Back To The Beginning

Been a while since I wrote, huh? To be honest, the biggest reason I haven’t been active lately is one thing – and that thing is called Guild Wars 2. No lie, I’m obsessed. 12-hour days playing? Three level 80 characters? Yeah, that’s healthy. We’ll get to my whole lack of a real life issue in another post soon enough.

At any rate, a lot has also been happening on top of that dragon-killing background, but I figured I’d start with the positive, to jump back into this blogging thing without sounding too depressed and whiny. So let’s talk about modeling again, the whole reason I started this darn thing in the first place.

I recently had the opportunity to do something totally different, that is, I actually did some photo modeling as opposed to letting aspiring artists draw me like one of their French girls. Being part of a photo shoot is ridiculously more glamorous-feeling than taking my clothes off in front of some college art kids. It’s more exciting, more dynamic, but also a lot more nerve-wracking. What if my eyes cross, or I have a double-chin? What about my fat rolls (though I wasn’t naked for the photo shoot)? What if I simply look like a derp?

All of my modeling fears rolled into one.

All of my modeling fears rolled into one.

Like I said, I wasn’t naked, but these weren’t exactly innocent, sexless pictures either. To be frank, it was a lingerie shoot, no I didn’t get paid, yes I control who has access to the pictures, no I don’t ever want to run for public office. I’d go into more detail, but I don’t think I’m ready for you to know me that well yet.  I’ll admit, some of them came out pretty fucking amazing, but others… It kind of sucks to have a collection of halfway decent photos that you’re afraid to show anybody out of embarrassment that you also can’t bear to throw away because what if one day you have to prove that you were actually there? (Like in a dramatic murder investigation led by a sexy detective with nothing to lose who gets a little “rough” during interrog– wait that only happens in bad romance novels? Whatever, it’s a possibility, I’m still keeping the pictures.) On the other hand, having all the pictures in one place, with each file directly under your control is also really nice in comparison to a painting that gets thrown in some drawer somewhere

In case any of you are worrying about the violation of my privacy or my reputation being smeared on the Internet for all eternity, please don’t. The photographer was a friend, not some rando, and he was over-the-top respectful every step of the way.

The photo shoot really made me look at my body differently than from a figure modeling perspective. I’ve both gained and lost weight since my last art modeling sessions and the photo shoot occurred somewhere during my time of my less-than satisfactory self-image. But those pictures that turned out amazing? They were amazing because of my body, not just because of the lighting and artistic composition. Fuck yeah I have curvy belly, and thighs, and hips (and I mean, HIPS)! And day-um gurl you look GOOD! I may not have been overall happy with the way my body looked on that particular day, but the pictures reminded me how each shape and size really does carry its own assets. So to speak.

I think I should just stop there before I blather on anymore. Modeling, it’s fun, you should try it sometime. I’ll probably write more about health and weight in my next post, but for now, I just say hello, and it’s good to be writing again. See you soon!


The Marilyn Myth

Marilyn Monroe. The name itself evokes feelings of desire, speculation, and even disdain. Some women love her, some hate her. She’s reviled for her provocative image and drug and alcohol abuse, not to mention the suspicious circumstances of her death. Frankly, none of these things really measure up to the real impact she had on American pop culture. Don’t deny it!

What IS she thinking about?

What IS she thinking about?

This is a topic that’s been explored by many bloggers, health magazines, gossip columns, and the like. I just figured I’d rehash it all again, seeing as I’m currently reading The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, and am having a marathon of all her movies Netflix will stream directly to my eyeballs (The Seven Year Itch is hysterical, just fyi – that’s the one with the famous dress blowing scene). Unfortunately, there are a million and a half misconceptions about Marilyn Monroe that are just plain false. And these misconceptions have given rise to this phenomenon whereby women these days justify their own behavior. And by behavior I mean justifying their lack of healthy lifestyle by telling themselves that Marilyn Monroe was their size.

You hear it all the time:

“Marilyn Monroe was a size 16!” Er… by what standards? U.S.? U.K.? Or how about the most important standards, those of the 1950s.

Based on measurements of dresses, and dressmaker records, you have to realize, numbers don’t lie. The following are average for her, as she definitely had some weight fluctuations (as we all do during our lifetimes), especially during times of depression.

  • Height: 5’5.5″
  • Weight: 118 lbs
  • Bust: 35″
  • Waist: 22″
  • Hips: 35″

Marilyn Monroe was a really beautiful, shapely, womanly woman (being called “womanly” is one of my favorite compliments to receive). She had an exaggerated hourglass shape, which was – and still is – quite rare. Look at her waist, 22″, which is a full 12 inches smaller than the average waist size today. She was even smaller than the average waist size of the 1950s. This woman was not plus-sized.

This quote is often used to perpetuate the “Marilyn Myth”:

I’ve always thought Marilyn Monroe looked fabulous, but I’d kill myself if I was that fat…I went to see her clothes in the exhibition, and I wanted to take a tape measure and measure what her hips were. She was very big – Elizabeth Hurley

Black Versace dress of Elizabeth Hurley

Black Versace dress of Elizabeth Hurley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ok… So what does this really tell us? Marilyn Monroe was a larger than Elizabeth Hurley. Have you seen pictures of Elizabeth Hurley? Let me help you out.

She’s thin. Beautiful, also womanly, and a completely different body type than Marilyn. Elizabeth Hurley is also a full three inches taller. Different body, different weight, different everything.

Honestly – and we all know this – it’s a matter of perspective. But it doesn’t actually matter what size Marilyn Monroe was, because she was healthy. Check this shit. Goddamn she was beautiful. She also took care of her body, she tried to stay fit, even though she was suffering from mental disturbances, crippling stage fright, and a number of other problems. No, she wasn’t the epitome of health, but she was not a “natural beauty.” She worked hard to keep her image, such as it was, and was even somewhat ahead of her time in terms of trying to keep a healthy lifestyle. Alcohol and drugs aside.

Marilyn Monroe was a sex symbol of America, still is in fact. Hugh Hefner credits her with a great deal of the success of his magazine in its early days. You know what? She was happy with her body. She worked to keep it the way she wanted it, worked to be fit,

Yes, Marilyn Monroe’s thighs touched. So do mine, I bet yours do too. There are models whose thighs touch too, just fyi. See a previous post regarding ladies and their jiggly bits. 😉

But you know what actually matters? You feeling good about yourself. There are women out there, too many women, who aren’t happy with themselves and their bodies, and try to use their faulty knowledge of an idol to justify laziness? unhappiness? lack of motivation? I don’t know. But let’s stop lying to ourselves. Marilyn Monroe was beautiful, and by many accounts, content with her body. I’m not saying women should emulate her, as she certainly had a ton of problems we don’t even have a full understanding of. But we do insult to her memory by pretending that her “curvy” is the same as our “unhealthy.”

Remember! This isn’t about being thin. This is about being fit, healthy, and happy. Thoughts?

This Is Not A Workout Blog

I think the title pretty much says it all here. But then again, I’m NOT here to bash workout blogs, much less exercise. On the contrary, I love browsing workout blogs for concise tips on short strength and cardio routines. Makes me feel motivated and all that.

But this is what I’m here to complain about:

Wait, what?

Now before you start defending this ridiculous statement, understand that I DO recognize the sentiment here. Running, exercise, athletics, all of these things are great for your body (football tackles and concussions notwithstanding). But running until you don’t “jiggle?” I hate to break it to you ladies, to whom I’m sure this statement is referring, you’re never going to not-jiggle. You may tone your stomach flat, work your thighs into muscular machines of speed, fight underarm flab, and sculpt your back into something the gods would envy. But you won’t be able to attain not-jiggliness.

Reason? Our lady parts. No not those, the ones on your chest. Those things that were designed to feed them babies that you may or may not decide to have using your OTHER lady parts.

Jiggle Exceptions: super-fit Olympic athletes, those suffering from severe anorexia, female body builders (actually I don’t think male body builders have much jiggle left either, even in their dangly bits – sorry, I’m not getting too graphic am I?).

Again, I will state that there is absolutely, positively NOTHING wrong with wanting to be fit. Being healthy, fit, active, and strong are foolproof ways to extend your lifespan and increase happiness and life satisfaction. Science says so. The problem here is that “jiggle” refers to fat, straight up lumpy, bright yellow, sexually undesirable fat, and NOT to a lack of muscle tone. By wanting to run until I don’t jiggle, in this blunt expression, implies that I’m focusing on merely the physical. Not physical rewards like strength and endurance, but physical attractiveness, which is determined arbitrarily. I’m not calling anyone shallow (I kinda totally am), but pointing out something that might have gotten lost in our zeal to get thin.

Having spoken to my boyfriend – who henceforth will be referred to as “The Boy” – about these things, which might illuminate how men feel about skinny women. Bluntly he said that if I got “thin” he wouldn’t be as attracted to me. Why? Because he’d have nothing to grab onto. And yes, he meant exactly what you think he did. He can be so honest. But regardless, the point is that, as a man, The Boy is attracted to my body as-is and he has no desire to see me significantly thinner. I think his attitude mirrors those of many other men and women who like women.

Why do we want to be thin? Is it because we want healthy bodies, or is it because we’re afraid of the social consequences of not being thin? Perhaps this will ring true for some:

Believe me, the Cornucopia would be my first and only achievement

Be fit, be healthy, get those Olympic muscles and work yourself until you collapse just for the joy of it. Not because you don’t want to “jiggle.” At any rate, I take a great deal more inspiration from these last two memes/ads than I do from the first. Your reason for exercise is your own, but I just wanted to inject some food-for-thought into the conversation.

How do you feel about women and their sometimes misguided pursuit of exercise?

The Starbucks Woman and Extremes of Beauty

I work in a strip mall right next to a fairly successful Starbucks. Naturally there is a wide variety of customers that stop in there, as it’s the only real Starbucks within reasonable distance of our tourist-town. Ever since I’ve been working next door there has been one woman who is at Starbucks at least once a week and stays for several hours at one of the outside tables.

I can tell that she’s drinking a diet Tazo green tea because of the watery, almost sickly color it has. My manager has seen her put just two Splenda no-calorie sweeteners in it, and has also heard from her hairdresser that this woman only eats three Peach Rings a day. The Starbucks Woman is always smoking, or at least has a pack of Marlboro Reds ready to go beside her, and she’s often writing in a lined notebook. None of this is particularly remarkable, but the thing that draws the eye is the woman herself.

She’s an anorexic.

I’m not saying that she’s skinny, and I’m not saying that she just looks sick. No, this woman is no more than skin and bones, and she is clearly on a down-hill road to death. I’m not exaggerating when I say she looks like this:

Isabelle Caro

Isabelle Caro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Above is a well-known picture of French model, Isabelle Caro, who died in 2010 from complications as a result of her anorexia nervosa. Frankly it terrifies me.

It scares me that this woman has become so pathologically obsessed with her weight that it’s killing her.

It scares me that there are countless other men and women in this world who reach this point and are unable to return.

It scares me that I could one day have a daughter that I won’t be able to save because society tells her that she is only beautiful if she is thin.

For Christmas I received Portia de Rossi‘s memoir, Unbearable Lightness, and I found it both poignant and frank. I’m a big fan of her anyway as a result of Arrested Development, and it was truly inspiring to see how she had been able to reshape her life as she stopped reshaping her body. Unfortunately, it also reminded me of how women can take pride in not eating. I’ve been guilty of it, just as millions of women across the world have been guilty of it.

I hope beyond hope that the Starbucks Woman doesn’t die, but I’m scared that one day she’ll just cease to appear outside with her tea and cigarettes. What is she writing? A memoir? A letter to friends and family? Or is she calculating her caloric intake for the day?

Eating disorders (especially anorexia) are often considered among the most difficult psychological disorders to treat, as success requires the motivation of the patient to gain weight, something they have spent a great deal of time and effort getting rid of. The mind of an anorexic patient has been twisted by the disorder so that they truly see losing weight as a necessary part of living. There have been patients committed to hospitals that must be restrained to their beds so that they don’t do sit-ups in the middle of the night.

Society doesn’t help, as it uses women’s bodies as a canvas on which to mold the ideals of beauty. With idealization comes extremes, and those extremes are what scare me the most. But society can’t be completely to blame. Eating disorders are just that: disorders. Disorders that need more research, more dedicated scientists trying to cure them, and more understanding of those suffering from them.

If you’re interested in learning more about eating disorders and anorexia nervosa, watch this documentary, Thin by Lauren Greenfield. Though the treatment practice may be somewhat controversial (in my opinion) the perspectives of the patients are invaluable in understanding some of the mechanisms underlying the condition.

If you or someone you know suffers from an eating disorder, look here for help: National Eating Disorders Association


During my time in college I’ve spent several semesters as a nude model for the art department. Consequently, I’ve been allowed an inordinate amount of time to sit and do nothing but think. Many art models recommend using meditation as a means of enduring the challenge of remaining motionless for extended periods of time. I, however, am not so accomplished at centering my mind. Frankly, I’m just too anxiety-ridden to relax. More often than not I leave my sessions with tense muscles and sleeping limbs.

I’ve modeled for life drawing classes, sculpting classes, and independent studies. Each has offered a different perspective on the human form and the considerations that a model must take into account when sitting for a session. Regardless of the class though, there’s something entirely liberating about taking one’s clothes off in front of strangers. Of course, the first time you’re handed a wad of cash after a session can make you feel cheap. But don’t we only feel cheap because as women we are taught by society to be ashamed of our bodies? “Society” as I use it refers specifically to American culture (or lack thereof) and to some extent Western Civilization.

Now, I have as many, or perhaps more, body image issues as the next girl. I want perfection in the form of a skinny waist, modest breasts, mile-long legs, and baby-making hips. Pair those attributes with long hair, Cupid’s bow lips, and baby-blue eyes, you’ve got the perfect girl-next-door. But who the fuck is the girl-next-door? Is she your sister? Your girlfriend? Your mom back in the day?

I bet you’re saying to yourself, “She’s certainly not me!”

And therein lies the problem. We’ll never have the confidence to claim that role for ourselves. We can never be that flawless girl (again, defined as flawless by convention, not truth). No matter your image of perfect beauty, you can never attain it, because true perfection simply doesn’t exist. Humans are creatures constantly evolving to better themselves, not morally, but physically and mentally to better carry on their genes to the next generation. That’s what evolution IS, so it only follows that we cannot ever be 100% psychologically happy with ourselves.

HOWEVER, evolution doesn’t, and shouldn’t, determine our sole perspective on the world. Perfection needs to be separated from the ideal, and the only way we can do this is through mental shift.

Nude art, model in most poses is Miss Dorothy Lees

Nude art, model in most poses is Miss Dorothy Lees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nude art, model in most poses is Miss Dorothy Lees

Nude art, model in most poses is Miss Dorothy Lees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s take a look at this model, for example: I think she’s gorgeous, her body captured in its true perfection by the artists. She is both feminine and strong. Her musculature curves with a subtle beauty that is anything but artificially constructed. You may not agree with me, but that’s ok. We’re all looking through different eyes. One day I hope to look on this woman’s body, or any woman’s body and feel appreciation, rather than jealously. But until then, I endeavor to improve not just my body to fit my personal view of perfection, but my perspectives.

Please feel free to comment and discuss. I’m excited at the prospect of perspectives on body image that I haven’t heard before!

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