Patty made a snowman. It was almost as tall as her, and had a carrot for a nose, and a tie. It was a good snowman, so Patty wished very hard for it came to life. It did.
‘Hello snowman,’ said Patty
‘What do you mean, ‘snowman’?’ said the snowman. ‘Who are you to say I’m a snowman? Why can’t I be a snowwoman? Or a snowperson? What if I appear outwardly to be a snowman, but self identify as a snowwoman? What is a man, anyway? Am I a man because of the phallus you’ve used as a nose? Are you saying someone needs to be born with a phallus to be a man? Or is it the tie? How can we claim to have equality if one of the most recognised signifiers of professionalism denotes gender?’
‘I like your silly smile,’ said Patty. She was five.
‘That’s another thing, why am I smiling? What if I’m hurting on the inside? Am I expected to hide my own pain and project an outward appearance of contentment in order to placate others? And even if it’s a smile of genuine happiness, what right did you have to dictate my emotions? Do you realise the damage caused when you continue to peddle the lie that happiness is correct, and other emotions are some kind of personality defect to be solved? How can you expect anyone to ever actually be happy when you wrap half the human experience in guilt and shame?’
‘You have a big round tummy,’ said Patty.
‘Oh, so now we’re body shaming. Who’s to say that my tummy is big? Maybe the tummie of the snowmen on the covers of magazines are small. Maybe there’s no normal size from which we can establish big or small, and the only important factor in body size is health. Did you ever even think of that? You make me sick!’
‘While your concerns are genuine and important, you risk trivialising them by over reacting to minor slights. If you want genuine change, you have to be willing to accept the existence of context and societal norms. The cultural zeitgeist can change, but it takes time and good will,’ said Patty.