Real Women have…Vaginas? And a lot of other parts, but not necessarily curves

I think this might be a controversial post, and trust me I’m a little nervous about writing it because I try not to be an intentionally controversial person. But since I’m writing a blog on being healthy mentally, physically, and emotionally, this is a topic I simply cannot beat around. It’s the term: Real Women.

The first time I ever heard this phrase was at age 11 when the movie Real Women Have Curves was blowing up. The implication of this phrase seems very clear. In order to be a real woman you have to be all badda-bing badda-boom in all the right places. However, the underbelly suggests something a little darker.

If you don’t have hips…you aren’t a woman.

If you don’t have  weight to throw around…you aren’t a woman.

If you don’t have large breasts…you aren’t a woman.

If you are thin…you aren’t a woman.

I think you get my point…This idea is further pushed by images of modern day models.

It’s true that in magazines you don’t see many people over a size eight, but that doesn’t mean every thin model photographed throws up, isn’t living a fulfilling eating life, or should be put down for not being born with T&A, and hips that Lucille Clifton would write poems about. Larger kids are often teased growing up. Guess what, thin kids are teased as well, and I’ve read articles of several models feeling like odd ducklings growing up. Telling someone to “go feed that girl a burger” is just as mean as telling someone “lay off the Twinkies.” The common ground between big women, average, women, and thin women is that they are all people and all susceptible to hurt feelings.

This idea of “Real Women” being bigger can also be detrimental to someone’s health. I’ve mentioned this before, but unfortunately as the obesity rate in our country rises, we move further and further away from knowing what a healthy person can look like. People who want to take control of their health and limit themselves to not eating junk food every day are commonly teased.  As a black woman, I’m fully aware of the term thick. There are many healthy (black, white, and in between) women who have thick thighs. I’d say the lovely actress Gabrielle Union fits into that bracket, and although I don’t’ know her living habits she appears to be in very good shape.

 

However, you get a lot of this too.

Photocredit: Lipstick Alley

Yes, your thighs are “thick”, but this probably isn’t healthy. A lot of the times when people glorify this term they are justifying what can be overweight, unhealthy body types, and this isn’t good either!

You can be on the “bigger” side and healthy. We all know this gem.

 

You can be a waif and healthy. Check out model Chanel Iman below.

Teen Vogue. Model: Chanel Iman

And just as there are larger, unhealthy people, there are those who are dangerously thin and unhealthy

The Late Isabelle Caro

It was hard for me to find a photo of a model I know (I don’t really follow modeling too intensely) that was actually dangerously thin. There are a lot of blatantly edited photos to make someone look anorexic when they really aren’t, but this is French model Isabelle Caro who died last year from a lifelong battle with anorexia. She did a modeling campaign to bring attention to anorexia in the modeling industry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for encouraging digital artists to Photoshop as minimally as possible. And I think agencies that employ couture runway models (as these tend to be the most thin) should encourage healthier eating practices and not push girls to lose unhealthy amounts of weight. But we shouldn’t let one job market dictate how we  treat people who aren’t badda-bing badda-boom.

A term like this pits females against each other, when instead we should be working together to create positive change.  The phrase “
Real Women” alienates many women who aren’t curvy and can make them feel unworthy. Ironic, as isn’t that how people who use the phrase “Real Women” also feel in relationship to the magazine media? Instead we should think this way:

Real women have hips…of all sizes.

Real women have weight…that settles in genetically predisposed places.

Real women have breasts…of all shapes, sizes, and locations (perky, saggy, they’re all good.)

Real women are thin…and athletic, and pear shaped, and curvy, etc, etc.

Real Women…Aim to get to know their body better every single day and help take it to the most realistic, healthy place possible in a safe and supportive manner.

…So it doesn’t have the same ring to it, but I think it’s a mantra we should all start living by!

Peel Away

❤ Jocellyn

Ps: Here are some great places to check out for motivating female images.

Oxygen Magazine, Muscle & Fitness Hers, Fitness RX. Yup, they’re all body-building magazines! Modern day female body building is broken down into 3 categories. There’s figure, which is a bit more muscular, Fitness (tends to be made up of former dancers and gymnasts), and Bikini where the muscle tone is apparent but more subtle. These women work really hard for their bodies by exercising hard and smart and eating super well.

 

Blogger Ciara Gale. I follow this girl. You should follow this girl. She has great style, a killer work ethic, and a body that you should be envious of…for .2 seconds until you realize that she started out at ground zero too and you can achieve the same things!

Another place to look: duh, around you. Okay, here comes the sassy-Jocellyn: don’t always depend on media to please your every expectation. Look around you to see women and men of all shapes and sizes. There’s your best bet.

Fresh to Death and Dressed to Digress

Happy New Years everyone!!!!

I skated into 2012. Literally. The streets were so icy in Burlington I had to walk almost a mile downhill on the grass. I was praying to all sorts of embarrassment gods to take pity on me. Apparently, it worked. Continuing on with the body image series, today I’m going to discuss dressing well and the immediate changes you’ll feel when you’re out and about in public.

I’m going to slap it down real hard and real fast. If you are 20 years old it is no longer appropriate to wear baggy boyfriend-esque sweats to class.

Credit: Collegefashion.net

Especially if it’s a 1230! Sweats are what you do Freshman year as you walk around town proudly displaying your college. I get it. The prints were cute and colorful, and, lyke, omg the teacher should be impressed I made it to my Friday class after a ragin’ Thirsty Thursday. Passive-aggressiveness aside, by sophomore year you should be trying to make yourself presentable for class. I wouldn’t say I’m a hardcore fashionista, I adore clothes but I’m way to0 broke to develop a designer habit that isn’t second hand (thank you Goodwill job), but I appreciate how good clothes and dressing well can make you look and feel great.

For starters, what you wear tells the world the level of respect you have for yourself. It sounds kind of harsh, but it’s true. You probably don’t feel too happy with yourself or your choices if your schlepping to class in sweat pants because you were too hung over to bother with clothes. And I totally understand the need to dress sexy sometimes—don’t all girls?—but there is a line, and a pretty obvious one at that, between classy sexy and trashy sexy. If your entire wardrobe is overly cleavage bearing tops then you’re sending a message that you only want to be known for you assets. And I can say this with confidence because, regrettably, in high school I was that girl and I couldn’t possibly figure out why boys couldn’t respect me outside of physical relationships. Well, I sure didn’t act or dress like I respected myself, so why should they? Cold hard truths. Have some respect for yourself!

Senior year: This dress should never have been bought!

What you wear also sets the mood. If you’re going to class in sweat pants you’re immediately in sleepy-time mode, which obviously isn’t conducive for learning. A teacher will  notice if you take the time to get dressed to come to their class. It shows them you care about how they perceive you in a pseudo-professional setting. Plus, you’re just prepping yourself for life after college where you actually have to dress professionally all the time. Don’t you think you’ll feel more confident going to job interviews if you’re already used to dressing to the nines compared to other people who are just getting the hang of it? You’ll look like you’ve been doing this your whole life and they’ll look like kids playing dress up in their parents slightly too large clothes.

The good news is, is that dressing respectably and fashionably doesn’t mean dressing in one particular way. You can still maintain your style. Here some tips.

Be honest with your body type: If you have stallion thighs, runners calves, and big hips then skinny jeans might not be your thing. The only reason my very non waif-like thighs get away with it is because I have zero pelvis. I think Chris has wider hips than I do! But at the same time I know that my calves (well, entire lower body) have absolutely no business being in ultra-skinny jeans like Cheap Monday’s. Even if the style is in, you won’t look hot if your body type isn’t meant for it.

Find your style and stick with it: I’m the type of gal that rarely strays from dark colors. I feel comfortable in then. People always tell me how lucky I am with my dark skin tone that I can wear yellows, oranges, and pinks without getting washed out, but I just don’t feel comfortable in them. Red is the brightest I go. If I had it my way I’d be living in France where everyone wears all black. I adore wild tribal prints, like the kind you find at Urban Outfitters, but whenever I wear them they just don’t seem me and I immediately feel uncomfortable. You can admire styles but not wear them.

Go Classy Comfy: So I admit I poop all over the sweat pant look, but that doesn’t mean I dislike comfort. I just have a (not so secret) weapon…LEGGINGS! I realize people are either for leggings or against them, but if you want comfort then a pair of thick black leggings with a cardigan and nice top will do the trick. Life gets even better if you add a warm circle scarf. But make sure you buy quality leggings. Those $12 ones are tempting, but will rip really fast. I’m a huge fan of leggings from Express. I got a pair for $30 when I was going into my senior year of high school and they’re still going strong almost 4 years later. Thick leggings also won’t be see-through. Woo, baby, I have seen so many thongs, butt cheeks, and embarrassing granny panties from girls who don’t realize they’re giving a free show; shame on their friends for not saying anything.

Sophia from Modern Family. Well, at least she has a very nice derriere

Wear clothes that fit: Don’t be trying to squeeze yourself into jeans that no longer fit you. You aren’t going to look sexy with a muffin top and you’ll be wildly self conscious. Donate snug clothing to second hand stores if they haven’t worked out in over a year. Do away with the  “maybe if I lose a few pounds I can slip into them again,” mentality, because if you don’t you’ll just feel worse. Besides, wouldn’t you want to treat yourself to new clothes after reshaping your body instead of slipping back into your old duds?

We've all been there. Let's not return!

With the New Year finally here go peel into your closet and decide what you still love or no longer need.

❤ Jocellyn

Skinny Fat

I really shouldn’t be on a computer right now. All day I’ve been having the tell-tale signs of a migraine headache. You know it’s going to be bad when after taking a 2 hour nap you still feel horrible when you wake up. Bleck. In general the entire left side of my head and neck is useless. My ear hurts, my lymph node hurts, my head hurts, the space behind my eye hurts, and my neck is sore. However, seeing as I have a boyfriend who I’ve turned into my concierge, a roof over my head, and an abundance of Advil, this bitch fest is now over.

Moving right along,

Body image series starting…NOW! Today’s agenda is on this past year’s buzz word “skinny fat.” It’s actually a dangerous oxymoron. There are thousands, no, millions, of people in America who are overweight and nearing obesity. This is not good for your insides, your bones, your breathing, and your health in general. Many diseases we have are directly attributed to poor diet and lack of exercise. We are getting sicknesses only royalty used to get! What’s even more troubling is seeing kids younger and younger who are facing these ordeals. This is all bad and highly publicized, but little attention is given to people of “average” weight. Perhaps you are someone like that. You may not have the body of a (healthy) bikini model, but no one has ever picked on you because of your weight.  At 5’3 and 130 pounds I’m right there. I’m not the teeniest, but I’m not the largest. I generally feel comfortable in my body, though, I have my days when I’m less than impressed. Unfortunately, being average or “skinny” isn’t a license to eat whatever you want and shy away from physical activity.

When you hear most magazines and T.V talk-show hosts talk about Skinny Fat, they are mainly talking about girls who, despite a small frame, have a rather high amount of fat to muscle in their body, but thanks to genetic luck it’s not as apparent. Over a lifetime this can become dangerous because fat (i.e, extra weight), as stated above, stresses the body. It’s very true that someone of larger stature can actually be healthier than a skinnier person. Another thing I see is people who are of “average” size eating whatever they want and not thinking much of it. I cannot remember how many times growing up my mother would comment: “oh, she can eat whatever she wants. She’s so tiny!” Sure, if you are not dangerously obese then it will be safer for you to have a few unhealthy foods here or there.  But a few slices of greasy pizza—I’m talking the gooooood Papa John’s, melt in your mouth, not one bit artisanal stuff—on a regular basis will start to have negative repercussion. Secondly, you also are not doing yourself any favors by encouraging poor eating habits that will be harder to change in later years. You might think you’re the only one affected, but say you want to have kids. I know, I know, a little into the future, but we’re going there! Kids are smart and will watch what you eat. If you never touch your veggies there is good chance little Anna is going to fight you on eating hers. And if you have really bad eating habits your kids will most likely emulate then, which can lead to obesity, and I’m sorry but it just is not fair to a kid. And thirdly, those pounds will start creeping on over the years; there is a reason my momma never says “I’m so tiny” anymore.

I also can empathize with Skinny Fat people and agree that there are many societal reasons why it’s easy to come complacent and stay on that track. Since so many people are obese, I do believe we’ve become a country that has a tendency to look at people who are a healthy weight and immediately assume they’re “sickly” or “need a burger.” I used to get embarrassed when my friends would ask why I was eating a salad “because you already have such a good body” or not go to the gym because those same friends would say “why do you bother? You’re already so in shape.” Rock and a hard place, right? If there is anything you will hear me say (well, more like see me write) a lot on this blog is that, yes, there are societal constraints around men, women, old, young, black, white, etc. They suck, but you also can choose how much they affect you. Rise above them! Don’t feel like you need to scarf down a burger to prove something. Don’t feel like you cannot go to the gym. Politely explain to people that it still matters what you put into your body and how you push it and that you want to grow up healthy and hot. Most people will respect that and the ones that don’t are far and few and clearly are haters that you should promptly rid from your life.

Still not sure where to start?

  1. If you really love the junk food start incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet. When I started eating healthy instead of taking foods away I started adding in healthier foods on top of what I was already eating. I gained about 2 pounds, but lost it very soon because I started realizing my fruits and veggies tasted far better than the unhealthy foods I was eating. Again, I’m not a nutritionist, so this might not work for you, but for many I think it’s perfectly safe. Use common sense.
  2. Find a gym and start going to fitness classes. For example, Zumba is great and the atmosphere is awesome. Cardio will help burn or maintain your current fat levels, but don’t shy away from the iron. Start lifting weights that are heavy for you (not those dinky 2 pounders.) You won’t bulk up, you will build strength, and soon you’ll start to create a whole different body.
  3. Start hanging around with healthy minded people. Use those online creeper skills in person and scope out someone in your class that looks really into it. Mention that you’re new and was wondering if you could go to class with them next time. I’m sure they’ll be kind! Ladies, don’t be afraid to ask guys on the weight machines how to use the equipment and for pointers on exercises. It’ll boost their ego and help you gain control of your body.

Phew,

That was a lot, but it’s something I’m really passionate and concerned about. Everyone should have healthy habits. They aren’t just for folks who are forced into them in order to survive. Stay true to your values and you’ll reap the benefits.

Now I’m going to go peel away those covers and slide my sorry self back into bed!

❤ Jocellyn

Body Image Series!

Hello, Peelers,

Can I call you guys that? It kind of has a cute ring to it.  There. It’s settled.

So today’s post is going to be short, as I’m going to bed a wee bit earlier tonight so I can wake up and go see my absolutely adorable friend Charlie who I haven’t seen in more than a year. I’m beyond excited and feel like a little kid on Christmas morning. Wee! I’ve been thinking of some posts to write and I would like to start doing a body image series. We’re constantly bombarded by good and bad media—magazines, internet sites, television shows, etc—and all those images undoubtedly change how we think about our body, but at the same time we must take some sort of control over our feelings. I’ve never been considered overweight and I’ve never suffered from an eating disorder. However,  like most people I have had doubts about my body, and I’ve spent a long time wrapping my mind around those thoughts. The world isn’t just A and Z or black and white; there is a lot of compromise that goes on in between. Maybe being a Pisces—an astronomical flip-flopper that any politician would envy—is what helps me to see all the shades.  Here are some posts I’m going to bring to you in the upcoming days. No worries, I’ll also throw in some bits on diet and exercise so this doesn’t go 100% self help.

Body Image Topics

– The health risks of being “skinny” and complacent

– How dressing right will boost your confidence & perceived self-worth

– Girly Chat: Re-evaluating the term “Real Women” (hint: I absolutely loathe that phrase, so get ready for a post that isn’t all “ra-ra-sis-boom-bah: death to all women without hips.”)

– Websites and magazines to look to for positive ideas and images

–  Mirror, Mirror + Touch My Body + Move it, Move it: We spend so much time wrestling with our bodies and being angry at them that we don’t really get to know them.  I’ll share why I think looking at yourself (yup, I’m the queen of vanity), touching yourself (not that way…Unless you want to, because that’s totally cool too), and moving our bodies is the best thing we can do for ourselves.

There, that should take us through the rest of the week and weekend.

Did anyone try out Random Abs today? I went to Ashtanga this afternoon and I’m pleasantly sore, so I didn’t do any other workouts. The knee is acting up a bit, though, so I’m about to pop 2 glucosamine pills and head to bed. Tonight is the last night of sleeping alone in my scary apartment. Chris is in Montpelier and I legitimately slept with a hammer under my pillow and the French doors to my bedroom latched. Of course, I’m really just scared of monsters. I think my basement is inhabited by dark agents, and I’m pretty sure a hammer wouldn’t really stop them, but it gives me a small sense of safety since Chris forbade me to sleep in my car…

Peel Away

❤ Jocellyn