I first noticed the bird motif on the pro-ana sites. Girls described wanting to have bird bones, to be feather thin, ‘become frail’, to be light as air, be delicate, small, like a shimmering, (starving) sparrow.
The bird lust has seeped into other facets of culture, fashion primarily. Bird tats, shirts, golden necklaces on mall teens; over priced frumpy Anthropolgie dresses with hummingbird patterns splayed across the skirt and bodice. The bird, the common bird, not the scavenger vulture or populist pigeon, but the sparrow of all creatures, the frail, dumb, petite beaked thing has been adopted as a hipster talisman, a way to signify delicacy and airiness.
It’s gone from collar bone tattoos and into the mainstream. Jonathan Franzen wrote in the NYT that he is a secret bird watcher, which he described as very uncool, which is not true! It is very cool, right now, probably cooler than collecting vinyls and collecting customized moleskin notebooks.
Here’s what I despise about the mass bird adoption, it glamorizes frailty. It’s Victorian in its idealization of the dainty and ruffled. Further, especially for women, you are the frailer sex, you are not allowed to operate weapons in combat and if a teenage boy wanted to over power you he probably could. You are also at nature’s mercy, far more so than men. Every month you do battle with this fact as your tits and womb engorge, and you have to pop hormone pills to stave off what nature’s brutal plan is for you and as symbol you choose— a bird?
Birds aren’t even mammals. They are cold, indifferent creatures. They are hatched, not born. They are like tiny raptors, eerily reptilian and unfeeling. Look into the eyes of a bird and see if there is anything you remotely recognize in yourself.
You wanna pick a spirit animal? Pick one that bleeds, that has hair, FUR! fur like your crotch and your arm pits, and all over your boyfriend’s chest (god willing), pick one that fucks with hip thrusts, and nurses its young from its swollen tits, but still has the ability to tear other creatures to shreds. One that poses some credible threat on the food chain.
You are existing in the twilight of an empire. The long standing edifices of authority are disintegrating and in the din of this collapse you choose to identify with a lipless worm eater? Grow up, be a mammal.
If a bird, why not a raven, a falcon, or phoenix. There’s a lot of positive symbolism in those. Having bones as susceptible to breaking as a twig is acceptable given genetic predisposition, but is not something to which one aspires.
EDIT: I should clarify that I mean Osteogenesis imperfecta, which is quite treatable. A childhood friend has it and is doing just fine last we spoke.