Archive for the ‘body image’ Category

Just now, I ran into a woman who works for the same organisation I do. I don’t know her well, but she’s one of those people who, because of her job, knows just about everyone by name. We had a conversation that included the following:

Her (in a positive tone): You’ve lost weight!

Me (in a rebuffing tone): I don’t think so.

Her: No, you have!

Me (sounding slightly upset): I’m sorry, I don’t like to have that sort of thing commented on.

Her (surprised, slightly offended): Oh …

Then someone else came by, and I headed off to do what I was on my way to do anyway.

I’m lucky – privileged, even. Even before coming across HAES and related philosophies online, I somehow managed to avoid internalising a lot of the hot mess that is the way we approach body image, eating, weight and dieting, and consider myself lucky for it. It’s kept me (mostly) from feeling that there is anything wrong with my body when I have observed it does not fit the images I’m told I should fit in with. (If you’re wondering, it’s not entirely upbringing: every single member of my immediate family, and most members of my extended family with whom I have significant contact, have, or had when I was growing up, at least a partly disordered approach to eating and weight loss.)

So yes, I’m lucky, privileged, that that kind of comment, whether made about me or someone else, merely disgusts me, and does not trigger me in some way. But the person who made these comments to me didn’t know that!

It wasn’t an appropriate situation to explain why I don’t like those kinds of comments, or why others might have more severe reactions (but might say nothing). All I can do is hope that my reaction was, of itself, enough to make her think a little about the problems with what she said to me.

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Hair, more or less

Chally’s recent post about her adventures with hair-cutting sounded eerily familiar in a couple of important respects.

I also have curly hair, although for me it is not a racial identifier. As such, my curls have always brought quite a different reaction to those described by Chally.

The reactions from one group have been much the same, though: that group being hairdressers.

My experiences with that group have been similar to Chally’s, although with some differences. The main one is probably this: my hair self-straightens when wet (although it curls as it dries, unless given straightening assistance, which I do not do by choice because I do not feel like myself when my hair is straight), and as hairdressers normally cut hair when wet, I never had that much of a problem with at least being given a reasonable basic cut.

The problem was that the reasonable basic cut would always work for straight hair, but it never worked for my curls.

The hairdressers always seemed surprised that I liked my curly hair (perhaps because they found it difficult to cut for curls), and would always dry it straight after the cut, except when I was very, very insistent.

I found a lot I went to once, a few who were ok, but I was always on the look-out for a better haircut, and so I salon-hopped quite a lot.

This pattern continued until I found an Irish hairdresser. Let’s call him Geoff. Geoff cut my hair superbly. (more…)

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I don’t wear make-up very often. I tend to reserve it for three general situations: (1) where formal wear is required; (2) slightly more formal than usual work situations (eg job interviews); and (3) when I’m in the mood, because playing dress-up can be fun sometimes.

I’m wearing my red lipstick today in honour of International Whore’s Day, so I’ve got a bit of eye make-up on as well to balance out the red lips.

A colleague – who I’ve known for a while, but with whom I’ve only recently started working, so she hasn’t seen me in make-up very often – just came in and said: “you look nice!”

I bit back the comments about perpetuation of the patriarchal feminine beauty standard and just told her about International Whore’s Day.

However, I feel the need to rant a bit.


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Rachel Hills’ recent post highlighted for me one of my bugbears.

On the whole, I agreed with her post. I did think it was going to go towards what I think is the real problem with the pursuit of thinness (by the fashion industry, but also more generally): that is the fact that almost all the women in the public eye – almost all the female public role models we have – are thin. That means people equate “thin” with “the ideal”, which means that people who want to pursue “the ideal” in their own lives pursue “thinness”. And that’s not healthy, because it’s not possible for most people to be that thin. (In fact, as Rachel points out in her post, it’s not possible for most of the naturally thin models to be that thin, either.) What would be healthy would be to see a diversity of female role models. (See Shapely Prose for this point made over and over again – see especially the “health at every size” category. The comments often drive the point home more than the posts do.)

Anyway, the post didn’t really go in that direction. Instead, Rachel made this comment, and I really feel the need to take issue with it:

And that’s the thing: most people look healthy when they’re at the weight that’s right for their body.

Um, not necessarily.


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In Janet Albrechtson’s universe, that’s where.

A friend, whose judgment I respect, has been encouraging me to read Janet Albrechtson on the basis that I probably won’t agree with her but she’ll probably give me food for thought.

So, having a bit of spare time today, I decided to give it a go.

So far, NO good.


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Now I know they are.

The program, called Shine, was created by the Hillsong Church. It is being run in at least 20 NSW public schools, numerous small community organisations and within the juvenile justice system.

Hillsong describes Shine as a “practical, life-equipping, values-based course” and its website is awash with glowing testimonials from young women whose lives have been improved by learning about “being a good friend” and “learning about myself”.

“Through skin care, natural make-up, hair care, nail care girls discover their value and created uniqueness,” the material says.


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Australia seems pretty excited that we have, in Casey Dellacqua, a female tennis player who looks set to make the big league. First in quite a while. A nice sort of splash article about her upset second-round win in the Australian Open talks about her attitude to money, and how this will mean she doesn’t have to count pennies quite so much. Fair enough. Great to see this sort of focus on women’s sport.

But then at the end:

Her victory in a tough three-setter was a reward for hard work. She was pilloried for being overweight and out of shape after her first-round defeat at the Australian Open two years ago, and has worked to shed some kilograms and steadily improve her fitness, something that was evident as she clawed back from 0-3 down in the second set.

“I’ve never denied that, and that’s something I always knew that I needed to work on,” she said of her previous condition.

“Because people have always said, ‘Look, you hit the ball well and you strike the ball really well’. It’s something I’ve needed to do, and I’ve taken it all on board.”

Because what really matters is that she’s thin and hawt.


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A few years ago, I got myself the Implanon contraceptive implant. I was extremely happy with it, and after its three-year lifetime expired, I got myself a replacement.

I got it about 12 months after it was released in Australia, and only a few years after the clinical trials had been carried out. I remembered reading the information sheets and talking to my doctor about failure rates, and at the time, the only information was from clinical trials. In those, the only prenancies had been where the implant wasn’t properly inserted (read: not at all) or where the woman had already been pregnant.

I thought I’d take a look and see if there was more data now, and I found this article through PubMed.


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