Society is Shameful.

Nowadays, anything and everything about you is constantly criticized. Whether that be the way in which you dress, the people you love, or the gender in which you seemingly present, there are always others who have something to say. Sometimes, one has the willpower to overcome these other voices, and can appreciate themselves and deter from what others think. Others simply cannot.

In Susan Stinson’s “Belly Song” piece, the narrator is seen as noticing various pieces of her body, that when together, are seen by society as ‘fat’. Specifically, Stinson describes the girl as doing daily activities such as eating, drinking, and even picking up miscellaneous items, whilst seeing “her sides, thighs, knees, calves, and soles of her feet” (4). Unfortunately, because of society’s norms, she feels the need to restrict her eating habits, when she states, “Most of the other half of the donut is left on the table. I consider my belly. It’s pale. I fasted. It’s loose. I never ate dinner. It’s under hairs. I went to the hospital every week. It swells out, then folds. They said my body was made out of cubes of butter. It shakes, it moves, it jiggles. They said each quarter pound I lost was like cutting a cube of butter off a big block” (4-5). In this excerpt, the narrator is seen as being directly affected by not only society as an entirety, but also professionals within the hospital. While reading this excerpt, I felt for the narrator, as the norms within society and the expectations for a woman’s body, forces her to engage in restricting her eating habits. Also, for those within the hospital to make the analogy of her losing weight, ‘cutting off cubes of butter’ only will further perpetuate the negative feelings she has towards her body, ultimately due to society. Unfortunately, society has the power to have people feel a certain way towards themselves, for the good or bad. In this case, Stinson sets up the scene of a young girl, restricting herself solely because of societal pressures and feminine beauty standards.

2 thoughts on “Society is Shameful.”

  1. Thanks for the post,
    I like that you extract the essential quote which represents both the narrator’s perspective on and the dailiness of her body as well as the external power, “they,” circulated around such body. However, I wonder if the relationship between her body and “society” can be explicated further. You evoke “society” a lot as “shameful” and as having this total control over bodies. However, the word “society,” repeated relentlessly, seems very much one-dimensional, an easy cast-off as extreme evil that needs be combatted and not working within to destabilize. What is “society” here? Is it some high unreachable power? Or is it us ourselves around one another? Perhaps there’re more nuances to this often erected binary of the body and society?

    1. Hey, thank you for your comment…I enjoy your critique of the word ‘society’ and you bring up some very great questions! Essentially, what I had meant by this was an overarching group of ideologies, that were built upon and systematically are put in place. I do however, believe that it can also be both a binary of society and the body, as we are all people and we directly influence the way in which, ultimately, the world works.

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