Tag Archives: beauty

Beauty diversity and unlikely animal buddies.

Well this video recently surfaced in my facebook feed (thanks Gina) and I woke up singing the song and thinking of these adorable animals.  It was much more pleasant than the mental tug of war that is finding a topic for a blog post today.  And then it hit me–do a blog post about adorable animals playing with their pals.  Win. Win.

So today, I’m going to talk about body diversity.  The super cool thing about this video is how all the animals are different.  The monkey can play with the dog without telling the dog to look more like a monkey.  The dog and the dolphin can swim together without the dog having to engage in a streamlining program or getting a blow hole cut in his noggin.  And the dolphin can swim with the dog without feeling any particular need to join “Crazy LEGS(TM) a new process to grow legs in just 8 weeks!”

And it really made me think about our current standard of beauty.  It made me think about how so much of our society is shaped around the notion that if we just looked like a movie star or a beauty queen or a male stripper, everything would be just peachy keen and wonderful.  This is so silly, and so sad and so very, very wrong.  It’s a Barbie world, where all the girls should look like Barbie–tall, tiny waist, large breasts, smooth and flowing blonde hair, tiny feet and all.  Never mind that many believe that Barbie’s proportions are not only unlikely but also perhaps impossible.  (Some suggest if Barbie were an actual women, she would be 5’9″ tall, have a 39″ bust, an 18″ waist, 33″ hips and a size 3 shoe.  She would have a BMI of about 16 and would likely not menstruate.)  Yet as we’ve heard before and will undoubtedly hear again, it’s a Barbie world.

But seriously, where’s the fun in that?  It would be pretty boring if we all looked the same.  And trying to turn dogs into dolphins or vice versa could be endlessly profitable (if anybody could convince them that this needed to happen) but doesn’t seem likely to meet with any success or lead to happier canines or aquatic mammals.

So here’s to our diversity.  Here’s to our beauty in all it’s differences.  And here’s to keeping our money to go out and have a whole lot of fun with our very best buds.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to come and speak to your school or church group or organization or business about body diversity?  Check out my speaking page here!

Advertisements

The Unwritten Sports Stat: Female Athletes Must Be Gorgeous

A friend forwarded me a link to an interesting article in the Guardian about how female athletes fear that how they look may outrank how well they perform in terms of their careers as sportswomen.    The article chronicles the results of a major study commissioned by BT Sport.  The study was commissioned after the 2012 Olympics partly in response to Olympic Gold Medalist Rebecca Adlington’s very public admissions about body insecurity after the games.  The study included over 100 elite female British athletes.

To those of us who study body image questions, it’s probably not that surprising that 89 percent of the athletes polled felt that they could relate to insecurity about body image.  67 percent felt that the public and the media valued their personal physical appearance over their athletic prowess, and over 70 percent said that it affected their diet and training regimes.  Let’s take a moment to ponder here.  We are talking about professional athletes who make their living from the capabilities of their bodies who are making training decisions based at least in part on how they will look in their singlet.  It makes you wonder if their performance might have been even better if they could allow their training and nutrition to be focused exclusively on what pushes their bodies to their best performance.

I have written before about the fact that I love the Olympics with a big old passion.  I have also expressed before, my deep disappointment over how we could spend time skewering the very best Olympic gymnast for the quality of her hairdo, or why we need to make Olympic uniforms look like outfits for cheerleaders.  (Another group of highly trained athletes that are hypersexualized to the point of ridiculousness.)  And don’t even get me started on Olympics advertising that looks like softcore porn.

And we’re not just talking about Olympians here.  Anyone from tennis stars to golfers are expected to look runway perfect these days.  Maybe that’s why I’m so excited about our Fit Fatty Virtual Events this year.  It allows you to complete all kinds of fabulous physical activities wearing what you want, wherever you want and on your terms.  We have had several incredibly inspired entrants who have completed significant tasks wearing pajamas.  We have had entrants complete events and perform community service simultaneously.  We have met Santa Claus on a 5K and performed epic, family-style, living room dance parties with kids of all ages.

Because Ragen and I are crazy enough to believe that physical activities should be about moving your body and having fun.

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

Exercise, Empowerment and Free Botox at the Finish Line

OMG does my makeup look okay?

My friend and colleague Kjerstin recently posted this article about the upcoming “Diva 5K” in Miami Florida.  The race, which exhorts women and girls as young as 8 years old to “Run like a Diva!” is offering an amazing prize package including botox (for winners 18 and older) and teeth whitening and laser hair removal (for winners 15 and older).

I cant even…

To my mind, one of the best things about participating in an event like a 5K is to empower women to think about their bodies in terms of what they can do rather than obsessing about how they look.  Women can focus on being strong, and capable.  Women can focus on being healthy and vibrant.

Unless we’re talking about the Diva 5K where women are encouraged to be wrinkle-free, white toothed and OMG hairless!  Apparently all participants will get a chance to be greeted at the finish line “where handsome young men from the local dance schools will sweep you off your feet.”  Because heaven knows, we can’t be interested in walking or running or otherwise exercising for our own sakes.  Goodness NO, girl.  We run to be thin, hairless, wrinkle-free and gorgeous for the hot “MENZ”!  Jeez don’t you know anything?

As a fitness instructor with several decades of teaching under my belt, I find this sort of thing so intensely frustrating.  We claim as an industry that we want people to exercise.  And then we make ridiculous promises to people that we know are false, and we trivialize the unbelievable potent real rewards that come with being fit.

The fitness industry has always promised that if you exercise hard enough, you’ll look like a hot, young, supermodel, AND a hunky hot man will be waiting to sweep you off your feet.  I’ve rarely seen that notion put into practice in quite as concrete a manner as we’re seeing with this Diva 5K, but it is a common notion nevertheless.

Yet, in reality, a 5K will make you look like a supermodel ONLY under the following conditions:

1.  You looked like a super model BEFORE you started training for a 5K,

2. You have a hair and makeup crew near the finish line ready to bathe you, do your hair, airbrush your skin and make you over, and

3.  Your finishers photos are heavily retouched in Photoshop.

Here’s a quick demonstration of what I’m talking about:

The sad thing is that the TRUE benefits of exercise (like lower stress levels, better blood glucose levels, better mood management, better sleep, a stronger sense of self esteem, a stronger immune system) THOSE benefits are often downplayed or overlooked.  The transformations of the people that I have taught have had very little to do with looking like a model.  I’ve seen a Mom, for the first time ever, have enough stamina to take her kid to Disneyland all day.  And a man, who for the first time in twenty years can take his wife dancing again.  I’m talking about people who can now bend over and tie their shoes, or walk their daughter down the aisle without pain or get their blood pressure or blood glucose levels under control.  I’m talking about young women who for the first time in their lives look in the mirror and see power and competence and confidence rather than simple disappointment that they don’t look like the “after” picture they have been taught to envision for themselves.

I’ve done several races in my life ranging from a 5K Turkey Trot to a full on marathon.  And yes, I have won some medals.  And I plan to run some more.  But if you’re standing at the finish line waving a gift certificate for free airbrush tanning or liposuction for me, I’d advise you to beware.  I just might use my hard-won leg muscles to kick you somewhere soft and very private.  Even if you ARE a hunky guy from the local dance class.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie

The Fat Chick

P.S. Speaking of handing out rewards, I’m happy to announce that our second winner in The Fat Chick’s Great Pedometer Giveaway is Susie Kline!  Yay Susie!

Ads, Women and Mental Health

I recently came across this lecture from Jill Kilbourne and wanted to share it with you.  In one of the classes I’ve been teaching we’ve been talking extensively about media’s role in women’s self esteem.  I think it’s so very important to understand with Ms. Kilbourne has to say here.  That we often find ourselves viewing magazines or television ads or billboards, and feeling inadequate because we don’t look like the women in the pictures.  But, hello, even the women in the pictures don’t look like the women in the pictures.  With Photoshop, no woman need ever have flaws.  And I’ve heard through back channels that some actresses have right in their contract that their image on television must be slightly vertically stretched to make them appear taller and thinner.

Couple this with the fact that hardly anyone approaching average size appears on television or in advertising.  The average American woman is a size 12 on the top and a 14 on the bottom.  Most women on television or in advertising are a size 2, 0 or even 00.  To give you a frame of reference, when Cameryn Manheim was on The Practice she was about a size 14 and quite tall.  When I met her in person, I was struck by how average her size looked in real life.  But on TV she seemed pretty large.  Now some say that the camera adds 15 pounds, but I don’t really think that’s what’s at work here.  What is at work here is that she was surrounded by a whole cast of people that were very, very significantly smaller than average.  So by contrast, she seemed bigger.

I sometimes wish I could have a special Photoshop tool or television/video filter that would allow me to make everybody on TV and in ads look a little more average or a little more normal.  I think it would help the rest of us gain some perspective on how other people look.  But when I get really down, I go do a little “field work”.  I go to a mall, or a gym or a public pool, I sit on a bench or in a chair and I just look at people.  I regain my sense of how real people look.  People all looking SO different from one another.  People with tattoos and scars and stretch marks.  People of all different shapes and sizes and colors.  All different kinds of hair in all different places.  Smiles shining out of faces not lit for the cameras, but rather lit from within, from lives well lived.  I regain my perspective.  It really feels great.  Maybe you’d like to try it and report back?  I’d love to hear how it went!

Love,

The Fat Chick

Warts and All: New Sources for Inspiration in Body Diversity

tumblr_mjds6nBBln1rvkvumo1_1280Over the past two weeks, I’ve seen a number of new sources for inspiration in the world of body diversity.  Of course we have new inspiration from tried and true sources like Adipositivity (BTW notoriously NSFW).  But there are some exciting new sources as well.  For example, The Body Images Project contains a number of scrumptious photos of folks of all shapes, sizes and ages.  And we’re not just talking about cellulite here.  There’s grey hairs, scars, scabs, freckles, warts and more.  And we’re also seeing some especially awesome feeds on facebook and tumblr lately, including THIS one and THIS one.

And beyond the pictures, there’s the dancing–OOOOHHHH the dancing.  Aside from the toddler dancing that I posted a few weeks ago, we have awesome dancing old ladies.  HERE’S an 88 yr. old lady who boogies down the stairs:

And there’s old ladies doing Zumba and old ladies standing proudly for portraits and there’s just bodies, all different kinds of bodies EVERYWHERE!  In a sea of previously perfectly toned and tanned and coiffed and waxed bodies, it’s so exciting to me that social media can also be a source of difference.  It seems that just now in cyberspace, I’m seeing big bodies and small bodies and smooth bodies and wrinkly bodies and white bodies and black bodies and freckly bodies and scarred bodies.  All are sacred bodies.  All are unique packages encompassing the divine.  And all I can say is, HOW DELIGHTFUL!  Rather than a one page menu of clone, drone, Barbie types, I’m seeing a bodacious BUFFET of bodies of all different kinds.  And I ask you, how can this NOT be a good thing?

So click away.  Click at links and click at cameras.  Show us your gorgeousness you cyber cuties.  And let us see how decidedly, deliciously DIFFERENT you all are!

Love,

The Fat Chick

Why my Body has no Comment Button

Today on facebook I came across two different posts about how people in the world feel compelled to share their disappointment that not everybody in the world chooses to meet their personal standard of beauty on a 24/7 basis.  First, I came across this post from the truly awesome Fat Fox.  (Note: frustration leads to some colorful, sailor-like language.)  In this guest post on Fat But Not Afraid’s Blog, she talks about the “always wear a bra” requirement some feel compelled to share.  She also notes that those folks can just kiss her–well like I said, sailor talk.

And then I ran across this story shared on facebook by Atchka Fatty of Fierce Freethinking Fatties, in which a girl who is simply standing line and texting on her phone is photographed and made the subject of ridicule on reddit.  Be sure to read her beautiful and thoughtful response at the link above.

Honestly!  What is it with people?  Last time I checked, there was no comment button pasted on my body, ANYWHERE.  Just exactly how much ego is required in order for you to expect everybody in the entire world to continually live up to your personal rules about how they should look?  I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure that amount of ego weighs more than me.

My dear Chicklettes, are you starting to see how it is not your responsibility to look the way other people think you need to look?  Are you starting to understand that the problem is not how big your butt is, but rather, how small their mind is?  Are you starting to understand that you can choose to make the fact that somebody doesn’t like you just because of your outward appearance, NOT YOUR PROBLEM?

Good!

Because you are awesome, wonderful, gorgeous and deserving of love exactly the way you are right this very moment.

Love,

The Fat Chick