beauty and torture.

The other day I was putting on make up in front of my husband. Usually I don’t do that because Dan hates when I wear makeup, so I like to keep up the guise that I don’t actually wear it by waiting until I’m alone to put on just a tad of concealer to cover my blemishes. But this time, we were both getting ready for an event we were going to together, so I had to lift the veil.

As I was taking the eyelash curler to my lids, I had some interesting thoughts to myself:

This kind of looks like a torture device. I wonder if Dan, or any other male who is unfamiliar with such an apparatus, thinks I’m torturing myself? 

Wait. As a matter of fact, curling my eyelashes IS pretty bizarre, whether it looks so or not. These little hairs aren’t even an inch long. Does anyone notice whether I use the curler or not? Come to think of it, if I catch my eyelid at just the WRONG angle, it absolutely IS torture! I’m torturing myself! Ah!

Why do we do such strange things to ourselves in the name of beauty?

Today I stumbled across something on the Internet that takes the torture-for-beauty cake (and doesn’t eat it, apparently):

Image via The Daily What

(From TDW) Disturbing Trend of the Day: In a last-gasp attempt to fit into the THE DRESS, desperate brides-to-be in the U.S. (like Jessica Schnaider, pictured) can now have a feeding tube inserted into their nose that provides a drip of liquid protein and fat (with no carbohydrates) through the esophagus into the stomach. The $1,500, 10-day treatment is effective: The tube delivers just 800 calories a day, and generally results in the loss of at least 10 percent of body weight — and perfect wedding pictures. But… ew?

This makes me so sad. And hurt. And angry. Mostly, though, it makes me want to put my two weeks’ notice in on life on this earth.

I think about all my close friends whom have gotten married recently. I think about my close friends who are talking about getting married soon. I think about my wedding almost three years ago. And my heart breaks into a thousand pieces just imagining any of them literally torturing themselves like this before the happiest day of their lives.

I never watch the show Mike & Molly, but last night it was on while Dan and I were doing chores. The subject matter of last night’s episode was Molly being on an unhealthy juice fast in order to drop several pounds in three weeks to fit into her wedding dress. Sigh. Granted, the moral of the episode was that what Molly was doing was turning her into a crazy person, not at all the person that Mike wanted to marry, but still — the mere fact that this was portrayed on television at all puts the idea into girls’ heads that you can’t possibly wear a wedding dress without obsessing over your weight first. And oh, ha ha ha, it’s a comedy, so let’s all laugh at how silly it is instead of talking about how serious and disturbing it is. Oh ha ha ha, CBS, you’re hilarious.

So how did we get here? How did we get from ha ha ha, silly sit coms about overweight people, to bloody feeding tubes?! Are you kidding me? When will the insanity stop?

Why, oh why, are we perpetuating this? Why are we continually sending out messages that this type of behavior is acceptable and normal? WAKE UP, WORLD. THIS ISN’T OKAY.

I have no more words to offer. Instead, here’s Internet phenom Jenna Marbles on diets, F words and all. Enjoy.

tuesday tip — less is more: on lent.

A few weeks ago, after coming to terms with the overwhelming reality that is the amount of space we lack in our tiny home and the fact that we’ll somehow have to accommodate another person come July, I went through my closet and dresser and collected three bags full of clothes (mostly t-shirts, naturally) and shoes I didn’t wear anymore to donate to Goodwill. I was prepared for the lump of old t-shirts I’d give away, but I couldn’t believe I was holding on to so many other obscure items that I  knew I’d never wear again. (Plaid booty shorts? Really? A WHITE DENIM MINI SKIRT? Seriously, who am I even kidding anymore? However, those items do pair nicely with a good t-shirt.)

Last night, I did the same thing with my makeup. I took all four (yes,  four) of my makeup bags and dumped them out on the floor. I pulled apart the items I desperately “need” (if one can “need” makeup, that is) to get by, and tossed the rest. Here’s what I have left after the great makeup purge of 2012:

A concealer stick, a powder compact, a near-empty tube of mascara, and one lip gloss. That’s. It. One item for every bag I had yesterday.

Is a part of me panicking? Not so much about the clothes (thanks, Nathan!) but as far as the makeup goes, yes. Absolutely. I have no doubt in my mind that I’ll purchase more (I mean, seriously, how will I survive without MAC’s seafoam green glitter eye shadow? That was a tough one to toss.) I don’t even have blush. I know that Becky, one of my best friends, is probably rolling her eyes at me right now because, I can hear her in my head, “You can’t just NOT wear blush, Lindsay Shaw!” 

I know, I know. But for the time being, I’m going to not wear blush. And it’s going to be okay.

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: LESS IS MORE.

The season of Lent is upon us (as in, starts TOMORROW, holy cow) and, for those of you not familiar with it, that means we’re entering a season of self-denial to gain some iota of an idea of the suffering Christ experienced for us, allowing us to grow closer to Him and celebrate His resurrection on Easter more earnestly. I suppose I’m a bit of a procrastinator (let’s just chalk that one up to pregnancy brain) but I’m still praying over what to “give up” this year. As many of you know, Lent always ends up changing my life: in 2010, a trip to the emergency room led me to swear off caffeine forever and last year, I learned to love the curly hair God gave me. Both of those were huge leaps in my journey toward self-love and holistic health, so I never take Lent lightly.

The fact that I haven’t chosen one “thing” to fast yet this year doesn’t mean that Lent is on the back burner for me. If anything, I’m more aware of the sacrifice of Lent since I’ve been sacrificing a whole heck of a lot (food, drink, sleep, money, moments of hormonal normalcy) ever since becoming pregnant. But, here’s the sitch: without getting too preachy, Lent is the perfect time of the year where we can look at the closets of our lives and pick out the white denim skirts and seafoam green eye shadows that are merely taking up valuable space where something greater — Someone greater — could live and enrich us.

Are you giving up anything for Lent?

uglies.

I used to hate on young adult fiction like it was my job, mostly because the only exposure I had to it was the Twilight series. (And before you’re all, “But Lindsay, you’re obsessed with Harry Potter,” I’ll have you know that I think that Harry Potter transcends “young adult” and is just “literature” or, more specifically, “a masterpiece.”)

But earlier in the year, Emily begged and pleaded for me to read The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. After a few months (and a handful of friends my age pushing me to read them) I finally caved and borrowed the books from a friend. I assumed it would be at least moderately enjoyable, but I didn’t anticipate loving the series. I thought it would be an easy, fun read and an equally accessible way for me to form a deeper connection with one of my students. The Hunger Games series turned my world upside down. The books were incredible. They instantly became my favorite series after Mr. Potter’s. So I guess I’m a YA convert now. (However, I would argue that because of the nature and content of the series, the only thing “young adult” about it would be its main characters. But. That’s irrelevant.)

After I finished The Hunger Games, Emily suggested I read The Uglies Series, comprised of four books (Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras) by Scott Westerfeld next. Because I was so deeply impressed by The Hunger Games, I didn’t even ask to borrow the books — I stormed a going-out-of-business sale at Borders and got all four of the books for $25. (Oh, side note: my birthday is in December and I still don’t own The Hunger Games series. I mean. Just a heads up.) Anyway. Here they are!

Emily didn’t go into much detail about the series. She gave me her 13-year-old-girl synopsis, which means she told me about the characters and why “they’re cool,” but as far as the overarching plot, she didn’t divulge much. (Perhaps she did that on purpose?) At any rate, I’m almost done with the first book and, while the writing is significantly less engaging than Suzanne Collins’ or J.K. Rowling’s (but certainly light years beyond Stephenie Meyer’s) the storyline is one that I am glad is geared toward teenagers.

According to Wikipedia:

Uglies is a 2005science fiction novel by Scott Westerfeld. It is set in a futurepost-scarcitydystopian world in which everyone is turned “Pretty” by extreme cosmetic surgery upon reaching age 16. It tells the story of teenager Tally Youngblood who rebels against society’s enforced conformity, after her new found friends Shay and David show her the downsides to becoming a “Pretty”. They show Tally how being a “Pretty” can change not only your look but your personality. Written for young adults, Uglies deals with adolescent themes of change, both emotional and physical.

I don’t want to give anything away (because you should read them!) but in the book, the reason everyone undergoes this operation to become “pretty” is because back in the “rusty” time (aka, present day) those who were considered “pretty” were treated better than those who were “ugly.” They got better jobs, better opportunities, and were respected more in society.

Right on!

Check out an excerpt from the book that literally made my jaw drop. Two of the characters, Tally and Shay, are flipping through “old” (again, present day) magazines, when they come across an overly airbrushed and dangerously thin underwear model:

“What on earth is she?”
“A model.”
“Which is what?”
“Kind of like a professional pretty. I guess when everyone else is ugly, being pretty is sort of, like, your job.”
“And she’s in her underwear because…?” Tally began, and then a memory flashed into her mind. “She’s got that disease! The one the teachers always told us about.”
“Probably. I always thought they made that up to scare us.”
Back in the days before the operation, Tally remembered, a lot of people, especially young girls, became so ashamed at being fat that they stopped eating. They’d lose weight too quickly, and some would get stuck and would keep losing weight until they wound up like this “model.” Some even died, they said at school. That was one of the reasons they’d come up with the operation. No one got the disease anymore, since everyone knew at sixteen they’d turn beautiful. In fact, most people pigged out just before they turned, knowing it would all be sucked away.
Tally stared at the picture and shivered. Why go back to this?

Um. Crazy, right? In this series, Westerfeld is straight-up challenging society’s view on beauty, and he’s doing so in front of an audience of those who are arguably the most deeply affected. I am extremely encouraged by this. For once, the media is actually doing something productive concerning the growing problem of self-image, eating disorders, and beauty standards in the world. I’m pretty stoked.

Have you read or seen anything lately challenging beauty standards?

tuesday tip — own it.

A week and some change ago, I got a sweet new necessary accessory. Or, as my husband so cleverly coined, a “necessory.” As a result of my ACL reconstruction surgery, for the next five weeks, I’ll be sporting an oh-so-sexy black hinged leg brace. I know I know I know. I’m so trendy. Black leg braces are the new nude legs, y’all. I’m telling you. This time next year, everyone will be doing it.

Okay. Maybe not. But for right now, this is what I’ve got.

Last week, fresh out of the hospital, I took up a  permanent residence on my sofa so I didn’t do much “dressing to impress,” if you will. (Unless, of course, you count sports bras, holey wifebeaters, and plaid boxer shorts the next big thing in fashion.) But at 7AM yesterday, my alarm went off signaling the time had officially come for me to actually get out of bed, get ready, and go out into civilization. Staring at my sad-looking brace-laden leg, I couldn’t help but feel sad. Weak, helpless, and (as screwed up as it is) unattractive and, therefore, a bit depressed.

I really don’t understand how people who live alone survive after knee surgery. There is a special kind of helplessness and humility associated with this kind of recovery. You don’t realize how precious and necessary your knees are until one of them doesn’t work. My husband has to help me do everything. I try to be as independent as I can, but the truth is, I can’t shower without his help. I can’t get dressed without his help. Oh, and my house is in complete disarray. A laundry bomb has exploded. The sink is full of dishes. The carpet is choking on cat hair and desperately crying out to be vacuumed. And there is just stuff everywhere. At this point, everything in my life seems to be out of control and (as I’m sure you can imagine) for someone recovering from an ED, all of this is very frustrating. Being out of control makes me want to do very insane things in order to regain control. (Breathe in, breathe out.)

However!

The fact of the matter is, I can’t do anything about this knee brace for another five weeks. I can’t “walk” (read: hobble) without it, lest my knee buckle under my weight and send me tumbling down, new ligaments re-tearing all over the place.  This brace and the limitations associated with it are part of me for now, as much as it pains me (ahaha I’m so punny.) So. Rather than focus on how much it royally sucks, I’m working it. I’m walking around like this brace is my answer to knee-high boots. The new fall craze! Since it’s black, I’ve been working a black-centric wardrobe. Black accents. Black accessories. Black prints. I love it!

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: OWN IT.

This reminds me of all the things I’ve hated about my body in the past. My big boobs. My small butt. My giant soccer player thighs. My weirdly distorted ballerina feet. Things that I’ve done insane, stupid, unhealthy things to try to change. If I would have put half as much effort into owning these things as I did trying to starve them away, I could have moved mountains, people. (And no, that’s not some weird Song of Solomon-esque boob pun. Or, rather, I suppose it’s not an intended one. Darn my innate cleverness.)

Whatever you’ve got, work it! Even if you want to change it, and are in the process of healthily transforming your body, don’t hate it where it’s at. Love it. Work it. If you’ve got bangin’ hips, don’t hide them. (Also, I’m mad jealous of you.) Play them up with fun curve-accentuating belts. If you’re, ahem, mountainous like me, have fun with layers and dimensions to spotlight those curves. Do whatever you want.

Just don’t try and change it in a hasty, unhealthy, dangerous way. If you “take off your brace,” if you will, it could be disastrous. You will fall, You will fail. You will be worse off than before. Work what you got, and take the constructive, albeit arduous, steps necessary to reach recovery,  full health, and self-love and I promise you, you will shine.

Cheers, beauties!