We Blend Right In, Unless We Are Different: is the new thin the formal normal weight?
Skinny people aren’t allowed at the community pool. This is what I have been told. It is discrimination to exclude someone at a public place because of their weight, for being too skinny.
But before you shake your head in disbelief, do not worry. These rules aren’t written anywhere; they are half-said in a joke, or a look or a real compliment from another person at the pool.
“Hey, skinny people are not allowed to swim in the pool, haha! You need to leave.”
Yes, I was asked, completely jokingly and with amour (love) to leave the pool. I responded, laughingly:
“I am just lucky, you know?”
Honestly, I feel awkward writing this to you, because I feel half guilty to have this being skinny luck. I am thin. And so what? Back fifty years ago I would be part of the crowd. In France I am part of the crowd. But, having a what could be considered skinny body in 2012 makes me different in America. The fact that my weight is a trigger of comments during my summer in America makes me ponder on what is considered a normal weight. I am normal for what a person’s physical body looked like fifty years ago. But here we are 2 generations later in the midst of a eating and obesity crisis in America, and things are different. Being thin is looked at differently. The new thin is the old normal.
Now back to the pool crowd. You can really see a person’s physical shape in a bathing suit. (Not that I focus on a person’s body, but at the pool, it is just there). What do I think as I scan the crowd sitting on the chairs and swimming in the water? Overall, people look pretty ‘normal’ for what you see in America, (there are the exceptions of course), but yes, normal for 2012. Normal for an American crowd.
And on this hot summer day in America, if we took a black and white snapshot of this crowd and put it next to a picture of a crowd at a community pool fifty years ago, what do you think you would see? What would be your impressions?
The new thin is the old normal. The new normal is the old overweight. The new slightly overweight is the old fat.
Do you agree?
More on this to come.