Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"You can’t have a plus size girl winning – it makes it a joke."

Part 3: Fat Feminism

I consider myself a feminist, though that's a scary thing to say because it always feels like there's someone in the wings waiting to jump out and say, "YOU'RE NOT." For those of you who have never really read anything about feminism, there are a whole lot of branches. Feminists that focus on racial issues, or that focus on age issues. Atheist, Christian, Cyber, Material, Radical, Sex-Positive...the variants never end. The one that I'm sure will blow your mind, however, is fat feminism.

I don't agree with a lot of feminists, on beliefs and on methods. I can usually, however, find a common ground, a mutual understanding overall. But fat feminists frustrate me with how they focus so much on the emotional affects of being overweight and obese, and not enough on real scientific data.

Their basic tenets (from my understanding, and I could certainly be wrong) seem to surround the idea of "fat acceptance."

-People treat them terribly because they're fat(I agree).
-Because it's wrong, people should not treat them differently purely based on their size (I agree). -Instead, people should accept that they are fat (I agree).
-People who are fat should accept that they themselves are fat.

Wait. Wait. Wait.

The articles I've read regarding this movement are often tearing apart research regarding weight issues. While I'm not about to claim that just because the person behind the research has a degree necessarily means they're right, at the same time the criticisms seem...hollow.

No one is saying you should feel bad because you're overweight (well, no one who is also rational). But studies show that, sadly, many young girls do feel this way. Will helping them lose weight solve the problem? The writer is right, it probably will not. That's assuming, of course, that the only problem here is the girl's self-worth and body image. Losing weight will make her feel temporarily better, but unless we convince her that people who don't look like Angelina Jolie are still beautiful, she'll only find more things to hate and criticize about herself.

But there are more problems than just the emotional affects going on here. Legitimate studies show that being overweight can lead to serious health issues and a shortened life span. I want young girls to feel beautiful no matter what they look like, but I want them to live long healthy lives as well.

My point is that by focusing solely on the psychological and emotional affects that the media and society has on us, we're ignoring the bigger picture. Being overweight and obese is not morally objectionable and no one else's concern but your own. But self-love and self-worth involve treating your body right.

I'll throw the caveat in that applying a generalization to individuals is of course invalid. While studies show that MOST people will have increased risks of pretty much almost everything if they're overweight, some people will indeed be perfectly healthy in a different bracket from everybody else.

And that's why the decision to lose weight needs to be an individual choice, which I whole-heartedly agree with fat feminists on. Don't listen to your parents, your friends, the media, or anyone else. If you're going to lose weight, make sure it's the right decision for you. Odds are, it probably is, but still.

While I'm writing about treating people the same no matter what their size, I feel the need to elaborate that that involves women on the other end too. Surprise surprise, some bodies are more comfortable on the heavier side, and some on the thinner side. Telling skinny women to eat more, or making them uncomfortable when you go clothes shopping is wrong, presumptuous, and unfair. Just because they're skinny does not mean they have an eating disorder, or that you have the right to poke fun of them for it. Unfortunately, fat feminism (from my perspective) seems to completely ignore the plight of this minority. They need a voice too, but I feel that as soon as someone starts "Skinny Feminism" we're going to have a serious battle of the blogs on our hands.

Calm down, fat feminists, and let's all try to look at the bigger picture.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"No one wants to see curvy women."

Part 2: Media Portrayal

Again, I wonder where to begin. Perhaps with this article. You can see the pictures, an obviously very pretty young woman who is apparently "too fat." One interesting fact you can find there: 25 years ago, the average model was 8% thinner than the average woman, but that difference is now 23%.

But it doesn't end with too fat, there's also too thin. Too old. Too young. Too this, too that. It doesn't matter how old you are or what you look like, you simply can't win. We put such an emphasis on what Karl Lagerfield thinks beauty should be, we forget that most people have very different ideas of what beauty is. American Apparel's largest sizes won't even fit on the mannequins. When will the media shut up and let us hear our own thoughts and opinions about what we want to look like?

It kills me, because I love fashion. I love how different it is and how it enables me to look how I want, not how others think I'm supposed to look. I love being able to express myself through my clothes. It's fun and artistic for me. I'm not trying to look like the models, I'm trying to be an expression of who I think I am. Unsurprisingly, most of the models don't look the way I want to look. Unfortunately, for most girls, that's simply not the case. They want people to think they're pretty, to reinforce to themselves that they are pretty. They don't care what they have to look like to get the compliments as long as they get them.

For skinny girls, that's fine. They've got a clear path to success: have the money to buy the clothes. For the not-so-skinny girls. Well..

"No one wants to see curvy women. You've got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying that thin models are ugly." -Karl Lagerfeld

The media undeniably portrays fat women as disgusting, gross, a joke, embarrassing, lazy.. if you can think of a negative adjective, it's been applied to overweight women. This has gone beyond preference to an all out war of people morally objecting to the existence of fat people.

No wonder fat girls feel gross and everyone else is terrified to get fat.

"But not me!" I often think. "No, I'm completely accepting of women who look differently than I do! That is, of course, the rational response."

I forget how frequently I judge women. Any woman. Stranger, close friend. I can't freaking stop. I see her and almost my first reaction is, "Am I prettier than her? Is she fatter than me? Why is she wearing that."

I never act on these instincts, which in my opinion is the most important thing, but oh my god I still have the thoughts. And I'm immediately embarrassed after I realize what I'm doing. What do I gain by being skinnier than another girl? Do I think I'm going to get a freaking medal or something? Because I won't. And the satisfaction will wear off very quickly. Quickly enough that I'll need to find another girl to judge, fast.

I'm really no better than the media. Other people can tell what I'm doing. And I see others doing it too. We've become our own worst enemies, essentially. We deplore the photoshopping, but then turn right around and feel smug when we're skinnier than the next girl.

I pledge to work on this. To stop demonizing fat in my mind. My hope is that other girls will stop too. It's better and healthier for everybody.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels."

Part 1: Body Image Issues

Ahh, body image. Where do I even start? I think with a disclaimer that my story and experiences are hardly unique. Though with all the freaking media talking about how they themselves are screwing young girls up, you should know this by now.

I think it's appropriate to begin my journey through body acceptance with the first instance that I was aware I weighed anything, and that other people would care what that was. Playground, fourth grade. There was a group of about ten to fifteen girls huddled up. I went over to go see what they were talking about. They were swapping weights. I wasn't really sure why, but I wanted to join the conversation.

"I weigh 70 pounds!"

"You weigh WHAT?" "How are you so skinny?" "That's hardly anything!"

Somehow these reactions made me feel like I won. I don't know. I was on the cross country team and in all honesty, it's possible my pancreas was starting to give out. I was really small for my age. And since high weights were garnering uncomfortable silences from the group, smaller seemed better.

My weight didn't come up again until I was in junior high, when I started obsessing over it. It was almost like a light switch went on in my head. I don't know why I started to care all of a sudden. Maybe I started noticing that other girls were starting to look less kid-like and more "pretty." Maybe I noticed some weight gain. I don't know when or how it happened, but it happened in full force.

I had a conversation with a good friend of mine who was concerned about her weight as well (honestly who wasn't). She told me that in sixth grade she vowed not to break 100 pounds until she graduated high school, and she had not been able to keep that promise to herself.

We were in eighth grade.

At the time, this comment sounded so normal to me. I even thought to myself, "Why didn't I make the same promise to myself?" I chastised myself for not setting such an unrealistic and hopelessly unhealthy goal.

Weight was all anyone talked about. Weight was all anyone thought about. I don't think I had a normal conversation with someone until freshman year. I had more guy friends who didn't care about my weight. They didn't want to hear about how fat I thought I was. They just wanted to talk about video games and how dumb their english teacher was.

It was like waking up from a trance.

I think about those years a lot. About the days I tried not to eat anything and failed. About the days I went on long runs, punishing myself for eating a bunch of cookies. I was never anorexic, I was never bulimic. I was like every other girl in junior high: mad that I wasn't anorexic or bulimic.

How have we gotten to the point that sixth graders are promising themselves to not weigh more than 100 pounds? We're talking about girls who had mothers who loved them and cared for them and told them they were beautiful. We're talking about girls who loved cartoons and Spongebob, not girls idling Britney Spears.

It's terrifying to think that after the normal childhood I had, I still obsessed about these things. It's horrifyingly...inevitable?

I think it's also important to note all the body image issues I DIDN'T have to deal with. I never had acne. I was never actually clinically obese. I never had any visible physical deformities. I don't have to deal with not being white. It's like Lindsey Lohan in Mean Girls said. "I used to think there was just fat and skinny. But apparently there's lots of things that can be wrong on your body."

But I've snapped out of it. One of the many ways logic and rationality has made me a happier person. Still, I may have escaped, but too many other girls out there are still in the competition for smallest frame. The only people who can stop them are themselves, so I guess the only thing to do is cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Friday, June 25, 2010

NomNomNoms: Food For Thought

It seems that sometimes the most basic necessities are the most complex. Money. Shelter. Food.

My relationship with food is complicated, and not in a love/hate sort of way, but in an emotional, hand-wringing sort of way. Between body image issues, growing up, and being diabetic, it really feels like food is the root of all my serious problems.

Earlier I started to write a post about this, but I couldn't consolidate all of the opinions and frustrations and perspectives I have on it. Therefore, I'm starting my first series:

Hopefully it will provide as much insight to you and your own lives as I hope it will do for me!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jesus is a pretty cool guy. He forgives people and doesn't afraid of anything.

I'm not a fan of religion. At all. I've touched on this briefly before, and don't want to delve in to why. The arguments are numerous and painful for multiple reasons. So for now, let's all accept that I don't like religion and never wish to have it as a part of my life. I'm happier for it.

I'm fortunate to be on a campus surrounded by people who understand this, even if they don't agree. I've never been attacked or ridiculed for it (I should probably say yet, but I like to be an optimist).

Those that don't agree with me (my family included) often cite the ways that religion has helped people, including themselves. It's given them a purpose, a reason to try to be a better person. The hopeful, optimistic message gives them a better outlook on life than they believe they could have without religion.

I understand that. I do. But probably the hardest part about turning away from my religion has been feeling like I turned away from a friend: Jesus.

I really did feel like Jesus understood life. He understood me. He wasn't judgmental, he wasn't hateful. He didn't hate gay people, or black people, or feminists. He didn't hate women for getting abortions. He didn't hate Obama.

In fact, I believe that Jesus loves me for what I believe. He loves me for trying to be a good person, and for staying true to myself. He loves my sense of humor. He loves my sometimes bizarre passion for capitalism. He loves how much I love my cat.

I've lost my faith, and I feel happier for it. My life is simpler, and freer. It is up to me to make a purpose for myself. I'm not held down to meaningless doctrines, I don't have to reconcile my love of humanity with the hate of those higher up.

I haven't lost my faith in Jesus, though, because honestly, Jesus had nothing to do with Christianity to me. Jesus, in my mind, in the faith I practiced all those years (which arguably, despite what even I thought, was not Catholicism), Jesus was someone that we all strived to be. Jesus was the good guy. He was full of love, compassion, and forgiveness. He was the person I want to be.

I don't know who Jesus really was. Son of god? Mary Magdalene's lover? A hypocrite? I don't know, and frankly, it's not important. Jesus is whoever I want him to be. I could probably name him whatever, base him off of any historical figure (Abe Lincoln? Einstein?). I think I chose Jesus because he's already accepted as a pacifist and all around cool dude. There's enough mystery around him that there are no facts. It gives me a good base to mold him into whatever I want, and force myself into believing I'm right. Anything anyone else says just further proves their delusion.

It's comforting to think that someone, somewhere, really was a genuinely good person. There's no little known facts about him embezzling money, or secretly being a racist. He's untouched, and he's lovely. That, more than anything religion has taught or will teach, gives me hope.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wish-List Wednesday!

Today is about some music that I've had my eye on.

The Pretty Reckless EP:

It's kind of poppy alternative rock. You want to feel bad listening to it, but it's good enough that you really don't. Taylor Momsen of Gossip Girl fame and "edgy" persona, while not someone I think I'd want to hang out with, is not so terrible on this! Not terrible enough that I'd not mind owning it. I'm not sure if that's a compliment.

Kick Ass Soundtrack:

It's silly and fun enough that I feel like I NEED it. Talk about the music perfectly reflecting the movie itself. It's awesome. I love it. I need it.
It made me learn that I really enjoy the music by the band The Prodigy. It's like, techno, dance-pop. I've never liked that before, so, kudos.

Miley Cyrus:

I guess this is supposed to be embarrassing. I stopped being embarrassed about liking things a LONG time ago. Like, middle school. Seriously, I like what I like and just because someone else doesn't, does not mean it's bad, or that I should be judged for it. So many good beats. Soooo many. I could dance awkwardly to this album for forever.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Whose View is This. Seriously.

The View is just offensive now.

Joy Behar is the condescending liberal. She gets on her high horse and when she loses a fight it's some form of "Oh you just don't get it."

Elizabeth Hasselbeck is the token conservative, so that all the other women with similar traditional, often bigoted views can have their opinions heard.

Sherri Shepherd is just unintelligent. All you need to do is search "Sherri Shepherd" on youtube, and the list of videos is just mind-boggling. My personal favorite: "Is the world flat?"

Barbara Walters sits on that corner of the table and giggles to herself with evilness. She prods the fire and rarely actually adds her own opinion. While I appreciate the inclusion of Elizabeth as an attempt at some balence, at the same time it feels like Barbara is feeding the snakes with her.

I watched an episode the other day, Barbara was out and they had two guys on the show, Keith Olbermann and some other guy. I found myself agreeing with the guys all the time, and never with the women.

What kind of a view are they really trying to portray here, I have to wonder.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wish-List Wednesday!

Katie copied me.

I guess I'm a little flattered.

I tried to do a less than three but blogger got upset at me for an invalid tag. D:

This dress:

Snorlax Makes A Great Dress

Pokemon + fashion = love.

This clock:
Solve Some Time Clock
My only complaint is that the problems are pretty basic. :(

The ability to do this:
Pancake art - tower crane 3d pancake
Engineering + delicious treats = pretty awesome dad.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What Am I Gunna DO.

This morning Erik and I were sitting in his car about to head into his apartment when I saw a little chipmunk. My reaction was pretty much:

We sat and watched the chipmunk crawling around, and then there was a squirrel nearby and we watched that, and there were also some birds and stuff. Basically we watched an animal breakfast buffet.

It sounds boring and dumb, and rightfully so. To a lot of people it probably is. But it was enjoyable! I feel so lucky that I have someone in my life I can be myself around, completely unhindered. I didn't have to stop myself from pointing out the chipmunk, or laughing at it just doing nothing. I'm a ridiculous and silly person, and not only does he not mind that, he genuinely likes it.

Quite a wonderful feeling.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Rara Ah-ah-ah Rom-- ohh knock it off.

Lady Gaga is so freaking interesting. For lots of reasons.

I first heard of her on Perez Hilton's blog, as he was one of the first people to pick up on her and I read his blog regularly. I loved her daring attitude and her apparent allergy to pants. She was pretty cool to look at. Just Dance was a cool song. It was all pretty tame on the outset.

I remember Erik asking me one day why I was laughing, to which I responded, "Lady Gaga and her crazy outfits."

"Who's that?" he said.

Who's that indeed.

Honestly, I still don't really know. A feminist icon? Maybe, but her insistence to others to not have sex is a little counter to that philosophy. A genius? She certainly uses a lot of imagery indicating that she puts a lot of thought into everything she does.

A man? I still find this offensive. Is it really so hard to believe that someone this talented is a man? Do you really have to be a man in order to take ownership of your own sexuality, instead of selling it out to the masses? Besides, I thought the Telephone video settled this.

She's also apparently a part of the Illuminati.

People are trying so hard to peg her they're starting to lose track of what's real and what's clearly blatant conspiracy. Lady Gaga is an entertainer. An entertainer that takes herself far too seriously.

The director of Alejandro took some time to defend the religious imagery. He explained that the ingestion of the rosary beads represents her "desire to take in the holy."

hdsfdslfks. I know I'm not an "artist" and not skilled at "reading in to things," but this seems so over the top ridiculous. Does ANYONE actually think this when they see this video? Even on a subconscious level?

To top it all off, people are bothering to get offended by her. I decided to watch the Alejandro video since it's been getting so much play as being "controversial." I thought she must have really outdone herself. I guess you could say that, but I wasn't offended by anything, even trying to view it through the gaze of a Catholic. I was too busy thinking "WTF?" to be offended.

To the people of the world: Lighten up.

To the Haus of Gaga: Lighten up.

Seriously guys, life is too short and hilarious to do anything other than for the lulz. You'll stress yourself out.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wish-List Wednesday!

Things I've found on the internet that I need in my life.

Because there are very few things more awesome than making fun of my defunct Pancreas. (Thanks, Mrs. Krones!)

If you don't absolutely LOVE Dinosaur Comics, then we can't be friends.

This candy:

Yes, it's candy. Yes, it's awesome. I haven't had breakfast yet so it makes me super hungry. And have a strong desire to be fashionable.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

We Face the Ghosts So You Don't Have To!

It is summer vacation. Which is awesome. Being an RA for the summer is sweet because I'm taking on responsibility and working with cool people. Only being an RA for the summer is sweet because it has left my afternoons free to enjoy day time TV.

Only being an RA for the summer is sucky because it has left my afternoons free to enjoy day time TV.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good paternity test on Maury as much as the next guy. And I'm not about to complain about being relatively stress-free and relaxed while also having a job. It's a sweet gig. I just suspect that after while I'm going to start to go crazy a little.

For now, however, I have Ghost Hunters to keep me occuppied.

If you've watched Supernatural, you may have seen the characters who call themselves "Ghostfacers." They're a mockery of those people that take their EMF readers, find the nearest dilapitated house and investigate. They're quirky and have a ridiculous theme song. "Stay in the kitchen when the kitchen gets HOT!"

I've learned from Ghosthunters that this portrayal is unfortunately not that far off. These are people who mysteriously miss getting all the sightings, sounds and actions of ghosts on camera, despite having cameras set up everywhere. These are people who take shadows as proof of the undead. These are people who dangerously pretend to be skeptical, but only to a point ("that sound was definitely the wind outside so we'll discredit it. But that sound is only explained by GHOSTS.")

Is human intelligence really this far gone? I suppose this sort of thinking has been around as long as humanity has, but when will these people get open-minded enough to the idea that they might be wrong? When will they listen to reason?

I think I need to not watch this show anymore, because the more I saw, the more frustrated I became. It's really like people have given up on science. Science cannot explain everything yet, so to some people that makes it meaningless. Maybe if we could depoliticize science, show people how much it's affecting their everyday lives, and why the scientific method (i.e. the backbone of skepticism) works, they would believe in it more. They'd take the time to hone their skepticism skills and see right through this ghost hunter crap.

Oh wait, that sounds like science class in high school.

Dammit. Arts are important, but I don't care what anyone says, science is critical to our survival. As long as people are capable of convincing other people of things that are very undeniably false (o hai Scientology) we are at risk.

In the meantime, I think I saw a two hour block of Spongebob on Nickelodeon this morning. I'll stick with that.