The Ideal

While reading Zulus I often questioned the author, Percival Everett, with the way he wrote about one of the characters weight, Alice Achitophel. I, myself, am not a woman with the average body society says we should have. There is often a standard one must meet; one that certainly isn’t achievable by all women. One’s body type is determined by 80% of genetics, and 20% environmental factors. To achieve such a body type could be considered harmful for some, because they are just not made for it. Notably, women are often put on a pedestal by men. Women must act, look, and speak certain ways to be considered “ideal”. Society pushes for the white, skinny, and blonde woman more frequently than a woman with curves or of any other particular race. I relate this back to when I was a child and used to play with Barbie dolls. These dolls were white, skinny, busty, and blonde. I perceived the dolls I had loved to be what an ideal woman had looked like. But, I hadn’t looked like that, so it used to upset me. Being an “ideal woman” had meant I had to have the perfect curves, fat in the right places, and to be outgoing and sociable. 

In Zulus, Alice Achitophel is referred to as fat, obese, and other obscenities. Alice herself says how the people at the hospital would think of her differently, “…that she was fat and ugly and could see from her file that she was an old maid..” I relate this back to Zulus in regards to Alice Achitophel seeming to be the only overweight woman, more likely only person, to reside on the planet. Where Alice resides, there is no discussion of healthy appetites and lifestyles, she is left to fend for herself. 

 I believe in the past decade or so the talk of obesity has increased, and people have become more aware due to the acts of Michelle Obama and her “Let’s Move” movement. Obesity is growing at a much faster pace than in previous years, which I believe is related to our access. When I say access I’m referring to our access to different chains of fast food restaurants that have become more present. No one is really telling you how you should be eating, so how can this be fixed? Everyone is different, and what they intake depends on the individual and the influence from others, their environments, societal factors, etc. But, as per, there are approximately 160 million Americans who are considered obese or overweight. I ask again, how can we fix this health epidemic that is encasing our communities? Now as a college student, I find myself eating more processed foods along with food from fast food restaurants. Considering my status of wealth is little to none, I can’t afford fresh produce and other items to fulfill my daily vitamins and suggested diet. According to the CDC, “men and women with a college degree have lower obesity prevalence,” and another article from the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health also agrees with the same statement. The article goes on with the theme of discussing how people with a degree are often healthier than those without. 

I can conclude this has something to do with the prevalence of health awareness in the two discussed environments. On one hand, people who don’t have a degree generally find themselves in working class jobs where health awareness and appreciation is scarce. Those with degrees are more frequently employed in professional and upper class jobs where an abundance of people who want to look good are present. These people are often wealthier and can afford the resources to stay fit and healthy. Fresh produce in particular can be on the pricier side, and generally off the radar of a working class family. An article from National Health Corps says, “eating healthy costs about $1.50 more a day than the unhealthy alternative,” which further helps prove my point. 

Having been exposed to different forms of health awareness and being on a campus where a balanced diet is often plastered across the walls, I can see in other places where this may fall short. Being aware of things, and noticing them is a task that is difficult for some and even harder to comprehend and understand. Not affording or being able to grasp these different items or concepts for that matter makes me thankful for the exposure I’ve seemed to encounter in the different settings I find myself in.

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