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 –

The 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.

Toonaday dog scalesThe 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?

I Cut My Own Bangs

Bang (fringe) length – has little to do with beauty, and a lot to do with just being able to see! So, yes, I admit it. On occasion, I cut my own bangs. Okay, it is more than just occasionally. My hair grows very fast, so while I often let the sides and back grow two or three inches between visits to a salon, my bangs need more frequent attention.

bangs fringe cut own hair ToonadayAfter much trial and error, and close observation of how my hairdresser cuts my bangs, I have perfected my technique. I must do a pretty good job, too. My hairdresser ‘called me out’ on home bang cutting yesterday, and when I sheepishly admitted that I had, in fact, cut my own bangs she said, “You did a great job. You only missed about six or eight hairs over here on the left side…”

I don’t know what your relationship is with your hair, but I live with a head full of rebellious hairs. They curve and stick up in all the oddest places. Some years I let them all grow (except the bangs) until they are mid way down my back. Some years I have them all cut off to just a few inches. Neither style changes their nature – they still resolutely head off in a contrary direction, each marching to their own drummer.

I grew up in the days when sleek, long, straight hair was what all the cool girls had. All the tall cool girls.  All the skinny tall cool girls. Genetically, I am not a skinny, tall, straight haired girl. (The foundations for my distrust of the fashion and beauty industry were laid early, and I don’t even want to discuss why “A Good Hair Day” might mean something to me…)

But – every time I go to a hairdresser, I entertain the hope that a miracle will happen. My hairdresser will find the precise right length to cut each hair (because apparently she keeps track of the length or each and every one of them).  That perfect length will be the one where each hair nestles contentedly beside the one beside it. Not a single hair will object to the company of any of its 150,000 neighbours. I will be able to just toss my head and every hair will move into place without the touch of a comb!

Remarkably, this latest haircut seems to be as close to perfection as any I have ever had. Oh, there is still much mass confusion down at my neck, but the hairs on the side and top of my head are serene. My bangs, well, they are quite perfect and the hairdresser only had to fix the eight hairs on the left side.

Tragedy is when you cut your own finger. Comedy is when you cut your own bangs.

Do you cut your own bangs? Any horror stories about hair cuts?