Wednesday, September 17, 2003

LOOKING THROUGH A CAR WINDOW

While my car was stopped at a red light, I watched a young woman cross the street in front of me. She was wearing a dark gray blouse and a similarly colored long, fitted skirt. Her steps were impeded by the tightness of the skirt and by the bulky platform shoes she had chosen. She was somewhat overweight, but was not unattractive.

I wondered if she had a boyfriend, husband or partner. I thought of the complexities faced by her and other young women who seek today to compete in the mating game. It was much simpler fifty years ago. Clothing worn by middle class women seemed rather unremarkable. Hair styles varied but little. Shoes were by and large comfortable. Television was in its infancy and there were no images on our screens of perfectly proportioned role models urging the viewer to purchase pricey exercise machines.

Ironically, despite the efforts of the physical fitness industry to keep Americans thin, obesity is much more prevalent today than it was back then. This is in part due to the fact that we own more cars and walk less than we once did. Were young women better off in the nineteen fifties ? They were not nearly as emancipated. On the other hand, their choices were fewer, their expectations lower and their lives simpler.

Of course there are no definitive answers to the questions I had raised. Happiness is hard enough to define and impossible to measure.

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