The Beginning...

The Beginning...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Our Bodies Part 2

Our Bodies Part 2

The idea that youth = beauty only exists to those no longer ‘young’ because the girls at my youth group don’t think they are beautiful, and that idea of ‘youth’ is becoming younger and younger. A girl I work with literally cried when she turned 23 because Taylor Swift’s song 22 no longer applied to her and that meant that she was old. Artists don’t sing about 23+ year olds anymore.

Cupcakes or Scones by Hollie McNish. – a great spoken word poem about aging.

Girls need to know what women look like, what they will look like. Hell I need to know what women look like, what I will look like. And I need to see if from women who know how beautiful they are and who are proud of what they look like. There are many projects that are trying to make that possible, tastefully. This is one of those projects. – a short video introducing a photography book.

I think with a decrease in photo shopped pictures that don’t represent true perfection and an increase in access to a tasteful representation of what true beauty is we can change how we view ourselves. By valuing the differences and beauty that our bodies are we can fight our self-loathing. We need to support this movement and fight against the lies we are fed in the media. We need to recognize how much this effects our lives, and how much we can increase our happiness and how good we feel about ourselves and how good our daughter feel about themselves. And to do that we need to act.

Some ideas on what we can do

1.    1   Stop the self-hate-
For different people this means different things. At the very start we need to change how we talk about and think about our bodies. Stop using negative language to describe ourselves. For me that means stop pinching my stomach and saying ‘porky porkypine.’
2.    2   Stop the hate of other women-
Stop using negative language to describe other women’s bodies. We can build each other up so well, why do we constantly instead choose to rip each other down instead?
3.   3    Limit the lies we take in-
Avoid media that offers up the unrealistic idea of perfection and beauty.
4.   4    Increase the amount of truth we see-
Truly look at what women really look like, embrace the differences you see. A women with stretch marks on her stomach and extra skin because of childbearing earned those stripes those are her mamastripes and we should all be proud that she has those, they are medal of honour.  A woman with curves or no curves or extra curves- each is beautiful and should be celebrated. You should be celebrated.
Look at art, new and old.
5.    5   Support the movement-
For some that might mean taking in the media that comes along with it. For other it is being a model, for others supporting time and skills, others, monetary contributes and for others that outspoken voice that gets people motivated and informed. And for all sharing it with one another, sharing how beautiful we really are, how perfect our bodies really are.

I don’t usually ask for comments and links to similar ideas on this blog from readers. But I would love to know what you think about this; how you think we can change how we look at ourselves and one another. Please leave positive helpful comments below. 

Our Bodies- Part 1

Our Bodies- Part 1

We hate them. Or at least (and this is for the lucky ones) only parts of them. I grew up in Canada and so maybe this is just a Western thing but we don’t see a lot of nudity, at least not real nudity. I can’t even remember the last time I saw someone I actually know naked or close to naked. (Myself and my husband being the exception.)  And the times that I do see people close to naked, like around a body of water, all I hear from my fellow women are
1. Complaints about their imperfect and ugly bodies that they hate
2. Slamming of the imperfect and ugly bodies of their fellow swimmers.
Reinforcing the idea that the bodies I see around me, and by extension my own body is ugly.

There is a movement right now, rather avant-garde, rather in its infancy that is try to combat this.
I don’t know if there is a name for this movement yet perhaps the Body Image Movement, but I like to call it the ‘How bodies really look, We truly are beautiful’ movement. Myself and many of associates in this movement have this idea that if we were to see what women’s bodies truly looked like naked we would love our own bodies more.   Personally I have been researching art work that shows what women through the ages have looked like and are represented to look like.
Venus of Willendorf or Woman of Willendorf made circa 28 000- 25 000 BCE

This statue is actually one of a number of similar statues known collectively as the Venus Figurines.  There is some controversy surrounding the use of these figurines (as a historian let me tell you that there is controversy surrounding almost every historical finding.) However that the figures were given the nickname Venus is important; at least for me. Venus was mythologically speaking the Roman Goddess whose defining characteristic and duties include love, beauty, sex, sexuality, and fertility. But today we look at this work and if we are kind say fat and if we are not, say obese and certainly never sexy or beautiful.
The Three Graces by Rubens 1639

To the left a deer with his head up and two deer grazing appear. The context in which these animals are presented and some pictorial precedents indicate that we understand them as references to sexual love. In Rubens text we can infer that the bulk of Graces is the expression of physical and moral status of the three goddesses. (Text excerpted Vergara , A.: The Three Graces by Rubens , 2001, pp. 73 - . 88) These women seem so comfortable in their bodies, none are hiding or obscuring parts of their anatomy.
Frida Kahlo Self Portrait With Thorn Necklace and Humming-bird 1940

Kahlo was best known for her self-portraits and their honesty. Although just of her face, this painting accepts and demonstrates confidence in what she looks like, hair and all. That is inspiring.

These are just a few examples from my search. I looked through paintings, sculptures, time periods, regions, ethnicities and national pieces and found hundreds of examples across the board of what women look like, but I have found that although so much exists it doesn’t pervade into everyday lives or experiences today. I find it comforting to know that although the ideal of beauty has constantly fluctuated throughout history, how women look has not changed that much. for a loose timeline of women’s ideal beauty.

A lot of people will say that fashion models are the problem, a quick scape goat, victim blaming. You go to a run way show and you see this:

But we all look at this and know it isn’t quite healthy and isn’t quite the perfection we seek either.
The problem is this
We tell ourselves, or at least I do that this is ‘perfection’. The entire industry sets women up to fail at ‘perfect’, and sexualises almost everything. What I hate is that I know this is photo shopped; neck, skin tone, cleavage, hair, eyes, chin, arms, waist, legs, hip bones, but I still think ‘this is what I want to look like’. For me it doesn’t seem to make a difference that I know what they’ve done to this picture, I still want that, I still compare my body to that. I can look at this image and know that that is not how bodies look; legs do not stand like that, hips look different, breasts are not that shape, her midsection is somehow not proportionate, her skin tone is too even across her entire body. I see images like this every single day. Until this project I avoided as much media as I could, I don’t buy magazine, or look at celebrities online, I don’t watch commercials, or seek out advertisements. And to be honest that helps a little. But not enough, I can’t walk outside without seeing these images of ‘perfection’ I can’t turn on the TV or my computer without seeing images whether I search for them or not.

I am not saying that this is all the industries fault, we let this happen, we stand for this. I truly believe that knowledge is power but for me knowing that these images are photo shopped and that these bodies do not really exist isn’t enough knowledge.  I still succumb to this idea of ‘perfection’.

We need more knowledge, we need to know what women look like; truly look like. I run an inner city youth group and the girls there hate themselves. This last year I have fought to show them the truth about themselves, to prove to them their worth as women and people, but the media is too much, the lies are too far reaching, their mothers teach them to hate their bodies not by telling their daughters that they are ugly but by telling their daughters that Mama hates her own body. “Ugg I hate my stomach, I could never lose that pregnancy weight after you, I shouldn’t eat that I am too fat already, my gray hair makes me look ancient, look at these disgusting wrinkles, you’ve lucky your young but this will all catch up to you one day.” It is too much to be bombarded with every single day. It’s too much to see ads everywhere, to hear self-loathing everywhere, to be told you are ugly outright and to think it over and over to yourselves because you aren’t ‘perfection.’ It’s too much. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Compounding Life

Compounding Life

   Today* is a day of bitter sweet. It is a day that makes me so thankful and so grateful to believe what I do, to believe that I can be with those I love again. Maybe this doesn't happen in other people's lives but dates seem to compound in my life. Today would have been Jon's 27th birthday, and today Solomon women gathered around our beloved grandmother and said our goodbyes and preformed our final service for her. A beautiful memory I will always cherish. I know that those who died are much happier now, Jon with his sword, Grams with Gramps; and I see their happiness and am grateful and it doesn't hurt. Then I remember that I can't laugh with them for a while, share a moment with them for a while, cry with them for a while and I feel sadness for myself. It feels so long since I've laughed with Jon and such a short time since I shared a moment with Gram but the sadness is the same. It hurts and it weighs and I carry it with me. But it makes me pull those I love around me closer, so that I can have that laugh, that moment and that cry with those still here with me. So that I have those memories to remember and hold dear. And from those who have gone on before I gain the desire to be better. oh to be smart like Jon and to love like Grandma Solly.

*Written on March 3rd 2013 it was too close and dear to share then. I felt ready to share it now.


Cooking with Fiddleheads

I am always on the hunt for new vegetables or new ways to cook old ones. Fiddleheads are pretty new for me, they only come into our local market at this time of year. So I thought I’d give them a try.

 I cut the ends off the fiddleheads and placed them spread fairly evenly on a pan lined with foil (for easy clean up and no other reason.) 

Spread Olive Oil lightly over fiddleheads then season with a little salt and lots of pepper and parmesan cheese.

I like fresh but from a shaker is fine too!

Place under a hot broiler for 8-12 minutes depending on your rack height.
You want to watch it to make sure that it has turned a BRIGHT green. Timing for serving up is pretty important because they cool very quickly. 

I love the way they turned out just that hint of a crunch which makes them the perfect texture. Definitely going to make these again and I came across a recipe for these babies fried up with gnocchi that I want to try too. 

Fiddleheads are definitely worth a shot if you are looking for ways to bring more vegetables onto your dinner table. 


Spring and summer vegetables always go well together, corn on the cob done on the grill (really brings out the sweetness) pan seared potatoes and grilled red pepper burgers.