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When I was 12 and again when I was 18, in the process of losing a significant amount of weight, I’d hear it a lot. “Wow, you’re so thin!” – “Your belly is so flat.” – “Your thighs got so much slimmer!” I’d beam upon hearing those words, but I didn’t know how to respond. I wondered how the person delivering the “compliment” expected me to respond. But I would quickly translate the comment to mean, “You look better / prettier / hotter / more worthy of my attention or affection.” Given that, the only way I could think to reply was with a genuine “Thank you so much!!!”

Every day, interactions like these have young girls and women on the fast-track to associating their weight with their worth. But at least now, there’s a growing conversation about the problem … specifically in Good Girls Don’t Get Fat by Robyn J.A. Silverman, Ph.D. Based on the dissertation she did at Tufts University, the book looks at the various forces that chip away at girls’ body image and explains to adults how they can best influence daughters, nieces, sisters, cousins, students to embrace varied body types and “thrive at any size.” While the book seems to primarily focus on the body image challenges facing adolescent girls and young women aged 16 to 21, I bet — for better or for worse — women of all ages can relate to the “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat” myth.

Below, a powerful trailer for the book that really drives that message home …

I love that Dr. Silverman doesn’t seem to think it’s fair to place the blame solely on anorexic actresses on primetime teen soaps and reality shows; damaging “Be/look/act skinny!” cover lines on magazine covers; Hollywood or even the fashion industry.  As she notes, we’re also to blame for our daughters’ and our mothers’, friends’, our sisters’, our daughter-in-laws’ poor body image and low self-esteem. So what can we do?

Today, tell a woman you love why she’s beautiful … inside. Tell her that she’s witty, she’s brave, she’s charming, she’s brilliant. She might just start to feel like a rock star.

“Girls who see themselves in terms of strengths, who feel supported by those they love and have come to a place of acceptance about their bodies, are the ones who flourish,” writes Dr. Silverman.

Are you flourishing?

 

 

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Dan and I got back from vacation in San Francisco on Saturday. In addition to the amazing photographs, delicious food (Humphry Slocombe ice cream = nommm), scenic landscapes and unforgettable wine (Gundlach Bundschu = mmm), the trip also delivered serious peace of mind. One reason: I went to the Owning Pink Center as a patient of Dr. Lissa Rankin’s, who you may also know as the author of the book that comes out today (and which you should own ASAP!) What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend (St. Martin’s). See, the thing is, she actually is my very good friend. That’s just one reason why I wanted her to also be my doctor, because last month, I realized that I’ve been grappling with hormone-related symptoms for far too long…

Rewind to two days after my 27th birthday. My regular OB/GYN—who had ben a piece of cake to deal with when I was on the dreaded Pill—began to strike me as standoff-ish. Her in-and-out in 5 minutes flat attitude wasn’t going to cut it. I decided that I needed to sit down with someone wise, compassionate and interested in treating me holistically—as a whole person, not just a handful of acute symptoms. Enter Lissa.

This is one doctor who doesn’t wear a white coat and stand and preach while you sit and listen. On Thursday, Lissa wore a purple dress while we sat in her cozy office’s plush chairs and discussed my sex life, my stress level, my blood work and my fertility. It’s definitely easier to open up about all of these topics when your doctor is your friend. But even if she isn’t, you’d probably feel immediately at ease simply because her office is a warm, welcoming place.

We weren’t more than 20 minutes into our session—Lissa devotes an hour to each patient—when she looked at my labs that I had done in March with my NJ endocrinologist. “Wow, your TSH level!”

I said, “Wait, what?”

In the moment, I was so focused on Nonclassical Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia as the epicenter of all of my ailments that I couldn’t remember what TSH was. Lissa explained that it’s Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone, which the pituitary gland overproduces when the thyroid is sluggish in producing thyroxine, a metabolism-stimulating hormone. And while my levels are in the realm of what clinicians consider “normal,” Lissa noted that most people at my level tend to not feel very well.

Fatigue = not OK. (Image via obo-bobolina/Flickr)

Then, she asked me some follow-ups… How is my quality of sleep? I heard myself say, “Bad.” (Whoa, I thought to myself! I never really said that out loud before, but I guess my sleep isn’t really what I want it to be… I want to be able to fall asleep and stay asleep better. I told her this.) How is my skin? Combo/itchy sometimes, too. How is my energy level? Poor. I never met a nap I didn’t want to take. Just about any time of the day. I’m especially tired around 3 p.m. daily. And by the time I get home from work, I just want to throw myself on the couch. I’ve always chalked that up to stress, sitting all day at work, the wrong or nonexistent snacks perhaps. But, no, it’s more than that. Do I wake up feeling energized? Rarely. Have I had a ridiculously hard time trying to lose a small amount of weight? YES! Does anyone in my family have a history of thyroid problems? (It can be genetic.) Yes, yes, YES. My Grandma E, who I am pretty sure I take after biologically, was diagnosed with hypothyroidism at…get this…age 27!

Soon, Lissa concluded that yep, I’m symptomatic of hypothyroidism, or a sluggish, underactive thyroid. Treatment could get the gland chugging like it should, in turn, bolstering my energy. Not to mention the other symptoms… The thyroid and metabolism influence so many other body processes. In fact, hypothyroidism can prevent effective weight loss, cause weight gain, cause thinning of the hair, increased sensitivity to cold, muscle aches, dry skin, etc. I’d been wondering why I had been dealing with various symptoms – I had been wishing and hoping for answers. But none came, until I saw Lissa as a patient.

I read later that many people with thyroid problems don’t have any stand-out symptoms other than feeling “off” overall. So why isn’t it something that most doctors regularly look at or take into consideration more frequently? Why do numbers on lab work have to be astronomically high or deliriously low for them to do anything for us? Lissa explained that “normal” hormone levels are based on a given healthy population; most docs won’t treat you unless you’re in the lower 5th percentile or upper 95th percentile. But she’s found that patients may not feel very well when they’re on one side of the extreme (say, 60th-90th percentile). And they do fantastically with treatment.

Image via Son of Groucho/Flickr

I’m the opposite of Rx happy, but when Lissa suggested treating me with bioidentical (meaning the body can actually recognize the drug as identical to what the body produces) thyroid hormones, I could have shouted, “Sign me up!” It was like she found a missing puzzle piece, and I was stepping back to look at the completed masterpiece…

…Well, not quite. There’s still the NCAH, which I plan to work on with Lissa’s naturopath/partner, Lisa Brent, N.D. And other puzzle pieces that are floating out there. But I am confident now that I’ll find them, and that I have the support I need now to feel fully vital.

I’ve said it before, but I feel more strongly than ever now that we all deserve doctors who will will treat us as whole people, not just numbers on a chart. We deserve to be heard and to have our concerns validated. We deserve doctors who will look out for us as if they were our best friend. If that doesn’t describe your doctor, and you have concerns about any aspect of well-being … I strongly encourage you not to settle and to keep searching until you find the right doctor. She or he may help you find answers to questions that you didn’t know you’ve been asking all along.

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I admit—I tried on approximately 3 outfits this morning before settling on a bright turquoise and pink dress that I picked mostly because it was sans stain, sans wrinkles and when I looked at myself in it, I didn’t feel like I was walking through a hall of carnival mirrors. Blame hormones, our boyfriend for throwing a dry-clean only top into the dryer or a full moon (we’re feeling the effects of one right now, btw). Whatever the case, sometimes we just don’t like how we look. Sadly, according to one survey, at least 80% of women are unhappy with what they see when they look at themselves in the mirror. Seems like we could all use a self-confidence pick-me-up…or several. Here are 10 quotes to inspire us to love our reflections—and ourselves—a little more today.

1. Margaret Cho – “In our culture, we don’t see people out there with normal-looking bodies. We should all feel beautiful. If you feel beautiful, you will be more political, more active in trying to stand up for yourself, you’ll be in more control of your life, have more sense of power over what you’re doing.”

2. Drew Barrymore – “God made a very obvious choice when He made me voluptuous; why would I go against what he decided for me? My limbs work, so I’m not going to complain about the way my body is shaped.”

3. Gloria Steinem – “Each individual woman’s body demands to be accepted on its own terms.”

4. Christina Hendricks – “I guess my mom raised me right. She was very celebratory of her body. I never heard her once say, “I feel fat.” Back when I was modeling, the first time I went to Italy I was having cappuccinos every day, and I gained 15 pounds. And I felt gorgeous! I would take my clothes off in front of the mirror and be like, Oh, I look like a woman. And I felt beautiful, and I never tried to lose it, ’cause I loved it.”

5. Lucille BallLove yourself first and everything falls into line.”

6. Lady Gaga – “When I say to you, there is nobody like me, and there never was, that is a statement I want every woman to feel and make about themselves.”

7. Sophia Loren – “Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.”

8. Amber Riley (from Glee) – “You’re not your dress size, you’re not your shoe size, you’re not your pants size. If I’m going to wear a name tag, it’s going to say ‘Amber Riley,’ not ‘Fat Girl’!”

9. Laila Ali – “By being an athlete, I have uncovered so many other ways to express my beauty. Being a strong, fearless woman makes me feel beautiful.

10. Dr. Lissa Rankin – “Believe in yourself. Love yourself. Be whole. You know you already are.”

What makes you feel beautiful?

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Slater breaks free! (Photo via NY Daily News)

Yesterday, my friend suggested that I blog about Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who, on Monday, went coo-coo upon being instigated by a passenger who dropped luggage on his head and then (in stereotypical New Yorker jerkola fashion) chose to respond with a slew of obscenities—you know, as opposed to a humane apology. According to various news sources, “Slater got on the loud speaker, told those aboard to ‘go f*** themselves,’ grabbed a beer from the galley, deployed the emergency chute and ran into the terminal. His car was parked at an employee lot and he drove home.”

Slater wasn’t the only camel who, on Monday, had a straw break its back. Also, on Monday, this chick named “Jenny” quit her job via dry erase board and photographs. She called out her boss for logging more hours on Farmville than on his work. She said she put up with his chauvinistic shenanigans because she “wanted to be a broker.” But in the end, she realized that she just couldn’t put up with his bad breath and a soul-sucking assistant job any longer. The story launched a flurry of Facebook, Gchat status and Twitter banter about the amazingness of “Jenny.”

When I first heard both of these stories, I laughed, and I did feel like there was more to be said about these news sensations than, “They sure have cajónes!” But I didn’t really see how the story could fit into The Body Logic‘s theme. Then it hit me: Duh. Slater and “Jenny” could be the poster kids for, “Beauty is being yourself.” No, they’re not Zen, body peace, “let’s all sing Kumbaya” examples. They’re just everyday people saying, “This is who I am. I’m over pretending to be something I’m not. Now, I’m doing what’s right for me. Screw you guys, I’m going home!” And because no one was really harmed in either Slater or “Jenny”‘s exploits, I think it’s fine to fully applaud them for breaking free.

But hold up. This just in: TheChive.com reported that “Jenny” is Elyse Porterfield…an actress. And the whole “I’m quitting and exposing my boss as a chauvinist with halitosis” thing was a hoax. Oh well. As it turns out “Jenny” wasn’t actually being herself. She was just pretending to be someone who was. But I think there’s still merit to her tale, because like Slater, The Fake Jenny and TheChive.com inspired everyday people to think, “Hey, we’re also mad as Hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!

The lesson here isn’t necessarily that we should all deploy emergency chutes or buy dry erase boards and quit our jobs. It’s that we can and MUST do something this week—and every week!—to honor our passions, our interests, our ambitions. We can speak up for ourselves. Ask for credit for our ideas. Give ourselves the gift of “me” time (you know, like, taking lunch). Why? Because no matter what small or grand gesture you make to bust free of that society/work/life-imposed box, as long as you’re being true to you … you’re gonna be just fine.

"Jenny" knows it's gonna be OK. (Photo via TheChive.com)

On Tuesday, July 6, my sister and I saw Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball. Being big enough fans to call ourselves “little monsters,” Emmie and I had greatly anticipated this day and this show for months. And, believe me, Gaga did not disappoint. Next time (yes, I will pay to see this woman perform more than once), we will have to splurge a bit to get up closer, because we had a pretty dead-on side view. (Hey, at least we could see her exits and entrances, which made for a “behind-the-scenes” experience!)

Queen of The Monster Ball (Photo via InspiredByTheLady.tumblr.com)

 

Gaga/Stefani Germanotta embodies a lot of what I believe in and try to touch on through my TBL writing. She’s sexually open, political, outspoken, empowered and bold. She’s confident–but modest, she has recently owned the label of feminist, she’s been through hard times with her physical/emotional/mental health and come out on top. Many of these themes play throughout her whimsical, outrageous, sexy, poignant performance. And because of that, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface of the experience. That’s why I thought it’d be fun to break down the…5 Lessons Learned from The Monster Ball:

5. Everyone’s insecure. Sadly, this often compromises our emotional and sexual well being.

The Monster Ball opens with the silhouette of Gaga behind a giant, green, laser lit video screen, behind which she performs “Dance in the Dark.” By waiting to present herself fully to the audience, Gaga is surely toying with her audience’s sense of anticipation, but she’s also making a statement about insecurity. As Gaga told Ann Powers back in December: “The record is about a girl who likes to have sex with the lights off, because she’s embarrassed about her body. She doesn’t want her man to see her naked. She will be free, and she will let her inner animal out, but only when the lights are out…These lyrics are a way for me to talk about how I believe women and some men feel innately insecure about themselves all the time. It’s not sometimes, it’s not in adolescence, it’s always.”

4. There are so many definitions of ‘sexy.’

Bloody Gaga

 

At some point between smearing blood makeup over her chest, wearing a clear rubber nun costume and laying between the legs of one of her bisexual male dancers, Gaga shouted, “Do you think I’m sexy?! Because I think you’re sexy!” When it comes to being a little monster, you don’t have to be clad in black leather from head to toe, wearing 5 ft. platforms and fishnets, blonde or painfully thin to be sexy. You just have to be a free…bitch.

3. No matter how much Fame you have, you can’t go it alone.

The show’s Wizard of Oz-ish storyline follows Gaga from her Lower East Side roots to Brooklyn, Central Park and eventually, to The Monster Ball. You could say it’s a mishmashed freaky-deaky love letter to NYC. And Gaga, always effusive about her devoted fans, paid special tribute to her hometown when she said, “Without New York, I would not exist.” She also praised her pops, stating before her performance of “Speechless,” “Of all the drunk men in my life, Dad, you’re my favorite.” I also adored when Gaga sang  “You and I,” a new rock-and-roll ballad that was supposedly written about Stef getting back together with her ex-bf, Luc Carl. The bottom-line: When making your dreams come true, prioritizing love is a must.

2. Fantasy is central to a life worth living.

Between songs, Gaga talked about how bullshit can get you pretty far and admittedly, she’s “the most delusional bitch on earth.” Thank God for that, because a healthy dose of over-the-top theatrics, escapism, fantasy and indulgence—themes thread throughout The Monster Ball—makes anyone richer.

Me (left) Em (right) after we had our asses kicked by Gaga

 

 

1. Beauty is being your freaky or comfortable, half-naked or costumed-to-the-max, sexy or grungy, drunken or sober self.

Em and I were sure that we’d be plain Janes compared to the little monsters who were dressed up in elaborate “Telephone”/futuristic Russian brothel/disco stick tributes. (Even though Em bravely picked up a hot metallic silver body suit and paired it with her black band-aid mini.) Turns out, for every pair of fans wrapped in caution tape or sporting sunglasses made of cigarettes, there were twice as many girls in cute, comfy sundresses and flip flops or sexy heels and guys in jeans and Gaga image-adorned tees. No matter how they decided to flaunt it that night, all the fans were gorgeous in their own right.

As you can tell, The Monster Ball made me love Gaga even more than I did before, as if that were possible! I can’t wait to see her again–hopefully in February when she returns to the city that adores her as much as she loves and appreciates it.

If you’re also a little monster—or even if you’re not—what have you learned from Lady Gaga?

 

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Gina Guarino has been overweight for the majority of her 27 years. It’s been a long, sometimes uphill journey, but she recently lost 85 pounds by following Weight Watchers and adopting a fitness regimen that her high school Phys Ed teacher once told her she’d never be able to do. Nonetheless, Gina still copes daily with her body image, weight-loss plateaus and staying on track. Her successes and her struggles are what makes her, in my opinion, an everyday heroine. Healthy weight loss and positive body image go hand-in-hand. But for many of us, like Gina, who have battled both for most of our lives, weight and body image harmony will always be a work in progress. Gina talked about her personal progress with The Body Logic…

The Body Logic: How long have you struggled with your weight and relationship to food?

Gina: My weight issues started as far back as I can remember, since I was probably 6 years old. I was always eating seconds or thirds (and trying to keep up with my father and two older brothers), so the weight just kept packing on and packing on. Because my mom tried to control my eating habits, I would just go to bed so hungry all the time. But then, I would actually hide food under my bed, in my closet, in my dresser, so that when I went to bed I had comfort food, and I went to sleep happy. I even remember getting up when my parents went to bed and very quietly I would go into the kitchen and make Toll House chocolate chip cookie batter (over time, I memorized it and got very good at being quiet and very clean, so it was not noticeable) and just sitting up in bed watching movies and TV in my bedroom until the whole thing was finished. Food was a big comfort for me back then, it was really my only true friend.

What were your first attempts to lose weight?

Gina: In junior high, I experimented with weight loss pills of all kinds, laxatives, a friend’s mother’s prescription of Fen-phen, and I also went as far as becoming bulimic to lose the weight. I remember joining my very first real weight loss plan the summer of my junior year: Richard Simmons. It was rough to stick to, and I lost about 35 pounds just in time for my senior prom. But I don’t remember even being happy with the weight loss. I was still a size 14, which to me back then was obese compared to other girls at school.

How did your struggles progress into adulthood?

Gina: After high school, I worked as a waitress at night and on the theatre circuit, auditioning during the day. The weight gain started right away. I was eating at work constantly, and I was eating on the go much more frequently, as well. I became a fast food junkie. Before I knew it, I was 20 years old, and I had ballooned up to about 210 pounds and I was a size 18/20.

My best friend and I decided to join Weight Watchers. I was very dedicated, and I ended up losing 47 pounds. For the first time, I was in a size 10. When we both had gotten comfortable with the program, we decided to stop paying every week and do it on our own. Bad idea. Within a couple months, the weight started packing on again. Soon, I was bursting out of my 18/20 and had to buy size 22/24 pants.

Was there a “a-ha” moment, a turning point that turned things around for you?

Gina: I was in a production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, and I remember that costume week was the worst week of my life. They could not find any costumes to fit me. My doctor said that I was borderline diabetic, and my weight was a whopping 287 pounds. I had a meltdown and decided something had to be done. I decided to give Weight Watchers another try; and this time, I was even more dedicated than the first time. I began losing, and after I hit the 50 pound mark, I just remember thinking, I don’t want to stop now, I can do so much more, and I accomplishing so much. I will never be the weight I was ever again. And from that point on, I stuck to the plan.

At her highest weight vs. 50 pounds down

What do you like most about Weight Watchers, compared to other plans you’d tried?

Gina: I could buy my own at the store if I wanted to, I could still eat out, not feel I was on a “diet” and I could still cheat here and there and have snacks when I felt the urge. Weight Watchers just seemed so much more natural than the others, something I could follow for life and not just for a few months or a year.

How have you dealt with weight-loss “pleateaus” during your Weight Watchers journey?

Gina: I have plateaued twice. I was hardly working out in those first 50 pounds—it was all just eating right and cutting my portion sizes. I decided after about two months of no loss, I had to do something. So I started doing aerobics at home, going to the gym sometimes and walking. That helped jump start my metabolism again to break the plateau and lose another 37 pounds.

The second plateau happened to me about five months ago. My body just stopped losing all together. But a friend of mine who has lost over 60 pounds was on this running kick, and she really wanted me to start running with her. I’ve always hated running—did not want to run unless I was being chased. But she told me it will help and encouraged me to just give it a chance.

One afternoon, I joined my friend for a run, and I told her to cut me some slack and take it easy. We literally would just sprint from point A to point B and then walk, sprinted then walked. I didn’t exactly enjoy it or want to keep doing it. I just knew running wasn’t for me. In high school, my P.E. teacher told me that “fat girls can’t run,” and ever since then, I believed it.

Even though you hated it, what made you decide to keep trying?

Gina: My friend told me that she was going to do a half marathon. She really wanted me to just try to do a mile straight through without stopping, staying at an even pace. I only agreed, because she was my friend, and I knew I needed exercise anyway. So, we went to this indoor track, and I had my iPod, and I said to her, “One mile, then I am done.” So, I was running around this track at a good pace and listening to music, feeling a little winded here and there and walking a bit, and before I knew it, my friend turned the corner and held up 5 fingers. “5 miles!” I was shocked! I just ran 5 miles? Oh my God?! So, I figured that since I wasn’t dying, I could keep going. Before I knew it, she said, “7 miles!” Except for the fact my body could hardly move the next day, I felt great! I became addicted to using an outdoor track that’s not far from my house. I enjoyed being outside in the nice weather, while doing something wonderful for myself and my well being.

How has your body image changed since you’ve lost weight and started running?

Gina: Well, I will be honest. I still see myself as a fat girl. There are still times when I walk into a clothing store and head straight for the plus sizes like I am on automatic pilot, cause that is still in my head. I do know I look better than before, and I feel so much healthier, but I still have a really hard time appreciating the work I have done and looking in the mirror and saying, “I’m happy.”

Gina: Then & Now

What do you think about using the scale as a measure of success?

Gina: Scales are the devil. When I was a dedicated Weight Watcher, I only weighed myself at my meeting, once a week and didn’t even own a scale at home, and I had no problems. The minute I decided to do it on my home with a home scale, it made me go nuts. I found myself weighing myself when I got up, after work, after I ate, before I went bed. Every chance I got! After a couple months of that, I knew I had to either hide the scale or get rid of it. I told my boyfriend to hide it and only bring it out to me once a week. The best thing I ever did! I have come to the realization that the number on the scale should not bring happiness. I need to take my own advice, and be more happy with how my clothes fit than what number I see on the scale. Success should be measured on how you feel, not what size you wear, how much you weigh – but, it’s hard to think that way with how programmed we are to look at the number.

What keeps you motivated to stay on track, to keep running and pushing yourself even further?

Gina: How I want to see myself and how I want to feel in the future. I don’t want to be 30 in the next couple years and be unhappy with everything I wear and every time I look in the mirror. I also think about how unhappy I was when I was almost 300 pounds and how I never want to get that big again. Feeling healthy and more vibrant helps, too. Also, I’m motivated by friends around me who have lost a significant amount of weight and are working hard toward their goal.

What would you recommend to a girlfriend who is frustrated with her weight or is struggling with a plateau?

Gina: I would suggest digging deep to figure out where the weight gain came from. What makes you eat at 1 a.m.? What makes you go up for the second or third plate? There is a lot of self-searching that comes along with losing weight. It’s more than just changing your eating habits. It’s changing your life for the rest of your life – a complete lifestyle change. And you also have to make sure that you are ready for it and that you want it for you. No one can make you or help you lose weight but you.

Struggling with a plateau is hard. What I can offer is that you can’t nuts over the gain-lose-gain-lose process, it comes with the territory. You just need to keep pressing forward. Do not let it bring you down and hinder your success.

You can read more from Gina on her personal blog, Are We Ever Thin Enough?

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Circa 2001, I began a personal love affair with the life and times of Carrie Bradshaw & Co. (Thanks for the ripped DVDs, Hemant!) Even though I dreamed of working as a writer at a magazine one day, my idealistic 17 year-old self knew that an Upper East Side walk-in closet filled with Manolos and DVF wrap dresses on a freelancer’s budget was fairy tale and legend. Fantasy aside, the show was woven with glistening truthful threads on relationships, men, dating, love, female sexuality, self-image, self-esteem, oh yeah, and sex. I would credit the show for encouraging me to own and assert my needs and desires: a gratifying sex life, a meaningful, successful career and true love. Oh yeah, and to someday also be a mom. Thanks to SATC, women nation-wide discovered or were reminded that these needs didn’t have to be mutually exclusive.  

Word on the street is that the Sex & the City franchise has lost its “sparkle.” That with the big screen sequel that hit theaters last week, it’s no longer empowering—

it’s just saggy, sad and filled with wrinkly, menopausal women “pumped full of Botox and hormones.” One friend told me that it was a monumental fail. Another said that she wished for those two hours of her life back.

It appears that many of these haters fall into several categories. (Warning: A few spoilers ahead.)

-They are menopause-misogynists, set out to bash the film if only because it is carried (no, no pun intended here) by successful, sexy women who happen to be well over 35. These critics are having a field day picking apart how the cast looks so friggin’ old and by default, of course, unattractive. When they make Oceans 113, no one’s going to say anything about George Clooney looking like the Cryptkeeper, but SATC2 is fair game. As Jezebel puts it, “It’s rare to see a writer attack a male lead with this kind of vitriol. Does the “leatheriness” of her skin really make the movie that much more unbearable?” Oh yeah, bear in mind that the Men-Hate-SJP factor also plays a role in this catty free-for-all.

They jumped on the hater bandwagon and drew the conclusion that the film sucked well before the credits rolled. Case in point: Newsweek‘s review decided to go with the popular argument that the flick turned the original series’ the feminist vibe totally backasswards: “The characters go from trailblazers to conformists, suddenly telling us that work and child-rearing actually don’

t mix…” False. Yes, in the beginning, we see Miranda quit her job…and leave behind a boss who is chauvinistic and abusive. I was completely empowered by that plot point, because being a feminist means being able to say, “I deserve better!” in the work place. That’s exactly what happens here. At the end of the film, our favorite attorney is working for an employer who appreciates her, and she’s incredibly happy.

This, to me, is the biggest fail. A PhotoShop disaster, courtesy of New Line Cinema. Guess what? We like how they REALLY look.

 

-They weren’t fans in the first place. I’ve always been ahead of myself in the maturity department, but I’m starting to feel like I can relate more to 52 year-old Samantha, shown slathering estrogenic yams on her inner arm, than to some of the tween, teen and even college-aged viewers who are flocking to the theaters to see the big screen versions of Sex. Yep, some of them (like my 21 year-old sister) watched the series on DVD or TBS. And they get it. (Well, the TBS viewers get like 85% of it.) But, there are a ton of them who have only seen the films… Of course, lots o’ critics for big media outlets are straight, likely old, white men, who never cared for the show in the first place either. In other words, if you haven’t been aboard the Sex ship for 12 years, you aren’t emotionally invested in the plights of Carrie/Charlotte/Miranda/Samantha and simply do not get it. Much like Twilight, this is a flick made for fans.

A flashback that only a fan could love. (Photo via focusonstyle.com)

 

They’re mistaking SATC2 for a documentary about women in NYC. Like this great review on Women & Hollywood says: “This movie is not a hard look at reality. It’s a summer escape movie just like all the movies that blow shit up.  You don’t think that guys who go see Iron Man have any expectation of becoming like Iron Man (except in their fantasies), just like I don’t expect to ever be able to fit in or wear a Versace skirt. Women know this is not real, in fact 76% of the people (mostly women) who took a survey on fandango.com look at the film as a “great escape.”

It’s true. The beauty of the series and its audience was that we loved the friendship among the four leading ladies, and we loved the web of whimsy and reality that the show wove. Yes, there’s escapism and fantasy galore: a first-class “magic carpet ride” to Abu Dhabi (as played by Morocco), a romantic run-in with an ex halfway around the globe, as always over-the-top fashion, a gay wedding featuring Liza Minelli… (All brought to you via creator Michael Patrick King, who said he wanted to take his audience on a vacation you maybe can’t afford right now.) OK, OK, and there are also somewhat cringe-inducing antics, puns and questionable stereotypes. But there were threads of truth, too. Carrie recalls, “I was this girl running around New York City like a crazy person, looking for love…” and I actually teared up. That was me too! When Miranda and Charlotte talk about how hard it is to be a mom, I’ll bet plenty of my pals-who-are-also-mamas can relate! (At least that’s the impression I get from their sleepy Facebook statuses.) When, in the middle of a crowded marketplace in the Middle East, Samantha scrambles to pick up a spilled purse full of condoms, and screams, “YES, I have sex!” the audience I was sitting in leapt up, roared and applauded. Seems to me that a flick that brings women together to celebrate their sexuality and friendships will never really fail. In fact, sign me up for round 3.

Further reading that falls in the non-haters camp here.

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Last night, Jezebel posted a story about Therese Shechter’s new documentary-in-progress called How to Lose Your Virginity. Not only did the topic strike a personal chord with me (in college, I put my ‘still-a-virgin-at-21’ history out there and actually won an award for it), but it’s a hot button social/feminist topic. As Jezebel points out, we’re living in a world of debate on abstinence-only education, obsession with weddings and marriage culture (think Say Yes to the Dress marathons?), pop culture-turned-porn, Disney stars sporting purity rings and the most popular teen book-to-film franchise, Twilightputting the big V-word on a pedestal. And last year, author and Feministing.com exec ed Jessica Valenti wrote a book called The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women. Shechter is taking the discussion to the big screen.

From the film’s website:

The true target is idealized, fetishized virginity: its historical role in U.S. culture, its power to mold and damage a girl’s self-image and self-worth; its commodification as something manufactured, sold, given away, taken. On [her] quest [Shechter] engages abstinence ideologues, hymen specialists, sex educators, porn producers and teenage girls, to dig beneath the no-win double-message of our hook-up culture that cynically encourages virginity but sells promiscuity.

"If you say you haven't, you're a prude. If you say you have you're a slut."

 

 This is a film that needs to be seen. There’s a huge danger in placing so much value on virginity, as it directly pushes young women into “the trap” that Ally Sheedy’s character describes in The Breakfast Club (basically, you can’t win: you’re a virgin and you’re pure or you do it and you’re a slut). It worries me that young women who “save themselves for marriage” for whatever reason (likely their religion) are putting their emotional, physical and mental well-being directly in the hands of one man…but not until after they have vowed, “’til death do us part.” Even more eerily, how about these girls who attend Purity Balls in order to pledge to their fathers that they’ll remain innocent until another guy is in the picture? For them, “Girl Power,” must be a thing of the distant Spice Girls and Sex & the City-when-it-was-on-TV past.

You can check out the trailer for How to Lose Your Virginity here and below, a clip, featuring Susan Schulz, the former editor-in-chief of CosmoGirl!, as well as high school students, a sex educator and a doctor. 

The project needs support to make it off the ground, so I encourage you to do what you can to help the filmmakers. For more info, you can visit the site.  It would be pretty sweet to let Hollywood execs know that there’s a new chick flick in town, one that really has something to say.

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I had planned to write about how every so often, along comes a “fat day,”  or an “in a funk” day or a “why did I hit a traffic jam, then spill coffee all over my car and my dress, etc.” day… But what a downer would that be!? Especially as a first post to go with my shnazzy new look here at The Body Logic. I guess it’s just that this whole week so far has been quirky—emotionally, physically, mentally. A mini-storm of stress. But, on weeks like these, I try to think like my grandma Edith (I call her “E”), who celebrated her 90th birthday last week.

Grandma E & me on May 5, 2010

 

To get what I mean, you have to know a few things about E.

-She always looks at the bright side of any situation. In fact, she pretty much abhors stress and conflict. (Obviously, it’s impossible to steer clear of either, but if anyone is capable of minimizing it to the max, my grandmother is.)

-She’s also a social butterfly. It took me three nights in a row to get ahold of her to have a “happy birthday” chat. When she answered last night, I told her about my several attempts and she said, “Well, I must have been on the phone!” It’s true. My grandmother’s phone has been ringing off the hook all month long, because…

-She might be the most popular senior citizen in all of Southern Florida. She has as many friends and loving family members calling her as she does years on this planet. Probably more. And she has reminded me that this has a lot to do with her meticulous correspondence habits. She’s always been a strong supporter of Hallmark, stationery, returning phone calls and making plans with friends to play Mahjong or see a movie.

-And last but not least, she makes out-of-this-world matzo ball soup.

There’s no doubt that her optimistic outlook, outgoing personality (and potentially the soup) have supplied her with a youthful spark.

Around the time I turned 25, I started thinking that maybe instead of freaking out about nearing 30 (and some day 40, 50, etc.), I’d adopt a sunnier outlook on the passing years. They were only going to keep passing, after all. I thought, with each birthday, I’ll be wiser, more experienced, more able, evolved, etc. Growing older shouldn’t be something to fear, but to embrace and be proud of. My Grandma E has proved that it’s possible to just keep getting better.

Derek Hough & Nicole Scherzinger took the prize last night while Grandma E cheered them on (Photo via L.A. Times)

 

E and I had to hang up after talking for about 7 minutes, because she said, “I can’t believe you aren’t watching Dancing with the Stars! It’s the final, and there are three couples left. I have to see who wins! So, can we talk later?” Hahaha. Well, while I may not keep up with DWTS as faithfully as E, my parents have always referred to me as “Little Edith.” Even though she’s 4’10”-ish (a whole inch shorter than I am!), it’s clear that I certainly have big shoes to fill. I hope and aspire to be as buoyant as my grandmother…especially at 90 years old.

More buoyant news: My grandma, Rosalee (who I call Nonnie) turned 84 yesterday, so I’m wishing a very happy birthday to both of my grandmothers, who have taught me the reciprocal value of health and happiness. I love you so much.

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Because I’m enjoying vacation with my family in Key West and Fort Lauderdale, Florida this week, I may be a lot less attentive to TBL than usual. However, I just met a local artisan who inspired me to write about following your heart through your art…in order to be true to yourself. 

Hi, I'm delicious. (Key Lime Pie from The Blond Giraffe)

So inbetween frozen key lime margaritas and key lime pie (my fave), it would be my pleasure to introduce you to her. Stay tuned! xo

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