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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?
By Megan Monique, Special Guest Blogger to The Body Logic
“Well, shit.” I thought as I weighed myself this morning. I had gained a pound from the last time I weighed myself two days before.
I knew what the scale was going to tell me before I even stepped on. My monkeys had already talked to me about before I had a chance to pull the covers off myself and get out of bed earlier that morning.
They sounded something like this:
“Really, Megan? You are going to have ANOTHER chocolate covered graham cracker? Are you sure that is the best idea? I think I saw a new indention of cellulite on your thigh yesterday. That one last graham cracker just might be enough to break the seal. The next thing you know it you will be one giant ball of cellulite. Then who will love you?”
I sat in a pool of pity for a moment until I heard the last part. “Who will love me?!”
I will love me, dammit.
It is time for me to do away with the monkeys in every area of my life. They don’t only show up when I gain a pound. They also show up when I make less money than I want, or when I have a big dream I am working toward. (Lately it’s been becoming a life coach.)
But what purpose do these monkeys serve? They only keep me playing a small game.
I decided to create a mental box. When the monkey chatter starts happening, I mentally duct tape the monkeys mouth and put him in the box. I only let him come out if he is saying things that HELP me in my process of creating the life I love.
So what if I have cellulite. The only way I can rid myself of it is by making healthy choices, one by one. Inch by inch. Meal by meal. Listening, and more so BELIEVING the monkey chatter will only keep me in the same place I have been trying to move away from.
Armed With a Roll of Duct Tape,
Megan Monique is a writer & Lovemuffin Extraordinaire for Owning Pink and so much more. Her most prized piece is her personal blog entitled If I Were A Rainbow I Would Be Chocolate where she shares personal revelations and life adventures with her audience. Megan is also a life coach who focuses on living life creatively and abundantly with no limitations.
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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?
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L’shana tova! Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I should be in temple, but Dan and I don’t belong to one, and I have to save my vacation time for, well, vacation. But I plan to observe in my own way, even if it is more of a spiritual, personal observation, as opposed to a getting dressed up and going to listen to a rabbi blow the Shofar-type way.
The holiday has always reminded me of apples and honey (the traditional Rosh Hashanah treat to symbolize a sweet new year, yum) and of course, new beginnings… While I hate to see the summer slip away, I am eager for a fresh start—from cute new fall clothes to new outlets for writing (exciting news next week!) While I’m not sure I want to call them resolutions, there are some things I’d like to work on as we head into the fall… Slash, as I head into my 28th year of life. (Oh boy, that sounds odd. Yeah, side note: I celebrated my 27th b-day on Labor Day.) I figure, I’ll share these goals with you, and then maybe they’ll be more definite just by floating out there in the Universe. I think I’ll employ a format developed by psychotherapy expert Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D. Called sentence completion, the technique works on conscious and subconscious levels to help people come up with insights that bring about meaningful change in their lives. So, here goes.
This fall, I want to…
–Advance my career. Professionally, I want to take my writing to another level. Here, on other blogs, in other publications. News and features. Personally, I want to spend time on creative fiction. I miss it, because to me, it’s about being truly imaginative. It’s a high I haven’t felt in awhile.
–Read more. I’d also like to find the happiest balance between working on my own writing and reading much, much more. There’s nothing like snuggling up with a juicy book that you’ve been just waiting for the right time to read. I have both a non-fiction and a fiction patiently waiting for me to crack their covers.
–Find a new way to take better care of my body. Long story, and definitely the subject of an upcoming post, but I recently hit a wall with my wellness regimen. It’s time for a change. My #1 priority is to take care of my body, honor my health and love myself, while minimizing negativity and stress.
–Organize. Right now, my desk at home is… well, you could say it looks like Tropical Storm Maressa had her way with it. I could really stand to stay more on top of filing all of my papers/bills, etc. Not only will it give me better peace of mind, but I really think Dan would be relieved, too. (It drives him nuts.)
–De-clutter. Dear Clothes/Shoes I Haven’t Worn/Makeup I Haven’t Used/Purses I Will Never Carry Again, etc., it has been nice knowing you. Now off with you to Good Will.
You don’t have to be celebrating Rosh Hashanah to channel a fresh start for the fall. What do you want to do differently this season?
Last night, my boyfriend turned to me as we were falling asleep and said, “I think I’m going to pass a stone tonight.” Not your average pillow talk, right? I asked, “How do you know?” He alluded to the fact that not only could he could feel it physically, but he also sensed it—he knew it.
Dan suffers from a condition called Cystinuria, which is marked by an genetic abnormality that causes him to produce too much of an amino acid called cystine. The cystine builds up and forms chronic kidney stones. What we know right now is that one of the best ways to keep the stones at bay is to hydrate like crazy. But given a particularly difficult season of high temperatures and exhaustive outdoor work (he’s a movie electrician), that hasn’t been easy. In turn, stone incidences have become frequent. But as a result of this, Dan has become adept at reading his body’s signals and I think, without really meaning to, more intuitive about his health. And by extension, I think he’s on his way to being a proactive, empowered and self-aware patient.
Until recently, our first line of defense against a health concern was a visit to the doctor, who we hoped would offer us a diagnosis and treatment. Now, we’re all leaning more on WebMD and self-care. Only sometimes, after an Internet-induced hypochondriac rampage, will we (if we’re lucky enough to have health insurance) consult a real MD for a fix. In either case, we’re often leaving out a crucial step: tapping into health intuition. In fact, we can usually get some of the most accurate preliminary info about our problem just by stepping back and tuning into what our body is telling us.
I became familiar with the term health intuition when I wrote a short piece for my job on the subject. I interviewed Karen Grace Kassy, a life and health intuitive who wrote the book Health Intuition: A Simple Guide to Greater Well-Being (Hazelden). She explained how intuition can offer vital clues and serve as a great jumping off point for patients to discuss their concerns with their health practitioners.
So, you want to know why you’re exhausted all of the time or why your head feels like its pounding every day around 11 a.m.? Ask an open-ended question, in your mind or aloud to yourself. Try something like, How can I stop these chronic headaches? Kassy says that the answer can come in many ways—you could visualize it (maybe it’s that they’re actually hunger headaches, so you see an apple) or you could just sense it (a feeling that the answer lies in the kitchen).
She also noted that there are various “hallmarks” of an intuitive message:
– First impressions are usually right.
Go with your gut. When I first started experiencing back problems, I had a feeling that the root cause wasn’t just something superficial—like a pulled muscle from an overambitious yoga workout. When I saw a general practitioner, he shrugged it off as “tweaking something,” and he sent me home with ibuprofen and a worksheet of stretches. Weeks later, an MRI showed that I had a severely herniated disc in my lumbar spine. In a way, I had known the source of my pain was something like that all along.
– It keeps knocking on your door.
Sure, your lethargy could be tied to lack of sleep. Or it could be something else. If you have a recurring thought, like, “Huh, that article I once read in a women’s magazine about hypothyroidism causing tiredness, weight gain and mood swings seemed really spot on” or “I’ve been so stressed and tense while I’m falling asleep,” don’t brush it aside. That nagging little voice in the back of your head is likely your intuition clueing you in to the problem.
– It comes out of the blue.
Even when you’re not consciously seeking a response, intuitive information can suddenly float into your consciousness—for example, in the form of a thought that cautions, All that sugar is making you sick. Or you could have a meaningful dream. “I’ve worked with women who went for mammograms after having a ‘breast dream’ and received a life-saving diagnosis of early breast cancer,” says Kassy.
When honing intuition, it’s also possible—and likely—that you’ll get in your own way. “What can interfere is not being really comfortable with the truth,” says Kassy. “You can choose to block out the truth and not listen to your intuition, because you want something else so badly.” The solution? Make sure you really want to know the answer to your question. Feel at peace with it, even if it isn’t what you want to hear. Stay open-minded.
Think about it: Who knows more about your body and your health than you do? By tapping into that knowledge, we can be empowered to heal whatever ails us. “If intuition works for you, it can have life-enhancing qualities,” says Kassy.
Get this—Albert Einstein agreed. As spiritual as he was scientifically-gifted, the physicist/philosopher found great value in intuition. He once said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” For the sake of our own well-being, we should all try to remember.
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 Ball – “Love 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?
Last week, all the buzz was about vaginas. This week, I’m wondering about penises. Maybe that’s because my friend, Lissa Rankin, recently posed the question on her Facebook: Does size matter?
Immediately, I thought of this clip from Sex & the City, in which Samantha is crying to Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda that the man she’s dating is too small. Remember?
When I shared the clip with Lissa, she pointed out that it was sponsored by ProExtend, “a penile enlargement device and adjustable traction apparatus,” which she noted, feeds off the insecurities of men. It’s true that there’s an entire industry of gadgets, pills, supplements, exercise regimens, etc. aimed at guys who are self-conscious about their size.
I started to think about how there are so many double-standards between the sexes when it comes to what’s attractive. We all know how screwed up it is that chubby Seth Rogan is considered geeky-sexy and gets cast as the endearing lead in a rom-com. And in Superbad, gorgeous Emma Stone fawns all over tubby-as-Hell Jonah Hill. Doubtful we’d ever see hot guys going after a similarly overweight actress. (With the exception of John Waters’s nutty Hairspray, of course.)
But there’s one case in which big is in. When it comes to what’s in our pants, it’s true that men have to put up with more pressure to conform to some unrealistic Boogie Nights size standard. Granted, we women have to confront other absurd ideals having to do with Brazilian waxes and odor, etc. But these issues don’t get nearly as much screen time as the penis size meme.
I do feel bad for guys who feel like they have to measure up (pun intended) to what they see in movies or porn. They should feel confident and happy with their packages. (Because women usually are!) But, honestly, I kinda don’t feel like spending too much time boo-hoo’ing for them. We ladies are targeted with images that aim to chip away at our body confidence just about all day every day—from cover lines that scream, “How One C-List Celeb Dropped Her Baby Weight in 5 Seconds!” to Facebook ads that tout breast implants, lipo or even wrinkle cream. From the time that we’re able to dress ourselves, we’re almost on autopilot, trying to amend what isn’t up to pop culture par about our outward appearance. At least guys can keep a VIP (Very Insecure Penis) under wraps in public.
What do you think—am I being too harsh? Maybe we should start a campaign for Penis Confidence? 🙂
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.
My boyfriend has iPhone envy, and sometimes when I’m brushing my teeth and he’s already in bed, he’ll tuck into my New York Times or CNN apps to catch up on the day’s news. Last night, he read me this story, from The Frisky, in which Anna Sophia Martin tells her tale of a first date gone horribly wrong. Dan thought I’d get a kick out of it, because I was the Queen of Online Dating until he and I met on JDate in late ’06. While Anna had spent a few months pointing and clicking in search of a soulmate, I spent a few years scouring guys’ profiles in Boston, L.A., Chicago and New York. I was even bi at one point—coastal, that is. And all I can say is, I feel the girl’s pain—and her pride.
Anna went out with a guy named Dan who sported “a round, waffle-sized bald patch” and 20 extra pounds (which he claimed was muscle, mmk…) She wasn’t into it. And neither was he…sort of. He chose to e-mail her after their first date to explain where he stood. He confessed that he just doesn’t have chemistry with “very curvy women.” He inquired as to whether or not she was planning to “embark on and commit to a process of a transformation”… If so, he’d be down to go out again.
As my (very unbald, extremely handsome, respectful, considerate, etc.) Dan read Anna’s tale aloud, I couldn’t help but laugh, shake my head and groan. I flashed back to various cringe-worthy or ridiculous moments of my dating career, in which I experienced similarly outrageous encounters regarding men’s superficial, unjustified expectations. A couple of my horror stories for your entertainment:
Whackadoodle Dude #1: Not long after I moved to L.A., I met Kyle* online. He was getting his Masters in New York, so I ended up flying across the country to a.) visit my friends at NYU and b.) go on several dates with Kyle. He was a theater geek who religiously watched “Battlestar Galactica” and who didn’t seem to have too many friends or much of a life outside of school. But I shrugged all that off, because he looked a bit like Fred Savage and seemed like he could be a nice Jewish guy. And he was quite the gentleman…until we were hanging out in person for the second time, and out of the blue, he said, “Promise me that you’ll never turn into a fat Jewish mom.” As you might imagine, my head nearly exploded. “WHAT did you say?” I responded. He laughed hysterically. I wasn’t amused. I hailed a cab and left him to find someone else who wouldn’t mind passive-aggressive requests regarding her bagel eating habits and circumference of her thighs 10 years from now.
Whackadoodle Dude #2: I once started chatting with a guy online who fired questions at me via IM as if I was interviewing for a six-figure corporate job. He felt he had the right to know how often I worked out, did I consider myself fit, how much I weighed? Although with that last Q, I should have just closed out of the conversation, I found myself wrapped up and trying to prove a point… That I was attractive. That I consider myself a work in progress when it comes to my fitness. (Aren’t we all?) That when it deciding whether or not to go on a first date with me, my recent, clear-as-day photos should have been enough—my body fat percentage, on the other hand, was a non-issue. Mostly I just couldn’t believe he had the audacity to request this info. He argued that he was “looking for the whole package.” Meanwhile, the guy didn’t even have a photo of himself on his profile. I didn’t waste much more than a second or two before hitting the good old X button.
I’m all about being forthright about what you want in a relationship and from a potential partner. And I don’t deny that physical attraction is crucial. But telling someone you barely know to go on a diet, hit the gym daily or vow to never become a nasty stereotype is just plain crazy. And having deliriously high standards and/or acting like finding a significant other is the same thing as placing a customized order at Starbucks is a prescription for eternal singledom. I’m really just baffled as to where these guys get off. But I’d take a wild guess that Anna’s Dan and my own delusional dates are destined to be alone until their attitudes—and likely subpar looks—seriously shape up.
*=Surprisingly, I never dated anyone with this name! So it works as a pseudonym.