Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Only Joking

It's funny how we try to minimize certain things we
know aren't good for us. I've noticed that there are a number of tricks employed by many of us to assuage guilt, and soften the blow.Take, for example, the tricks we play with food. I have noticed that it is not uncommon to tuck into some chocolate for dessert and then have an apple an hour later.
Or start out the day with a healthy breakfast and convince ourselves that a pie is alright for lunch. Or eat a salad and then devour a packet of chips in the afternoon.
We attempt to convince ourselves that because we have made an effort to put something good into our bodies, the bad things aren't quite so bad.
These little tricks that we play with ourselves are seemingly harmless. After all, we are told we need balance in our lives, the experts are telling us not to get too precious about such things.
I have noticed that this trick is often employed with the things we say, too.
You know the times when we know something is a touchy subject, politically incorrect or downright rude and we try to minimize our remark by saying we were "only joking". And everybody knows that jokes are good for us.
So we let those words that would insult us or be considered totally inappropriate in any other context sail right past us.
We fear that if we comment on it, especially after we have heard that it was "only a joke", we will be a little too precious about it – a little too politically correct.
I recently heard a snippet of conversation on a popular national radio program aimed at teenagers and young adults.
Lots of things that would otherwise be considered inappropriate litter the conversations that happen on this sort of show. But because they use the caveat that "we're only joking", it's somehow okay.
Well, I have decided to get a little precious about a statement made by a male presenter that "anorexia looks good on some women".
Funnily enough, he immediately commented that he didn't want everyone's parents ringing up the station to complain about his statement. He knew it was likely to incite some response.
Call me precious; tell me I am unable to take a joke. I don't think anyone, no matter what context, should be making jokes about issues like this.
It might be that some of us play essentially innocent tricks with ourselves about our food. Sneak a piece of chocolate, have an apple and we feel better about it.
But the truth is that there are plenty of women who are in serious strife with the issues, thoughts, feelings, perceptions and images they are facing about themselves, their bodies and food. It is not a joke. Anorexia does not look good on any woman.
It might be that every young woman listening to that program knew it was just a joke, and the presenter wasn't serious when he said what he said.
They may be smart enough to discern between fact and farce. And yes, we do need balance in our lives. Not to get so serious about everything.
Even so, there are some things that are, in my opinion, genuinely precious. Like eating disorders and women's bodies.

till next time, Michelle.


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