Do You Love the Skin You’re In?

Did you see the unretouched photo of actress Jamie Lee Curtis in 2002?  It was taken when she was 43 years old. Jamie insisted the photographer, Andrew Eccles,  shoot her with no makeup, no manicure, no hair styling – wearing only an exercise bra and underwear. She did not want the photo altered in any way. She said this was her contribution to stopping the Hollywood Myth of what women are supposed to look like.

Of course, it isn’t just Hollywood that contributes to the myth. There is a Beauty Industry  with products and advertising to tell us how to make our hair, skin, teeth and clothes conform to some standard of beauty;  a Weight Loss Industry that tells us we are too fat; a Cosmetic Surgery Industry to turn back the hands of time, and an Exercise Industry that is often advertised as a way to improve our looks.

How big is the  ‘Myth of Perfection’ Industry? The Global Beauty Market (hair care, skin care, cosmetics, fragrances) is expected to reach $265 billion in 2017. The Weight Loss Industry in the U.S. (New Year’s resolution gym memberships, weight-loss programs, diet food programs) takes in $60 billion per year. The Global Cosmetic Surgery industry is currently worth over $20 billion. The American Teeth Whitening Industry is $11 billion a year.

What is Body Shaming? – Are You a Victim of It? Do you do it to yourself or others?

Body-shaming (criticizing yourself or others because of some aspect of physical appearance) can lead to a vicious cycle of judgment and criticism. Messages from the media and from each other often imply that we should want to change, that we should care about looking slimmer, smaller, and tanner. And if we don’t, we worry that we are at risk of being the target of someone else’s body-shaming comments.
– Erika Vargas, MA, Walden Eating Disorders –

It’s not anyone’s place to shame a woman’s figure because it doesn’t meet their own personal (possibly unrealistic) expectations. And yet it happens, again and again, all the time. Sometimes it’s brazen, but often it’s subtle. Body-shaming might not look the way you would imagine. It’s not always as obvious as calling someone too fat or too skinny — sometimes it’s the suggestion that a certain cut of clothing isn’t “flattering” on people built like you. Regardless of the form it takes, one thing that’s for certain is that there is still far, far too much of it.
– Hannah Westmoreland Murphy, Romper, Feb 1 2016 –

Are You Really ‘Too Fat’, or are you a Victim of an Overzealous Obesity Campaign?

Conversations about Obesity often lump the Overweight class in with the Obese Classes:

The 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey says “more than 60 percent of adults were overweight or obese, with 24 percent being overweight and 37 percent obese.” The US Surgeon General says: “The crisis is obesity. It’s the fastest-growing cause of disease and death in America. And it’s completely preventable. Nearly two out of every three Americans are overweight or obese.”

When Overweight and Obese data is lumped together like that, the statistics include everyone who is a few pounds overweight to everyone who is several hundred pounds overweight. It makes the statistics on Obesity very alarming, but not very accurate.

Ewes not fat, ewes fluffy

I don’t think there is an ‘epidemic’ of Overweight people. In Canada , folks in the BMI designation of overweight (but not obese) have formed about 35% of the population since at least 1978. Remember, people in the overweight category include athletes who have more muscle mass than couch potatoes, a rapidly aging population that gains weight as their muscle mass and rate of burning calories declines, and all the women who put on a few pounds with the birth of each child and isn’t ever going to be High School slim again. I think that if it wasn’t for the Diet and Weight Loss Industries, most overweight people would think they were about as Normal as the ones in the “Normal” BMI category.

There is increasing evidence too, that Overweight people are at no more risk of disease and death than Normal weight ones. The results of a study at the University of Manitoba echoes other studies that have found little evidence to support the accusations that people in the Overweight category are unhealthy.

A Picture Story

Here are images of Women’s bodies as they correlate to BMI (Body Mass Index.)

What is your reaction to the body shapes as you look at them from left to right? Is the emaciated body on the left in a size ‘0’ a better body to own than the one on the right in a size ’28’? From a long term health perspective – if both women exercise, eat properly and make good lifestyle choices – health outcomes could be similar.  Unfortunately, the two body types won’t have the same social acceptance.

Stand in front of the mirror, with no make-up or clothing on. Do you accept and love yourself for who you are?

The Beauty Industry doesn’t let us forget that skinny is beautiful, but fat isn’t. Yet, Kathy Bates, Aretha Franklin and Oprah Winfrey are just a few of the more famous voluptuous women who don’t let weight get in the way of ‘living large’.

Living Large Cocktail: ¼ Dreams, ¼ Goals, ¼ Action, ¼ Courage
– Kerstin Wyman, EzineArticles –

Turn your focus away from what you look like and toward how you feel. For instance, you may look in the mirror and think you need to lose 15 pounds. But are you eating right? Are you taking care of your body? Are you being gentle and self-supportive? Are you healthy? If you can answer yes to these questions, consider that good enough. True health isn’t about fitting into a certain size or losing the muffin top — it’s about cultivating an internal state that supports a glowing, confident, and happy “external” you.
– Dr. Sooji Rugh, mbg, Feb 4, 2014 –

Why and What of Vanity Sizing and Metrics

Many years and houses ago – there was an odd looking dog living near us. She was a cross between a basset hound and a shepherd. Her name was Katie. She had short shepherd legs and a broad shouldered basset body; basset ears framed a shepherd muzzle. She was social like a basset and she seemed to have inherited the less than average intelligence of that breed too.

But we soon learned that Katie only understood Chinese. Once we adapted to that, we realized that Katie was actually quite bright. Katie’s short legs, long body and broad shoulders would have caused her no end of grief if she had been a human and had to buy ready made clothing. I know that, because I am a Katie.

My body measurements would be reason enough to hate shopping for clothes, but even more despicable is the world of This Size Fits Nobody and  Vanity Sizing. Presumably on purpose, some manufacturers have changed the cut of their garments so that a women who wore a certain size of garment in high school, can still wear that size years later, even though she has put on 20 pounds and her hourglass figure is now more like a pear or an apple.

Other manufacturers, however, tell it like it is. This means the average grandma like me will visit every women’s clothing store at four malls and will eventually find two pair of pants, one pair of shorts and three shirts – that more or less fit – and they will be either a S or M or L or 10 or 12 or 14. Then she will alter eveything, because no one makes clothing for Katie bodies, and it is too late to hire someone to make these things fit by Monday.

The short and the short of it (there is no long in my short world) is that most of the numbers that were once my touchstones, really aren’t all that relevant anymore.  My age, my height, even my weight, have become nonessential numbers in my life… okay, weight might be an essential number, but only if I truly want to do something to change it. If I don’t, then there is no point obsessing about it.

On the internet, social media thrives on vanity. Facebook and Twitter, just to name two, offer users the opportunity to gather friends, likes and or followers. These numbers, though they might look impressive, could be meaningless statistics, which is why they are called Vanity Metrics . This was a phrase coined by author Eric Ries and it refers to measurements that look good, but don’t actually indicate how successful something or someone is.

Here in the WordPress Blogging World, we have a Vanity Metric called ‘Followers’. This number should indicate how many people read our blog in the WordPress RSS feed reader. What it actually  means is how many people read our feed plus how many people don’t read our feed, but hope that by clicking the ‘follow’ button, we will reciprocate – thus boosting their Vanity Metric.

I have  been descended upon by a hoard of Fake Followers. These are people or bots that hope I will click the link to their blog and either buy their product or (and this is the mysterious part) click their link and find an empty blog.  Here are a couple of the more recent ones: Capture I don’t look at my followers list anymore – it is that useless. There might be some legitimate followers in there, but I really don’t have the time to try to find them. For the sake of full disclosure, I now have 956 followers –  and my best guess is that the vast majority of them are not actually readers.

If a measurement matters at all, it is because it must have some conceivable effect on decisions and behavior. If we can’t identify a decision that could be affected by a proposed measurement and how it could change those decisions, then the measurement simply has no value.
– Douglas W. Hubbard –

Now it is your turn – do you have a Vanity Number that makes you feel good, even though it might be just a tad unrealistic?

Distorted Perceptions of Beauty – Dove Evolution of a Model (Video)

At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us. At age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.
– Ann Landers (1918-2002) –

Why do you think women worry about how they look?

  • Do women tend to judge other women by how they look?
  • Are women bombarded by companies who want them to think that they don’t measure up?
  • Do women judge themselves by what is negative, not what is positive?
  • Do women pressure other women to conform to an idealized image of what is beautiful?
  • Do women equate aging to loss of beauty?
  • Do women believe beauty gives them a competitive edge in all facets of their lives?
  • Do women fear that men won’t like/love them if they are not beautiful?
  • Do women believe that beauty is of more value than intelligence?
  • Are women surrounded by media role models who are air brushed, photo shopped beauties?

An example of an Air Brushed and Photo Shopped Model:

Here are some other websites that discuss Distorted Perceptions of Beauty:

Real or Retouched? Distorted Perceptions of Beauty – An excellent example of very bizarre photo retouching.

Chasing Beauty: An Addict’s Memoir  by Lisa Hickey- “I want beauty not to matter.”

How much time do you spend trying to make yourself look better?

Do men worry about how they look? If so, why?

Simply Eggcellent – Don’t be a Stupid Girl (Video)

I Believe Women will achieve the Equality they deserve when they can defy all the industries that make them feel unworthy.
I Believe Women will achieve the Happiness they deserve when they quit worrying about their age, and how they look.
I Believe the Media does a better job at Instilling Fear in people than it does in empowering them.

Many women, I’ve discovered, don’t share my beliefs. They are willing to support the industries that tell them they are not good enough – not pretty enough, not thin enough, not sexy enough.

Fortunately, there are women who do share a few of my beliefs and one of these is the writer of the blog Hippie Cahier.  She recently wrote an ‘eggcellent post’ “I don’t wanna be a stupid girl”. Also, be very sure to watch the video by P!nk called Stupid Girls. 

 Another blogger who writes about women, both historically and in the present, is Barb at Before Morning Breaks. In this post she tells of a new fashion hell: Before Morning Breaks Considers Changing Buttletts.

Please use the comment form below to link to any of your posts, or any posts you have read elsewhere, that encourage women to ‘Not be Stupid Girls’!

_________________

Some of my other Rants about why I wish Women would ignore the industries and the media that they are slaves to:

A 3 Dressed Up As a 9 – Sondra the Snow Goddess before and after she is photoshopped so she looks thinner.
A Skinny-Obsessed World – “Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be Stupid Girls.” J.K. Rowling
The Beauty Hype – I’m against women being told they must color their hair or hide their wrinkles or paint their faces or wear certain clothes or lose weight – in order to be beautiful.
Mother Nature Defies the Beauty Industry! Can you imagine what the world would look like if Mother Nature listened to the human Beauty Industry?
How to Run in Stilettos – “Courage is no match for an unfriendly shoe“. Roger Moore, as James Bond
What Dressing Like a Slut Says – So ladies, wear revealing clothing if you want to. But don’t ever think it is safe to wear anything you want where ever you want. Life isn’t about Why you shouldn’t be a victim, it is about how NOT to be a victim.
The Glass Ceiling is Made of Cloth – But really ladies, if you can’t peacefully co-exist with your own body (just as it is when you hop out of the shower) why do you think you are playing on the same field as the men you are competing with?
The Many Faces of Women’s Equality – I’m all for women’s liberation and gender equality. I just don’t want to see the children get trampled in the morning rush to the office.
The Power of Grey Hair – Mia Gallagher believes our fear of mortality is behind the fear of ageing and treating ageing as a disease that can be cured with potions. “If aging is a disease then life is a disease.”
Women, Liberation, Freedom, Beauty – As Naomi Wolf explained in The Beauty Myth: “An ideology that makes women feel “worth less” was urgently needed to counteract the way feminism had begun to make us feel worth more.”

1 Weird Old Tip Scam

Nothing irritates me more than a certain ad on webpages. You know the one – a belly that inflates and deflates. “Cut down a bit of your belly everyday by following this 1 weird old tip.”

I have ignored the ad until today. Today I wanted to find out just how weird this tip could be. Would it be as simple as My Strawberry Diet (which was not really so much a diet as a matter of eating a bunch of strawberries and working hard all week.)

So I clicked the picture. This led me into the world of those who would like me to believe that the answer to the obesity epidemic is the African Mango Diet. If you had clicked the ad, you would likely have been led to a different weird old tip because the same ad is linked to any number of other small diet-product sellers. (If you are interested in how these diet scams work and what the Federal Trade Commission is doing about it, there are a few stories on the internet.)

But let’s get back to the African Mango Diet. It is a pill made from the African Mango seed. It is sold by any number of online companies who want you to believe there is a miracle pill that will make you skinny. Call me a skeptic, but I don’t believe there is a diet pill out there that has no serious side effects, and causes people to safely lose 22 pounds in a month.

There might be, however, online companies who want your credit card number so they can keep charging you month after month for products that don’t help your battle with the bulge, but do a good job of making your bank balance smaller.

There is no such thing as a weird human being, It’s just that some people require more understanding than others.
– Tom Robbins –

Crochet – A 3 Dressed Up As a 9

I don’t think people should be judged by their looks, do you? There is a catchy song by Trooper that confirms the stereotype that men are only interested in women’s looks, and that women will do what it takes to meet a man’s expectations:

You looked a whole lot better to me
From twenty feet away
You’re just a 3 dressed up as a 9 ….
– Trooper –

The Fashion and Beauty Industry have certainly capitalized on the desire of women to be younger, thinner, firmer, smoother…. and if the product can’t actually do what it claims, then the Advertising Industry will find a graphic artist who will make sure that expectations and reality appear to be one and the same. (If you Google ‘Airbrushing Celebrity Before and After’ you’ll see  some excellent examples.)

red and whiteLet me demonstrate how simple it is to alter a photo to make a model ‘more beautiful’. In the photo above, Sondra the Snow Goddess is modelling the latest in scarf wear.

Here is Sondra after a session in Photoshop. Her eyes are more symmetrical, her lips have been plumped up, and her whole body has been elongated. Do you think she looks more ‘beautiful’? The right answer is “No, of course not!” Any other answer is dead wrong.

Perhaps the simplest way to make Sondra’s photo more dramatic, without altering her body, is to add a frame to her photo. If your Blog theme doesn’t add a frame, you can do it yourself before you upload. I use a program called FastStone Image Viewer to add my copyright and a simple frame.

Would you like to make your own Sondra the Snow Goddess? The directions for these Mini Crochet Snowmen are at Cut Out and Keep. I used Crochet Cotton, and though this made a very cute snowman that was only 1.75 inches tall, next time I would use a heavier wool and bigger crochet hook.

Skinny-Obsessed World – Is ‘Fat’ Really the Worst Thing We Can Be?

Paige, at ‘Mastering the Art of Life’ recently wrote a post called ‘My Life as a Number’. She talks frankly about women’s obsession with their weight and dress size, and how those two numbers, if they don’t fall within the criteria dictated by society, can overshadow all the other characteristics that truly describe a person. Paige ends her piece with a quote by J.K. Rowling from the J.K. Rowling Official Site.

In a post called ‘For Girls Only, Probably’  J.K. says in part:

“Is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me.”

“I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be Stupid Girls.”

The Media Awareness Network describes what is at stake for women in a post called Beauty and Body Image in the Media. The quest for an image that is unattainable for all but a few can have devastating effects. This post ends by saying:

Women learn to compare themselves to other women, and to compete with them for male attention. This focus on beauty and desirability “effectively destroys any awareness and action that might help to change that climate.”

On a recent vacation, I watched as a skinny 8 year old girl in a bikini bathing suit interacted with a group of pre-teen little boys by saying to them, “How do you like my new bathing suit?”  She proceeded to model it, but she was quickly abandoned by the boys who had no interest in her bathing suit, or her, apparently.

In reality, she just wanted to join in the game they were playing, and once she resumed normal child broadcasting, she was welcomed into the fray. But somehow, somewhere, she has already started to be programmed by the Beauty Industry, and I find that very unfortunate.

Do You Like You? Try Being Comfortable in Your Skin (Video)

‘Try’ by Colbie Caillat : “It’s this song I’ve had in my head my entire life about personal insecurities, imperfections, self-confidence issue. I thought I was the only person who felt that way and now I release this song that so many people around the world are relating too, so many different age ranges, men and women.”

Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can’t put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you’re doing it from a position of correction.
– Kevyn Aucoin –

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you probably realize I am not a big fan of the Beauty Industry. It is not that I am against many of the products. I’m just against the entire multi-billion dollar machine that tells women they aren’t good enough unless they use these products.

I’m against women being told they must color their hair or hide their wrinkles or paint their faces or wear certain clothes or lose weight – in order to be beautiful.

I’m against glossy advertisements that sell a dream that is unrealistic and unattainable.

I’m against skinny models and botox and fad diets.

I’m against any activity that pits women against women in a contest to see who is more beautiful. I’m against child beauty pageants, the catty world of tabloid magazines and touched up photos in print media.

I’m against anything that makes women feel inferior if they don’t conform to a set of standards.

On the lighter side, I am curious why Google sent people to my blog after they typed in these search terms:

– are there medical research on how to get rid of grey hair
– picture of someone who looks older than their age due to stress

Was Google thinking of this photo of me when they sent people to my site?

Mother Nature’s Bark Defies the Beauty Industry!

Can you imagine what the world would look like if Mother Nature listened to the human Beauty Industry?

This wonderful gnarled old willow would have had a facelift or two. The bark would have been plumped and smoothed by moisturizers and botox.

This plump old Aspen would have been on a diet for, well probably all of its adult life.

But Mother Nature is much wiser than any human. She knows that beauty is everywhere and it is ageless.

It makes me wish I was a tree. If I was, I’d be old enough to be the lumpy, bumpy, wrinkly, crinkly Queen of the Forest! And I would be tall, too… 

How to Run in Stilettos – But Why Would You?

The truth is, you can’t run in Stilettos, or most High Heels for that matter. At least the average woman can’t. But that doesn’t stop some women from trying. There are many Stiletto Races staged around the world to raise money for charity, or to promote a product. One of the most recent ones was held in the Philippines. “Michelle Fernandez-Castillo, Maybelline New York Philippines’ senior brand manager, said they decided to bring the race to the country to help empower Filipinas. “The stiletto is the first thing that comes to a woman’s mind whenever she needs something to feel good and look good. Through this race, we hope to show the world how powerful women are,” she declared.

Yes, I can certainly see how the women of the Philippines will feel much better about themselves when they put on their stilettos. And they will definitely feel very powerful when they can run in them… Either that, or Maybelline is just using a clever marketing ploy to sell the Filipinas the same boatloads of beauty myths that they sell to the rest of the world.

The Stiletto Run is just wrong in so many ways. First, and foremost, is the fact that women wear those high heel shoes at all, and then run in them. Yes, I understand the term “sexy”. But why do women have to wear something so uncomfortable to be sexy, while the men watch in comfort from the sidelines? That, to me, says that the men are the ones with the smarts and the power, not the women.

Then there are High Heels in general. The foot, leg and back problems they cause are monumental, yet the number of women that wear them on a daily basis continues to climb. It is estimated that in the USA, one in five women suffer from foot problems due to wearing high heels.

Wake up women. If you want to feel good about yourself, put on a pair of sneakers and go for a walk. You’ve only got one pair of feet, and they have to last you a lifetime.

Courage is no match for an unfriendly shoe.
– Roger Moore, as James Bond –