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Body Image

2001-04-26 01:17:22+00 by Dan Lyke 7 comments

Some facts muddled to protect anonymity: A mother is fairly casual about nudity, as her son grows up, at some point he says something like "Mom, you're too ugly to not be dressed all the time". I recently got a call for submissions for one of the good sex-centered online magazines asking for some essays on body image. I keep thinking there's something extremely revealing and deep in that little exchange, but I'm not quite sure how to expand on it. Anyone wanna riff on body image and see if we can put together such an essay?

[ related topics: Sexual Culture ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:36+00 by: ziffle

The cartoon shows the bears looking through a hole in the fence surrounding the nudist resort. The bear turns to his friend bears and says 'suddenly I am not hungry any more'.

After a relaxing day in a nudist resort body image is less important than a nice dip in the hot tub, and a nap.

An Oedipal complex is, well, complex.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:37+00 by: topspin

Perhaps I'm just odd, I keep giggling at the "call for submissions from one of the good sex-centered online magazines". Shouldn't Debra handle the "calls for submissions?"

Past that silliness, I'm in a position (dating a much younger woman) which has given me reason to think about body image. She's surrounded by taut, young guys at college and it doesn't seem to matter that I'm neither taut nor young. Our discussions wander thru the notion that men are more visually stimulated creatures and more critical of body flaws.

What I'm getting at is that it didn't have to be the Mom in Dan's scenario, it could have been Dad. Perhaps not, but I wonder if there's a sister in scenario and what her comments might reveal.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:37+00 by: phoffman

When the son says "you're too ugly", he's saying "my interpretation of society's norms are that you don't meet them". A resonable response would be to say "no one is too ugly to appreciate their own body"; a somewhat more nasty reply would be "since when does lowering someone else's self-esteem help the world?".

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:37+00 by: Larry Burton

Nah, the son is saying, "Ma, you're embarrassing me. Put some clothes on." Regardless of how one raises one's child that child will also pick up on society's attitudes toward nudity. Unfortunatly society's attitudes are going to become a higher priority for most children.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:37+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, but I'm wondering if the embarassment isn't due in some extent to a need to repress possible sexual attraction under a veneer of repulsion. Thinking Oedipally, and thinking about raging hormones and the desire to screw anything that moves ("...although I never saw such a need to limit myself...") I'm wondering if we sometimes use "ugly" as a mechanism for saying "I don't want to acknowledge this attraction".

I know, this is straying dangerously close to some really taboo subjects, but it seems to me that maybe there's some self-limiting statement of "I only want what can't exist" in some of our views of body image.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:37+00 by: Larry Burton

Perhaps, for the most of us, that repulsion is naturally there as some sort of nature's scheme to prevent sexual attractions that could lead to inbreeding. "Ugly" may just be what we use to express something that we don't understand. Still, I don't think I ever thought of my mother as ugly, just someone I didn't want to see without clothes on.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:37+00 by: topspin

I still think sometimes "ugly" is just unattractive to the young'un.

As a hormone high teen, I recall seeing my Mom and various other women in sheer nightrobes, etc. Mom just didn't have it. My aunt Mary washed clothes with granny's old ringer washer in a manner similar to the Sirens of "Oh, Brother" with water running down the front of her dress. Rod, my buddy, had a hot Mom who served breakfast in a damn near see-thru nightgown (and yes, Rod knew it and acknowledged it.) My sister was sexy and fueled fantasies in just a t-shirt... and need I mention her sleep-over friends?

It wasn't something deep that kept Mom off my mind, it was the availability of better fantasies.