Thursday, November 16, 2006

More or Less

In most aspects of life, we’re always yearning for more: more time, more money, more love, more knowledge, more space, more insight, more sleep, more hope, more light. With regard to weight and shape and size, however, less is more—to weigh less; to have a smaller frame; to approximate zero as best we can; to come, in some cases, as close to nothingness as possible, while still claiming to exist.

“I want to be less.” Deconstructing the sentence, it’s interesting how it maintains meaning as it shrinks:

I want to be less.
I want to be.
I want to.
I want.

For women, how did less become a synonym for more?


PalmTreeChick said...

That's a profound post. Very true. We are striving to be smaller, less existant in order to become, what we think, would make us more existant. Hmmm. Something to think about.

Jennifer said...

On a completely unrelated note, I wondered if you'd seen this piece in the news yet today, Dr. Stacey...,26334,1560633,00.html

Haley-O said...

Very interesting.... Less is always more when it comes to elegance and propriety. That may just be why it's been that way with women's beauty since the dawn of modern "society." Suckage. ;)

littlem said...


Haley, I'd agree with you as far as "elegance" and "propriety" are defined in recent (say as far back as the 19th century) European-centered cultures.

I'm not sure your hypothesis necessarily holds for Asian-, African-, or Sephardic-centered cultures or less recent European-centered cultures.

That said, irrespective of ethnic focus, I think in cultures where men are encouraged, or forced, to be LARGE and IN CHARGE and DOMINANT at all costs, women tend to be proportionately encouraged -- or forced, or shamed -- into being small. Intellectually, professionally, physically.

"Pink-collar-ghetto" jobs.

Eating disorders.

And I think the scholars that have pointed to a proportional correlation between womens' economic & professional achievements and increases in womens' eating disorders, generally across the female population in our culture, are on to something.

Palm Tree Chick, I think this also goes to your post in the THIN documentary thread where you talked about the odds of eating disorder recovery. I think the closer a woman hews to this culture's standards of who and what she "should" be -- without ever questioning whether those standards are right for her personally -- the more likely it is that she may not recover.

('Course, for the optimists in the audience, the opposite may also be true.)

Gosh, long post.

drstaceyny said...

ptc--interesting irony, huh?

jennifer--yes, I did see that. So sad. . .

haley--hmm. . . calls to mind Coco Chanel's "take off one accessory" advice.

lm--v. interesting points. Thanks for contributing to the "questioning."