Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I'm a hater.

I'm gonna rant.

So I guess the Victoria Secret Fashion Show is tonight?

that's cool..

From what I hear, people are pretty pumped about it. Many have been waiting all year, and I'm pretty sure a few of my friends even had countdown chains. Having observed all the excitement, I realize this post is going to volunteer me as the official "Party Pooper" of the VS fashion show, but I'll take that title with a smile on my face because I honestly can't think of a better party to poop on (too far??).

In a perfect world, I would be able to convince every one of you to watch anything besides the VS fashion show tonight. ANYTHING. Seriously. Even a show I despise like "Duck Dynasty" or "Finding Bigfoot" (incredibly stupid shows, but incredibly noteworthy when compared to nearly-naked girls pacing back and forth on a stage). But since this world is not perfect, I would never achieve such a goal. So instead, I just want to serve as buffer for some of the poison that's going to be put in your minds if you chose to watch those lovely Angels tonight.

I think its important to look at the motive of the show and our motive as viewers. Victoria Secret says the show is just a way for them to promote their holiday sales.

Really?... Well I've never seen even a quarter of the stuff your models are wearing in your actual stores.

Oh, you're selling the black undies that shes wearing under her elaborate costume. Got it. Okay cool. I didn't even see those but I might need to go buy myself a pair of them now.

So....then what is the motive?? I really wish I had an answer for you.

Okay so what about us? Why do we watch it? I'm not aiming this question at men because A) I'm thinking and hoping you don't watch it and B) if you do, we already know exactly why and frankly, its sad to me. But women, why do you want to watch it? I know it's not because you're looking to buy any of that stuff for your mom, or your friend, or even yourself. So why? I really don't get it. It would make sense if you got some meaningful message from it. Or if it was semi hilarious. Or even just good entertainment! But as much as you try and convince yourself that that's what it is, it's not.

Did you know that around 70% of women experience depression just minutes after looking through a fashion magazine. Not clinical depression or anything, but a majority of women have reported that they experience shame, self-loathing, bad body image and feelings of sadness just minutes after looking through a magazine and all the airbrushed "perfect" women that are inside. Guess what? That same exact outcome follows the airing of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, so I don't get why anyone would support it.

I've heard a lot of women say that watching it gives them inspiration to get fit and healthy, but I have to laugh at that. Watching it does not inspire you to get healthy. It simply shames you into a few weeks or maybe a month of desperate dieting measures just to try and look like the women you're seeing on the runway. Do you know what those models go through just to get ready for the show? It's nothing healthy and it's nothing you can maintain long term. Adriana Lima (one of the more well-known VS angels), recently opened up about what she does months before the show just to prepare. Starting in August, she begins to work out twice a day everyday, while also being on a very restrictive diet. Then about two weeks before the show she gets put on a liquid diet, no solids. And then about 1 day before the show she consumes absolutely nothing. Not even water, because dehydration--though deadly--allows the models to look even thinner.

I'm not trying to pass judgment on the models, or diagnose them with eating disorders because that's not the purpose of this message. All I'm trying to do is remind the women who may watch tonight, that you aren't supposed to look like the women you are seeing on your screens! They don't even look like that after the show because they were using unrealistic means to get there in the first place. And actually, I'm going to go ahead and extend this message to every woman out there because I know that the media is bombarding us daily with unrealistic expectations of what we should look like. So women, when the body shame thoughts or the obsessive diet thoughts start to creep in (and they will), Please do not submit! Wanting to be healthy is great. In fact, I promote it. But models do not exist to promote healthy, they exist to promote skinny (emaciation even), which is not the same thing. So please separate the two.

The last message I have is for the guys.
I don't know if any of you are as into the show as girls are, so this message might be completely irrelevant to most of you. But if you do like to watch it (or if you are obsessed with models), I just want to urge you, just as I did the women, to remember that you're looking at unrealistic and overly sexualized women. Maybe you just enjoy it, but don't look at these woman and set that same standard for your future or current wife. And whatever you do, don't compare them to other women. It can be so dangerous. If your not careful, it will negatively affect how you see the women in your life, and eventually those women you care about will suffer the affects of it. Maybe just stop looking...

Okay. My rant is over. I obviously hate the VS fashion show (or the whole modeling industry for that matter). I hope I wasn't too harsh. I just care about all of you.

But enjoy the show :)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

see more.

We need more compliments in the world.

"Tay what are you talking about??? I compliment people on the daily!"

Okay, fine, let me rephrase.

We need more meaningful compliments in the world.

Yes, we are all experts at giving out these type of compliments:

I LOVE your Jacket.
Oh my gosh, your body is rockin'.
K, Cutest shoes ever!
Your hair is beautiful.
You're soooo pretty.

It's not that those are bad things to say, but I think we could tone it down on the superficial compliments just a tad and put a little more effort into compliments that actually mean something.

Let's dissect this a little.

Why do we give out so many appearance based compliments? From my experience, I think we do it for three reasons:
1) We really do like what we're seeing.
2) We like to make the people we care about feel good about themselves.
3) Superficial compliments are so dang easy to give out.

Here's the problem though-

We live in a time where self-objectification has become a national epidemic.
Self-objectification occurs when people begin to see themselves and treat themselves more as an object rather than a human being. Not only are they this way with themselves, but they also begin to see others as objects too. It's like we're all just figurines on display and our sole purpose is to be looked at and enjoyed. I really like how the book "Self-Objectification in Women" puts it:

"Women [and even men] have come to view themselves through the lens of an external observer, habitually monitoring their own appearance whether in public or private settings."

The book also goes on to talk about the consequences of this and among them are:

*Body shame
*Appearance anxiety
*Disordered eating

So if you haven't figured it out yet, self-objectification is nothing good, and sadly, our nation has fallen victim to it.

Learning all of this is what has caused me to feel indifferent about appearance focused compliments. Again, it's not they're awful and I'm not saying you shouldn't ever give them out, I just think they instill this subconscious message that we are what we look like, and that's just not true. Appearance is the least important aspect of a human being, so lets stop putting so much emphasis on it and maybe we can start to see ourselves as more.

If you think about it, we were conditioned for self-objectification at a very young age. Little girls are constantly being told how pretty they look, how cute their outfit is, how beautiful their eyes are etc. It's true though! little girls are adorable and its hard not to shower them with such compliments, but maybe we can condition them to be more than an object. More than a figurine. Maybe we should outweigh the appearance compliments with more important things. I realize this can be hard to do, but it just takes some awareness and a little practice. Here are a few examples:

You are so creative!
I love your beautiful voice.
You have a talent for making people laugh.
Thank you for being so obedient.
When your happy, it makes me happy :)
It's so fun to watch you play with your brothers and sisters.

I'd like to tell you about an experience I recently had. I was out to dinner with my friend and we were siting next to a family who had a little girl (around 5-years-old) and a little boy (around 3-years-old). Now I know I'm going against what I've been preaching when I say this but this little girl and her little brother were ADORABLE. Honestly. I couldn't stop staring at them. But anyway, at one point they both wandered near our table. I love little kids with a passion so I naturally struck up a conversation with them. I was asking them a range of questions and they were giving out the most comical answers, as most little kids do. Before they walked away, I wanted so badly to tell this little girl how amazing her blue eyes were, but just before the words slipped out, I remembered my feelings on the whole compliment thing. Instead, I paused for a minute to think about something else I loved about her that was separate from her looks. It was then that I noticed she had been holding her little brothers had through out our entire conversation and I realized that how she was treating her little brother was far more remarkable than her eyes. I decided to direct my compliment accordingly. I hope she can grow up knowing people notice more about than her beautiful looks.

I want to share one one more personal story.

So I've found myself being really depressed these past few weeks and I'm constantly feeling like I'm not good enough. Luckily, for me, I have the most supportive cheer team, family, and friends who constantly remind me that I AM GOOD ENOUGH. But everyone has a different technique when doing this. There are those who know I struggle with an eating disorder so they tell me how beautiful I am, and how great I look etc. I know they are being genuine and I definitely appreciate that they care enough to say anything at all, but I can tell you that when life gets hard, I don't remember those things. When Satan is trying to tempt me to act out on eating disorder behavior, remembering that so-and-so told me I have an amazing body doesn't give me strength or motivation to be strong. No. I find strength to overcome my trials when someone sends me a text and tells me they are grateful to have me in their life. I find strength when my coach tells me that I am valued on my team and he can tell that the girls really look up to me. I find strength when a woman at church writes me a note and tells me that she always looks forward to my sunday school lessons. I find strength when someone notices my hard work. I find strength when a friend informs me that my vulnerability has inspired them. Those are the compliments that keep me going. Those are the compliments that remind me I am more than a figurine.

Am I saying we we need to do away with compliments? No! not at all. Let's just start giving out DIFFERENT compliments. Try to see past a person's appearance and look for other things that are beautiful about them. Notice how they treat others. Notice their humor. Notice their attitude. Notice what sets them apart. Can you still tell them they look beautiful? of course, but maybe try to make it less frequent. It's hard to do at first but I've been practicing it for a while and it has changed my life. I've found that I am less judgmental of others and I truly have begun to see what real beauty looks like, and I'll let you in on a secret.. it has nothing to do with what our eyes are showing us.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Reflections are like mood rings.

In one of my first therapy sessions, my therapist told me my eating disorder had nothing to do with my body. In my head I was thinking "this lady is an idiot." I didn't actually say that out loud of course, but I did tell her she was wrong. I told her my eating disorder was definitely about my body and nothing more. I also told her that if I could get to a certain weight I would be happy and I would be able to give up my unhealthy behaviors.

She, being a therapist, challenged that statement, as she does EVERY statement that I make. Today, I'm so glad she did because even though I never really agreed with her in our sessions, I can honestly say I believe her now. (Jenn, if you're reading this, here is my official statement: YOU WERE RIGHT)

Let me explain to you how I finally came to this conclusion.

Today I looked at my body in the mirror probably a dozen times. Maybe even a bakers dozen (that's 13 times if you didn't already know). The first few times I was in a great mood and I was able to live with what I saw. I wasn't like "dang girl you fine" by any means but I was content with my reflection and I was able to relax and go about my day. However, in the afternoon I got into an argument with someone and the conversation left me feeling so many types of negative. I'll just give you a list of the statements that were ricocheting inside of my head: 
I am inadequate. 
I am a failure. 
I am unlovable. 
Something is wrong with me.
I'll never get it right.
I'll never be good enough. 

As you can tell by my melodramatic thoughts, I was in a pretty bad spot emotionally. Had I known earlier what I know right now, maybe I wouldn't have gone and stood in front of a full-body mirror in such an emotional state. Because guess what I realized?

My reflection is like a mood ring
*Not as cool as a mood ring though because I don't actually change different colors right before anyones eyes, but how I see my body can definitely change just as quickly.

When I saw my reflection after thinking all of those negative things about myself, it was as if I gained 20 pounds in a matter of hours! That's not even humanly possible.. Right?? But it honestly seemed that way and I suddenly couldn't stand the sight of myself even though I was nearly fine with it earlier that day. Now I've gone the rest of my day hating my body. Even to this very second. 

If I could, I would go and break ALL of the mirrors in the entire world and take on the millions of years of bad luck that would come with it just to spare anyone from doing what I find myself doing everyday. Standing in front of that mirror and taking out all of my negative emotions on what I can physically see, because hey, thats a lot easier that trying to figure out what's really going on right? Yeah, maybe. But it's proven to be very counterproductive in my life. Yet I still find myself doing it.

So what can I do?
First of all I'm making it a goal to stop looking in the mirror so much. Once in the morning when I'm getting ready should be good enough. No more of this 13-times-a-day crap. But also, I need to remind myself (and all of you) that when we are having negative emotions or thoughts, it's so easy to just blame everthing on our looks! I'm sorry, but as much as we would like to believe it, our looks are'nt causing us problems! (unless you surround yourself with really shallow human beings, and in that case, that would be the problem you need to fix.)


*and no, I didn't go do a photo shoot for this blog post okay? Haha this is a picture from like 3 years ago and I just thought it was fitting :)