View Full Version : Ray Garton on curves and emaciation

30th March 2011, 11:07
It's one thing for those of us who have no celebrity status to be decrying the mass-media's promotion of anorexia, but when someone with even a modicum of public recognition does so, it matters much more.

For those of you who may not have heard of him,

Ray Garton is an American author, well known for his work in horror fiction. He has written over sixty books, and in 2006 was presented with the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award.
In addition to his prolific, professional writing projects, Mr. Garton runs a web log, and not long ago, he published an important piece on a real-life horror that is far worse than any nightmare he has conjured in his books, and that is the skeletonization of women in the media.


It comes illustrated with an image that was produced some years ago by one of the eating-disorder organizations, showing a painfully malnourished woman looking in the mirror and seeing a distorted reflection of herself, symbolizing that she thinks she's curvy, even though she's emaciated. I've always considered this image to be a damning indictment of the fashion world, because models far more closely resemble the frighteningly underweight girl on the left than they do the reflection with the normal, natural physique on the right. Which of the two bodies should the media be promoting? The fuller one. Which one is it promoting? The corpse-like one.


Mr. Garton's write-up is worth reading in full, but here are some choice points. It was apparently prompted by his seeing a once-curvy actress on TV who has diminished herself to anorexic proportions:

For about five minutes, it drove me crazy because I just couldn’t figure out who she was. Suddenly, it hit me. That’s Eliza Dushku! I thought. Then I thought, Oh my god, she’s dying of cancer.
Of course, Dushku isn't dying of cancer. But she looks that way, as do most Hollywood actresses. Mr. Garton offers the example of the stick-like Keira Knightley.

What in the hell has happened to us? I’m going to be 48 soon, and in my lifetime, I have watched as the popular image of the female form has gone from one of voluptuous curves to ... well, to Keira Knightley. I was channel surfing not long ago and I came across a movie in which a scary skeleton was flailing about. For a moment, I thought it was the Nicolas Cage movie Ghost Rider. But no. It was a Keira Knightley movie...She looks like she’s been animated by Ray Harryhausen and should be crossing swords with Jason and the Argonauts.For those of you who don't recognize it, that's a reference to the skeletal warriors that Jason battles in the eponymous movie (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B003HTSJ9A/thejudgmenofpari), directed by Harryhausen, who do indeed resemble cadaverous actresses like Knightley and her ilk.



He contrasts this to the beauty of the voluptuous Kim Novak:

Kim Novak was a jaw-slackening, eye-popping goddess with an hourglass figure, an image of soft, strokable femininity. There were no rigid tendons in her neck, no angular bones poking out, none of the things that had become the norm by the mid-‘80s. This was 1958, just a few years before I was born, a different world, when women in movies had curvy, definable shapes.Kim was never actually plus-size, but she came closer than just about any actress who has been been an A-list ingénue in Hollywood.


Not a skeleton.

It’s happened to so many women in movies and television – gorgeous, voluptuous women who apparently begin listening to all the wrong people and suddenly show up looking like they should have little numbers tattooed on their forearms. [That's a reference to this being "Dachau chic."]

What is the purpose of this unrealistic, unhealthy female image that the media has been bludgeoning us with for so long? All you have to do is look around to see that most women simply do not look like that – which is fortunate for all of us. What’s unfortunate is that so many women have been made to feel that they should look like that. Why? Who benefits? Doctors? Eating disorder clinics? [Diet profiteers]? Morticians?
Who benefits? It's a very good question. As other articles recently posted on this site have noted, it is largely the men who aren't even attracted to women who impose this degenerate standard of appearance in the fashion world, because they are hardwired to dislike the physical characteristics of femininity, which natural fullness accentuates.

Garton notes the real-world hurt that this sociopathic aesthetic inflicts on society.

I’ve known so many women throughout my life who are beautiful, desirable, but who are ashamed of their bodies because they’ve been made to feel that their [rears] are too big or their thighs are too thick or their belly isn’t flat enough...

According to the website of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, about eight million Americans suffer from eating disorders...One in 200 American women are anorexic...Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. According to research by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 5% to 10% of anorexics die within 10 years of the onset of the disease and 18% to 20% of anorexics will die after 20 years. Only 30% to 40% ever recover fully from these diseases.
He concludes on a somewhat hopeless note:

This is a vicious circle of emotional and physical damage that we seem to be aware of but, for some reason, cannot step out of, even though we all know we should.
It's easy to understand this feeling of impotence. The "some reason" that he can't fathom is the fact that the media is a monopoly, owned and overseen by a cabal that has an aesthetic that is antithetical to that which Mr. Garton and virtually all men, and indeed the majority of society, favours. But these rootless anti-traditionalists control the media, they own it, so they dictate the visual culture in which we live.

Why can't we end the cycle of androgyny and anorexia that Garton identifies? Because none of us have any power in the media. If any of us did, we would change it. But we don't.

We have all of us been aesthetically colonized for nearly a century, and nothing will change until we rise up and cast off this aesthetic oppression by breaking the cultural monopoly held by those who control the media today.

7th April 2011, 18:15
Why can't we end the cycle of androgyny and anorexia that Garton identifies? Because none of us have any power in the media. If any of us did, we would change it. But we don't.

We have all of us been aesthetically colonized for nearly a century, and nothing will change until we rise up and cast off this aesthetic oppression by breaking the cultural monopoly held by those who control the media today.
That's why I'm hoping I can break into the film industry. Hopefully I can write great screenplays involving plus-size women, get them produced, become a director, cast whoever I want, and if the actresses for the parts are too thin, have them gain weight, make a profit, win some awards... and hopefully after a few of these steps, things will turn around for the better.

Overall, I think there should be national (and international) discourse on this topic, something along the lines of the Congressional Hearings about steroids in baseball. If we can talk about those athletes as being cherished heroes to our youth, then the same can definitely be said about world-renowned actresses, models, and singers, and the people who cast, contact, and contract them. In some cases, drugs are involved, in others misogynistic torture is the goal. The imagery seems somewhat consistent with the pedophilic imagery of child pornography (the teenage boy look), but of course we have the evidence of the massive influence causing anorexia. If my tax dollars are being used for something, they had better be used to save our daughters' lives and health.