Mirror, Mirror, Off The Wall: How I Learned to Love My Body by Not Looking at it For a Year

Omg I can’t believe I read this so long ago but still haven’t written a word in review. Well, since my blog has been a big stagnant lately it’s worth a shot trying to remember this one.

I first heard about this book when the author was interviewed on The Daily Show. This is a sociologist who challenged herself to not look in a mirror – or any reflecting surfaces – for an entire year. A year which just so happened to include her wedding day. Now while this may come across as a nice fluffy little self-esteem booster book, the author is well-educated enough to take this subject deeper, and we’re not left without a good dose of accessibly written psychology and sociology. I can’t remember all of the points she made, but the most fascinating one to me was exploring how mirrors almost serve as a form of companionship when we’re alone. We know it’s only the illusion of another person sitting there, we’re not beta fish, but we get a small amount of satisfaction that there is either way. Mirrors also have a way of affirming our existence. It sounds silly, obviously we know we exist, but it was interesting to note how Kjerstin started to feel after some time, almost doubting that because she couldn’t see herself, she wasn’t really there. She could only see other people.

The biggest message I got out of this book though was not that she suddenly started feeling physically beautiful – she was forced to focus more on her emotions, deep within herself, and her loved ones around her, those outside of herself, as opposed to the body in between. She learned to trust those around her more because she relied on them to make sure that she didn’t, say, have a booger hanging out of her nose, and she learned to pay more attention to her emotional self-esteem rather than her appearance. She didn’t feel beautiful because she knew she looked beautiful – she felt beautiful because she felt loved by those around her, and that’s what really mattered. Her appearance still caused her anxiety, especially as she had no idea what she looked like, but she gradually learned not to care. It simply wasn’t important. I think that’s a very valuable thing to take away here. Some people are ugly. Yep. While it’s nice to want to make ugly people, or yourself, feel physically beautiful, I felt the most important thing here was to learn that it just plain doesn’t matter. It’s such a tiny part of life. What matters is your mind, and your soul, and your relationships. Looks are a thing, but they’re not anywhere near being the most important thing. We have so much more to get our validation and happiness from. And while learning these important lessons it was nice to hear about these soul-searching thoughts and every day experiences from a very educated, sympathetic, real-life person. This wasn’t philosophy, it was real. We get to read all of her insecurities, all her learning experiences, and how all her relationships evolve. It was enlightening and it was fun. This was a great book, but it was great in a way that I didn’t expect. I feel that it could easily prove to be an important book for a whole lot of us, women, men, or anybody else.

Advertisements

The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck

The universe works in mysterious ways. Here I was, worrying that my blog here appeared shallow and vapid to a good number of the people reading it, especially since my cousins started blogging about their babies and even cancer. I was feeling pretty insecure. Then somebody on a childfree group I’m in posted this. I mean right at that moment. Too weird, right? Maybe it is ok that I just write about some of the things I enjoy, it’s no big deal, and it’s enough for me to know that no matter where my interests lie, it does not make me a shallow one-dimensional person, even if others somehow miss that. Because those people would be idiots and that’s not my problem.
http://inoveryourhead.net/the-complete-guide-to-not-giving-a-fuck/

Petals: Vagina Diologues

 

I just saw a movie that was fascinating and awe-inspiring. And that movie was about vaginas. More specifically, about a book filled with simple artistic photos of vaginas, and its photographer Nick Karras, and the dialogue that ensues about it. I never really thought about the relationship women have with their vaginas until seeing this. Women have very complex relationships with the rest of their bodies, and it seems vaginas, all tucked under there away from sight, don’t get any attention except from doctors and sexual partners. This is a problem. Because so much of what corrupts women’s self-image about themselves “down there” is related to the fact that it gets so ignored. I was stunned to find out that since so many women base their image of what a vagina should look like on junior high puberty pamphlets and porn, that they go through life feeling deformed, because almost nobody actually looks like this, especially that simplistic little diagram.
Another problem is that so often women’s vaginas almost seem to be used as weapons against them. Considered only beautiful when a baby is coming out of them, something otherwise bad, dirty, and the reason for exploitation by men. In fact, something not even good enough to be talked about at all.
One of the most fascinating parts of the movie was when the people at Hustler got a hold of the book and wanted to do a feature. These men, used to seeing photos of vaginas all day, never really stopped to look at how different and beautiful they are. In fact, the one interviewed seemed so stunned that all he could do was repeat himself over and over. Even doctors commented on this new perspective.
To be honest, I didn’t want to write this review. It made me feel a little uncomfortable. But if I didn’t, wouldn’t I be kind of part of the problem? After seeing this, it’s come to my attention that a lot of you ladies would feel a LOT more fabulous if you had a more positive view of yourselves down there. It’s bad enough being concerned that you’re too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too dark, too pale… without worrying about that too. So I’m making it my duty to tell you that if you have these discomforts, or even if you just love vaginas, you should absolutely see this movie, and buy the book. You may come out of it feeling okay about your body for the first time, and gaining a new perspective on the beauty of women.
Also check out http://www.myvag.net, a site discussed in the film.

My Thoughts on Weight

I do agree that anyone who is unhealthy should do whatever they can to become so. Of course it’s not that simple. The media has poisoned us to make a lot of us feel not good enough when we really are. Even if you are losing weight in order to be healthier, it can be a tough road when you hate the way you look. A person needs a certain amount of motivation. I’m not here to give you diet advice, I can’t do that. But I do have some thoughts on the matter.


-Don’t look to the wrong role models. Of course you’re going to feel bad about yourself if you’re a size 10 and you keep dwelling on images of girls who are a size 2. The truth is, beauty has no size. Find pictures and role models in beautiful women who are the same size as you. I don’t care what you say, they ARE out there, and I’ve tried to include some in this very article to get you started.

-You don’t look as bad as you think you do. In fact you’re likely very beautiful and just need a way to see it. We are our own worst critics. You probably look at least twice as good to other people as you do to yourself. Don’t dwell on your flaws. Believe me, nobody else will.


-Food is one of the major pleasures in life. If you starve yourself you WILL be miserable, and then what the hell is the point anyway? You don’t need to eat junk, but you should absolutely find food that you truly enjoy. Take your time to focus on and enjoy your food. If you eat in a rush or while distracted, you’ll lose out and continue to feel deprived and want more than you need. This goes for everything you have. Stop and smell the roses. Don’t take anything for granted. You’ll be surprised at how quickly this simple change in attitude will enrich your life and make you feel like you have more.

-The right underwear makes all the difference. And they DO come more attractive than Spanx. Even though Spanx ARE awesome.


-Love yourself. I mean this on every level. Don’t mentally abuse yourself by beating yourself up in the mirror, and don’t abuse your body by starving or neglecting it. Do things that make you feel good, like taking a hot bath, getting a hair cut, and even just using perfume. Show yourself compassion and respect in every way you know how.


-Remember that the world is really screwed up, and that’s not a reflection on you. Very few people are naturally a size 2, and it’s wrong for the media to promote the idea that it’s just that normal. It’s also wrong for them to promote the idea that only skinny women are attractive. Everybody is different. They look different and have different preferences in the way that other people look. You’d be amazed to find out just how many people think you’re PERFECT, just as you are at this minute. Hell, most women SHOULD be a little round, that what makes them soft and sexy women! Oomph! Ignore mean or stupid people. They don’t have your best interest in mind.


I don’t know how else to conclude this but to say that you don’t need to change who you are. Just be your best self. You are awesome.

Book Review: The Narcissism Epidemic

I’ll say it right now – This book will hit a lot of nerves. If you don’t approach it with an open mind it could easily come across as a bunch of bitching about everything that’s wrong with the world, and even you. But it serves a huge purpose. A lot of us just don’t see symptoms of narcissism for what they are anymore, and that’s why it’s such an epidemic indeed. It’s become totally normal in our culture to live above our means, worship our kids like gods, and obsessively focus on our appearance. These things almost always spring from good intentions, but taken to extremes are signs of real trouble: that you could be putting yourself before others, directly or even very indirectly, but no less significant. This is the difference between confidence and narcissism, and this book does an excellent job of detailing this difference in every aspect of our lives, as well as explaining how certain individual behaviors can be terribly dangerous to you and your family. A person who tans obsessively is at higher risk of developing cancer, the parent who wants the biggest house for their kids is more likely to end up bankrupt. It will make you look at the world – and yourself in a whole new light. You just have to be willing to shut up and listen, because these are not messages any of us are used to hearing, and haven’t been for the last 20 years (“You mean we *shouldn’t* be telling kids they’re special??”). I think it would be a good idea for anyone interested in modern society and especially those wanting to actually contribute something to the world besides a “I heart me and everyone else can suck it” attitude to read this. It will really open your makeup and surgery enhanced eyes.

For more on this book check out:

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/brain-and-behavior/articles/2009/04/21/narcissism-epidemic-why-there-are-so-many-narcissists-now.html

http://veritas-point-counterpoint.blogspot.com/2009/04/are-we-in-narcissism-epidemic.html

http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/sdsuniverse/news.aspx?s=71137