November 4, 2013

Book Review: Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters

I recently bought "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body" by Courtney E. Martin. I don't know if the Houston Public Library got rid of it, or if it was stolen - I'm just really jazzed about the fact that I picked it up at Powell's for only five dollars. 
Some of the topics include: perfectionism and how it relates to eating disorders; how our relationship with our mother and father affects our body image; sex and attraction; the media and popular culture; diets, plastic surgery and extreme makeovers; the "obesity epidemic"; athletic obsession in middle-school, high-school, and college; eating disorders on college campuses; post-college disappointment; spirituality; and more.
There were a lot of things that I really loved about this book, which is why I decided to write my first-ever book review. Don't worry, I'm not planning on quitting my day job.
It was really refreshing to find a book about the 20-something generation's obsession with food, fitness, thinness, and perfection. I thoroughly enjoyed reading a younger woman's perspective about eating disorders. The book was written using conversational and easy-to-understand language. It never felt too dense to comprehend and enjoy. Throughout PGSD, Martin weaves in anecdotes from her own life, as well as from girls and women she interviewed for the book. I felt that these stories and conversations make the epidemic of eating disorders and self-hatred feel more personal.
PGSD is a great tool in understanding the pressure that American women face to be "effortlessly perfect." Martin highlights the extreme link between perfectionism and how it leads to eating disorders and negative body image, declaring: "Our bodies are the places where our drive for perfection gets played out." One of the most important reoccurring themes in PGSD is also included in the title - the frightening normalcy of hating your body. Martin exposes many different aspects of mainstream media and American culture that encourage women to hate their bodies, to never be content or satisfied with how they look.
Although I really enjoyed PGSD, there were some things that could have been better. Martin's lens is that of a White, well-educated, privileged, middle-class, heterosexual young woman. This is evidenced not only by her personal anecdotes, but also by some of her perspectives. Chapter Seven is titled "What Men Want: The Truth About Attraction, Porn, and the Pursuit." This chapter touches briefly on the pressures that men face, and how this causes negative body image and eating disorders in men. However, it really focuses on what men find attractive in women. Sure, there are some "sweet" quotes about how men really value a good sense of humor and confidence - but even these still reinforce the pervasive idea that a woman's worth lies in whether or not a man will find her attractive. My biggest complaint with Chapter Seven is the heterosexism displayed; it is written for a straight, female audience. 
PGSD can definitely be triggering for those who have experience disordered eating or negative body image; be sure to practice self-care while reading it.
Overall, I thought that "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters" was a fantastic book. It offered a fresh, new perspective on perfectionism, negative body-image and eating disorders. Throughout the book, there were some real gems in the forms of quotes and thought-provoking questions.  Martin advises in her conclusion that "We must raise our consciousness through raw conversation. We must talk about how bad it really is in order to get better. We must admit we are not invincible."

October 22, 2013

I'm Sorry: An Apology to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self

I'm sorry for the lies I told you, the words that were repeated incessantly until you believed them. Words that beat against your soul, ugly words aimed right at your heart - disgusting, stupid, pathetic, weak. Not good enough.
I'm really sorry that I believed you were not good enough.

I'm sorry that I placed all of your worth in your physical appearance.
I'm sorry that my selfish vision extended only to the outer edges of myself; there were no far-off horizons, nor sights of the world, nor dreams beyond achieving an unattainable ideal.
I'm sorry that I refused to see the truth in your reflection.
I'm sorry that I couldn't see your inherent, natural beauty.

I'm sorry that I disrespected your body.
I'm sorry that I didn't feed and nourish you properly, forcing you to run on empty for months on end.
I'm sorry that I equated success and happiness with numbers - weight, calories, minutes on a treadmill, dinners skipped.
I'm sorry that you were angry and tired and hopeless.
I'm sorry that you felt like you had nothing to live for.

I'm sorry that I didn't appreciate how wonderful you truly were.
I'm sorry that I spent so many years wishing you were different.
I'm sorry that I didn't recognize the passion you have always carried.
I'm sorry that I couldn't see the love and kindness your heart was capable of.
I'm sorry that I didn't embrace the lovely qualities that made you unique.
I'm sorry that I didn't appreciate how wonderful you truly were.

October 16, 2013

10 Things I Love About My Body

Happy National Love Your Body Day!!!

I hung some of these cute little "love bombs" up around the PSU campus today!

In honor of National Love Your Body Day, I decided to write a short list of ten things I love about my body!

1. I love my dimples because they're really cute. Seriously, I've avoided a lot of trouble over the years thanks to these little cuties.

2. I love my hair because it's really thick and beautiful.

3. I love my taste buds because without them I wouldn't be able to taste delicious food.

4. I love my booty because it's round and wonderful.

5. I love my eyes because they are a lovely shade of brown.

6. I love my lips because they're a good tool for silly facial expressions and they're also great for kissing.

7. I love my thighs because they are really strong.

8. I love my arms because they're good for things like push ups and hugs.

9. I love my nose because even though it's kind of big it's really great for sniffing wonderful smells.

10. I love my tummy because it's really cute and lovable and it holds in all of my internal organs which is a really great thing if you stop and think about it.

Love Your Body Day festivities on campus!

Take some time to appreciate and love your bodies today, my friends! EVERY DAY is love your body day!

Learn more about National Love Your Body Day here.