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By Jean Stanula, Special Guest Blogger to The Body Logic
After an intense workout, I stand in front of the row of coolers in the 7-11, seeking a beverage to quench my well-earned thirst. My eyes scan row after row of liquid satiation searching for the 20oz that will really hit the spot. When my eyes trace the clean and precise curves of the Smartwater bottle, settle softly on the ocean blue label, an image of Jennifer Aniston – beautiful, confident, relaxed – seeps into my brain and I reach for the bottle. I know I’ve done it, and maybe I scold myself a little, but I think Jennifer Aniston is a trustworthy character, and she just wants me to drink this delicious, clean, perfect water.
It is an undeniable fact that celebrity and popularity affect every arena of our lives. This is nothing new – humans have been worshipping both Gods and men that seem to embody a betterness, a higherness, a coolerness, forever. In present times, we most often recognize the negative aspects of this hero worship – children killed attempting a professional wrestling move or a skateboard trick, young people acting out violent song lyrics, or our desensitization of domestic violence issues that we see so often in celebrity tabloids.
Once in a while, and I’m not saying Jennifer Aniston’s promotion of Smartwater counts in this camp, we find celebrities using their influence as positive leadership. I’m talking about the great global goliaths who have raised money and brought awareness to important issues such as Lance Armstrong, Bono and Bill and Melinda Gates. When celebrities find causes close to their hearts and use their influence to get us to wear yellow or buy red, their influence manifests itself as philanthropic guidance rather than the useless over consumption that results from sneaker ads or car endorsements.
Sadly, it seems that many non-profits and important causes can’t get proper promotion or financial support without the backing of an actor, athlete, or recording artist. I picture all of these organizations like puppies huddled together in a cardboard box, pawing and whimpering, stretching to be seen and plucked from obscurity by someone whose face can be found on a t-shirt. I wish consumers would also pay attention to organizations without celebrity endorsements, but I certainly can’t deny the effectiveness of such … If Lance Armstrong could do for poverty, homelessness, religious intolerance or issues of equality what he did for prostate cancer in this country, there is no doubt we would be living in a better world.
All causes can’t be as “popular” as HIV/AIDS or breast cancer, but some celebrities took a stand this past week to bring attention to really important issue – the portrayal of women and girls in the media. Joining together with worthy organizations, Girl Scouts of the USA and The Creative Coalition, a handful of celebrities such as Felicity Huffman, Seth Green, Rachael Leigh Cook and Chuck D. spoke out. They even took the time to recognize their absurd power in media, asking viewers to “Watch What You Watch.” Here’s the video:
It is awesome to see these recognizable faces taking on the issue of the media’s portrayal of women and girls. And, I have to say, it’s great to see men taking part in the promotion, too, which reminds viewers that an issue about women isn’t solely a women’s issue. They urge us to be more socially conscious, more media savvy, to take off the blinders we all sometimes wear when we want to just “enjoy” TV, magazines and movies. The campaign reminds us to filter and reject some of the media stream in which we are constantly treading because we do what celebrities say (right?) so we should do this too. We should be smart. Think smart.
As a strong supporter of the Girl Scouts (an organization which, for the record is not at all affiliated with the bigoted Boy Scouts of America) I am happy to see them enjoy a little celebrity backing. The issue of the mental and physical health and safely of women and girls should be just as “popular” as some of America’s favorite charities. Hopefully, this campaign, and others like it, will stick in the minds of consumers when they witness inappropriate or offensive portrayals of women in media (just like Jennifer Aniston does in mine when I see a bottle of Smartwater) and inspire them to think twice about buying what the media is selling.
Jean Stanula is a non fiction writer, blogger and nonprofiteer with an interest in issues of equality. She is a weekly columnist for The New Gay, where she writes under the catchy pseudonym Not Your Average Prom Queen, and sporadically records her
personal ramblings and creative writing at That Makes Me Nervous.
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By now you’ve probably heard about the incredibly tragic turn of events in which a Rutgers University freshman named Tyler Clementi committed suicide after his sexual encounter with another boy was broadcast online. My heart is breaking for this young man and so many others like him who have been harassed and bullied for being themselves.
What can we do? Lady Gaga’s cries that it’s OK to be a little monster and let your freak flag fly only go so far. We need the conversation to grow and get louder, so that LGBT kids won’t have trouble picturing their bright future.
Thankfully, others are raising their voices in response to the alarming headlines of gay teen suicide. There’s a YouTube channel started by love and sex columnist Dan Savage, called “It Gets Better.” His aim: To have LGBT adults share with LGBT kids that it does get better. That they can be themselves.
You can check out Dan and his boyfriend, Terry’s personal stories here:
I heard some ridiculous DJ on the radio say last night that we’re less than 100 days away from Christmas. That means we’re close to 2011. And as a society, we’re still dealing with inhumanity, hatred and bigotry that seems, well, barbaric. I’m not saying that there hasn’t been any progress—we definitely seem to be getting somewhere (slowly) with legalizing same-sex marriage and repealing DADT (“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell“)…
But I’m afraid that we are still so far from young people nationwide just knowing they deserve to be loved, accepted and respected for who they are—whatever race, religion, size, shape and sexual orientation. Completely realizing that it is their basic human right to lead their fullest life as their most genuine self. That’s why, there should be absolutely no question that Tyler’s death and similar incidents are and should be prosecuted as hate crimes.
What are your thoughts?
Alright, I’ve had it! It is time to take a stand on what’s what in the world of lady health, and I need you with me. We have to make sure that we’re not buying into, parroting or perpetuating even more BS about what’s best for our sex lives, boobs, genitalia or hygiene. So without further ado, let’s get a few things straight.
-Douching is a no-no. There has been a lot of hullabaloo about a new Summer’s Eve ad that is titled, “Confidence at Work: How to Ask For a Raise” (see left). They claim they know what can really help you smash that glass ceiling: Manmade contraptions and chemicals used to wash your cooch, of course! …But, no. No, it isn’t. Don’t we all know that? When I heard about it, I thought, “Um, what? Why does that product even exist anymore? Who out there still thinks it is a good idea to douche?” I thought we all knew this by now—douching is generally not recommended, as it can adversely affect the body’s natural balance of bacteria, leading to vaginal infection and other problems. So, yes, this ad is totally ridiculous, but even more wild and crazy to me that there’s even a market for Summer’s Eve. Hey you, Mary Sue! The 21st century called—it wants you to walk away from the douche bag…
-Big mouths speaking out on breastfeeding. Please shut up, Gisele, and anyone else who thinks they know what is best for every single woman. Just stick to what works for you, mm’k?
-Vulva, vulva, vulva! OK, I don’t care if you think it’s school marmy. I’m a writer, so right there, you know why I’m a bit of a stickler for correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. Also, I heart me some correct terminology. And I’m personally super-annoyed when women refer to their own gorgeous genitalia with the wrong name. A perfect example in the news: Kim Kardashian was quoted as saying, “I don’t know, I never looked at [sister Khloe's] vagina. I thought it was, like, a shaved rashy vagina.” Ehhh! Sorry, Kim. You’d need a speculum to really see your sister’s vagina. It’s her red, bumpy bikini line that you must be referring to…or if she gets Brazilians, maybe it’s her vulva. That’s the outer part. I really hope it’s not her vagina. (Ooouchhh.) Bottom-line: If you’re not going to call it by it’s correct name, at least use something fun—like “honey pot” or “lady business.”
-Myths or missing info about birth control. This is a huge umbrella under there is one really nasty storm is going on. One golfball-sized piece of hail… The idea that the Withdrawal Method or “pulling out” is hands-down, no questions asked an express ticket to being called Ma-ma. The reality of it is that coitus interruptus is nearly as effective as condoms. That’s good news for many responsible, monogamous couples who trust one another and are in tune with their bodies. Then there is the missing info (and sometimes straight-up lies) about ParaGard, the copper-T, nonhormonal IUD. Some resources won’t mention it to you if you’re young and unmarried. Some dishonest practitioners will shoo you out of their examining room if you tell them you’re interested in using it instead of the Pill. (Really, you ask? Stay tuned. My sister will report on a personal experience in a future post…) The truth is that the IUD can be inserted in younger women who haven’t had a baby, and it is safe, 99% effective, good for up to 10 years and a stellar choice for birth control especially if you’re in a monogamous relationship.
Ok, now it’s your turn. What totally un-sexy trend would you like to blow the whistle on?
By Carey Purcell, Special Guest Blogger to The Body Logic
In our culture of instant gratification and crash diets, it’s not surprising that reality TV star Bethany Frankel’s post-baby diet secret is to “Taste everything, eat nothing.”
My response can be summed up quite concisely: Ugh.
First, I’d like to address how ridiculous these “post-baby body” stories are. They’re everywhere, and they’re infuriating. Average women shouldn’t hold themselves to these insane standards. They’re just not realistic. And what’s more, they’re not healthy. These movie stars who drop 30 pounds in three weeks have personal chefs, personal trainers, and hours of free time every day to exercise. Who in real life has that luxury? I am not married, have no children and yet, I struggle work an hour of exercise into my life every day. If you don’t have the same resources as these wealthy celebrities, don’t have the same expectations as them.
Second, is it just me, or does Frankel’s advise sound, um, awful, to anyone else? The idea of eating nothing is not my idea of an enjoyable, healthy life, even if it would mean I’d be photographed in a “teeny turquoise two-piece” bathing suit for a trashy tabloid magazine. Why do celebrities, if you consider Frankel to be one, consider food the enemy? Why is it something that has to be avoided at all costs?
Food is not the enemy. As a former Weight Watcher, I struggled with my relationship with food for years and maybe I would have tried Frankel’s method myself. But now, after achieving a healthy weight and maintaining it for six years, I find Frankel’s mantra to be disturbing and dangerous. Food should not avoided and feared. The sensual and nutritional benefits of food should not be hampered by the PhotoShopped covers of grocery store shopping lane tabloids. (Another reason why I love Trader Joe’s! No magazines there!)
One of the crucial lessons I learned while losing weight was that food should be a pleasurable part of life. Food should be enjoyed. Food should be savored. If you want a treat, you can have a treat. You don’t have to run screaming from a piece of chocolate cake. Just work it into your healthy eating plan for the day or even the week by eating a healthy, vegetable-filled meal or add a bit of extra cardio to your workout the next morning. And if you’re going to have that treat, enjoy every bite of it! Don’t feel guilty. Don’t think, “I shouldn’t be eating this.” Take small bites, chew slowly. Savor it. These are “Naturally Thin” rules to live by. It makes me think … if she really wanted to stay true to her healthy living agenda, Bethenny would have been better off saying, “Don’t eat EVERYTHING; just enjoy everything you eat.”
Carey Purcell is self-confessed health junkie with an intense sweet tooth that she satisfies with small pieces of organic dark chocolate and large amounts of fresh fruit. Her workouts vary between yoga, Cuerpaso and simply commuting from the Upper East Side to Tribeca every day. She is the editor of MindBodySanctuary.com and a frequent contributor to the Health and Wellness section of Alternet.org. You can read her writing or contact her at CareyPurcell.com.
The other day, HollywoodLife.com asked its readers, “Do You Wish Angelina Jolie Got More Glam For Her Big ‘Salt’ Premiere?” The post goes onto lament Angie’s failure to craft a “dramatic cat eye…smoky eye or…stunning hairdo” for the red carpet.
When it comes to a big blockbuster premiere or award ceremony, we expect our celebs to put on a show 24/7. For women, that typically means haute couture, red lipstick, false eyelashes or hey, if it’s 2001, even a vial of your husband’s blood will cut it. When the snaps make their way onto the gossip blogs, we’ll be damned if we spend our precious time-wasting time clicking through anything short of certifiable eye candy.
But, uh, doesn’t just about everyone agree that Angelina is visually delectable without any cosmetic bells and whistles? In fact, in photos taken of her at the Salt premiere, her minimalist makeup looks fresh, dewy, summery while still formal. Especially in the shots where she’s laughing, the combo is pretty breathtaking.
Below, The Los Angeles Times got up close in HD with the star:
But it wouldn’t satisfy the blogosphere for the ethereal beauty to simply pile on the MAC. The Snarkmeistering Powers That Be also want us to consider the fact that Angie may be, well, starting to look old! Yep, “The Stir” says she is aging and it shows. While the writer has a point about Angie being so darn skinny, the rest of it makes me think, “Give me a break.” She’s 35. She’s a mother of SIX children! And she’s a world traveling movie star. If she was anyone else, she’d have bags under her eyes the size of the Beverly Center. Interestingly, this writer seems to think that the movie star is wearing too much makeup!
Oy, so which one is it? I mean, really, if Angelina is a dud, then I guess none of us has a fighting chance.
By the way, I’m definitely not one of those gals who falls all over herself when it comes to Angelina. But to many, she’s the holy grail of beautiful. Even though I personally think she could stand to eat more, I acknowledge that she’s still a gorgeous woman who doesn’t need a speck of makeup to look anything less than spectacular. So, Hollywood Life, maybe try nitpicking someone who actually screwed up their makeup or plastic surgery. I hear that the tanorexic cast of Jersey Shore is an easy target these days.
While I appreciate that Dove seems to be vowing that they do as they say and say as they do… something about this still seems fishy. If not affiliated with the agency team, then who? A lone wolf photographer who was randomly hired somehow with absolutely no idea re: the values of the Real Beauty campaign? Someone–if only one who is partially affiliated with the company—seemed to get the wrong idea somehow, and I’d like to know why. But, I’m also a snoopy, feminist journalist who can’t stop asking questions. Maybe I ought to be content with this semi-explanation.
What do you think?
I’m really disappointed in you! Being that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time working in media, being privy to print photography decision-making, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by your recent actions. Still, I’m saddened by the news, according to Jezebel and The Huffington Post, that your recent Craigslist ad reveals your true, not so pretty colors.
The print casting call (below) illustrates that you’re not actually 100% interested in Real Beauty. I’ll give you credit for wanting to photograph women who are real—as in not mannequins, Disney animatrons or Victoria’s Secret models… But, I’m dismayed that you seem to want to feature women who as close to these examples as real comes.
Curvy (you know, whatever that means)? You’ll say “NEXT!” Athletic? Hell no. (Although, I’m not quite sure why you aren’t down with fit chicks.) Women who don’t have “FLAWLESS, beautiful hair and skin”? You won’t even bother. While you were at it, how come you didn’t include a range of acceptable body mass indexes (BMIs) for candidates to adhere to? Maybe that would get you as much press as American Apparel.
Maybe you read this study from back in March, which found that overweight women don’t like looking at thin models or overweight models. My guess is that if you’re factoring these findings in, you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to deliver exactly what sells to American women who you hope will buy your products. Perhaps you’re under the impression that pseudo-real is the best way to go.
But, you know what, Dove? Personally, I’d be thrilled to see you feature women who look like me or my best friend—short, pear or apple-shaped, blemishes, bumps and all. I’m sure I can find more than few other “real women” who agree…???
I met Miley Cyrus in the summer of 2006. She was making her premiere appearance as Hannah Montana at a concert in Disney World. Having been told that she was the “next big thing,” I was to interview her for my then job at a teen entertainment mag. My co-worker and I waited patiently for a Disney publicist to escort us into her trailer, where the tween star-in-training was hanging out with her mom, Tish. All I remember is that she was sort of standoffish… Reserved. Not that she only gave me “yes” or “no” answers like some young stars (cough Rupert Grint cough), but she already seemed jaded, not very trusting. She wasn’t going to share much.
But, let’s take a step back for a second and remember that she was 13, for crying out loud! She was a baby. Yet, she wanted nothing more than to be thrust into fame, to be the next Britney Spears… No, she didn’t tell me that, but it was pretty clear from how she was being marketed that Disney aimed to launch her into mega-fame. Sure, via a squeaky-clean sitcom. But how did Britney start out? Oh, that’s right, the squeaky-clean 1990s version of The Mickey Mouse Club.
Fast forward 4 years later, and now 17 year-old Miley is front-and-center for flaunting her girly parts in public and prancing around in barely-there black leather and thick black eye shadow.
My question: This is news? When Britney was 17, she was skipping around in a skimpy Catholic school girl’s uniform pleading “(Hit Me) Baby One More Time.” Granted, when Britney catapulted to overtly sexy “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” pop star status, she had been out of the public eye for a couple of years. She wasn’t even remembered by many as a truly innocent pre-teen. Miley’s not-so-smooth transition may seem a lot more jarring to parents who just a couple of years ago considered Hannah Montana default harmless viewing for their tweens. Nonetheless, given Disney’s track record of rebellious female tween stars, Miley’s new image shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. (Also, news flash: She was “acting out” and flaunting her fragile teen sexuality via mini-photo scandals on MySpace two-three years ago…)
Says Robyn Silverman, a child and teen development expert who blogs here:
“Why is Miley’s behavior so shocking to parents and fans? As a childhood role model, she became a girl-next-door icon. It can be challenging for parents and fans to watch her new, ‘untamed’ persona stomp out the quirky, reliable, relatable Hannah Montana from the past.’’
Fair enough. But, sorry, it’s not really ever 100% about what the parents want. In pop music, entertainment and Hollywood, it’s about what makes money. And, on a more idealistic note, it should also be about what Miley wants. She’s 17. Like every other girl her age, she’s trying to assert her independence. But she’s still growing up, groping around blindly in the glare of fame and trying to figure out who she is and what inspires her. And too bad for you, Puritan America, part of that is developing her sexual identity. (Yes, a young woman does and should have one of those.) As a pop music aficionado, I’m not a huge fan of her blatantly ripping her new image off of every stale Beyonce, Britney, Christina, Madonna and Gaga stereotype. I’m also not a huge fan of her running around without skivvies. And I’m certainly not advocating that 10 year-olds imitate that behavior. But, it’s not Miley’s responsibility to make that obvious to tween girls. It’s the girls’ parents’ responsibility… (Dr. Silverman offers some tips for parents who want to make a “teachable moment” out of Miley’s recent image switch here.)
Hey, there are even mom bloggers out there who agree that the 17 year-old shouldn’t be subject to catty, critical chatter.
And over all the bruhaha and buzz, what does Miley herself have to say for her “controversial” new album and look? “It’s all about breaking free, being who you are and not being afraid to tell the world to back off sometimes, and do your thing and do what makes you happy.”
I’m all about speaking up for yourself and opening up about what you want, even if that’s for “the world to back off sometimes.” I kinda wish that I had met this outspoken, untamed Miley four years ago. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed by her evolution. And I can’t help but think, You go for it, girl.
Are you surprised by The “New” Miley?
Sometimes, when my best friend and I were bored in college, we’d sit around and click through a trashy Web site you may know as HOT or NOT. The site is basically just a gallery of dopey participants who have uploaded a photo of themselves, with hopes that they’ll score high on the Hot or Not Richter Scale (10 being ScarJo or Ryan Reynolds, 1 being Gollum).
Fast forward 5 years (oof, is that really how long since college?)… Now, the self-declared “Google of online dating,” OK Cupid wants in on the superficial action. According to The Consumerist, several online daters on the site report receiving a message alerting them that they were among the site’s most attractive users! And! They could now start seeing fellow hotties that are held back in a “reserved” section of the site.
The Powers that Be over at OK Cupid told these lucky users:
“We are very pleased to report that you are in the top half of OkCupid’s most attractive users. The scales recently tipped in your favor, and we thought you’d like to know…
Your new elite status comes with one important privilege:
You will now see more attractive people in your match results.
This new status won’t affect your actual match percentages, which are still based purely on your answers and desired match’s answers. But the people we recommend will be more attractive. Also! You’ll be shown to more attractive people in their match results.”
Hrmmm… Let’s take a moment to step back and wrap our heads around this one. What makes some goon over at OK Cupid qualified to pull HOT or NOT ratings out of thin air and decide who is in the top percentile of hotness? Is there some kind of advanced degree in Attractive Human Studies that one might obtain? Furthermore, does this reflect how we are increasingly DOOMED to live out our adult lives as if we were still in junior high, scribbling in slam books? Ugh.
For the record, I met the love of my life by online dating. On JDate. Yeah, he was a total hottie in his photos, but they had been scanned, so the quality was grainy. For all I knew, the shots could have been taken in 1997. Who knows if he’d have passed OK Cupid’s Attractiveness test? Also, if I had based my decision to talk to him on his photos, I probably wouldn’t have been blissfully happy in love for the last three years. And what if someone Behind the Scenes at JDate decided I wasn’t hot enough to be in his search results? We’d be out of luck then, too.
Seems to me, if you’re looking for love and not just eye candy to shtup, serious online daters oughta get out of Cupid’s line of fire…
Thoughts? Do you think it’s just a marketing ploy? Is it totally legit, because we’re all truly superficial anyway? Should hotties only date hotties?
Almost 3,000 women, aged 18-40, were polled. And get this: Three out of four said that their body image woes—be that stretch marks, sagging breasts, too few curves, too many bumps or lumps—prevented them from being intimate, according to the survey. (Oh, also, three out of five ‘fessed to faking the Big O!) Agh!
In reporting these disheartening facts, The Mail hopes to assure readers by quoting a sexpert who basically says, Pat, pat, don’t worry, chickadees. Men aren’t looking at your full-fat cottage cheese thighs anyway! They’re just happy to be getting laid.
This is not helpful. We’ve all heard these stale words of wisdom since we were thirteen. Just stop fussing over your saggy, wobbly, chunky, curvy or non-curvy parts, because hey, he—or hey, maybe it’s she—doesn’t care. (Worse yet, we’ve also gotten really self-loathing advice like, “Just turn off the lights.”)
But trying to eradicate the problem by focusing on how our lover doesn’t care does nothing to address the core issue. So what? We still care! And it’s causing us crazy stress and costing us pleasure and intimacy. So, I think the solution, instead, is loving and accepting ourselves more, and kicking that negative self-talk to the curb! Yea, yea, it’s not that easy. I know.
Board-certified sex therapist Dr. Diana Wiley elaborates, “When a woman becomes fixated on the girth of her thighs or tilt of her breasts or cellulite, she can become unable to communicate what she wants, about her own pleasure. It can be a huge distraction, because you’re not present.”
To axe your Mean Girls inner monologue and get out of your head in bed, Dr. Wiley suggests:
- Thought-stopping. Consciously identifying that you keep thinking to yourself, “Wow, my butt looks so big!” Sometimes, once you’re simply aware that you’re mentally beating yourself up, you can curb it. It also helps to replace the negative self-bullying with positive self-talk. For instance, “My hair looks hot!” or “I really rocked those sexy black heels today.”
- If you’re “spectator-ing,” i.e. mentally sitting on the sidelines and giving yourself a hard time about your appearance, it’s impossible to enjoy yourself. Get out of your head by focusing on the sensations you’re feeling and your breath.
- Still having trouble? Try sensate focus, exercises developed to encourage partners to take turns paying increased attention to their senses (versus a mental thesis on your muffin top).
It’s not easy, I know, but it’s definitely worth it to be kinder to ourselves, especially in bed. Our bodies will thank us.