During the three and a half hours I spent in A&E last night, I had plenty of time to consider the human body (including the body of an elderly gentleman who wore his hospital gown both untied and the wrong way round). It wasn’t how I had intended to spend my evening, but I suppose it had some value as it kept from me smacking the face of the bubblegum-chewing child who sat next to me for the majority of my stay.
From a medical perspective, bodies pretty much serve one basic purpose: they are bags of skins in which we carry our bones, muscles and guts. Some bodies are big, some are small. Some have hair all over them, others don’t. Women’s bodies have lovely, soft curves, and men’s bodies have dangly bits which apparently, I have recently learned, go teeny tiny as they age. Whatever — it doesn’t really matter what the body looks like: its job is simply to keep our insides inside.
(Note: I do not mean to imply that the processes that go on within the body aren’t complicated. Indeed they are. However, as I am not a scientist, how all that stuff works really isn’t any of my business.)
So on a very practical level, as long as our bones, muscles, and guts stay out of sight, our bodies shouldn’t be a worry. However, if the magazines I skimmed through last evening are anything to go by (and I think they are, despite their having been published in 1982), we are bloody obsessed with the human body. And the main obsession appears to be changing the way ours looks.
Now I’m not saying I don’t understand the desire to look good. A cursory glance over my person proves that an appealing appearance is of importance to me. I like to keep fit, my hair is nicely styled, and there’s no reason cleavage like mine shouldn’t be out on show. However, when a desire to improve our looks involves going against nature and/or doing our health harm, well, there’s a problem there.
Not all bodies have trim waistlines, puffed out lips or wrinkle-free skin. That’s not a bad thing; it’s a fact of life. We don’t need to invest so much time, worry and money trying to make our bodies all look the same. Instead, we need to just be comfortable with ourselves. I know for many that’s easier said than done, but trust me, it’s a sound strategy, because self-hate is never a good look for anyone.
Today, I’ve been taking it a bit easy after the trauma of last night. Please don’t worry yourselves over my health, though — in the end, I only needed a few quick stitches on my ring finger and then I was right as rain. That’s the last time I use someone else’s knife when playing Five Finger Fillet. You live and learn, I guess.