Apr 25

Jillian Michaels and being pro choice

Although I’ve slacked off the last couple of days, I have been really trying to work out.  Weight training has shown to be one of the most effective ways to combat osteoporosis.  (And I would like to fit into my skinny jeans again without a muffin top.)  Essential to my workouts has been a Jillian Michaels workout DVD, 30 Day Shred.  I have been doing it almost every day for the last month, and although I am not shredded, I am a lot fitter.  I can actually do push ups (well, as much as my bum arm lets me anyway) now and I’m standing up straighter.

So today a friend attacked my choice in workout people because Jillian Michaels said she didn’t want a baby to ruin her figure, so she would most likely adopt.  This (male) friend was appalled, calling her selfish.  I went online to see what the Internet had to say about this and saw similar sentiments on gossip blogs.  There was a lot of Righteous Outrage along the lines of How Dare She with a strain of Who Does She Think She Is thrown in there for good measure.  This argument/ faux scandal made me feel really uneasy for a lot of reasons, that I will try to articulate here, but I think it boils down to this idea that women should only be able to make choices about their body for socially acceptable reasons.

I think one of the things that being pro-choice and a feminist has taught me is that a woman’s body is her own, to do with as she likes.  And if a woman doesn’t want to give birth to a child, the why doesn’t really matter, does it?  At least, it’s none of my business.  I had a friend who, when she gave birth, was ripped all the way down from opening to opening, if you get my drift. Pregnancy does horrible things to a woman’s body.  Hell, it kills 500,000 women a year globally.  Why it is considered selfish to adopt instead of give birth because you don’t want stuff like that to happen to you?  A woman is a woman whether or not she is a mother, and she is also still a woman if she is an adoptive parent.

Women decide not to become mothers for lots of reasons: career, disabilities, and yes, because they don’t want to ruin their figure.  Why are any of these things selfish?  Men don’t become fathers for similar reasons, and I rarely see screeds against them.  In a society that prizes prettiness in women above all, is it so surprising that women would conform to this?  Doesn’t it make them smart instead of selfish?

I think if we are to become part of a society that truly embraces choice, we have to accept that different people do things for different reasons.  It doesn’t make a person “bad” because they have reasons other people don’t subscribe to.  One of the ways in which people seek to limit choice is to work in from the margins:  to make people define what a “good” choice is until there are no good choices. By not engaging in this behavior, we are making an effort to embrace concepts like choice more fully.

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