Ways To Make
(Villard Publishers, in
conjunction with George magazine: 1999)
By Catherine Taylor and
Lonnie Hull DuPont
John F. Kennedy Jr., the late
founder and editor of George magazine, loved lists. Lists of the top
twenty most fascinating women in politics, the top ten government goofs, the fifty most
powerful . . . With his eye on the millennium, Kennedy decided to put
together an anthology of “intriguing Americans’ suggestions on
improving this country.” We at Radiance were
honored to be among those asked to contribute to what became the book 250
Ways to Make America Better: Great Ideas on How We Can Improve Our Country
(Villard Books, 1999).
Ours is suggestion number 84,
and it was written for you, Radiance
readers, and for all those who need to hear the Radiance
perspective. In true J.F.K. Jr. style, this book placed us in rich and
contradictory company. As he describes in his introduction, it brings
together a “cross section of opinion as wide as the Grand Canyon . . .
from moguls to movie makers, right-wingers to rabble-rousers, cartoonists
to convicts to cookbook authors . . . a convergence of ideas as diverse as
the great drama of public life in America.” This was Kennedy's gift to
us all: he wanted for each of us to have a voice, and he created venues
that required us to acknowledge voices different from our own. We will
miss you, John Kennedy. Thank you for reminding us that our opinions and
actions matter in the bigger picture, and for giving us the opportunity to
ur American culture has woven a tight fabric of rules to
which women’s bodies are subjected every single day. Women and girls—no
matter what our size, no matter what our economic station—find ourselves
bound by it. Pressure to conform to a svelte body comes at us from
television, advertising, health care professionals, even from within the
political arena. We feel the pressure as we walk down the street, care for
our daughters, consider whether or not to join the 88 percent of American
women who will not wear a bathing suit. We feel it when the same culture
that ogles the $1,000 gown worn by a ninety-pound supermodel points an
accusing finger at a full-bodied woman as though she has somehow captured
a disproportionate amount of the communal pie.
Over the past ten years our culture has just begun to address the consequences of the diet
industry and its yo-yo message, of designer clothing only for those below
a size 12, of the barrage of images showing female beauty as childishly
youthful and childishly thin. As diet drugs are recalled because of
safety, health watchdogs question their necessity. As eating disorders
require the attention of an entire new line of health specialists, our
culture at last criticizes some fashion designers for their ads. As women
attain positions of greater authority and visibility, they boldly
challenge the view that only those who fit the beauty mold deserve to be
in the public eye.
The fabric is unraveling. Where do we go
from here? What new world do we weave? Imagine this: What if we stop
assessing ourselves based on current media icons and find new role models,
women who look like us? What if we stop critiquing our bodies in front of
our kids and make a pact to help our daughters know and love their own
bodies? What if we radically redefine our conception of beauty and
surround ourselves and our children with images of beauty as colorful,
plentiful, and diverse as America herself?
It’s time we look at one another, and
ourselves, as whole and talented people. It’s time we help that young
woman gagging up calories in the toilet, losing her creative energy to
self-hatred. She needs to come out of the bathroom and join her peers. It’s
time we persuade the woman of size, the one who’s afraid to be seen in
public, to find her place in the world, to fulfill herself personally, and
to make a difference in her community. She needs to come out of the house
without fear of ridicule.
Imagine children growing up loving their
bodies. Imagine eating disorders declining as size loses its influence on
self-esteem. Imagine the demand for quick-fix diet drugs disappearing.
Imagine no more diet-related death. Imagine beautiful clothing for every
shape. Tolerance for those who differ from us. Appreciation for beauty in
all sizes. We could even like the way we look. Imagine that, the fabric of
our new vision. ©
Catherine Taylor and Lonnie Hull DuPont
wrote this essay on behalf of Radiance.
this is only a taste of what's inside the printed version of the magazine!