Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bodies and Victim Blaming

I follow healthy living blogs. I also follow healthy-at-ever-size, or fat acceptance blogs. In reading these blogs I saw an interesting reaction to emotional triggers related to bodies.

One HAES blogger wrote a post the other day about an emotional trigger for her, bad pictures. I think this is very relatable.

Her response was to realize most bodies she sees do not look like hers. In addition, she does not spend much time on a regular basis looking at her own body. She notes that unless people spend time looking at their bodies in full length mirrors regularly, they might forget what they look like, and start to think their bodies look like ones they are visually exposed to. The bodies we are mainly exposed to come through mainstream media – ads, TV, magazines and so on. These bodies are not real, and they are usually unattainable and non-representative of the majority of people.

Some bloggers in the healthy living community also had recent experiences with triggers. One of the bloggers is pregnancy and talked about the difficulty of accepting that her clothes no longer fit. She expressed feeling upset loosing a body that she worked so hard to achieve and maintain. When she reached her pre-baby weight she vowed never to gain weight again. Obviously this isn’t possible during pregnancy. Another blogger wrote about feeling upset and shocked after stepping on a scale.

In these examples, women felt the blame or cause was not unrealistic images in the media, but instead themselves. The thought was that either they needed to just feel better about their bodies, or actively do something to change their bodies till they were happy with them.

Here is what I understood:

HAES blogger

  • cause of anxiety – a culture that only finds certain bodies acceptable, causes individuals to become disconnected from ]their own body.
  • solutions – normalize all bodies. This can mean taking time to actually look at your own body, or see other images of real bodies.

Healthy Living Bloggers

  • cause of anxiety – I am unhappy with my body.
  • Solution – learn to love my body, or change my body.

I feel blaming a person for feeling anxiety about their bodies is victim blaming. An individual is given a warped sense of what bodies should look like from being over exposed to certain bodies, and under exposed to others (ones that actually look more like theirs). Wrongfully, some argue being affected by these environmental factors makes an individual weak. They need to rise above these influences.

I can already hear voices saying – only a weak person would let images in the media impact their sense of self. Then the individual is told, be strong, foster body image and so on, but the root cause of the anxiety, societal pressures, unrealistic images, are never addressed.

Kind of sounds like this other example of victim blaming – you knew dressing that way made people think you wanted to have sex, you were “asking” to be sexually assaulted. That is victim blaming, and telling someone they are weak because they have body anxiety caused by a culture that promotes unrealistic bodies is also victim blaming.

The real solution to these problems is societal-level change in how we view and express bodies. Our society does not accept bodies unless they look a certain way. To create cultural change I need to normalize my body. There needs to be MORE pictures of my body, and people, including myself, need to look at them. One example of normalizing different bodies was Fa(t)shion February.

Ok, I am getting on a ramble – night folks.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Building a strong base

I don’t know when I wrote this – but it is wonderful. Thank you Ashley of the past for brightening my evening. Enjoy!

If I want to move forward on a journey towards improved health, I need to start by building a strong foundation to work from. Before I can try to improve my own health, I need to start believing that I have the capacity to improve my health. Therefore, I need to start by building confidence in myself and fostering a sense of self respect.

Recently I watched a show called “I Used to Be Fat.” There are a billion things wrong with that title, but that is another post. Anyways, the girl in the show wanted to run a sub 10 minute mile. During the show she pointed out that she has the physical capacity to run a sub 10 minute mile, but psychological barriers were keeping her from reaching that goal.

Sometimes I wonder if my slips and falls along my journey have created self doubt and psychological barriers to improving my health.

While I lack confidence in my abilities, time and time again I have proven myself wrong. Only 6 months ago I thought I would never get a job related to sexual health, but here I am typing this blog during one of my breaks between sexual health education classes. I ran a half marathon, went to graduate school and lobbied congress. When I was younger, not even in my wildest dreams would I have imagined I could do all of those things. But I did, so its time to stop the doubt and start trusting my ability and capacity to achieve and succeed when it comes to health, and all other areas of my life.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Imagine you are going for a run. There you are, jogging along having a good time. You have your iPod on and Miley Cyrus is blasting. It is a cool 60 degrees on a June night. Then you see this …


This is what I ran into last week. I later talked to my landlord and learned that they are filming a movie down the street from us. How cool! Cleveland has a tax credit for film production that brings many studios to the city to film.

After a little googling I cam across the Greater Cleveland Film Commission. The web site lists all the films that are being produced in Cleveland, and also about local positions available through the film project.

The movie they are filming down the street from me is called Fun Size. The film features Victoria Justice. Yeah, I guess she has a show on Nickelodeon. Here is more info on the movie:

“sarcastic teenage girl who is forced to take her little brother trick-or-treating on Halloween, then loses him and must find him before their mother finds out. It is described as a cross between Superbad and Adventures in Babysitting.”


Superbad meets Adventures in Babysitting? I am skeptial. Whatever, I will totally go see it, I saw where it was filmed!