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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?
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.
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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.
Although I only considered being a Brownie for about a minute and a half in third grade, I always admired The Girl Scouts of the USA. (And not just because I grew up watching Troop Beverly Hills. Oh, how I wished I could have had an awesome ’80s perm and done “The Freddie.”) But twenty years earlier, my mom earned her badges. Whenever one of us kids would need a random object (think a granola bar on a long car ride or a Swiss army knife to cut off itchy clothing tags), Mom would whip it out and say, “See, I’m a good girl scout!” That she is. And so are these ladies representing the organization by raising awareness about girls and body image. Below, the org’s new PSA, featuring Beverly Johnson‘s daughter.
A few more facts for thought, from the GS.org site:
-Although about two-thirds (65%) correctly identify themselves as being either normal weight or overweight, one-third of all girls have a distorted idea about their weight. (Girl Scout Research Institute)
-59% of girls report dissatisfaction with their body shape, and 66% express the desire to lose weight. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Clearly, we have a problem on our hands. But, it’s awesome to see that the Girl Scouts are applying their masterful problem-solving skills to do something about it! They’re also using their mad marketing genius to sell us lots and lots of cookies, which I argue also contribute to overall happiness. Mmm, frozen Thin Mints…
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.
Let’s get something straight, shall we? Emaciated women are not healthy and, therefore, in my opinion, neither beautiful nor aspirational.
Perusing the headlines this morning, I came upon this Huffington Post piece, in which journalist Stephanie Marcus photographically documents the mannequins in the storefront of the Club Monaco on the Upper East Side. One extremely disturbing shot, illustrating the mannequins’ “Help, I haven’t eaten since 2007″ spines:
Whose delusional idea was this? They should be fired. This not only has my blood boiling, but it’s got my wheels spinning about the other ways in which retail stores discriminate against the average U.S. woman who wears a size 14 and neglect petite (I mean short—not size 00) women.
As a 4’11” size 4-6 who wears a 5 1/2 shoe and is not an anomaly – here are few things I’d like to point out that particularly annoy the Hell out of me:
-EXPRESS. Try as you might to be the #1 purveyor of professional dress pants for the American businesswoman, you’re doing a disservice for the average one. The average American woman is 5 ft. 4 inches tall. As much as I adore the fit of your “Editor”-style dress pants, I’ve been distraught for years that the ‘petite’ cut only comes in solid black. You make them in light grey with thin blue pinstripes and a pretty “earth” brown, but those only come in the regular length. (Which creates about 2 feet of pooled fabric at my feet.) Apparently, shorter women are color blind…or have more money to shell out on alterations?
-Steve Madden. Why must you make adorable shoes, but then refuse to size them any smaller than a size 6? I know that my size 5.5 foot is a couple of sizes smaller than the average woman’s, which is what? 7? But petite women want to wear cute shoes, too. But you know what, your shoes aren’t exactly comfortable. So maybe I’m better off.
-Forever 21. Welcome to the Twilight Zone where a size 10 is plus!
-Everywhere. Please make shorts for women with real thighs. And enough with the skinny jeans. They only look good on about 2% of women. Also, in the fall, I will become annoyed again with the fact that many shoe manufacturers insist on creating gorgeous knee-high boots…but only for women with twig-thin calves.
Here’s what some other regular women had to say:
“As a short person and not a very skinny person, I wish there were more exact sizing like with men’s pants.” -Julie*, 25, 5’2″, size 8
“Old Navy‘s sizing is getting disturbingly big. Even an XS top can be too big on me, which is ridiculous! And yet, I can barely squeeze into a size 8 pair of jeans. Also, regular jeans seem to be cut length-wise for women who are 5’8″!” -Katie, 25, 5’4″, size 6
“It would be nice to have an inbetween Misses and Women’s [Plus] size. For women who are short, with a big stomach and boobs like me.” -Karen*, 56, 5’2″, size 16
*=Names have been changed, per the source’s request.
Fashion Retail America, we know you’re just all about the bottom line. So I really don’t get why you’re more interested in cutting your clothes for and idealizing a 5’11”, 110 lb. woman who does not exist. Wouldn’t it better to create more merchandise for the 5’5″ and below, beautiful pear and apple-shaped women who do?
And to the Club Monaco on 87th and Broadway, get a clue. Your concept of an eye-catching window display is about as brainless as your decapitated wooden models.
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!)
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.’
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.
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?
I just read something on Jezebel that blew my mind.
Pediatric endocrinologist Maria New—of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Florida International University—thinks that she can prevent lesbianism by treating pregnant women with an experimental hormone, a steroid called dexamethasone. She claims that certain prenatal hormonal combinations (in particular, those associated with a condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia) may lead to the birth of little girls with ambiguous genitalia. OK, that seems fair. But the news here is that she says CAH can result in little girls who exhibit an “abnormal” disinterest in babies, don’t want to play with girls’ toys or become mothers, and whose “career preferences” are deemed too “masculine.” Should Mommy and Daddy want to ensure that their little girl prefers to play only with Barbies and crush on Kens, then New advocates prenatal treatment of “dex.”
Not only is this completely insane, offensive and disturbing on its own, but I’ve personally seen this doctor.
In late 2006, I got fed up with having to get threaded so frequently. So, I visited an Upper East Side spa for a laser hair removal consult, and the owner suggested I see an endocrinologist to rule out any hormonal issues that might make the treatment less effective. I ended up being referred by my OB/GYN to Dr. Maria New’s office. One of her assistants saw me, drew up a quickie family health history and ran some tests… Turns out, I have a genetic hormonal imbalance referred to as nonclassical adrenal hyperplasia, or NCAH. The symptoms are similar to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and it affects 1 in 27 Ashkenazi Jews. 1 in 3 are carriers. In my case, the only truly noticeable symptoms have been wonky periods/cycles and having to pluck, thread or shave a bit more often than I’d like. Nothing that serious in the scheme of things, really.
As soon as they confirmed my diagnosis, New’s staff was on me to start taking “dex.” But as soon as I heard the word ‘steroid,’ I thought ‘weight gain.’ And then I thought, maybe I should look up the other symptoms.
-“Dex” can suppress your immune system. It can raise your risk of getting an infection or of reactivating an old infection.
-“Dex” can lead to swelling in the face, hands, or feet. Fluid may also collect in the abdomen, which could make you feel bloated.
-“Dex” can irritate your stomach. When used for extended periods it may increase the risk of ulcers or bleeding in the digestive tract.
This was more than enough to have me say, “No, thanks” to filling a Rx for the drug. I’d find natural methods to deal with my minor symptoms. But, but, but! They kept warning me that should I decide to have a child with a man who is also a carrier of the gene, our kid could end up with CAH and potentially ambiguous genitalia. So when the time came, I’d have to be treated with dex throughout my pregnancy—at least until we knew whether the baby was a boy or a girl. (If it’s a girl, their advice is to stay on the drug until the birth.)
Since getting into holistic medicine and deciding that the Pill wasn’t for me, I’ve become more and more skeptical of this Rx. I’m not saying my diagnosis is wrong…even though Dr. New is now coming off as a total whack job. The fact is, my latest blood work does point to a—very low-level—diagnosis of NCAH. And I’ll have to do some research on what will be the best preventative treatment for the well-being of my one-day baby. But especially knowing what I now know about the questionable safety of dex, I am 99% sure I will say, “Hell no” to prenatal use of the steroid.
But that’s my own personal medical challenge. Scarier by far is that Dr. New thinks that women not even diagnosed as CAH carriers, should consider taking dex prenatally to prevent homosexuality or “male behaviors” in little girls.
Says Seattle newspaper, The Stranger: “The existence of adult women who are not interested in “becoming someone’s wife” and “making babies” constitutes a medical emergency that requires us to treat women who are currently pregnant with a dangerous experimental hormone. Otherwise their daughters might grow up to, um, be nominated to sit on the Supreme Court, serve as cabinet secretaries, take 18 Grand Slam singles titles, win Grammies, and take their girlfriends to prom.”
I’m freaked out. But I am so glad that the media is furiously questioning and exposing Dr. New and her collaborators. Their whole “mission” sounds like something along the lines of 1984 or Fahrenheit 451. Given that, I surely hope that the medical community and mothers-to-be steer clear of Dr. New’s mad science experiment.
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…???
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?