Bodies, Gender, and “Special K” Bars

Whenever I have to fill out a form that asks for my gender, I check “female” without thinking. I have boobs and a vagina. I am a woman. It is simple.

After our class about gender, I realized my physical sex was just a part of my gender and my body. Physical sex is so socially exaggerated and simplified in my every day life, I did not ever question identifying myself as being a female solely based on my physical body.

The media, biological differences, and culture limit gender identity roles in society. If watch almost any TV show or read almost any magazine, there are depictions of two individual, mutually exclusive genders. Men are tall and strong. Women are skinny and flawless.

The media reflects the gender binary in relation to weight and dieting. Women are subconsciously conditioned to be obsessed with the ideal form. Diet drinks, Special K, and “100 calorie” snacks are always advertised using women.

I do understand that people want to be healthy, but the women that advertise diet products are often gaunt and need to eat some cake. The skinny, happy woman twirling around in a red dress in the Special K commercial is why little girls are obsessing about their bodies from the time they are toddlers.

I have been taught ever since I was a little girl when I saw all of the Disney princesses that I should be skinny with big boobs and long flowing hair. I have been taught that I should eat salad, not cheeseburgers. My 8-year-old cousin told me when she came to visit that I “should not eat candy because it fills up my belly with bad stuff and makes me fat.” My physical body is part of me being a woman, but does not begin to define my gender identity. As Serano describes in “Boygasms and Girlgasms,” there is so much natural variation from person-to-person, we cannot be overly simplistic regarding gender and bodies. Gender is not even just physical, but it is also behavioral, cultural and psychological. It is stupid to think that everyone can be placed in either a “male” or “female” category.

I, for one, certainly know that I will never choose a side salad over cheese fries.



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