Wednesday, December 14, 2011

History rewritten

There's an iconic picture circulating around the web of a group of female firefighters at Pearl Harbor, supposedly taken on December 7, 1941. [It wasn't and here's an article about that.] Nevertheless, the picture, shown below, strikes me as amazing for a couple of reasons.

First, it's of female firefighters at a time when women were still considered the fairer sex. Sure the war changed things, and women who had to step into traditionally male roles proved they could do more than bake cookies and make babies. Nevertheless, it's humbling to see these courageous women at work doing something so few women even do today.

Second, the ethnic diversity strikes me. There is a black woman, a Hawaiin woman and several Caucasian women, all working together during a time when diversity wasn't embraced or mandated as it is today. There's another new perspective for me of a time when I thought things were a certain way, and it turns out maybe they really weren't.

The third thing I notice about the picture also tells me that some of the historical facts we're bombarded with today, just may not be true. The 'fact' I question is that all those years ago people were slim and healthy because they ate fresh whole foods and exercised more. I look at these women, and I see courage and strength, but I don't see bony physiques and slim silhouettes. They're not supermodel shaped, thus evidencing the fact that back before the standard "American diet" took effect and began making everyone fat, women still weren't skinny.

In this related photo you can see it clearly. None of these women is slender. At a time when the fashion was the cinched waist and flouncy hips, these women didn't have an hourglass shape. I wonder how Dr. Oz or all the other weight loss and "health" gurus would deal with them. Eat less and exercise more? Who's got time for that when you're busy protecting the country? Seriously.

I have no doubt there are plenty of photos from this time of the ideal woman with perfect measurements, but I have the feeling she was no more 'average' than the size 0 supermodel is today. This picture shows women living life as it should be lived, not munching rice cakes and sweating on a treadmill or dancersizing. That's how to stay healthy and be real - do what needs to be done. Stop counting calories and fat grams and striving for the perfect BMI and go put out some fires.