Archive for Self Consciousness

Puberty is a Rip-Off
In which I fish for compliments and ponder the struggles of being short.

So here’s a question for you…

At what age, exactly, did you first realize that you weren’t going to be beautiful?

Like, maybe you were okay looking, but when did you realize that you were never gonna be heart-stoppingly life-destroyingly gorgeous?

For me, it was a very specific moment. I was at the orthodontist in eighth grade, and he was looking at an x-ray of my hand to determine how much longer it would be until I could get jaw surgery.

“Well, you see,” he said to my mother, “there’s no real space left between the bones of her hand, so she’s pretty much done growing.”

And that was the moment when I realized that this was where I peaked.

See, I’m a pretty short person, and I don’t mean the tiny, fae-like sort of short. I’m more like the…stubby, hobbit kind of short. I’ve been short since day one. I was a short baby probably. I started out short, and whenever I grew, the other kids grew proportionately, so it’s just been a lifetime of shortness.

This has only been exacerbated by my twin brother, who is a giant. He has always been a giant. He is, currently, over a foot taller than me. They literally thought he was going to eat me in the womb. It’s probably the biggest injustice of my life.

And the real issue is that, when you’re a short kid and your behemoth of a brother is making fun of your shortness, adults always say the same thing: “She’ll grow.”

They talk about how they were short as a kid, or they throw around fancy words like “growth spurt” and “growing pains,” and it all adds up to that fact that I entered into puberty with certain expectations. There I was—little fifth grade worm Rachel—waiting to enter a pubescent chrysalis stage and bust out of it as sexy grown-up butterfly Rachel.

Now, I knew that there would be a given amount of acne, and I understood the whole business with a period, but those were all pitched to me as being mere steps in the process to becoming Adult! Rachel.

So in my imagination, puberty was a lot more transformative than it actually turned out to be. It would straighten my nose, fluff my boobs, plump my lips, and make me taller. And by the end I would be a contestant on America’s Next Top Model, because that’s what adulthood is, right?

Now imagine all of those expectations, all of those hopes and dreams, and they’re all smushed by some orthodontist telling you that your height had peaked at five-foot-two.

Okay, five foot one.

People act as if puberty is very cut and dry, start to finish. There’s kid you, there’s teenage you, and there’s adult you. So I hope I wasn’t the only one to have the shock of a lifetime when I realized one day that, hey, adult me is already here, and she still has acne!

I hope I wasn’t the only one to have the disappointing thought that this is as good as it gets.

Please don’t misunderstand. I get by. I have no real issues with how I look. I actually think I’m pretty goshdarn cute. It’s just that I was all set to become a ten, and instead I settled into, like, a six and a half (in the right light). You know, all right, but nothing really special.

And that could have been the sad end to my puberty tale except that there’s a little secret nobody tells you in middle school—

It’s hard work to be pretty.

Being pretty takes time and determination and make-up and spanx. It requires a whole lot of effort. Pretty girls don’t just wake up that way. Well, okay, maybe some lucky jerks do, but most people don’t just wake up one day and find out they’ve become gorgeous (barring plastic surgery). Pretty is something you have to cultivate. Famous people and super models look that way partially because of fortunate genetics, but also because someone is paid a lot of money to spend two hours putting make-up on them.

And the thing is, you can approach this in a few ways:

  1. You can say, “screw it. Screw everything. Screw Tyra Banks and her stupid tv show.”
  2. You can say, “I have control over how I look, and I am able to make myself prettier if I want to.”
  3. Or you can embrace a cautious mix of numbers 1 and 2.

Now, I’m never gonna be on America’s Next Top Model. (Their minimum height requirement is 5’7, the fascists.) But I also sure as hell don’t look the same as I did at age thirteen. Even if I haven’t grown in height, I’ve learned about make-up, I’ve figured out how to dress myself better (thirteen-year-old Rachel really liked cargo pants) and I’ve taken plenty of bombin’ selfies. Turns out it is possible to take the bum deal that puberty gave you and make your own gorgeous out of it. And whether that means t-shirts and yoga pants or sundresses and sandals, we’re allowed to change ourselves into any version we like.

And, just a heads up, at six-foot-three my brother is well within the requirements of America’s Next Top Model, so that’s something for him to start working towards.

 

Rachel Sudbeck

 

The imperfect figure: accepting our bodies

body-types-shapes

We are all born to look a certain way. It’s not until we are exposed to beauty expectations that we start to have issues with the parts we have.

Have you ever looked in the mirror and decided there was something about yourself that you didn’t like? I can answer be honest and say that, yes, I have had that experience.

The women in my family—including my mother, my grandmother, and me—have all been “blessed with” a not-so-prominent backside. I’m talking about our butts. This fact was so well known that for a while I was called “little butt.” To me, the name was always a joke until one day I looked at it in the mirror and was like, “Wow, they weren’t kidding!”

I’m sure that each and every person alive—man or woman—has looked in the mirror to observe a part of their bodies at least once. But what tells us something is wrong with the way we look? Is it the magazines that retouch every photo we see? Take Kim Kardashian, for instance: she’s well known for her booty, so why is it that her photo was still fixed to make her bust, waist, and hips look smaller?

Kim Kardashian

Kim shared this photo with fans and even admitted to having cellulite and not being bothered by it:

“So what? I have a little cellulite.”

This makes me wonder why is it that we label people or point out what’s different about their bodies. Small, skinny, thin, big, wide, fat, average: the names are endless and pointless.

Comfortable is a word that should be used more often, followed by happy.

When I look at myself in the mirror now, I say that my size isn’t small or skinny or thin or average. It’s just my size. And unless I decide to have surgery or retouch every photo I’m, in I’ll always look like this… until I grow old of course. Even then I’m going to accept my wrinkles like I’ve had them my entire life because they won’t be going anywhere.

When it comes to self-acceptance, there isn’t a limit on how much we can achieve. Simply put, we all need to love our bodies and everything that comes with them.

Brittany Eldridge

The Evolution of Me… a guest post by Fallon Willoughby

I want to tell the story of my own struggle with weight.

As a child I was always very pudgy. I never really thought about it because I wasn’t really that overweight. My mom always said I just hadn’t grown into my weight, hadn’t yet lost my baby fat.

But one day when I was in sixth grade my father told me I was getting fat and needed to lose weight.

I was utterly devastated. Honestly, I do not remember much beyond the simple fact of my father saying those words. I did hope to lose weight though I never thought about doing anything drastic. But, Lord, his words hurt.

Not long after that, I grew into my weight. I went from being chunky to weighing 110 pounds. I mean skinny…

That was my senior year of high school. Then I married and became a college freshman. So I gained the freshman fifteen and the married fifteen: thirty pounds in such a short time. I’m not sure how I managed not to notice until suddenly my pants wouldn’t fit over my bum and my shirts were too low-cut because I suddenly had boobs!

Here’s me a year later…

The crazy thing is at first my weight gain didn’t bother me.

My husband loved it. I bought new clothes. Friends from high school saw me and commented on how much better I looked. My family said I no longer looked like a bean pole. My favorite comment would be from a friend in Walmart who loudly announced that my new curves, bum, and boobs looked amazing.

As I said, it was a change that didn’t seem to bother me.

Fast forward another two years, and I gained some more weight.

My thighs, already large, were getting bigger. My new clothes weren’t fitting. My stomach… oh, the stomach.

Still, I ignored it.

Then a nurse commented on my weight gain. I could no longer ignore the problem. I was gaining quite a bit of weight and I was way over my healthy weight. I became self-conscious in ways I never was before.  I worried about my weight and my stomach chubbyness most of all. I noticed other women who looked so much better than me. That’s when envy set in. Ooooh, the envy for a better body. (Pinterest sucks, by the way.)

I finally decided to do something. I lost weight by exercising and cutting back on fast food last summer. I was very, very proud of that.

But I didn’t diet. I have never ever believed in all those stupid diets. I knew that just because you dieted for a bit and drastically lost weight doesn’t mean you won’t gain it back the instant you go back to normal habits.

I wanted to change.

Since last summer, I have basically quit exercising. It’s depressing, but I tend to have problems finding the time. Of course, that’s also procrastination on my part. I love to Zumba and to walk, but walking is much harder to do when it’s freezing outside. At the moment, I’ve hit a stalemate. And fast food is soooo easy during the semester.

My husband still tells me I’m beautiful. But some days I have a really hard time believing it. Not to mention my acne has taken a major turn for the worse.

One day I mentioned all of this to my friend Heather, and she let me have it. She wrote a blog post about why we should stop hating ourselves and dedicated it to me. I squealed. And I felt beautiful.

I try to hold onto that most days.

FALLON WILLOUGHBY is a self-described wacky college student, a double major in history and English. Her dream job is to be a history professor focusing on the history of magic or the Middle Ages or Renaissance. She is married toher high school sweetheart. You can read her blog at Historian in Progress.

Ugly is as ugly does

I had an epiphany the other day.

I’ve long argued that people who care about us—friends, family, lovers—don’t usually notice our flaws when they see us. They notice, instead, our assets—our eyes, our smile, our laugh, our kind words, etc. Which is probably why nobody ever really thought Betty was ugly.

And it hit me the other day that the opposite is also true… we are more likely to notice the flaws of the people we don’t really like, especially people we consider ugly on the inside.

When we don’t like someone, even someone generally considered attractive, we start to pick up on even slight imperfections—tiny wrinkles, slight bulges, odd shaped body parts, etc.

When the cocky guy at the office comes up to our desk and brags about his latest exploit, we don’t notice his ripped abs, but rather his thinning hair and cracked lips.

In that sense, ugly really is as ugly does.

Which makes me realize that being nice to other people has way more to do with how others see us—both physically and emotionally—than anything else.

I’m going to remind myself about this every time I worry about some silly little flaw or blemish of mine—and tell myself no one will notice these things as long as they’re more busy noticing how much they’re enjoying my good company.

Step right up!

I work really hard at having a good attitude about my body and the way I eat, but every once in a while, I find a situation that causes me to struggle.

One of those situations is when my husband doesn’t want to eat anything and I do.

For some reason, it makes me feel like a horrible person if I want to eat and he doesn’t. I’m not sure why I feel this way. I wish I could blame him—because that would be so much easier, right?—but in truth, he’s the most supportive person in my life. He backs me up even when I tell him I want to eat ice cream from the carton or an entire box of processed mac ‘n cheese by myself. Okay, so I only do these kinds of things about once a year, but still, the point is that he’s there for me when I do.

Which raises the question why do I feel guilty when I eat without him? I’m not really sure, but this weekend I finally decided I was sick of it.

We went to Cincinnati to celebrate a friend’s wedding—Congratulations, Katie and Murray!—and see our moms on Mother’s Day, and per usual, being on the road meant that we ate WAY too much unhealthy food.

(We did manage to exercise two of the four days we were gone, so not all was lost.)

After two and a half days of subsisting on fast food and an all-you-can-eat-Mother’s-Day buffet, Dave hit the wall and declared he didn’t want to eat another bite until we got home. (Yes, he’s prone to these kinds of extreme statements.) That was fine for him, but this was Sunday afternoon, and we hadn’t had dinner yet. No way I was going almost twenty hours without food.

But that meant doing something I loathe—eating when he doesn’t.

To make matters worse, we were staying with friends, and by the time we got back to their house after a long day with Dave’s family, they’d already eaten their dinner. This meant that not only would Dave not be eating with me, but they wouldn’t either. AND on top of that, I’d have to eat my meal while all three of them watched me do it.

In other words, I’d be the floor show . . .

Step right up, ladies and gentleman, and see something that will make you cringe in horror. Appearing in this tent right behind me is the curvy lady who eats by herself. Yes, that’s right—a curvy lady who eats by herself! Come inside and see her do it . . . if you dare!

Needless to say, the idea wasn’t very appealing.

On the other hand, neither was skipping dinner.

As far as I could see, I had two choices: miss a meal or pressure Dave into eating with me. And I knew the latter would not be pretty.

And then it occurred to me I had a third choice: I could eat by myself and not let it get to me. After all, it was up to me whether or not I wanted to feel uncomfortable about eating alone in front of three other people. I could just do it and not make a big deal out of it, right?

As soon as I realized this, I felt like a new person. A person who didn’t worry about eating when no one else was eating. A person who doesn’t mind eating in front of others. All I had to do was be that person.

So I put on my big girl panties, walked right up to Habañero, and got myself a veggie taco and some chips and salsa, which I brought home and ate in front of three people who couldn’t have cared less.

I am not kidding when I say it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

Keep your eyes on your own plate

Tonight I went out for an otherwise lovely pre-reading dinner with a guest writer and some people from school.

Everything was going well until the waiter came to take our orders. He said he’d start with me, and I just assumed that at that point, the rest of the table—eight other people for God’s sake!—would pick up their conversations where they left off, as most people do when you are eating in a nice restaurant with a large group.

But, no, instead of doing that, the entire table sat there silently, staring at me and listening intently to my every word.

I felt like I was placing my order on a live YouTube feed.

In case you don’t know, this is not the way to behave. When a lady places her order—or a man for that matter—its best to busy yourself with other things. Look at your menu, re-fold your napkin, make small talk for God’s sake. Whatever. Otherwise, said lady may feel like you are judging her choice of food.

Okay, so I will admit said lady—that would be me!—has some food and body issues that may contribute to her desire to be able to order without so much scrutiny, and we all know that. But I still think that whenever a person orders a meal, it’s best if others don’t act like the most interesting thing they’ve done all day is eavesdrop on the very private conversation that occurs between a server and his/her patron.

Really? You’re going to have the calzone? But isn’t that the highest calorie item on the menu?

Okay, again, so I have to admit that no one actually said that or anything like it. But they might as well have for all the looks I got.

(And for the record, I ordered the calzone because, at $11.50, it was easily the cheapest thing on the menu.)

It also didn’t help that the waiter was a bit clueless. The menu said “make your own calzone,” so when I asked him what normally comes in a calzone, I thought he might say, mozzerella, cheese, and tomatoes. But instead, he said, “Well, a calzone is like a pizza rolled over on itself.”

Like I didn’t know what a calzone was. I grew up in New Jersey for God’s sake, home of the mafia and Frank Sinatra. I think I know what a goddamned calzone is.

In fact, that’s the reason I was asking. I didn’t want some Americanized version of a calzone. I wanted the real deal. According to the World English Dictionary, a calzone is “a dish of Italian origin consisting of pizza dough folder over a filling of cheese and tomatoes, herbs, ham, etc.”

That’s right—cheese, tomatoes, and ham. That’s how they make it in Jersey. But as those of you who’ve been to any branch of LaRosa’s in Cincinnati know, one person’s calzone is another person’s fill-in-the-blank. And I didn’t want any cheddar cheese in my calzone, thank you very much.

Of course, our poor waiter did not know I hail from Jersey, but still. It seemed like a simple question. You’d think I could have gotten a simple answer. And all of this happened while I was still on stage, performing for the rest of the table like a tight-rope walker.

So I felt a bit uncomfortable when I had to explain to the waiter that I wanted a calzone with mozzarella, ricotta, tomatoes, and ham.

Ricotta and ham, you say? I might as well have ordered a chocolate cake for dinner. With brownies on top.

And that’s now where it ends either.

Because when the waiter finally brought my calzone, he presented it by apologizing for burning the end of it, saying they were currently making another in case I wasn’t happy with this one. Of course, his comment caused all eight pairs of eyes to look down the table at my plate and see the newborn-sized slab of dough he had placed in front of me.

Wow, that’s huge!

I can’t believe the size of that thing!

Boy, do you think it’s big enough?

Unlike the previous words, the ones that had only been said in my head, these words were said out loud. By actual people.

I wanted to die.

Or crawl under my monster-sized calzone and hide.

I also wanted to shout, Haven’t you people ever seen a calzone before??? They’re always freaking huge. What, have you never been to Jersey before???

But most of these people probably haven’t been to Jersey, and if they have, I’m sure they’d have no idea where to find a good calzone.

(Here’s a hint: if you can add cheddar cheese to it, it’s not a real calzone.)

Here’s another hint: when a lady’s food arrives, and it looks a bit oversized, it’s best not to comment on the girth of the meal in front of her. We worry enough about our girths. We don’t need to worry about our food being too fat too.

As it turned out, the calzone was amazing and completely authentic. Sinatra would have been proud of the people at The Brickyard. But the truth is I’ll think twice before I order another Italian turnover as big as a small child when out with other people. Which, in the end, kind of makes me sad.

May the force be with all of us

Last Thursday, I took the opportunity to thank Carrie and Katie Goldman for reminding us how important it is to be an individual after first grader Katie was teased about her Star Wars water bottle, which the teasers told her was just for boys.

Hearing Katie’s story got me thinking about my own grade school experiences with Star Wars, and since Katie asked to hear stories about other girls women who love all things Han Solo and Princess Leia, I thought I’d share one of those experiences here . . .

When I was in second grade, we had a talent show at my grade school, St. Ann’s, a tiny Catholic school that was tucked away in a quiet corner of Raritan, New Jersey, only a few miles away from where I grew up.

Not knowing that talent shows usually feature people with significant talent, I immediately signed up to perform the baton twirling routine I was learning in my first-ever baton class that year.

Unfortunately, another twirler performed right before me: Edwina Schwinn. Edwina was my best friend and part of the reason I had taken up twirling. She was also a champion twirler.

During the talent show, Edwina wore a gorgeous sequined costume and a glittering tiara. She threw two batons in the air at the same time, spun around three times, and still caught both of them.

In contrast, I wore a standard-issue black leotard with white tights and could only throw one baton from one hand to the other without dropping it.

As soon as Edwina began to perform, I realized my mistake. I was not talent-show material. Despite this, I got up when my name was called and soldiered through my amateur routine in front of a cafeteria full of my classmates.

As soon as the whole thing was over, I ran to the bathroom and cried.

Thirty minutes later, on the bus ride home, I was still teary-eyed, but the other boys in my grade comforted me by saying that they liked my performance better than Edwina’s because of the song that went with my routine.

That song was none other than the theme to the original Star Wars, proving that sometimes liking things boys usually like more than girls isn’t always a bad thing.

Why I’m thankful for Carrie and Katie Goldman

One of the main goals of this blog is to encourage people to accept themselves the way they are, and one aspect of doing that is embracing our individuality and truly believing that there isn’t only one way to look beautiful. But embracing our individuality is not just about our body size. It is about every aspect of ourselves—our bodies, our hairstyles, our personalities, our quirks, our strengths, even our flaws.

So when I recently read the story below—about Carrie Goldman’s young daughter finally learning to embrace her individuality—I just had to share her story with all of you.

The following is cross-posted from Carrie Goldman’s blog, Portrait of an Adoption, and you can read Carrie’s original post as well as her follow-up post, which details all of the attention this story has received and how you can get involved with a Facebook event on December 10th.













Anti-Bullying Starts in First Grade by Carrie Goldman

November 15-19 is Anti-Bullying Week at the schools. Like so many others, I have been reading with dismay about the recent victims of bullying, and I ache inside for the pain these young people have experienced.

I have often thought of bullying as a problem that faces children older than mine, but a recent conversation with my first grader has given me pause. Maybe it starts right here, right now with our little ones.

At summer’s end, Katie and I went to Target to pick out her backpack, lunchbox and water bottle for the new school year. After great deliberation, she chose a Star Wars water bottle to match her Star Wars backpack.

Katie loves Star Wars, and she was very excited about her new items. For the first few months of school, she proudly filled her water bottle herself and helped me pack her lunch each morning.

But a week ago, as we were packing her lunch, Katie said, “My Star Wars water bottle is too small. It doesn’t hold enough water. Can I take a different one?” She searched through the cupboard until she found a pink water bottle and said, “I’ll bring this.”

I was perplexed. “Katie, that water bottle is no bigger than your Star Wars one. I think it is actually smaller.”

“It’s fine, I’ll just take it,” she insisted.

I kept pushing the issue, because it didn’t make sense to me. Suddenly, Katie burst into tears.

She wailed, “The first grade boys are teasing me at lunch because I have a Star Wars water bottle. They say it’s only for boys. Every day they make fun of me for drinking out of it. I want them to stop, so I’ll just bring a pink water bottle.”

I hugged her hard and felt my heart sink. Such a tender young age, and already she is embarrassed about the water bottle that brought her so much excitement and joy a few months ago.

Is this how it starts? Do kids find someone who does something differently and start to beat it out of her, first with words and sneers? Must my daughter conform to be accepted?

The confusing part for me is that I know these first grade boys. I can’t simply see them as random mean boys bullying my baby. They are good kids individually, and Katie often plays happily with them.

But when you put the boys together in a pack, maybe they start to feel vulnerable and insecure, which causes them to do unkind things, such as tease my daughter for carrying a Star Wars water bottle.

Maybe they do it to get laughs out of each other. Maybe they do it because if they are busy teasing Katie, nobody will tease one of them. Maybe they do it because they want her attention and have limited social skills at this age.

“Katie, it is okay to be different. Not all girls need to drink out of pink water bottles,” I told her.

“I don’t want to be too different,” Katie lamented. “I’m already different. Nobody else in my class wears glasses or a patch, and nobody else was adopted. Now I’m even more different, because of my Star Wars water bottle.”

Katie cannot control the fact that she is different due to adoption or poor eyesight. But she can control what accessories she carries to school, and she is trying to exercise that control. She has learned that there are degrees of being different, and she wants to minimize how different she is.

Being different is a complicated topic. We say that we celebrate diversity, and we preach tolerance. But at the same time, we as adults are often fearful of those who are different. I see people tease each other for being gay or poor or overweight. I see grown-ups bullying others for holding different religious and political beliefs.

I see people publicly lauding diversity and privately attacking those who are different.

It trickles down to kids teasing each other for the types of toys they prefer. So it starts now, with a couple first graders and a water bottle. Right here, right now, we as a community need to recognize the slippery slope of bullying those who are different. We need to show our support for each other’s choices, as long as they do no harm.

I talked to Katie about all my musings. Talking about it is the best defense. I have urged her to bring the Star Wars water bottle if that is what she really wants to do, even if it makes her different. Today, she felt brave enough to bring it. I hope that she is able to eat her lunch without feeling nervous.

I would love to be able to show Katie that she is not alone, that other females appreciate Star Wars. If there are any female Star Wars fans reading this, please feel free to show your support for Katie. I will let her read your messages or comments, and I think she will be surprised by what I suspect is a vast number of female fans.

And if you have a little boy out there who wants to carry a pink water bottle, tell him about Katie and reassure him that if she can carry a “boy” water bottle, he can carry a “girl” water bottle. Let’s help all our kids grow into confident adults who can appreciate being different.


Postscript: Wow! Katie is overjoyed by the comments coming in!!! My sweet first grade daughter has been sitting with me at the computer, reading aloud all the wonderful, supportive notes from readers, and her face is shining. Each night after dinner, we are going to sit together, and she is going to read several comments to me and her daddy. We are going to print the comments out and make a book for her to read whenever she feels the need. Today she wore a Star Wars shirt to school and said to me, “Tell the people about it!!!!” This is really restoring her self confidence. She did a jaunty little pirouette in her Star Wars shirt before school.

Can you say paranoid?

For the most part, I’m able to keep my insecurities in check, but every once in a while they get the better of me. I’ll give you an example . . .

We park in a gated lot on campus, and after I left our car the other day, I was walking along the sidewalk next to the exit lane when the gate suddenly went up. I jumped back and thought, my God, do I really weigh enough to set off the parking gate? Do I really weigh as much as a small vehicle???

When I got home and complained to Dave about the incident, he laughed and said, “Uh, it’s not based on weight. It’s a sensor—when you walk past it, it goes off.”

“You mean, like in the movies? When the burglar has to go under the red light?”

“Just like that.”

Of course, there is a sensor. How could I have ever thought otherwise? How could I have honestly imagined that I weighed as much as a small car?

I hope you’re not expecting me to answer that question because, if you are, then I’m afraid you just don’t get it.

Whip it good

194 pounds

I finally saw Whip It this weekend, and I have to say that the movie did not disappoint. I had low expectations because some people we trust had told us they didn’t like the film. I always think it’s better to go into the theatre with low expectations than high ones anyway because it makes it easier to enjoy yourself if you’re not sitting there thinking something like, I thought this was going to be the greatest movie ever made, but this dialogue is awful!

Maybe the movie was a little bit silly and predictable (and possibly not an accurate depiction of roller derby life), but, like I said, since I had low expectations, I didn’t even notice.
Because to me it didn’t feel predictable as much as relatable, and it didn’t seem silly as much as youthful and fresh. And the story is stand-up-and-cheer inspiring: teenage Bliss (played with loads of empathy and huge Bambi eyes by Juno‘s Ellen Page) has no agency or direction in life (and nothing that really makes her happy) until she sees two roller derby teams in nearby Austin shove it out one fateful night. After trying out for one team, she develops into a derby prodigy named Babe Ruthless who has as much drive and discipline as an Olympic athlete. In this way, it’s a wonderful girl empowerment story that will join the ranks of films like Girlfight and Bend it Like Beckham before it.

But the reason I’m writing about the film on this blog is because I couldn’t help but notice that all of the actors looked so darned real, which I absolutely loved. They were all different shapes and sizes—Ellen Page’s Bliss was an adorable little french fry of a girl while her best friend Pash was a lovely roller coaster of valleys and curves.
And the girls on the various roller derby teams were similarly diverse—sure, Drew Barrymore was in phenomenal shape, but some of the others—Kristin Wiig and Juliette Lewis included—looked their age and sported imperfect stomachs, thighs, and arms without an ounce of shame or self-consciousness. (It’s hard to be self-conscious, I suppose, when you’re skating around a roller rink wearing a short pleated skirt, a sleeveless, stomach-baring top, and fishnet stockings.)
But it wasn’t just their bodies that looked imperfect—it was also their hair (sometimes stringy or uninspired), their makeup (often greasy and overdone), and their skin (blemished on some occasions and wrinkled on others).
Of course, I credit the female director, Drew Barrymore, with keeping these women from looking artificial and plastic while still allowing them to look attractive and even hot. It makes perfect sense to me that it was Barrymore—an actress who’s gone through a variety of looks and dress sizes over the years—who felt comfortable letting these women look so true-to-life. In that way, the direction feels both emotionally and physically honest. And the movie is clearly better for it.
For when Babe Ruthless and her cohorts take to the rink, it’s incredibly easy for those of us sitting in the audience to cheer for them because they look a lot more like us than most of the women we see staring back at us from that giant movie screen—more authentic than artificial, more lifelike than fantasy, more likeable than distasteful.
So I applaud Barrymore and her talented crew of actresses for baring not only their wonderfully diverse bodies but also their middle-aged and appealingly flawed faces.
And I encourage all of you to support Barrymore—and all female directors by extension—by taking your daughters and nieces to see this film (either now while it’s still in the theatre or later on DVD). After all, if we don’t support women who give us what we want, we have only ourselves to blame.
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