GLEE and Body Image

by Jamie Doak

This is belated but Glee last week was awesome.  After the cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester, told Mercedes she needed to lose 10 pounds by the end of the week, the previously confident Mercedes stopped eating all together.  She fainted in school from hunger and pregnant former cheerleader Quinn came in to talk to her in the nurse’s office:

Mercedes: [Quinn offers her food] Thanks, I’m not hungry.
Quinn: Yes, you are. You’re starving.  I know, I’ve been there.  Did all the other kids start looking like food before you fainted?
Mercedes: Yeah, how’d you know?
Quinn: Been there. Eat the granola bar.
Mercedes: Why are you being so nice to me? I can’t remember the last time you said two words to me that weren’t “you” and “suck.”
Quinn: ‘Cause I was you. Scared. Hating myself for eating a cookie but I got over it.
Mercedes: Yeah, well of course you did, pretty blonde with the white girl ass.
Quinn: When you start eating for somebody else so that they can grow and be healthy, your relationship to food changes. What I realized is that I’m so willing to eat right to take care of this baby. Why am I not willing to do it for myself? You are so lucky, you’ve always been at home in your body. Don’t let Ms. Sylvester take that away from you.
Mercedes: I’m so embarrassed, this isn’t me. How did I become this person?
Quinn: You are beautiful. You know that.

This such a profound point.  Why is it that some women (and men) value fitting society’s unrealistic beauty ideals more they they value their health or how they feel? We are willing to sacrifice our bodies to these beauty standards because we don’t value our bodies for ourselves; rather our bodies are valued for what they give others-whether that be visual or sexual pleasure, labor in and out of the home or nourishment for our children.  It’s okay to be selfish here and eat healthy, exercise and love our bodies because they make US feel good. 

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