Archive for January, 2013

Nobody really wants to be fat. Not really.

January 21, 2013

Sure, ideas of beauty change, are constructed by society, and even the biggest supermodel will go mad if she compares herself to others in order to assess her professional worth. But you know in your gut if you’re just – I’ll say it – fat. Yes, you do. Oh, yes you do.

This is good to bear in mind. The so called hot people are freaks of nature. Most of us are just beautiful in our own ways.

This is good to bear in mind. The so called hot people are freaks of nature. Most of us are just beautiful in our own ways.

I find it very hard to believe people who tell me they “love” their bodies just the way they are three times a day while hiding them under great big T-Shirts and refusing to go to the beach for shame. I also think we give ourselves a hard time about how we look for all the wrong reasons sometimes. I have no doubt that ideas of beauty are constructed. Yes, they’ve definitely changed. Allow me to illustrate:

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Beautiful. These days she couldn’t get a modeling job – not even as a plus sizer.

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Beautiful. But today she’d spend her life thinking she had “fat arms”. Which is bull.

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Beautiful. In some times, places and cultures, some people still can’t see that. Like John Mayer for instance.

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Beautiful. But when you google Meryl Streep the most suggested (i.e. poplular) search phrases are “Meryl Streep Young” and “Meryl Streep hot”.

But the fact that what’s considered “beautiful” in magazines changes doesn’t mean that doesn’t mean being so fat that you can’t walk to your car, or so fat that your knees are caving in, or so fat that you have veins in your ankles by the age of 25, is something anyone chooses.

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There’s a fetish for everything, including dandruff. But I struggle to believe that the woman suffering from obesity pictured here actually wants to look like that, but more importantly it’s hard to believe that she wants to FEEL like that.

This isn't beautiful either.

This isn’t beautiful either.

It’s become fashionable to cater for obesity, to treat it as if it is not a problem, the same way we cater to anorexia as if it isn’t a problem. Now, I know being mean to fat people wouldn’t help at all. But overeating is an addiction. So I’d vote for being nice to people who eat too much, just as I’d vote for being nice to heroin addicts. But I’m not going to pretend I think a giant camel-toe is attractive.

Fact is, getting fat happens slowly. I learned this recently, over the two and a half years I’ve lived in the USA. I arrived here at a healthy weight, initially lost a few kilos because I didn’t have a car, and then slowly but surely went from lean, to padded, to plump, to actually, very nearly medically overweight. I noticed when I went to the clinic for a checkup here in California. The doctor said nothing about my weight gain. I was relieved, until I realised he was just scared of offending me.

What was next? I wondered. Full-on obesity? Fuck that for a joke.

So at the risk of being politically incorrect, I’ve downloaded a calorie counting application for my cell phone and started exercising, eating healthily, and… yes it’s working. In about five weeks, I’ll be able to look at myself in the mirror without wincing. In two months, I should be able to stand how I look in set photographs. The best thing about it actually is that it provides an outlet for my competitive, OCD nature, a focus for my stress about other things. Instead of wondering if I’ll ever make a truly great film, I just get to feel good that I had strawberries and yogurt for breakfast and it only cost me 200 calories. Silly? Yes. Shallow? Oh, most definitely. But sometimes it’s important to be shallow, like when you break your leg, or get maleria, or gain 8 kilograms your body really, really doesn’t need.

What do the Cape Town shark flags mean? Nobody knows! Allow me to clarify.

January 16, 2013

I’ve swum in the sea in Cape Town at least once a day since I arrived home a month ago and guess what? I’m still not dead! Not only am I not dead, I still have all my arms and legs.

I mention this because I’ve asked a few of my friends, many of whom are regular beach goers, what the flags mean. They all agree that the Black flag with the white shark means a shark’s been seen in the bay. The others… they’re not sure really. They all agree the red one means danger and the green one might mean there’s a shark. They’re all understandably confused, because the flags are stupid. They make it look to anyone driving by as if Cape Town’s sea is infested with great whites. In fact, it’s not nearly that dangerous.

This is one scary flag. What does it mean? Answer: NOT that there is a shark in the water.

This is one scary flag. What does it mean? Answer: NOT that there is a shark in the water. It means that visibility is poor and the shark spotters can’t guarantee they’ll see it if it’s there. This is the case most of the time.

Now you know.

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Okay, apologies for the poor color. South Africa has always been rather bad with colour and don’t care for it much, so the sign is a little faded. A GREEN flag is the best. It means it’s safe to swim and the shark spotters up on the mountains will probably see the sharks in time to sound a warning. The BLACK flag is second best. It means they can’t see for sure, but they probably will. And the RED one is actually not the end of the world. Means there’s a shark cruising around in nearby beaches. WHITE is bad news. That means there’s a shark. Don’t swim. Even if only out of courtesy to the poor shark spotters, who hate it when you die cause then people think they didn’t do their job in time.

When they see the black flag – or any of the flags with sharks, my friends do one of two things, assuming it means “there’s a shark and the surfers are only out there because they wanna die”:
1. Turn round and drive home.
2. Drive to a beach that doesn’t have shark flags at all. Cause what you don’t know won’t hurt you. UNLESS IT’S A FUCKING SHARK. Duh.

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A fun sign explaining surf etiquette to beginners and Ubuntu to everybody. Muizenberg has some great waves, but is also known to be a beginner’s beach. It’s the best place imaginable to learn to surf, and well-serviced by the shark spotters, who have a great view from their station, high up on Boyes Drive. The water is also warm. I’ll never forget my final sunset swim with my mom, the clean white foam, the soft salty light.

Signs of South Africa

January 11, 2013

South Africans aren’t rude. We’re just overly familiar and brutally honest.

It has been an insane year in SA. And WTF is now in the actual dictionary (the Oxford is always a few years behind - they'll catch up one day soon)

Newspaper posters on the lamp posts: It has been an insane year in SA. And WTF is now in the dictionary (the Oxford is always a few years behind – they’ll catch up one day.)


We tend not to respect celebrity for its own sake. We tend not to respect authority for its own sake, either. After all, Apartheid used to be law. Nowadays, driving over the yellow line is illegal. Anyone here never done it?

The upside: Cars don't have to sit behind you on a single lane highway for 3kms. Downside? It's illegal? Upside? Nobody cares.

The upside: Cars don’t have to sit behind you on a single lane highway for 3kms. Downside? It’s illegal? Upside? Nobody cares. Downside? Over 1200 road deaths this holiday. Upside: Fast traveling and fun times.

Cape Town is famous for the fact that you can come here and… be completely ignored no matter how famous you are, except maybe if you leave the city or want to fuck girls from Camps Bay who wanna be famous too. Colin Farrell spent lots of time here cause he could walk around without his sunglasses on (not that he did, his eye would hurt, cause Cape Town parties hard and drugs are fresh off the boat). But mostly he was here cause Capetonians think they’re special. They’re like, “Oh, you’re Colin Farrel? Really? Well fine, but I’m from Cape Town.”

Celebrity Rehab? Come here and get sober. We don’t care how who you are, or how wasted you are.

I think these signs from all over South Africa exemplify this point. We’re special. We get to say it like it is. Take…

OLD AGE

So I took a tour of an old age home, looking for a friend of my Mom's who she hadn't contacted in a while. She was freaked out - being about 24 years closer to death than I am. But this sign in the complex made her laugh.

So I took a tour of an old age home, looking for a friend of my Mom’s who she hadn’t contacted in a while. She was freaked out – being about 24 years closer to death / urinating on herself, than I am. But this sign in the complex made her laugh.

And laugh again.

And laugh again.

And this is what you get - I think this is a lovely way for an old age community to remember you. I think it's okay to laugh in the face of death. Perhaps it's even essential.

And this is what you get – I think this is a lovely way for an old age community to remember you. I think it’s okay to laugh in the face of death. Perhaps it’s even often fucking essential.

DEATH

We dare it. We double dare it. We’re not like Americans; scared to venture from our car to our apartment if the “air” isn’t already on on a hot day. Sweating never killed you… except when it did.

Okay, it's unlikely that today's cell phones could cause a gas tank to explode... but it's still annoying to the petrol attendants when you use yours. Same reason why they pretend it's dangerous on airplanes BTW.

Okay, it’s unlikely that today’s cell phones could cause a gas tank to explode… but it’s still annoying to the petrol attendants when you use yours. Same reason why they pretend it’s dangerous on airplanes BTW. “If you use your cell phone now, nobody may ever talk to you again.”

Now actually, lighting a cigarette at a gas station is actually genuinely stupid. If you do it while you're on your cell phone you will also be sneered at while you die.

Now actually, lighting a cigarette at a gas station is actually genuinely stupid. If you do it while you’re on your cell phone you will also be sneered at while you die.

WE DON’T CARE WHO YOU ARE

Aaaaand back to that.

Real reason for this sign: Grapes close to the road get covered in dust and are hard to make wine with. Other reason: People who live on farms feel free to drive really fast and ignore speed limits and this farm is surrounded by other farmers.

Real reason for this sign: Grapes close to the road get covered in dust and are hard to make wine with. Other reason: People who live on farms feel free to drive really fast and ignore speed limits and this farm is surrounded by other farmers.

Enterprising South Africans in “Cuteness for Sale”

January 4, 2013

In the last few weeks, bad and good things have happened. Six people died: in Poland drinking infected vodka, in Pakistan in a bomb blast, in SA trying to get jobs – the 1300 people selected from thousands of applicants for jobs as Traffic Cops were asked to run 4km in 30 minutes in hot conditions. Six died of dehydration on the spot. One killed himself because he wasn’t picked. Another died later in hospital.

We’re certainly not lazy out here. And we’re good at finding new ways to make money, whether that be making Christmas trees out of wire or baskets out of plastic bags or … exploiting cuteness.

This is genius: Get customers at your restaurant to pay to feed your livestock for you! Later, you can eat the livestock.

This is genius: Get customers at your restaurant to pay to feed your livestock for you! Later, you can eat the livestock.

Relatively cute bunnies. Who's not going to pay R2 (USD .28c) for a child's smile?

Relatively cute bunnies. Who’s not going to pay R2 (USD .28c) for a child’s smile?

This tiger's like "I am going to fucking kill you if you make me stand on this boat for ONE more minute while you paint me." Accidentally hilarious art for sale in the same coffee shop.

This tiger’s like “I am going to fucking kill you if you make me stand on this boat for ONE more minute while you paint me.” Accidentally hilarious art for sale in the same coffee shop.

And a giant pineapple? Yes, that's a great idea. It's surrounded by pineapple fields and if you wanna pay R10 you can climb up to survey the fields, or watch a video about pineapple farming. They also sell juice, jam, t-shirts...

And a giant pineapple? Yes, that’s a great idea. It’s surrounded by pineapple fields and if you wanna pay R10 you can climb up to survey the fields, or watch a video about pineapple farming. They also sell juice, jam, t-shirts…

Donald Trump, asshole extrodinaire, lurks in a corner of a pharmacy in California, representing a very different kind of enterprising.

Donald Trump, asshole extraodinaire, lurks in a corner of a pharmacy in California, representing a very different kind of enterprising.