Have you ever thought about why things are designed the way they are? Like, why does a pair of shears have a particularly shaped handle? And why does a chair look the way it does? Why are the keys on a keyboard shaped as such?
This weekend, some friends and I watched a documentary called Objectified that addresses the theory and beauty behind the design of objects. What the documentary shows (I think, anyway… I can’t be totally sure because I feel as though the film, as well as the other people that were in the room watching it, is infinitely more intelligent than I am) is that a lot of people don’t really give a lot of thought to why things look a certain way. They just use the products, completely unaware of the intricate and meticulous intentionality behind their design.
The best example of this, I think, was a Japanese toothpick — at first glance, it looks like any regular toothpick. But on the end, you’ll find two little grooves that cause the toothpick to break. This isn’t because the toothpick is defective. This is intended for two reasons: 1) to communicate to other people the toothpick has been used, and 2) to create a nifty little toothpick “stand” for it to sit on.
On the other hand, some people are drawn to objects simply because of their design. The design cultivates some sort of emotional response within the user: This product is reliable (Toyota Camry). This product is promotes a youthful image (MacBook Pro). This product is what’s in right now. (Prada sunglasses). Whatever.
When I got pregnant, I scheduled a meeting with one of my favorite female mentors to tell her the good news and pick her brain about the next stage in my life. Not parenthood, mind you — but pregnancy. I had no idea what to expect being pregnant and, even more than that, was overly concerned about what I should be doing/should not be doing while gestating a child.
The best thing she offered me went like this:
“Lindsay, God is a perfect designer. He has already designed your body for this. It is already doing what it is supposed to do. You just get to enjoy it.”
My body was designed for this. This, among every other thing I do in a day. I was designed.
My body (as well as yours) is an object that was delicately created, each part with a specific purpose. Eyes to see. Ears to hear. Hands to feel and lungs to breathe. But, in contrast of, say, the toothpick, our bodies are also objects that evoke emotion, whether they were created to or not. And in this society, women’s bodies in particular have been known to conjure up some pretty gnarly emotions.
This morning when I woke up, the first thing I thought of was how uncomfortable and obnoxious my even-bigger-than-before-if-you-can-believe-it boobs are. Now that I’m about seven months pregnant, my body is hardly recognizable to me anymore and, on top of that, hurts everywhere. While wrapping my arms around my ever-expanding frame, I squeezed so hard I winced in pain, praying silently that it would just STOP. I thought of all the celebrities who have babies and are back in bikinis on the cover of magazines the following week, loudly proclaiming that they, “Got [their] body back!” as if their selfish and menacing children stole it from them and I wanted to scream. I remembered all the times I tried to starve every lump, rump, and bump on my body away, wishing they’d disappear forever, never to be pointed out by raunchy men or ogled over by pissy women ever again.
But what if it the toothpick was subject to the same standards we are as women? Though we are both equally designed for functionality and appeal, what if the toothpick had to put up with the same stuff we women do, both from ourselves and society as a whole?
Imagine for a minute the toothpick is sentient (let’s call him Toothy McPickster) and someone came along and pointed at the grooves in Toothy’s abdomen and demanded he get rid of those disgusting “love handles”?
That’s ridiculous, right? Those grooves were put there specifically to fulfill a greater purpose after Toothy does his duty of picking someone’s teeth. So why must they be scrutinized? Particularly when he can’t do anything to change them that doesn’t require some sort of painful procedure, probably in the form of carving away these grooves? (Insert plastic surgery/crash dieting/other harmful way of body modification metaphor here.)
Just as I was about to curse my body yet one more time today, I remembered my son. And how my body is an object that was designed to give him life.
I’ve pored over the words of Psalm 139 countless times in my life — I’ve even written the words across the top of my bathroom mirror in dry-erase marker — but they take on a whole, new meaning after watching Objectified.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
We were designed for a purpose, whether we know what that purpose is (feet to walk, eyelids to blink) or we don’t (big breasts, small butts, wide hips, bumpy tummies).
In a world that does everything it can to objectify us on its own terms, let us be objectified on our Creator’s terms.