Friday, May 25, 2007


There were a couple of thought-provoking articles that appeared in yesterday's Louisville Courier Journal. First, in the FEATURES section, I noted that there was an article entitled "The 'it' Factor." The subtitle declared: "Female singers today must be taut, toned and sexy." The article went on to discuss such current female stars as Gretchen Wilson and Beyonce, noting that, in order to be successful in the music industry today, a woman has to be within normal weight limits, and cannot be overweight. Music executive Jody Gerson was quoted as saying that "the way female artists look reflects our society, where women are constantly judged on their appearance and oversexualized." The clear implication of this article was that women receive scrutiny regarding their weight and physical appearance, but that men do not.

Interestingly, then, there was another piece that appeared in the FORUM section. In an offering entitled "Pass the clam dip," columnist Maureen Dowd discussed the fluctuating weight of former Vice President Al Gore. Donna Brazile, Gore's former campaign manager, was quoted as saying: "If he drops 25 to 30 pounds, he's running [for President]." Dowd noted that people are trying to "read his [Gore's] fat cells like tea leaves to see if he's going to run." The column went on to mention Gore's double chin, his penchant for wolfing down clam dip, and the impression that "too many cheeseburgers and ice cream sundaes make Gore look puffy and waxy." The picture being painted was not a pretty one, and the implication was that Gore cannot be considered to be a serious presidential candidate until he drops some serious pounds.

Well, which is it? The first article intimated that women, but not men, are judged by their weight and physical appearance. The Dowd column, however, clearly demonstrates that all of us are unfortunately books who are judged, at least to some extent, by our covers.

Contrary to popular belief, men do not receive a free pass in this area. We are judged harshly if we are too fat, or if we have other obvious physical flaws. Just ask Al Gore.


Blogger G.Coyle said...

Our culture is one big eating disorder I think. I'm reading the Omnivores Dilemma which posits our military-agricultural-industrial complex as the cause of so much of our weight issues.

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