In the name of transparency, let me begin by admitting I originally set out to write a piece that slammed an artist I have never heard sing for the image she portrays to Americans. Then I realized what a hypocrite I am so I set out to write something else. Now, a little after 1:00 am, a banana, one handful of peanut M&Ms, and my first cup of coffee, I am ready to write from a more honest and less self righteous point of view. At least I think I am.
We now live in a culture where very large women dressed like Madonna dressed thirty years ago are sold as being sexy. Long before the Material Girl sang of virginity and pregnancy, Twiggy sold women on the idea you can’t be thin enough. All the while, young men had the likes of Keith Richards, Joe Walsh, and Eric Clapton telling us that life has been good. Drink it up, snort it up, or inject it; just don’t choke on your vomit like Jimi, Jon, or Jim did.
What do I care if Lizzo is fat? What do I care if the word “fat” is politically incorrect? I could keep quiet about it and not get slammed by fans who tell me how beautiful she is and how ugly I am. Like George Costanza once told Jerry Seinfeld, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” I can believe anything I want about her or anyone else and their fans can believe differently. Besides, I’d sooner win an argument with a rock so what’s the point (and haters would sooner win an argument with a rock before convincing me to change my wording).
We live in a nation where excess is marketed and sold to anyone and everyone. If you go to purchase insurance, you will find a salesman who will tell you, “You can never have enough insurance.” They will guilt you into buying insurance you probably do not need by reminding you to think of your loved ones when you die. Uh, I am pretty sure when I die, I won’t be able to think mainly because thinking is hard enough while I am living.
You want to see a smile disappear off the face of a car dealer? After you tell them you want to buy a new car and they tell you that you have come to the right place, tell them you only want the base model and no extras. It’s that same look guys give women when we are young and we find one who says, “I really want to have sex with you tonight (Guys take off their clothes faster than Superman gets changed in a phone booth), but I am saving myself for marriage.”
This brings me to that favorite Uncle who makes sure to remind us to enjoy as many women as we can before we get married because life ends after you say “I do”. You know the relative. He’s the weird one who loves to hear the details of your sex life while others talk to you about how lucky you are because you did not have to go off to fight a war.
I swear what I am about to share is true. When I took driver’s ed and health during summer school when I was a teen, an old guy from the county health clinic or someplace like that gave us a talk about sex and how to go about it in a responsible manner. He decided to answer the question all us guys had on our minds at that time, “Can you get VD from sitting on a public toilet?”
What the hell? This old guy is going to be pretty cool. No one would ever talk to us about this kind of useful information if they actually taught at our school.
Then he delivered the answer that would jar us back to reality. “Yes, you can get VD from a public toilet, but have you ever tried to have intercourse while sitting on one because it’s pretty uncomfortable.”
So we all fell for the set up and the joke was on us. It turns out, the joke is on us and it is sold to us constantly. Too much sex, drugs and rock and roll will get to you. So will too much food, video screen time, and even exercise. Too many kids, toys, and bills will ruin your life. Too much work, too much fame, and too much time alone is unhealthy. Too many friends, too many commitments, and too many responsibilities will drag us down.
So along comes Lizzo, someone I didn’t know existed three months ago and whose music I have yet to hear, and I am going to write about her weight. Turns out, I am too full of myself because I am guilty of too many excesses. We all are. However, since I am twice the age of Lizzo (I researched a little about her, I swear I am not a fan), my excesses are catching up to me and I am not liking the fact that they are.
I never came close to partying at the level of Keith Richards, but I have abused my ears plenty listening to music played at ear piercing volumes. Now when I listen to it, it’s played through the Bluetooth feature in the hearing aids I wear.
The broken bones, torn ligaments, and injured muscles from years of playing sports has resulted in one ankle, two knee, four shoulder, and one low back surgery. The thousands of miles I have run have caught up to me to where what I used to enjoy doing every day, rain or shine, I now plod through twice a week.
Fortunately, on most of the days I run, I do not notice the post run discomfort in my hips, pelvis, or knees because of the excess speed I carried down a steep street one morning while riding my bike has left me with a neck that resembles the last remaining Pringles in a nearly empty can more than actual vertebrae. I am too busy dealing with arm discomfort to notice my aching body parts below my waist.
Today, big is beautiful. Ashley Graham is considered hot and sexy. Dad bods, you know, being overweight, but not so much so that the guy can’t see his penis when he looks down at his feet when showering, are sexier than six packs, the kind on men’s abs and not the kind we used to sneak into our dorm rooms.
Thin was in, but then it became unhealthy because women developed eating disorders that caused them to die. Now go big or go home has resulted in a new kind of eating disorder, gluttony and an epidemic of obesity.
Love your bigness and be proud of who you are because this is what marketing geniuses have sold to you (They sold my generation exercise). If Lizzo drops dead at a young age from her lifestyle, big deal. So did Cass Elliott, the mother of Big is Beautiful. Who cares if diabetes, cancer, and heart disease is more likely to strike you down in the prime of life? That’s a good ten or fifteen years away and who thinks that far in advance? Besides, by then, there will just be a pill to cure us of our ills.
Here is a news flash. The cure never comes. Cigarettes were made to be cool. Alcohol is still made to be cool. Pot, mushrooms, soap pods, and who knows what else are somehow cool, at least until we learn the hard way they are not.
Today, Lizzo is cool, or is it groovy, hip, rad, or some other term? She speaks to a generation and her message resonates with them. Unfortunately, the generation she speaks to is headed toward becoming the first one to have a shorter life expectancy than the generation that came before them. If Lizzo is still alive and thriving when she is 76 like Keith Richards is, it will be a shock.
If Lizzo drops dead at 40 because the bill came due for her excesses, she will be like the many others of her generation, taken far too soon. If she gets a wakeup call and sings a different tune, she will be richly rewarded and become her generations new guru for healthy living.
Music tours will be replaced with books tours, talk show appearances, and health products to sell to her followers who took her message to heart and lived a life of excess. If you don’t believe me, research Jane Fonda or that dumb blonde from Three’s Company.
Loving yourself does not mean giving up on improving who you are. It might mean smaller portions. It might mean fewer miles run. Mostly, it means more self-control. I could be more tactful. I could stop buying peanut M&Ms. I could turn down the volume on my music. I could take a break from the gym now and then. I can make changes and in the process still love who I am while also loving who I once was. It’s just so damn hard to do after all these years.
However, if I can change, so can you. Believe me when I say the bills I am paying today are not that easy to swallow because they come with hard choices; keep doing as I have always done and know things will get worse, or make changes knowing they come with a lot of frustration before they become habit. Like Al Davis, the now dead and former owner of the Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders once said, Father Time always wins. He eventually catches up to all of us, no matter how great we once were or how great life once was. Unfortunately, when that time arrives, it is humbling, to say the least.
Keep living as you are. Keep enjoying the things you enjoy in excess. Just make sure to plan ahead because living in the moment passes pretty quickly and before you know it, or before you want to admit it, Father Time will be breathing down your neck, or in my case crumbling it to pieces. And just remember, if you decide to refuse to answer his knock at your door, plan on a visit from the Grim Reaper.
Now that I have given you all this great (well, free anyway) advice, go have a moderately fun and fairly enjoyable new year. You can find me in the waiting room of a medical office somewhere or jogging laps in the park down the street from my home in 2020.
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.