Monday, March 26, 2012

You're Never Too Young...

I’m not even going to pretend I’ve weighed myself lately. As it is, I haven’t been to the gym in 4 days. No excuses, I’ve missed it. I’m heading in as soon as I’m done dashing off this post.

I’m annoyed. Irritated. Frustrated. Ready to bang my head on a wall (not that it’ll do any good) because
“they just don’t get it.”

I subscribe to Vogue, which is the Bible of airbrushed body loathing. (I like the clothes. I like to keep up on what’s in, even if it I can’t afford/fit it. I do have a sense of style, just not one I can indulge). The tip-off that maybe I wouldn’t enjoy this month so much was the Monster of Self-Promotion, She Who is Role Model to the Whoredashians, Jennifer Lopez, graces the April 2012 cover. (There IS a sex tape, but she blocked the release. Or says she blocked the release). I have not and will not read the accompanying article.

Nope, what has aroused my ire is the mixed message contain in the magazine. The hint comes with a teasers on the cover (I don’t work in magazine publishing. I don’t know the technical terms): “Kitchen Controversy: A Mom Fights Childhood Obesity At Home” and “SHAPE 2012 Your Best Body EVER Raise Your Metabolism Get Better Curves Age-Proof Your Skin”* And away we go.

(* This is my asterisk. Low tech, low cost means of age-proofing your skin? Plenty of water, adequate sleep, don’t smoke, minimize alcohol and  use sunblock made for babies (The adult stuff? Even if it's intended for sensitive skin, it gives me a chemical burn. Water Babies or Banana Boat Baby: If it's good enough for a baby's butt, it's good enough for my face). I have people telling me I look like I’m in my twenties. I’m not. AARP is actively hunting for me as we speak. And if Vogue finds out I’m undercutting product promotion, Anna Wintour will have a bounty on my head. You’ll see her wearing my scalp at the front row of Fashion Week in Paris. It makes an unusual pin).

The “Kitchen Controversy” story (Up Front, page 122, right behind the stinky Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb  perfume sample) is titled “Weight Watcher” about Dara-Lynn Weiss putting her 7 year old daughter on a Weight Watchers style diet. Let’s pause so that sinks in. 7. Second grader. Here’s a hint that maybe there’s a little projection going on : “I had suffered through my own issues with food (DING DING DING). Who was I to teach a little girl how to maintain a healthy weight and body image?” “Bea understands that, just as some kids have asthma, her weight is something she may always have to think about, unfair as it seems.” The story describes a running battle with this child over what she’s eating, including REMOVING FOOD FROM THE KID’S HAND IN PUBLIC AND DUMPING IT. Bea constantly complains about being hungry, gets some exercise (not much) and there are times when Mommy Dearest just lets her have whatever she wants; this woman doesn’t hold the line she has set but expects a young child to do it. Here’s my favorite line: “Incredibly, she has not yet exhibited symptoms of intense psychological damage.”  I believe “yet” is the operative word in that sentence.

Wow. Where do I begin? Not to the degree this broad did it, but I’ve been there. Pictures of me from when I was 9 or 10 (I haven’t seen them in a while, but I remember the class photos) show a slightly heavy girl. I wasn’t the class champ: there was one angry, snotty girl in my grade school class who was very big and I distinctly remember hearing her talk about cellulite at lunch (she was correcting someone else’s pronunciation of the word. Then snarled at me because I was listening. I think she went on to work at the DMV). I believe she was all of 11 (tops). This would have been 1972.

That’s 40 years we’ve been warping young female minds about body image.                   

My parents (who were not willows themselves) went the shame route with me and my grandmother piled on (Loved that woman to death, but she wasn’t slender, either. Neither was my grandfather), but I had free access to all the baked goodies that arrived with Gramp and Gram, not to mention inclusion on trips to Seward’s, the local dairy/ice cream parlor. My mother made “diet” bread for my sandwiches (which tasted like sawdust) and while my siblings were given lunch money, I brown-bagged it every day. Just a sandwich, no extras, maybe desserts sometimes (that were mocked by my classmates). I was shown pictures of fat little girls and asked “You don’t want to look like HER, do you?” I remember crying my eyes out more than once. Hell yeah, I cheated, especially after I’d left home and could make my own decisions about what I ate. BAD decisions, which is why I’m in my current “working hard to work it off” position.

And this was nothing compared to what the writer of that article did to her daughter. Poor little Bea is going to end up as a cutter, even if she’s lost 16 pounds in a year and her mother is proud of her (they’re pictured having afternoon tea, everything Momma DOESN’T want her daughter ingesting. This little girl has long legs like a model. I hope to God she kicks her mother with them). Dara-Lynn Weiss (author of the article) Look, Lady (and I use the term loosely), maybe there’s an issue with what she’s eating. Did you have her checked for food allergies? Celiac (which can begin manifesting as carb cravings)? Metabolic issues?  You talk about the doctor’s warning with weight (high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol), but NEVER ONCE indicated whether the kid had been TESTED for these issues. So it’s just an appearance issue, you self-loathing sanctimonious bitch. When the time comes, I hope she puts you in the worst nursing home imaginable.

Let’s jump to page 297 of our hymnals, “Can You Raise Your Metabolism?” The artistic photo is of 5 women in fat suits, clearly trained in classical dance (the poses, the feet). Remember the teaser from the cover, “Raise Your Metabolism”? Yeah, this woman, Ginny Graves, has decided you can only really do it temporarily. “Muscle is the main determinant of differences in metabolic rate – the single biggest reason Serena Williams incinerates calories while the majority of us count them.” This broad describes trying get hold of ephedra, rejecting HCG (yes, I did it. I think one round, otherwise your body says, “Hey, I know this trick. Nope. Not falling for it.”), pretty much every weight loss trick short of crystal meth (part of that weight loss is losing your teeth). Long story short, she works out like hell (Weight training and spinning class. Sounds familiar? Spinning is out for me due to the WRK – Wonky Right Knee. And I don’t like it. Give me an elliptical any day).

Her conclusions: you can only raise it temporarily. Fine: don’t stop moving.

After I’d read these two articles, the phrase that jumped to my mind was “Mixed Signals.” We had the mother with the iron fist trying to get her daughter to lose weight, but periodically giving the kid the okay for a cupcake and a second cupcake. And we had the cover of the magazine telling us “Raise Your Metabolism” (which is code for “Drop pounds”) but the inside story says, “No, not really. Not permanently.

This kind of inconsistency is what sells a lot of anti-anxiety meds.

It took me over 40 years to figure out the right path for me (which will lead to the gym in a few minutes), mostly because I kept asking for directions and the answers I got contradicted each other. (I’d say the same thing happened to the Israelites searching for the Promised Land, but you know the old joke about them being led by men so therefore nobody asked for directions).

Foods made with grains are not my friends. Refined sugar is not my friend. I can make a tastier, healthier meal from scratch than I can with something coming out of a jar or box. Hey, wow, it’s FUN to lift weights and see muscles getting defined. My favorite meal is some kind of meat and a salad or green vegetable and THAT WORKS FOR ME.  Having found these things, I can now tune out the background noise of mixed messages because my internal personal GPS has found the way.

And Bea Weiss? You are a beautiful girl. I’ve seen the pictures. Tell Mommy Headcase to get over herself and deal with her own issues before projecting them onto you (and exploiting it for an article in Vogue). You’re okay, Kid. Let’s hope you stay that way.

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