Category Archives: Body Image

New Year – More Yoga

Happy New Year.  So far 2011 is pretty cool (even though the Pittsburgh Penguins lost the Winter Classic to the Washington Capitals yesterday – UGH!). But other than that, life is good.  Got to hang with family and eat some delicious food and I must say, I’m ready to head back to Frederick and get 2011 cracking.

One thing that will change is that my duties at my yoga job have expanded such that I’ll be blogging for the studio at their blog, entitled, Shine.  Which means I’ll be doing more yoga.  Which means, I’ll be getting healthier.  Because of that, my blogging may be more along the lines of yoga/health/food these next few months.  Since this isn’t a yoga/health/food blog, I will simply link to those posts from this blog and if you feel inclined to head over and read about my yoga adventures, feel free.

The first post of 2011 is New Year – More Yoga.  Enjoy.

Happy Birthday Barbie!

This has been around a while, but in case you haven’t seen it.

The Pesky Pink Patch

I love the blogosphere, especially when it teaches me something new.

If you have a teenage daughter, well scratch that. If you know anyone that tends to perk up when they see an ad for a weight loss product – so that would mean, basically everyone with ovaries – head on over to The Blog That Ate Manhattan and learn more about the pink patch and why it shouldn’t be advertised on places like My Space.

Then after you’ve told everyone that has ovaries, sit down your daughters and teach them about bullshit advertising, that they can’t always believe everything that they read, billions are spent on worthless weight loss products, etc, etc., and so forth.

Away From Hollywood’s Version Of “Her”

When you get a chance, rent actor/writer/director Sarah Polley’s acclaimed movie, Away From Her, starring Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent. Ms. Christie was nominated for a Golden Globe and will probably get an Oscar nod as well, so you’ll be hearing a lot about this film which chronicles how a woman, a spouse and eventually a marriage, slowly succumb to Alzheimer’s. It’s an amazingly subtle and intelligent movie with superb performances.

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Yet, sometimes when I’m watching a movie, even a great movie, I get distracted by the actors on screen. For example, a sex scene with an anorexic actress makes me anxious. I’ll start counting her ribs and wonder how she can simulate sex with such sharp and pointy hip bones without injuring the actor on top of her and I’ll stop paying attention all together. Or if an actor has too many moles, I’ll count them in lieu of listening to his dialogue. I must say with this film I was so taken aback by Ms. Christie’s beauty that often times I stopped paying attention and had to rewind a scene.

The fact that Julie Christie is beautiful isn’t anything new so I was confused as to why I found her so distracting. Then I realized that I was seeing something onscreen that I’m not used to seeing. I got to see a beautiful and sexy 67-year-old playing a beautiful and sexy 60-something-year-old and frankly, it caught me by surprise.

Christie’s face, actually matches her neck and her hands. This face, free from botox, actually moved when she emoted. Her real-life wrinkles, evidence of a life well-lived, allowed me to connect with the character deeply. To play someone that is slowly losing her mind, you must look stunned and confused while trying not to look lost – something a face full of botulism just wouldn’t have been able to do.

In the movie, Christie’s character, Fiona, states, I think I may be beginning to disappear, as she is keenly aware of her mental decline and how it will inevitably progress. Interestingly enough, actresses like Christie, due to Hollywood’s unrealistic portrayals of beauty, usually do disappear. Thus seeing her for 110 minutes was quite exhilarating.

I believe that you must see what it is that you’re trying to create if you want to make it happen. Likewise, as women age we also must have the luxury of seeing ourselves on screens large and small and in the pages of magazines, not just in Dove commercials. We must see realistic bodies and wrinkles and age spots and neck waddles and allow their beauty and poignancy to be revealed to us. We must see the change we will inevitably be if we are to transform into it with any grace at all.

So kudos to you, Sarah Polley. It’s movies like this one and an actress like Christie that takes women one step closer to being fully invested in themselves as is at any age rather than becoming like Fiona, wandering around looking for something – but you can’t quite remember what that something is.

Body Image Benefits

See how fat I was back in 5th grade?

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Hey wait a second. I wasn’t fat…I was merely insane.

Avoiding swimsuits, pools, tanning beds and short shorts was a pastime from about 4th grade onward. Maybe even an art-form. I was good at it. Well, I don’t want to brag, but, I was great at it. If avoiding being in a bathing suit was an Olympic event, I would make Mr. T look subtle. There was always a great excuse to keep my thighs covered. I could say that I was broke and couldn’t afford the entrance fee or didn’t have a ride across town to the Washington Park Pool. At night with friends I could claim to be “chilled” while wearing longer jams or peddle pushers when loafing with my friends on a breezy summer’s evening. Even my softball uniform had long pants for safe sliding purposes, so I could seriously avoid revealing skin when needed.

Yes I was insane. Sure I was a jackass when it came to looking in the mirror and seeing the truth. Of course it was obsessive, narcissistic even. Hell ya it was an AMAZING waste of mental energy. Damn straight I would give anything to gain back every minute lost trying to find a pair of jeans that made my ass look tight or every second wasted trying to decide which tunic shirt hanging to my knees better hid my thighs.

But since all coins have a flip side and most clouds have a silver lining, allow me to reveal mine. Covering up and hiding may have made me crazy but it also kept me out of the sun. It kept my quick to burn outer layer less crispy and the UVA rays at bay. $20 bucks says I get to live a lot longer as a crazy person because of it.

I have very fair skin and never really wanted to go to a dermatologist. Most people with out of control body image issues usually don’t volunteer to have a well lit magnifying glass, the size of a hubcap, scan their entire naked body. But since I’m older, wiser and an official member of the “I Don’t Give A Shit Anymore” Club, I made the appointment and braced myself.

I figured the news would be fairly poor. When I did lay out in the privacy of my back yard as a teen, I used Crisco or baby oil trying to get a Bain de Soleil tan. I never wore sun screen until the mid-90’s. I’ve burned the tops of my shoulders, the back of my neck and every inch of my face about a million times and yes, those are the places with the most sun damage. But my ass? My thighs? My stomach? Like porcelain. No skin cancer. No scary spots. No “Holy shit you look like a piece of leather,” comments. Just your standard, “Have a nice day and I’ll see you next year,” goodbye. NICE!

Just plain crazy or crazy like a fox? Insane or Intuitive? You decide.

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Masculine/Feminine

I was in a yoga class last week when the instructor mentioned that the front of the body was “masculine” and the back was the body’s “feminine” side. Interesting.

I think too much in yoga anyway, struggling to focus only on my breath and not the fact that the girl beside me is sweating so bad her feet are perspiring or that the guy in the front of the room’s ujjayi breathing makes him sound like Darth Vadar, so sharing any thought provoking information with me, isn’t always smart.

I started thinking about about the masculine/feminine thing and suddenly all body image issues made perfect sense. Boobs like men are okay to be “out there” but butts like women should mind their place and keep quiet, stay small, maybe even disappear? Is this why women will wear a low cut v-neck tunic shirt to reveal her cleavage but tug on it incessantly to ensure that she’s covering up her ass? Do men like big tits but not big asses because they’re drawn to the masculine, front side of a women’s body? You know a “like attracts like” type of thing? If the opposite were true would women walk the earth buttoned up to their neck but wearing thongs?

Or maybe, I was thinking too much in order to forget the fact that utkatasana otherwise known as the dreaded “chair pose” makes my knees hurt so bad I want to cry.
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HooHaa Monologues?

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I can’t make it to this Friday’s local production of The Vagina Monologues. I’m bummed because it’s such a funny and poignant play. I’m also sad that I’ll miss the last monologue of the evening where an amazing actress will sit there and fake about 15 different orgasms without breaking character. It’s a hell of a sight to see…and hear.

The Atlantic Theater, a comedy club in Florida, will also be staging The Vagina Monologues, but under the name, The “HooHaa” Monologues. Apparently the word vagina on the marquee offended a lady driving by so when she called the theater to complain, they decided to edit their sign.

So let me get this straight. A comedy club gets yelled at for using the anatomically correct, technical term, vagina? Just take a moment, close your eyes and imagine the meeting attended by a bunch of comics, trying to decide which other word to put up in lights. I bet they were laughing their asses off debating between The Snatch Monologues versus The Pussy Monologues versus The Fish Taco Monologues. Hopefully this conversation occurred late at night while they were drinking a few beers. I suppose “hoohaa” won because it was the least offensive without making people wonder what the hell they were advertising.

Bryce Pfanenstiel of the Atlantic Theater was interviewed for CNN. He seems like a generally nice guy that is trying to advertise an event but not offend anyone yet not appear too childish and insensitive for using a childish term. Clearly, poor Bryce is caught between a rock and a penis – oops, I mean “hard place”. The Atlantic Theater even mentions the controversy on their web site, asking for suggestions if anyone is offended by hoohaa. Talk about being accommodating.

What’s ironic, is that one of the hoohaa monologues in the show is about all the different synonyms to the word vagina. You know, names like yoni, poonani, muff and my personal favorite, vajayjay. What’s even more ironic is that GUYS that run this comedy club have no problem putting the word vagina on their sign but some a LADY that actually has a vagina got offended because her niece, who also has a vagina, asked her what the word meant.

Jesus. What year is it? Hasn’t The Vagina Monologues been around for almost a decade? Hasn’t the shock value of the word vagina worn off by now? Shouldn’t young girls know what the word vagina means? Shouldn’t an older women be okay with discussing the definition? Lady, what are you, twelve? Grow up.

So here’s what I’m thinking. Valentine’s day is the time of year when performances of The Vagina Monologues happen world wide to raise money to end violence against women. Go to the V-Day site and find out if the show is being performed in your area this year. Then, just for fun, throw the word vagina into conversation as much as possible.

Hey Betty, I’m going to the Vagina Monologues next week. Want to go?

Shit, it’s cold! I’m freezing my vagina off!

If you’re elderly…Who cares about your hip! I think I pulled a muscle in my vagina.

I love these pants, but they’re cutting off the circulation to my vagina.

Holy Vagina, Batman. We’d better get outta here.

Or come up with your own line. And if anyone lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida, send that crazy aunt a ticket and see if she’ll tag along. Betcha a million bucks she laughs the loudest.

(***Artwork at top of page from www.vday.org which features the following artists: Paula Allen, Preston Baily, Susan Blue, Brandy Comfort, Evan Johnson, Brian McConkey and Christine Mumvan. Vagina text from www.tonichilds.net)

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