Tuesday, 14 February 2006

You Might Prefer Not To Read This

I am slightly blog-constipated. If only I were a mathematician. You know what I could do then. This joke always reminds me about the people who were stranded in the Andes, after their plane crashed, for three months with nothing to eat so they kept themselves alive using the bodies of fellow passengers who died in the crash or afterwards. To add to their unimaginable troubles their diet gave them serious lower intestinal problems. The two boys who eventually walked out of the mountains, saving several people's lives by doing so, carried meat with them which first thawed then went off as they moved past the snowline. So they got diarrhea to go with their long-term constipation. But they used twigs to clear out their blockages and kept walking. Human beings are, sometimes, astonishing and wonderful. The Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games aren't in it.

At the gym today at 7pm every eye was fixed on the Channel 7 telly. Even people doing exercises that required them to stand sideways to the televisions turned their heads and quite forgot to do their usual grimaces. The skeletally-thin lankmaster on the Stairmaster next to mine was particularly delighted with the part of Australia's Biggest Losers which involved contestants doing push-ups, running, and having to hold up plates of ice-cream and pizza to their faces. He alternated barks of bitter sardonic laughter with bursts of ever more frenzied leaping and puffing and treadling. You can't know what is going on in a person's head by looking at them, but I think he was pitting himself against the fat people on the telly and madly enjoying his all-round superiority (while simultaneously fearing he'd turn into one of them if he wasn't careful.) If it were at all possible I would prefer to change my gym time to un-coincide with this show, which I gather will be on every night, as the psychology of it all is much too much for me to deal with on top of the usual nonsense (avoiding eye contact etc.) But I have often noticed, as one might when all five free-to-air television channels are visible but not audible at the same time, that TV-land in general is mostly populated by emaciated wretches like the Andes survivors, and fat people being held up for shame and ridicule, punctuated with ads for pizza and icecream and barbequed chicken and soft drinks and Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and ab-rollers and mini-trampolines.

I hope you had a nice Valentine's Day.

42 comments:

jo(e) said...

You get the prize for the most unusual imagery in a Valentine's Day post.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Glen Fuller said...

i went to gym today. part of my daily ritual. i have modified my workout to be more weights than cardio as I have nearly reclaimed by previous pre-CSAA conference (and hence pre- x-mas splurge) fitness levels after 15 new-year sessions over three weeks. my gym is a mildly crappy 'public pool' gym rather than a commercial jobby. it closes at 7:15! I go earlier in the day, less peeps.

but, anyway, the zeitgeist expressed in that biggest loser program should be assassinated. hatred is a strong word, but it isn't strong enough to describe what I feel. you would need some power of grey skull shit just to express the instant just-add-water revulsion i have towards that show. especially the smug gym-freak fucks who are the arsehole trainers. i hope the people on it milk it for all it is worth and actually do become fit and allow themselves to experiment with a different sort of life (note how I didn't say BETTER LIFE!!!!!!!!!!). that is why i went to the gym for the first time and quit smoking etc about 7 years ago. I was curious to see wtf all these skinny punks got up to. well, it is some boring shit, that is what. but now i am doing it again because i am a thesis-machine and it forces me to get away from this bloody computer for at least 2.5 hours a day.

Phantom Scribbler said...

You make me think that perhaps it's not so bad that I'm completely out of shape and watch nothing but children's television. I don't think I'm much compatible with the culture of gym.

Hope you had a happy Valentine's Day and find some lovely heart-shaped chocolates at deep discounts tomorrow.

Ampersand Duck said...

Heh. I knew I could rely on you for a non-sentimental Valentine's Day post.

Lucy Tartan said...

My gym is a council one too. Even so it's got a lot of fairly horrible stuff going on. Like the supervisor who drives a silver ute with a sticker on the back window showing a woman with her hand down her pants. Etc. I will never get used to the blending of the bizarrely mixed messages coming out of the tvs with wondering what brings people to the gym and what they are trying to acheive. There are no really underfed people there, that's something at least. I go there partly because the rest of the day I sit very very still, unlike running round after two small children & doing disaster recovery operations after airport week festivities.

Zoe said...

Oh, Lucy, I've seen that sticker on a nice ute near work. Just gross. It has to be about their mates of course, 'cos it's never going to impress a real live woman into sleeping with them.

I enjoyed your post. I watched BL last night and didn't hate it, perhaps because I'm fond of the presenter AJ Rochester having seen her as a (very good) performance poet in Sydney and read her excellent (and very funny) book about her own massive weight loss. At least - unlike Big Brother - they actually have something to do on this show.

Cozalcoatl said...

I'm lucky with my gym i think. Its attached to the Olympic Aquatic centre, so its small, friendy and no real dickheads. The Tv's have the sound turned down and you bring in earphones and find the channel you want. MASH is always my favourite.

Lucy Tartan said...

Yes Zoe, for the mates' benefit exactly. I can't help wondering what his mum thinks of it.

The Biggest Loser show, well, it remains to be seen I guess, it sort of depends on how it's all handled. It seems quite possible that it might become the trigger of a national discussion about our attitudes to bodies. I feel concerned about the romanticising of drastic weight loss and I worry about the mysticalising and fetishisation of flesh, when really it is just meat, just matter, quite a prosaic substance, and one we should be able to deal with in a level-headed way, not just in this operatic fashion.

I'm not very optimistic that the producers will resist various temptations. Another thing that bothers me is that the show seems to be competitive, among the players themselves, and between the players and the audience.

Kate said...

My partner and I are both "former fat people". Neither of us were as big as the people in the show, but I once weighed nearly 90 kg and he once topped 110 kg.

Both of us watched it with horrified fascination; I nearly cried in the first episode where the father spoke of his son being ashamed to be seen with him. I remember being one of those people who cried when I had to go clothes shopping, and who hated to step on the scale out of embarrassment.

Anyway, my point? I don't know. These stories of transformation are really powerful to me still, but it's so sad that our society places so much value on fat, or its lack thereof.

I might have to write a post about this instead of clogging up your comments.

Kate said...

Also I think the competitive format of the show is extremely destructive to the people involved and like you I don't know how much value, if any, will come out of it for the competitors. If they improve their health -- both physical and mental -- that will be a good thing, but it really disturbs me to think what happens to those voted off, especially early in the show's run.

Amanda said...

I like Biggest Loser. I think people should be trusted a bit to make their own decisions, even fat people, without others tut tutting over them. I haven't seen anything exploitative and the messages are pretty good and supportive. The people are given personalities. Sure its a competition and in public, but maybe thats what people have decided they have to do to get what they want.

The gym I go to is a hardcore boxing place, it is poorly lit and the couple of bikes they have are rusty. Yay. I love it. When I was in Tamwroth I went to a local franchise gym which was all fluros and spandex and designer workout programmes by some guru in LA. Ick.

Zoe said...

Yeah, the shitty bit is the Survivor-esque eliminations. I prefer the unadulterated Survivor for that.

I watched a little bit of the American one, and it was pretty amazing to see how some people turned their lives around.

Kate said...

Oh don't get me wrong Amanda, I don't doubt their decision-making abilities, and I'm not tut-tutting anyone for making the decision to go on the show, nor patronising them by saying I think fat people are so emotionally fragile that they can't cope with it (unlike skinny hot people ala survivor)

But I do think the elimination bit is unneccessarily nasty.

Lucy Tartan said...

What Kate said: and adding that I got the feeling that the show is edited to up the emotional rollercoaster quotient (black and white shots of the kids at home intercut with parents crying and so on.) But it's early days and I'm probably carrying on about it a bit too much.

Amanda said...

Sorry I didn't mean to sound snarky.

Of course its a TV show meant to pull the ratings in at 7pm so the rollercoaster will be milked for all its worth. I wouldn't do it in a million years. I fing their stories interesting though and I sort of feel strongly I'd rather wish them well.

Kate said...

Oh me too -- I do wish them all well, very much. If the TV show is the vehicle for a better life, then good on 'em. (Takes some chutzpah to be filmed on telly in your undies especially if you're not the culturally mandated perfect size 8 superbabe)

Lucy Tartan said...

Absolutely.

R H said...

Miss Laura is size ten.

I can tell.

Lucy Tartan said...

Actually RH, I am size seven hundred. Here is a picture of me in my Physical Jerks costume. I hope you find something to like about my hairdo.

R H said...

Thanks. If I thought that was you I'd never post another comment.

I'm very happy with your gravatar thing.

That's what I write to.

-Honest Bob.

comicstriphero said...

I have managed to develop a skill for searching out decently equipped but very poorly attended gyms.

These are the best. They typically attitude free. And really cheap to boot!

Problem is, I can't ever tell anyone about said secret gyms for fear of them becoming popular and all snooty-like.

As for the Biggest Loser, I caught some of the US version and it was just plain cruel. Making the contestants dress in lycra and then showing endless close-ups of bulging flesh is just plain mean.

Kind of like a freak-show for modern times, combining the essential elements of individualism and TV.

Kate said...

God RH you've got beauty standards for blogs you read? Quick ladies, put some lippy on even when you're blogging -- you never know when RH is watching. (Sorry Laura)

R H said...

What?

Do I have beauty standards for blogs I read?
My word I do!
And Armaniac is an ugly brute!
I only read him as a horror show!

My little pumpkin, I have beauty standards for everything (don't you?). And especially for women.
I follow them around. I can't help it. Because when I see an angelface I have to study it, admire it, be overwhelmed!

What would you expect?

Dengus Squatburg Jr said...

The most repulsive thing about that show is that it has a Shannon Noll song for it's theme! Oh, the humanity!

Brownie said...

The best gym in Victoria was BODYWORLD in Carlisle St East St.Kilda opposite Glick's bakery. It is upstairs and the delicious bakery smells waft in through the windows, the music is AC/DC, George Thoroughgood, Tom Hafey worked out there when I belonged in 1995, and some of the members wore jeans and Blunnies to workout - well they just didn't change their clothes. I loved it. gritty. no nonsense. no dance muck.
Then The Ultimate pouffy club in South Yarra closed and pink velour people started joining, so I wafted away. it was rooned.
Weight training was recommended by my quack to combat the foul arthritis, but it didn't. I could bench press my own bodyweight for 5.
re weight: one time I was 86kgs and the quack said losing it would reduce my chronic pain. I lost 20 kgs in 3 months. the pain was the same . . so I ate it back on. Quacks know more about real estate than real medicine.

Lucy Tartan said...

I like your new gravvy Brownie. Having just had a string of run-ins with the docs I think I agree with your last sentence.

R H said...

Hey! Where's my dirty posters!


(you know what I mean)


RH!
(cutie-cutie)

ThirdCat said...

well, on dr phil yesterday, he had over one thousand women in his audience, each of them wearing a t-shirt (in a beautiful shade of blue I would say) with Dr Phil printed on the back. Then, on the front of each, a 'body label' describing the woman's disatisfaction with her body. you could choose from 'jelly belly' 'flat chested' 'thunder thighs' and so on.

in the segment i saw, he invited three women - each of them disastisfied with their breasts - to describe in thirty seconds why they should have breast augmentation. Having passed the test, they were all offered breast implants, free of charge, from some glamour surgeon. And the crowd went wild.

an all-round women-empowering experience it was

Lucy Tartan said...

Thank you very much for that story, thirdcat. I am very big fan of your blog, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, what an absolutely precious jewel of a blog to stumble across by sheer accident....The Welcome Stranger of Blogs! Thanks to all of you for the sheer entertainment, and especially to Lucy for her fascinating and humourous insights. I am sitting at my computer nodding my head and "hear, hear"-ing. You really are a talented writer (I loved your list of 100 things) and I fully intend reading many more of your posts.

Now for my two bobs worth.....

I believe the graduation gift of choice for college girls from their proud parents in the good ol' US of A used to be a Louis Vuitton bag, but this has in recent years been overtaken by yep, you guessed it, the boob job.

Cold Face said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lucy Tartan said...

gee thanks, anon. Glad you had fun.

R H said...

Yes well If I were an American college dean I wouldn't graduate any bird at all with tiny boobs!
I wouldn't even enroll them!

R H said...

And that's my TWO BOOBS worth!


RH!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you have time for this at the moment R H, what with the ever-so-natural gal next door Pammy gracing our shores this week clad so becomingly in green satin.....you should be out there following the trail of green M&M's that surely leads to her door....

Now I wonder what R H stands for......Hmmm.....Rather Huge??.....Really Hideous??........Of Course!!..........Richard Head!!!

Anonymous said...

I spose it's not fair to hide behind the Anon veil....will have to get myself one of these ID's.

Lucy Tartan said...

You could do, Anon, or if you like you could just think up a pen name and call yourself that. A lot of people do it that way. It might be more fun for you in the long run, because then people remember you from last time instead of getting you mixed up with the other Anons.

But please, feel free to keep being Anon if you like it better that way.

R H said...

I'll tell you something, people would rather listen to me than to you. Because I'm interesting, and you're nasty.
You old bag.

R H said...

Thanks Miss Tartan Our comments crossed. I've no time for playing around with these dirty little creatures, if you continue to allow filthy anonymous comments I'm finished here.

R H said...

But not elsewhere.
Elsewhere I'll take this pimp apart. It's got a blog, but no guts.

Zoe said...

Anonymous, pen names are enormously good fun.

While you're at it, grab yourself a groovy gravatar - I think it's just gravatar.com - because then you can play the fun make up stupid names and everyone knows who you are from your gravatar image game. Which can be a lot more fun than that last sentence might have you believe.

Lucy Tartan said...

RH, I've lost count of how many times I've asked you to cool it. You're really giving me the irrits. This is not a pub or your living room. It is my blog, and I expect you to respect my standards of behaviour.

Everybody else does.

Please do not address or discuss any woman in a way that objectifies her or casts her as a sexual plaything. This especially means you have to stop calling me a "cutie", which is patronising and gross, speculating on my clothes size, and anything else of that nature.

You sometimes address my female visitors in a demeaning, sexually-inflected way. Stop it. It's an appalling abuse of my hospitality. I would say the same thing to anyone else doing this, but you're the only one making a habit of it, so I'm saying it just to you. Very pointedly.

You must also keep to yourself your general views on women, RH, because they all follow the same pattern of objectification. There are three or four comments in this thread alone which I find offensive, and I don't doubt other women would feel the same. I won't allow you to annoy my other guests in this way.

Any comments you make about any of these subjects will be deleted.

I've seen the comments you've been posting at Larvatus Prodeo and I know you have plenty to say that is not just boring nonsense about women. Please restrict yourself to these kinds of comments.

I can't say it any clearer than that.