Archive for January 28, 2010

Childhood Obesity, Part I: Rethinking baby fat

191 pounds

During the State of the Union address last night, President Obama announced that Michelle Obama is going to lead a new American initiative to fight childhood obesity. I was obviously thrilled to hear this since, like most of us, I’m concerned about the fact that more and more Americans are becoming obese these days, especially children.

Michelle Obama has already emphasized the importance of eating locally grown, organic food—an issue near and dear to my heart—by planting the first organic garden on the grounds of the White House, and this new initiative jibes perfectly with the message of the garden, which is that we all need to be eating more meals that we cook at home—meals made from whole foods—rather than relying so much on processed and fast foods.

I imagine her initiative will also focus on exercise as well, an issue that’s also important. According to USA Today, the initiative will work “to provide more nutritious food in schools, allow more opportunities for kids to be physically active and give more communities access to affordable, healthful food.”

But what concerns me is that eating well and exercising isn’t necessarily enough to combat the rising rate of obesity in our country. Yes, these are essentially the same tips I advocate on this blog, but my blog is read by a small group of people whereas people around the world listen to First Lady Michelle Obama.

And the problem with implying that obesity is only the result of bad behavior is that scientists are now starting to find out there may be more to it. It may actually be chemicals that are making our children obese at a much higher rate than say that of our grandparents’ generation.

The real evidence of this lies with babies.

Babies don’t eat too much or exercise too little. In fact, babies generally eat the same amount, especially if they’re being nursed and can only consume the milk their mothers provide. Which is why it’s strange that more babies—even babies who only get their calories from their nursing mothers—are now suffering from obesity too.

According to Newsweek‘s 2009 expose on this issue,“In 2006 scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health reported that the prevalence of obesity in infants under 6 months had risen 73 percent since 1980. ‘This epidemic of obese 6-month-olds,’ as endocrinologist Robert Lustig of the University of California, San Francisco, calls it, poses a problem for conventional explanations of the fattening of America. ‘Since they’re eating only formula or breast milk, and never exactly got a lot of exercise, the obvious explanations for obesity don’t work for babies,’ he points out. ‘You have to look beyond the obvious.'”

And when they looked beyond the obvious, what scientists found was that chemicals might be the thing making babies fatter. According to laboratory studies, chemicals make mice fatter by reprogramming their metabolism, and the same might be happening with babies . . . or any of us.

In fact, “In 2005 scientists in Spain reported that the more pesticides children were exposed to as fetuses, the greater their risk of being overweight as toddlers. And last January scientists in Belgium found that children exposed to higher levels of PCBs and DDE (the breakdown product of the pesticide DDT) before birth were fatter than those exposed to lower levels. Neither study proves causation, but they ‘support the findings in experimental animals [and] show a link between exposure to environmental chemicals … and the development of obesity.'”

And that might be why some people under the age of fifty in our society have become obese even though they don’t necessarily eat more or exercise less than anyone else.

Does this mean we should all give up trying to be lean, mean fighting machines?

Of course not.

In fact, if like me you weren’t overweight as a child, scientists believe it’s unlikely that you were affected by chemicals in this way.

Meaning that healthy eating and exercise is still the answer for most of us.

But it also means that we have to re-shape our ideas about obesity in this country. And we have to understand that there are now two reasons—chemicals and genetics—why you shouldn’t judge the person who needs a larger seat in the movie theatre, doctor’s office, or classroom.

(And don’t try to pretend that you don’t judge that person because I know you do. The sad fact is that we all do.)

So I applaud Michelle Obama for taking on this incredibly important issue, but I also urge her to look beyond the obvious culprits of diet and exercise and to push scientists to find a way to reverse the effects of these chemicals rather than simply telling overweight kids they need to exercise more and eat less.

Do or do not. There is no try.

191 pounds

I was talking with some co-workers at lunch today about what kind of sports and physical activities we were involved in as children.

The fittest person in our group, a man who might not have a single ounce of body fat on his extremely lean build, confessed to us that he had been overweight as a child and only passed gym class because his P.E. teacher took pity on him.
This from a man who now works out every single day and wanted to walk the two-mile roundtrip to lunch even though the hill we work on top of is so steep that our college’s sports teams is actually called the “Hilltoppers.”
It was definitely a surprise to hear about his heavier past, but when I thought about it, I had to admit that he’s not the first person I’ve known who was overweight as a child and then decided as an adult that they no longer wanst to be bigger than everybody else. Some of them, like my co-worker, even go so far as to decide that they want to have a nearly perfect physique.
So what I want to know is, what makes this work for them? How do they do it??
Because when I decide I want to have a perfect physique—which I admit I sometimes do in my weakest moments—nothing really changes. Yes, I keep improving my health and losing small amounts of weight, but why is it that when I wake up on an unusually bad day and decide I want to be 150 pounds, it doesn’t happen? Do these people have some special powers I don’t have? If you’re overweight as a kid, do you get a pass on being that way when you’re older?
For God’s sake, what is their secret?!!

Curvier . . . Rounder . . . Better!

191 pounds

The internet has been buzzing all week about two stories The New York Times ran after the Golden Globes, and since both relate to the issues on this blog, I want to talk about them.

First, the Times ran an article that quoted an anonymous stylist dissing Christina Hendricks’ dress (pictured above).
The stylist said it was the wrong dress for her and added that “You don’t put a big girl in a big dress.” Thankfully, the blogosphere went crazy over the idea that Hendricks is big.
As CNN explained in an article about the controversy today, “Some were upset by the post, particularly by the use of the word ‘big.’ ‘They bothered me because they called her a big girl because she’s by no means a big girl—the only thing big about her is her chest,’ said celebrity blogger Cara Harrington. Another blogger, fashion editor Vanessa Raphaely, said that by calling Hendricks ‘big,’ the Times was ‘stretching the definition of the word.'”
I couldn’t agree more.
If you look at pictures of Hendricks, it’s easy to see that she has tiny arms, a small waist, and a thin face. But what I love about Hendricks is that she has significant curves—hips, thighs, and a bust—that we can all admire.
And I also agree with the bloggers that The New York Times was foolish to print a quote that refers to Hendricks as “big” because it’s a term that carries only the ugliest of connotations. Technically, a person can be big and still gorgeous, but unfortunately, in our society, big has come to mean bad (unless you’re talking Extra Value Meals).
Like I’ve already said about the word “fat,” the word “big” should probably be avoided as a way to describe a person’s body. I remember a few years ago, a friend of ours described another friend—a man—as a “big guy,” and this comment was not only poorly received, it sent said guy on a crazy, lo-cal diet.
At first I felt like people were overreacting a bit in their criticism of The New York Times. After all, they weren’t the ones who called Hendricks big. They were just reporting it.
But maybe going after the Times is not such a bad thing. If more of us complained about these types of comments and the people who report them, maybe the media would be forced to re-evaluate how they talk about and depict women’s bodies.
At the same time, I do believe that the other criticism of the Times’ coverage of Sunday’s red carpet is unwarranted.
On Monday, the Times fashion reporter, Andy Port, said in a post called “A Rounder Golden Globes” that she thought that three actresses—Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, and Kate Hudson—looked like they had “put on a little weight.”
Bloggers and commenters unleashed on Port for this observation, but I think they failed to get her point. In the article, Port describes these women as “sporting sexier curves,” and then goes on to say that “Instead of a Barbie-doll circumference, there was suddenly, amazingly, a womanly roundess to their frames. More Marilyn than Twiggy, that’s for sure.”
Call me crazy, but it seems to me that Port is applauding this change rather than criticizing it. That’s why she uses words like “sexier” and “amazingly.” And her comment that they are “More Marilyn than Twiggy” has to be seen as a compliment because even today, even when we see far too many models with unhealthy BMIs gracing the covers of our magazines, most of us would still rather look like Marilyn Monroe than Twiggy, right?
God, I hope so.
And if that’s Port’s point, she’s not the only one who’s pleased. If she’s trying to say that Aniston, Cox, and Hudson’s new bodies might just mean that our perceptions of beauty are finally changing in our society, then I could not be happier.
Yes, Port could have been clearer about that point, but I’m still glad she said it.
Of course, he irony of this whole brouhaha is that if anyone reminds me of Monroe it is the stunning Christina Hendricks.

Clothes make the woman

191 pounds

It has taken me nearly all of my thirty-nine years to finally understand that self esteem is more about the way you dress than the number of the scale.
I started figuring this out a few years ago, and I am still learning how to dress my body for maximum appeal. As a result, I have become a bit obsessed with fashion, which is why awards shows like the Golden Globes are a big deal for me.
Unfortunately, after watching Sunday night’s red carpet show, it seems that very few women—even women who have access to stylists and free designer duds—know how to dress for the bodies they have, whether they are wonderfully curvy or fabulously fit.
Because dressing for your body is something that all women have to do and because this blog is about feeling good about yourself no matter what your size, I think it makes sense to take a day to talk about how to do the former.
There were a few women at the Globes who knew how to dress for the body size and shape, but mostly it was one fashion faux pas after another on the red carpet.
Let’s start with the people who got it right.
For my money, Meryl Streep was one of the best dressed women on the red carpet Sunday night (thanks to her designer, Project Runway‘s Chris March), and (as I mention in my Gallery of Gorgeous Woman to the right) she’s admitted to being a size fourteen, a healthy size we can all aspire to, so it makes sense to discuss why her look was so successful . . .
It’s the neckline and the fit that make this dress work so well. The off-the-shoulder asymmetrical neckline is a fabulous choice for women who want to draw attention away from their middles and up to their faces and necks. Also, the fit is outstanding. The dress skims her body but doesn’t squeeze it, highlighting her silhouette without letting it overpower her, which is crucial for curvy women. Finally, the belt perfectly accentuates her torso because it shows off her waistline without cinching it. This dress is simultaneously sexy and age-appropriate without ever wandering into mother-of-the-bride territory as so many women her age do.
Though she’s only curvy because she’s pregnant, Amy Adams also offered us a great model of how to dress if you have ample assets . . .
Adams’ little black dress is another example of how an off-the-shoulder neckline, like Streep’s, goes a long way towards downplaying busty cleavage, and her fitted waist and just-above-the-knee hemline show us how to camoflauge the area in the middle without hiding it from view. The short style also draws our eye to her legs, which look even longer because of her bronze-colored shoes. Adams’ look is a wonderful lesson on how to dress if you want to feature your legs and shoulders and hide a bump in the middle.
On the other end of the spectrum of women who looked great on the red carpet is Big Love‘s Ginnifer Goodwin . . .

What’s great about Ginnifer’s look is that it very smartly creates curves that she doesn’t really have by adding material to her hips and her waist but also shows off her slender shoulders and legs by keeping them exposed.
Though Goodwin took a risk by enhancing her frame, usually the best way to show off a super fit body is to keep it simple, and there were a handful of women on the red carpet who did that just right . . .
Kate Winslet’s dress is just tight enough to accentuate her curves rather than ruin them. If it were any tighter, it would be too much.

Julianna Margulies’ dress was a bit daring with the glittery red top, but the bottom of her dress was sleek enough that it still worked.


Courtney Cox’s straight neckline and sleek silhouette was perfect for a woman as thin as Cox because it emphasizes her frame without making her look too skinny. She’s 46 but has managed to stay extremely fit and, therefore, has every right to rock a look this sexy.
Glenn Close’s dress worked for the exact same reason: simplicity . . .
If you’re 62 and look like this, you have got to show it off. On a side note, I’m just so glad that “older” women in Hollywood aren’t dressing like grandmothers anymore.
Sofía Vergara followed this long and sleek model and wisely only added extra material to the back of her dress in order to keep the front uncluttered.
Gabby Sidibe also dressed perfectly for her body . . .
Like Streep’s, her dress gently follows the shape of her body and tucks in at her waist, emphasizing her silhouette without cling too tightly to it. This is a wonderful example of how a woman Gabby’s size should dress for a formal event: she didn’t hide her body in a tent dress but instead flattered it with clean, feminine lines.
Admittedly, Chloe Sevigny’s dress was a bit of a controversy. Some people hated it, and others loved it . . .
There were clearly a few too many ruffles going on, but what I loved about this dress was that she looked stunning without looking super thin. The dress really showed off her curves in an interesting way. My God, she even had a little tummy! (Though it was more visible in the broadcast than it is here.) I love that!
Unfortunately, there were just as many women who didn’t dress appropriately for their body.
Sadly, one of them was Christina Hendricks whose dress was designed by another Project Runway alum: Christian Siriano. . .

You might know from my “Why we should all be watching Mad Men” post that I adore Hendricks and completely worship her va-va-voom curves (in fact, I’ll be adding her to my Gallery of Gorgeous Women soon), but the fit of this dress was all wrong for her. When you have a body like Hendricks’, fit is crucial, and this one was too tight both in the front and in the back, pushing her girls (and the skin on her back, which you can see clearly in other photos) up and out rather than holding them in. I was devastated to see that the dress fit so poorly since I do love Hendricks and since, otherwise, she looked so stunning. But it’s a good lesson about the importance of finding something that fits and it’s even good for us to see that someone as amazing as Hendricks can make mistakes too.
Another curvy woman from my Gallery of Gorgeous Women who struggled on the red carpet was Patricia Arquette . . .
From my way of thinking, Arquette has a perfect body. She’s not too big and not too small, but just right. Unfortunately, the criss-cross draping of this dress made her middle look MUCH bigger than it is and actually fought the shape of her body rather than working with it. Arquette would have been better off picking a style that drew attention away from her middle rather than emphasizing it. Patterns are also notoriously hard for any size woman to wear, so it’s a mystery why Arquette chose one that was so busy.
Sigourney Weaver, at 60, is another older woman who still has a simply amazing body . . .

But though we can applaud Weaver for her physique, we cannot applaud her dress, which did the same thing that Arquette’s did—it criss-crossed her body several times, drawing attention to her middle and make it look bigger than it is. It’s a shame, too, because if you really look at this picture, you can see that Weaver has a wonderful waist, but you’re so distracted by the dress’ design here that her body almost gets entirely lost.

Oddly, the normally spot-on Heidi Klum committed a similar faux
pas . . .
Klum just gave birth and is, therefore, a bit curvier than normal, so maybe that’s why someone who normally dresses in a way that is perfectly flattering stumbled this time. Because instead of wearing a dress that showed off her assets, Klum chose a dress that drew attention to all the wrong places. The wide neckline made her look bigger on top, and the starbust pattern and mermaid silhouette made her look bigger on the bottom. Like Hendricks’ dress, this one was also too tight, a problem that may have been the result of her recent pregnancy, but one that she should have been smart enough to avoid by choosing a different dress when it was clear this one didn’t fit.
Even the lovely Penelope Cruz didn’t choose the right dress . . .
One of the main problems here is that there is too much going on—I mean lace, stripes, and a layered train?! Come on, Penelope! I know you can do better than that! I’ve seen you do better that. It looked a bit like dress by committee, which is a problem no matter what your size. (Come to think of it, this was a bit of a problem for Klum too.) But Cruz also choose a dress that had horizontal stripes that over-accentuated her wonderful curves and, like Klum, a mermaid silhouette, that made her look bigger than she is.
Rita Wilson . . .
and Lauren Graham . . .

repeated Cruz’s and Klum’s mistake—too tight, too mermaid-like—but exacerbated that misstep by adding a pattern (in Wilson’s case) and a bright color (in Graham’s) that, again, made them look bigger than they are.
While Mariah Carey took it one step further with this absurdly low neckline . . .

People made fun of Carey’s dress all night, and that ought to be a lesson to all of us about the importance of suggesting our curves rather than simply showing them.
(Anna Paquin, I hope you’re listening. This could be you someday if you’re not careful.)
Cameron Diaz had the opposite problem . . .
Her dress made her look even thinner than she is because it wasn’t as streamlined as someone like Cox’s. In fact, the repeating V-pattern (in the neckline and the waist) draws more attention to her sharp angles than her sweet curves.
If Diaz’s dress had too much material on top, Julia Roberts’ dress had too much all over. . .

Her dress was the opposite of fitted, so much so that it’s hard to tell she’s got a body under there at all. If it hadn’t been for her legs, this look would have been pretty close to a muumuu. As it stands, it looks more like a trench coat than a dress. There was simply too much material in the arms, the chest, and the stomach, and Roberts got lost in it.
Speaking of getting lost in a dress. . .

Where is Julianne Moore’s body in this dress??? I can’t see it anywhere! This is another common mistake: hiding your body behind a sea—or in this case, a wall—of fabric.
Calista Flockhart has always been underweight, and for that reason it was surprising that she too wore a long, shapeless dress. . .
There were also some women—specifically Zoe Saldana and Mo’nique, come to mind—who made the mistake of choosing a dress that highlighted weaker aspects of their physique rather than their strengths.
I almost never go sleeveless anymore, so it always surprises me when women choose to do so on national television. From my way of thinking, you’ve got to have amazing arms to look good in a sleeveless dress after the age of thirty. Both of these women would have benefitted from dresses with sleeves, proving that it’s not just curvy women who need to dress for their size . . .
Saldana’s dress is actually gorgeous, but we are so distracted by her emaciated arms that we don’t notice the dress much at all. In fact, this is not the first picture I’ve seen lately of Saldana where she appears way too thin, to the point of being unhealthy looking, and I sincerely hope that she returns to her formerly healthy size.
I realize that by deconstructing the attire of all these amazing women, I open myself up for attack. But please know that I am not trying to criticize them. I just believe that there is so much we can learn from them. If nothing else, it’s refreshing to know that skinny women make as many mistakes as curvy women, emphasizing yet again that it’s not our body size that matters but how we wear what we’ve got.

The Optimist’s Club

192 pounds

If you haven’t already noticed, my weight has gone up a few pounds over the last month even though it’s supposed to be going down. There are two simple reasons why this has happened.

First and foremost, as some of you know, I had surgery just over six weeks ago, and afterwards, I lost six pounds without even blinking.
On Tuesday, December 8th, my official weight on this blog was 189 pounds. (Though I actually hit a low of 187 the weekend after my surgery, which is technically six pounds less than the 193 I weighed before surgery.)
Sure, it was wonderful to see the scale dip into the 180s, but it was an artificial low caused by the fact that I was eating next to nothing and loaded up with medication that made it hard to keep anything in my body. I was back at 190 within a couple of weeks, and I think my weight might have leveled off there if it hadn’t been for one other thing . . .
. . . the holidays
I’m not one of those people who buys into the idea that we should all be super careful about what we eat during the holidays. My feeling, as I said in my “Season of Indulgence” post, is that the holidays are a time to have fun, and we should enjoy that once-a-year reprieve from thinking about every calorie that goes in our mouth. I’m a firm believer in the idea that we should all give into our indulgences from time to time—usually once or twice a week—and Christmas, Hannakuh, and New Year’s are no different.
Another reason we gain weight during the holidays is because of the added stress of traveling, seeing family, buying gifts, etc. I know that I definitely ate more food between Christmas and New Year’s precisely because I was dealing with family and other holiday commitments.
No, feeding our emotions isn’t the healthiest response to stress, but it’s a fact of life. I’d rather admit that than ignore it. Yes, like everyone else, I sometimes use eating as a way to cope. But as long as I know that, I can make sure I don’t do it too often.
And if that means I gain a pound or two (the national average) during the holidays, so be it. We all need a little extra lining to keep us warm through January, February, and March, right?
Studies have shown that the issue is not that measly pound so many people pick up over the holidays. The real issue is not dropping that pound before spring sets in. In fact, as long as we lose what we’ve gained within the next few months, there are no long-term consequences for having a little bit too much eggnog for a few weeks each December.
Yes, real problems occur for the people who don’t shed the weight they put on each year during the holidays because the pounds start adding up over time. But I guess I prefer to see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty—as long as we get our collective act together after January 1st, it’s really not a big deal.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I kind of hate it when people beat themselves up after the holidays because they ate a little too much. I would rather that we all recognize how easy it is to gain weight over the holidays and how much more important it is to focus on being healthy again than sitting around crying into our new desk calendars about it.
So that’s what I have to do now . . . get my act together and drop the two pounds I picked up over the last month. It won’t be easy, but I know it can be done.

What’s good for the goose . . .

192 pounds

If you’ve seen It’s Complicated, you know that Alec Baldwin appears in the film without his shirt on, sporting an extremely large stomach.

The reason his character has disrobed is so that he can seduce his ex-wife, played by Meryl Streep in the film. Unfortunately for Baldwin’s character, Streep’s is horrified when she returns to her bedroom only to find her ex stripped down to his birthday suit.
But what’s really interesting about this scene is what happens when the characters talk about it the next day. Baldwin’s character comes back to apologize, and when Streep’s character asks him what he was thinking, he says, “I just thought you would find me irresistible,” and he really means it.
Never mind the fact that Baldwin’s stomach is a bit hippo-like. He really believes that she’ll find him irresistible.
And what’s crazy is that when he admits this, those of us in the audience kind of find him irresistible in that moment too. I mean, how can you not love someone who, despite his flaws, is that confident?
Of course, what we should all learn from this is that it’s not the hot bod that we’re attracted to, it’s the attitude. Alec Baldwin is still a huge star not because he’s as hot as he was in The Hunt for Red October (as pictured here) but because he believes in himself, and that’s what makes him so appealing.
I’m sure you might be thinking that Baldwin, at his current size, wouldn’t be able to get leading roles if he were a women, and you’re right. In fact, it’s incredibly frustrating to see Meryl Streep looking absolutely fabulous in this film even though Baldwin doesn’t have to.
Unfortunately, that’s how it goes in the movies these days, and this film makes it clear that Hollywood still has a double standard for men and women: men can look like real people, and women have to look like goddesses. (See The King of Queens, Still Standing, According to Jim, and almost any movie with Jack Nicholson for more evidence of this.)
But that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn something from Baldwin’s character in this film. And what we can learn is that beauty is more about the way we see ourselves than the way others see us.
What this means is that the next time you decide to strip down and seduce your mate, you have to be sure to tell yourself the same thing that Baldwin’s character believes himself . . . you’re irresistible.

Don’t cut the cheese

190 pounds

Great news for all of you cheese lovers…

According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “women who ate an ounce of full fat cheese every day gained fewer pounds over time than those who didn’t.”*

Yes, I said full-fat cheese.

Not low-fat cheese, not part-skim cheese, not nonfat cheese. But full-fat cheese.

I’ve always hated low-fat and nonfat foods—especially cheese—so this announcement makes me particularly happy.

Obviously, one of the things that bugs me about reduced fat foods is the fact that they never taste as good as the original food. From my point of view, it’s better to eat half as much of something in its original full-fat version than it is to eat any of the reduced-fat stuff.

Not only do I hate the way it tastes. I also hate it on principle.

It even bothers me when other people eat low-fat or low-cal food substitutes. I feel as if they are depriving themselves of something real, something authentic, and as I’ve said before, I believe that when we deny ourselves something we desire, it only makes us eat more in the long run. Because, let’s face it, eating reduced-fat or reduced-calorie items doesn’t usually satisfy our cravings. Low-fat pizza? No thanks.

And as it turns out, research has shown that low-fat or low-cal foods give us the false sense that we can eat as much as we want, thereby canceling the benefits they provide.

But the truth is that full-fat cheese is not only satisfying, it also helps us lose weight because it increases our metabolism.* And, as we all know, cheese is a wonderful source of calcium as well.

So next time you find yourself eyeing the reduced-fat cheddar in the dairy section of your grocery story, do yourself a favor and go for the real thing.

I promise you won’t regret it.

Has the world gone topsy turvy?

190 pounds

I’ve been seeing a lot of movies lately because school is not in session right now, and I have just a wee bit more time on my hands. One of the movies I saw recently was Up in the Air, and I found the depiction of women in the movie fascinating.
Normally, Hollywood makes young people—especially hot young people in their twenties—look like confident, perfect creatures. They are gorgeous but they are also successful and lucky in love. And as anyone who’s been through their twenties knows, this isn’t an accurate depiction of most people at that age. No, most twenty-somethings are still suffering from a bit of an adolescent hangover. Sure, they are more self-assured than they were as teenagers, but they’re still a little bit lost, a little bit uncertain of who they are. And, if they’re like most people, that often means bad choices—in terms of clothes, jobs, significant others, sex, drinking. The works.
Because of this, I found it incredibly refreshing to see one of the main characters in Up in the Air, a twenty-something Cornell grad named Natalie, depicted in this way rather than being portrayed as yet another perfect twenty-five-year-old who has everything she could possibly want (and everything I want too).
And what was even more refreshing was that instead of the twenty-something having it all, her older co-star, 36-year-old Vera Farmiga (pictured above), was depicted as the woman who had it all . . . a great job, a beautiful face, shiny hair, a fabulous wardrobe, and a rockin’ bod. In fact, Farmiga’s character looked so gorgeous that every time she met someone new—male or female—they would tell her how attractive she was. Even twenty-something Natalie told her she was beautiful within five minutes of meeting her, and she said it in a way that conveyed both awe and admiration. And this compliment nicely set up the next one when Natalee also tells Farmiga’s character that she wants to be just like her when she grows up.
This was quite possibly my favorite moment in the film.
A skinny twenty-something young woman tells a thirty-something woman with hot-to-trot curves—a woman who I might add had clearly visible wrinkles—that she wanted to be just like her when she grew up? It’s as if they lived in opposite land.
But they didn’t. Instead, they lived in realistic land, where people—men and women alike—really do get better with age and don’t have to be 110 pounds, twenty-years-old, and flawless to be stunningly beautiful.
No, Farmiga doesn’t exactly fit the definition of curvy I use on this blog—though she’s got wonderful curves we can all appreciate—but she does reinforce the main messages of this blog, and for that, I cannot thank her enough.

My new year’s resolution: no more resolutions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Eve Ball, 1978, New York Times

190 pounds

It’s New Year’s Eve, and the world is alive with enthusiastic revelers and booming fireworks. I love New Year’s Eve because of the energy and the hope it brings.

But one of the things I don’t like about bringing in the new year is all the focus on resolutions and losing weight. It’s almost impossible to think about new year’s resolutions without thinking about how happy or unhappy we are with our bodies, and I feel like at this time of year, we focus more on our flaws—specifically what we want to improve—rather than our assets, and honestly, that breaks my heart.

For years, I have made numerous resolutions about my weight and my body. I even made resolutions on my birthday some years.

When I was looking through some old memorabilia recently, I found a list of resolutions from my 25th birthday, one of which was my resolution to get to 140 pounds.

140 pounds!!

What kind of crack was I smoking?!

I weighed 150 at the time and really hadn’t weighed less than that since high school, so why did I think I had any chance of getting below that number? And, more importantly, why on Earth wasn’t I happy at 150 pounds?!!!!

That’s 40 whole pounds less than I weigh now. I can’t even imagine weighing 150 pounds now. Nor can I imagine what I would do to weigh that little. I’d probably sell my soul to the devil to have my old body back. So why oh why couldn’t I appreciate it when I had it?

I think the answer is simple: because we live in a society that teaches us that we always have to be thinner or better or smarter or happier. It’s never enough to be just who we are now. I’m not saying I’m opposed to self-improvement, but I don’t think it can be achieved until self-appreciation is also achieved, which is almost impossible if we’re always focusing on what’s wrong with us and resolving to change.

So rather than make a list of resolutions I won’t keep and that will make me feel bad for weeks to come, I’m going to resolve this year not to make any more resolutions. To be happy with what I have and what I am. Right here and right now.

I hope that all of you can do the same, and I wish you all a very happy new year—see you on the other side!

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