Operation Caffeination

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L’Adaptation au Rhythme Moderne

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“A micromaniac,” Edouard de Pomiane explains in the opening paragraphs of his beloved classic French Cooking in Ten Minutes, “is someone obsessed with reducing things to their smallest possible form. This word, by the way, is not in the dictionary.”

Sometimes a line stands out to me as I read; it rattles around in my mind, demanding that I pause and let it sink in, let it hit me.

Sometimes, I’d really rather not. I’m busy. I’m broke. I’m overwhelmed. I want to get through a day without feeling angry and depressed about the state of the planet. Sometimes, I’d really just like to let things go.

But the rattling always wins, doesn’t it?

I can’t let this one go. I’ve spent weeks aimlessly browsing around the internet, trying to make sense of the vague feelings this humorous little line stirred up in the back of my mind.

I found some interesting images, and I wonder if anyone else sees the lunacy in them. Are we, in fact, a society of micromaniacs (whether or not the dictionary wants to admit it)?

This is how google images defines the word “cute.”

And here, you have the word “adorable.” Note that the formal definitions of these words do not state or even imply that these words should be used in relation to small things (although the word “cute” has taken on a meaning that implies smallness in recent history, but the etymology of that word will likely turn into a post of its own).

Remember the tiny cell phone craze? People used to laugh at me for griping about how the phone, held at the ear, rested against your cheekbone rather than extending to your mouth. Thank you, Steve Jobs, for restoring sanity…and for making it possible to hear and be heard on the phone again at the same time! (Lest you think this trend was a passing fad, however, see here.)

This may be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. Bite-size S’mores. Let that sink in for a moment. These desserts are called S’mores, because when you eat them…you want S’MORE. They are a dessert, a treat, permission to indulge, to forget about counting calories and hating your body and feeling bad about taking up space. They are your ticket to childhood, playfulness and fun. Making s’mores bite-size does not improve them; it robs them of their magic. When you eat a bite-size s’more, you are not remembering summer camping trips (or in my case, my big splurge after giving birth to my first child!). You are thinking about sticking to a diet. And you know what else? You are probably wishing that you were brave enough for seconds.

This is, in my opinion, where the micromania begins and ends, with the much-blogged about pelvis-less Bloomingdale’s model. Take a close look at this picture, and consider the implications. Although we are dealing only with imagery, the effects are disturbing and grotesque.

They removed this woman’s womb. They removed her sex. They obliterated her in the name of fashion.

Isn’t that where this has been heading all along? The body-hatred, the shame, the constant pressure to be small, speak less, ask for less out of life and the world and everything? Do you feel the pressure to disappear, to be invisible, to be those minuscule fairy tale creatures who willingly, happily, silently support and provide for the shoemaker, neither expecting nor asking for compensation? (That the elves are, in the end, repaid for the generosity in clothing fills my mind with little vignettes of my head exploding in an oven à la the Brothers Grimm and Sylvia Plath.)

It all feels like a mad obsession to me, if anything ever did.

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Written by GRSeim

December 20, 2011 at 8:36 am

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