Tag Archives: body positive

Body You Want vs. Body You Get

27 Apr
reflections

Courtesy of Tumblr

I’m getting old. Well, older. My birthday is in a few weeks, but I’m reminded daily of the toll age is taking on me. Mostly, the toll age is taking on my hair. In the past few months, I’ve noticed more and more white hairs popping up to besmirch my luscious black. I had a feeling this would happen. While my mother barely grayed, my father has a head full of white hair. I can’t remember him not having gray hair, albeit not this much.

This constant reminder of days gone by can be a drag. But the good thing is, I can dye it back to black. I can cut it or style it to where the grays are hidden. And if I get it cut in a style that looks like I told my beautician to betray me, I can go somewhere else and get something better. Or I can wear wigs. Or I can get braids. Or I can shave my head and start all over again.

There are numerous options available to me when it comes to getting the hair I want. I may find a style in a book that looks great there, but looks terrible on me. The same can be said for my body.

There is a trap we all get into when it comes to weight loss. We look at Vogue, Elle, InStyle and the rest of them and see the Jourdan Dunns, Joan Smalls, Lara Stones and the like. Or we look at the sports magazines and see the Serena Williamses, Rhonda Rouseys or Alyson Felixes of the world and we paste them up on our vision boards.

“That’s what I want to look like,” we tell ourselves.

Courtesy of Tumblr

Courtesy of Tumblr

The problem with that is we don’t always know what we’re in for. Serena and her sister Venus share the same 100+ mile-an-hour serve, they have the same nose and even their giggles sound alike. But they are shaped very differently. It’s not that one works out more than the other. It’s that they are physically different.

Discovering that the work you’re doing won’t make you look like your idol can feel like a setback. Try to think of it as a step forward. Your weight-loss journey is yours alone. Your idol didn’t take you there. Your idol didn’t prepare your meals or lace up your sneakers. Your idol didn’t wake you up at the butt-crack of dawn to burn calories. That was all you. Your idol was your motivation, don’t let them be your goal.

You did all the work and now is the time to celebrate. Take pride in the muscle you’ve toned on your arms. Take another gander at those gams that have shaped up recently. Rub on that stomach that’s not pooching out as much anymore. It doesn’t look like your idol’s. It looks like you.

not_the_sameWe’ve all heard the lines. “I’d kill for her calves.” “Her arms are my obsession.” “That’s what I want my butt to look like in a dress.” It’s a nice idea, but maybe it’s not for you. Maybe your calves don’t curve that way. Maybe bicep curls and triceps dips will only keep the turkey giggle away and not form tighter muscles. And maybe your butt is just your butt. It doesn’t make your body less than anything you’ve seen in the magazines.

John Mayer had it right: your body is a wonderland. It will move how you want it, but it will shape on its own. Love it anyway.

Feelin’ Myself

15 Apr
feelin_myself

This night, I was feeling pretty good.

Some days I feel like junk. Take today: my hamstrings ache, my thighs feel like tree trunks, my ankles feel weak and I don’t think I can lift my arms above my head. Then there’s the laughing. I like to laugh. Aside from sleeping and eating, it’s my favorite thing to do. But it hurts when I laugh. Ab work will do that to you.

It’s my own fault. I’ve been working out like a monster, ready to Hulk Smash anything in my sight. It’s all for a purpose. I’m ready to start feelin’ myself.

It’s not that I haven’t been feelin’ myself already. The eight pounds of clothes I’d worn during the never-ending winter were piled on in the most aesthetically pleasing way. I keep my pretty on fleek regardless.

It’s just that I’m trying to remain hopeful. Even though it had been in the low 30s halfway through spring, the weather is finally breaking. I’ll keep my standing bi-weekly appointment for a pedicure. I’ll be able to enjoy the simplicity of wardrobe that comes with deciding between sundresses (because any of them are perfect for the weather). I’ll be able to slip those perfectly pedicured tootsies in one of an array of sandals and walk out of my door.

Until then, I’ve got to prepare. So it’s five to six days at the gym. It’s salads, lean meats and rice and beans. It’s steamed vegetables and fruit cups. Because my favorite time of year is coming and I’m going to stop the world with my skin-baring ways.

I’m going to whip all that work I put in at the gym. And on the running path. And in my living room with workout DVDs. Because in order to stop the world, I’ve got to get what, in my mind, is right. I like seeing the results of my efforts and the summertime shine allows the perfect opportunity for that.

Fellin’ yourself is the culmination of an insane amount of work. Look at your body idols. Even if they’ve had the help of a surgeon to get their curves just right, they still have to work to maintain them. And the result is being a show off. They show off their arms, legs, abs, shoulders, backs, etc. Why? Because they can. Because they’re feelin’ themselves.

Even if you haven’t reached your peak, you’ve done some great things for yourself this winter. Now that the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing and your toes have wiggle room outside your Uggs, take advantage of it and start showing off.

Get your pretty on fleek. Whip all that work you did to make it this far. And stop the world with your confidence. You deserve it.

Carry on.

…On Kelly Clarkson

6 Apr

Nick Jonas and Kelly Clarkson Perform Valentine's Gig at G-A-YDuring the summer of 2002, I was an editing intern at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. At the time, the paper was one of the top publications in the country, consistently lauded for its reporting, opinion pieces and photography. I was there to learn everything I could to help me on my journey toward a successful journalism career. I took time out to learn different things about how the industry works, how editors interacted with different reporters and even higher management. Most of all, I learned whether or not this was the career for me, since it was one I had been chasing for such a long time.

Also, at the time, I was knocking on 180-190 pounds. How is this relevant? It isn’t.

clarkson_idolYou see, at the time that I was learning more about the field I hoped to pursue, another young woman was being tested and mentored by people in her field. Her name is Kelly Clarkson and she is the winner of the first season of “American Idol.” Clarkson and I don’t have much in common besides being unapologetic ’80s babies our fluctuating waist lines. She’s a Southern girl who hasn’t minced words about her love of food. I’m a Midwestern girl who has vowed to leave no Goldfish behind.

Still the biggest thing we share is our passion for our professions. Clarkson is an amazing singer. Her voice packs so much power you feel it through your speakers. And it has absolutely nothing to do with her weight.

Clarkson will celebrate her daughter’s first birthday in a couple of months. Since the birth of her child, she’s gained some weight and doesn’t seem to give two shits about it.

“I yo-yo. Sometimes I’m more fit and I get into kickboxing and hardcore, and then sometimes I don’t and go, ‘Nope, I’d rather have wine!’” she said on Ellen.

Others seem to care more than she does. Both British TV personality Katie Hopkins and Fox News host Chris Wallace have jumped in to give their opinions about Clarkson’s weight. Neither has a right to judge. It’s not for us to decide when or how a person chooses to take care of their health. Clarkson is going on tour this summer, which will require a lot of stamina. It’s not her first time, so I’m sure she knows how to prepare herself mentally and physically for the task.

I am not, nor will I ever be, here for body shaming. It is not the job of others to dictate what another person should look like. The weight-loss journey is a personal one. It is a road filled with highs and lows, smiles and tears. And it is never ending. Just as we evolve in our careers, we evolve on our journeys. One day you’ll be happiest at your thinnest, the next you stop beating yourself up over that Five Guys burger. As long as you are still living life the best way you know how with some sense of purpose, your size along the way doesn’t matter.

As fans, all we require of our artists is that they show up (preferably on time) and perform with gusto to earn our hard-earned money. Clarkson is perfectly capable of doing that at any size. If she decides to lose weight, good on her. If she decides this she’s happiest at the size she is now, good on her. All I want is for her to sing “Since You’ve Been Gone” and “My Life Would Suck Without You.” Everything else is up to her.

scew_em

Don’t Waist Your Time

11 Mar

cinderella

I grew up with boys. My rough-and-tumble childhood of wrestling, running and video games didn’t leave much room for dolls. I had stuffed animals, but I was never a big fan of Barbie dolls. I think it was the hard plastic. It just never did anything for me. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized how unrealistic her body shape was. A few years ago, Rehabs.com built an infographic showing what a life-size Barbie would look like.

When I began my weight-loss journey, I always had health in the forefront of my mind. But outside influences have a way of creeping in. I thought about some of the girls in music videos and in magazines. I wanted my hourglass figure to be a little more defined from its larger size. As the pounds began to fall off, I saw how small my waist was becoming. My bust and hips slimmed down at a slower rate, so my figure at times would look cartoonish. But I was okay with that.

For this reason, I can sympathize with Lily James, the new Cinderella in this weekend’s remake. Though she is much, much smaller than I am, I understand her irritation with the criticism of her body. Corsets are a thing. They cinch the waist in unbelievable ways. If she were just shown only in her corset and tights, you’d likely see bustle of the dress makes her waist seem even smaller. It’s not really her figure you’re looking at.

The beauty of undergarments is that they can give you the sillouette you’re looking for to fit any occasion. With a corset here, a push-up bra there and a pair of Spanx, you, too, can look like Cinderella or Barbie. You also won’t be able to breathe or eat. Thems the breaks.

Your idea of what you want to look like and the way you’re actually shaped are two things you’ll eventually have to come to terms with.  Once you’ve got a better understanding of how your body looks and moves, then you can outfit it. The human body has its limitations, and it will take time for you to find those.

The beauty of those limitations is you never know what they are until you hit them. It could be as simple as going an extra mile on your run, doing an extra lap at the pool or even taking another week off with no dairy. And after you’ve put in the extra, extra effort and you observe the physical results of that work, you’ll know that you’ve done all you can to achieve your goals.

So if your goal was to have Cinderella’s waist or Barbie’s thighs, good luck to you. But know that achieving that goal may not be what’s right for your body.

#AskHerMore

23 Feb

I’ve been a fan of Reese Witherspoon’s for a while. Most people fell in love with her in “Cruel Intentions.” But my adoration began with “Man in the Moon.” It’s a coming-of-age where she plays a spunky and smart 14-year-old who doesn’t conform to what people think she should be. She likes a boy, so she makes that fact known to him. She likes to run and swim, so she goes running and swimming. Her parents suggest being a little more feminine, but they don’t push it on her. There’s more to her than her femininity.

I’m reminded of this because before last night’s ridonculously long Oscar ceremony, Reese put a photo up on Instagram with the hashtag #AskHerMore. For years, questions posed to women on the red carpet have centered on “Who are you wearing?” “How long did it take you to get ready?” “What’s in your purse?” “Did you diet before the coming here?” On one hand, I want to know who the designer of the dress is out of curiosity. On the other, what someone has in their purse crosses a line of invasion. How long it took a woman to get ready is such a misogynistic question that I can’t even. If there’s more to put on, it takes longer to get ready. That’s just facts; no need to dwell on it.

Worst of all is the diet question. We live in an image-obsessed society that places too much emphasis on how much weight a person has lost or gained in any given amount of time. Not only that, but no one asks the men if they’ve been dieting or working out before coming on the show. You know why? Because it doesn’t matter. These ceremonies are supposed to be a celebration of work, not a celebration of image.

Focusing on the image only hammers home the belief that it’s all that matters. Taking care of your health is different from taking care of your image. Diet and exercise are the keys to good health. Your image is something that is personal to you. How you look and how you want others to see you is the internal struggle you’ll forever deal with. Discussing the inner workings of that process in front of the E! red carpet cameras probably isn’t the best platform to be hashing out something so personal.

That’s why I am such a fan of Reese and others who pushed the #AskHerMore hashtag. Instead of focusing on her appearance, reporters were encouraged to ask about the work. Instead of diving into a stranger’s handbag, interviewers were pressed to ask about an actor’s relationship to the role. And instead of asking about the work it took to prepare for the night, reporters were requested to ask about the work it took to prepare for a scene.

These ceremonies are just big parties where people want to ask fun questions. But it’s a party honoring work, so don’t forget to ask about that, too.

Did you make it to the end of the three-and-a-a-half hours of the Oscars? Wasn’t Common and John Legend’s performance Glorious?