thing just broke this camel. Especially, as I said, when faced with the very hard reality that there really are no new bodies!

  4. Totally, Imelda. I haven’t bought a magazine since I was in my early twenties. I can’t tolerate them and it’s becoming that way with television now too, so I limit that as well. It’s a total body worshiping cult out there and I want no part of it. Good on you for not buying (with hard earned $$$) into it anymore. Let’s hope more people follow suit.

    • I know what you mean about television, Jacquie! I wish it was as easy to turn off the billboards and shop windows as well! But we do have power and I think more and more people are starting to vote with their dollars. I am hopeful!

  5. Great piece, Imelda! I’m with you, and don’t buy those magazines either. This is partly why I do “Art Gowns” only on my Judy. People say I should use models. I say “no”.
    Judy is always the same, and all gowns are equal in that sense.
    Do I make sense?

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