ashley judd 1, the media 0.

Image via The Daily Beast

You may have already stumbled across the piece that actress Ashley Judd wrote in response to the media criticizing her “puffy face” and making the public assertion that she’d had “work done.” However, if you haven’t, I highly suggest you take the time to read it. It’s definitely worth it.

While I’m usually the first person to be up in arms over the media saying preposterous, body-policing things like this (much like the recent accusations that Jennifer Lawrence is “too big” to play Katniss Everdeen) I usually forget to even consider how the celebrity in question feels. Even worse than that, sometimes I even find myself flippantly making damning comments like this one. Ugh. Shame on me.

Whether they’re celebrities or not, they’re still people. They’re still living, breathing, human beings, fearfully and wonderfully made, and their looks are not the end-all be-all of their worth.

And for Christ’s sake, just because a woman’s face has changed shape over the years does NOT mean she’s had work done. Unless you consider aging naturally “getting work done” then by all means, STFU.

Read Ashley’s killer response here.

an ode to katniss everdeen.

Do you know what I’ll be doing this time tomorrow? I will be counting down the hours until I’m seated at the movie theater watching The Hunger Games at midnight.

ACK.

Now, I know I’m only the four billionth person to say this on the Internet, but this book series by Suzanne Collins is seriously incredible. It’s everything I wish I could write and more. It’s my favorite series right after Harry Potter and, if you know me at all, you know that’s a huge deal. (Gotta give mad props to Emily for convincing me to read it. Shout out.)

This blog post is not about why you should read the books. I really don’t have time to get into it. (But seriously though, you should. Trust me.) This post is to celebrate a book series whose main protagonist is a strong, fierce, and, dare I say, kick-ass female. In today’s society, we really needed someone like Katniss Everdeen to which our young girls (like Emily, for instance) could look up. Katniss doesn’t need a man to take care of her. She knows what’s important in life. She has a feminine side but that, by all means, does not define her.

The other day, Dan and I were in Wal-Mart (for those of you paying close attention, yes, this was the same Wal-Mart trip that was the catalyst to me breaking down in a bathtub later, but whatevs) and while he was evidently poring over the purchases of the lady in front of us, I was furiously flipping through each magazine on the rack with Jennifer Lawrence (the actress portraying Katniss) on the cover and trying to consume as much information on the film I could.

I found that each article had one thing in common: they all compared Katniss to Bella Swan from Twilight.

And I about threw up.

If there is any fictional character that Katniss is like, it is not Bella Swan. If you ask me, Bella Swan is the worst heroine to show up in fiction since, well, ever. I would never want someone like Emily to look to Bella as an example of what it means to be female. Bella is weak, codependent, seemingly in love with the idea of being abused, depressed, and crazy. Katniss is strong, sacrificial, logical, level-headed, and, by all accounts, a B.A.M.F.

At any rate, I’m not writing this to bash Twilight. I have a lot of friends whom I greatly respect that read these books for entertainment purposes. But I bet they’d all agree with me on the fact that Katniss and Bella have about as much in common as I have with a dolphin.

So, rather than compare Katniss to Bella (because seriously, apples and oranges doesn’t even begin to cover it) I’d like to highlight all the reasons that Katniss rules. Period. Not in comparison to anyone else.

TOP FIVE REASONS KATNISS EVERDEEN RULES:

1. she supports her family.

Katniss’s father died in a mine explosion when she was only twelve, leaving her mother so distraught and emotionally detached from the family that she could barely even get out of bed. This caused Katniss to step up and provide for her and her little sister. Rather than crying about it and watching her mother let her family starve to death, she took it upon herself to learn how to hunt, gather, and trade so that her family would survive.

2. she volunteers for her sister as tribute in the hunger games.

She literally puts her life on the line in order to save her sister.

3. she’s a perfect shot.

She could kill anyone by just the snap of a bow and arrow. I mean. Dang.

4. she stands up for what’s right.

Katniss knows that what the Capitol is doing to Panem is injustice at best, inhumane at worst, and refuses to stand for it. At only sixteen, she stands up to something way bigger than herself.

5. she doesn’t let romance get in the way of what’s important.

Yes, in the books, there are two guys vying for Katniss’s affection. While she does consider this, it doesn’t govern her every move. What’s important to her is survival and protecting her family. Romance is an after thought. (Which is impressive because, hello, Peeta and Gale are both dream boats, am I right?)

All that to say, I raise my glass to you, Suzanne Collins, for writing a character that I believe girls everywhere should look up to. As someone who is tired of women being portrayed as meek, inferior sex objects, it’s refreshing to see someone like Katniss come in and shake things up a bit.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

tuesday tip — finding your sexy when you’re ______.

Disclaimer: So, this is my blog, after all. And this is the stuff I’m currently struggling through. If reading it makes you feel weird, sorry. You don’t have to read it. I won’t be offended.

The other day I came across this fabulous article that pretty much sums up every thing I’ve been struggling with lately as far as body image and self-love goes. If you don’t have time to read it, the title speaks for itself:

Who gets to be sexy? Is it me?

I’ve kind of touched on the subject before here and here but, sadly, I currently don’t feel like I’m one of those people who “gets” to be sexy. My husband and I have had several conversations recently (even creating a document about the mental blocks I have and the steps I need to take to overcome them) to try and get to the root of this problem (including, but not limited to: my past, including my ex who sexually abused me, my history with my eating disorder, etc.) and while these reasons are valid, I’m sick of them.

In my head, I think, I’ve always assumed that once I hit certain self-proclaimed milestones then (and only then) could I “get” to be sexy.

  • When I reach my goal weight.
  • When my face finally stops breaking out.
  • When I can figure out how to apply make up and not look like a circus clown.
  • When I learn how to properly curl my hair.
  • When I…
My husband, who is so sweet and wonderful and always trying to help, brought something to my attention the other day:
Dan: “Did you see the lady in front of us in line at Wal-Mart?”
Me: “No.”
Dan: “Oh. Well. She was at least double your size everywhere and was buying lingerie. I thought that if she could do it, you could, too.”
Under normal circumstances, I would have probably considered the legitimacy of his observation. But because I’m hormonal and crazy, I went home, drew myself a bath, and cried in it for an hour.
It seems like it’s only getting worse for me as I get rounder. This is probably shocking to you, but feeling sexy while pregnant is proving to be almost impossible for me. I know, I know. I didn’t see that one coming, either. Lindsay can’t feel sexy when she’s not pregnant? What do you mean she can’t feel sexy when she is? *Heavy eye roll.*

I’ve been searching for ways to try and rectify this. Really, the only solution I’ve come up with is only letting my husband touch me in the morning when it’s still dark since, at that point, I haven’t spent an entire day staring at my gigantic belly and focusing on how “matronly” and “not-sexy” it is.

But then (of course, while I’m struggling with this) Jessica Simpson (who has been pregnant for roughly three years it feels like) comes out totally butt naked on the cover of Elle like she owns the joint. And my husband goes ahead and says that it’s sexy.

Ugh. 

Okay, world. I get it. It’s possible to be sexy while overweight. And it’s possible to be sexy while pregnant. So why am I still completely lacking in this department?

Oh that’s right — because the problem isn’t my body; it’s my mind.

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: FINDING YOUR SEXY WHEN YOU’RE ______.

I know not all of you are pregnant. And I know that not all of you struggle with “sexiness” in particular. But maybe it’s confidence. Maybe it’s spark. Maybe it’s being outgoing. But, if you’re like me, and you have this little part inside you that, for whatever reason, can’t come out because you’re currently _____ (fill in the blank for whatever that is: pregnant, over your goal weight, not making enough money, whatever) I’m here to tell you that your circumstance is not your problem.

It’s your mind.

I don’t have all the answers on how to change your mind (because if I did, let’s be honest, I wouldn’t have this blog) but here are some things that have worked for me so far:

1. be intentional.

Make an effort. When you think to yourself that you can’t be sexy, just think immediately afterwards, “That’s not true. I can be and am sexy.” It will be awkward and weird at first. But be intentional about it.

2. be persistent.

You can’t change your paradigm overnight. It will take some time. Commit to it because, in the end, it will be so worth it (or so I think).

3. be patient.

With yourself! Know that some days, you’ll be on fire. You’ll be a sex goddess, even! But know that, even still, there will be some days when you feel frumpy and gross and some innocent Wal-Mart shopper is gonna show up at the register with cute lingerie and make you cry in a bathtub and you’re just going to have to let that be okay.

What is your “sexy” that you’re striving toward? Please don’t say I’m alone in this!

a good body image kick in the pants.

I’m 20 weeks pregnant. I’m halfway done.

I’ve also gained ten (!!!) pounds, which is exactly half as much weight as my doctor told me I should gain during the pregnancy. In reality, I’m right on track. (Halfway there when I’m halfway there! That makes sense! Half a pound a week from here on out, right?) But as of right now, this second, I’m not doing so well. Instead of being a new mom, carrying around and sustaining a healthy baby boy, my mind is in the dark and can only see myself as a woman who has gained ten pounds in five months and can’t button her jeans which means she’s ugly, worthless, stupid, a bad friend, a horrible cook, a horrible mom, a horrible wife, who will never be a published writer…

Sigh. Isn’t it ridiculous how a bad body image can poison the otherwise awesome parts that make you you? Or am I just THAT mental?

I can usually talk myself out of feeling like a whale by reminding myself, Lindsay! You are building a life! But it’s hard to switch a twentysomething-year-old paradigm (that gaining weight is the absolute WORST thing I could ever do, save maybe intentionally running over a litter of kittens) just because I got knocked up a few months ago.

Today, HelloGiggles posted an article by Julia Gazdag that was the body image kick in the pants I needed, even though it’s not directly aimed at pregnant women. It’s a great reminder about the heavy implications and repercussions of falling victim to a broken society’s view of beauty.

This excerpt in particular was one I really needed to read today:

You’re not attractive because you look like the airbrushed neo-Barbie posing with a giant bottle in a vodka ad, or the limitlessly fancy red carpet starlet. You’re attractive because of how you tell a story, how your eyes crinkle when you smile, how you love a certain author so fervently, and any number of other trite rom-com clichés. Because there’s actually truth to those sappy monologues – the most attractive thing about anyone is what makes them unique, not what makes them blend in. Anyone who is more focused on your looks than your self is bad news and in all likelihood cares very little about you as a person, except to use you as an accessory. We’re women, not purses, and that means we can own our greatness instead of comparing it to that of others while vying for mediocraty.

To read the rest of Julia’s article (and possibly get the kick in the pants you need) click here.

a shirt a day keeps the drama away.

When I got married, I felt pressured to turn into the perfect wife — one who cooks gourmet meals, keeps a spotless home, and looks damn good 100% of the time, both in body and fashion — even though that’s not at ALL the person my sweet husband married. My new-found Pinterest addiction and my perusal of countless new and trendy fashion/homemakey blogs have done nothing but worsen that pressure. Have you seen this? There are about a hundred thousand fashion/homemakey blogs out there touting the idea that You, too, can be a fashionista! And a stay at home mom! And a Crafty McCraftsALot! And be perfect at all of those things! Just look how easily I do it with my $3,000 SLR camera! 

I think I’m starting to break under this pressure. I’ve regressed. You’ll notice that I’ve stopped trying to blog about my home or food preparations or fashion choices. I’ve retreated into a dark cave of blog-solitude where I merely write about things that piss me off about society versus the things I’d love to work on concerning myself.  By doing that, I’ve created an environment where it’s completely safe for me to fail at all of these things without each and every one of you reading about it. But yep, I’m failing. Here’s how:

  • Dan does all the cooking and most of the cleaning. Happily, I might add.
  • My workout routine has all but vanished since tearing my ACL and becoming pregnant (but hey, the occasional dance class and the weird prenatal yoga DVD I have are at least giving me some peace of mind for the moment. That, and the fact that at 17 weeks I’ve only gained 7 pounds.)
  • And my fashion sense? My “style,” if you will? Ha. Well. I wish I could say I have one. But I really don’t. At the moment, for example, I’m wearing brown sandals with a black striped cardigan. Yep. I know this is wrong. But I’m doing it anyway because I just don’t care.

It wasn’t until I began drowning myself in all these trendy blogs and the black hole that is Pinterest that I really became concerned with this. Here’s what’s been going on in my brain:

Crap. I don’t know anything about fashion. I’m not a real girl. I’m not a good wife. And now I’m pregnant! I’m going to be that embarrassing mom! The one who dresses frumpy all the time! My kid is already hating me for this! But why doesn’t it come easily to me? Why don’t I look at things on hangers in stores and put outfits together? Why can’t I do it? Am I deficient? Did I miss out on some lady fashion gene?

It’s sad that I panic about these things while there are children in Rwanda who die before they’re three. But alas, I do. I panic about my appearance so much so that on more than one occasion, I’ve walked into my closet and thumbed through all 100 of my t-shirts and my eyes have welled up with hot tears.

I must look so stupid!

Well. Maybe I do. You know what, though? Maybe it doesn’t matter.

My friend Nathan (who also happens to be a middle-namer like me, shout out!) did an experiment where he wore the same shirt for 365 days. Granted, Nathan isn’t a girl awash in a sea of trendy wife/mom blogs, but he is a person who recognizes the importance society puts on outward appearances. So, without telling many people, he conducted a little social experiment. (You can read about Nathan’s experiment here.)

Spoiler alter: he lived.

Okay. So maybe I’m overreacting a little bit. Maybe the world will continue spinning if I wear t-shirts and jeans. Maybe it’s not the apocalypse of I don’t have the time to curl my hair in the morning or coordinate patterns (is that what you do with patterns? Coordinate them? I don’t even know.) Maybe life will go on, even if I choose to wear the same shirt for 365 days.

Maybe.

my new life as a “plus-sized” woman.

It’s taken me several years to get to this place, but I’m pretty comfortable as a size 10.

I’ve been this size since the beginning of college and I know that it’s not the skinniest  size by any means, but it’s average-ish. It’s not model skinny or plus-sized. It’s right in the middle, I think, and I am happy there. A 10 is perfect for my body build. I feel comfortable. I feel healthy. I feel good.

But as my luck would have it, my days as a non-plus-sized woman are now over. And no, it’s not because I’m pregnant; at 14 weeks, I’m still rocking these snug 10s. It’s because that, according to the fashion industry, anything size 6 and up is now considered plus-sized.

What?

I’ve been buying size 10 clothes for the past eight years and never once have my clothes been labeled as a “plus size.” I’ve also never known any of my size 6 friends to experience this, either. Nor my size 12 friends, for that matter.

Do you know the last time I wore a size 6? You probably don’t because, well, you probably haven’t known me to EVER wear a size 6.

The last time I wore a size 6 was in the SEVENTH GRADE.

What would you do if your 13-year-old daughter stumbled upon the misinformation that her size 6 jeans meant that, despite the obvious fact that she wasn’t done growing or maturing or developing yet, she was already considered “plus-sized?” What is this nonsense?

Here’s a video of some CrossFit athletes (many of them a size 6 and above) giving their reactions to this ridiculous claim.

I don’t care if a size 10 is somehow now considered a plus size. That doesn’t matter to me. What matters is how healthy I am and how good and beautiful I feel. No arbitrary number conjured up by a twisted industry can steal that away from me.

overly photoshopped and blatantly untrue diet advertisements in japan.

Maybe it has something to do with being a naive, ethnocentric American (sorry, I’m a bit patriotic after last night’s politically charged television lineup) but I find myself frequently falling into the trap that says that self-image issues only span our borders and no one else’s. When I get on my soapbox, raise my fists, and go on verbal rampages against “society,” I’m usually referring to American society, because I really don’t know much else. (I mean, I did live in London for almost a year but that doesn’t really hold a candle to the other 25 I’ve lived in the States.)

All that to say, a good friend of mine sent me a link to this article about diet advertisements in Japan. Yes. You heard me right. Diet. Advertisements. In. Japan.

When was the last time you looked at a Japanese woman and was like, “Dang, that girl needs to lose some WEIGHT?”

I don’t know about you, but I honestly have never uttered those words. Maybe I’ve just been uncharacteristically lucky enough to only lay eyes on super thin Japanese people (I mean that in the nicest I hate you for being so naturally small but not really I actually love you and will you please make some babies because all of you are so adorable it’s too much to handle way possible) but I honestly feel as though the Japanese are just, on average, a smaller group of people than we Americans.

Ugh. I keep feeling like Im going to get a slew of, “You’re a big fat racist!” comments. I swear I’m not! I voted for Obama!

Anyway. None of this is the point.

THE POINT IS.

The pictures and numbers in the article. Holy hell.

If you’re like me, and you can’t read Japanese, let me do some translating for you.

The women in these ads (who are, as you can plainly see, the unfortunate victims of some of the most atrocious Photoshopping jobs I’ve ever laid eyes on) have apparently dropped up to 60.7 kilograms (which, if you are doing the math in your head and you’re a bit stumped, is about 133.4 pounds) in 60 days.

SIXTY DAYS? As in, TWO MONTHS? A hundred and thirty pounds in TWO MONTHS?

Does anyone believe this is at ALL possible, least of all HEALTHY?

Somehow, these diet ads are trying to convince their readers (who, by the way, ARE YOUNG GIRLS, of course) that these little women lost the equivalent of a eighth-grade-sized Lindsay in TWO MONTHS? And, furthermore, that they needed to lose that much weight in the first place?

I am speechless. If nothing else, this article proves that the diet industry is deceptive, evil, and (evidently) thinks we’re all just a drooling pile of schmucks who can’t tell the difference between an overly photoshopped toothpick and the normal-sized person she once was. While I thankfully have yet to stumble across an advertisement of this caliber in the states, it still puts me on alert to all other diet ads out there.

Remember what your good pal Lindsay has said about pictures in magazines: 99% of them are Photoshopped. You cannot believe what you see (or even read, in this case.)

Check out the rest of the article and scroll through the mind-blowing pictures here.

tuesday tip — don’t get mad; get talkative.

My husband has recently started pointing out my passion for justice. I didn’t know what that meant until I saw this article and immediately demanded an explanation as to why no one has arrested and/or murdered this Sarah Burge woman yet.

The article, in case you don’t feel like reading it, reports that Burge, a woman in Britain (commonly referred to as “Human Barbie” because of her obsession with plastic surgery) gave her seven-year-old daughter a gift certificate for breast augmentation on her most recent birthday and a voucher for liposuction at Christmas. Even more alarming than these so-called “gifts” is the fact that she’s also convinced her daughter that wanting these things is completely normal and that it’s okay to hate the way you were made and to do something unnatural and harmful in order to change.

When I read this article, I got mad. Really mad. And I don’t like getting mad. As a matter of fact, I feel guilty when I get mad, because (like I previously stated) I crave justice and start wishing terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things on these people. For instance, after reading that article, I had vivid visions of setting this woman’s face on fire and letting all of the plastic melt off BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT SHE DESERVES, but then I stopped myself, took a breath, and reevaluated the situation.

The truth is, the reason this story is news worthy is because it’s absolutely absurd and, thankfully, I’m not the only one who knows it.

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: DON’T GET MAD, GET TALKATIVE.

As easy as it was for me to get mad at this article and the wretched woman about whom it was written, what good does that do? Absolutely none whatsoever. If anything, it just makes me look like a crazy lunatic screaming at my computer screen and pulling my hair out.

If it’s not an article about a sick woman with a sadly misguided daughter, it’s an overly Photoshopped model in a magazine for young girls. Or an onslaught of diet commercials after the holidays. Or a group of teenage girls verbally bashing their bodies in a Hollister dressing room.

Take your burning anger over these things and turn it into a conversation — with colleagues, friends, family, little girls, whatever. Drawing attention to the fact that things like giving a seven-year-old girl a voucher for plastic surgery causes people to think deeply about the state of our society. And thinking can turn into questioning which can turn into change. The most dangerous thing we could do about all of this injustice in the world is keep quiet about it. We might not be able to take justice into our own hands, but maybe we could be the catalyst for reformation.

body love.

If you ever want a good, interesting read about women’s issues, check out Rachel Hills’ blog, Musings of an Inappropriate Woman. She writes a lot of really hit-the-nail-on-the-head articles that make me pump my fist in the air and say, “YES! GO GIRL! GO US!”

Today she posted a guest article that, while not written by her, offers up the same feelings. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve uttered most of the words written here before.

Guest post: Body love

I’m sick to the back teeth of girls who look perfectly fine talking about how they hate their ‘flabby’ thighs or their (non-existent) love handles. It’s simply attention seeking and fishing for compliments. Just because you feel bad, doesn’t mean everyone else should. We’ve done this as a society, made women feel as though they can’t just be happy and confident and accept their bodies because there are too many women who don’t. Self esteem is to do with your self, don’t try to get everyone on that sinking ship with you. No amount of me saying how much I hate my pinky toe is gonna make you feel better about what you have going on. Let’s just all get real.

Seriously! Let’s get real.