Whether it's giving up sex for a younger face, or years of their lives for thinner thighs, the media loves a story about ladies renouncing shit. It's time for us to give up giving up.
Today, Glamour asks,
If you had to choose one thing to give up forever between makeup and chocolate, which one would you say goodbye to?
On the one hand, chocolate: So creamy, so delicious. And on the other, the ability to cover pimples, make your eyes pop and play around with lipstick colors. Which would win? Which would you rather do?
Of course, this is just a silly "Would You Rather" feature, not a serious question. I'd still prefer some less stereotypically girly options, though — what about choosing between forks and spoons? Snakes and lizards? Internet and refrigeration? Truth and justice?
These concerns aside, giving shit up is an ongoing lady-news theme. Back in March, the "energy-based" face-lift company Ulthera claimed that 32% of women they surveyed would give up sex to look younger (35% "would even forego shopping"). And last week, a British survey found that 16% of undergrad women would give up a year off their lives in exchange for their "ideal body weight and shape," while 8% would give up a work promotion.
Look, obviously life is full of trade-offs. We give up free time so we can go to work and pay the rent. We give up money so we can eat food. We give up our faith in humanity so we can read the Internet. But at the same time, the kinds of trade-offs presented in the above surveys make no sense. Giving up sex won't make you look younger — if anything, it'll make you look older and crabbier. And while some things that make you lose weight will also take years off your life, these aren't behaviors anyone should be encouraging. Framing women's desire for various things — usually, things that are imposed on them by society in the first place — in terms of what they'd sacrifice in order to achieve them just reinforces the idea that a woman's life is all about self-denial and various forms of starvation. I know pollsters aren't actually making women sacrifice sex or chocolate or — God forbid — shopping, but all these surveys just make existence sound like a zero-sum game. And women's pleasure — especially if it comes from eating or fucking — is stigmatized enough without people treating it like a bargaining chip for various questionable life goals.
As a way of resisting this whole narrative, I recommend bettering your life by adding something to it. It's Lent right now, traditionally a time for renunciation — but also, perhaps a time to renounce renouncing. Instead of (or in addition to) giving something up this season, try starting something up instead. Read every night. Learn a language. Try kale (it's delicious!). Eat chocolate while wearing makeup. I think I'm going to add doing real pushups (not from the knee) to my daily routine. But it doesn't matter what you add — the point is to embrace and endorse a full life, not one where you're always giving up your joys to live up to other people's standards.
Image via M. Unal Ozmen/Shutterstock.com