Tag Archives: body image

B was for Beetlejuice, except it’s not. It’s for body image.

B has been a total B. Nagging at me. Not because I didn’t have a B thing to talk about– I wrote a whole post about the movie Beetlejuice! I had a hilarious story to tell about it and it’s a movie I love… but it just didn’t seem right. Beetlejuice is a great movie and everything, but it’s not exactly life changing like Love Actually or Sleepless in Seattle (me and Mindy, rom coms are where it’s at). My heart wasn’t really in it and I didn’t come up with the answer until this morning. Finally!

I spent the day today doing yard work. (After making Sethy some pancakes, of course– half chocolate chip, half blueberry. I’m such a good wife.) I started by mowing the lawn and I had a bit of an audience. Youths!

The park across the street was infested with teenagers! (Infestation = 6ish, right?) Including two bitty little scantily clad girls sunning themselves on a picnic table. Even at the age of 30, nothing (nothing!) makes me more insecure than teenage girls. And this morning was no different.

As I wound my way back and forth and back and forth across the front yard, sweat dripping down my brow, I could have sworn these girls were looking at and laughing about me. One may have even taken a picture. And I found myself trying to figure out what I’d do if I ended up as the newest Internet meme– move over awkward penguin, here comes sweaty muffin-topped lawn mower! NOOOOOO!

Do me a favor and don’t repin that one, ok? No matter how clever or hilarious the saying… pretty please?

In addition, holy cow am I ever narcissistic. And insecure. And disturbingly focused on my body when there are so many other awesome things I could have been focused on– the gorgeous day, the smell of the fresh cut grass, the tulips and rhododendrons blooming, the invigorating exercise I was getting (I love the sneaky kind of exercise you don’t realize you’re doing), etc.

Over the past year or so, I have gained an awful lot of weight. And I’ve kind of been meaning to tell you about that for a while– another unpublished post that just didn’t seem quite right. But the truth is, body image is a big deal to me. And it’s bigness is two fold.

First, your body image is important to me. I truly want you to be happy in your own skin. I want you to know that you are beautiful. And it is crazy important to me that you know that whether you lose 47 pounds or gain 58, I will love you all the same. Your number, your appearance, your body… it’s just there to hold your soul.

Second, my body image is an absolute obsession. And I am not nice. I’m not nice to myself now, at my highest weight, and I was not nice to myself even at my lowest weight. My internal dialogue is so at odds with how I legitimately feel about others, it’s unreal.

I was mean today, but there was a point, a few months ago, when I made some important realizations about my own body… and now that we’re at the letter B, I think I’m ready to share:

Following the death of another friend’s iPhone and combined with our complete inability (read: laziness) to plug our phones in to a computer to back them up, Seth and I broke down and bought space on the iCloud. Automatic back-ups? Yes, please!

To accommodate the huge initial upload of files to the cloud, Seth asked me to spend some time going through my pictures and deleting ones I didn’t want to keep. Fair enough, we’d done a lot of comparison shopping by photo– makes a lot of sense when you need the information, but becomes quite cluttered once you don’t. So before even getting out of bed on one weekend morning, I spent an hour or so flipping through all of the nearly 2,000 pictures I had accumulated since I first got an iPhone in October of 2011.

I was somewhat floored scanning back through all that time by how many pounds I have lost, gained, fluctuated, upped and downed and back again… my weight. Dang. But here’s the thing: no matter how much or how little I weighed in any given picture, every single one of them represents a moment, a memory, something worth hanging on to. And in every single one, I am happy.

Several pounds over several years... but thousands of happy moments!
Several pounds over several years… but thousands of happy moments!

A couple years ago I read a great blog post from someone else (wish I could find it!) about why your weight should never prevent you from taking a picture… explaining that as your weight has nothing to do with your worth as a person, it also has nothing to do with your worthiness of being remembered as part of a moment in time. I think I recently proved that to myself.

Regardless of how I feel about my body, and no matter my pants size, neither my body nor my pants size defines me in any given moment. What defines me is my presence in the experience– with my puppy, with my niece, with my friends, with a donkey… whoever, whatever. It’s the experience that shines.

Honestly, I don’t care at all about what you or anyone else weighs. But I stress about my weight, my size, my appearance a LOT. My photo tour, however, was an hour long, 60 pound tour of why I should stop. Not a single one of those photos means any more or any less because of my size. Intellectually, logically, I know that. Fat, skinny, or just right, whatever that may be, I’ve got a fat heart… and that makes me perfect exactly as I am.

See? I can be nice even to myself on occasion! I can find a place of body image that brings me a sense of peace– and I need to keep flexing that muscle for the purpose of strengthening it, to turn this obsession into something considerably more positive.

B… is for body image.

But because B was also almost for Beetlejuice, I better share my little story, eh?

The movie Beetlejuice came out when I was in preschool. My cousins were in town one weekend and we went to the movie theater to see it. (Trusty old Showcase Cinemas Ann Arbor… how I love(d) thee.) Fortunately for my parents, The Fox and The Hound was also in theaters, so my cousin Spruce and I were taken to that while the big kids got to go see Beetlejuice. Fortunately for me, my cousins all talked about Beetlejuice on the ride home and I got a pretty good sense of what it was about.

My mom got a phone call home from preschool about the appropriateness of the movies she and my dad were allowing me to see the next week. My mom was somewhat surprised– The Fox and The Hound had some difficult material, yes, but it was rated G and she didn’t really feel it was inappropriate. Except I had told everyone at school that I saw Beetlejuice and told them all about it. Because I was a liar. And I really wanted to see Beetlejuice.

(Sorry, mom… and sorry, Mrs. King.)

I didn’t see the actual Beetlejuice movie until many, many years later, but I was absolutely in love with the cartoon version. When I finally saw the movie– omg, it was a revelation! Just brilliant! And I’m still in love with it to this day. In fact, Harry Belafonte’s Jump in the Line (aka shake, shake, shake, senora) is my second favorite* song of all time.



*Second only to Dancing in the Moonlight (everybody!). I don’t know what it is about that song, but I just groove to it every time it comes on because it’s the best. BEST!

Hashtag fight WHAT?! (Special K got it all kinds of wrong.)

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed one day (every day, all day, whatever…) and came across this sponsored post that Facebook thought I might enjoy:

Special K ad

Well, you thought right, Facebook! This does sound like something I might be interested in, doesn’t it?

Interested in because I want to rip it a new one!!

But it’s not ok to just rant about something. It’s important to do your homework. So in that moment (that angry, angry moment), I took a screen shot, saved the picture to my phone, and went on with my life until I had time to do some thinking, some reading, some more thinking, some writing, and some posting about it. That time is now.

–cue music–

Special K says they want to #fightfattalk because it “is a barrier to managing our weight…” Mmmm hmmmm…

You know what else is a barrier to “managing our weight”??? Things like television, internet, and print ads that suggest we subsist on nothing but cereal for 2 weeks so that we can lose weight, feel better in a bikini, go to the beach without a cover up, and “gain” other things when we “lose” the weight.

I call BS on this ad. BS on the whole of Special K, and by extension, the entire Kellogg’s brand (sorry, Michigan, I just can’t support this kind of behavior!).

And even if it weren’t for the irony of Special K’s ad campaign, I still don’t like the phrase “fat talk” because it implies that fat is bad. Always. And that to be fat is to be bad, to talk about being fat is to talk about being bad, and that the word fat should be banned from our vernacular entirely just like being fat should be banned from our lives.


People can be fat. They can be thin. They can be skinny, obese, rotund, chunky, sickly, muscular, pale, flabby, large, small, tan, cross-eyed, etc, etc, etc… and all of those things are nothing more than physical descriptors. Not one of them has any inherent value attached to it. Yet, these are the hooks on which we tend to hang our self worth. Why? Well, that’s an entire book. A series, even. But to be sure, media campaigns like this don’t help. And we can’t forget what Special K’s actual purpose is:

To sell cereal.

Special K does not care if you engage in fat talk or not. They do not care whether you are fat or thin. They do not care about any of those physical descriptors listed above. All they care about is you buying their cereal. And if pretending to care about body image is going to help them do that, then by all means, they can pretend.

Not that I can blame Special K for that, really. I mean, it literally is their job to sell cereal… not to look after the mental health and emotional well-being of society. I get that. But maybe Tyra Banks, with her history of issues with body image and all her ginormous scope of influence, could recognize a marketing ploy and not lend her name or her very, very famous face (did you see her smiling… with just her eyes???) to a campaign that is downright damaging.

If you actually go to Special K’s Fight Fat Talk website (slogan “Shhhhut down fat talk”) I think you’ll see what I’m talking about. They suggest that you use social media to tag positive posts with #fightfattalk and they have a little tool that will allow you to scan your Facebook networks to see how common body-focused negative self talk (my phrase, not theirs… like I said, I don’t dig the notion of “fat talk” specifically) is in your social networks. But beyond that? The point of the site is clearly to sell you their cereal… not to improve anyone’s body image by actually promoting body positivity.

First up, a Google search for “Special K fight fat talk” is headed up by an ad for the Special K 2 week diet… you know, the one where you starve yourself on two bowls of cereal and a chicken breast per day.

Special K google search

So then you actually click on the site. It has numbers. Numbers. It says there are over 12.4 million “actual fat talk found online”… ummm, what? Instances of? Where is this number from? How was it curated? I just… I don’t… I can’t… ugh…

Special K website

And all that this site has about actually “fighting” fat talk is right there in front of you. That’s. It. Use our hashtag, eat our cereal, save the world, one sad lady at a time.

Because, you see, when you click on anything else– why they believe positivity matters, the Gains Project (Special K’s famous “What will you gain when you lose?” campaign that asks women to imagine how much better their lives will be if they just weren’t fat anymore…), the “My Special K Plans” link, the products, recipes, and articles. It’s all there to sell you cereal.

And like I said, I can’t really blame Special K for trying this tactic. It’s been working for Dove and body positivity is a hot topic right now… I just hope that women don’t buy into it.

Negative self talk is a problem for everyone, women and men, thin and fat. Fat, per se, is not the problem. Rather, it’s the notion that our identity hinges on something physical or superficial. That’s what we need to fight. And I don’t think we need Special K to help us.