The media's unrealistic portrayal of women is destroying us from the inside out.
In May 2004 a panel of "experts" (makep artists, photographers, beauty and fashion editors) decided - for the world - that Audrey Hepburn was the most naturally beautiful woman of ALL TIME. She was 5'7', weighed 110 lbs and her measurements were 32A-20-35 - from the time she was 23 until the end of her life. (at least I have the 32A part right;)
In ads for White Rock mineral water, the White Rock Girl changed from 5'4" & 140lbs in 1959 to 5'7" & 110lbs in 2000.
We are bombarded by media - tv, movies, magazines, videos, billboards, advertisements in the mail, etc. I feel like I can't get away from it. And IT is showing me what the ideal American woman should look like. Women are self-destructing because of it - we are either going to extreme measures to achieve "it" or feeling guilty/shameful because we're not "it".
Mothers play a critical role in developing a young woman's body image.
This makes me even more determined to work on this. I don't think that I have a horrible body image, however, there are times when I do (usually when I'm not working out). I want to have a healthy self-esteem - for my girls. It is what I want for them, so I need to work on it for myself.
I compare myself to myself.
For eight weeks I wrote this phrase on a piece of paper everyday. It is probably the single best thing that I took from the book Burn The Fat, Feed the Muscle. I compare myself to myself. Not to anyone else.
Do you know what that does? It means that when I see a shorter girl with an athletic, cute body and think, "that is how I would like to look" I immediately change my thought to, "I compare myself to myself" and remember that comparing myself to someone else only leads to disappointment and a jolt to my self-confidence. Because I will never look like that particular girl - or any other girl I come across, actually. Not a single one of them. I will always look like me.
One of the questions from the book: Complete this sentence - I am content with my body until I compare it to:
This was revealing to me. I'm not going to post my answers, but it made me sit back and think about it. Why does comparing myself to these people change my perception of myself? It is their confidence and seeming lack of self-image issues - not necessarily their bodies. Truthfully, none of these women have bodies that would be considered ideal - there are flaws in each of them, but because they are so confident it makes me self-conscious about myself - feeling like she is thinking I look horrible and am fat. That is fascinating to me. And now that I've identified several of these people in my life I can work on not allowing myself to feel that way - it truly is my issue, not theirs.
The last exercise in this chapter was to sketch a picture of myself and label 7 body parts in a positive way. I had trouble getting 7, so I settled for 6. According to Cornbread it is a pretty accurate sketch.
It was a good exercise - I may not hate my body or think negatively about it all the time, but to come up with POSITIVE adjectives was tough. I am okay with my body - would I like it to look different? Yes. Would I like it to change? Yes. Will it? Not sure. But I don't hate it or loathe myself or think badly about myself. It was still difficult, though, to describe it positively. Good exercise.
Monday, December 31, 2007
The media's unrealistic portrayal of women is destroying us from the inside out.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Advertising companies have found - based on research - that including a beautiful woman in an ad increases the amount of time a person spends looking at the ad by 14 - 30%!!
Holy cow! No wonder every magazine ad, television ad and billboard has a woman on it! When I think about this I realize that I probably stop and look at the ads with the women in them, too. Why? I wondered this while I was reading through this chapter - why would I - a woman - stop to look at another woman? Is it to compare myself to her? I don't really think so. I'm pretty aware of the fact that these women are airbrushed and photoshopped to perfection for the print ads - so why do I stop and look?
I think we all are interested in beauty - its pleasing to the eye, it makes us feel good. Right now, it is snowing and I cannot tear my eyes away from the freshly fallen snow in my backyard - it is beautiful. But days ago, when it was old, melting snow I couldn't turn away fast enough (no need to remind myself of the swamp back there and the mess that would be brought into the house by the Woof). What is it that captivates us so much that we stop and look at these ads, stop and watch the snow, read pointless entertainment magazines, etc. Beauty - it captivates us and holds our attention. Even for small periods of time...
What makes a woman beautiful vs. a man? I think we can agree that there are some really good looking men out there - but are they beautiful in the same way that a woman is just inherently beautiful? Women are curvier, their features are softer and gentler to the eye, skin and hair are smoother and softer looking. Somehow we find these things beautiful without really being taught that they are... so is it a woman's weight, figure, hair that makes her beautiful or is simply because she is a woman? I think it is the latter - although women do A LOT to try to improve upon their inherent beauty.
One scripture passage that is explored in this chapter is Song of Songs 7:1-9. If you read through this you find that Solomon finds the following features of his wife beautiful: feet, legs, navel, waist, breasts, neck, eyes, nose, head, hair, stature, breath, and mouth. He doesn't talk specifically about her weight, her figure, the size of her thighs and bum - no her legs are graceful, not slender and toned, her waist is like a mound of wheat, not flat as a board with a well-defined six pack showing.
In Song of Songs 1:6 the Shulamite woman is ashamed of her tan - her skin has been darkened by working in the vineyard. I found this amusing... in the 21st century women go to tanning booths, they even get tans sprayed on them. This woman was ashamed of the fact that she didn't have fair skin like the women in the palace. Makes me rethink my abhorrance for wearing sunscreen on my face - I like a little color in my face in the summer and I am frightened of what the oil may do to my already oily, breakout prone skin. Now I may look at it differently.
Think about this -
1. Do you believe that God spared nothing when creating you? Why or why not?
2. In your estimation, how valuable is God's opinion of you?
3. If you were honest with yourself, whose opinion do you hold in higher esteem than God's? A friend's? A man's? Society's? Your own?
These questions really got me thinking. I believe that God created me beautiful and in my head, I know that all were created equal and that he "spared no expense" when creating me, however, it is difficult to internalize that and truly believe it with my heart since there are so many other women out there who are much more beautiful than I am - in terms of looks. I'm not fishing for compliments, its simple truth. So its easy for me to believe that God had great fun creating Angeline Jolie or Vanessa Marcil, but by the time he got to me, he had run out of steam and just threw something together;) But truthfully - and this is what I'm learning through this study and these books that I'm reading - he had great fun creating me and I am his masterpiece also. We all are. He hasn't singled one out as his greatest work of art - we all were created in his image and when he looked at us he said "Very good." Not just "its fine the way it is, I don't feel like working on that one anymore, I'm kind of sick of this... I'll just finish this one real quick and move on - I need a rest." No, he created each of us and we ALL are "Very good."
The other shocking realization I had was trying to figure out who's opinion I held in such high esteem and who I am trying to impress. What a question. I want to look good for Cornbread - definitely - but I know he loves me and I don't always work very hard to impress him. He actually finds me most attractive when I have a high amount of confidence - regardless of what the scale says or what size clothes I'm wearing. I'm pretty sure I'm not trying to impress my friends - we're friends because we're friends - not because I'm hot and have a killer body (right? I mean I always assumed that wasn't the reason we're friends ;) ) So I guess it is society's opinion... Random, strange people that cross my path in some way. And how stupid is that?
In reality, God says I'm "very good" (Genesis 1:27, 31). He looks at my heart - not my outward appearance (I Samuel 16:7). He takes great delight in me (Zephaniah 3:17). And he bought me for a price (I Corinthians 6:19-20). Wow - I must be very special and beautiful. It is only right that I should value his opinion more than anyone else's - this is a shift of focus that I need to make.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Do you believe that? I don't. But I need to. And I'm learning.
In the last couple of weeks I have begun reading several books that relate to this subject. It is time for me to begin loving myself - including my body - and stop comparing myself to other women. We're not shaped the same way. We're not made the same way. Why in the world should I look the same as you? Or you as me? Why should I be trying to attain Jennifer Aniston's arms when she lives a completely different life than I do - one which likely involves a personal trainer, a personal chef and long workouts. Why am I allowing New York and Hollywood to determine what I want to look like when God has created me to be me?
I've picked up each of these books separately, but they all relate to the same idea - I've been fascinated by this:)
Captivating, by Staci Eldridge
Feel Good Naked, by Laure Redmond
Created Beautiful - Bible study on body image, by Focus on the Family
While the Laure Redmond book is not faith based, it relates to the same theme - we are created beautifully and it is time to celebrate that and time to stop hating ourselves and criticizing ourselves to the point of destructive behavior (extreme calorie restriction, negative self-talk, horrible eating habits etc).
The other two books have similar ideas in them (as far as I've read) - women are inherently beautiful and we are CAPTIVATING. God created us that way. Why do we continually convince ourselves of the opposite? Negative self-talk - always looking at ourselves critically and deciding that this needs to change or that needs to change. How can we learn to be joyful in the way we have been created - to realize that we are beautiful - simply because we are women?
I also just completed the Bible study, Becoming a Woman of Excellence, where I learned that God calls women to be disciplined, discrete, to have a quiet & gentle spirit, to be pure and wise. These qualities are beautiful. Interestingly, there are NO scripture passages where God calls us to be a certain weight or to have specific measurements - Zero.
So this is my quest - to learn to love myself and my body. I will be going back to weight watchers as I would like to lose a few pounds, but I am not going to be as focused on that as I have been the last year. I would like to be a healthy weight - and I have high(ish) cholesterol which needs to be tamed, but my focus is more on being healthy and in shape and being in tune with my inherent beauty and captivating nature.
Now that I'm wireless it will be much easier for me to blog/journal about my Bible study and reading. If you would like to join me, please do! I got the Created Beautiful book at Family Christian Bookstore.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Georgia is #3 - third child. We often joke around that she will do whatever it takes to get attention for herself. Even if that means destroying the house in a record 5 seconds. Or screaming at the top of her lungs. Or climbing on furniture, standing up and flinging her arms out to the side and yelling "Ta-DA!"
She tries so hard to keep up with the big girls, but most times her little feet just physically can't move as fast as theirs. Or those feet some how fly out from underneath her and she spends too much time picking herself up off of the ground to gain any ground on her sisters. She's a good sport about it all and never complains, just brushes herself off and goes off to find out where they've gone.
Last night, though, showed her true determination to keep up with them.
Spring - Ryann in ER for dehydration.
Summer - Nora in ER for broken elbow.
It only seems fair, then, that Georgia should take her own turn in the ER, right?
I'm sitting on the couch watching my new Planet Earth DVD. The girls are playing around me. They're creating a cave (because we were watching "Caves") by draping a blanket from the end table to the arm of the couch - right next to where I was sitting. This was good and they were having fun. Georgia was trying so hard to be a part of it, which wasn't going over too well with a certain cave designer (Ryann). So what does a girl do when she's being left out in the cold? Shows them whats up...
Georgia climbs on top of the end table that they're using and yells, "Ta DA!" I tell her what a great job she did and then ask her to get down. She's so excited about everything and how close I am that she decides to walk to me from there... Blanket is draped from table to couch arm. She thinks it is a solid surface. Mom knows it is not and is quite aware of what is going through her head and tries to reach out to stop her before it happens. Mom feels like she is in a spider web because of the blankets on top of her and children on the floor holding them down. Georgia, in slow motion takes a step, mom reaches out, Georgia falls and hits her head on the table, mom finally frees herself and picks her up. All is well. Until I moved my hand and saw the blood.
I brought her to the ER... by the time we got there 20 minutes later she was fine and was climbing on every piece of furniture in the waiting room, bound and determined to split her head open even more. I considered going home - she seemed fine, they were SLOW, and I know that the head bleeds A LOT compared to how big a wound is... so under that mass of dried blood and matted hair, it couldn't be too bad. Uh, wrong - I'm glad I stayed.
When it was finally cleaned up it was pretty ugly and big and deep. She got only 3 stitches and was terribly upset that the nurse had to hold her face down while she got them (I would be, too). But I guess the big ol' teddy bear that they gave her makes up for all of that.
So my family should be excited to see the blood matted hair on the back of her head at our Christmas party tonight (we can't wash it until Sunday morning).
Nothing says Merry Christmas like dried blood, right?
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Cornbread's cousin, Amy, has this on her blog and I enjoyed reading it and thought it would be a great memory exercise for me - since I have such a poor memory:)
I am not going to look back at my calendars to figure this out - just straight from my head...
Today - December 19, 2007:
Christmas shopping is done, presents are wrapped, cards are in the mail, cards are being received and taped to the backsplash in the kitchen. We've celebrated Christmas with my in-laws already and are looking forward to a pretty relaxing celebration weekend with my family. We'll be celebrating with our friends on Monday night, setting out cookies for Santa, making reindeer food and waking up on Christmas morning in our own beds to see what surprises are under the tree. A full day of just our family playing games by the fire - I can't wait!
Emotionally, right now, I am restless. I feel like I should be doing greater things, but then struggle with the fact that being a mom is a great thing. I'm looking forward to moving on in life - to all the girls being in school so I can go to school and start working. Yet, I'm trying to balance that with enjoying them in the moment right now. I think the best word for me right now is Restless. Trying to discern what God is calling me to do - is He calling me to be content as a SAHM right now? Or am I using that as an excuse to indulge my introverted tendencies to hole up in my house and stay home?
Nora is 5, almost 6. Ryann is 3 1/2. Georgia just turned 2. Each one is adorable in their own way.
Nora LOVES school and riding the bus and has so many neat stories of things they do at school. She has gone to one birthday party and has been invited to another one. It is fun to hear her talk of her jobs at school and the friends she is making. She is living her own little independent life away from home for 3 hours a day.
Ryann loves her school, too, although I don't have a very clear picture of what goes on while she's there:) I can't tell if she's making friends or not. She is definitely the most shy and introverted of our three girls. She often tells me that she played with "nobody" at school - and she's not upset about it, its just a fact. And somehow it doesn't surprise me. She adores one of her three teachers and talks about her often. She is becoming her own little person - not just the tag-along to older sister. She initiates play with Nora or Georgia and does her own imaginative stuff - not just copying what Nora does. She is obstinate and hard-headed and the thing that infuriates me the most about her is that when I'm scolding her she isn't listening, she's trying to talk over top of me "Mom, I have to tell you SOMEthing." I can't stand it:)
Georgia brings me to my knees more than any one of the three. Prayers begging for patience, for calmness and certainly just as many thanking God for the little surprise He sent us:) Our friends have decided that there are a few natural disasters in the world: Hurricanes, Tornados, Earthquakes and Georgia. She is a human wrecking ball and can destroy anything in a matter of seconds, turn around give you the cutest look and make you laugh at the horrible thing she's done. Right before she turned 2 someone flipped a switch in her and she started talking like mad. She doesn't pronounce things very well and I keep telling people that she's british - she says things without the middle consonants like: Da-Eee (daddy), Mon-Ee (Monkey), Mar-Er (Marker), Na-In (Napkin). I think its hysterical and I try to speak British, too. She is very snuggly and loves to give kisses and hugs - and its a darn good thing she does, because it may very well save her life one of these days LOL!
The Woof just turned 8. His life expectancy according to dog experts is 21 years. His life expectancy according to me is about 8 1/2. He was almost banned from our house a couple of days ago - he took off out of the house right as we were leaving for preschool. I won't go into the story, but lets just say a phone call was made to Cornbread with me telling him that we no longer had a dog and I wouldn't be looking for him. He also steals cereal dishes off of the counter and table on a daily basis - and while he tries to be gentle and graceful in the process, he always flips them over and I end up cleaning a HUGE milk/soggy cereal mess off of the floor every day. You can ask my why I don't do something proactively to prevent this and I will remind you that I have 3 kids, one of whom needs her diaper changed which means the other two are not being supervised and can leave their dishes at the table without me telling them to move them away from the edge... all this to say that his days are numbered.
1 Year Ago - December 2006:
Nora was almost 5, Ryann was 2 1/2, Georgia just turned 1. Ryann was potty trained at that time and I think we were still struggling to get her completely potty trained. We had gone to Memphis for Thanksgiving and came home to our water heater transformed into a fountain. Cornbread's car had died that fall, too which was another large amount of money spent. We were very overwhelmed with the additional large expenses at that time - seemed like his job was going well, but we just couldn't get ahead because of these huge one-time, non-negotiable expenses. I remember talking to my dad, the mechanic, our friend, Cornbread numerous times about what we should do about that car - fix it or bite the big one and get a new one. We decided to spend the money to fix it. It was hard to spend that kind of money on an almost 10 year old car and have faith that it wouldn't break down again 6 months later. As it turns out, it stayed solid at least that long and within 6 months, friends of ours asked if we knew of anyone who needed a 1995 Toyota Camry... We DID! They gave it to us for bluebook value (which was next to nothing) and we were able to give our car to our friend who would be getting his license in August. God surprises us again.
5 years ago - December 2002:
Wow - only one child at that time! Nora was almost 1 and we were celebrating her first Christmas. It was exciting and was filled with lots of useless toys that probably never got played with:) The holidays took on a dramatic change that year as we now got to look at everything through the eyes of a child. The snow looked different. The lights looked different. Presents were fun to open again. Cornbread was in midst of a good career at his final mortgage company. He was finally at a company where he felt like he could do what he wanted to do in order to create and take care of business. We had moved to our current home that summer and he was actually trying to move his business from our old area to our new area. It was a huge challenge that involved a lot of trial and error in terms of advertising and marketing. He was also looking for a way to get out of our house as Nora was becoming too difficult to work around. She was a total daddy's girl and wanted nothing to do with me, unless she had to. My feelings were hurt many times by this, but things eventually changed.
10 years ago - December 1997:
This is hard:) We were in our senior year at Calvin. We were engaged and I think we celebrated that year in Aurora with Cornbread's family. No children on either side of the family yet. I was basically done with school and I was getting ready to start looking for a full time job. I had to take one class the following semester in order to graduate, because my internship counted for both of my majors and counted as the credits that I needed. I registered for a night class given by a detective that I worked with in my internship at the Kentwood Police Department. I had all of my days free which gave me the time to work during the day. I had quit my job at the gas station and was also finished working at the police department. We had a date chosen for our wedding and most of the major stuff planned and couldn't really do anything more at that point. Cornbread was looking at a terribly busy semester which included almost no time to work and earn money - which meant that he had no money to spend on cigarettes... which meant that he needed to quit. That was a tough couple of weeks.
15 Years ago - December 1992:
I was a junior in high school and was in a long, serious relationship with my one major high school boyfriend, Ben. We had been dating almost 6 months at that point and would date another 6 - until the day after our 1 year anniversary. I had a job at a local gas station, which I just loved. I was getting college brochures by the handful everyday in the mail and no intentions of even applying at Calvin. I was pretty set on going to University of Michigan for pre-med. I believe it was around this time of year that me and my friend, Becky, decided to go to Honduras that summer for a mission trip - this was ultimately the thing that ended my relationship with Ben.
20 years ago - December 1987:
This is a stretch... I was in 6th grade. I was entering the most treacherous period of my social life. Sixth grade was rough and junior high was worse. I had the worst teacher of the three in our grade, but I made life fun for myself by goofing off with whomever I was sitting near in class.
30 years ago - December 1977:
I was 1 1/2 years old. Obviously, I have absolutely no clue what was going on in life at that time. I'm going to take a stab and say I was walking and following my sister everywhere she went;)
Labels: a little more about me
Monday, December 17, 2007
So our computer died last Thursday. I mean died. It froze and then would not start back up or even shut off. We got that computer right before Nora was born and it has been a pain in the bum for the last 2 years - but it worked for what we needed it for (um, internet).
So we went out shopping for a new one on Friday. Right after I had a meltdown of major proportions... Jana is definitely not super-mom and had a really bad afternoon on Friday. Sure, I have all of my Christmas shopping done, cards in the mail (Ha, Kim!) and seem to have life figured out and am totally pulled together, but its simply not true. Jana can become an emotional wreck on a given notice just like any other mom (hello, right? other moms do lose it sometimes, too, right? I'm not the only one - RIGHT?). Three children wear on the nerves sometimes and I just lost it on Friday and cried the entire afternoon. Perhaps I was really just going through internet withdrawl. Whatever the case, I am lucky enough to have a husband who listens and cares and a very close friend who is a therapist and available via phone whenever I need him... I will be getting a real therapist soon, though, because I believe everyone could benefit from therapy - including me.
So I wasn't planning on going into all of that:)
Back to computer shopping on Friday night. We found a couple of decent, inexpensive laptops at Best Buy, but decided to shop around and see what they were going to have on sale on Sunday (around here we get the Sunday ads already on Saturday afternoon). We picked up the Sunday Tribune on Saturday night and saw that they would have two laptops for sale - one for $549 and one for $399. The salesguy told us that if we wanted to get a cheap one we'd have to get there at 7am on Sunday. Uh not happening. But Cornbread was willing to get there at 8 and he got the LAST ONE for $399!!!! A laptop for $399???!!! That rockes, eh?
I finally plugged it in and am back online. However, I've lost everything - all of my favorite bookmarked websites, all of my photos, all of our financial records, etc. But we're going wireless and I am going to get out of the NW corner of my house, but I'll be in a corner somewhere:)
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
My in-laws are coming this weekend for the first round of Christmas celebrations. I will be making appetizers and a nice dinner and it will be festive and joyful:) The following weekend we'll be traveling to my side of the family for the next round - I'm very excited because we'll have one full day to spend with my parents, my sister & BIL and my nephews with no other committments to get to - we have NEVER had that before! And Christmas Eve will be spent waiting for Santa, making cookies, and listening to music. I'm very excited about Christmas this year.
Oh yeah, Cornbread told me he figured out his gift for me - and it costs a lot of money. Hmmmm... he's not usually good at keeping secrets or surprises, so I'm going to have to start asking some questions:)
And now, for the photos you will NOT see on our Christmas cards this year:
Monday, December 10, 2007
I can clearly remember when I had my first panic attack. I was 25 and was only 2 months pregnant with Nora. I had never experienced anything like this before that, but it was the first of what would soon be many episodes (I had quite a few within that first year).
Cornbread and I were leaders of a college youth group in our church at the time. As one of our fun things to do we all went downtown to watch the July 4th fireworks (which the city of Chicago holds on July 3rd). In addition to the fireworks, the city hosts The Taste of Chicago at that time every year. July 3 is traditionally the busiest day at the Taste due to all of the firework watchers.
I walked down there with 3 of our college girls. We were making our way through the fairway and trying to figure out what they all wanted to try. We were in the middle of a HUGE crowd - there were TONS of people there, but it still wasn't a problem. It became a problem when a long beer line intersected the fairway and stopped the through traffic (which we were a part of). We had several people in front of us, but they weren't moving - they couldn't get through the beer line. The crowd in front of us stopped. We stopped. The people far behind us, though, didn't know what was going on and they weren't stopping.
This is when I began to panic. Suddenly the whole idea of a mob mentality raced through my mind. Being trampled. I couldn't breathe - I was about a head shorter than anyone around me. I was pregnant. I was responsible for 3 college girls who were skinny and little. I couldn't breathe and I couldn't move and the people in front of us weren't moving, but we were feeling a slight push from the crowd behind us. Something had to give. I couldn't breathe. My chest was tight and I didn't know how we were going to get out of that situation.
Eventually things opened up and we were able to continue walking forward. The whole event probably lasted less than 5 minutes, but it was a looong 5 minutes for me.
I still don't know why this happened or what the root cause of all of this anxiety is. And I don't know why that specific situation kick started a true anxiety issue in me. I haven't been back to the Taste on the 3rd since then - I really should try to go and conquer at least that fear.
QOTD: Have you ever been to The Taste of (anything - any city)? If so, what was the best thing you tried?
Labels: getting to know me in 100 days
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Because somehow I've managed to duplicate yesterday in the overall pleasantness of our house. What the heck am I doing right lately? Perhaps my husband should do more business traveling because surprisingly while daddy is away everyone is very enjoyable.
Hmmm. I'm in desperate need of adult communication.
Monday, December 03, 2007
My girls fight. They argue with each other. They whine over who gets the pink bowl and who gets to go first with this or that. Some days I just want to tear my hair out and send one of them away so that life will be just a little quieter - I don't care which one, any one of the three being gone for a while will result in a quieter, more laid back atmosphere.
I don't understand why they fight and I think a lot of the reasons are absolutely absurd. Its hard to not completely lose my patience and start going on and on to them about how dumb this particular fight is. However, I feel it is better to not get involved and I just tune them out instead (unless it gets too bad then I do step in).
And then there are days like today. Days where all three of them are incredibly pleasant and happy. They are kind to each other and actually seem like they genuinely enjoy playing together. I have not heard any whining. No arguing. No "mine". No tattling. It is absolutely enjoyable around here right now.
Makes me wonder - what did I do right this morning? What did I do differently today that resulted in this? And HOW IN THE WORLD CAN I DUPLICATE THIS TOMORROW???!!! Not likely to happen, but its worth thinking about:)