A Privileged Condition

One of the first things which struck me in Nicaragua was the lack of mirrors in our room. Sure, they were furnished in the appropriate places – the bedroom, the bathroom, and also in the living area as a decorative piece – but all were from at most the chest upward. A full-length mirror was nowhere to be found.

This was fine by me. A full-length mirror would have encouraged looking at myself, as opposed to just getting dressed for the day’s activity and living outwardly. I was suddenly more free to connect with others, and more free to laugh. Barefoot in a bikini everyday, legs free from the restriction of fabric. Who can’t get used to that?

While women’s body image issues exist universally, I can’t help but wonder if it is a condition only afforded to those who are privileged. We have the luxury of choice: we can choose what to selectivey place on our plates and what clothes we feel will enhance our attractiveness. In lesser developed countries, conditions such as eating disorders and body image obsession don’t really have a breeding ground to exist in a prevalent way. When earning a living depends on agriculture, who cares? You just need a body which can work to cultivate the food you have to grow and trade to feed your family. This natural cycle introduces a secret sauce we now like to emphasize in first-world wellness: gratitude.

In some ways, I feel surfing is one of the safest and healthiest ways a woman can do to overcome food disorders. It forces you to get out of your head, shifting the perspective from how you look to how you must functionally move. You can’t be too concerned with appearances in surfing. For example, I should sensibly choose breathing oxygen over anything which distracts me from, you know, eventually not drowning.

My new Nica friend, Martin, made a passing comment that American media makes American women do crazy things, like not wanting to eat to fit into a media-driven ideal. I quickly shoved him in the arm in an attempt to draw a debate and bring to light some empathy. I have to say, however, I mostly agree with him. The inward obsession with self is so poisonous. Comparisons abound, stemming from images plastered everywhere and our easy access to media, is self-aggrandizing and downright obscene on some levels. What ever happened to being kind and thinking of others first? Choice is a luxury so many cannot afford. The face of privilege should be synonymous with humility, gratitude, and smiles.