Tag Archives: Beauty

Body Shaming At Any Size

Hey there.

It’s been a while since I’ve written, and even longer since I’ve ranted.

This video has been circulating around the internet lately, and I was incredibly proud and in awe of this brave woman. She is an example of strength and dignity that we all can learn from.

Body shaming is disgusting, and one of the worst forms of bullying out there. Everyone has been a victim of it, I’m sure. Whether it’s for your shape, size, hair, skin, race, whatever, it exists.

I have been the victim of body shaming on more than one occasion. Even when I weighed less than I do now, I had people in my life who would consistently put me down for being “fat”.  Who would point out my every flaw, or just give me “tips” to disguise the parts of my body that were socially unacceptable. It hurts, especially when it comes from those who are closest to you.

There’s one other type of body shaming that I’ve been a victim of that nobody talks about, or maybe it’s just that nobody cares.

Have you ever called anyone a skinny bitch? (I have.)

Skinny girls are torn apart all the time. It seems everyone thinks that because skinny=socially acceptable, “thin-bashing” is okay. Skinny people have it all, right?

Let’s play a brain game. Imagine you overhear the following:

Oh my god, how much weight have you gained? You look disgusting. Seriously. You need to stop eating. I mean it. You look like you’re all steriod-puffy from cancer treatment. Look in the mirror! Can’t you see that you look like one of those obese people you see on the news?

Horrifying, yes? Now imagine this:

Oh my god, how much weight have you lost? You look disgusting. Seriously. Just eat a fucking sandwich. I mean it. You look like a cancer patient after a million rounds of chemo. Look in the mirror! Can’t you see you look like a holocaust survivor?

I’ve heard all of these things from people trying to be “helpful”. I’ve heard it from friends, acquaintances, teachers, strangers . . . nobody seems to think twice when it comes to being underweight as opposed to overweight.

Yes, I was suffering from an eating disorder at the time. But people don’t realize that obesity can be just as much a symptom of an eating disorder as emaciation.  Why is one acceptable to comment on, but not the other?

Remember:

The girl who can eat anything and never gain a pound might be throwing up everything she eats.

The girl with the hot body who seems so disciplined going to the gym might just feel like a hamster trapped on a wheel. She can’t step off the treadmill to save her life.

The emaciated girl who is obviously anorexic may be fighting for her life, and doesn’t need you to remind her of how bad she looks.

I was out to dinner with a friend earlier this year. She was working so hard to fight anorexia on her own, and was out for maybe her 2nd meal in public at a restaurant. She had ordered her meal, and on her way back from the bathroom, some drunken jerk yelled, “Go back to the concentration camp!” This absolutely destroyed her, and she could only pick at the meal she had so bravely ordered.

You never know when an ill-timed, even well-intentioned comment can throw a complete wrench in someone’s day. Please just think before you speak. And to the asshole guy from the video who is worrying about the example she is setting for children, just remember that your children are watching you more carefully than they are anyone on tv. Would you really rather raise your children to be assholes than overweight? As far as I can see, the assholes are much more dangerous to society.

9 Comments

Filed under Rantings

The Best Body Image Advice

2 Comments

Filed under Tips and Tricks (The Healthy Kind)

Eating Disorder Recovery: Clothing On A Budget

You’ve made it to Part 3!

As tricky as general life and food are, clothing is no less traumatizing. What once fit suddenly doesn’t. You watch the numbers in your pants change week after week. Early in my recovery, I could fluctuate 2+ sizes in a single day due to bloating. Clothing was not fun.

Here’s the thing: whether you are on a tight budget or have limitless funds at your disposal, you’re not going to want to buy too many clothes during the recovery process. Yes, you need to accommodate your changing body (ugh, this is starting to sound like a puberty pamphlet), but the more you buy, the more you’ll have to throw out when your size changes. There are ways around this, however.

  1. Stop reading fashion magazines/blogs/etc.  Not only are they bad for your self esteem, but you’ll just make yourself miserable knowing you’re not able to stay “on trend”.
  2. Leggings. Buy the biggest size you can get away with now, and they’ll last you through many pounds of weight gain. But please: leggings are not pants (unless you are going to/leaving/in a yoga/fitness class). Make sure your bum is covered.
  3. Dresses. These are more forgiving than just about any other clothing item. They fit through many sizes and can be paired with tights and sweaters to get you through many seasons.
  4. Jeans. Yes, this is the one thing you’ll need to buy over and over again. Everyone needs a pair of jeans. Get rid of them as soon as they don’t fit, and try to limit yourself to one pair at each size (less to throw out).
  5. Flowy tops. I’ve been accused many times of hiding in my clothes. I am the queen of “you can’t see my silhouette”. Yes, I’m uncomfortable with my body, but also, the same flowy tops have gotten me through many size changes. It’s economical. If I had purchased fitted tops at my smallest, I would have had to throw a whole lot more clothes out.
  6. Keep it simple. If you stick with basic cuts, classic pieces, and minimal patterns,  you can get away with wearing the same things over and over again. Accessorize to make it fresh.
  7. Thrift stores, sale racks, hand-me-downs. These will be your best friends. Another great option is having a clothing exchange. My friend Tess’ mom Nicky (Hi ladies!) hosts one twice a year, and I always get lots of great new stuff. Everyone brings things they don’t want anymore and throws them in a pile. Then, everyone climbs in and hunts for buried treasure. I scored an awesome pair of Theory dress pants last time.
  8. Fall in love with shoes. My friend Michelle calls shoes “the great equalizers”. They fit at any size. If you have cash to burn (ha!) focus your spending on shoes.

I waited until my weight was stable for 6 months before I started buying clothing that fell outside these rules. Sometimes I even show my waist. It really sucked wearing the same things over and over again, but I’d ask myself, would you rather have that new shirt or a fifth of a therapy session? Therapy almost always won out. Making it my choice made it easier when the green-eyed monster reared his ugly head. So my last tip, borrowed from a great survivor/thriver:

1 Comment

Filed under Tips and Tricks (The Healthy Kind)

How You Know You’re Having a Bad Body Image Day

Looked in the mirror.

Saw a roll of fat.

Freaked out.

Poked it.

It was a rib.

Well played, brain, well played.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Blatherings, Fighting Fear, Random Funny-ness

The Mirror Has Two Faces

Mirrors. Bane of most people’s existence, yes? Agreed. Not only do I have a damaged relationship with the mirror, I may or may not have the world’s worst full-length mirror. It’s so bad that other people comment on it. Nowadays, I’ve got it partially obscured with pictures and quotes that distract me. It doesn’t help much, but it at least makes me feel proactive.

Anyhow. I wanted to write today after reading a friend’s post on body dysmorphia. I think it’s something that affects most people in some way or another, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. You still see what you see, regardless.

I always assumed I was a little off in how I saw myself. I remember looking in the mirror, seeing my bones sticking out, seeing my clothes hanging off me, and still being convinced I was the same size I’d been number of pounds ago. I knew it wasn’t logically right, but I really couldn’t believe that my brain could be that far away from reality.

When I was in the hospital in my teens, they did an exercise with us that, while it didn’t make the dysmorphia go away, definitely showed me how wrong my brain was.

  1. Get a large piece of paper, at least 3 feet by 6 feet. We did it with the paper taped to a wall. I don’t think it works quite as well with the paper on the floor, but it’ll do in a pinch.
  2. Draw an outline of what you believe your body to look like.
  3. Stand (or lie) in front of your outline, and have a friend trace your actual outline.
  4. Stand back and be amazed.

I did my best to draw exactly what I saw. I was convinced that I was bang on the money, even a little on the small side in some places. The actual reality shocked me. I was at least 6 inches off the mark in my torso and hips, and my arms and legs were probably double their actual size. I was almost right with my height . . .

It doesn’t make me see things any differently, but it’s nice to know that what I see is wrong. I don’t know if it will help anyone else out there, but I figured it was worth a shot.

Just remember: there’s a chance that what bothers you isn’t what’s on the outside, but what you’re missing on the inside. If you can dedicate hours a week (day?) to fixing your body in the gym, don’t you owe your insides the same chance?

 

4 Comments

Filed under Tips and Tricks (The Healthy Kind)

Looking at the World

Today, WGT played us an excerpt from the podcast, The Moth. Basically, from what I understand, it’s a gathering where people can stand up and share their stories. It’s a “StorySLAM”. There is a theme, and the story must be true, fall within a time limit, and must be one of 10 chosen out of a hat. The best ones are featured on the website and podcast. They’re definitely worth a listen.

Anyhow, WGT challenged us all to write our stories. More to the point, she challenged us to change how we think about our stories. So often we define ourselves negatively: fuck-ups, wastes of space, failures. It’s a hard thing to change. Some of these ideas have been with us forever, and have become so ingrained in our lives that our stories reflect nothing else. For me, I could have done anything with my life, but threw it all away on illness and a dream. Now I’m 27, still fighting the same demons I’ve had forever, and my 6 years of college added up to a diploma that has no application since I’m not a performer anymore. I’m willing to consider MAYBE challenging these ideas SOMEDAY, but for now, I’m applying the lesson in a more general, external sense.

Today, I got on the subway, wedged myself into a seat, and plugged my iPod into my head, ready to disappear for the 20 minute ride home. Almost immediately, a woman squeezed herself in next to me, parking her stroller dangerously close to my ballet-bruised toes. With an elbow to my ribs, she pulled out her iPad and settled in to ignore her child. Many days, I would let the cloud over my head rain negativity all around me. Instead, I chose to reframe the situation. I focused on this little 4-year-old girl in the stroller.

She was playing with Post-it flags, singing a made up song, oblivious to the world around her. It was fascinating to watch her, so unashamed and free. She dropped a stack of the “stickers” and set out to find them, writhing in her stroller. I saw them tucked in the folds of her coat, so helped her in her search. She immediately grinned at me asking “What’s your name?” I told her, and she told me hers was Jennifer. She then proceeded to ask me what kind of phone I had. I showed her, and she asked after my iPod. (It’s amazing how young the youth of today start in on this stuff.) I let her hold my iPod, and she admired the sticker on it (a van Gogh Starry Night iPod skin – thanks Cameron). She told me she liked my hair, and I told her I liked hers. She told me she had just gotten it cut that day, and got to sit in a car “with keys and everything!” while she got it cut. I told her I’d love to get my hair cut at a place like that, and she informed me that I was too big to fit in the car. She then proclaimed, “You’re going to be my best friend!” Alas, my stop came (sooner than usual, it seemed), and I had to leave my new best friend behind.

I left the subway, holding my head just a little higher than usual, and noticed the most beautiful sunset I’d seen in a long time. Had I stayed in my usual isolated subway world, I would have missed out on all of it. It makes me think that maybe there’s something to this looking at things in a more positive light. I still don’t know if I’m ready to proclaim how fabulous my story is to the world, but it’s good practice, learning how well looking at the rest of the world positively worked out. Give it a try sometime. Find something you normally dread, and try to see it through different eyes. Yes, generally the subway sucks. But sometimes you can find a little nugget of joy in that tin can underground. Mine’s name was Jennifer.

Oh, and here’s that lovely sunset. I was upset that there were power lines obscuring it, but hey, I like having heat and lights and computer access and my TV, so I suppose even they have their place in a positive world.

5 Comments

Filed under Inspiration

A Bit More On Beauty

Today (or yesterday? I’ve lost track of time) I came across an article from the Toronto Star. For all my American followers, that’s like the New York Times of Canada. A young man at a local high school was recently suspended over a letter he wrote to his female classmates on his view of true beauty. There was a “kilt controversy” at his Catholic school earlier in the year, and his letter was originally intended to be a speech delivered on Valentine’s Day, supported by administration, because they believed it would encourage young women away from rolling their kilts to obscene heights.

Unfortunately, he was asked to make revisions, as part of the speech was deemed “judgemental” by faculty. He refused to make the alterations, and instead distributed his speech as a letter. He was suspended for “opposition to authority”. His letter, however, bears reprinting. I think we can all learn something from this 17-year-old boy’s words. The section in bold is what he was asked to revise:

PAUL GOMILLE’S LETTER TO YOUNG WOMEN

Could I please have your attention for a few moments? I guarantee you won’t regret listening to what I have to say. You definitely won’t regret hearing this in your life time, especially from a man of dignity. It’s an idea that I have held close to my heart even before the kilt controversy arose in the media. This message is not meant to address the kilt controversy directly by any means, but rather, this message is a general and all-encompassing statement. It is a message about the qualities that really matter in a woman, and what really makes a woman attractive. Although this speech has some relevance to the way women dress and present themselves nowadays, the message in this speech goes far beyond one’s preferences, or feelings of pressure, as it relates to the way they dress, and it goes far beyond any concept of modernity. It strikes at the very core of humanity itself, in an attempt to make a revelation of truth apparent to all of you, with awe inspiring certainty. If you read this, and receive anything less than a feeling of absolution from it, then I have committed a grave sin, a sin against myself and a sin against all of you.

The people this message concerns are the young women of this school, and of the world. In particular, it concerns the silent ones, the intelligent ones, the ones that don’t talk about people behind their backs, the ones that guys don’t flock to in droves, the ones that don’t dress in revealing clothing, the ones who would love to be in love, and the ones that are continually disappointed in their appearance because the only thing they have to compare themselves to are the women that have been put on pedestals by our society. This message also concerns those of you who may consider yourselves the so called “opposite” to the demographic I just described. The ones who do dress in revealing clothing, and the ones who try to fit in with the crowd.

You don’t need to dress or act a certain way to fit in, to feel attractive, or to BE attractive. You’re all far more attractive than you realize. All of you. But that’s not to say that you should all dress in revealing clothing. No, not at all. Sure, a girl who dresses that way might turn a few heads, and get some compliments. But real attractiveness doesn’t come from wearing the latest fashion, and it doesn’t come from being scantily clad in public, or putting on make-up, or having a pretty face, or a nice body. No. Real attractiveness comes from having a certain dignity. It comes from having class. It comes from being true to yourself, being yourself, and being comfortable in your own skin. This message is for all young women within the sound of my voice and beyond. You’re all beautiful. You all have inner beauty AND outer beauty.

With all the censorship talk in the media of late, I admire anyone with the courage to stand up for what they believe in. Some things in life are worth saying, even at the risk of your own well-being. Staying silent has rarely served me, and has probably dug me into a worse hole than opening up to the things inside. Whether they be words of love, words of concern, or just secrets that feel too shameful to admit, letting them out into the world may be painful, but I believe that honesty will serve me better in the end.

And how amazing is that letter? Words from “a man of dignity” urging women to strive for “real attractiveness . . . from having a certain dignity”. Dignity comes from being able to hold your head up high and speak your mind without shame or fear. Life is too short to regret what you wish you’d said or done. There isn’t always as much time as you think there is. Stand up, speak out, and Be Anything But Quiet!

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration