Tag Archives: body image

There’s a Conference in the U.K. All About Werewolves Next Month

There’s a Conference in the U.K. All About Werewolves Next Month. This from the Smithsonian on my Facebook page kind of tickled my funny bone. I want to go. It stimulates the imagination too. OK story, mild mannered older woman goes to UK for Werewolf Conference and is really enjoying it when one night when the moon is full she feels “some pricking in her thumbs”……….Or mild mannered older woman attending Werewolf Conference and having a great time by the way and one night when the moon is full she feels a strange urge and looks in the mirror and thinks oh my I need some new moisture cream because look at my skin and I think I need to tweeze out a few hairs here!

UK Conference Website: |Company of Wolves/Open MindsOpenGraves|

SOCS-Older Women Are Invisable

Most older women are not visible in modern media. Women who are aging naturally that is. We don’t see many older actresses and models. Women drop off the radar and start to disappear as they get older. Wouldn’t you like to know more about them? Wouldn’t you like to hear their stories? Who are they? According to Beauty Redefined , in their great post, they have been shunned by main stream media. They have been “symbolically annihilated.”

That sounds like science fiction. Something The Borg would say. “We are The Borg. You have been symbolically annihilated. Resistance is futile!” But looks like it is not science fiction. If you are an older woman you will not see yourself in popular magazine ads, in Hollywood films or on TV. Unless you have had a lot of “work done” to make you look much younger. There may be a few token older women on display but they are in the minority. Kind of like endangered species in the zoo.

Then there are all the negative messages for women about letting yourself look your natural age. Messages bombarding us about anti-wrinkle creams, botox, hair color, diets, and plastic surgery.

“What would happen if confident, happy, beautiful women decided to forego painful and expensive anti-aging procedures, breast lifts and enhancements, liposuction, all-over hair removal or tanning regimens? How could that change the way their daughters, students, friends, nieces and coworkers perceived themselves and their own “flawed,” lined, real faces? How could simply owning (and treating kindly and speaking nicely about) our so-called “imperfect” bodies affect not only our own lives, but those over whom we have influence? Is it possible to slowly but deliberately change the perception of these “flaws” as something to shame, hide and fix at any cost to something acceptable and embraceable in all their human, womanly real-ness?” (Beauty Redefined)

Yes what would happen? The “beauty” industry would self-destruct. I do like to be optimistic, enthusiastic, and hopeful about change. I think I can imagine the change beginning. I think I hear it. Robotic voice in background, “The self-destruct sequence is initiated….”

This is my contribution to Stream of Consciousness Saturday.


#This Oppresses Women

“Women, are you sick of being bombarded with advertisements that depict women as sexual objects? That use our bodies to sell products? That embolden men to disrespect us? That tell us we are not worthy unless we conform to unrealistic, sexist, racist, and unhealthy beauty standards?” ( National Women’s Liberation)

A campaign by National Women’s Liberation and Red Stocking to place stickers on ads that are exploitive of women and, I like the last sentence, “tell us we are not worthy unless we conform to unrealistic, sexist, racist and unhealthy beauty standards.”

Do you see a contradiction between breast augmentation, push up bras, and minimizer bras? It seems like we are never supposed to be happy with the way we are.

Maybe Things Are Changing At Last

I spotted this post on Yahoo Beauty today and felt a spark of hope. It is about a model, Erica Jean Schenk, who landed this cover for a running magazine.  It is encouraging to see that there may be a crack in the wall of popular media opinion about the definition of beauty and health. Is it possible that women who do not fit the current popular image of beauty have a chance? I know there is a Body Image movement and I think it’s great. And I say it’s about time.

Another nice post on this in Huffington Post by Louise Green. She says:

“More than half of North American women represent the plus-size demographic, making up hundreds of millions of women, yet only one fitness magazine in history is bold enough to showcase a plus-size woman on the cover.”

Maybe now there will be more magazines willing to do so.


What is considered to be beautiful is always changing, over the years and across cultures. I think the young woman in the above image may have a “wheat belly.” ( a reference to a popular book about gluten free diets). She is a little soft and pudgy according to current beauty standards. Her belly is bulging out a bit.

Opinions about diet are always changing as well. There are so many changes in just the past 20 years. Remember all the talk about low fat diets and heart health. I stayed away from butter and ate margarine for years to find that now we know margarine is actually very bad for you. And then no red meat. I followed that advice as well and did not eat red meat. Now I hear that the low fat diet caused many people to eat too much sugar, which is worse, and that some fats are good for us. And it was artificial sweeteners are good and then they were bad. Now sugar is bad again. Then coffee is good, coffee is bad, or wine is good, wine is bad. White wine is not as good as red. No white wine is ok. Now red is better as long as its organic. Confusing isn’t it.

It is amazing how there are so many books and posts telling us how to be better at everything. How to eat, have sex, be mindful, find purpose and exercise in just the right ways.

This got me thinking about body image in general and women’s body image in particular. I want to be comfortable with my body and it’s image even if it is not the ideal. Women spend a good part of their lives worried about their appearance and weight, scrutinizing their bodies in the mirror to see how they measure up to the latest popular image.

I have read  many articles on this topic and this lead to a website called Beauty Redefined. I am sure there are others out there that are as good but I do like a lot of what this one has to say. It belongs to Lexie and Lindsay Kite, who have PhDs in media and body image.  In there own words, We have a passion for helping girls and women recognize, reject and resist harmful messages about their bodies and what “beauty” means and looks like. I am learning there is a lot of resistance against all the dieting and the popular media images of beauty. This is a positive thing.

This a great little short film by Em Ford, a very courageous young woman, who demonstrates how women are judged by their appearance. And how some commenters on social media are sociopaths.

There is resistance to dieting as well. In her book Body of Truth, Harriet Brown talks about how she learned to become comfortable with her body at a weight that felt comfortable to her. She makes a convincing argument about the futility of dieting and how all the hype about obesity is overblown. She talks about her own daughter’s struggle with anorexia and how this experience helped her and her family change their attitudes toward food. She includes some of her own process that she developed through therapy to be able to relax about eating and not be obsessed about diet.

Another website I have discovered is Refinery 29 that has some good posts about positive body image and anti-dieting. There is great blog on there called The Anti-Diet Project by Kelsey Miller. She did a recent post about intuitive eating. This has been around for awhile. It is learning to make food neutral and get in touch with your natural appetite and get off the diet merry-go-round. Another post by Kate Harding as part of Refinery 29 Take Back the Beach exposes many of the myths about the virtues of dieting.

I find the posts about positive body image and anti-dieting encouraging. Maybe there is hope that people’s attitudes will change and we can learn self-acceptance.

In the meantime, it is good to keep a sense of humor. There is one health practice that I really believe in, laughter. When we laugh we lower our stress hormones, improve our circulation, increase our endorphins, exercise our lungs and even exercise our core muscles. I believe the part about the core muscles because my daughter pointed out to me, and I confirmed it by looking in the mirror, that my belly moves up and down when I laugh. Besides laughter makes us feel great don’t you think?

Synchronicity and the BMI

I believe in synchronicity because many times when I am ruminating about an issue up pops the information that I need.

The issue that I have been thinking about for a while is weight gain and obesity in older people (women in particular). And how obesity is defined by the use of certain parameters like the BMI.

I have noticed that as I get older I have accumulated weight with hardly any effort and find it very hard to lose the weight. There are many factors that contribute to weight gain in older women besides just overeating. Let me list a few.

Some of the factors are decreased metabolism, or we don’t need as many calories and don’t burn up the calories as efficiently. This also makes it difficult to lose weight by reducing caloric intake. I know with me my metabolism seems to slow down even more if I restrict calories. Another factor is the natural loss of muscle as we age. Muscle helps our bodies burn calories. Stress from worrying about weight loss, among other things I worry about, can cause increase cortisol which then results in my body wanting to hold onto weight. Many older women have hypothyroidism which again affects the metabolism. And there can be a genetic predisposition and your body’s natural make-up that leads to being a larger size.

For all these reasons and more older people (women) many times end up in the overweight and obese section of the weight chart at the doctor’s office. I say that there needs to be a change at the way we look at weight, and older people should not be compared to younger people when it comes to defining obesity.

There can be dangers with dieting. Dieting often leads to muscle loss instead of fat loss. It is actually dangerous for older people to lose muscle because this can affect balance which can lead to falls and worse. Studies have shown that low weight is worse for recovery from surgery than being overweight.

So today I found a great article on Next Avenue that really resonates with what I have been thinking called ” Why Our Culture is Obsessed with Thinness,” by Patricia Corrigan.

Here is just one of the many excerpts from the article I loved about how nutsy we are about diet that even when women were in hospice with cancer they refused to eat desert.

Consider this: A hospice chef in Wisconsin told a science journalist that many of the dying women who were still able to eat “refused bread, salad dressing, butter, chocolate, desserts and other ‘fattening’ foods.”

You’re on your last lap, and you think it is imperative to pass up salad dressing and say “no” to chocolate?

Another point Patricia makes, which I have been thinking about as well, is that people naturally come in all different shapes and sizes with different genetic make-ups and it is unrealistic and wrong to expect everyone to fit into these narrow parameters that are considered normal by our society.

She also shares information about another author who has written a book about this topic, Harriet Brown “Body of Truth,” which I intend to read. In fact, I could quote Patricia’s whole article verbatim but I will let those interested click on the link above to read for themselves. I will share this information in the article from Harriet Brown’s book:

  • dieting and weight cycling (aka yo-yo dieting) leads to unhealthy physical and psychological effects
  • physical and psychological damage comes from being rigid, chaotic and fearful about eating
  • people unhappy with their weight are more likely to give up on health-positive activities than heavy people who are satisfied with their weight
  • whether you diet or don’t, you are going to die

Patricia and others have made the point that weight loss has become a big industry with pharmaceuticals and all kinds of diet specialists and diet foods. I suggest, along with Patricia, Harriet and others that we take a critical look at the current cultural spin on weight  and start to “change the conversations about weight and health with ourselves, our families, our friends and our doctors.”

I intend to take her article with me to my next doctors appointment.

Age Like an Okinawan

Senior Planet alerted me to a You Tube video of Dr. Andrew Weil talking about longevity in Okinawa. Many of us have read about “Blue Zones” or regions of the world known for centenarians. Many things have been written about the diets and philosophies of the people in these zones in hopes that we may emulate them.

Dr. Weil discusses how he has made several trips to Okinawa and has found many factors that may contribute to their people’s longevity. A couple of factors he mentions are healthy diet and physical activity. One factor he chose to emphasize, and that really caught my attention, is the cultural value placed on aging in Okinawa. He says the people there are not ashamed of aging and are considered valued members of their community. They are considered ” living treasures.” Dr. Weil argues that the extreme negative attitudes towards aging in our culture are what influences the way we age and contributes to the negative manifestations of aging we see. Food for thought?

Try to catch yourself when you are making negative self-talk about getting older. Things like ” I’m having a senior moment,” or when you have a ache or pain saying, ” Oh, I must be getting old.” I have heard 40 year olds making these remarks about getting older. Just think if you feel that way at 40, how will you feel at 60?

When we internalize our culture’s negative attitudes toward aging we can not help looking at ourselves negatively and feeling negative about getting older. I would like to age like an Okinawan and feel like a “treasure.” How about you?

Yoga is for Every Body

I spotted an uplifting post on the front page of the Huffington Post that was written by a Yogi, V.K. Harber, who has her own studio in Tacoma, Washington. She brought up so many good points about how we all have these unrealistic ideas about the ideal body. And we all do not have to have the perfect body to benefit from yoga. She says it is just the opposite. That most of us do not have the perfect body and that is ok.

I relate to what she is saying. I have been looking for a yoga class that is not “aerobic yoga”, which is my label for competitive, highly challenging and painful. Part of me wants to say, ” no pain, no gain” and tell myself go ahead and aim for that perfect body image. Whip myself into a thin, muscular me. But I think that it just not realistic and I do need to accept that I am not going to look like the popular, health magazine image. (I love the photos, shared by Ms. Harber, of everyday folks doing yoga.)

But that should not stop me from doing some gentle, restorative yoga. I used to do a pretty mean warrior pose.

yoga-32126_640  via Pixabay

Aging Disgracefully

I detest labels, stereotypes, and being put in a box. I have always been a bit of a rebel and will fight for your and my right to be different. Oh, how I hate conformity, how people are encouraged to march along in lock step, and never question anything. I hate group think. Pop think. Fads. Everyone following along with everyone else. This all being said, I really liked a post I read by Margaret Manning on her new site Boomerly called  The Secret Life of Modern Grandmothers.  I am not a grandmother yet but I am getting older and refuse to climb into a box , be labeled, and be expected to be any particular way that fits a stereotype of an older person.

I have read all these article about aging gracefully and I bristle. I want to be like the little girl who got her clean, frilly dress covered with mud, and ruined her party shoes. I borrowed the title of this post from Margaret’s post where she mentioned “aging disgracefully.”

Ageing gracefully is not for me. Another writer I follow, Ann Brenoff in the Huffington Post, wrote recently I’m Not Trying to Age Gracefully, So Don’t Pressure Me To. She makes some great points, that we all age differently. Some of us do need to dye our hair because we don’t look good with gray, and we all can’t look like your favorite celebrity, and some people have good genes so that’s why they look younger.  She compares this pressure to “age gracefully” to “fat-shaming.”

I am for all of us, no matter what age, being our glorious, beautiful selves.