07 August 2007

does this blog make me look fat?


i got to thinking the other night... fancy that! this is going to be one of those process deals, so bear with me. i'll warn you - it may be all over the map, as much of this still is - in my head.

i haven't really felt like myself since bebe was born. i finally know why. yeah, i know... having a child changes everything, blah blah blah. that simply isn't enough.

i think the realization started when i went back to work. i'd been fairly insulated for a couple of years from really being in the trenches with the public... see? i'm already getting ahead of meself. let me back up a bit.

my "awakening" in my early 20's sent me reeling. it took some time, to adjust to this suddenly strange place i was born in, the one i thought was a certain way, but wasn't. nothing could've ever prepared me for the severe shock that paraded as a protest at the democratic national convention in 2000. the realization, before my own eyes, that what i had been told and taught my whole life was a farce at best, rocked me in ways that are still difficult for me to get my brain around. the few years before that (what i call my re-education - reading everything i could get my hands on, killing my television, laying off being drunk all the time) had tried to prime me - but didn't do a sufficient job. everything. was. changed.

i came back home a different person than the one i was just a week before.

i'd adjusted fairly well to all of this, made life changes and began weighing my decisions heavily as to how they would impact not only my life, but the lives of those throughout the world. and the planet.

then bebe was born.

suddenly i felt like that awkward teen all over again - completely self-conscious, vulnerable and unrecognizable to myself. i figured it was something that all women must feel, that it was part and parcel of being a mommy. but it continued on unwaveringly, up until sunday night.


i had reverted to the kara that lived in the old world, and i didn't even realize it. not fully reverted, but enough to make a difference - enough to create a disjunct in myself. i had adjusted to the way the world really is when i was flying solo. i was even ok still when i got hitched. but when bebe arrived, i subconsciously tapped back into what i've always held to be true about being a mom - the stuff we compartmentalize and store away throughout life without even really thinking about it, etc. i was thinking in the "old" way - relying on archaic stereotypes and ideas that i should've known better about. i didn't question all of that enough, just accepted it and it rattled me. i've been a loner most of my life as it is, but i thought that being a mommy would automatically induct me into some super cool secret mommy club, where other mommies would be supportive and awesome. silly me.

i'am also still packing 25 more pounds that i didn't have pre-pregnancy. i reverted in this arena as well, partially. i know i eat well, get enough exercise, and that those pounds have been for a reason while nursing. but still. i wanted nothing more a year ago than to fit into my clothes. the more i thought about it, the more ridiculous it seemed - that i would worry about something of such little consequence in the grand scheme of things. i know better. and still.

which brings me to this.

i'd forgotten how incredibly self-conscious people are in general. i don't mean this in any sort of judgmental way, simply as an observation. there are literally droves of women that come into the bar and look every other woman up and down. they are constantly checking themselves in the mirror, straightening their clothes, talking badly about other women that get up from the table. what is that? who are we trying to compare ourselves to? the facade of woman that is plastered on every billboard in america? women in the t.v.? women in the magazines? worst of all, each other? and it isn't like this is a few isolated incidences, either. it makes me very sad. i hear very young girls saying all the time that they are "fat." they aren't. and so what if they are, as long as they are healthy?

truth be told, i was once one of those girls, and struggled along for years in a horrible, sometimes detrimental, relationship with food. i found that after i stopped watching television and buying publications like cosmo, i felt a hundred times better about myself. ah, make-up kara. i couldn't even leave my apartment without make up on. the day i consciously thought about it, i knew i had to do something drastic. i had to leave my house without make-up. i had to go about my life clear faced, as me - all me, in my un-made up glory. i had to stop worrying about what other people would think. i eventually felt lighter. i felt more like me. occasionally i was met with, "don't you want to look pretty? there's nothing wrong with that." if putting bat shit on my eyes makes me look pretty, no.

don't we know better by now? seriously. there are a million articles floating about various publications that tell women we are fine the way we are. the message isn't just being whispered amongst the women masses, or to ourselves as we stare in the mirror - it has gone mainstream. or has it?

dove, bless 'em, with their campaign for real beauty annoys. me. something has never set quite right with the ads. recently i was somewhere here in blogland and followed a link to a video they had posted up. it showed what a model goes through from beginning to end of make-up and airbrushing before her face hits the billboard. good on them. but the more i dug around through the site, the more irritated i became. one of their campaign ads boasts brave (?!) "real women, with real bodies and real curves." the message of course, is promoting their firming lotion. ya know, cause we're just fine the way we are, but we can all use a touch of firming, right girls? what sort of twisted mixed message does that send? to top it all off, they have put together school programs for young girls to promote self esteem... and gain access to a new market of younger women? apparently phillipe harousseau knows how women and girls think... and how to be a marketing genius. in the same breath, dove has posted up these completely disturbing statistics:

  • One-third of all girls in grades nine to 12 think they are overweight, and 60percent are trying to lose weight.
  • Only 56 percent of seventh graders say they like the way they look.2
  • Studies show that 57 percent of girls have fasted, gone on diets, used food substitutes, or smoked more cigarettes to lose weight.
  • Research also shows that messages girls receive from the media can damage their feelings of self-worth and negatively affect their behavior. More than one in four girls surveyed feel the media pressure them to have a perfect body.4
  • Girls who watch TV commercials featuring underweight models lose self-confidence and become more dissatisfied with their own bodies.5
  • As a result, girls question their own beauty: between 50 and 70 percent of girls of normal weight believe they are overweight.6

jean kilborne has done a fantastic series of videos, one of which can be viewed on her site. killing us softly 3.

and maybe, just maybe, this quest for culturally prescribed "beauty" is a symptom of a deeper dis-ease. earlier this a.m. the
divine ms. m sent around an email asking people to go read a blog post written by a friend of hers. i did so. you should too.

it left me wondering, can dove's beauty products make women safe? isn't that more important ultimately than having smooth underarms and firm thighs? perhaps if we were safe, we wouldn't be fixating on what our appearance is - trying to gain control over one tiny thing in sea of injustice for women.

yesterday, sicily sue sent me a link to an article she'd read. if women were truly enjoying equality, women wouldn't be told in finance articles to "show a little skin" and to "expect sexual harassment and stay cool" to be a brazen careerist. even though the majority of those commenting thought her article was crap, it still has to stick in there somewhere, doesn't it? doesn't ALL of this?

i refuse to paint myself up to make other people more comfortable - to be a part of some sort of culturally constructed norm. i like my un-firmed thighs. i like that my underarms aren't smooth for seven consecutive days. i like me. just the way i' am. i like you just the way you are. and so should everyone else.

what i don't like is that while we continue to fixate on our appearance, countless woman will be raped, beaten, killed, or systematically abused. we will continue to not feel "good enough." we will continue to not focus on the work that remains to be done, so that our lives aren't based in some level of fear - of being ugly, of being attacked... how about a campaign for that?

but most importantly, why are we still buying into the hype -literally and figuratively?


please go by mary's place for the details. and drop randy a line. today.

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