Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Life's an Onion

Life is an onion. It can make your eyes water as you peel away the layers to reveal the core of your being. This post is about a special kind of life onion: the Onion of Societal Expectations. It's special because I made it up. Behold:

Today's exquisite artwork brought to you by MS Paint
Each item is an onion layer. Let me explain.

Your face: Society is mostly on the lookout for symmetrical features, clear skin, and absolutely no unibrows. At the very least, society expects your face to not look like something that would make a gargoyle go, "Ew."

Your body: Vogue apparently did a roundhouse kick to the current trend of too-skinny models by pledging to promote "healthy" models. You're not off the hook, though. Rolls of fat are only cute in babies. You must be able to fit into an airplane seat. The absence of muffin tops or love handles is also a bonus.

Words: It doesn't have to be your own words. You can regurgitate if you like. But your words must match the current social context, e.g. condolences when tragedy strikes others, protests when rights are being trampled, or snark when trying to conceal raging jealousy. Society approves of such utterances.

Your actions: If you say one thing and do something else, society is disappointed in you. Although in Old Country, society disappoints you.

Level of "success": Society judges, in no particular order: your education, your job, and your kids. The lack of one of these detracts from your "success." Have all three? You get society's stamp of approval.

Net worth: Society usually knows if your net worth is astronomical or somewhere close to the earth's core. For the former, your house/car/trophy lover typically points to material worth. For the latter, when you're that person who goes to a group dinner and tries to get away with over-ordering and underpaying, we know you're either (a) poor, or (b) a cheapo. If (b), your social net worth is waaaay down.

Are you a murderer: Society has made the killing of another human being illegal, because it is wrong. Unless you're in Florida, in which case it's totally okay because it was self-defense.

Why not: We've all considered what life would be like without a specific someone on the planet. If you answer the question with, "Because I don't want to go to jail," or some variant, society considers that fairly normal. If you say, "Because I am one with the human family," it's time to put down the bong. If you say, "I just haven't been caught yet," society will back away from you slowly.

I labelled the scale leaves but not the immature flower on the onion above. It's an allegory for my lack of understanding of the core of the Onion of Societal Expectations, which is too deep and profound for my callow brain. It's also because I ran out of space on the image, darnit.

Advertisement: In today's Fragrant Elephant comic, humans discuss the killing of an endangered animal!

Join me next time for another installment of ELECTIONERD

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