This week I was going to write about my deep appreciation for Grace Jones and the positive role model she was for me as a young girl. I first realized the type of self-determined and self-sufficient person I wanted to be after seeing Jones in the film Conan the Destroyer. The film centered on a crew assembled to aid Princess Jehnna on a journey. All I could think of in my youth while watching the film was how feeble of a part the princess played and how rad Zula was. In doing my research though, I accidentally downloaded the wrong film and instead watched Conan the Barbarian. When the film first came out, I thought any man could become as strong as Arnold Schwarzenegger if they worked out as much as he does. Now as an adult I can see just how wrong I was to think that. Additionally, during this revelation the artist Lizzo had a birthday, so I scrolled through social media to wish her well. I found that many comments directed toward Lizzo were highly derogative and focused almost entirely on her weight. Here were two people who are both out of their BMI recommended weight and they are treated so differently. So, I had to alter my fan theory this week and save my love of Grace Jones for another day's content (still love her). This is my take on why there's a double standard regarding body image that should be addressed.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, he is an accomplished man who certainly achieved the American dream and then some. Between his military career, his various bodybuilding achievements, and a widely known Hollywood persona (Rainier Wolfcastle anyone?) I can safely say this man knows his way around the gym. But was/is he healthy? Schwarzenegger has admitted himself to using anabolic steroids to aid in his physical performance goals. With side effects like heart disease, liver, and kidney damage as well as the numerous negative personality associations this type of drug comes with, it is hard to argue that his methodology was totally beneficial. In his life, Schwarzenegger has suffered from a congenital heart condition, and although I am no doctor, I would make the leap to assume that his steroid use many have exasperated his already underlying health condition.
Lizzo is a musical artist with a band background and a personality for days. She inched her way up with years of hard work to commercial success. It seems though her accomplishments are marred by the constant body shaming that she is subjected to. According to a USA Today article about the singer, she stands at five feet even in height and maintains a weight of 175 lbs. A quick calculation shows that would make for a BMI of 34.2 or "obese class I" placement on a BMI chart. This compared to Schwarzengger's BMI calculation at his supposed healthiest time was between 30.2 to 33.4. His BMI, despite his weight being a direct result of his psychical activity, would also place him in the "obese class I" category on the same chart. Taking the two different people's measurements into account it really changes the way you look each in terms of body mass and health.
There are arguments regarding the health of these individuals that should be taken into consideration. Schwarzenegger did more cardio and limited excess body fat. This is important in keeping ailments and illnesses like diabetes at bay. However, something that is rarely pointed out is that when cholesterol gets too low a person has a decreased ability to ward off infection. Normally, this is only an issue for those suffering from malnutrition or a person who hovers as close to zero percent body fat as possible like Schwarzenegger. The heart, however, must still pump all that blood to the body, and it could be argued that any massive increase in body size adds a strain. In the film Conan the Barbarian, as a viewer, I could not help but see the excessive bulk in Schwarzenegger's muscles as he moved around on the screen. Lizzo may be heavy, but Schwarzenegger still is giving his body extra work to maintain homeostasis.
This all sums up to perceptive and hopefully gives pause to encourage the 'roid culture that superhero movies have garnered recently. Men suffer from body image too and the poor physical and mental health that comes with it. In writing this I meant to point out that not all bodies are as healthy as we think. Fat-shamers speak of the lack of wellbeing those they chastize perpetuate, only if that is their goal they are inefficient at best, as they are not truly calling out all forms of ill health from body size. Instead, I venture to argue that fat-shaming, as many may also have long suspected, is merely trolling which is in itself a lack of self-discipline. To close it might do all of us well in these times of open communication to consider the biblical verse Matthew 7:5, whether you are secular or not "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." In other words, self-improvement over bashing others is always a good way to start. Well, that and don't be appalling and insult a person's weight on their birthday for goodness' sake!