Sunday, January 24, 2010

avatar and the anorexic

i'm sorry, but was anyone else triggered by Avatar? all through the movie, i kept staring at the Na'vi (the tall, skinny blue humanoids) and comparing myself most unfavorably.

some quick background if you didn't see the movie, in the film circa 2154, man with his machines and weapons comes to destroy the exquisitely beautiful land called Pandora. the Na'vi, lovely humanoid creatures, inhabit the land.

There are many similarities to the white man usurping the world of the American Indians. Like the Indians, The Na'vi are in harmony with nature, they use bow and arrows, pray to spirits and clothe themselves with things found in nature. But while they may both wear paint on their bodies, the bodies themselves are very different.

The Na'vi are approximately ten feet tall, so of course they have long glorious legs. They all have high cheekbones on lean faces. in fact, every body-part in pandora is lean -- i couldn't ascertain one ounce of fat in the whole damn land.

the Navi males have big pumped-up chests but teeny, tiny waists and you can count each and every rib between, tapering to slim hips and a small butt.

The Na'vi females have flat, gently muscled stomachs with the smallest of small waists which lead to perfectly rounded hips and adorable pert butts. the breasts are small and perky. the whole effect is skinny, yet shapely. how does that happen?

i tried -- i did, but i couldn't help wanting to have one of those bodies. "what if i skip lunch tomorrow", i thought as the 3-D women romped past? i seriously found myself wondering what those ladies consume each day. they couldn't eat a lot, right? yet how do they stay sooo skinny and have so much energy? how can i do that?

like i said, everyone in Pandora is thin, so when sigourney weaver's character, Grace, leaves the human world and enters her Avatar (the Na'vi-like body she uses when she transports to Pandora), she loses a LOT of weight. (who wants LESS sigourney weaver??!!!) and equally offensive, not only does she lose numerous dress sizes, she also loses many years. suddenly, she's wearing tiny tops, showing off that three inch waist. her little midriff shirt says "Stanford" so perhaps she's regressed to college-age? why must she lose so many pounds and years? are there no elders in Na'vi? well, evidently only two. the parents of the love interest are, to my eyes the only two older folks, of the thousands we see in Pandora.

once again, we get the message -- we are best if young and very thin.

am i making too much of this; reading too much into the movie? perhaps, but clearly it was a big, big deal for me, because i obsessed on it during the (three hour) movie and long after.


  1. I didn't know any other way to reach you but through here, so ... no, I don't mind if you show it to your niece. If I could help one person, it would be worth it.

    My post actually will be part of a bigger piece for a graduate class, and will eventually be (in some form) part of a memoir I'm working on.

    About Avatar - much of Hollywood is a trigger for me, frankly. I think society as a whole is fixated on looking young, thin and beautiful. I'm not saying this is the sole cause of eating disorders, but how must this impact vulnerable young girls.

    And you're right - less of Signorney Weaver??? And making her younger is just an insult - she is a strong, middle-aged woman and has nothing to be ashamed of.

  2. I haven't seen Avatar yet, but I do know that one actress is very thin. Sometimes movies trigger me, but these days, I don't pay so much attention. I'm more likely to notice a "regular" actress and appreciate that she looks like a healthy woman. I guess that's good, right?

  3. We saw Avatar when we were overseas. My son said to me later on "What would the Avatar look like if it was fat?". He also said something like "Why do the Avatar females have to be sexy?". So he notices these things. It annoys him that females always have to be looking sexy. He says they should just be normal.

  4. The razor-thin physique of the Na'vi definitely wormed its way into my brain as a distraction during the movie as well. Because of the way their civilization is portrayed, I thought it fed into (no pun intended) the mindset that equates austere bodies with pure/clean moral and spiritual traits as well. Also, leaving the theater I heard someone comment that the MALE Na'vi looked "too scrawny", but no mention of the females being too disproportionate to be real...double standard, anyone?

  5. LMAO! That was one the first things that I thought in the movie, "Where are all the fat ones?" EVERY ONE OF THEM WAS PERFECT. I rationalized that they were not real just CGI and I guess it was cheaper to make them all thin, less pixel usage. But come on they were so thin that they must not have internal organs.

    Also what's going to happen the next time that man come's back and nukes the planet from the sky? I mean come on you know that human's would do that.

  6. Angela: yours was a wonderful, beautifully written post. may i ask how it will be part of your graduate work? are you using your experiences for a project? i would love to know what that is.

    the entertainment world brings triggers galore. i guess it bothers me that i hadn't heard anything about the skinniness of the Na'vi. i read a bunch of reviews and the supermodel-like proportions weren't mentioned. are we that immune? aaarrrrrgh. and don't get me started on the age thing.

    kim; sounds like you are getting yourself to such great shape. you're an inspiration in how far you've come and how you continue the work.

    i do worry about teenagers watching the movie. i KNOW my 14 year old niece will fully believe that's what she's supposed to look like. and i worry that teenaged boys will decide that's what they should date. it just scares me some.

    Linda: can your son give classes? i hope you're bursting with pride. thank you for writing this. i feel better now.

    i'm so glad you're son noticed they weren't normal at all. he's amazing.

    Cammy; yes, exactly, exactly. the Na'vi were the embodiment of pure and good.

    i also thought it was rare to see such skinny men, albeit men with huge chests. but we ARE used to seeing hyper-skinny women, albeit with shapely butts and boobs.

    it all bothers me, but it also worries me, and i'm not sure why it worries me in this way. hmm. thanks, cammy, great thoughts

    david; so, you wondered where the fat ones were because EVERYONE OF THEM WAS PERFECT. hmmm, does that mean that skinny is perfect? i know what you mean. i say the same thing, of course. but think about it -- are we brainwashed too? what do we do? i say i don't buy into it, and i criticize James Cameron, et. al., but what do i really believe. what do you think? (i hope you know i wasn't criticizing, at all, at all. i'm just interested in your thoughts.)

  7. hmm, I haven't seen the movie yet but I am sure I will agree with you.

    My husband really likes japanese animation so sometimes I have watched it with him, and all of the characters, especially the women, are extremely thin with very long legs. In fact, the only heavy characters are usually portrayed as loathesome villians, and most of the loathesome villians are heavy. As if having a little extra weight was a prerequisite for lack of character.

  8. Oooh now so glad didn't go see it.

    Laughing (sadly) that as the Indians first welcomed the white settlers to their land, so the current Americans are welcoming the millions of immigrants coming every year and will be turned out just the same way by them.

    Making sure never to see this movie, thank you.

  9. lisa; these are the new images everyone's watching. i see it becoming even more the norm. why are heavy people the villians. i just don't get it.

    it's pouring rain and dreary. this is all depressing me. how can we change the thinking? harrumph

    cow: interesting point. still, i never quite understood the concept of countries and boundaries and lines between continents. even states. it's nature's land, how can we arbitrarily divide it and say, "this is mine. you need to show some specific ID to come here." do we own the earth? why can't we move around freely? i understand over-crowding and need for governance, but still, like many things, it doesn't quite make sense to me.

  10. Aliens are always thin. Why is that? I haven't seen Avatar yet, I'm not too keen on seeing a three hour movie, I just can't sit still that long. I hadn't heard about the thin factor, and that would definitely be a deterrent for me. As would the age factor.

  11. The Na avi are intergalactic Barbies - freakishly disproportionate and eerily smooth.

    I got these off a website, which (despite its name) seems trigger-y, so I won't link to it.

    Barbie's neck would be twice as long as a human neck and so thin that she could either have an esophagus OR a trachea (food or air?)

    Barbie's arms would be too thin for her bones.

    Barbie's boobs would be 39 FF and she would have to crawl to support them.

  12. if someone were to ask me i'd say their shape could be described as a cross between a gymnast and a volleyball-player ... additionally, i don't recall their weight being mentioned ... perhaps they were hollow


  13. Weight....yes I do see your point. Just don't like how the new arrivals don't seem to share our values and don't want to embrace our culture or country at all, just want us to change to adapt to them (getting off soapbox now, sorry, know that is NOT what your blog is about!)

    Thanks for thoughtful comment!

  14. okay i have not seen Avatar, but, on the subject of movies, i saw the Book of Eli last night. Yeah the idea was good and all... It's just so hollywood-ized. Everyone has rotten teeth and is filthy except the main girl who is pristine, tiny, pretty and wearing marc jacobs fall 2011 collection. WTF. That was just silly. Really a hundred silhouettes of her tiny legging clad legs as she totes a machine gun...Glad to see that even though no one can find water, the super thin beauty ideal is still there. gag

  15. I just came back from seeing 'A Prophet' - no skinny girls there, maybe it's best to stay away from Hollywood

  16. harriet: yeah, the age thing really bothered me.

    i always like to think that i can change something or work on something. but i don't know where to begin with the obsession with skinny and young. i hate the idea of just shutting my mouth and accepting it.

    now i'm all worked up. i think i'm going to go back to bed

    lisa; i thought of barbie while watching avatar. a Na'vi is a super skinny barbie with a wildly ridiculous waist-to-hip ratio.

    why can't they just be normal? i want an avatar that looks like gorgeous plus-size model Crystal Renn (who basically looks like an average size 10) to me

    anonymous - you are happily free of eating disordered thoughts. you were watching all the beautiful shots of nature in Pandora. you thought the transport to Pandora was really cool. you thought it was great that the paralyzed hero, Jake, could run and play and fly on tamed beasts in his avatar body.

    did you notice the bodies?

    Cow; thank YOU for YOUR comments. you got me thinking, and i've since had great conversations about immigration with friends and colleagues. really important, interesting stuff.

    i agree with you too. but it's just so complicated and, well, complicated. tickled and thrilled that i am not president.

    shawna; perhaps she will be hospitalized for "exhaustion and dehydration", like many other hollywood stars.

    i wonder if the folks who made the movie even realized that she looked so different from the rest of the cast? is it so inherent that it's just assumed?

    the marc jacobs collection sounds really nice. it's wonderful that she could afford it!

    lulu laBonne: yes, hollywood will warp a mind. it's unfortunate that i tend to have low-brow tastes. always have. my mother and best friend used to read Proust together every summer. i'd huddle behind my People magazine. perhaps this is why best friend, a revered concert pianist, does not have ANY body or food issues.

  17. Symbols: why thank you. sometimes i worry that i'm ranting and raving too much. but i am so passionate about these issues. and i'm really troubled that my teenaged nieces will accept all these messages. grrrrr.

    thank you for stopping by the blog. much appreciated

  18. i hate the obsession with skinny and young, too.
    i won't shut up about it either. I am glad that you speak out.

  19. s; thank you. i get so busy and caught up in dumb little things. let's never shut up!!!

  20. I am so glad that I wasn't the only one who felt that way. I actually couldn't wait for the movie to be over because I was tired of looking at the "perfect" naked people... Also my friend just joined cross fit after watching that movie. She said being like an avatar was her inspiration. So sad!

  21. Why sigourney's avatar is younger and "thiner"? simply because is better to be young and beauty, didnt you notice already in this world?
    be older has no good, when cience let people be young and beauty eternally THEY WILL TAKE IT!! hahahah.... dont say you'll not