(this is annie)

vegetarian cults

So tired, so tired. I just typed this sentence: These great gift ideas come are ready for fit any budget. Granted, I was working from the middle of the sentence, but at some point you just have to laugh at your overworked mind. Sometimes I wonder if I'm really very bright at all, because I do become fatigued and numbed just from thinking. I guess it's better to become tired from thinking too much than to feel all right and not think enough. Intense! I think. Har har.

RESTO REVIEW! On Saturday I had brunch with Mr. Cowboy and Mr. Beardy at Victory's Banner. It's a brunchy spot up in Roscoe Village; Karinsa had told me about it, but I'd never visited despite its reputation as the land of the magic vegetarian meal. So the boys and I piled into my new-used, budget-busting automobile (when you travel in a 97 Civic, you travel in style) and headed up to the great white north. We scooted in about half an hour before closing, and while Beardy and Cowboy seemed to like their meals, I cannot say that mine was so hot. Everything was lumpy. My veggie burger had lumps, as did my hot chocolate (it tasted like pudding on its way to being fully congealed—I think that they may possibly use Jell-O mix). Really disappointing. On the way out, I started wondering why most of the vegetarian restaurants in Chicago are run by religious fringe groups. Soul Vegetarian? Check. Alice and Friends? Check. Victory's Banner? Check. At least it isn't run by a bunch of Victory Records types.

In the past two days, as many people have told me that I'm not thin. That troubles me, and not for the reason you'd think. I've never been the type of girl who gets all worked up about having to be a certain size. Yes, in my lesser moments, I've pouted about my "armpit chub" or whined about something similarly neurotic. But for the most part, I'm cool with my body, so this isn't about me being upset on a personal level.

Let's explain: I'm 5'5" and I weigh about a buck-fifteen on my bloated days. 34/25/36. My vertebrae and ribs, while not jutting out of my skin, are certainly visible when I'm in a bathing suit. I wear a size four and, depending on manufacturer, either a small or extra-small.

How did somebody who's built like that come to be known as "not thin"? I've been almost the same size for ten years—actually, I'm smaller now than I was in high school—and it's only recently that people have said things like, "These jeans are really better suited for thin body frames" and "I never thought of you as a skinny girl." Maybe you can make a distinction between skinny and thin, but still, the essential meaning is there.

So if I haven't grown recently (indeed, I've become smaller, with cheekbones nudging themselves out of my face), and I used to be told that I was "too thin," what's going on? How are our evaluative criteria changing to define slimness as somebody who has to be smaller than a size four?

It certainly isn't a mass swelling of regular people losing weight and shrinking down to size zero. In fact, I look around at any given place, and I see a lot of women with rounded hips and ripply thighs and full cheeks (in both places). And as study after study confirms the average American's march toward obesity, I can't help but think that our changing perceptions have something to do with mass media. Vogue celebrates the return of curvy women, who they define as Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen (she's 5'9",123lb). Women in popular culture (and I'm talking the Britneys and Beyonces, not the Condoleezzas and the Hillarys) are starting to look like tall 12-year-olds with breasts. Who looks like that? They don't even look like that.

One of the more interesting things I've seen in the past week is the cover of the current Esquire: Britney Spears recreating a decades-old cover with Angie Dickinson. On the cover, Britney stands pert: her thighs tight, her ass looking round and bouncy like a tan kickball, her breasts perky and full. Inside, there's a side-by-side comparison of Britney and Angie. The poses are alike, but not much else is. Whereas Britney is pow-pow-pow "perfect," Angie Dickinson looks a lot more like how I look in a full-length mirror. She looks good, but her butt isn't perfectly round, and her thighs have fullness and irregular texture. It was so interesting to me that at one point, that was considered appealing, and now the same picture looks relatively dumpy.

I hate to sound like a feminist cliche, but sometimes there's a reason cliches develop in the first place: they're spot-on. Naomi Wolf, Ophira Edut, and Jean Kilbourne have all written thought-provoking and eye-opening work on the beauty myth, body image, and women in mass media. Despite their call to action—action that in some cases, comes down to simply loving yourself and rejecting the false visuals of mass media—I feel like the situation is getting worse, not better. Because when you think of it, it's a pretty odd view of the world if you consider someone who's closer to being underweight than average as "a little chubby" (that's another semi-recent quote). This isn't about me feeling validated as a thin person. It's about distorted definitions, and how many of us are creating definitions narrower than a model's hips. It isn't right and it isn't healthy. Stepping off the soapbox now.

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    it's anniet at gmail.


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