Tag Archives: body image

The Spectrum of Threatening to Disgusting

5 Oct
skinnyvcurvy

Courtesy of About-Face

A fashion week/month is still in full swing. I love it because I love clothes and seeing what the designers have in store for the following season (even if I can’t afford the hems on those clothes).

The models that strut the runway are there to present the fashion. Their job is to sell the clothes. In order to to that, the clothes have to be appear appealing. Because all women aren’t shaped the same, it’s useful if the clothes appear on different body types. One day, the trend will change and designers will create pieces that look good on different body types.

Until then, we have to contend with the Joan Smallses, Jourdan Dunnes, Kendall Jenners and Gigi Hadids of the world. But just because these women all wear the essentially the same size, it doesn’t mean their all built the same. To the average woman, these are tall, thin women. But Gigi and Joan have larger busts. Kendall has longer legs. Jourdan has the better strut. It’s these pieces of these women that get picked apart by fashion bloggers and critics.

Gigi posted a photo of her walking in the Versace show lat week where (gasp) her thighs were touching. For shame! Gigi Hadid is a tall, thin model. She has a few more curves than some of her colleagues, but not as much as the Tyra Bankses of the world. A few comments on her Instagram led her to respond about the sea change in the fashion industry where her body type hasn’t been accepted in the industry for a long time.

A post shared by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid) on

There are positives and negatives with this. First, good for her for having body confidence. So many women her age are still struggling with being confident in their shapes and size. She’s already ahead of the curve. The problem, however, is that, as she says, she still fits sample sizes. She has abs. Gigi, while still experiencing body shaming, sits on the threatening end of the body spectrum.

A recent article on New York Magazine’s site brought up why it’s so hard for people to discuss weight. Unlike some of our other metrics (age, height, shoe size), weight fluctuates so much for a variety of factors. Despite where you lie on the scale, your place on the spectrum of threatening (thin) to disgusting (obese) is solely at the discretion of others. It’s a wholly unfair system, but it’s how we see each other.

Gigi Hadid’s comments are the same as a size 2 woman complaining to her size 22 sister about how she can’t find the clothes she likes in her size. It’s not that the size 2 woman doesn’t have the right to complain, it’s that it’s coming from someone who seemingly has everything. It’s the poor-little-rich-girl syndrome.

I’ll admit that I have fallen prey and been victim of these judgements. My struggles with fluctuating weight are well documented on this here blog. I’ve been both the skinny and the fat friend. It’s easy to think others are living in glass houses when you’re trying to clear the sludge from your own windows. It takes a lot of personal effort not to focus on other people’s seeming successes while you’re working on your growth.

I wish I could offer an easy fix for this, but there isn’t one. It comes with time. You learn not to let others have their space to vent their issues without judging them for wanting better for themselves.

BMI Is Bullsh–

14 Sep

mindy_gif

We are data-centric creatures. As much as many of us cringed at the thought of algebra, we all love numbers. Numbers are definite. Two plus two will always be four. You will always be one year older on your birthday. It took two humans to create one human you. All of these things are facts for us to base future decisions off of.

Much like the BMI. Your body mass index is there solely to help you make future decisions. But recognize that the BMI is also bullshit.

Think of it this way: A 5-foot-8, 140-pound woman and her 5-foot-2, 115-pound friend can easily wear the same size 4 dress. How? Because the way our bodies are shaped help determine what fits, not necessarily the numbers involved with it. Your size 10 jeans from the Gap may fit like a dream. Buy those jeans in the same cut from Levi’s and you’ll probably need a different size. It’s not that your body changed significantly. It’s just that the jeans were made differently.

This point was proven further earlier this year when Body Labs released its BMI Visualizer. The visualizer creates a 3D composite of a person’s body based on three factors: gender, height and weight. That’s it. Like most BMI calculators, it doesn’t take into account activity level, fat vs. muscle mass or mass distribution.

When I did my visualizer, it looked nothing like my current body shape. For example, this was taken a few weeks ago before a race.

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This is what it says my body looks like.

visualizer

Obviously, there are a few differences. I’m short, but I’m not that squat-shaped. I’ve got a tummy, but not that much of a gut. It got the pear shape right, though. The Visualizer also doesn’t look like I work out much, which we all know is a flat-out lie.

The folks at Body Labs took several body scans of people with similar heights and weight and came up with different proportions for all of them. How is this possible? Because the BMI is bullshit.

visualizer_all_bodies

Don’t worry so much about what the BMI is telling you. If you are truly concerned about your health and weight, stay in contact with your physician. Have your doctor refer you to a nutritionist. The best way to monitor your weight is to take care with your caloric intake. Cutting calories will help you lose weight faster, exercise will help you shape your body.

If you really want to concern yourself with a number, calories should be your No. 1 priority. Calories fuel the body, but you don’t want to top off your tank. Get enough to get you where you need to be, not so much that you’re just sitting around on useless fuel. Then worry about he amount of fat, next cholesterol then sodium. The thing is that you need all of these things, but in moderation.

The BMI is a tool, not the toolkit. Think of your health as building a house, and the BMI is your hammer. You still need wood, a level, nails, screwdriver, etc. The hammer is useless without everything else.

In Shape to Work Out

29 Jul
womens_running_cover

Courtesy of Women’s Running

I have large thighs. Occasionally they look like tree trunks. As I’ve gotten older, my arms have gotten wobbly. I have the opposite of a six-pack. And there’s flab in places I’d prefer it not to be.

I’m also a runner.

When perusing health magazines–or magazines in general–you won’t come across people who look much like me. But get out on the trail, and you’ll find us there. Those of us with short legs and jiggly butts. Those of us who’ve never had flat stomachs but possess awkward gaits. We’re out there with the supermodels and the model parents. We’re making full use of what nature has provided in order to make ourselves healthy.

We’re out there with people like Erica Schenk. It was such a treat to see Erica on the cover of Women’s Running magazine. The August issue features Erica mid-stride in her super-cute running wear, looking like many of the runners I pass (but also pass me).

Erica, who was being shot for a spread on the different available sizes in athletic wear, ended up being the editor’s choice for the cover.

“There’s a stereotype that all runners are skinny, and that’s just not the case,” editor-in-chief Jessica Sebor said in an interview with Today.com. “Runners come in all shapes and sizes. You can go any race finish line, from a 5K to a marathon, and see that. It was important for us to celebrate that.”

It’s important to celebrate athletes of all sizes. Just as Amanda Bingson is a powerhouse at the hammer throw,  Prince Fielder is an amazing hitter and Misty Copeland is a technical wizard at ballet, you can excel at your field.

Or you can just participate in it. Being of able body doesn’t mean having the perfect body. We can’t all be shaped like Brittney Griner or Michael Phelps in order to succeed at a sport. It helps if you want to excel. But the only requirements for participation is a wilingness to try.

That’s it. You just have to want to do it. Getting better at it will come with time. As I said, definition is not the definition of success. Success is defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Did you accomplish the task by finishing your run? Did you do the extra laps at the pool you’d intended on doing? Were you able to increase your resistance and not pass out?

Success! And you did it all without looking like a fitness model.

Do the work and worry about the image later. If you want further defined legs and arms, then make that a goal. Worrying about what you like like on the road to success will only slow you down. As for me, I’ll take my tree-trunk thighs to the pool, spin class and even the park because it’s what I enjoy doing. And my in-shape brethren will be there with me (likely eating my dust).

Have you ever let your size deter you from trying a new fitness activity? If you were able to overcome it, how did you do it?

Prom Night

4 May

promWhen I was in high school, I couldn’t wait for prom. I was that girl. My daily attire consisted of some combination of jeans, T-shirts, sweatshirts and sweatpants. If the weather warmed up, I’d throw on some shorts. But when it came to events like homecoming and prom, I’d turn it up a notch. I’d put on skirts and stockings, wear a little makeup and even have a purse to carry it in for touch ups. And let’s not forget the heels. I looked like a different person. I didn’t feel the need to dress up on the regular because I had to walk what felt like a gazillion miles to and from in addition to having Pom-Pom practice after school. Dresses were for special occasions.

Today’s kids don’t need an occasion to get dolled up. But they still treat that annual rite of passage—prom—with a bit of reverence. They look forward to letting their style shine through. For many, it’s their own version of the Oscars.

If that’s the case, why shouldn’t they shine bright like the diamonds they are? If that’s the case, why would an adult prevent one from letting her light shine because she wasn’t size appropriate?

That’s the sense I got when I read the story of Alexus Miller-Wigfall of Harrisburg, Penn., who was suspended because a school official deemed her prom dress too revealing. Another school administrator ripped up the reprimand, though no one has explained why Alexus was suspended in the first place.

alexus

Please, tell me what you see. I see a beautiful girl who’s face is beat. Who looks wonderful in red. Whose date looks like he just won the lottery. Who looks simply amazing.

What I don’t see is a girl revealing any more flesh than some of her schoolmates may have. She’s actually quite modest except for the V in the bodice, which, let’s be honest, is as deep as the V in a T-shirt.

It’s bad enough when our peers shame us for our appearances, but for a school official to pick on a student who is dressed so lovely for such a special occasion is reprehensible. How is that ok?

It’s not. This site isn’t just about my weight-loss journey. It’s about coming to terms with who you are, both physically and mentally. Wherever you are on your journey, you still have to live life. You still have to interact with people. And you should try to take moments of joy whenever you can, regardless of what you look like.

Alexus did just that and she deserved to have the prom of her dreams. Screw the administrator who took that away from her.

How to Get Beach-Body Ready

27 Apr
bikini_body

Courtesy of Tumblr

The worst is finally over. Soon, we’ll have non-stop 70-plus-degree days. The sun will shine, the leaves will bud on trees and the beach will be calling your name.

Yes, skinny people, it’s almost time to get back on the beach. I’ve had my own issues with being beach-body ready. Or, really, bikini ready. Those are two different things that are kind of the same, if you think about it.

Being bikini ready literally means being ready to wear a bikini. The funny thing is, bikinis come in every size. I knew this before I put on my first bikini, but still didn’t feel confident enough to wear one. Eventually I got over it and put on the suit you see in the strip at the top.

I even gained so much confidence in my bikini body that I bought a suit in the city known for the tiniest suits to man. Rio de Janeiro, God bless is, has no shame when it comes to being bikini ready. Someone from Brazil told me that to wear a full-piece bathing suit is to stick out like a sore thumb. She even said that she feels weird wearing bottoms that cover her whole bottom. It’s just not done in Brazil.

So when I was in Brazil, I did as the Brazilians did and wore the world’s smallest bathing suit. It was four pieces of fabric held together by string. It covered just what needed to be covered. And not a snicker was heard. Because nobody in Brazil cares. It’s hot, the beach is cool, and you can get some sun and a nice ocean breeze.

The beauty of that is beaches are everywhere. And while having the confidence to do as Brazilians did may sit well with me on another continent, I may not always feel myself enough to rock that sucker here in the states. But that’s not going to stop me from going to the beach. The beach is for everyone and every body. Sand doesn’t discriminate when it gets stuck between your toes. Ocean water is salty no matter what size you are. And the sun will fry you regardless of your dress size.

So if that’s the case, then what’s the fuss about being beach-body ready? Beach-body readiness is the line of propaganda fed to us like warm, gooey mac and cheese to get people to feel bad about themselves for wearing less clothing at the beach. It’s bullshit. In order to be beach-body ready, you need to have and do three things.

1. Have a body

2. Take that body to the beach

3. Wear whatever you want

This weekend, some Londoners are planning to protest this sign, saying it body shames people into feeling bad that they don’t look like the model at the beach. Screw that company and screw anyone who wants to put people down for not being their definition of “beach-body ready.” You do you.

If you’re not feeling your look that day, you don’t have to wear a bikini or even a bathing suit. Wear what makes you comfortable. Look up the weather that day. Find out if you need to bring an extra set of pants if it’s getting cool that night. Or rock out in your kaftan. Or cover up head to toe in a burqa, if that’s your steez. It doesn’t matter. If you want to be at the beach, take it to the beach.

All I ask is that you slather on the SPF, because skin cancer doesn’t care how much you weigh.