Tag Archives: pioneers

Day 34: On Being “Stout”

I started reading The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

So pioneers valued different strengths and attributes than we do today, that much is clear. The word “stout” in particular was used as an adjective of the highest praise, whether applied to a person or a house or a horse. Being thin was a matter for concern, and also lessened a woman’s beauty. I remember reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a few years ago, and she also stressed that for those working the land, a body’s functionality is all important, not the way it looked. It was a strange, new outlook: I had never heard this viewpoint before in my life. Always, from everyone, the message is “be thin, exercise, eat healthy (whatever THAT means)” with no real mention of your body living up to its true purpose: being able to do physical labor.

How strange that we live in a time when our bodies are considered mostly ornamental. The way they look is so important to our status in society, yet we don’t use them for what they are built for.

I have always wanted to be stout, in the figurative sense of the word. As a SAHM, I do a lot of physical labor. Laundry, housecleaning, cooking, diapers, vacuuming, carrying children, changing diapers. I have no “help”, I do it all myself, and my husband isn’t around most of the time. I get physically tired, a lot. In addition, none of this activity keeps me “thin” the way society approves of. The Hollywood moms elevated as idols do none of the physical labor most SAHMs do, I can guarantee you. Instead, they spend their time running, lifting weights and starving themselves while others do the physical work of raising their children. I shouldn’t look at a Gwyneth Paltrow and think I should look like her.

I guess I should emulate the pioneer model more. If my body functions properly, I should be happy.

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