Monthly Archives: October 2010

Size-ism: Alive and well in America? (a.k.a. Why you should boycott Marie Claire)

I read things all the time that I find offensive — usually things that are political and/or sexist.  If I blogged about everything that I read that irritates me, well, I’d probably sound like a pretty hateful blogger.  But today I read something that was so appalling and hate-filled that I couldn’t not share it with you.  As much as it pains me to send more traffic to this website, you can read the full article, apology, and comments here.

You really should read the article because I can’t do its awfulness justice, but I’ll summarize a bit for you.  The article is basically a reaction to a new CBS sitcom, Mike & Molly, which is apparently about an overweight couple who started dating after meeting at Overeaters Anonymous.  The author of the Marie Claire article, entitled “Should “Fatties” Get a Room? (Even on TV?),” states the following:

“So anyway, yes, I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room . . .”

“I have a few friends who could be called plump. I’m not some size-ist jerk.”

“And while I think our country’s obsession with physical perfection is unhealthy, I also think it’s at least equally crazy, albeit in the other direction, to be implicitly promoting obesity!”

Those are just a few “highlights” of the things she had to say.  She also provided some general advise for improved health and weight loss.  It later became clear through the blog comments and her “apology” that she struggled with and was hospitalized for anorexia and bulimia.  I felt compelled to comment on the article because I found it extremely outrageous and hurtful.  The following is the comment I left:

As someone who has admittedly struggled with your own body through an eating disorder, I am genuinely shocked by your lack of empathy for people who struggle with their bodies, though in a different way than you did. While you should be commended for overcoming your own struggle, you should also understand, probably better than a lot of others, how difficult the journey of overcoming body image issues and eating disorders of all kinds really is. I find it sad and discouraging to hear that someone such as yourself would find obese people so disgusting and appalling to watch. Reading your post made me wonder what my thin friends think when I walk across a room or publicly show affection. I’m not proud of my obesity. I struggle with it every day. But I know in my heart that I am more than just an obese person and that I have a lot to offer the people around me — and I’m sure the actors on the show do too. You have minimized all overweight people and the daily battle they go through, especially those of us who are genuinely trying to become healthier people.

I am so floored by not only her article but also by some of the comments and subsequent articles.  Most commenters gave her the business, but not every one did.  Some people stated that she had the right to her own opinion, which I will sadly admit is true, and others agreed with what she had to say.  I think she is entitled to her opinion, I think that she has the right not to watch the show and the right not to be friends with so-called fatties.  What I find extremely troubling is that a women’s fashion magazine such as Marie Claire would allow one of its contributors to use its website as a platform for hate-mongering.

We all feel badly enough about ourselves as it is. There are external pressures every where to be thin, beautiful, funny, smart, successful, etc.  Really, pick your poison.  There is something out there that we all think we are not “enough” of.  I’m not saying that we should all lie about how we feel or skirt important issues for the sake of everyone’s feelings, but there has to be some level of sensitivity.  And the author of the Marie Claire article can say all day that she’s just being honest about how a lot of people feel and that she thinks that obesity in America needs to be addressed, but seriously, she was being mean-spirited and unkind and thoughtless.  We all have opinions that can be seen as offensive but I would like to think that we are smart enough and kind enough to keep them to ourselves or discuss them within our close circle of friends and family or at the very least take into consideration political correctness or provide some kind of counter argument/opinion to level the playing field.  Marie Claire posted a one-sided diatribe about how having fat people on TV makes people uncomfortable.  The fact that such an article was conceptualized, written, and posted makes me uncomfortable.

Furthermore, picking on a group of individuals and saying that they gross you out based on some generally unifying characteristic, well, everything about that rubs me the wrong way.  Being a size-ist is akin to being homophobic, racist, or sexist.  Size-ism may not be as serious as some of those examples, but it is born out of the same thought process — making assumptions and generalizations about people you don’t know based on your own preferences.  All fat people are gross and lazy and shouldn’t engage in PDA? Seriously? She really said that? She did (well, I loosely summarized that). It was totally crappy and mean.  And I genuinely hope that she realizes just how hurtful some of her statements were.  Being thin or at a healthy weight does not automatically and universally make her better than people who aren’t or make her more deserving of love or happiness or success.  It just makes her thinner and/or healthier than someone else.

Did you think the article was hate-filled?  Or was the author just expressing the opinion she was entitled to?  If you were overweight, do you think you would be offended by her statements?

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Filed under Etc., Health

Shifting Focus

As previously mentioned, I’m a total wedding junkie and my fave wedding blogging website is Weddingbee.com.  I have a giant girl/relationship crush on Mrs. Pretzel and in this post she pretty much sums up everything I want to focus on right now.  In the post she talks a lot about faith and praying for Mr. Pretzel (before they met) and her future life with Mr. Pretzel.  And she said this:

In the later half of my tumultuous twenties there came a point in time where I decided that I was through with dating. I needed to focus on myself and my relationship with friends, family and God. I was confident that if I did those things that I would know when I was ready to date and meet my future husband. I had no idea how long it would take, and to be honest, I didn’t think about it. I worked at becoming a happier, more well-balanced Pretzel. I strengthened relationships with family and with other women. I focused on work, faith, friends, and family.

I felt like this passage just called to me.  I know that sounds ridiculous, but sometimes you read something or hear something or see something that speaks so clearly to you that you can’t ignore it or pretend it wasn’t meant for you.  Mrs. Pretzel said everything I’ve been thinking about and said it in a way challenged me to do more. And better.

I feel like I have spent a lot of time in 2010 trying to be a better me.  And in a lot of ways I think I have been successful.  I am more satisfied in my job than I have ever been, I have cast a wider social net through church and book clubs and my sorority, I have found a place to give back to the community that I am truly passionate about, and I have gotten to a better place in several of my friendships.  I’m really proud of all of these things, but there is something I pledged at the beginning of the year that I would do that haven’t.  I honestly haven’t even tried to do it.

I shared several months ago that I was trying to focus this year on being satisfied that God is enough for me.  He is my number One and that my hypothetical spouse one day will be my number Two.  I’ve probably barely even thought about it since I blogged it.  FAIL.  But I think that Mrs. Pretzel essentially said the same thing in her post — the goal is to work on your self so that when God puts the right person in your life your heart is prepared.  I want that. So much.

I also want to feel like a more balanced version of my self. I went from doing nothing during the week and partying like a 22-year-old on the weekends to having a different activity almost every week night and wanting to lay on the couch on the weekends, the ones that I’m actually home anyway.  I want to feel more centered, a little more in control, a little less programmed.

So today I am re-committing to my original plan to shift my focus from worrying where/when/how I’ll meet Mr. Right to finding joy and fulfillment in my God, my family, my friends and my favorite activities.*  I want to minimize the drama and the crap and the filler and to maximize the happiness and the hope and the faith.  I feel like I’ve been waiting for something to happen to me instead investing my efforts into the things that are actually happening around me all the time.  I want to build a fulfilling life for myself so that when I meet someone I’m still rooted to the things that have always been important to me.

So for right now, I’m happy that it’s just my god and me.

How do you find balance in your life? What ways do you feel like you try to draw out your best self and nurture the important relationships in your life?

* I realize this makes it sound like I am sitting at home twiddling my thumbs waiting to meet some hypothetical person.  That’s not entirely true.  I really do have a wonderful life that is full of awesome people, but at my age and stage in life it is really difficult not to be romantic relationship focused.

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Filed under Faith, Love

The Company You Keep

I read this article today, and while I thought most of it was less-than-insightful, the author did say one thing that really stood out to me:

“After all, you are the company you keep, but shouldn’t the company you keep help advance the you that you are?”

I feel like I’ve had several conversations with different people over the last few months regarding “friends” who behave badly, so badly, in fact, that there is discussion of cutting them out completely.  It’s serious, I know.  And if we are the company we keep, who wants to keep company that is rude, discourteous, thoughtless, selfish, etc.?  But really the crux of these conversations, which have all been based on very different circumstances, seems to be, what does this “friend” bring to my life?

I know what you’re thinking — friendship is a two-way street, it’s not all about what your friends can do for you, etc. — but hear me out.  I strive to be a good friend, to be thoughtful and supportive and conscientious and helpful and loving and fun.  I think these are important qualities to have in a close friendship.  But at some point, you can get to a place where it feels like you are the only one who is giving.  Come on, we’ve all been friends with a “taker” before.  You know, those people who only call when they need something or want to talk about themselves or only want to attend the social events they plan or worse, won’t commit to plans with you because it is pretty obvious that they are waiting for a better offer.

Sometimes it takes a really long time for you to identify a “taker” as such but once you do, you see it in everything they say and do.  And then you think, when was the last time this person just called to see what was going on in MY life? Or said something nice or supportive to me? Or encouraged me to accomplish a goal? Or supported me when I failed? That’s what friends do, right?

I know I’ve shared this sentiment with some of you before but I’ll say it again here — I want to be friends with people who make me a better person, who challenge me to be the very best version of myself.  When you’re friends with people who challenge you in a good way, things still don’t always come up rainbows and unicorns, but at least they want what is best for you.  And hopefully you want what is best for them.  We use our gifts to advance each other to bigger and better and brighter things.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

And the people who don’t do that for you? Well, you don’t have to stop being friends with them, but you don’t have to prioritize them either.  I’ve found that the older I get the more difficult it is to have genuine quality time with the important people in your life.  Everyone is busy and stressed out and overworked.  So when I have time to spend with others, I want to spend it with the people who give me new ideas and warm fuzzies and encouragement and the hard truth when I need it.  As for everyone else, well, we can still be friends, but it just won’t be in the same way.

Who sharpens you?  Have you ever been friends with a “taker?” How did you deal with it?

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Ten Days: Day 10

Today is confession day. Truth time.

Many moons ago a friend, who I will not name here for fear that she might reach through the bowels of the internet and bludgeon me, and I took advantage of a free seven-day pass to match.com.  Much winking ensued.  Then came the witty banter via email — which took hours to craft and only seconds to read.  Then there was a date.  That’s right, I went on a date with a person from the internet. There, I said it. Judge away.

I know a lot of my peers think that they/we are too young to internet date.  I think that it’s less about your age and more about where you are in your life.  At the time, I was bored and a little lonely and felt like it was hard to meet people because I already knew everyone in my itty bitty law school.  And it was free. I mean, come on.

The guy I went on the date with was incredibly funny via email and had a cute, kind of edgy profile pic so when he suggested we meet I accepted.  I planned an emergency phone call/text to my friend just in case he was a serial killer and told my roommate where I was going to be.  And we had drinks.  And he was nice, but came off much more feminine in person.  I’m not saying he was a girly-man, but he just wasn’t as masculine as I prefer. (Alas, no beard.)

And he had one of my biggest turn-offs: small, slender, delicate-looking hands.  He was perfectly nice and we had enough to talk about but there was no chemistry.  I also kind of felt like he was way too excited about me.  I know that sounds ridiculous, but he kept telling me how pretty I was and how this was his best match.com date ever, etc. and it made me feel like he thought I was too good for him which made me think that maybe I was.  Yes, I was a shallow, vain 22-year-old.  Sue me.

After the date, I told him I had a nice time, which wasn’t a lie, but when he tried to follow-up a few days later to hang out, I blew him off.  And after my free trial, I gave up on the ole match.com.  And I never told anyone else about the date.

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