Body to Die For

I wasn’t going to post today–at least, not any “real” content (I reckon that the little “welcome to the revised look” thing barely counts as much of anything, let alone counting as content). I was going to give myself a little break, and maybe do something useful around the house instead.

But then I ran across a picture of Jennifer Aniston, and I had a full-blown hissy fit about it, and I decided that writing this while I’m still enraged was frankly more important than dusting.

Here’s the deal: There was this picture, see, of Jennifer Aniston. Jennifer Aniston is a good-looking lady, and I can agree with that, though the standard caveats about having a team of stylists/trainers/etc apply. Jennifer Aniston clearly has time that she spends taking care of herself and making sure that her body looks how she prefers for it to look and functions in the way that she wants it to, and I can agree with that, too.

What I cannot get behind is the caption some perfectly nice, well-intentioned person had put below Jennifer Aniston’s picture, which read, and I quote, “Body to die for”.

Are you kidding me?

Are you kidding me?!?

Now, I get colloquialisms and slang. I understand that when I tell Moon Man that “I will break your kneecaps if you leave time on the microwave one more time”, his kneecaps are in no actual danger. When I say, “I would just about kill for one more brownie”, everyone in the neighborhood is safe. When I say, “ZOMG, that baby is so cute! You need to hand me that baby and some ranch for dipping, because I am going to eat him all up!”, the baby will, with 99.9% certainty, survive being cuddled by an exuberant Buffalo.

But.

BUT.

Could we please, pretty please, as a favor to me, drop “…to die for” as a slang term, especially when we are talking about results whose aggressive acquisition could, in fact, prove lethal to some people? It’s one thing to idolize the thin folks, which is a tantrum for another time. And it’s frustrating to me to hear people say things like, “God, I wish I looked like her”, because as I used to tell the preschoolers, that would make it awfully hard to tell people apart.

But it is another thing altogether to imply, even through a simple quirk of language, that you are in any way prepared to lay down your life for the chance to have Jennifer Aniston’s abs, or Jennifer Lopez’s butt, or Jennifer-that-girl-from-your-spin-class’s legs, or Jennifer-that-girl-in-your-homeroom’s [insert target of your envy here].

No, you will not lay down your life for that, and I never want to hear you say that again. You may be willing to lay down your life for as many broad ideals as you want–freedom, equality, peace–but I absolutely, positively, 100% draw the line at offering one’s entire mortal existence for the chance to buy designer pants.

And yes, I get that it’s just a figure of speech. But as we all know, words have power, and what might not hurt you can be profoundly hurtful to someone else. I’ve got a whole separate tirade in mind based around the use of the words “retarded” and “gay” as derogatory slang, but let’s stay on-topic here: “body to die for” might not seem like much to you, but try saying that in front of a mother whose daughter has recently died from complications related to anorexia or bulemia. Words hurt, even when they’re “just figures of speech”.

So to the probably-totally-decent-and-completely-well-meaning lady who wrote the caption that set me off today, I send you love and prayers for a healthy body, and a healthy body image to go with it.

And to everyone else, I send you a request to please, please, please watch what you say. I don’t want to teach my nieces that any body is worth dying for, and I would thank you not to teach them that either.

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2 Comments

Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There

2 responses to “Body to Die For

  1. “figure of speech”…that was, unintentionally on your part I’m sure, very funny to me.

    I often get caught in the language trap. Usually inside my head where I once believed it was silent but have, over the years, learned that it’s the loudest place language lives as it’s from my head/heart that I manifest my reality. What’s louder than language made visible?

    I love you for pointing the way out, once again 🙂

    • Exactly–words have the power to hurt, the power to heal, and at the core of it all, the power to create/destroy/change. I think I figured that out for realsies when I read Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea cycle for the first time, and I’ve tried to carry it with me. We’re all going to have slips of the tongue, or moments when we just don’t think–as an example, I mortified myself recently at your party, when Beautiful Person X said that she was going to Colorado soon, and without thinking, I replied with “How fun!”; as soon as she said that it was for a memorial service, I remembered that I did in fact know that, and had just made a giant ass of myself. So it’s ok when we have “oops” moments; but really, a little awareness goes a long way, and there are some phrases that do so much more potential harm than they’re worth.

      …One of these days I’ll learn to keep my replies short, I swear it! /sigh /lol

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