Man As Fruit

Posted on June 8, 2010


Anthropomorphic fruits, from their use in advertising to promote good nutrition to their use in fiction to promote good nutrition and Jesus(A), and The California Raisins, apparently had an impact on me. Regrettably as readers will imagine it wasn’t the impact that I was designed to absorb because my fruit and vegetable intake is sub-par. Regardless of that regret, I still say without any reluctance that the impact was deep enough for me on this Tuesday at the office to for a moment’s fraction imagine the line of white-collar cattle at the ho-dunk cafe that shares the building as a discriminate assemblage of fruit.

I believe that this is because together we have created an immense diversity of body and image, through exercise or inactivity, through implants and injections, and what this conjures for me happens to be images of fruit. In line, the guy in front of me is a squash, though I can tell from some receding chin-fat that maybe he used to be a bit of a pumpkin. He’s eyeballing the Honey Buns conveniently lined up next to the register. He is fighting with his own reticence.

“Don’t do it, sir,” I tell him. He looks at me and I see an animated “?” above his head and I say, “I don’t know you, but I know others like you. I know you’ve been working hard… you’ve been doing so good until this point, ordering salads, walking and running… you don’t want to throw it away now, do you?”

The squash-man does not respond, and once the apple in front of him (a lady with butt-cheeks so heavy she requires a cane to walk) has completed her order he pays for his and leaves and does not look at me. But he didn’t take the Honey Bun.

It’s interesting to me that there is such a thing called “body dysmorphic disorder,” which as far as I’m concerned is basically psychological trauma instilled into one after an abusive level of societal pressure to be beautiful shatters their conception of how they appear to others causing that person to obsess over their looks, never attaining satisfaction, convinced that they are ugly and weak. This is distinct from the narcissist, who continually works to perfect himself because he believes he is perfect and does so to confirm his love for himself. That a body can be or can seem to be “dysmorphic” suggests that there is throughout culture a uniform standard for how we are shaped, complemented by the uniform standard for how we should dress and the rules and regulations for how we should act.

In my thought-bubble, I imagine the fruit in line to be mostly of the spherical type: oranges, berries, grapefruit. A few of the lumpy ones, strawberries and pears and the like, constituted another group. Not a pineapple in sight. I think, actually know, why there were so few cucumbers, bananas, zucchinis. Face the fact that we’re fat; out of the 6,697,254,041 people estimated to be on this rock(B), roughly 1/7 of them are overweight with three-hundred million considered obese. We’re fat, and the cause of the epidemic stares us deadeyed in the face in the form of billboards and T.V. ads and other monuments to the Golden Arches and its kin. That’s me paraphrasing the World Health Organization. We’ve stopped being carrots and eggplants and cucumbers and have inflated into an incredible, edible army of consumption-based apples, oranges, and fat, lazy watermelons.

Maybe fruit isn’t the best analogue to what I’m trying to get at. Man as fruit, considering our dubious intake of fruit concerning our deferential idolization of flavor(C), is just as ironic as it is absurdist. I didn’t visualize fruit for the hell of it though, nor was it a conscious effort. It just happened to be the first thing that came to mind when I noticed how very distant the uniform standard on how one looks, the Average, is from the average person, something especially noticeable when we’re lined up single file.

Anatomically, the human machine is impressive in how it contains itself. Do you ever wonder, friend reader, the intricacies that keep your organs and systems intact, sealed within a body-bag of skin? It’s certainly not glue, though it’s comprised of goo, your you-goo. The things you learn about your body that go unquestioned by many will shock and awe. The body is capable of and is designed to withstand a great deal of modification. I’ve seen wounds that so deeply penetrated the body that there literally left a crater and yet within days to weeks the crevice scabbed and scarred itself out of being and in its place was a healthy chunk of skin, as though the wound had never been. The same adaptability can be said in regard to how we’re shaped. For many reasons, we have those who are thin, those who are fat, those who are tall, those not so tall. We have muscular and slender people. We have big-boned and those who claim to be “just” big-boned. In shape, out of shape— at times it seems that a person can be both. Cellulite adds thickness to the situation resulting in skin that is lumpy, disproportionate, and unsightly. Stretch marks consume and twist the texture of skin. Acne, freckles, liver spots, and wrinkles form as the body’s natural decorum. Then there are the tweaks and alterations we choose to have done to us: piercings, tattoos, plastic surgery, tanning, self-harm; holes and hooks and needles and burns cutting through us. These things in infinite, unique combinations have chipped away at the Average by diluting what it means to be “average.” In robbing it of its absolute, morphological diversity also robs it of its identity, making it a struggle to define. Still, influences within the media persist to tell us the hot from the not.

The problem with body dysmorphism is that the people afflicted with it usually aspire to have a body type that they not only lack, but simply cannot ever have. While the psychological aspect of Sheldon’s “somatotype” theory might be a bunch of eugenicist bullshit, many body builders over the world will tell you that people fall into three body “types” (D) characterized by bone structure (which is immutable; you cannot change this), muscle mass, and fat storage; these three types find us as being either slim, muscular, or fat. It’s common that some may not completely fit into one category and true that diet and training can redefine shape, but in general we are more one type than the others. There’s little fighting it, though bumps and lumps are often so grotesque that contemporary analysis might have to add a few more types.

One thing I wonder is that given how varied the physique is today, will our understanding of beauty be shaped along with it? All cultures have different standards for attractiveness. History has cast forth evidence that what is beautiful in one period may be found repulsive not even a century later. Pale skin and chunky builds, the Rubenesque figure, were traits desired by both men and women for hundreds of years until as recent as the early 20th century—and it was representative of status and health. Today, they are traits we attribute to inactivity, laziness, and social awkwardness. Not only that, but science has since revealed that fattiness can contribute to severe health problems and early graves, and is in fact a leading cause of fatal coronary disease. This common knowledge has not changed the fact that 67% of the United States is overweight or obese, the lattergory making up 34% of the total population. Interestingly, even though the heightened presence of the hefty made them a majority, our television programs, magazines, and movies nonetheless push wave after wave of thin, fit, photoshopped impossibilities. Ralph Lauren even went as far as to digitally edit a model’s waist to a proportion that is physically unobtainable. Counter to the prevalence of obesity, only 4.4% of Americans develop eating disorders in their lifetime.

The Internet has opened possibilities for companionship and networking for those attracted to unusual body types, looks, and style. Dating sites, for instance, often cater to the promise of meeting Big Beautiful Women (B.B.W.s), “mature” women, the short and petite, ethnically and racially different people—that these businesses enjoy much patronage and use is proof that what may in the wider world be but a niche demographic in terms of tastes/preferences still thrives when a forum for it is provided. In a wider context, this might indicate that the mass media’s influence is waning as deviant bodily shape becomes the norm, the Average. How, I ask, can one deviate from deviance when diversity is the norm? You can’t. A good fruit basket has a little of every kind, and of every kind some will be ripe, some sour, and some can be expected to have odd lumps or dents. In the end, it’s all fruit, anyway.

  • (A): Technically they’re vegetables, but if a damn tomato, a fruit, can be one of the main characters then I can use it for my fruit example.
  • (B): Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators; 2008.
  • (C): In other words, it’s ironic because we don’t eat enough fruit.
  • (D): Ectomorph (thin, light muscled, small shouldered, low fat storage), Mesomorph (athletic, muscular, broad shouldered, medium fat storage), Endomorph (round, little muscle but good capacity to develop muscle, soft body, high fat storage)