Posts Tagged ‘body image’

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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Headline: “How lethal is your load?”. Subhead: “Even skinny people may be carrying a mother lode of toxic fat”.


The article seems incredibly confused over the issue of good fat vs bad fat.

For example, the journo seems to have understood that fat in certain locations is a better indicator of problems that may impact on health. (I’m taking this at face value, for the sake of the argument. I am NOT accepting it as a statement of fact. For the record, I also think it’s a problem to judge people for their health, regardless of whether you are judging them for their size. But I’m not going to go into that in this post.)

However, there is no indication that the journo has understood that the corollary of this is: fat in certain locations is a poor indicator of problems that may impact on health, and therefore fat in general is a poor indicator of problems that may impact on health.

The journo is still also associating “fat” with “bad” and “thin” with “good”:

The fat belly on the outside, fat belly on the inside guideline does have its exceptions.

Japanese studies of sumo wrestlers, for example, have found that these obese men are commonly ”fat on the outside but thin on the inside”, says Carey. …

But in the general population, such people are in the minority. And the reverse of the sumo scenario also exists: people who look normal size or even skinny on the outside but who are carrying a toxic mother lode on the inside.


Oh, and this is buried near the end:

after cigarette smoking, waist-to-hip ratio is the best single predictor of death from heart disease in Australia; better than a simple waist measurement and better than the much-touted body mass index.
[Emphasis added.]

You mean we don’t need to be worried about the OBESITY EPIDEMIC BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA nearly as much as we thought we did? Well, knock me over with a feather, I don’t think I can handle the shock!

Bonus weirdness: reference to the supposed “healthiness” of the “natural” hunter & gatherer lifestyle – although there is an acknowledgement that the real reason that people living thousands of years ago wouldn’t have had a problem with fat as they aged was because they didn’t live so long. So yeah. This journo is somewhat confused!

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The title of this post says it all. See the SMH’s article for more detail. (By the way, SMH, I fixed that passive-voiced headline for you!)

Look, I’m not pissed off that the Catholic school has suspended the student for shaving her head as a fundraiser for cancer. I’m pissed off that the Catholic school has suspended the student for shaving her head. The school is, essentially, discriminating against her on the basis that she is now not expressing gender “correctly”, in their eyes. That’s basically what “dress code policy” means.

I should add that I’m not making any assumptions or implications about the gender that the student intends to express – I’m pointing out that the school is.

The fact that she’s done it for a good cause just adds a layer of hypocrisy to the stupidity of the Catholic school’s actions. (It also makes it a bit more of a freedom of expression aspect, in the sense of political expression.)

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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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A couple of months ago, I wrote against the healthist attitude displayed by a yoga instructor.

This post is a sort of corollary to that post. I originally thought of writing it for Blogging Against Disablism Day, but it seemed a bit much of the “all about me” kind, which I didn’t think was appropriate for BADD (given that I do not identify as disabled).

To recap, in the post linked above, I mentioned that the yoga instructor had said to a middle-aged woman beside me that “you might as well be dead” as, say, break your hip when you’re old.

He described yoga as his “insurance policy” – to lessen the risk of injury etc. He’s not the only yoga instructor that I’ve heard make this idea explicit.

The instructor’s comments are horrendous for several reasons. One is the obvious: most people would – really, honestly, when it came to the crunch – prefer to be alive (with or without a broken hip) than dead.


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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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This post covers couple of thoughts about a yoga class I just attended. The two thoughts are really only related because they relate to the same person, so please bear with me.

I love yoga, but I’m not really into the WHOLE philosophy (I turn off when I hear “chakra”). I love it because of the way you use your whole body, its strength and flexibility – same reason I love kickboxing, dancing and swimming. I also love the idea that you do what you can do as well as you can. Doesn’t matter if it’s not “perfect”.

I’m at a new gym, and I’m still finding out which yoga instructors I enjoy. Today’s instructor had an attitude to the actual yoga that I could appreciate. However, there are two reasons I think I’ll be avoiding him.

First: inappropriate touching. (more…)

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