Tag Archives: celebrity

Facebook Envy: Feeling Bad About our Pretend Digital Lives

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Really struggling to lift that styrofoam…

If you scrolled quickly past the above picture in Facebook, you might be convinced that I’m lifting some pretty hefty weights.  You might feel intimidated by yet another picture of a person seemingly able to do all the things. You might feel in some way inferior because you don’t have a picture in your Facebook feed showing you lifting a righteous amount of weights over your head in triumph.

But if you look closer, you might notice that what I’m actually lifting is made of PVC pipe and painted Styrofoam.  It’s a photo prop from a company called Maxx Bench that I ran across at the IDEA conference yesterday.  If you look at the picture below, you can see that I’m actually lifting the “weight” with ease.  (Not surprising as I estimate that the whole thing weighed less than 3 pounds.)

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On the one hand this exercise was a lot of fun.  I mean how often do you get to do that?  I felt pretty fierce.  And I’m glad to promote a really cool new product called MAXX Bench that takes the danger and fear out of the bench press.  But it also got me thinking.  How often do we scroll through somebody’s feed and think, “Wow that person’s life is really cool!  I wish my life was that cool.”  And I wondered if my totally pretend picture might inspire that same reaction in somebody else.  I know it happens to me.  I see somebody’s feed and I think that they are so much cooler than me and that I could never possibly reach their level  of awesomeness and bad assery.  In fact this feeling happens often enough to launch scientific studies and create a new phrase “Facebook envy”.  But our digital lives are really a construct.  Even if we aren’t digitally manipulating the pictures or pulling off complete hoaxes (like my bit of “weight lifting” fun above) we are editing.  We are choosing which bits of ourselves to share online.  And although some of us tend to share some deep and not entirely flattering bits about ourselves from time to time, it’s pretty clear that most of us, most of the time, tend to share the cool stuff.

This disconnect is all the greater for the celebrities we admire.  Many of them have handlers and PR specialists and people who airbrush all their photos and painstakingly edit every frame of their appearance in a particular film.  I am not blaming these folks.  Their careers in many cases depend on giving the illusion of being consistently and constantly flawless.  And the game has gotten so sophisticated that one might fear simply going to Starbucks without a team of makeup artists, photographers, digital ret-ouchers, and extra, extra strong turbo Spanx.  We are all caught in a deadly game of visual perfection one-upsmanship.  We make friends and fall in love based on our ability to create a compelling avatar–a perfect profile.

But I think where we really get messed up, is when we begin to believe that this stuff is real–that this is a level to which we should realistically aspire.  Because most of it is giant steaming piles of male cow poo.  We aren’t seeing what these folks look like when they roll out of bed in the morning.  We aren’t seeing blemishes or smelling morning breath or seeing PMS bloat from the celebrities or even from the Facebook feeds of mere mortals.  We’re mostly seeing the carefully selected cool bits.

So maybe the next time you start wondering if your life could possibly be as cool as that person you see on Facebook, you should really be wondering if anybody’s  life could possibly be that cool.  Maybe it’s time to stop comparing yourself to stuff that is carefully edited and not so much really real.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to share your real stories as a plus-sized exerciser?  We’ve extended the date for the call for submissions for our new anthology “Throwing our Weight Around–Real Stories of Fat People in the Fitness World”.  You can contribute a scholarly article or a poem or a personal story or whatever!  Click HERE for the CFP. oxoxoxo

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Lady Gaga’s Response to Body Comments

Yesterday’s post was all about how bodies don’t come with a comment button, and that we are under no obligation to make our bodies look the way other people want them to look.   As you might guess, if ordinary people feel pressure to comply with societal standards about visual appearance, celebrities also feel a great deal of pressure.  That’s why I was somewhat excited to read about Lady Gaga’s response to the recent uproar about her “getting fat”.

Recently some photos and nasty articles were released that showed Lady Gaga looking a lot heavier than before.  There is a lot of discussion about the apparent distortion of these pictures, making Gaga appear shorter and heavier, being caused either by squishing them in Photoshop or because of the flattening effect of certain camera lenses.  In other photos and videos from these exact same appearances, Gaga looks notably thinner.  However, Gaga readily admits that she has gained about 25 pounds.  She says that she is “dieting now” and that she has gained weight because “she loves to eat” her Dad’s amazing Italian cooking.  But before you start wondering why I’m talking about her on my blog let me share with you that she also states, “I really don’t feel bad about it, not even for a second.”

Yesterday, Gaga shared on her site, LittleMonsters.com that has been dealing with anorexia and bulimia since she was 15.  She also included some photos of herself (with her eyes closed) wearing just a bra and panties.  And she launched a new subsection of her site called the BODY REVOLUTION.  Some copy on the new section reads:

My mother and I created the BORN THIS WAY FOUNDATION for one reason: “to inspire bravery.” This profile is an extension of that dream. Be brave and celebrate with us your “perceived flaws,” as society tells us. May we make our flaws famous, and thus redefine the heinous.

She also popped up this past weekend in Paris wearing this dress.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I can’t hold Lady Gaga up as an unflinching paragon of size acceptance.   Not that long ago she was criticized for her “pop stars don’t eat” twitter post.  One might wonder whether the photos in her undies are as much about proving her relative thinness as they are about revealing her soul.  But I do think she’s trying to shine a lens on the ugliness of body snarking and the intense pressure girls and women face to be thin.  And I think in revealing her lifelong struggles with anorexia and bulimia, she is admitting that she doesn’t claim to have all this body stuff figured out.  It’s a process.  It’s a challenge.

But I am excited that at least part of what has come of all of this is one of the pop icons of our times inviting fans to embrace themselves as they are on her site stating:

Hey Guys its Gaga… Now that the body revolution has begun, be brave and post a photo of you that celebrates your triumph over insecurities.

Time will tell whether this movement towards body acceptance will stick with Gaga or drop along with her 25 pounds.  She may stay on this path.  She may be hawking weight loss products in six months.  I don’t know.  But it’s hard not to see that all celebrity bodies seem to come complete with a comment button.

So my little Chicklettes, can we take some good from this?  Sure!  First, let’s note that some of the “sexiest” and “most popular” women in the world struggle with body image.  And while I wouldn’t begin to compare your struggles with the struggles of anyone else, it’s good to know that we all have those struggles in one way or another.  Next, let’s take a minute to celebrate your triumphs large and small over body insecurity.  And finally, I’d love for you to remember that wherever you are on your journey to body acceptance, we are all works in progress.  Nobody is perfect at loving himself or herself.  But with gentleness and kindness we are on our way!

Love,

The Fat Chick