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Body Fat Percentage and Natalie Angier Essay

The idea that an individual is capable of reaching any dream that they wish for, so long as they strive to the best of their ability, is one commonly shared. Parents are known to encourage their children by sharing the concept that by working hard you can achieve anything. However, an individual is not necessarily capable of achieving any goal they wish; we have all been limited as human beings and have a certain capacity to achieve.

Through the wide collection of stories and accounts in ‘Inquiry: Questioning, Reading, Writing’ by Bloom, White and Borrowman and other supporting texts, it is evident that hard work does not enable an individual to be anything they want to be. Disability is a restriction experienced by many individuals and is a strong contributor to the idea that people are not always capable of achieving their goals, regardless of the effort. Through Nancy Mairs’ On Being a Cripple, it is evident that her status as a ‘cripple’ has limited her ability to function in many aspects of life.

Mairs’ restrictions include numerous conditions including allergies, depression, fatigue but most notably multiple sclerosis. In her story, she uses listing effectively when she writes “I want them to see me as a tough customer, one to whom the fates/gods/viruses have not been kind, but who can face the brutal truth of her existence. ” (Mairs, 25) As she writes ‘fates/gods/viruses’, the audience is exposed to the severity of her conditions; mentally, socially and physically.

In this sentence, Nancy also applies juxtaposition when she states ‘but who can face the brutal truth of her existence’ to highlight her optimistic perspective on her situation despite the magnitude of her crippled nature. Although she is aware of the conditions hindering her, she is also aware of her capacity as a ‘cripple’ and rather than dwelling on what she does not have, she chooses to accept her life and focus on the positives.

According to the World Health Organization, ‘disability’ is described as a “complex phenomenon reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives. ” Although she does not like being described as ‘disabled’, Mairs’ conditions arguably put her under the category. The features of her unique body, both mentally and physically, reflect on her place within society and therefore define the life she is destined to live.

The author later uses sensory detail to describe herself as a ‘bright-fingered muse’ (29) when one of her students finds motivation to continue writing essays. Therefore, it is evident that her ‘crippled’ status has and will continue to restrict her lifestyle. Mairs’ is not necessarily able to achieve any goal that she chooses, but rather, she recognizes her place in the world, sets goals and lives a fulfilling lifestyle well within her capability. Genetics is a factor that must be considered in depth as one assesses the accuracy of the statement “With hard work, you can be anything you want to be.

” Through ‘Estrogen, Desire and Puberty’ by Natalie Angier, the audience is exposed to the facts of genetics and hormones that define a women in comparison to men. Among the other effects estrogen has on humans, particularly in females, high estrogen levels have proven to cause women to reach higher body fat percentages than men as shown through the text, “the body of the average woman is 27 percent fat, that of the average man is 15 percent fat” (Angier, 21).

Although a female may have strong motivation to become an elite athlete, a duplicate male will always be a better all-around athlete as Angier reiterates when she employs similes stating that, The leanest elite female athlete may get their body fat down to 11 or 12 percent, but that is nearly double the percentage of body fat found on the elite male athlete, who is as spare as a pronghorn antelope” (21). Through her description of the male athlete as a ‘prong-horn antelope’, the author emphasizes the lean nature of elite male athletes.

As much effort as a woman may put into their training regime, it is clear that the male body type will always surpass the capacity of a female’s. According to the Riddhita Chakraborty’s studies, “genes may determine 20-80% of an athlete’s performance. ” These studies identify the necessity for an individual to be gifted with the correct genetics for their desired sport. For athletes to develop and become professional, it is clear that genetics is not the only component to success, but rather an athlete must also have adequate “nutrition, coaching, careful planning and a disciplined lifestyle” (Chakraborty).

Thus, it can be understood through Natalie Angier’s ‘Estrogen, Desire and Puberty’ and the Chakraborty’s athletic studies that genetics are an integral part in determining one’s capacity to become an elite athlete and furthermore become ‘the best’. A significant reason for many individuals being unable to accomplish the goals they aspire for is their lack of intelligence, or environmental factors restricting one’s potential to become smarter.

Intelligence can be directly related to genetics, where one is not gifted with the capacity to achieve such prestigious milestones such as becoming a doctor, lawyer or winning the Nobel Prize. However, intelligence can also be nurtured through a suitable environment. According to Louis Putterman’s article Not Smart Enough to Be Rich? , statistics show that people in the United Kingdom had an average IQ of 100, the United States with an average of 98, whereas the Central African Republic, Mali and Kenya had average IQs of 64, 69 and 72 respectively (Putterman).

These statistics indicate the troubling gap in intelligence between developed and developing nations. In many cases, an individual is born without a strong mental capacity, which can be observed by poor academic results. It is also clear that regardless of the effort an individual may put in to expand their knowledge and exercise their mind, without the nurturing environment needed that can only be provided through a prosperous economy, that individual will not be able to reach the goals that they would be capable of otherwise.

Many are unable to achieve their goals in life simply because they are intellectually unsuitable for the position, particularly those requiring rigorous study and mental perseverance; for example the path to becoming a doctor. Others may have been intellectually capable of like-minded pursuits, but are hindered by such restrictions as poor resources as a result of lower economic growth particularly in developing nations. Parents are known to tell their children “With hard work, you can be anything you want to be.

” Although hard work is essential to reaching one’s full potential in any area of life, it does not enable an individual to achieve anything they wish. Through the writings in ‘Inquiry: Questioning, Reading and Writing’ including Mairs’‘On Being a Cripple’ and Angier’s ‘Estrogen, Desire and Puberty’ as well as other supporting texts, the audience is able to recognize disability and genetics as significant obstructions along one’s journey to achieving greatness.

Intelligence, or lack thereof, is another factor the audience must consider when determining the accuracy of the idea hard work enables one to achieve anything, as demonstrated through Not Smart Enough to Be Rich? Works Cited 1) Mairs, Nancy. “On Being a Cripple. ” Inquiry: Questioning, Reading, Writing. Second Edition. Bloom, Lynn, Edward White and Shane Borrowman. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson, 1993. Pages 24-34. Print. 2) ‘WHO | Disabilities. ’ World Health Organization. n. p. , n. d.

Web. 15 September 2013. 3) Angier, Natalie. “Estrogen, Desire and Puberty. ” Inquiry: Questioning, Reading, Writing. Second Edition. Bloom, Lynn, Edward White and Shane Borrowman. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson, 1993. Pages 14-23. Print. 4) Chakraborty, Riddhita. ‘How Much do Genes Affect Your Athletic Potential? ’. University of Utah, n. d. Web. 16 September 2013. 5) Putterman, Louis. “Not Smart Enough to Be Rich? ” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers. 8 August 2013. Web. 16 September 2013.


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