Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.
Comics artist Carolita Johnson has a side hustle. She’s a “fit model,” with a body perfectly sized and shaped to be the crash test dummy for patternmakers. Her personal value derives from her brilliance as a creator — her economic value, from her ability to embody the aesthetic standard for a size-six woman who wears nice clothes. What’s the hourly rate for looking like society thinks you’re supposed to?
By the age of 18, I knew, without yet pinning it down as a sociological observation, that being a woman meant spending a major part of my time and income on the upkeep and outward appearance of my body. The minimum requirement was making sure it didn’t smell or look unkempt. The ideal was to look simultaneously young, clean, fresh, soft, nubile, sexy, and magical, at all times (and for as long as possible as I aged). But not so much so that I could be ridiculed as vain, or be blamed for being raped.
“My body is crumbling under its own gravity,” writes Tommy Tomlinson, about the physical and emotional toll of weighing twice as much as “the average American male.” It’s not a surprising essay, but it’s an articulate and honest one that reflects, from another angle, the discrepancy between what we win with our minds and what we win with our bodies.
By any reasonable standard, I have won life’s lottery. I grew up with two loving parents in a peaceful house. I’ve spent my whole career doing work that thrills me — writing for newspapers and magazines. I married the best woman I’ve ever known, Alix Felsing, and I love her more now than when my heart first tumbled for her. We’re blessed with strong families and a deep bench of friends. Our lives are full of music and laughter. I wouldn’t swap with anyone.
Except on those mornings when I wake up and take a long, naked look in the mirror.
For another take, read Your Fat Friend, who publishes extensively and compellingly on the consequences of social stigma attached to weight, from the casual insults of friends to persistent and sometimes deadly misdiagnosis at the doctor’s office.
Oh, perhaps the Sunday Post is just cranky this weekend, but Steve Edwards’ universally beloved essay on growing old in bookstores is ringing hollow to our ears. Too sentimental? Too unsubtle? Maybe both. Or maybe it’s just that bookstores are alive (right?), and all Edwards seems to see in them is a reflection of his own aging eyes.
You can only read *To the Lighthouse* for the first time once before you’ll always know they never made it there. Eventually Holden Caufield becomes less an arbiter of truth and more just another sad, mean kid. The years you dedicated to Faulkner? Gone. You thought you might take up baking bread with a little help from the Tassajara Bread Book? Now you’ve got kids, bills, the stress of a job.
Where’s your warm bread?