Archive for the ‘Body Image’ Category

Hi Cheeseburger Lovers,

So lately, I’ve noticed a very disturbing trend that I think needs to be addressed: pregnant ladies exercising like they aren’t pregnant! Lately I’ve seen so many women at the gym exercising like crazy. And I’m not talking 20 minutes on the treadmill; I’m talking full force, 60-plus minutes on the elliptical (as if there isn’t a giant belly in between her and the elliptical)!

Now, it’s one thing to be in the comfort of your own home exercising, but I’ve seen women out and about doing activities that I wouldn’t deem appropriate for pregnant women. I have taken several hikes over the past few months and the hikes have been very rigorous (some of the toughest in Los Angeles). And on each trail I have seen at least one pregnant belly (big third-trimester belly). Now, I’m not a doctor, but I wouldn’t recommend that a pregnant lady, that far along, hike the trails of Runyon or Temescal Canyon, especially not by herself! What if she falls? Isn’t she concerned about the safety of her unborn child?!

The other totally crazy exercise I have seen pregnant women do are the Santa Monica Stairs. The SM stairs are a favorite workout spot here in L.A. The fittest of the fit come here to walk or run all 180 steps over and over again. Not only is it an extremely rigorous workout, but the stairs are old and wooden. They aren’t exactly the safest. You really have to be focused and keep your balance. And yet, time and time again, I have seen very pregnant women going up and down these stairs repeatedly (without breaks). No joke!

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there is anything wrong with pregnant women exercising. I am not a mom yet, but when I am pregnant one day, I do plan on exercising regularly. And many medical professionals say that moderate exercise during pregnancy is a good thing and can even help with giving birth. In this article, MODERATE exercise is defined as walking, swimming, stationary biking, prenatal yoga and, at the most, light jogging. These activities sound reasonable enough to me.

So why is it that pregnant women all around Los Angeles (and I’m sure many other parts of the country) feel the need to spend an hour at full speed on the elliptical, hike, go to spinning class or climb 180 stairs over and over again? I think it’s because these are all high cardio activities that can burn a lot of fat. And isn’t that what all pregnant women seem to be the most concerned about? Baby fat–plain and simple. Many of the things we read about pregnancy have to do with losing baby weight. I think the women of LA have figured out a way to minimize having to lose the baby weight: exercise like a maniac before the birth, and keep off as much extra weight as humanly possible. I mean, think about it. Do you ever look at women and think, “She literally just had a baby! She doesn’t look like she put on a pound of weight.” Well, go to the Santa Monica stairs regularly, and you’ll see why. They are all there, working hard to gain as little as possible. Now, granted, many women naturally have slender figures and they may not put on much weight during pregnancy, but for most women, gaining pregnancy weight is the main concern.

The main problem I have with this is safety. I just don’t think it’s a good idea for pregnant women to engage in rigorous exercise. That just seems like common sense to me. Everything I’ve ever read or heard about exercising during pregnancy says that moderate exercise is the way to go. Spinning, hiking, stair climbing, and the elliptical are never on the list of acceptable moderate exercise. My second concern is vanity. For all of you health apologists out there, you can’t tell me that it’s a good idea for a pregnant woman to do a spinning class three days a week or run a half marathon (true stories)! I would love to hear your arguments about why this is ok.

I think, at the end of the day, this generation of pregnant women are so concerned with staying slim and not missing a beat (after all, you have to fit into those skinny jeans as soon as that baby comes out of you), that they are willing to jeopardize the safety of their unborn children. I truly feel bad for a child who is being born to a mother that cares more about the shape of her own body than she cares about her child’s safety. I know that seems harsh, but is there really any other way to see this?

Moms, one piece of advice, get off the treadmill and get ready to give birth!

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I’ve always had a big butt. Even when I was 95 pounds in sixth grade, I had a big butt. So naturally I was thrilled to hear about the new trend this summer. Oh, didn’t you hear? Big butts are in for the summer! Last week the NY Daily News made the big announcement. Those of us who possess nice “buns” (as I was once told I had) are all set for a trendy summer. And those of us who are pretty much flat back there, sorry; you are just out of luck. It’s Kim Kardashian’s world and we’re just livin’ in it!

Although I think it’s positive to celebrate women with curves, I have to ask, how can body parts go in and out of style? Does anyone else see something kind of wrong with that? I can see clothes, shoes and hair going out of style, but how can a butt go out of style? It’s attached to your body! It’s a part of you.

It’s taken me a long time to realize that no matter what size I am and how much I weigh, my butt is here to stay. And I really don’t appreciate someone telling me this part of my body is in style. Especially because they are going to tell me six months from now, that it’s now out of style. Well, what can I do about it? If it’s a piece of clothing, I can discard it. If it’s a pair of shoes, I can give them to Goodwill. If it’s a hair style, I can just let my hair grow out. But what am I supposed to do with a part of my body? I can’t diet and exercise it away (like I said before, even when I was a scrawny child I still had a booty).

Here is a little message I have for the media:

Dear Media,

It’s mad cool that you are trying to celebrate women with curves (something you should be doing on a regular basis). But to tell me that my big butt is in style for the summer is kind of annoying. My butt is not like a summer dress or a pair of gladiator sandals or a fedora hat that are all trendy for summer 2010 but may not be in summer 2011. If next summer comes around, I will simply get rid of these items, head on over to H&M and buy whatever is cute at the moment. But what am I supposed to do with my butt if it’s not trendy next summer? I can’t get rid of it (I’ve tried and it hasn’t worked because it’s a part of me). So when stating “what’s hot” and “what’s not” for the summer, please stick to inanimate objects.



So before you go out and buy your Booty Pop (no, I did not make that up)! Think about embracing the body you have.

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(Love your Body Pledge found here).

I came across a great post today which gave some helpful tips on how to overcome distorted body image. If you are anything like me, thinking positively about your body is a daily battle. Although this article is geared towards “plus size” women, I think it’s applicable to all women who struggle with negative body image issues.

Here are the five tips the Curvy Goddess Lounge gives for improving body image (with my two cents added):

#1 Truly Understand Imperfection.

I think part of my problem with cultivating a positive body image is my lack of acceptance that perfection is not attainable. I find myself being very critical of my imperfections and parts of my body that aren’t culturally acceptable by general beauty standards. This can be a very irrational and destructive mentality in that we are often striving for something that doesn’t exist.

#2 Don’t Talk about It.

As hard as it is sometimes to do, we really have to stop saying negative things about our bodies. Even if we don’t say them out loud, we have to stop having this unconstructive internal dialogue with ourselves about how gross we find parts of our bodies. Nothing good can come from it. If you are the type of person who often says negative things about your body in front of friends (or worse, in front of people you aren’t even close to) it’s time to stop doing it. Not only does it make people extremely uncomfortable, it can also cause them to start thinking negative things about their own body. Most of my friends know that if they say something rude about themselves in front of me, they will get a disapproving look from me!

#3 Focus on the Good.

Rather than telling yourself all of the things you hate about your body, try focusing on things you like about your body. I found this article helpful which speaks to the importance of Positive Body Affirmations. It may sound silly, but on the days when I have told myself 2-3 things I like about my body, I have had very good body image days.

#4 Set Attainable Goals.

If you do choose to “work on” your body by maybe toning, building muscle etc. don’t over do it. Many of us set out to lose an unattainable amount of weight that doesn’t really make sense for our body types or lifestyles. A few years ago, I had to accept that I just wasn’t going to be a size 4 anymore and that was just going to have to be ok with me. If I wanted to stay a size 4, I would have to do things (eat WAY less and over-exercise) that I just wasn’t willing to do. My lifestyle, genetic make-up and sanity wouldn’t allow me to maintain this size. In the same way, make sure you aren’t setting unrealistic fitness goals for yourself which will make you feel worse about your body instead of better about your body.

 #5 Know when to get Help.

If you are constantly down on yourself, it might be worth exploring whether or not you have Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I think many women can benefit from sitting down with a counselor and talking through body image issues. Even if you don’t have BDD, it might give you some insight into how to overcome negative body image.

 Ok those are the five tips that the Curvy Goddess Lounge gives on overcoming distorted body image.

 Any thoughts about this list? Do you have any to add?

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about balance. As a person who loves exercise and prides herself on eating pretty healthy, it’s sometimes hard to find the balance between “taking care of myself” and not being over-concerned with my body weight. As much as I would like to think I have totally arrived, I still have a long way to go in loving my body. It really is an inner, daily battle to love and appreciate my body for what it is. It’s not easy to live in a world like where we are bombarded with messages that we aren’t good enough, and to just say “Forget that. I’m going to love me for me!”

One of our readers left a very thoughtful comment recently in which she mentioned how hard it is to love her body:

“I was just thinking today about how hard it is to love and appreciate my own body all by myself, let alone when anyone else feels the need to share an (unwelcome) opinion about it. My mom is notorious for this, although she acts like she’s trying to “help.”

Although I’m a strong advocate for this type of thinking, I certainly have not mastered it yet. Sometimes, regardless of what I know and believe, I reject the mentality that I know I need to have. I give in and allow myself to feel “gross” or “fat” or like I need to shed a relatively insignificant amount of weight in order to be back to an ideal size that I have in my mind. I allow myself to feel like I’m not skinny enough or pretty enough; like my butt is way too big for my body and my thighs are too close together. (Yes, I know…shameful. Just tryin’ keep it real)!

And then I stop and ask myself why. Why do I allow myself to go down a road that I know only leads to misery? Why would I allow myself to momentarily succumb to a line of thinking that will end up tearing me down rather than making me feel good about myself? I’m not quite sure I have an answer to that yet.

We’ve had this blog for two years now, and although we haven’t been 100% active during every moment of the past two years, this blog has become a part of us. Despite my struggle to find a balance and my momentary relapses into body-hating mentality, I truly believe that the “cheeseburger mentality” is absolutely the only way to live.

And here’s why: no matter what, our bodies are never going to look exactly the way we want them too. We may never be that girl who can walk into a dressing room and have everything she tries on magically fit; or the girl who slips into a Size 2 pair of jeans effortlessly. So why keep trying? Why try to be people we aren’t and never will be? Why not embrace what our bodies look like and make a decision to love ourselves for who we are? Why beat ourselves up for not looking like Victoria secret models?

I have come to find in these past two years that there is a balance to all of this. There is no perfect answer or magical path to loving one’s body. But no matter what you believe on the subject, I think we can all agree that constantly feeling bad about what we look like is not the way to live. Whether or not you choose to embrace everything about this blog, and live by the cheeseburger gospel, I hope you can at least agree that love is better than hate and self-acceptance is better than self-deprecation.

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Hi loyal friends!

I apologize that we have fallen off the cheeseburger radar. We are both in school at the moment so cheeseburger posting has taken a back seat but we still love you all very much and are going to get better at posting.

On that note, I have a really interesting story to share with you all about my recent visit home to visit my parents. I went home last month and during my visit I went out for a big family lunch. The lunch included about 16 of my family members, several of whom I hadn’t seen in years. Once we had settled in and ordered our food, one of my uncles started making the rounds and talking with everyone at the table. As he approached my chair, I just knew he was going to say something rude (because he usually does). And sure enough, he grabbed my arm and said, “You got fat!” He then proceeded to tell my mother, who was sitting next to me, “She got fat!” He chuckled at himself as if he had said the funniest thing known to man while my mother, grandmother, aunt and I just stared at him.

This incident of course brings up the issue that we have talked about a lot on this blog which is the crazy things people say.

I have found that for some reason, so many people feel the need to make extremely rude comments about other people’s bodies. It happens all the time. I’m really not sure what happens in people’s brains to make them say such things.

I think the moral of this story for me is to remember to not let what other people say to me about my body effect me. What’s important is how I feel about my body not what some crazy person tells me about my body. I want to choose to love and embrace my body no matter what others say. It’s such a hard task sometimes to disregard what others say/think about you and choose to love yourself, but the way I see it, what choice do I have? My options are to be miserable with myself and let people’s negative opinions of me make me sad or to love who I am and let those negative comments roll right off my back.

So the next time someone calls me fat, I think I’ll say something along the lines of “Not sure what you mean by this comment, but I love my body and I also love to eat cheeseburgers!”

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I was in a popular store (which shall remain nameless) about a month ago with a friend when I overheard a very disturbing exchange between two sales associates. I was waiting in line to pay for my item and a few steps away from me was a sales associate who was dressing a mannequin. As another sales associate walked up to him, he said to her “Wow our mannequin is like a real woman.” The other sales associate said something in response that I couldn’t hear. In response to whatever she said, the male sales associate responded in a really sassy tone “I refuse to put a size 8 on our mannequins! I refuse!” I was baffled and utterly confused. My friend and I paid for our items and left the store.

As I was leaving, I got a glance of the size of the dress that was on the mannequin; it was a size 6. So from this brief shopping trip I learned two things from this man. One: a size 6 is the size of a “real woman” and two: a size 8 is really bad.

Now I’m not one to get into labels and sizes but I think for the purposes of this discussion, size is of note in order to point out the absurdity of this man’s thinking. The first question I had was “since when is a size 8 considered extremely large?” and second, “why is it completely unacceptable to put such a large size on the mannequin?”

As much as I understand that there is a collective consciousness in the western world that lives by the doctrine of thinner is better its moments like these that make it reality for me. I mean, I get that in the fashion world; you really can’t make it as a model if you are over a size 4 (and even then you may not make the cut). But that’s the fashion world, not the real world; right?

In reality, very few women are that small. So perhaps that’s what the sales associate meant when he said that the mannequin was a “real woman.” He was inferring that because the dress they put on it wasn’t the typical model size 0-4, her body was somehow more realistic, closer to what a “real woman” looks like in the “real world.”

This man’s comments came down to one thing for me: size politics, which is the idea that a number or letter on a clothing label has some type of merit in this world. This man was assigning very specific meaning to very specific sizes and it seemed very natural to him to do so.

One of the major problems with sizes is how inconsistent they are. I mean, at the end of the day, can you really tell me what your “size” is? I personally wear one size at H&M, one size at Old Navy, one size at Target and another size at Forever 21. One size in pants, one size in jeans (totally depending on who makes the jeans), another size in tops and it goes on and on. I have everything from XS to XL in my closet. So why would I let something so completely inconsistent and ridiculous define who I am?

I don’t think that size politics has any place in the real world; it should stay deep within the dark realms of Vogue and the catwalk. But unfortunately, it’s people like this idiotic sales person who make it hard to keep size politics out of every day life.

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Something revolutionary happened on Monday. Starting at the beginning of next year, the popular German magazine Brigitte will no longer hire models to pose for their magazine. The magazine announced today that they will now feature “real” women in their magazine in an attempt to combat what they perceive as the unhealthy effects of ultra-thin models on women’s body image.

Andreas Lebert said the move is a response to readers increasingly saying that they are tired of seeing “protruding bones” from models who weigh far less than the average woman.

Brigitte plans to pay the women they will now feature in their magazine the same as they would professional models.

I think this could potentially be a very positive change for readers of this German magazine. Imagine a world in which every magazine on the stands featured “every day” women rather than models. That would completely change our world.

And U.S. magazines might also be showing a similar trend towards a preference for non-stick-thin models. Readers of the U.S magazine Glamour had an extremely positive response to a small photo of “plus size” model Lizzi Miller in this year’s September Issue. The nude photo of Lizzi elicited many positive responses from readers:

“Thank you for showing a picture of a BEAUTIFUL woman who has a stomach and thighs that look like mine! I have NEVER seen that in a magazine before.”

“Get this hot momma off of page 194 and put her on the cover!”

I too had a similar reaction when I saw the picture of Lizzi Miller. I thought “Hey! That’s what my body looks like! I can’t believe this is in a magazine!” Although I believe the magazine industry still has leaps and bounds to make in terms of actually representing all types of women within the pages of their publications, it does give me a glimmer of hope to know that many women really DO have positive responses to seeing a model in a magazine who is larger than the average-sized model.

After all, why is it, as Lizzi states, that in the world of fashion “any size over 6 is considered plus size?” Does that seem crazy to anyone else?

The reality is, most women, at least in the U.S. look more like Lizzi Miller than they do Jessica Simpson (who is the celebrity featured on the cover of Glamour’s September issue). So why not feature more women in magazines who look more like the average woman? Some women are very thin naturally and some women aren’t. So, if they want us to wear the clothes that are featured in fashion magazines, is it really so crazy to think that all types of women should be modeling the clothes that we are supposed to wear?

It’s encouraging to think that perhaps there is a trend towards something new in the world of magazines. I guess only time will tell.

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Last year Jennifer Love Hewitt got a lot of flack from tabloids for “packing on the pounds.” She triumphantly responded by telling the media to “stop calling me fat” and told those tabloids to mind their own business. But low and behold, a year later, Hewitt is on the cover of Shape sporting her “new body.” Wait…what’s that about? I thought she was mad at people telling her she was fat, so why did she feel the need to lose weight?

Jennifer shares real life dieting tips that helped her “get back in shape” including:
Don’t keep food in the house for more than a couple of days
Don’t keep treats around the house because you might be tempted to eat them
Run on vacations

Thanks Love…great tips! (Please note sarcasm).

After Jennifer shares tips about how to stay confident in this cruel world she adds this:

“I’m a girl, after all!” she says. “For the most part, yeah, I’m happy with my body, but there are days when I’m like, ‘Ugh! Really? Why is it so hard to fit into my jeans?’ That’s when I say to myself, ‘I look this way because I’m supposed to. If we all looked the same, we’d be boring.'”

If she really believed that she looked “that way because she was supposed to,” then why did she feel the need to lose weight in the first place? And can I just say for the record that Jennifer Love Hewitt has never been fat. Just because the photos of her that surfaced last year didn’t show her as emaciated or shockingly thin doesn’t mean she was fat. As we’ve said time and time again, the problem with emaciated media images is not only that the girls themselves are sick, but also that it makes women who are any larger than “Size Emaciated” look large and, thus, creates this “standard of thin” that is completely unrealistic.

I just find it interesting that people try to convince themselves to love themselves the way they are yet they are constantly dieting and trying to shrink jean sizes. Does anyone else see this as an oxymoron? Accepting yourself the way you are and truly believing that you look this way because you’re supposed to means that you don’t feel the need to diet yourself down to a smaller size when you are criticized by the media.

I don’t pretend to think that it’s easy for these celebrities to undergo the type of negative scrutiny they do for gaining a few pounds and that it’s easy for them to watch people point out their cellulite on a magazine cover. That has to hurt. But, please celebrities: don’t try and pretend you lost weight because it was “healthier” to be a size 2 than it was to be a size 6. And please, oh please, don’t try to pretend that you love yourself when clearly you don’t know the first thing about it. Because if you did, you wouldn’t feel the need to alter your body size because someone called you fat.

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The other night I saw the documentary that is currently in theaters about the fashion magazine Vogue and it’s prominent Editor in Chief, Anna Wintour. I have to say that I really enjoyed the movie and found the subject matter fascinating. For those of you who don’t know, the character Miranda Priestly in the popular film The Devil Wears Prada is actually based on Vogue’s Anna Wintour.

Of course the models in the film were shockingly thin but it seems cliche to focus on that aspect of the film as there were more interesting aspects that I found. In a part of the film where the filmmakers interview Ms. Wintour’s daughter, who is an aspiring lawyer, she tells the filmmakers that she has no desire to be in fashion. Wintour’s daughter admits that those in the fashion industry take it a little too seriously. It reminded me of a line in The Devil Wears Prada where Anne Hathaway’s character, Andy, is describing what its like to work for a popular fashion magazine and says that they all walk around like they are “curing cancer or something.” I can’t help but agree with this perspective. It seems to me that the point of the fashion industry should be to help women determine what looks good on their body type as fashion trends change. But this does not seem to be the goal of Wintour and her disicples. They seem to want to create a fantasy world in which the average woman can only dream of being a participant.

My favorite “character” in the movie was a woman named Grace who began working at Vogue the same day as Ms. Wintour, roughly twenty years ago. Grace is the Creative Director with a far more human side than her counterparts at the famous fashion magazine. In one scene, Grace is doing a shoot in Paris and brings her model a box of raspberry fruit tarts (yummy)! The model reluctantly takes a bite and tells Grace that she really shouldn’t have brought the cakes because she won’t be able to fit in the corset! Grace responds with a smile and says, “it won’t make a difference!”

In another scene, Grace gets inspired during a photo shoot and decides to turn the camera on the filmmakers and asks the cameraman to be in a shot. During the photo selection process, Anna Wintour comes into the room, takes one look at the photo and says that some editing of the cameraman’s belly has to be done. She then tells the cameraman he needs to go to the gym, as she chuckles and touches her own flat (non-existent) stomach. Later, Grace finds out that Anna intends to have the photo edited and she insists that the photo remain unchanged. She says that not everyone is model-thin and the photo must maintain it’s authenticity. In the end, the photo stays the same and Grace is pleased.

All in all I thought the film was very well made and an interesting inside perspective of how the fashion industry works, as well as Ms. Wintour’s incredible influence on it. I must admit that it made me feel a little better to know that there is someone like Grace on the inside.

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Hi Cheeseburger Friends.

We just wanted to let you know, if you didn’t already, that there are two new interviews with Crystal Renn that you should definitely read. For those of you who don’t know, Renn is the highest paid plus-size model in the industry and has written a memoir entitled Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves. Jezebel’s interview can be found here. And the interview with Kate Harding can be found here.

Harding writes:

Today, Crystal Renn is the most successful plus-size model in America, not only showing off the latest from Lane Bryant but competing with “straight” models for coveted jobs she once believed she’d never get if she let a drop of oil pass her lips. Back around 165 pounds and wearing a Size 12, she has starred in an ad for Dolce & Gabbana, walked the runway for Jean Paul Gaultier, and finally achieved the very ambition she nearly died for: being photographed by Steven Meisel for Vogue. She recently posed nude for a forthcoming Glamour spread celebrating plus size models — who have become something to celebrate in large part because of Renn’s mainstream success, even if Lizzi Miller’s oddly captivating belly roll is currently taking all the credit.

Now that she has her curves and her personality back, Renn’s more in demand than she ever was as a thin model, when photographers found her listless and vacant. “The stereotype of models is that we’re brain-dead,” she writes, “but some of us are just starving.”

Both of these are great interviews, so check them out!

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