The End of the Mean
by Daniel Davis

When I was a boy, they invented television. Once that happened, it was only a matter of time before people started buying their own sets, even though all you could get was a couple of channels, and one of those was mostly wrestling. But I watched TV every chance I got, which wasn't too often, because my parents were sure the things rotted your mind and refused to own one for years.

They finally broke down and bought a TV when I was twelve. By then they had decided my sister was too smart to be ruined, and puberty had rotted my mind already. Besides, they were tired of going to my grandmother's to watch their favorite shows.

My own favorite show was Your Hit Parade. It had its own dancers and singers who butchered the top songs each week in various peculiar ways. But I didn't watch Your Hit Parade for the music. I watched it for the dancers.

The dancers weren't very good, but I didn't care. They were women in very short skirts, and some of them were downright chubby. Their jiggling thighs fueled my fantasies long after the show ran out.

The women on TV today don't even begin to fuel my fantasies. At best they leave me cold, and some of them make me queasy. It isn't just because I'm getting old, either. It's because they keep getting thinner.

Why is it that so many women in the media look like they just stepped off the set of The Planet Of the Female Famine Survivors? It's getting scary. If these are the women men are supposed to be drawn to, our species is in trouble. We can only take comfort in the knowledge that most of them are too skinny to be fertile.

Mind you, I have nothing against naturally skinny women. I'm not attracted to them, but some men are, and there should be someone for everyone. But most skinny actresses starve themselves to look that way, and that strikes me as a symptom of society's derangement.

For example, every now and then I watch an art film on one of the premium channels, and the other week they were running Ace Ventura, Pet Detective. In the beginning, Ace recovered a kidnapped dog, and the owner showed her gratitude in a typical artistic movie way. Although this woman was still too thin for my taste, at least she looked strong and healthy and had a little meat on her bones. But do you think old Ace hooked up with her? No way. The woman who did turn out to be his romantic interest was all bones and hair, with a body like the host on Tales From the Crypt without the baby fat. She was supposed to be sexy, but the only urge she stirred was a feeding compulsion, for strictly humanitarian reasons. This woman, Courtney Cox, is now a co-star on the popular Friends TV show, where she is touted as one of the most beautiful women in the world outside of the famine belt.

Left to nature, I believe the range of body sizes would follow the standard statistical bell-shaped curve. Medium size people would make up the largest group; an approximately equal number of slightly fat and slightly thin people would make up the next-largest group; moderately fat and moderately thin people would make up the third largest group, and very fat and very thin people would make up the smallest group. The range of size preferences would approximately follow the distribution of body sizes.

Fashion and economic conditions have always skewed these natural distributions in one way or another. In prehistoric times when food was scarce and infant mortality was high, fat women were idealized because they provided the best prospects for human survival. The ancient Greeks idealized the "golden mean," which to them was represented by strong, athletic men and women with body types at dead center on the bell shaped curve. Unfortunately, the Greeks were obsessed with their concept of physical beauty and were highly intolerant of anyone who did not fit within their limited parameters.

Today the fashion moguls seem to move hand in hand with the diet/weight loss industry in promoting an impossible standard of thinness as the female standard of beauty. Male and female standards have become inconsistent; the ancient Greek standards of male beauty are not too different from those of modern society, but the female beauties of ancient Greece would be considered overweight today, and today's models and actresses would have been directed to a physician in ancient Greece.

The plain truth is that most of the women who fit today's standard of beauty should be directed to a physician, if they can find one who is not a part of the prevalent insanity. Their lifestyle is abnormal and their eating habits are misguided and obsessive. Most of all, it is past time for all of us to grow up and stop assigning significance to the transient and meaningless vagaries of physical appearance. ß