#Idea – Should ‘body positivity’ come with a caveat? / 11.08.17

Some studies of anorexics show that the media’s use of size 0 models has helped ‘normalise’ the idea of being dangerously skinny.

Basically; these ultra-thin (and often unhealthy) people are presented as ‘models’ – defined literally as “a standard or example for imitation or comparison.” (dictionary.com definition).

You know what comes next: emotional and physical suffering to the many who try to follow this example. Some people even die from consequences related to underweight.

Which means that the fashion industry has something else to answer for (…asides from overpriced merchandise and what is arguably a wasteful approach to the use of clothing).

The flip side of the ‘cult of size 0’ is the ‘body positivity’ movement – which, in reaction to these ads implying that we are ’not thin enough’, tells people that they are fine – no matter how big or small they are. Which seems reasonable.

However, while fat may be fine on a cosmetic level (after all, it’s your body and you get to make the aesthetic choices), there’s no disputing that that the more overweight you are, the worse it is for your health.

Article about weight - black and white model photo
Photo by Engin_Akyurt (Pixabay)

Caveat: I’m not saying that there are not ‘healthy fat people’, but I am saying that statistically, the more overweight you are, the more likely you are to suffer from (and die of) complications related to your health. Most of us agree with this – and there is an enormous volume of medical literature that agrees.

Which brings us back to body positivity…

Isn’t it equally as reckless to promote the idea that being seriously overweight is ‘OK’? To normalise overweight and the ill-health that often accompanies it?

Put another way, is this a moving of the ‘aspirational’ needle from one extreme to another?

People don’t usually talk about this because we are so afraid of offending people who take commentary on overweight as attacks on them, personally.

We know that overweight people are bullied, purely for their weight (‘fat shaming’). And we know that the same thing happens to thin people (‘thin shaming’), so we can see where they are coming from.

Yet, it is important to draw the distinction between the use of empirical data to inform people about something, and criticism/bullying. Put another way, it is important to be mature enough to accept feedback as feedback, not an opportunity to take offence.

black and white model photo
Photo by Engin_Akyurt (Pixabay)

For those on the other side, it is important not to roll over and allow people to use political correctness as a metaphorical sledgehammer; a means to ignore data and quash healthy debate.

Being very overweight may be increasingly normal in what many are calling our ‘gradually fattening’ society – but ‘normal’ is not a synonym for ‘good’.

That’s not to say that I am suggesting people should ‘be thinner’ or ‘be fatter’. I’m not suggesting anything – given the opportunity, people tend to do what people will want to do.

This is my perspective, informed by my experiences. As other people will have lead different lives and had different experiences, their perspectives will differ. However, data does not care about differences of perspective or opinion – though we may interpret it differently.

#Idea – Nobody else’s definition of success applies to you / 19.07.17

Success is being able to spend your life doing what you want to do. That’s it.

And, because what you want to do is not exactly the same as what others want to do, success is entirely subjective.

Success is like happiness. Other people’s subjective feelings or definitions of happiness cannot make you happy. Other people’s definitions of success cannot make you successful. It’s deeply personal and unique.

Which means that, actually finding out what you really want to do may be the harder part.

It’s also worth noting that, if what it takes for you to feel successful is harder, then it will be harder for you to be successful. This is neither good nor bad – it just is.

Photo by Anne Worner

#Idea – Islam / “The Devil Can Cite Scripture For His Purpose” / 12.03.17

These days, many label Muslims who choose not to interpret Islam in the politically correct manner as ‘Islamists’.
Perhaps to get around the sensitive issue that they are still Muslims
Just interpreting the Quran in a different way

Interpretation is the issue here
Most every extreme stance an ‘Islamist’ takes
Or extreme act that they commit
Can be justified by what is written in the Quran.
i.e: most of the time they aren’t making this stuff up,
There is an ayah (‘verse’) that can be interpreted in favour of the massacre
(…and quite often another ayah that contradicts it)
Don’t believe me? Take a look in the book yourself.

Perhaps it is worth considering
When the entire basis of a belief system
Stems from what parts
Of a single archaic and self contradictory text
You choose to interpret
Who or what can be said to be ‘right’?

article critical of islam - mosque black and white
Disregard doctrine, acquire aesthetics

It is a simple matter of justification
And as long as it is written down there somewhere
You can justify it
Just ignore the contrary passages and plough on
(…and people do)

This brings up another point,
You can’t really practice Islam or Christianity by the book
Because the book fucking contradicts itself.
This is perhaps why we call it a ‘belief system’
Instead of a ‘reality system’.

And this is the problem with any cause (i.e religion)
That argues from an infallible position
Refusing to examine itself critically
Yes, an old cliche
But this inability to entertain or practice self doubt
Is the difference between science and fanaticism
Put another way, if you ‘know’ you’re right
What’s the point in second guessing your actions?
You’re right, after all.

Is reform an answer?
I don’t know
I am not an expert on theological law, nor a Muslim.
If Islam reforms itself to better a fit an inclusive, post global worldview – will/can it still be Islam?
Islam means ‘submission’.
It is full of verses that remind its followers to spread the faith by any means
Any means
Yes, you can be a moderate Muslim and ignore these verses
But this, by its very definition, isn’t practicing Islam ‘by the book’
So, really, to change this, you’d have to literally have to throw out the book
(…disregarding the my point above it is impossible to follow something with total fidelity that contradicts itself)

article critical of islam - quran in black and white
Image Credit: Pexels

Think about this word, ‘fundamentalist’
You cannot be a fundamentalist without fundamentals
And, whatever you think about the ‘Islamist’ fundamentalists, they are NOT hypocrites
Sure, we may not agree with them
(…I know I don’t)
But they’re just doing what it says in the book
(…or should I say, in some parts of the book)

Will such a worldview as it is now even survive in the long term?
Who knows?
…what does history teach us?

Cover Image Credit: Thinhan

#Idea – Copywriting vs Relativism vs Pedantry

When you think of it, what a lot of copywriters and ‘unofficial’ grammar nazis do is basically enforce consensus.

They are the police for what is the currently accepted ‘correct’ way to write.

But…

The laws of language are not a ‘real’, natural law. They’re a kind of consensus law, an agreement.

Unlike the law of gravity, which exists whether we believe in it or not, the laws of grammar are an abstraction that exist because we adhere to them.

Consider – for some reason, at some point, and for one reason or another, we decided that we would use commas, hyphens, capital letters (etc) in a certain way.

This was all written down somewhere (usually in dictionaries and accepted style guides). From then on, this was seen as the ‘correct’ way of communicating in the written format.

…and certain people, for one reason or another, were appointed as/appointed themselves the experts of this medium.

But…

Language (as a part of culture) is a fluid and adaptive thing that evolves as people use it.

black and white bird photo
Image Credit: ThomasWolter

We have laws to enforce certain consistency and ‘best practice’ in how we write and speak…

But no one person or organisation can hope to control how that works.

Much of the slang that ’the kids’ are using will later be added to the dictionary – a sign of validation if ever there was one. Still, you could think of the OED as a late adopter in this case – these words were already alive, in use and evolving, long before the dictionary gave them its stamp of approval.

So, in a way, you could think of us writers, copywriters, editors (etc) as ‘shepherds’ of the words – guiding, but not entirely controlling, how words are used, and how they progress.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”LEWIS CARROLL (Charles L. Dodgson), Through the Looking-Glass, chapter 6, p. 205 (1934)

Photo by Georgie Pauwels

#Idea – Post Factual Media Landscape / 17.12.16

Thinking about much of the media in this ‘post fact landscape’ we find ourselves in.
The need to be first is more important than the need to be true.
Or – as thespian-philosopher-mensch Densel Washington once said in an interview
“Read the news and you’re misinformed – don’t read the news and you’re uninformed”

What are we to do?

 

Photo by Christian Schirrmacher