then will boys like me?

You don’t have to take a gender studies class to understand how sexuality can be used and abused. An old boss of mine once complained about a woman in our office who dressed in low-cut, high-rise dresses; my boss had worked so hard for so long for women to be taken seriously in business only for someone like this to go and ruin it. i don’t know how much damage this woman was really doing, but a dress code went into effect anyway.

I know I’m not the first one to get into this, but I guess it’s just my turn. Why do vegans have to be sexy? I guess it’s mostly PETA ads, but there still seems to be this reactionary force pushing against the scruffy hippie vegetarian image. And sex sells everything else, so why not health and kindness to the otherwise suffering creatures? Wait, that sells itself, doesn’t it? Do we need to trick people into consciousness with ab-licious, arched-back booty?

What got me started was that a friend of mine (Dave, who just started blogging his quest to eco-geekdom on The Greeniest) e-mailed me a link to Vegan Vixens, a group of ladies whose goal is “to inspire men to live a longer and happier life by making healthier decisions on what they consume.” They’re gettin’ on television and writin’ songs and sassin’ it up all over, so their message is at least getting a chance to get out there. And I don’t blame them for what they’re doing. Some boots were made for walkin’ and some asses were made for shakin’. I just think it’s sad that a message as clear and strong as “Don’t make animals suffer needlessly” has to be transmitted while hypnotizing someone with your cleavage.

Also, we try to teach young girls they don’t have to look like Barbie or the Bratz, that the models they see in magazines are primped by professionals, placed by professionals, then probably digitally manipulated by professionals. What happens when a young vegan girl (or older one) isn’t nominated for Sexiest Vegetarian Next Door? We can’t all be Shonas (you’ll see if you click on the link).

When I was 12 and decided to cut out meat, I called myself a vegetarian. I wasn’t—I still occasionally ate chicken and fish, but I was told in 1980s Chicago that I was vegetarian. Anyway, someone at school asked, “Aren’t vegetarians supposed to be really skinny?” Mind you, 12-year-old Michele was lookin’ pretty okay. I could shamelessly wear a bathing suit and had the eye of A-crowd boys, basketball players and wrestlers, even. (I was also way more into math than boys.) But no, I wasn’t really skinny and I never will be. And there are skinny folk out there who can’t seem to bulk up no matter what they try. Self acceptance is no easy thing to come by. It’s just all the more difficult when we’re given a picture of “the ideal” and are really expected to try to reach it.

Oh, silly humans, why do we play the games we do?

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