My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

The normality of self

Pretentious title, no? This is actually just something that occurred to me while having a bath (baths are great that way).

I don't know which particular set of neurons collided to produce this aspect of my personality, but I've never been one to concern myself with body image--mine or anyone else's. Physically I'm rather lucky in that I lead a sedentary lifestyle but have a high metabolism and a slim build. So I'm very tall and rather thin. If I were more physically active, I might actually be fit and perhaps develop some muscles, but those same neurons decided that I would prefer to sit in front of a glowing screen and push electrons about while writing blog entries discussing the pushing of those same electrons.

Where was I? Oh yes, body image. I've never been particularly concerned with my body image. However, since I bike to work during the summer--an increased level of physical activity--I started thinking about how this would affect my body. In the bath tub I looked at my thighs and thought, "Wow, are my thighs really that big?" :ermm: That thought made me think about body image, and I realized that I don't know if my thighs are that big, because I don't know what "normal" thighs look like--mostly because there's no such thing as "normal" thighs. I expect that everyone's thighs are slightly different.((Except for you clones out there, but don't feel bad. You're all unique on the inside.))

Society rams body image propaganda down the throats of self-conscious adolescents, adults, and Jack Russell terriers. But the "ideal" body image changes with the times, shifts and drifts enough that the idea of a "normal" body is completely fallacious. Unfortunately, there is no blueprint to the human body--we have our genome, yes, but there is no instruction manual that says, "The ideal male thigh will consist of the following measurements...." No doubt some cheeky scientist has done a study to determine the ideal proportions of body parts in order to construct a race of physically-flawless, mentally-superior supermen. The experiment has clearly gone horribly wrong, however, because it appears that they have produced the opposite result: increasingly obese, intellectually-deficient individuals. >_<

This is where the epiphany would be if there were one. There's not, however. Firstly, what I'm saying is not earthshaking (the number of earthshaking revelations remaining is quite low, and I possess none of them). Secondly, I've completely wandered off on a tangent and have no idea what I'm going to say next.

So there.