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Posts from — May 2010

On Fear of Being Judged

I just left the world’s longest comment in reply to a very brave commenter on the site, but she touched me in a profound way. I wanted to share a portion of my reply, because I think she has hit upon one of our biggest fears as women: how am I perceived by others when I walk out the door. I know that pain and that fear. I lived with it for many years. I feel like I sacrificed my 20s to it. And after crying a river of tears, here’s the realization that I came to: perception of others is relative and meaningless. The only perception that matters is our own.

I learned this when I had a chance to spend time in West Africa around the time I turned 30. At that time I was a size 20 (at 5’5″ tall), so I was definitely full-figured. I was always concerned that I was perceived as unattractive, particularly by men (though I had no lack of male attention). However, I showed up in West Africa, and I was a beauty queen. This is a culture that perceives big female bodies as beautiful. Men followed me down the street everywhere I went. A size-2 girl there is considered homely and sickly looking, and encouraged to eat. When I left, I decided that if I was hot stuff in West Africa, I was hot stuff everywhere, and you know what, I am. In fact, I always was (a red slipper moment, for sure).

Truly, the only perception that matters is your own. While you are worried about how others are perceiving you, they are all worried about how YOU are perceiving THEM. And who cares how anyone else perceives you? A woman who is bigger than you may look at you, think you are skinny, and wish she were you. A  woman who is smaller than you may look at you and think you look big. Who cares? Do you judge all your friends by their body size? Or, once you get to know them, do you judge them by their character and their heart?

[And, as far as how potential partners may perceive you, I can tell you from personal experience: whatever you’ve got, there’s someone out there who thinks you’ve got it, and he (or she, depending on your preference) wants it.]

Now, this is not to say that there aren’t ugly, mean people out there who will say hurtful things. And, if you’re experience is like mine, some of them may be related to you. However, it’s not just size that we are judged on in the minds of these types. It may be gender, income, lifestyle, education, background, race, what side of town you live on, where you go to church, whom you choose to love. A double, “who cares?” Are we going to let our lives be controlled by what others think of us? Then we will waste the precious gift of the life we’ve been given.

Thus, I charge you all: see your own beauty, release the burden of the perception of others. When you are hungry, eat. Stop when you are full. Eat healthy, nutritious food to fuel your body. Exercise in a balanced way. Get proper sleep. Treat your body well. And don’t worry about a number in a garment or on a scale. Perceive, SEE, the brilliant, beautiful human being that you are. Be happy. Live happy.

May 30, 2010   13 Comments

SYTYCD: Big Girl Dancing Beautifully? What?

SYTYCD Judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mia Michaels, Adam Shankman

SYTYCD Judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mia Michaels, Adam Shankman

So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD), a show that has traditionally treated big dancers only as a joke, finally gave some praise to a big-bodied dancer and admitted to its own prejudice in a Susan-Boyle-esque moment. SYTYCD’s new season premiered this evening with the requisite audition rounds. A very brave Megan Carter, 18 years old and a dance major in college, danced a beautiful audition before a stunned and moved panel of judges.

In her pre-dance interview, Megan shares that she has been dancing for 15 years, and describes herself as “obviously thicker than other dancers.” She credits the curvy Mia Michaels, an Emmy-winning show choreographer and new SYTYCD judge, as her inspiration for finding the courage to audition for the show.

As she begins to dance with grace and skill, the camera cuts to the judges for that Susan-Boyle-shock moment. Judge Adam Shankman, choreograper, producer, director (the re-make of Hairspray being among his most popular), exclaims incredulously, “What? What is going on?” grabbing Mia Michaels by the arm. [Read more →]

May 27, 2010   6 Comments

“Drop Dead Diva” — Brooke Elliott Breaking the Mold

Does my obvious affection for this sign give you a hint at how excited I was to attend  an exclusive sneak peek screening of the second season premiere of DROP DEAD DIVA?  Following a screening of the episode, we were treated to a panel discussion and Q&A with cast and crew. The episode was fantastic–if you do nothing else, make sure you watch the opening sequence with a spectacular dance number with a hot big-girl outfit and choreography by Tyce Diorio (you SYTYCD fans will understand that reference).

I am actually a reluctant fan of the show. When I first heard about the concept for Drop Dead Diva, I was concerned. Here’s the pitch:

Drop Dead Diva follows a beautiful-but-vapid model wannabe, Deb, who finds herself relegated to the body of a plus-size attorney, Jane (Brooke Elliott), following their deaths. While the placement was accidental, it just might be divine intervention if it can help self-centered Deb learn to use her brain, rather than her looks to get by in life – with a little help from her loyal assistant Teri Lee (Margaret Cho).

When I saw the first trailer for the show, I was livid. It sounded to me like the story of a skinny, vapid, girl who is “punished” for her shallowness by being “trapped” in the body of a fat girl so that she could learn to be a better person. Way to kill two stereotypes with one stone! However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the show, and I find it’s treatment of the main, curvy character to be far more balanced than I had feared. No one is being punished, and you root for Deb/Jane to find acceptance, rather than for her to lose weight.

So, I was thrilled on Sunday to get to ask Brooke Elliott about the show and her experience as a curvy actor in a weight-obsessed industry. Brooke has been acting for 10 years, primarily on Broadway, prior to Drop Dead Diva. She describes her experience:

[Read more →]

May 26, 2010   13 Comments

What “The Biggest Loser” gets wrong … and right

Tonight marked the Season 9 finale of  “The Biggest Loser.” Anyone who reads this blog probably realizes that I am not a big fan of the show. This is not because I am opposed to weight loss, but rather I am opposed to the way this show encourages weight loss: extreme exercise and severe caloric restriction, rather than healthy sustainable diet and exercise. The New York Times published a great article in November 2009 about the dangerous nature of “The Biggest Loser” approach:

Rapid weight loss can cause many medical problems, including a weakening of the heart muscle, irregular heartbeat and dangerous reductions in potassium and electrolytes.

In pursuit of the big money prizes, former contestants have admitted to using dangerous weight loss techniques, including self-induced dehydration. And anyone who has ever used an extreme diet or exercise program knows how easy it is to gain it all back: almost all participants report some weight gain (on average 20%) after the show, and two season winners, Ryan Benson and Eric Chopin, regained all the weight they had lost.

[Read more →]

May 25, 2010   No Comments

Atlanta Book Event: “The Curvy Girl’s Guide to Style”

If your in Atlanta and taking a staycation for the holiday, you’ll want to check out this event, sponsored by Stylish Consignments. Not only can you groove around this great book, but you can find out about Stylish Consignments, a consignment store featuring clothes for Curvy Girls size 14-30. Not only can you buy, but you can earn extra cash by cleaning out your closet.  You don’t even need an appointment to bring your clothes in. Call 770.676.0953 or visit stylishconsignments.com for the details.

May 25, 2010   2 Comments

Martha Beck’s “Body Whisperer” Meditation

As promised in my earlier post, here’s Martha Beck’s “Body Whisperer” meditation, or the “10 Minute Vacation from Predation” ( The Four Day Win: End Your Diet War and Achieve Thinner Peace ). When you find yourself moving into self-flagellation over food or anything else, try this 10 minute technique:

1. Find a safe space where you can be uninterrupted for at least 10 minutes.

  • Make sure you are physically and psychologically comfortable. You can lie down, or it may feel good to move.

2. Stop attacking your body, and start supporting it.

[Read more →]

May 24, 2010   No Comments

Farewell “Lost” and Your Curvy Love Story

I was so glad to see the return of Rose and Bernard in the series finale of “Lost.” Rose and Bernard are a great curvy love story–Bernard adores Rose, and Rose has zero issues with body image. While now at the end, Lost seems to be a story about the enduring nature of love, the love story of Rose and Bernard was always my favorite. Just as a side note: Rose makes an interesting contrast to Hugo “Hurley” Reyes, a big guy who becomes a big hero in the end, but who also open struggles with issues surrounding body image.

With that nod to curviness of “Lost,” I’ll add, I’m still processing the overall meaning of the finale. As of an hour after the airing of the final episode, my current take on the meaning of it all is: we live, we love, we die, and in some version of the afterlife, we get to make it all OK. Not necessarily where I thought the show was headed, but thought provoking nonetheless.

If you have comments on the curvy aspects of “Lost” or just have thoughs on the series in general, I’d love to hear them.

May 24, 2010   No Comments

Are You Trying To “Break” Yourself?

Fascinating word, “break.” If you “break” a vase, that’s not good. If you “break” a (bad) habit, that’s great. When I ask if you are trying to “break” yourself, however, I’m referring to a third use of the word–as in “break” a horse. (Dictionary.com has close to 100 variations on “break.”)

I’m a big Martha Beck fan (life coach for O Magazine, author, speaker), and I am currently reading (for the third time) her book, The Four Day Win: End Your Diet War and Achieve Thinner Peace. It’s really an anti-diet book (if you are reading Geneen Roth The Four Day Win: End Your Diet War and Achieve Thinner Peace and like her approach, you’ll dig this book). The book is really a lesson in meditation, with a collection of exercises that help you achieve peace in your life that apply to any kind of stress management.

But back to the “breaking” concept: Martha Beck shares a fascinating anecdote about a horse whisperer. The old school break-a-horse model is “to overcome or wear down the spirit, strength, or resistance of” the horse, often using whips and chains to “tame” it. The horse whisperer model involves using movements and body language that mimic the way the way horses communicate with one another. Now, if you were a horse, which method would you prefer?

Martha raises a fascinating point:

“If you are locked in angry resistance to your own body, if you hate it, if you’ve ever starved it or forced it to work through exhaustion, you’ve tried to ‘break’ an aspect of yourself that reacts very much like a wild horse.”

Thus, in trying to “break” yourself like a horse, you actually “break” yourself like a vase. Not good, not good at all.

[Read more →]

May 23, 2010   4 Comments

My Curvy Take on Sex and The City or, Why I Care About the Lives of Rich, Skinny, Privileged White Women who own $100,000 Worth of Shoes


When I was waxing poetic to my 30-year-old sister about how I loved the Sex And The City and can’t wait for the new movie ( I went to see the first movie two days in row), she made the statement in the title:

I just don’t get why you would care about the lives of rich, skinny, privileged white women who would spend $100,000 on shoes.

This is why I didn’t invite her to see the movie with me; in fact, both times I saw the first SATC movie, I went by myself.  I am not the “typical” SATC fan (if there is such a thing): I was late coming to the show in its original HBO run—I didn’t start watching it until several seasons into the show. I don’t have a gaggle of girlfriends with whom I gathered to gawk and gab about the show (a straight male friend of mind convinced me to give the show a try.) In fact, for many years I felt guilty for enjoying the show—doesn’t this just promote a doubly impossible beauty standard for women of never too thin, never too rich?

Can a curvy girl feel empowered by SATC? This curvy girl was.  I was so taken by the first film that I had to go straight out and have a cosmo and collect my thoughts on the entire experience.  Not only did I enjoy the movie, but I left the film feeling extremely empowered, feeling fabulous and capable of doing anything my heart desired. Why?

[Read more →]

May 5, 2010   2 Comments

The Trap of Over-Giving

Gift

For many of us, giving comes so naturally and easily that we have to be reminded not to over-give, either by giving beyond our means, beyond our time constraints, or beyond our energy levels. While I think that over-giving is often motivated by a heart full of gratitude and love, I also think that giving to the point of discomfort or pain can be motivated by a feeling that what we have to give (within our means, time, energy) or even more tragically, who we are as a human being, is not enough.

We’re taught from the time that we are little girls that our most important currency is “niceness,” and that the way we prove our worth is in selfless giving. Thus, from the beginning, we are programmed for a never-ending sense of not-enoughness. Not-enoughness leads us to undervalue what we have to give. I read this great thought in an article titled, “No, You Can’t Pick My Brain,”(by Nicole Jordan) on the tendency of women in business to undercharge for their services:

“Time is valuable and creative thought is even more so. Don’t undervalue either. As women (and compassionate people everywhere) we like to help and can get trapped in giving our time and ideas away for free because we’re afraid to ask for compensation. Or, just don’t realize it’s within our right to do so.”

Over-giving is a trap. What may start as heart-centered giving can become a burdensome obligation. Those around us can begin to expect and feel entitled to our over-giving, thus depriving of us our rightful recognition and further feeding our sense of not-enoughness. By staying so busy over-doing for others, we then don’t have time to stop and think about areas of our lives that may require change. The inescapable consequence of over-giving to others is an under-giving to ourselves. This can lead to the neglect of the most basic aspects of self-care—sleep, proper nutrition, exercise—in the name of caring for others. And the end game of over-giving is that eventually you have nothing to give to anyone else either.

So, if you find yourself exhausted from over-giving, then I encourage you to take your natural gift of generosity and turn it inward. Over-give to yourself. Give yourself time, attention, affection, and praise. Even if it’s only a half-day (a day of saying “No” to others and “Yes” to yourself), you’ll be amazed at the value of what you’ve been giving others. So, really as a reminder to myself, I remind you: You are the gift, and you are enough. Treat the gift that is you with all of the loving care and respect you deserve, so that others my benefit in a balanced and responsible way.

May 4, 2010   6 Comments