Thursday, January 15, 2009
Beauty, Going to the Dogs
In the United Kingdom the Kennel Club has come up with new standards for pedigree show dogs, in the hope of getting its big "Crufts" televised by the BBC again. You see the show was dropped in the wake of a BBC documentary last year, which exposed the health problems of pedigree dogs bred to the theoretically exalted standards of the national club.
When beauty if exalted over purpose, it becomes destructive. The adorable spots of the Dalmatian are linked to genes that cause deafness in 30% of American pedigree Dalmatians. It is heard in the audible breath of the bulldogs with ever shorter noses, and the seen in the eye problems of standard collies whose noses are breed to be extremely long. The daschund's back has a tendency to literally buckle on the pressure of an ever longer body. In fact there is barely a list breed not at measurably high risk of a slew of serious health problems from cancers to hip dysplasia.
It seems we are capable of forgetting that a dog, first and foremost, is a dog. It needs to see, small, move freely, and live a long healthy life. Everything else is a secondary issue. If Brown boxers are healthy than those with large amounts of white, brown boxers are beautiful. If we cannot see it, it is our eye that is flawed--not the dog. But if course it is the dog that carries the burden, the duty of being beautiful even when It means being waited down with fat and ridiculous amount of hear, clipped and trimmed even down to the removal of portions of ear and tail.
Beauty really can be a burden, if we allow it. And women also bear the responsibility to look good--although there is a perception that men are increasingly falling into this trap. Not just cosmetics packed with hidden toxins, cuts and coiffes, elastic clothes to suck us in and high heels to stick out our boobs and booty.
Now I am not a bra burner, people can pretty themselves up if they like. But the pedigree lesson is this... when health is being hurt, it has gone to far. When you feet and calves ache from the stilettos and you fall every time you go down stairs, when you start injecting poisons into your face or steroids into your muscles, when you are going under he knife, when you smoke to be thin... it is time to stop.
The question is not are you a man or a mouse--but are you a person or a poodle? You can parade with the poodles if you like, but do not sacrifice your ability to run with wolves. Being pretty is never more important that being a healthy, functional person. And the human beauty and fashion industry, out human kennel clubs and our Crufts, should be held to a standard no lower than is now being applied to dogs.
[picture excerpted from the BBC England's Year in Pictures]