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Before we start, I just wanted to say, hello. Glad you’re still here. Things got a bit dark toward the end of last semester, what with the lack of puzzles and the shit editorials and the general carnage that ensued. But now Salient is eager and fresh: fresh ideas, fresh energy, fresh puzzles, fresh breath, and a general sense of fresh vim, spark and positivity. Isn’t that thing great! And that thing, too! Wonderful; it’s all great. And so are you.
You can reliably expect this happy new outlook to last at least three issues, or until I run out of wine. But for now, I’m contentedly tipsy, I’ve just discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer (a deprived childhood means more ways to fill in time as an adult, and mine was spent watching BBC miniseries with my mum), and my inner curmudgeon purrs to be living in a city whose favourite pastime is getting mown down by buses. That last bit wasn’t really relevant, it’s just something I appreciate about Wellington.
As for this editorial, the benefit of a six-week break is that there’s never a shortage of topics to cover. But holy shit, where to start? VUWSA decided to pay its NZUSA levies after all (boring!), Air New Zealand introduced an elite megalomaniacs’ club to pander to its point-one-percenters (predictable!), everyone died on Game of Thrones (old news!). I was going to use the fact that this is the Body issue to shoehorn Rachel Dolezal into this editorial—but I then I thought, ten-foot pole, etcetera.
Did I mention that this is the Body issue, and that I’m really good at segues? This week we have something of a landmark feature—a nude photoshoot celebrating body positivity. Good luck finding one of those on Stuff! Philip McSweeney’s outdone himself this time, and as soon as you read all about how the uni are being dicks (see: most of our news), you should immediately turn to page 16.
Looking at studies of body image reveals a confusing array of results—97 per cent of women have at least one negative thought about their body per day; men worry more about their appearance than women; 80 per cent of men and 75 per cent of women are dissatisfied with their bodies (according to another study, it’s over 80 per cent for women too); the vast majority of women overestimate their size. Most of the research is from the States—is it even relevant to New Zealand? Maybe; the perennial culprit for negative body image is the media, and our media is clearly very US-centric. Maybe not; Americans have higher rates of obesity than we do and, as the US media kindly tells us, fat is bad.
One thing I took away from the tangles of statistics is that not many people are happy with their bodies. This is a relief, because I’m not either. My height pushes past “impressive” proportions and way into “gangly freak” territory; I have weird, jutting-out bones where muscle and flubber ought to be; and instead of tanning, I’m locked in an endless cycle of pasty, bright red, flaking and gross, pasty again. I’m fully aware that my problems are extremely privileged ones—oh no, I’m too tall! oh no, I’m too thin! oh no, I’m too white!—and that for people on the frontline, as it were, of fat-shaming and racism, these must seem horribly petulant whinings. My point, though, if I have one, is that body issues are a pretty universal experience, which makes it even dumber that we have them in the first place.
If it’s true that only 3 per cent of women have no negative thoughts about their bodies, or that fewer than 20 per cent of any gender like their bodies overall, that’s messed up. The proportion of people I (and, I daresay, you) find attractive is much, much higher than that. The standards we’re given by the media (omg the media sucks so much huh) are self-applied far more strictly than they are in relation to others—and what we actually find attractive has so much more to do with the things people do, and say, than with the stark unreality of the bathroom mirror. Point is, you’re a babe. Embrace it.
Oh, and the puzzles are on page 47.