America, the beautiful

It’s happening. Every inch of my body can feel it.

Spring Break (woo!) is over.

Last night I stayed up way past my bedtime in an attempt to delay the inevitable. All it resulted in was crappy sleep and waking up much later than I should have.

In an effort to get on track for the work week, I decided to intertwine my normal Sunday evening routine with more enjoyable lazy Sunday activities. One activity was watching America The Beautiful, a documentary about America’s obsession with beauty.

Have you seen this documentary? What I found most interesting was that the film was made by 4 male filmmakers. Generally speaking, documentaries that focus on beauty/weight/body image are from a female perspective. It was interesting to listen to the filmmaker talk about our obsession with all things beauty. The film covered many areas of beauty interest including makeup, a 12 year-old model’s career (yes 12),  a group of male chauvinistic pigs (there just isn’t a nice way to describe these fellas), and plastic surgery…for animals.

It wasn’t the most amazing documentary, but it is one I would recommend to others. Because I am very interested in the subject matter, I already knew a lot of the information presented. But I kept thinking about the media and advertising unit that my students finished a few weeks ago, and thought this documentary would be a great supplemental piece to the curriculum.

I found this quote to be quite sad:

Health doesn’t become an option in this business. If you’re going to worry about your health, go to college.

- “anonymous” model

Obviously I have a number of issues with this statement. But I’m interested to hear what you think about it. Think back to your middle and high school years, were you obsessed with beauty? Did you think being skinny was important to your self worth? Did you think skinny = healthy? Did you not worry about what was actually healthy because it wasn’t a concern at the time?

Below is a clip from the documentary. At :26 into the video, model Garren Taylor (then 15), discusses how she wasn’t able to get modeling jobs because she was told she was too fat. In fact she was labeled obese. She’s a size 4.

This documentary sheds light on America’s obsession with beauty, and how our definition of beauty is shaped by the media. But we, as a society, keep buying into this unrealistic ideal and in turn drive the steam engine that rolls over us. It’s a vicious cycle, how do we stop it?

Rockin’ the red pump

Today I rocked some red pumps. I own 3 pairs, but decided the brightest would showcase my cause the best.

As you may remember from yesterday’s post, today is National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

The Red Pump Project set out with a goal of getting 500 bloggers to spread the word. Awareness is a powerful thing. Today the count is over 1,200 bloggers supporting their cause! For a complete list, click here.

Why is it important to spread awareness?

  • Unlike cancer and some severe illnesses, HIV and AIDS are 100% preventable, (unless, of course, a baby is born with HIV or AIDS).
  • Approximately 280,000 women in the United States are HIV Positive or have AIDS.
  • HIV is the 5th leading cause of death in women in the United States, ages 25-44
  • The largest number of HIV/AIDS diagnoses during recent years was for women aged 15–39

Do you need to get tested?

Other than rockin’ the red pumps today, I enjoyed the best.yogurt.ever.

Ever.

A few weeks ago Sarah, over at The Smart Kitchen, raved about how much better Chobani 2% was than her normal 0%. I knew 2%(fat that is) existed, but I hadn’t ever seen it on the shelves of my grocery store. However, this weekend I trecked it up to Huckleberry’s Natural Market, (simply drop the “H” and add an “F” to describe their prices), and noticed this pineapple chobani 2% gracing their dairy section.

Oh my heavens, I almost licked the container clean. But I was in my Thursday morning meeting and decided not to offend my co-workers. I’m too kind, really.

I also nibbled on my favorite processed chewy granola bar.

By lunch I was starving. Like gnaw off your arm and munch on it, starving. Luckily I had a fiber and protein packed dish to enjoy. Round two of my curried lentil salad. And yes, Haylee, I promise to post this recipe soon!

Paired with an apple.

Did I mention the fiber? Ummm, yeah, a little too much fiber. I probably should have paired my salad with a green salad to aid digestion, but this red’n’green cutie was calling my name.

Later in the afternoon this showed up on my desk.

I didn’t plan on eating it, as eating donuts really just cause me a stomach ache and sugar-induced headache. But then I cracked it open and ate the frosting inside. There is just something about super sugary store-made frosting that gets me every time. Sad, I know.

Tonight we’re hosting sister-in-law #4*, Kim, for dinner. Here Kim is posing with honey from our family friend’s honey farm.Mmmm local honey.

La Brea Rosemary Olive Oil bread, portabella mushroom raviolis and a green salad are on my menu. Mmmmm, carbalicious.

*If you don’t know me in real life, you probably don’t know that I have 5 sisters-in-law. #4 refers to birth order.

What is your favorite carbalicious meal?

It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (Feb 20-26)

I signed up to be a community advocate for this cause that is near and dear to my heart. This week I’ll be dedicating all posts to the education and awareness of eating disorders, with a side of self-love.

There are a lot of myths surrounding eating disorders, common ones being:

  • Only teenage girls suffer from eating disorder.
  • Eating disorders are a white, middle-class, female issue.
  • An eating disorder isn’t real, it is just someone trying to get attention.
  • Eating disorders are only a problem with food, if they just eat they’ll be fine.
  • You can always tell someone has an eating disorder by their appearance.

Not true:

  • In the United States as many as 10 MILLION females and 1 MILLION males are suffering from an eating disorder.
  • Eating disorders do not discriminate age, gender or income.
  • Without treatment up to 20% of individuals suffering from an eating disorder will die.
  • 4% of college-age women suffer from an eating disorder.
  • People who diet frequently are at a much higher risk of developing eating disorders than those who do not diet.
  • Americans spend over 40 BILLION dollars on diet-related products per year.

(source, source, source)

Here is the cold hard truth: eating disorders aren’t a ploy for attention, they aren’t a choice, and they can result in death. Someone with an eating disorder has an illness, and it can be treated. But in our society we are taught to not speak about such things because it if you don’t talk about it, it can’t be real, right? Wrong.

Appropriately the National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2011 theme is:

It’s Time To Talk About It.

And the goal? For everyone to do just do one thing. I chose to: Maximize the power of your social networking sites. And let’s be honest, I’ll probably buy and donate Healthy Body Image: Teaching Kids to Eat and Love Their Bodies Too! to my middle school.

Let’s define what is an eating disorder:

Anorexia-Nervosa is defined as someone who severely restricts her/his food consumption (typically 800 calories or less per day). This generally results in rapid weight loss and has many detrimental, often life-threatening, side-effects. These include (but are not limited to):

Fatigue and loss of energy, hypertension, dizziness, low blood presser, hair loss, pins and needles feeling, osteoporosis, loss of menstruation, thyroid issues, kidney issues, irritable stomach, and eventually the breaking down of organs leading to death.

Bulimia-Nervosa is defined as consuming food and purging the calories consumed via vomiting, laxatives or extreme exercise.  Side-effects from constant vomiting and laxative abuse include (but are not limited to):

Low potassium, kidney damage, heart irregularities, increase in cavities due to loss of tooth enamel, broken blood vessels in the face, bowel damage, intestinal damage, hair loss, yellow skin, premature wrinkles, cardiac arrest and death.

Binge Eating Disorder is defined as consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time. This disorder is very closely linked to bulimia-nervosa, but there is no purging of the calories afterward.

Other disorders not otherwise defined are the pre-occupation with food, or the creation of rules regarding food intake (only before 7 p.m., no white foods, only foods with less than 5% calories coming from fat, etc.) This is the hardest to spot, but is the most common eating disorder. It is often called disordered eating and side-effects are often more social/emotional than physical.

(source)

Food (the restriction of, massive intake of, and preoccupation of) is a symptom of the eating disorder, not the cause. And the side-effects aren’t just physical. Someone suffering from any eating disorder, or a combination of eating disorders, can experience:

Low self-esteem, fear of losing control, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression, loneliness, worthlessness and a tendency to be withdrawn from others.

Often those with an eating disorder will see themselves as bigger than they actually are.

(source)

And there is no one cause that triggers an eating disorder. Causes range from depression, bad relationships, dieting and a fear of being fat, loss of control in other areas of her/his life, etc. Just like there isn’t one cause, there isn’t just one cure. Scroll down to find treatment options.

(source)

Want to learn more?

National Eating Disorder Association Facts & Information

Basic Facts about Eating Disorders, including prevention information, how to talk to your doctor and getting treatment. I’ve wanted to work for NEDA since I started researching my thesis, but they weren’t hiring at a time I could move to Seattle. Maybe one day. For now I’ll just continue to be a community advocate :)

Something-Fishy.org

Information and help for those suffering from an eating disorder and for their family and friends.

Think you might have an eating disorder, but you aren’t sure? Answer this questionnaire and bring it to your doctor or therapist.

Angel’s Wings

Eating Disorder Association of Australia.

Mirror-Mirror.org

Eating Disorder Association of Canada.

Radar Program

Well respected treatment facility.

Kids Health

Full of good info for parents.

Eating-Disorder.com Blog

Updated information about eating disorders in the news, treatment and prevention.

If you have an eating disorder or think you may be suffering from disordered thinking get help. There is no reason to silently suffer. Don’t want to say anything because you think it will just cause someone to worry about you? Chances are they are already worried but don’t know how to bring it up.

You know the quote,

“Be the change you want to see in the world,” (Mahatma Gandi).

Well, be your OWN CHANGE!

Need some inspiration? Pop over to Operation Beautiful to get your head in the self-love/self-acceptance game.

Stop the fat talk.

Stop the self-bashing.

Stop saying you want to throw a burger at that super-thin girl whose eating a salad.

Stop pretending nothing is wrong.

Just do one thing

Love yourself. Today. Tomorrow. Forever.

*If not cited otherwise all information in this post (and subsequent posts throughout the week) comes from years of researching eating disorders. My Senior Thesis in college was on how the media effects women, with a focus on eating disorders and the thin ideal. I have a vested interest in the subject matter, and my hope is that you will gleam a little insight regarding eating disorders, perhaps change your view, and maybe find some information on how to help a friend, family member, or yourself.

So, tell me how you really feel.

The phrase above has been uttered to me many, many times. Apparently I have difficulty keeping my (very strong) feelings at bay.

(ahem, let me get on my soapbox for a minute, I promise I will step off soon)

This week the seventh and eighth graders started a media and advertising unit. The unit focuses on how we receive messages and why we make the choices we do. Simple enough, right? But the curriculum was lacking a little something, something. So I decided to take matters into my own hands.

In my former life I worked in various marketing and public relations positions. It all started with an internship my senior year of college with The Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media (NW-ARM). While working there I spoke to student groups about the messages advertisements send us, and how to dissect them with a critical eye.

This week I let my fingers walk over to The NW-ARM’s website to see what they had in store these days. And boy did I find a lot! I was happy to provide my growing list of resources to the language arts department, and hope to be able to bring one of the speakers to our school.

One of the main reasons I decided to go into teaching was to help children gain self-esteem. If children are told no, or your wrong, or you can’t, too often or too young they will have big obstacles to face throughout their educational and personal lives. Low self-esteem is built from many negative messages, some driven by friends or family and some via the media. With our society so bombarded by media messages at every turn it is no wonder why kids often have a hard time determining what is right, wrong and how to make intelligent decisions.

I spent a great amount of time in my undergrad* years researching the effects of media message and the role they play in our society. I figured the best way to re-direct my negative energy (toward myself, my eating habits, my body and my weight) was to educated myself. The more I learned about the harmful side-effects, (in all areas of my life), the more I wanted to push those negative feelings away. Naturally I dove into this project with excited eyes and ears.

*I majored in Applied Communications and minored in Sociology, needless to say I was VERY interested in the subject matter. In fact my Senior Thesis focused on popular female magazines and the negative impact they have on women, (a very abbreviated version of the actual title).

Here are a few (very, very short list) of my findings…

About Face: the truth behind advertising

Best and worst offenders

Media Awareness

Media Education Foundation

Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood

How to write a complaint letter about an ad           

Finding Advertisements Game (geared at 4-6th grade students, and is very introductory)

Interested in promoting National Eating Disorders Awareness Week? (Feb 6-12 or 20-26, depending on your area) click here!

 Articles of interest:

In a World of Ads, Teaching the Young How to Read Them

Unraveling new media’s effects on children

Media and Girls

Consumerism – Protecting Children from Advertising

There are many, many more articles citing the negative impact media and advertising have on children and our culture as a whole, and while I know all of this to be true, why do I still buy into it? I try not to, yet I get sucked into asinine shows like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, (true story), and find myself poring over swimsuit pictures in US Weekly getting upset that I don’t have the perfect stomach/thighs/arms.

Why do you think this is? Why do we do this to ourselves? Comparing ourselves to models/celebrities/what we think the norm is even though we know it really isn’t?

(source)

(source)

Click it, you know you want to
Forgive me, I can’t embed youtube clips into my post unless I do them as just a youtube post, sigh.

(Thanks for the vent, stepping off soap box now and resuming normal ramblings…)

So do you want to know how my day went aside from that?

Brekkie was pretty normal: oats with almond milk/water, chia seeds and dried apricots.

Lunch was a bland salad (literally just spring greens, spinach and dressing) with some leftover Bob’s Red Mill Vegi Soup + mozz.

Snackies consisted of a nanner,

some peanut butter topped crackers w/theraflu, (yum…),

and lots and lots of Hall’s cough drops, with inspirational messages!

Thanks Hall’s, I can conquer the world now.

The hubs decided he was so over soup, (we have Bob’s Red Mill Vegi, Homemade Chicken Noodle and Pacific Organics Roasted Red Pepper/Tomato in the fridge at the moment).  Clearly we needed to spend a little of this months restaurant budget on some pizza, courtesy of Pizza Rita, our favorite local delivery place.

Honestly, I really just want to eat everyone’s crust. Their crust is buttery & crispy deliciousness….ahhh

Now we’re all gathered in the basement watching a little movie action, Rilo included.

Love yourself today. And tomorrow.