naked and unashamed.

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you might know that I was diagnosed with an eating disorder in 2007 and have since made it my mission to figure out how to love myself — inside and out — relentlessly. My blog has been instrumental on this journey. I’ve blogged my way through all sorts of self-love hangups, from navigating self-imposed pressures to be the perfect wife to finding my sexy.

I’m thankful to report that, in the past year, I haven’t had many reasons to turn to Ye Olde Blogue in order to make myself feel better about my self or my body. With God’s help (along with the assistance of my sweet husband and faithful mentors) I think that it’s safe to say that I’ve finally made peace with my own body and any chance of ED relapse is behind me.

However, regardless of my own personal growth, a recent chain of unsettling events has made me realize that this world is still, if I may be so bold as to say, effed sideways concerning the ways we women view ourselves:

+ My mom hasn’t had a nice picture of her taken in a while, so a few weeks ago she requested that I take one of her with my SLR. As soon as I was done she pleaded with me to Photoshop away some lines from her face.

+ During prayer requests at my bible study a week ago, a girl asked for a way for her to use her body to get ahead in life.

+ There are hundreds of leaders (male, of course) in the church community that have come out recently speaking against women for what they wear for being the cause of men to lust after them and even cheat on their wives. (Yes, read that again. The women are at fault for the men who cheat.)

+ Someone told me that of course I’m happy with my body because I’m beautiful. And there’s no way they can be happy because they’re not.

You know me — I can’t just sit back and not blog about how much these events (particularly the last one) infuriate me.

I’m currently fumbling my way through the book of Esther and trying to make sense of it; a story about a Jew girl who was integral to saving God’s chosen people because, quite frankly, some batshit crazy pseudo-king thought she was hot and, for that reason alone, wanted to “know” her. (This is, of course, the New Lindsay Translation of the story. I suggest you read it for your own context, even if you aren’t a believer.)

The other day, I hopped in the shower ever-so-quickly while my son was napping and gave myself the New-Mom-Speedy-Scrubdown, my ears tuned to the static sounds coming from the baby monitor in my bedroom. When I finished actually washing and found that, surprisingly, my child was still asleep, I stood very still and watched the streams of water race each other down my body.

For a while, I just stared blankly, sure my child would rouse any minute. But each second that passed with no sounds from the monitor, I would turn the COLD knob just a bit more toward the OFF position to allow the stream to increase in heat. As soon as my skin adjusted to the temperature change, I’d turn the knob just a little bit more.

I did this until the COLD knob was completely off and, though the water was scalding, my skin was comfortable (albeit considerably more pink).

Under the stream, my eyes surveyed my exterior and — as bizarre as it sounds — I marveled. I couldn’t believe that this vessel at which I was staring had done so much in its 27 years of life — danced its 10,000 hours, learned scales on the piano, grew and sustained another human life — and, yet, took the brunt of my own abuse for the better part of two decades. And then I thought about Esther.

And my mom.

And that girl from my bible study.

And men who blame their missteps on their victims.

And all the girls in this society that think their bodies are as deep as their worth goes.

And I got mad. Like. Really mad.

I think the main reason I got so mad is because I feel like I can’t do anything. I’m just one person in this giant effed up world and, as these recent events have pointed out, this issue is much bigger than me.

I said what I could say in bible study in order to encourage that girl. Ultimately I don’t know if anything I said made one bit of difference; I left feeling like something had been stolen from me. Perhaps that something was the notion that this problem is suddenly gone just because I’m not suffering from it anymore.

You know that played-out Goo Goo Dolls song from the 90s? You know, from the City of Angels soundtrack? Meg Ryan and that other dude? I can’t remember the name of it, but there is one line that sticks out to me:

“And you bleed just to know you’re alive.”

I think these events have served their purpose to cut me open and remind me that there is still work left to be done and that lots of people are still bleeding. And we’ve got to speak the truth to those people.

Because God knows no one else is going to.

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.

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?

your body: objectified.

Have you ever thought about why things are designed the way they are? Like, why does a pair of shears have a particularly shaped handle? And why does a chair look the way it does? Why are the keys on a keyboard shaped as such?

This weekend, some friends and I watched a documentary called Objectified that addresses the theory and beauty behind the design of objects. What the documentary shows (I think, anyway… I can’t be totally sure because I feel as though the film, as well as the other people that were in the room watching it, is infinitely more intelligent than I am) is that a lot of people don’t really give a lot of thought to why things look a certain way. They just use the products, completely unaware of the intricate and meticulous intentionality behind their design.

The best example of this, I think, was a Japanese toothpick — at first glance, it looks like any regular toothpick. But on the end, you’ll find two little grooves that cause the toothpick to break. This isn’t because the toothpick is defective. This is intended for two reasons: 1) to communicate to other people the toothpick has been used, and 2) to create a nifty little toothpick “stand” for it to sit on.

[Image source]

On the other hand, some people are drawn to objects simply because of their design. The design cultivates some sort of emotional response within the user: This product is reliable (Toyota Camry). This product is promotes a youthful image (MacBook Pro). This product is what’s in right now. (Prada sunglasses). Whatever. 

When I got pregnant, I scheduled a meeting with one of my favorite female mentors to tell her the good news and pick her brain about the next stage in my life. Not parenthood, mind you — but pregnancy. I had no idea what to expect being pregnant and, even more than that, was overly concerned about what I should be doing/should not be doing while gestating a child.

The best thing she offered me went like this:

“Lindsay, God is a perfect designer. He has already designed your body for this. It is already doing what it is supposed to do. You just get to enjoy it.”

My body was designed for this. This, among every other thing I do in a day. I was designed.

My body (as well as yours) is an object that was delicately created, each part with a specific purpose. Eyes to see. Ears to hear. Hands to feel and lungs to breathe. But, in contrast of, say, the toothpick, our bodies are also objects that evoke emotion, whether they were created to or not. And in this society, women’s bodies in particular have been known to conjure up some pretty gnarly emotions.

This morning when I woke up, the first thing I thought of was how uncomfortable and obnoxious my even-bigger-than-before-if-you-can-believe-it boobs are. Now that I’m about seven months pregnant, my body is hardly recognizable to me anymore and, on top of that, hurts everywhere. While wrapping my arms around my ever-expanding frame, I squeezed so hard I winced in pain, praying silently that it would just STOP. I thought of all the celebrities who have babies and are back in bikinis on the cover of magazines the following week, loudly proclaiming that they, “Got [their] body back!” as if their selfish and menacing children stole it from them and I wanted to scream. I remembered all the times I tried to starve every lump, rump, and bump on my body away, wishing they’d disappear forever, never to be pointed out by raunchy men or ogled over by pissy women ever again.

But what if it the toothpick was subject to the same standards we are as women? Though we are both equally designed for functionality and appeal, what if the toothpick had to put up with the same stuff we women do, both from ourselves and society as a whole?

Imagine for a minute the toothpick is sentient (let’s call him Toothy McPickster) and someone came along and pointed at the grooves in Toothy’s abdomen and demanded he get rid of those disgusting “love handles”?

That’s ridiculous, right? Those grooves were put there specifically to fulfill a greater purpose after Toothy does his duty of picking someone’s teeth. So why must they be scrutinized? Particularly when he can’t do anything to change them that doesn’t require some sort of painful procedure, probably in the form of carving away these grooves? (Insert plastic surgery/crash dieting/other harmful way of body modification metaphor here.)

Just as I was about to curse my body yet one more time today, I remembered my son. And how my body is an object that was designed to give him life.

I’ve pored over the words of Psalm 139 countless times in my life — I’ve even written the words across the top of my bathroom mirror in dry-erase marker — but they take on a whole, new meaning after watching Objectified.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

We were designed for a purpose, whether we know what that purpose is (feet to walk, eyelids to blink) or we don’t (big breasts, small butts, wide hips, bumpy tummies).

In a world that does everything it can to objectify us on its own terms, let us be objectified on our Creator’s terms. 

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.

actually hourglass-shaped.

When I first saw a picture of Romanian model Ioana Spangenberg, I thought to myself, Holy Photoshop, Batman! That has to be the WORST editing job I’ve ever seen!

But uh, I was surprised to find out that this isn’t Photoshop. This is what Ioana actually looks like.

Now, I’m not one to be a policeman and regulate others’ bodies. That’s how I got diagnosed with an eating disorder in the first place and I know how exhausting it can be to defend your natural, God-given appearance. So, I’m really struggling with the fact that Ioana is claiming she is naturally built this way and — on top of that — eats three big meals a day!

I’m having a hard time buying this. Ioana HAS been informed that a head of lettuce does not count as a “big meal” right? I mean, I can see how that could make things confusing for her. All I’m saying is that if I were eating three big heads of lettuce a day, I might look like that, too.

What do you think: do you buy it?

Click here to read more about Ioana and see her, like, walk around and stuff.

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.