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Body Image Musings Part 1: Nature Doesn’t do Straight

April 11, 2010

It all started with a rather flippant statement by a good friend of mine “It’s all about balls for Gods sake” was about the size of it. But what is all about balls and what has that got to do with our bodies.

Nature, that’s what.

The conversation had gone into the realms of quantum physics, long equations and Pie (sorry, Pi) – not usually my favourite subjects (I peaked early with math at the age of 5) but this conversation got quite funny when we realized that straight lines and hard angles as beautiful as they are not natural. Nature doesn’t do straight, everything is curved and in a curved world the balls win!

OK so we will not win a nobel prize for that but I do think that nature has a point worth listening to here and it relates to our bodies.

We have become obsessed with un-curving ourselves and this causes us pain. We’ve done the round and wobbly thing – thanks Rubens but that was too unpredictable.   We tried a bit of playful form with the bustle but found that impractical. Washboard (Flappers) was fun for a while but it was hard to keen a good curve down  and before long the boobs were busting out all over in order to boost moral during the war years (Missile Tits were all the rage apparently). The 60’s and 70’s saw the doe eyed boy/girl look come into fashion and all of a sudden it was cool to look gaunt (Twiggy did it very well but many others just looked ill), some other stuff happened and now we have two beauty ideals:

1) Thin and pasty, straight up and down and preferably with an expressionless face.

2) Slim, angular and with the ability to look ANGRY and brooding with good muscle definition and long straight-up legs.

OK so that is a bit extreme but you get the picture. We want angles, we like straight lines and we like things to be predictable. Who knows what kind of trouble might start if one was to allow wobbly bits.

As far as our body image goes it is very hard for anyone to live up to these standards as they are simply not natural. YES some of us can fit the ideal for a moment – maybe just long enough for the camera to click, flash and whirr but these straight lines soon get bent when nobody’s looking.

We were never meant to be straight and angular. The world is a big ball and everything on it wobbles – atoms wobble, bees wobble, flowers and trees wobble in the breeze. When the sea wobbles we get out our long (angular) boards and jump right on, when the sky wobbles we know we have had too much to drink and when the choirs vocal chords wobble we all stop to listen.

Have a look at everything natural and try to find a straight line among it. Nature just doesn’t do straight. Things that you think are straight become  curiously curved as you get closer.  While Fibonacci’s numbers  and the Golden Ratio can explain some of the curvy patterns in nature nobody can explain the straightness of natural objects because there’s nothing straight in nature  to measure.

Our obsession with straight lines and hard angles is MAN MADE.  We can draw them, measure them, design them, contemplate them, own them and obsess over them but they are not natural. It is quite funny when you think that we build straight things to DEFY nature and to prove that we can conquer and control it.  It is a battle and when you are fighting it is all about who’s got the trump card.

Well, I am sick of fighting and I think that our bodies are also sick of being told to get straight or get out.   Vive le wobbly bits!

Isn’t it ironic that we are fighting a war against curves while perched on a big round vibrating curve-ball  otherwise known as planet Earth. Give curves a chance, straight is not natural.

And that’s what I think. What about you?

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