friday favorite: going from amber to julia.

DISCLAIMER: If you don’t watch Parenthood on NBC, this post probably won’t make any sense to you. If you don’t, here’s a fun guide to the cast to keep you up to speed. 
Pro tip of the day: Watch
Parenthood because it’s great. 

I’ve been catching up on Parenthood, NBC’s heart-warming and gut-wrenching drama all about family, on Netflix over the past couple weeks. When I first got into the show a couple years ago, I instantly felt a connection to Sarah Braverman and her rogue, outspoken daughter Amber, for all the obvious reasons: being a single mom, Sarah’s interactions with Amber reminded me a lot of the interactions I had with my own mom growing up; being the daughter of a drug-addicted absentee father, I could see a lot of my own angst and, shall we say, “colorful” language played out on screen; Amber and Sarah are freaking hilarious sometimes and so am I (humble, too, I might add) and are, quite frankly, hot messes sometimes. (FUN BONUS: Amber is also a musician and Sarah, we find out in season 2, is a also writer! So there’s that!)

I guess the connection was obvious to my husband as well because, after witnessing a rather passionate monologue by Amber, Dan turned to me and said, “Wow, I didn’t know you wrote for this show.”

That prompted me to rattle off all the reasons it was so scary to watch Amber and Sarah on TV because it was like watching myself. But then Dan said something really surprising to me.

“You’re more like Julia, actually.”

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His comment made me scoff at first.

Julia, Sarah’s sister and Amber’s aunt, is very different from Amber and Sarah. She’s been described by other characters on the show as, quote, “a little intense”. She’s a busy lady, what with being a successful lawyer by day and trying SO HARD it almost HURTS to be a perfect mom by night. Her husband Joel — a stay-at-home dad to their daughter Sydney — is much quieter than she, a bit subdued I’d say, but is completely adored by her and is head over heels for her.

At first, I struggled to find anything in common with Julia. But as the episodes wore on, I started to see what he was talking about. I am a working mom. Dan is a work-from-home dad. I have been described as “intense”. I am louder, probably to a fault, than he. In all of these ways, I mirror Julia. But Dan’s point was proven at one point during season 2 when we watched an exchange between the two of them that we swear we’ve had in the past.

There is no doubt that I used to be a hot mess like Amber. Maybe even as hot of a mess as Sarah. And I’ve been pretty reluctant to relinquish that identity because it defined me for so long. But now, I’m Julia. I’m kind of put together, but not without my own obvious junk. And that gives me hope for Amber’s character (no spoilers, please — still working through season 3!).

active listening: “crossroads” by sarah mac band.

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I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s something voyeuristic about consuming art created by your friends. I never know how to really navigate it. It’s like you go over to their house while they’re on vacation and rummage through their memory boxes and try to fill in the blanks on your own. It’s beautiful, and raw, but also super sketchy. (Hey, many of you may feel the same when you read my blog! Like, isn’t it weird that you guys get insight into my life without actually hearing it come out of my mouth? Come on, admit it — how many of you stalkers have never actually met me but know my kid’s name? No judgement here, y’all! Just keepin’ it real.)

Anyway. Today’s active listening comes from a band which is comprised of three (sometimes four, when the need for violin or SLEIGH BELLS arises) of my friends. Because I’m creepy like that. This song, “Crossroads” on the album Static and Signals by Sarah Mac Band, has wrecked me since I first laid ears on it. (Don’t be a chump — drop some cash for the album here because OH JUST DO IT, IT’S WORTH IT, I SWEAR.)

Most of the lyrics speak to a younger me, a me that was, for lack of a better term, a hot f-ing mess. And while I’m not there anymore, there are elements of my hot f-ing mess of a past that have weaseled their way into my otherwise completely well-adjusted present and have reminded me of the “crossroads” from whence I came.

I was too young to consider such things as a healthy dose of caution and fear /

I was set on an adventure and how my life would change by things bound to happen there

Five years ago I was standing at a crossroads. I could go one way, a way of the familiar hot mess, or go somewhere completely different and just kind of see what would happen.

So I chose the adventure. I randomly moved to a foreign country.

Sadly, it was not, like the song later suggests, to “save souls for Jesus”. It was to, ultimately, enhance my academic career and, um, oh yeah, mendmyverybrokenheartBUTWHATEVERwedontgottatalkaboutthat.

I knew it wasn’t a financially sound decision; I had my college education paid for (for the most part) by scholarships and grants and would need to take out a butt-ton of loans in order to do it. But something deep within my soul screamed out, You have to do this! You have to go! Don’t ask why now — just go! You’ll know why later. 

I didn’t know it then, but packing “my shit” (a lyrical mention, both in the literal and figurative sense) and hauling my butt across an ocean for a time would end up being the best thing to ever happen to me. The girl I was before I left — heartbroken, reliant on others for validation, battling an eating disorder — died a quiet death on the stoop of 99 Great Russell Street in the heart of London. Her scent is still heavy in the dark tunnels of the tube, but she is but a distant and, thankfully, faded memory.

Fast forward to today: I have a perfectly full heart, a beautiful family, a steady job, a strong community… and all of these things are pretty solid. Pretty stagnant. I’m not really at a crossroads anymore. Rather, I’m on the freeway using cruise control. But others around me, others very close to me, are standing at their own respective crossroads.

New relationships.

New opportunities.

New jobs.

New locations. 

So much newness. So much uncertainty.

But if there is one thing I know, it’s that the refrain of the song is so true.

It’s funny how we don’t know then the weight of what we’re choosing at the crossroads.

Five years ago I intentionally chose to embark on a journey wrought with isolation and uncertainty. That, in and of itself, is beautiful. But it’s what I unintentionally chose that is even better.

Health.

Rebirth.

A fresh perspective.

Self-love.

And so, dear friends. I urge you to not be afraid of the crossroads at which you find yourself. I’m certain that, even if you don’t know it yet, the direction in which your heart tugs you will be the one that offers up the best possible scenario for you. Even if you don’t realize it until years later.

It’s funny how we don’t know then the weight of what we’re choosing at the crossroads.

active listening: “shelter” by jars of clay.

A few of my blogger friends write about the songs that influence their lives on a daily basis, so I thought I’d give it a try today because this song has been the fragile thread holding me together for the better part of two weeks. I’ve written about this song before, but it tends to be my go-to tune to pour into my brain whenever I come into times of self-doubt, loneliness, and fear. I’ve been violently thrust into the throes of these emotions lately, and so I’ve been trying to actively seek refuge in art to effectively surf these unrelenting waves of pain.

Monday, I believe, I pulled this song up on my iPhone, stuck my earbuds in, and pressed the “repeat” button and let myself fall into it.

When I got into my car, I plugged my phone into the auxiliary port and turned the volume all the way up and actually worshiped. Like, for really real worshiped. In my car. With my eyes closed (only at stop lights, of course) and hands raised.

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It’s now Thursday, and I’m still here in this space, running down my phone battery in the name of spiritual health.

The melody is simple, but I wouldn’t call it catchy. It’s not a song that, in my opinion, is easily “stuck” in your head. I think you have to intentionally put it there (as opposed to the likes of “Call Me Maybe”, for example) and I’ve been trying to do just that. The words are small, uncomplicated, and unobtrusive, but extremely powerful in times of defeat.

To all who are looking down / holding on to hearts still wounding
For those who have yet to find it / the places near where love is moving
Cast off the robes you’re wearing / set aside the names that you’ve been given
May this place of rest / in the fold of your journey / bind you to hope / we will never walk alone
In the shelter of each other / we will live / we will live
And Your arms are all around us…

God has given us each other / and we will never walk alone

Whenever I discover a really great record, I listen to it to death. I remember when Plans by Death Cab for Cutie came out, I put the disc (what is this “disc” I speak of?) in my dashboard CD player and listened to it whenever I drove for the better part of eight months. The boy I was in love with at the time found this irritating.

“You always listen to the same songs,” he lamented. “You’re so boring.”

Maybe he was right. Maybe I’m boring. But I’d like to think that, as a writer and a musician, I happen to understand the power of words and music and that I intentionally expose myself — albeit repeatedly — to the good stuff because good art has the ability to, if you let it, seep deep within your DNA. To become a part of you for the rest of your life. There are still pieces of Plans, for example, that, whenever I hear them, bring me back to that time when I was “boring”. With the opening riff of “Soul Meets Body” I can still feel the hot, sticky summer air flooding my Mazda 626 and I can still smell the mold in my tiny student apartment. I can remember what it felt like to know that my soul and my body were, in fact, different things and I can remember being in love and not exactly knowing why.

By listening to the simple, repetitive, beautiful words and music of “Shelter”, I can feel hugs from my husband and scruffy, hasn’t-shaved-in-a-few-days forehead kisses. I can see encouraging text messages from my pastor. I can feel a smile creep across my face at the sight of any one of my amazing friends. I can feel the warmth of God’s embrace. I can actually feel grace. I can feel this grace I read about and know that it is real.

Our tears aren’t ours alone / let them fall into the hands that hold us.

Let them! Let them! 

And Your arms are all around us / and we will never walk alone.

The last words of the song are “never walk alone”, not preceded by the “and we will” part.

To someone who is listening to that song for the first time, it may seem that it is one last mention of the very repetitive refrain. But to someone like me, who has listened to the song so many times that it is almost white noise  — someone “boring”, I guess — I see it as an intentional call to action by the lyricist.

Never walk alone.

Yes, God gives us a shelter. He gives us community in which to do life. But it is up to you to seek it out, to intentionally grab people in your life and boldly ask them to walk alongside you. Even when it is hard. Even when you are hard to love, you have GOT to let yourself be loved because, damnit, that’s what this grace thing is all about.

pop singers don’t eat.

In recent days, Lady Gaga has come into the spotlight for, ahem, “letting herself go” and gain some weight. Media outlets, like they tend to do, have criticized her new “fuller” (I put all these words in quotes because GOOD GOD SHE LOOKS BLOODY NORMAL) figure. To defend herself, she posted a couple pictures of herself online in her underwear with the caption, “Bulimia and anorexia since I was 15.”

 

Now, all of a sudden, people are coming up alongside Gaga to aid her in her new found quest to spread body image positivity and courage.

Yayyyy, right?

Bleh. Yes? I guess? But here’s what pisses me off about the whole thing.

I used to love Lady Gaga. I would dance like a damn fool whenever her songs came on the radio or in the clubs. My husband and I bought her newest record (which was disappointing, honestly) the day it came out. I can’t remember another artist for whom I went out of my way to purchase their stuff on the drop date. (Okay, there’s Hanson, but they don’t count because I buy their stuff BEFORE the drop date. Obviously.) But I stopped supporting her cold turkey recently.

You see, all of you are late to the “Lady Gaga Has An Eating Disorder” Party. We were all invited to that party years ago and I guess no one but me noticed her invitation to it… despite it being on Twitter. 

I stopped supporting Lady Gaga because she tweeted about eating a salad with the hashtag #PopSingersDontEat. It was almost like she was proud of it, like she knew she was “better” than the rest of us for foregoing calories in the name of thinness. I didn’t want to support anyone, ESPECIALLY anyone who women (and girls!) across the globe looked up to, who would publicly advocate such unhealthy behavior.

Because I struggled with an ED, I know that her tweet, and the thought process behind it, had ED written all over it. The desire for validation. The absurdity. The stubbornness. The emptiness. Everything about her tweet SCREAMED, “Help. I have an eating disorder,” but only NOW, when we actually see Lady Gaga give her ED a name, do we feel sorry for her?

Why is it that a tweet that LITERALLY STATES one is refusing food just gets swept under the rug, while a picture that states, in lesser words, I DON’T EAT FOOD actually gets your attention? It’s the same thing! Is it the sheer fact that now, a medical term — anorexia and bulimia — is tied to the behavior? If so, that’s horribly sad, because think of all the people who are currently suffering from eating disorders without diagnoses.

I was one of them. For those of you who know my story, you know I suffered from an eating disorder for TWELVE YEARS before being diagnosed. Twelve. Years.

After Gaga’s original tweet, that’s when we should have been rallying up alongside Gaga for body positivity! We should have tweeted back at her that nothing is worth damaging your body for, especially not thinness. We should have tweeted back at her the truth that she’s fearfully and wonderfully made. But we didn’t.

I didn’t.

Had Twitter been around back in the days I was knee deep eating disorder hell, I’m almost positive I would have tweeted something about how a Pepsi One (yep, throw back) totally counts as a legitimate lunch option. And you know what? I would have secretly hoped that someone, anyone, would tweet back at me, “Please, eat something more than that. You’re beautiful. You deserve to treat yourself better.”

Don’t get me wrong — I’m glad Lady Gaga is doing what she’s doing. I think she’s a beautiful woman, inside and out, who, like a lot of us, has been tricked by society to believe that her worth is only skin deep. And I’m not mad at her for doing this all of a sudden. What makes me mad is that THIS IS NOT NEWS. Poor Gaga practically threw a Hail Mary pass on Twitter asking for help and no on caught it. But now, she’s in the end zone doing a dance after rushing for a touchdown in her underwear, and NOW we’re paying attention?

Welcome to the party.

i’ll have curves with a side of bones, please. hold the cellulite.

Well, readers. I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news.

The good news is that it seems as though the outrage against society’s “thin ideal” is finally being recognized. Magazine photo editors have finally gotten the message and have stopped Photoshopping images of women down to impossibly skinny frames.

The bad news is that instead of Photoshopping women to look skinnier, now editors are adding fake curves. According to the lovely ladies at Beauty Redefined, curvy is the new skinny, but only in places curves are “allowed.”

Sigh. SO CLOSE, YOU GUYS. SO CLOSE AND YET, SO FAR.

Seriously, people? The problem isn’t that images of women have been manipulated to look thin. The problem is that images of women (and men, for that matter) are being manipulated at all. I’ve been dying for magazine photo editors to get this through their heads and with this new revelation, I feel like I’ve spent the better part of my life begging my parents for a puppy, and they just finally agreed to get me one. Only they came home with a beat up Pound Puppy they found at the local Goodwill and hoped it would pass.

And so. Here we are again singing the same song reinforcing the idea that one body type is better than all the others. Where it used to be impossibly skinny, now it’s impossibly curvy; that is, thin all over except where curves are acceptable (boobs and butt, essentially).

As someone who falls in the “curvy” category (or plus-sized, if you can believe it) I’ve always wished that I could have this exact body type — thin everywhere, but with killer boobs and a butt. But even when I was starving myself into misery, I still had the body type I do: curvy, even in the spots where it’s not acceptable (bigger arms, bigger thighs, and so on). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation with another girl about how we wish we could switch body parts with each other so we could fit the ideal.

ME: Ugh, I hate how big my boobs are. I wish I was skinny all over like you.

FRIEND: Whatever! I wish I had your shape and actually looked the way a woman is supposed to look!

ME: But we’re all ‘supposed to be’ skinny like you.

FRIEND: Yeah, but with big boobs like you!

I wasn’t born knowing that there is a “right” way to look and a “wrong” way to look. I was taught it from a very young age. Sadly, I was also taught that, thanks to Photoshop in the media, the “right” way to look is also the “impossible” way to look.

Either it’s being so skinny that you’d have to have most of your rib cage removed…

 

Or it’s extremely curvy, but only in the places that curves are accepted.

And if you don’t look like this? Well, it’s no one’s fault but your own because you’re the only one not working hard enough.

To learn more about this stupid new trend in Photoshopping, click here to read the article by Beauty Redefined.

mirror, mirror…

I’ve always been obsessed with my reflection, in both good and bad ways. When I was a kid, my mom caught me smiling at my reflection in the mirror once, and I was so embarrassed. (Nowadays if I were to see a small girl do that I’d love it. I was mortified, though.) And now, if I so much as walk past a glass-covered building, my eyes automatically attach themselves to my reflection, usually for several seconds, just to make sure I still look presentable and am not walking funny or anything. I’ve even found myself having a conversation with someone while walking past my reflection and completely tuning them out while I ogle myself. Bleh.

This week, two of my friends sent me a link to the same story — the story of Kjerstin Gruys, a woman who avoided looking at herself in the mirror for an entire year.

You can read the story here but, in a nutshell, Kjerstin spent the better part of her life fighting an eating disorder. After years of therapy, she finally beat her ED. Later, she got engaged and began planning her wedding. While dress shopping, she found herself thinking the damaging thoughts associated with disordered eating and, rather than subjecting herself to the temptation to fall into old habits, she decided to avoid mirrors altogether.

Yes, even on her wedding day.

When I first read this story, I had conflicting feelings: first, I felt ecstatic for her. What an amazing, liberating thing. But then, I felt convicted. Ashamed of myself and my own addiction to my reflection and the fact that I didn’t think to do it first.

And I thought not straightening my hair for 40 days was a big deal!

When I got married, I got ready in a room with no mirrors (the church nursery). I distinctly remember feeling a sense of anxiety about not being able to give myself the once over before walking down the aisle. How silly — the happiest day of my life spent worrying about whether or not I look okay? (And, as if my Christian, children’s pastor of a husband even gave a crap? Let’s be real, y’all; I could have walked down the aisle in a paper bag and he would have said, “I do” anyway, so long as I took the paper bag off later. Blatant inferences intended.)

As a brand new mom, I haven’t had much time to look in a mirror, let alone analyze my appearance in one. Through this process, I’ve come to realize how truly fleeting and insignificant my looks are. This point was proven when just a week after delivering, one of my TV reporter friends (I used to work in TV news, by the way) was doing a story on breastfeeding and texted me to ask if she could come over to interview me. Without thinking, I agreed, and she told me she’d be over in 15 minutes. Then it hit me — I couldn’t remember the last time I’d brushed my teeth, showered, or changed clothes. And here I was, about to be filmed for television.

My apathy was amazing. You should have seen it. I only changed clothes and brushed my hair because I thought I was doing those in our viewing area a favor. I couldn’t have cared any less about my appearance because my new baby was happy, healthy, and fed. Oh, and I’d gotten to nap that day, too. (Priorities, people. Motherhood changes them.) My baby boy had become my mirror; the way he thinks of me — with blind love and dependence — is the way I’m learning to look at myself.

Instead of a new baby, Kjerstin focused on her new husband as her mirror. His thoughts about her were all she needed to engage with. In an interview, she said that, when he looked at her, he saw all the things he loved, not the things he wanted to change. And she wanted to look at herself that way, too. By removing mirrors from her life, she was able to look inside herself and see everything she has going for her. (Appropriately enough, her first dance with her husband was to the song, “I’ll Be Your Mirror”. How perfect, right?)

I’ve actually considered giving up looking in the mirror for Lent before. But I’ve never done it. Just like giving up social media, I’ve always assumed that avoiding mirrors would be “virtually impossible” so there’s no use in trying.

Psh. If one girl can do it for a year — the year in which she gets married — I can do it for 40 days. Maybe I will…

Thanks for your inspiration, Kjerstin! You truly are beautiful, inside and out.

why are we rooting for someone like don draper?

I’ve gotten a lot of gifts as a new mom. Nipple cream, breast pads, gift cards, onesies… but if I had to pick one thing all new moms should have it would be  this:

Netflix.

If I have done one thing pretty much constantly since giving birth, it’s breastfeed. But if I’ve done two things pretty much constantly, it’s breastfeed and watch things on Netflix. Every new mom should be gifted a subscription to Netflix streaming. (Nipple cream, too.)

Currently, I’m about halfway through the second season of Mad Men. I’d never seen it before because we never had AMC, and a large majority of my friends are really into it, so I felt like I was left out of some exclusive club.

But not anymore! Several years later, I’m finally at the party, y’all. Will someone take my coat and hand me a cig?

I know what you’re thinking: Lindsay is going to blog about all the horrible, misogynist themes of the show. How predictable.

Well, the joke’s on you! That’s not what I’m going to blog about! That’s too easy. While it’s true that, based on the content of the show, women must have been treated pretty poorly in the 60s (and evidently all married men screwed around on their wives, most likely because Internet porn wasn’t invented yet) that’s not why I’m blogging about Mad Men. 

I guess I have to give props to the show because it makes me feel things I don’t want to feel. It makes me uneasy. It makes me question things. I’ve sent out a handful of texts and tweets over the past few days asking real, honest questions about why in the hell are we rooting for Don Draper? 

Being that I’m only a season and a half deep in this thing, I’m not entirely sure why we want to pull for a protagonist that lies, steals, and cheats his way through life. But so far, this is what I gather.

Don is running from a supremely dark past. And, I’d argue, a lot of us have that in common with him.

Even though it feels like I’m the only person on the planet who hadn’t seen Mad Men, maybe there are other people out there who have yet to get into this series. So I won’t spoil anything for all two of you out there. But I will say this: as bleak and twisted as you think your past is, I guarantee you that Don Draper’s is far worse.

Today, I accidentally hurt my child for the first time. Not bad, mind you. But it happened. While he was nursing, I accidentally drug my fingernail across his nose. No blood was drawn. No mark was even left. But it made him stop feeding so he could scream. It made me so sad. And, because I’m about 3 weeks postpartum and still constantly chugging a deadly hormone cocktail, I started panicking over the future counseling bills I’d be footing for him to work out his mommy issues. But this instance reminded me that once people are outside of the womb, they are exposed to all kinds of awful things. Pain. Disappointment. Lies. Sadness. Things we might want to run from later.

I am not without those things.

I spoke with my brother on the phone today. We talked about some things that I’m running from at present. Feeling at one with Mr. Draper, which is a bit unsettling, it gave me something to think about.

How do we take the best from our past experiences and leave the rest in the dust?

My eating disorder being a part of my past is definitely bad. It’s embarrassing, sad, and damaging. But it is also good — it reminds me that I was able to overcome something that had such a strong hold on me. It being a part of my past gives me hope for the future.

I don’t know that Don can say the same thing about his past, but I can only hope that as the seasons progress, he lands at that conclusion. (I’m not all that hopeful of that, to be honest, but no spoilers anyway!)

julia bluhm vs. seventeen.

I think I’ve mentioned Julia Bluhm before, but I couldn’t find it when I searched my blog archives for all of 0.5 seconds. At any rate, this amazing little middle-schooler has done something incredible. While I, a 20-something blogger in Florida, sit down and piss and moan on the Internet about how magazine companies shouldn’t Photoshop models or celebrities in order to protect impressionable youth, Julia is actually doing something about it. 

This amazing 8th grader was sick of hearing girls in her ballet class complain about being fat, so she started a petition to get Seventeen Magazine to stop misrepresenting women in their publication by publishing at least one unaltered photo an issue. Some 84,000 (yes, you read that number right) signatures later, the unthinkable happened — she won and then some.

According to this article from Think Progress, Seventeen agreed to her terms, but they even went a step further. The magazine offered to start representing girls and women from all shapes and sizes without using Photoshop on their bodies at all. (They did say, however, that they’d still use Photoshop to edit away wrinkles in clothes and flyaway hairs.)

Here’s a picture of their new Body Peace Treaty, alongside a picture to illustrate what to expect from Seventeen going forward:

And, if you click here, you’ll see a Body Peace Pledge that is posted on Seventeen‘s website to which girls can add their signatures. I particularly love the first statement (“I vow to remember that the sun will still rise tomorrow even if I had one too many slices of pizza or an extra scoop of ice cream tonight.”) and the last statement (“I vow to accept that beauty isn’t just about my looks. It’s my awesome personality and my energy that creates a whole, unique package.”)

Hear, hear!

Oh. And don’t think Julia’s done yet. She’s developed another petition to get Teen Vogue to follow in Seventeen‘s footsteps.

I can’t deny how giddy this makes me. Assuming Seventeen sticks to its word, this will be huge for the self-love movement and for young girls worldwide. However, I’m trying to curb my enthusiasm for fear of being let down later. I mean, if they’re still using Photoshop to smooth away wrinkles, what’s to keep an editor from discreetly splicing an arm or a boob or something?

No matter. For now, we have their word. And furthermore, we have proof that we are actually being heard. 

Great job, Julia! I wish we could all be as strong and badass as you are.

double standards for objectification — thoughts on “magic mike”.

This weekend I found myself in a really bizarre position.

My husband and I were sitting on our couch talking, and while I was droning on about something, he was mindlessly scrolling through his Facebook feed on his phone. In the middle of one of my sentences, he let out a big, dramatic sigh.

“My friend just posted on Facebook about how she’s going to see Magic Mike and is just so excited about it.”
“Yeah, I’ve been meaning to blog about Magic Mike,” I replied, “so I’ll probably go see it. You know, for research.”
“Do you really need to see it for research? I mean, you know what it’s about.”
“Yeah, but I want to form an educated opinion,” I offered.
“No, you just want to go see someone you wish I looked like.”

Source: IMDB

Whoa. Pump the brakes there, Dan. You’re not allowed to be insecure about your body. I have a patent on that. That’s my job and you have no right to feel that way. I can drool over hot dudes all day and you need to be comfortable enough in your own skin to let me do that. 

Wait.

By the way, to catch you up in the event that you’ve been living under a rock: Magic Mike is a film in which Channing Tatum plays a stripper. That’s all I know about it. I assume there is some semblance of a plot, but honestly, who cares? It’s Channing Tatum! Stripping! No redemptive quality (read: art) required!

Like Dan’s, my Facebook feed is also all a-flutter with my friends posting about staring at a mostly-naked Channing Tatum for 110 minutes. And I mean, who could blame them? That sounds like it can’t be a bad way to spend a Saturday night, especially if you fork over the big bucks to see his junk in 3D.

I guess I can’t fault them for wanting to spend time gawking at a scantily clad man (whose abs are, to quote Emma Stone from Crazy, Stupid, Love, “basically photoshopped!”). Except for the fact that if this were a movie about a female stripper, we’d all be up in arms over it. 

Could you imagine what our Facebook/Twitter feeds would look like if it was Magic Melissa instead? Starring, oh I don’t know, Rachel McAdams or ScarJo? I can’t help but think that things would look just a tad bit different. I have a feeling that my girlfriends, the same ones publicly proclaiming their overactive salivary glands over Channing Tatum, would be disappointed that, yet,  another film has come out that hyper-sexualizes and objectifies women. How dare you, Hollywood. How dare you.

So why is it okay when it’s Channing Tatum? Why is it that we can objectify men without blinking but get pissed off when a female celebrity expresses some sort of sexual prowess, whether it be in a magazine or movie or what have you? And what about when a dude cat-calls us on the street? Typically, when this happens, we scoff, then publicly scorn the “damned media” and “society” for reinforcing the idea that objectifying women is okay.

Now. I’m not saying you’re a horrible person for wanting to see Channing Tatum strip. Please don’t get me wrong. I’d be lying (and also implying that the blood in my veins runs ice cold) if I said I wasn’t somewhat interested in seeing the movie. But what I am saying is that we can’t be pissed off about our men ogling over women in the media and then turn around and do the exact same thing. Either we love it, or we hate it. Either it’s acceptable or it isn’t. We can’t have our cake and eat it, too.

(Considering the subject matter, that’s a really awkward phrase to use. I apologize.)

What do you think about Magic Mike?

a “real” mid-life crisis.

Yesterday, CNN posted an interesting article about a lady named Diane Butrym. Diane, like many women, suffers from an eating disorder. Her story, however, is actually quite unique.

You see, she hasn’t been struggling with this since she was a child or teenager, like most of us do. She went half of her life eating-disorder free. She actually fell victim to the disease in her forties.

According to the article, the disorder was triggered by a series of health diagnoses and injuries, forcing her to back off from her once very active lifestyle. And so, presumably terrified of the ramifications of her body changing, she became consumed with ED.

I suppose the reason the article exists is because of the story’s novelty. Even though I’m someone whom I’d venture to say is pretty educated on the subject, this is the first I’ve heard of someone going through this at a stage in her life when she’s supposed to “have it all figured out”.

So. This begs the question: did she always have these tendencies? Or were they born simply out of the loss of “control” over her body?

The answer to that question doesn’t matter. The reality is that the eating disorder epidemic is way bigger than I think any of us could have imagined and, something (perhaps lots of somethings) is perpetuating it. To walk around complacent, going about our business as if nothing is wrong, is just as detrimental as the oppressive beauty standards in this country, if not more so.

Honestly, I feel like I can kind of relate with Diane. This week, I am entering my ninth month of pregnancy. Pregnancy, you could argue, is a “diagnosis” of sorts. (Granted, there’s  been nothing bad or complicated about this pregnancy, praise God, but you know what I mean. It is a “change” that will leave my body in a much different state than it was pre-“diagnosis”.)

The other day, I looked at my husband, whose weight is currently only eight pounds heavier than mine. With terror in my eyes I admitted, “I might weigh the same as you soon. Please don’t judge me.”
“Why would I ever judge you for gaining weight while pregnant with my son?”
“Because. It’s such a big number.”
“When have I ever cared about how much you weigh?”

He’s never cared. But as as I near my due date, I’ve subconsciously started panicking over ways I can shed the baby weight as fast and as effectively as possible after I give birth. Images of Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez and Jessica Simpson and Mariah Carey flash across my brain and I’m wracked with the reality that I’ll never look the way I did before I got pregnant, let alone as amazing as these celebrities do mere weeks after leaving the delivery room. I find myself thinking astronomical things, unattainable things, things I might never think if I lived on an island, completely devoid of any Photoshopped images of supermodels or celebrities in bikinis.

Maybe if I try X diet. Or eat Y way. Or be sure to exercise Z times a day. Maybe then I can shed the baby weight before I go back to work. Or in two weeks. Let’s shoot for two weeks. 

Because I know I’m prone to disordered eating and the thoughts that come along with it, I’ve been disciplined in asking for prayer and support from close friends during that transition time. But my heart goes out to Diane, and other people (not just women) who may find themselves in that situation. Older, supposedly wiser, yet still waking up to the dark sound of an eating disorder within their heads, trapping them in webs of self-loathing and lies.

What if Diane was on that island, devoid of pop culture and beauty standards? Would she still be suffering from this disorder? I’d bet no.

No one, especially Diane, will benefit from this unless we speak up and out about it. If we keep drawing attention to this problem, hopefully we can eventually stop it. It may seem futile, like trying to derail a mile-long freight train, but I believe it’s worth it.

Never stop telling those around you how precious and beautiful they are just as God made them. Scars and all. Diagnoses and all. Flaws and all. And, even more importantly, never stop telling yourself that.

As for me, I’m going to start by telling my big, round belly how wonderful and life-giving it is and how the number on the scale has no power over me, or my worth, or my happiness. My body is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. My son is healthy and strong and I can’t wait for my body’s grand finale — miraculously giving him to the world.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? Suddenly thinking unhealthy thoughts or committing unhealthy actions that you’ve never experienced before, triggered by a huge change in life?