October 5, 2011
This little story, in its many forms, has been making the internet rounds again. Whether there actually was a gym in Paris (as the original tale goes), with such a sign in the window, has yet to be determined. To be healthy is what matters: not how thin or how curvaceous our bodies are, but how strong, fit and well we keep them – be they petite or full or anywhere in between.
Recently, in a large French city, a poster featuring a young, very thin and tanned woman appeared in the window of a gym. It read:
A middle aged woman, with children all grown, and a life well-lived, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.
To Whom It May Concern:
Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans). They are powerful and wise. They have a fabulous social life, stuffing themselves with shrimp as they frolic the sunset hours away. Whales play and swim in the seas, visiting amazing places like Patagonia, the Barren Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia. They speak and sing to each other in a language no one else has been able to master. Whales are wonderful musicians and are featured on many recorded CDs. They have an active sex life – both for pleasure and procreation – and birth adorable whale babies. Whales are incredible creatures and have virtually no predators other than humans. They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.
Mermaids do not exist.
But if they did, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis: Fish or human? They would the kill men who came too close, have no sex organs, and be unable to bear young. Yes, they would be lovely, but potentially lonely.
The choice is perfectly clear to me – I want to be a whale.
We are in an age when media instills in us that the only beautiful people are the skinny people. That those who carry around an extra ten pounds are lazy, dumb and unattractive. Yet, I prefer to enjoy an ice cream now and then with my kids. I love a good dinner with a partner who makes me shiver, and a drink out with my friends. With time, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom – our heads cannot hold anymore and it simply must be distributed to the rest of our bodies. See, I am not heavy… I am enormously cultured, educated, and happy. I am fit. I am strong. I am healthy. But I will never be skinny.
And beginning today, when I see my curves in the mirror I will tell myself, “My goodness! Look at how amazing I am!”