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Posts Tagged ‘disordered eating’

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.

We have wrinkles, freckles, sunspots, stretchmarks, and spider veins. We have curly, wavy, kinky and straight hair that is brown, blond, red, black, and gasp!… grey. We have white, pinkish, brown, yellow, red, and black skin. We are short, medium, and tall. We have bubble butts and flat asses. We all have curves in different places. We are all shapes.

Yet you see people trying to tan their lighter skin darker. We airbrush dark skin lighter. We spend a fortune on highlights, foils, and dyes. We have a $40 billion plus diet industry, a $20 billion cosmetic, and a $12 billion cosmetic procedure industry (both surgical and nonsurgical.)

We just never seem satisfied with the bodies that we have. We are constantly trying to lose a pound, workout more, or save money for products that smooth, define, or promise miracles in a bottle. What about self-acceptance? What about encouraging all people to love their organic beautiful selves?

We have one life to live and one body to live it in so we mind as well learn how to love it.

So let’s appreciate our bodies and each others bodies. Let’s celebrate all the colors, shapes, and textures that make up this beautiful world we live in!

I found the article below by Debra J. Dickerson. She is a political activist and author of The End Of Blackness. Her work appears in The New Republic, The Washington Post, Talk, Slate, Salon, Essence, and Vibe, and has been featured in Best American Essays. She has also won the New York Association of Black Journalists’ first-place award for personal commentary.

Black (and Brown) Can Only Be Just So Beautiful

Kim Kardashian got airbrushed lighter, smoother, and thinner for a photo shoot. Happens every day in Hollywood, I know. I don’t know if she was in on it, but I know I wasn’t when it happened to me.

A while back, my hairdresser asked me to be photographed for a black hair magazine. Trust me: we sisters LUV those things. I was beyond psyched. Until I saw the photos. I threw the magazine away in disgust, so I can’t show it to you, but they’d airbrushed me at least five shades lighter and gave me gray eyes. Gray!

This was a totally black-run operation. They wanted my kinky hair (checks my twists on this page), but not my actual blackness. How pathetic.

When I first started doing TV, the makeup chicks (I’ve rarely had a non-white one) would cagily, carefully, ask me questions about what kind of foundation I wanted. “Whatever matches…?” Were these trick questions?

I figured there was something special about being made up for TV that a newbie like me just wasn’t hip to. Finally, when they figured out that I wasn’t going to go off, they told me that often blacks wanted to be made as light as possible. You’d be amazed at some of the names, but I ain’t going there.

Pathetic.

Here’s the Kim Kardashian:

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Thank you so much to those of you who have responded to the survey. The responses have been incredibly thoughtful and super interesting. Thank you for sharing your experiences, ideas, and feelings on topics that you might not feel totally comfortable talking about. I deeply appreciate the time and energy you have put into your answers.

I have had several requests to trace the survey responses on a map (fabulous idea to those of you that requested it!) There is now a map located in the right sidebar that displays all the different cities the survey responses have come from. Click to expand it. The cities stretch across the globe… Awesome!

For those of you that left your email at the end of the survey… I have not forgotten about you! I would love to talk with you further if you are still interested. However, first I need to finish designing interview questions based on the chapters of my book.

Feel free to make comments on the blog posts as well! I am hoping to use responses from both the surveys and blog for research and to generate ideas for pieces in my book. I am also continuing to collect surveys. So, please keep spreadin’ the word. This book project would not be progressing if it was not for your help.

Gratitude.

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34x25x36blogtop2

We live in world where we can design our breasts, lips, ass, calves, nose, cheekbones, pecs, feet, labia, and penis. We believe in body hair be gone. We whiten our teeth, suffer chemical peels, and use plenty of potion-n-lotions that claim to have ingredients taken directly from the fountain of youth (despite the small print: effective only when used twice daily for the remainder of your days on earth.) We are constantly adjusting our styles. We get on our computers and exist in another reality where we build an avatar that is a few years younger and has a smaller waist. Actually, the only thing similar between our true self and our avatar is that we stuck glasses on them. Gotta’ have some resemblance right? We are constantly seeking transformation to a thinner, more muscular, and “healthier” us. We are in a giant pressure cooker for perfection.

This transformation phenomena does not just exist within Westernized cultures. I just finished reading a new book by Susie Orbach Bodies and was shocked to learn that Korean girls get westeren eyelid inserts and Chinese girls get 10 cm rods in their upper legs for an extra bit of height while Scandinavian women break and shortened their legs so as not to be as tall. Um… Ouch!

Where is this global idea of beauty coming from?

The internet allows us to send messages and interact with our world at instantaneous moments. Hollywood, the entertainment industry, and the same magazines are consumed in all countries across the globe. I am concerned that the dissemination of one uniform culture will affect the diversity that makes this world such a colorful place to live. In twenty years will the cultural lines be erased and we will cease to exist as automatons? Just one long boring mannequin parade.

Check out the video 34x25x26 below. It was created by Jesse Epstein from Brooklyn, NY. She is an impressive filmmaker that has a voice and a vision that demands to be heard. Her videos are on cultural identity, body image, and media.

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I ran across an article this morning that made me laugh in total disbelief. The title of the article speaks for itself, Top 10: Subtle Ways to Tell Her She’s Getting Fat. As if we even needed one. The article is posted on the website AskMen.com which boasts 7 million readers a month. Great.

In case you don’t want to read the whole article here’s a snapshot:

…you’ve put on weight, and I find you less attractive.

loosen a few screws or remove some important slats of a chair [which] she’ll sit and subsequently break, sit back and watch the guaranteed dietary transformation that ensues.

…try giving her smaller-than-usual amounts. By making her ask for more food, you might succeed in shaming her into an acknowledgment of her recent weight gain…If you feel as though you’re starving yourself in the process, remember you can always go back for more when she’s not looking.

…playfully grab her love handles.

Shocking. If this site, which is sponsored by IGN.com (the company that also backs the popular Rotten Tomatoes website), truly gets traffic of 7 million viewers per month I am concerned about the message they are conveying to those millions of men and women through this article.  As if women do not already struggle with open direct communication with their partners surrounding their body image, feeling fat, or guilty about weight gain.

Although this article positions men who actually use this advice in a bad light; what about the men who are just as shocked about this article but still feel totally silenced when it comes to talking to their partners about body image and health?

The issue of having honest direct communication in our relationships is not just a women’s issue or a men’s issue. It is an issue for all of us. We should all feel comfortable expressing to one another our fears, insecurities, anxieties, or concerns with our body image and our partners body image. Ask yourself, “Do I truly feel comfortable to talk seriously to my partner about my fears of fat?” We usually turn it into a playful game but behind the teasing are real sensitivities that are not being addressed.

We all wonder what our partners find attractive and what they desire. But do we truly want to hear the answer? I was talking with a male coworker who expressed concern because he feels silenced when it comes to talking honestly about anything concerning his wife’s weight or looks. As they were walking down the street she asked him if another woman looked attractive. He said yes. She got angry. This is a classic schema that plays out all the time between two people in relationships.

What anxieties are created in this situation for my coworker and his wife? Does she walk away from the interaction comparing her physical body to the other woman’s? Of course she does on some level. Instead of assuming we know the beauty ideal for our partner why not just ask them and allow them to share with us. Truly listen to what they have to say and try not to be be reactive if they say something that we don’t like or feel comfortable with. Just listen and let the words pass through us. By engaging our partner like this it might open the conversation so that they can then share with you the things that are unique to your body that they love.

Just image what it would be like to mutually express your concerns about your body and weight. Along with mutual disclosure comes a deeper sense of trust, encouragement, and appreciation for your partner. You might find out they love the part of your body you hate the most. The softness of your ass, the muscles in your back, your freckles, the curves of your hips, dimples, your nose, curly hair, or your smile wrinkles.

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The linked video Sex, Lies and Photoshop is from the NYTimes website.  It’s an awesome follow up to last week’s post.

http://video.nytimes.com/video/2009/03/09/opinion/1194838469575/sex-lies-and-photoshop.html

How many perfected images do we see in one day?

You don’t just have to read magazines to see perfected images. They’re everywhere. Images are on billboards, T.V, movies, newspapers, and the internet. The bigger the city the more submersed you are in images. Think you’re untouched by images? Just think…

The U.S. Census Bureau projected in the 2007 Statistical Abstract that adults and teens would spend nearly five months (3,518 hours) during 2008 watching television, using the internet, reading newspapers, and listening to personal music devices. Other estimates state that the average American watches four hours of T.V. a day which is still two months per year.  2-5 months?! These stats are not even including reading magazines, watching movies, or simply walking down a busy street with all the billboards.

We live in a world saturated with images of beauty. I always believed I was not affected by images but now I am curious just how powerful are these images? The NYTimes video was sent to me by my lovely friend Denise who is a professional photographer. I felt it was a shockingly great follow up to my last post. The best quote was from Ken Harris the professional photo re-toucher,

Every picture has been worked on some 30-50 rounds…they are perfected to death. Just look at the magazines, all that is there is to alter your mind, alter your perception of what physical beauty is and what the possibility is and means of attaining it are.

..and these words are from the mouth that feeds us, the professionals behind all the colorful glossy beauties that stare at you everywhere you go. Makes me wonder.

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What is sexy? Personally, I love a passion for life,  a good sense of humor, adventurous, absurdly smart,  compassionate, creative, and confident. However, finding all that out takes time.  Most of our interactions with others and how we present ourselves to others throughout the day are just millisecond glances. So what’s happening when I pass someone on the street and turn around to take another glance?

It’s the second glance that makes me ask, “What does sexy look like stripped of personal characteristics?”

I thought we all had different ideas of what sexy is. Or do we? Recently, I have been curious at how much, if at all, magazine ads influence what I believe to be the beauty ideal for women and men. I have always believed I was not affected by these images. However, as I watch them objectively I cannot help but wonder how they could not be influencing my ideals of beauty for women and men… and how they are influencing the way I evaluate my own beauty.

The videos below have ads that show up in W,Vogue, Vanity Fair, V, Elle, In Style, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Esquire, Maxim, GQ or any other glossy print you find yourself thumbing through…yes even sports and travel magazines. Before watching the videos, set aside the idea that you’re unaffected by magazine ads. Try to watch objectively and think of how the ads have potential to influence everyone’s ideals including your own…

Oh, to be beautiful! Curves…but in all the right places. Soft smooth skin, long legs, tight-defined thighs, small ankles, defined arms (but not too muscular), a firm stomach with a crease down the center, athletic (but not too much,) big eyes,  small nose,  high-cheek bones, full breasts, silky hair, a smile full of straight white teeth.

Unfortunately, the video below had an awesome soundtrack of  I am Too Sexy by Right Said Fred that was disabled.

Handsome men are…chiseled. The angles of the lower abdominal and hip region, a square jaw, high cheek bones, athletic, not too hairy, tall, a strong defined back, muscular arms, a wide-squared chest, big hands, a full head of hair, abs you could wash your clothes on, and straight white teeth with a fabulous smile.

Did you notice a reaction to the videos? How do you think magazine ads might be contributing to our beauty ideals of women, men, and within ourselves?

I couldn’t help myself. Here’s Right Said Fred the You Tube dub dance version.

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body image n.

  1. The cerebral representation of all body sensation organized in the parietal cortex.
  2. The subjective concept of one’s physical appearance based on self-observation and reactions of others.

Too bad the dictionary does not offer instructions on how to have a realistic perception of our bodies or a colored centerfold “10 Ways to Celebrate Your Body.”  Instead we are left with a vague definition. A definition that has a critical influence on our life. The concept of our physical appearance and how others perceive us affects our attitudes, behaviors, cognition, and emotions. Body image affects our sense of self and identity which inevitably influences how we interact with others. Body image has become part of our routine existence yet as individuals we claim not to have issues with body image.

We continue to worry about wrinkles, hate the way we look in jeans, get frustrated with the loose skin that jiggles under our arms, worry about cellulite, are concerned about the tightness of our muscles, and we run an extra mile not because it feels good but because it burns a few more calories. However, we still claim that we are not affected by body image. We each claim that the other woman next to us might struggle with “those issues but I don’t… In fact I love my body.” We have become desensitized to its effects. It has become so normal to engage in our language of self-hatred we can no longer identify what is looks like. The beauty ideal has become a subliminal message… and we all believe we are not affected by it.

In order to deconstruct the invisible guidelines for our beauty ideal it is necessary to look at what influences body image.  Investigate what internal and external forces are creating these subliminal messages.  In the following series of posts over the next month I would like to begin the deconstructive process. I have started with the external forces such as media. Please know that I sincerely believe body image is multifaceted and media is not the only factor nor do I place any level of importance on any one factor that contributes to body image. I also invite you to comment on any of the posts or any comments made. It would be awesome to open a dialogue where you can share your thoughts, perspectives, or experiences.

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