revolution

Pretty Hurts

Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever’s worst
Perfection is a disease of a nation, pretty hurts, pretty hurts
Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever’s worst
We try to fix something but you can’t fix what you can’t see
It’s the soul that needs the surgery

This is such a powerful video and song. My favorite part is where the pageant host asks Beyoncé the contest what her aspiration in life is…Beyoncé stutters for a moment before deciding that her aspiration in life is to be happy. While the rest of the video is showing just how unhappy she real is maintaining this pretty façade.

Pretty hurts. We shine the light on whatever’s worst.

So many women are spiraling out of control. They’re abusing laxatives, abusing diet pills, purging, cutting their wrists all the while wondering if any of it will ever make them pretty….or happy.

Reading this blog will not make you pretty. It will not make you happy, or satisfied, or content.

Pretty is a societal standard wrapped up in years of somebody else deciding what perfection is.

Beauty comes from within. If you believe that you are beautiful. That you have worth, then you do and you are. No one can take that away from you.

If you are currently struggling and you feel like you’re at the end of your rope. All you can see around you is a never ending tunnel of abuse, depression, purging, and darkness…then please visit the National Suicide Hotline. You can click, call, whatever works for you.

But as a friend, let me tell you that you are beautiful. You are loved. You are worthy. I want you to stick around and live an amazing, full life.

If you’ve been to my blog before, you know that I’ve experience just how badly Pretty Hurts.

A 2001 study looked at 13,601 high school students and asked them to record where they thought their weight lay in comparison to “right about the right weight for me.” 64% of participants were actually within the healthy weight range for their height/age, however over half of all participants felt that they were “too fat” or “too thin.” And it was the self reporters saying that they were an either edge of the extreme that were twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts and to act on them.

19% of the participants had had suicidal thoughts in the last year.

~10% had attempted to take their own life.

All this because of a distorted perception of beauty and its ideals.

Why do we obsess over perfection? Over a number on a scale? Over every single, solitary calorie that passes over our lips?

I can’t answer that. I don’t know why we do it.

But I know the effect.

It means that almost 1 in 5 teenagers have thought about ending their lives over it. It means that 1 in 10 have tried.

We try to fix something but you can’t fix what you can’t see
It’s the soul that needs the surgery

It’s the soul of a society that needs surgery.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

But revolutions don’t happen over night.

They start in the hearts and minds and souls of those who can be affected by change.

Change your mind about your  body.

It’s a magnificent thing.

The very fact that we don’t have to think about breathing astounds me. We don’t have to tell our red blood cells to clot when we get a scrape. We don’t tell our immune systems to fight off infections. Our bodies do this all on their own.

You’re body is amazing.

Love it.

Respect it.

Smile, beautiful. (:

Happy looks great on you.

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Blurring the Line: Sports Illustrated meets Barbie for the Cover

Can you believe that it’s been 50 years since the first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition?

No? Me either…but that doesn’t change the facts. In 1964 the first edition hit newsstands and ever since had sparked controversy concerning objectification of women, pornography, and other hot button issues. But this year, Sports Illustrated and Mattel either sank to new lows or soared to new heights depending on your personal convictions. Barbie will be the cover model, and in my opinion, both organizations have successfully and completely “blurred the line between women as objects and actual plastic objects.” (CNN)

We’ve all seen a Barbie doll, but just in case you’ve never seen the blonde bombshell, here she is on the cover of the magazine:

sports-illustrated-swimsuit-edition-2014-barbie-doll-377x500Her make up is flawless, her features completely exaggerated, her feet contorted to the form of permanent six inch heels.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition has long been criticized for only promoting “hypersexualized images of women” (Nicole Rodgers, editor-in-chief of RoleReboot.org)  and a homogenous form of beauty, emphasizing thin frames, little clothing, and leaving almost nothing to the imagination. But this pairing between the magazine and Mattel blurs the line still further. Rodgers argues it this way: “Barbie is not a woman, she’s an inanimate object. Juxtaposing her alongside real women as though the two are indistinguishable is dehumanizing, and in a literal sense, objectifying.”

But does any of this really matter? Are the little girls that are playing with Barbie actually influenced by her unrealistic portrayal of femininity? Some say no, but a growing body of research says yes.

Multiple studies over the past decade assert that play is an essential element in children learning who they are and how they fit in to their world. Point being that when they play with toys that portray an unrealistic sense of beauty, promote unrealistic values of femininity, and are generally distorted fabrications of reality, the children themselves are much more likely to experience low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy.

It was this body of research and popular opinion that inspired Nickolay Lamm to create an image that portrayed Barbie, a doll with extremely unrealistic body proportions, next to a doll made with the proportions of an average 19 year old female in the United States. He wanted to challenge the notion that average is not beautiful and in challenging the status quo, he flipped it on its head.

normal barbie  This image is a representation of what Barbie would actually look like as an average 19 year old. When the internet rejoiced at Lamm’s creations, he took it a step further and began working to produce an actual doll. He created a crowdfunding site to get Lammily into production that has now raised $470,802 of the requested $95,000.

Lamm made a statement about his new Lammily doll: “[she] is an alternative to dolls with unrealistic beauty standards that dominate the market, like Barbie, or the hypersexualized Bratz dolls,” “My doll is a cool-looking doll that just happens to be average.”

lammily

Lammily is a wonderful beginning to what can hopefully be a new trend in children’s toys. While children themselves don’t care about what their toy looks like, as long it looks like fun, their parents do. Think of it this way, if your child doesn’t like vegetables are you just going to say “Ok, you never need to eat them.”?

Of course not! Vegetables are required for their growth and health, but you might try to disguise their cauliflower into their mashed potatoes. That’s what Lammily does. She’s a cool doll that provides a natural representation of beauty. Most likely, the girls playing with her won’t notice anything different about her than a Barbie, but most likely the girls self-esteem will be the better for it in the long run.

There has been some flack about Lammily; most notably that she is fit, white, and not all encompassing of racial diverstiy. Lamm has plans to release other dolls, “I’m hoping to extend the line to embrace diversity. From race to body type, I want this doll to be true to you!” (Lammily.com) Lamm does not promote that Lammily is the standard of normalcy, only stating that “average is beautiful.” As for Lammily’s fitness level, on the website he also asserts that Lammily promotes a healthy lifestyle and as a result of that lifestyle she has a fit body type. So, yes. Lammily is fit and white and she doesn’t encompass every single body type or race that exists today. However, there are plans to make more models that promote this diversity; and there is no denying that this is a step in the right direction.

As a woman living in the United States today, it is impossible to escape the hypersexualization of women from media to advertising to film to college campuses. The skirts keep getting shorter, the V-necks keep getting lower, the make-up keeps getting thicker, and overall — our level self-worth and self-confidence isn’t getting any higher. Thanks to big name companies that prey on the weaknesses of men and the sexiness of women like Sports Illustrated and Mattel, America has crossed into precarious territory. Their objectification of women took a step over the guardrail and now we’re dangerously close to the edge of accepting that women are like Barbies – plastic objects to be ogled and touched and undressed all while keeping our make up looking fabulous. 

Thanks to people standing up and calling for change like Nickolay Lamm, Stella Boonshoft, Lady Gaga, and many more there is still hope that women can be seen as humans again. We have the ability to affect change by instilling values into our daughters and sons that promote healthy body image.

Don’t sweat being average. Don’t sweat not being perfect.

None of us are.

Barbie isn’t a real woman.

Hell, those women in Sports Illustrated are only photoshopped manipulations of their former selves.

So be you.

Be normal (whatever that is).

Be who God created you to be.

Because, like Lammily’s slogan reminds us:

“Average is Beautiful.”

And so are you.

Stay Smiling, Beautiful (: Happy looks great on you.

 

Visit www.lammily.com/average-is-beautiful for purchase or more information on the Lammily doll 

 

 

I Had No Idea… | The Power of Words

This past week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

I know what you’re thinking…

There’s a week for everything these days….Zzzz….Zzzzzz…

And you’re absolutely correct…there is a month/day/week for just about everything. March alone is home to National Puppy Week, Pi Day, Skipping Day, and British Pie Day just to name a few.

But, this really is a cause that deserves its own week. Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S according to ANAD.

This is nothing to scoff at.

In the last 6 weeks, this blog has posted on topics ranging from eating disorders to body image to photo manipulation ethics, but this week I want to discuss something different.

I want to talk about you.

What is your struggle?

Do you look in the mirror and poke, push, and grab every part of your body that you don’t like?

Do you get anxious about leaving the house without makeup on?

Do you use filters on your pictures in order to give yourself a “better” appearance?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions: you probably struggle with some form body image issues.

You’re not alone…I’ve been there too, and so have a lot of other women.

There is no easy answer to this epidemic. If there were, we would have figured it out by now. But as it stands, three quarters of US women are unsatisfied with what they see in the mirror.

NEDA’s campaign revolved around the phrase: I had no idea…

I had no idea that so many women and men are affected by poor body image.

I had no idea that I wasn’t alone in my struggle.

I had no idea that those who meant well in my life, lied to me when I was young.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. 

Bullshit. A more honest phrase would have been:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will crush my heart, soul, and self esteem.

I had no idea how powerful words could really be.

I had no idea how devastating words could be to my psyche.

I had no idea how uplifting words could build me up but also cause me to doubt.

I had no idea how complicated life can be.

I had no idea about you.

In life there are always insiders and outsiders. In groups and out groups as the sociologists would say.  And it seems to me, and most likely to you as well, that no matter what you and were always in the outgroup. So what happens when a bunch of so-called outsiders band together?

We become an IN group.

According to Erin Morgenstern “there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep going on, they overlap and blur, your story is part of your sister’s story is part of many other stories, and there is no telling where any of them may lead.”

Even in our darkest days, our ugliest days, our days when the darkness of our beds are the only comfort, “things keep going on,” your story is wrapped up in my story and “there is no telling where any of them my lead.”

You and I are in charge of our own stories, yet they are both intertwined. We do not exist in isolation. We were created for community. You keep me accountable for the words I say and think about my body, and I will do the same for you.

Because we are beautiful.

And no one should tell us otherwise.

Stay Smiling Beautiful! Happy, looks great on you.