I don’t think I watch too much television.
But then again, maybe I do? It’s not that I’m worried about the quality, necessarily, not of the writing at least, but it’s hard to to feel an enormous lump in my enormous throat as I am, time and time again, presented with increasingly unrealistic standards of beauty for giraffes.
I don’t have an exceptional body.
My neck is pretty long, but not slender uniformly. I have long eyelashes, but there are certainly longer out there. I have exactly as many spots as my mother did, god rest her soul. My legs aren’t quite how I like them, but that’s normal. It’s really normal. Maybe that’s enough to make me exceptional.
But we are creating a gulf, and it’s not one that we are going to be able to fill with a resourceful stretching of necks. If we keep on telling our stupidly clumsy giraffe-children that what is on the screen is what they should aspire to, we are going to create a generation that hates itself.
You can’t tell me those slender young things ambling about the replica savannah represent the giraffes with knock-knees and heavy paunches. Try to look me in the eye and tell me that Sugarloaf returning to her original size a month after giving birth to beautiful twins Ivy and Bamboo is accurate to the experience of all those other giraffes
For every carrot Peppermill lackadaisically swallows, he spends countless unseen hours on enormous treadmills, or in enormous saunas. When will Taronga Zoo have the sense to re-introduce Old Polkadot, in all his paunchiness?
Worse than that, I worry that we might be robbing ourselves of an entire generation of giraffe astronauts, or giraffe novelists, or giraffe engineers. The emphasis that we place on shape and size and length, and purpleness of tongue is dangerous, if only because we are selling our entire species short (not that there’s anything wrong with being short).
Sometimes, I wake up in the morning and look at myself in the reflection of still pools on the savannah and think, “is this okay?”, but I shake myself out of it.
But I didn’t go through nine terrible hours of giraffe labour to give birth to a daughter who will have to worry the same thing.
I see how she looks at still pools on the savannah, and it breaks my heart.