Move Over Barbie, Here Comes Something Average…

If you’ve ever considered how representations of female bodies contribute to women’s negative body image – then you’ve realized that Barbie, the icon of little girl’s toys, may not be the best influence on a girl’s relationship to the reality of her body. Take a look at this comparison image that has been floating around the internet lately:

article-2308658-19469C29000005DC-844_634x467The numbers detailed are downright absurd. Her wrists and ankles are exactly the same size. Her bust is distinctly larger than her hips – and her waist is half the size of her bust. It seems like if she was a living woman she would fall over. Actually, we know she would fall over because her feet are permanently on tip toe so that they can fit into her plastic heels. That said, even if we put her unusual foot shape aside, Barbie is not a real shaped woman.

Because Barbie doesn’t even emulate the proportions of a living woman and therefore is an arguably poor influence on perceptions of women’s bodies, graphic designer Nickolay Lamm created The Lammily Doll.0cef20209 This doll and Barbie seem to come from two very different places. Acorrding to the Lammily Website:

  • Lammily is made according to typical human body proportions and therefore promotes realistic beauty standards.
  • Lammily wears minimal makeup.
  • Lammily’s wardrobe isn’t composed of typical clothing for dolls – she is dressed with striking simplicity.
  • Lammily is fit and strong.

Another positive attribute the  of the new doll that the website does not mention is that Lammily  represents more diversity than Barbie. She has brown hair and a darker skin tone than Barbie – which means that she can be understood as either Caucasian, Hispanic or of mixed race – whereas Barbie is pretty much descendant from Aryans.

Lammily was crowdfunded and she was a great success. Lamm initially posited that to manufacture his doll he needed $95,000. He raised $465,952. This kind of response points out that we are hungry for representations that actively reject impossible body ideals and embrace a more empowered image of womanhood.

While I know Lammily is a step in the right direction – I find that I am still disheartened because I don’t really feel like she looks like the women in my life. She still idealizes a certain age and health standard and this “average” seems almost as mythical as Barbie’s disproportionate one. Perhaps Lammily needs some friends – a black girl, a fat girl, a differently-abled girl, a trans girl, a pear shaped girl, a girl with thick thighs, a girl with a juicy bootie, a curly haired girl, and yes, a blond girl… Obviously I could go on for ever.

What I’m trying to say is that Lammily is awesome, but she is just the beginning. If we really want to forward positive representations of people’s bodies than we need to genuinely represent ALL bodies.

This was originally posted @Bitchtopia

Diets don’t work. I’m Living Proof.

I'm in gray behind the adorable white bunny. I thought I was so fat. Ridiculous.

I’m in gray behind the adorable white bunny. I thought I was so fat. Ridiculous.

We often hear people say that diets don’t work, and there are a lot of articles and research out there that explain why this is true, for example this, this, and this. And yet, so many people continue to believe that if you have a fat body, then you can make ‘choices’ which will result in you having a body that is less fat. In other words, despite the research, we continue to believe that diets do work. I am hear to tell you otherwise, but not in some scientific way. I’m here to tell you that diets didn’t work for me. And I had every opportunity…

I am lucky enough to have been born to a loving upper middle class family. They are amazing.  And because they loved me they spared no expense when it came to trying to help me get thin. I could attend any weight-loss program or participate in any exercise regime.  The culture taught my family that thin was necessary for happiness and success so they genuinely believed that weightloss was the best possible option and they supported any and all attempts I made to lose weight. In response, I spent the first 30+ years of my life trying not to be fat.

When I was six my mother took me to the diet center. I remember sitting in the waiting room. I remember the fabric on the chairs. It was maroon, but not much else. I remember eating rice cakes. I can’t tell you if I lost weight, I don’t remember. I do remember wanting to lose weight and understanding that my mother brought me to the diet center because they could “help” me.

a thin year

A thin year – but not thin enough. I was drinking only liquids and eating meal replacement bars.

Sometime around 10 I went to fat camp. At camp they provided us with portioned meals and we exercised at least six hours a day. During the summer three girls tried to commit suicide. I know that sounds outrageous but it’s true. I don’t know for sure why these girls tried to take their lives but I remember the communal feelings of desperation. I was very popular at camp because when you removed the stigma of fatness – by creating an all fat environment – people who are funny, smart and savvy can shine. I remember the pictures from the end of the summer – a thin me in a green striped top – I remember these pictures  because this is one on the first times I remember feeling adorable in photos.

When I was 12 I went to another weight-loss center called 40 Carrots.  Again, I went with my mom, who has always been thin – by anyone’s standard – but she has also always dieted. I remember standing in the kitchen with her weighing out 4oz of chicken, seasoning it with vinegar, dijon mustard and pepper, chopping carrots and pouring water. I remember being hungry. I also remember losing like 20lbs. I got new clothes and felt beautiful. I remember walking into French class and having a boy I’d know since kindergarten asking me when I’d changed so much.

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It was a beautiful day – I adore my husband.

When I was 14, I went to Jenny Craig. I lost 20lbs eating food made by nestle that quite literally has no nutritional value. I remember daydreaming about getting to the Jenny Craig “maintenance program,”  where I would learn to stay thin. Instead, I gained the 20lbs  I lost plus 10 more.

During my later high school years, I tried weight watchers, slim fast, atkins, nutrisystem and plain old starvation. I always lost weight and I always gained more than I lost.

I broke up with my high school boyfriend in my freshman year of college and got thin again – this time I think it was 45lbs. I don’t remember a particular program, but I remember buying a skin tight brightly colored paisley dress and wearing it so he would see what he was missing. I was fat again by sophomore year.

I was  happy in college – I had great friends. But I still felt body conscious and I weighed 200lbs for the first time. For graduation I asked my parents to send me to Structure House – which is like fat camp for grown ups. At Structure House I lost 50 lbs.  I gained it back .

In grad school I watch a newscast about some soap opera star who lost weight on a liquid diet – Optifast. I lost 60lbs doing this – three times –  between the ages of 23 and 30.

At 30 I followed a program called Dr. Bernstein and worked out like crazy to get ready for my wedding. When I walked down the aisle I weighed 172 pounds. I look thin in the pictures but I had wanted thinner. I wasted time on my wedding day thinking about how I could have looked prettier.

Do you see a pattern? It’s not like I wasn’t committed.

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We are so cool.

When I think about my childhood, I remember crying a lot about my body. I remember feeling like a failure and not understanding why I wasn’t thin like my friends. I would have given anything to be thin, and I tried everything to be thin. I’m not going to lie to you. I have always loved food, but honestly I wanted thin way more than I ever wanted food. Each time I was thinner I loved being thinner, and I desperately wanted to stay thinner but as soon as I stopped starving and started eating normally I gained the weight back. Thin was/is not in the cards for me.

Today, I work out regularly and eat healthy but I don’t lose weight. At least I think I don’t lose weight because at this point in my life I never get on a scale and my clothes seem to fit.   I genuinely believe that constant  dieting made me fatter. I think that if I had accepted my body rather than diet I might have been a bit bigger than others but I never would have been as big as I am now. Diets failed me. They haunted me – they filled my life with failure because no matter how many times I dieted, I never stayed thin.

People say things like, “It’s not about dieting – It’s a lifestyle change.” Well, I’ve made a lifestyle change. I’ve decided not to diet because diets don’t work.

Plus, I’m fabulous – just the way I am.

Dear Narrow Minded Yoga Dude and Other Fat-shamers at the Gym, You Suck

Me Doing Yoga circa 2002

Me Doing Yoga circa 2002

Recently, I took a private yoga class with my family – mom, uncle, husband, father – we were all there. I haven’t taken a whole lot of private yoga instruction in my life but I have been practicing yoga on and off for a number of year, so private instruction sounded like a good time. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. Basically, this yoga dude showed up to our hotel room, stripped down to his skivvies and proceeded to tell us that most people practice yoga for all the wrong reasons – which in all honestly is probably true – but his presentation of these ideas was off putting and a little pretentious – mostly because he presented himself as a yoga genius and treated us like idiots. Because of his belief in a universally flawed perception of yoga – this dude would not lead us through a series of asanas. Instead, we had to start from scratch and re-learn the poses we already knew with him as our guide. Fine.

My Bulging Tricep

My Bulging Tricep

After a few rounds of sun salutations, which honestly felt the same as all the other times I’ve preformed sun salutations, we moved on to warrior pose and the yoga dude explained that the first sign of aging is the flabby wings that we get under our arms (<— not true), and that obviously, we all fear this flab (<— not true x 2). His “solution” for this flab was flexing one’s palms towards the floor so as to tighten the triceps – he explained that he practiced by pressing against the shower soap dish for years and now his arms aren’t flabby. In response to this explanation he asked us all to flex our arms and he went around touching our triceps, proving that “horrible flab” was easily eliminated.

Eliminating the flab under my arms, which by the way is unnecessary, cannot be accomplished by flexing my triceps. In family – I am the fattest; I am also the most fit. I work out all the time – I train 3 times a week for an hour and I do cardio on the other days. I am super strong and while they are covered in fat I have huge bulging triceps, which regularly sling stuff around. When the jerk-faced yoga dude got to my tricep – he pinched the fat under my arm and said “I don’t think there is a tricep in here.” Fat-shaming douch-bag.

News flash: Fat people work out too. Just becasue I’m fat doesn’t mean I lack muscle tone or that I don’t go to the gym to work on my health. (Check out these awesome images of fit fatties!) My health is mine to define. Fat can be fit or maybe it isn’t but either way another person’s arm flab or level of fitness clearly none of yo’ business. Furthermore, shaming me in from of my family or shaming others wherever isn’t doing any good. It’s clynically proven that fat-shaming does not encourage this fat person to become less fat.

Fat Gym Rat

Fat Gym Rat

Clearly, this yoga dude – is just one jerk but this is not the first person to give me a hard time about being fat and wanting to exercise my body. Regularly at my gym strangers come up to me to express their joy that I’m working out. “Good For you,” they say – which really means “Good Job Fattie – proud to see you trying to overcome your fat.” Another comment I hear frequently, is “You really work hard” expressed with a startled awe. Whether they know it or not these beasties are expressing their hard held beliefs that if your fat you must be a lazy, un-fit slob who sits around and stuff your face all day. This is fat-hate and their comments are fat-shaming because they believe that a fat person is only valuable when trying to get thin. To be clear – I’m not trying to get thin. I’m trying to stay fit. I go to the gym because it makes me feel good. I go because I know that pursuing fitness will help me live the life I want to live. Despite this choice that I make for myself – no one should tell you how to care for your fat body. It’s yours to do with as you please.

Kellogs, Tyra Banks and Jennifer Lawrence – Stop Shaming Fatness But Continue To Support Actions Against Body Hatred

picresized_ece6e5_1a97205ae8d4232b2a1e39a9226c626e.png_srz_205_195_75_22_0.50_1.20_0I have started a petition. It is located one change.org: http://chn.ge/1a6GZyq

In December 2013 we’ve seen some amazing women and a corporation use their means and platforms to raise awareness and attempt to change the mainstream message that perpetuates constant bodily surveillance and bodily hate.

In particular, Tyra Banks has joined forces with Special K cereal (Kellogg Company) to promote the “Fight Fat Talk” Campaign and Jennifer Lawrence told Barbara Walters that “It should be illegal” to call somebody fat on television.

It is clear that both these women and the Kellogg Company have their hearts in the right place, and that they are trying to help women shift their critical perspectives about their bodies in world where corporations and the media create powerful consumers by promoting self-hate and then supplying flawed solutions in the form of fashion, beauty and diet products.

Unfortunately, what has seemed to go unnoticed is the inherent hatred of the body that is actually fat. It is true, that our culture uses the word fat as an insult and often we hurl this word at bodies that are not really all that fat – but there are also a lot of genuinely fat people out there who could be living happy, healthy lives and instead they are riddled with the shame of literally being the thing that we are constantly demonizing.

Fat, like thin, short and tall, is just an adjective. It is a word that describes a body type and “fighting” or “outlawing” the use of the word fat, inherently underscores that being fat is shameful and embarrassing.

Some people are fat and that’s okay. Recently, Amber Riley used her fat body to win Dancing With The Stars – proving that bodies of all shapes and sizes can be graceful, powerful, capable and amazing. We can promote body love without continuing to shame the fat body.  We can accept all body types and still fight the corporate/media machine that perpetuates messages of body hate.

I have started a petition. It is located one change.org: http://chn.ge/1a6GZyq

Please sign this petition to help raise awareness about the negative use of the word “Fat” in campaigns that are attempting to promote body positivity, and to specifically ask Tyra Banks, Kelloggs and Jennifer Lawrence to leverage their celebrity in a way that empowers every body. In particular, we would like to see this change begin by watching Kelloggs make a big deal out of changing the name of the “fight fat talk” campaign.

Finally – share this post with everyone and anyone – change is coming. Let’s make it happen together.

Also – check out these two other Rad Fatties who are voicing their opinion about this issue: The Militant Baker, Sweaters For Days and Fat Body Politics

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The Truth About Barbie

What follows are two images that ask us to consider the unrealistic nature of Barbie’s physical build. The first image is a life size Barbie – i.e a model of Barbie’s measurements if she were life-sized – compared standing next to a young woman and an image of current Barbie next to what Barbie would look like if she had measurements that were more in line with the reality of human bodies:

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In April of 2011 CBS NEWS noted that with her current dimensions, Barbie would be diagnosed as dangerously thin – and possibly suffering from an eating disorder. So why not change her — why not make Barbie more in line with a realistic body type – or at least give parents the option. Why not make Barbie dolls in a variety of body types? Perhaps — we need a petition.

I’m not trying to slam Mattel – in fact, last year they produced presidential candidate Barbie – sponsored by the White House Project which was pretty cool:

20130703-091610.jpgBut the reality here is that — Barbie creates unreal body expectations in the girls that play with her … remember the woman who has actually had multiple surgeries attempting to make herself look like Barbie. Just sayin’barbie2

Did y’all See this Yoplait Ad That got Pulled?

Disclaimer: This as was pulled because it was believed that it could inspire or encourage detrimental behavior to those who have a propensity towards an eating disorder:

I think I first came across it on the Huffington Post, but Chloe on Feministing also wrote about this debacle.  Yoplait pulled the ad after comments from the National Eating Disorder Association.  According to the NEDA press release, Lynn Grefe, President and CEO of NEDA said that the language of the ad “was seriously problematic for those affected by eating disorders and anyone who may have a predisposition towards developing one.”

I think yoplait did the right thing by pulling the ad – but scarier for me was watching the ad and realizing that I’ve had these conversations with myself – I’ve even had them out loud with my friends – feminist friends. Maintaining a positive body image in a western culture obsessed with thinness is complicated – even when we are “enlightened” by feminist thinking.  What are the steps we can take to avoid this obsession in future generations of women?

I was wondering if this ad triggered the same kind of thinking for any of you? I’m going to think some more and get back to you on this in a couple of days – but still any thoughts?