Winona was raised pseudo-Catholic and I was raised Jewish, which means we understand the feeling of guilt intimately. Mostly, we feel it all the time about pretty much everything. And we were wondering, what would be able to accomplish in life if we weren’t constantly paddling in an Olympic-sized swimming pool of guilt? Existentially speaking, we think a small amount of guilt is healthy to keep one’s moral and ethical standards in check. But the amount we wade through on a daily basis about something as stupid as the dishes in the sink is just a waste of energy. Guilt literally exhausts you, weighs you down and holds you back. It keeps you focused on the past or the future instead of the present. It keeps you in a state of anxiety instead of a state of peace. And worst of all, it makes you second guess yourself. One minute you’re feeling guilty about paying the cable bill late and the next thing you know, the guilt has shapeshifted into you thinking you are a bad person.
That’s ridiculous! Guilt, we are done with you! Goodbye, guilt. GOODBYE. Below is a list of things we’ve vowed to stop feeling guilty about RIGHT NOW. Keep reading »
I was so sure I was having a boy. I’d even given my baby a boy name, and I talked to my belly and told him he was a great son. A strong, noble, excellent son. People said, “A mother knows…” and nodded along with me.
Not this mother. Apparently, this mother doesn’t know shit.
“Can you tell if he’s a boy or a girl?” I asked the sonographer at the 20 week ultrasound, just to be sure.
She bit her lip and tried not to smile. “Oh yes. I can tell.”
He was a girl. She had always been a girl. I burst into overwhelmed tears. And then something shameful happened. Instead of being fully happy, the way every new mother is supposed to, I was worried. I was worried that she would look like me. Keep reading »
Sitting in the sports medicine clinic’s waiting room, I poked at my knee and winced, hoping that the doctor would be able to fix my troubled joints so I could run my first road race the following month. Half an hour later, I had my answer: my biomechanics were off, I suffered from the common patella-femoral syndrome, but with physiotherapy and diligence, I’d still be able to run. An acceptable prognosis, so I smiled. I liked the doctor; how she paid attention to my grimaces as she prodded my leg, and explained all the anatomical terms to me as she discussed my diagnosis with the observing resident. And then it happened.
“Could you turn onto your side, Sara?” the doctor asked as I lay on the examination table.
I obediently flipped over.
“No, a little closer to me.”
I shuffled backwards, mumbling apologies.
“It’s not a big deal,” she smiled. “You’re so tiny.” Keep reading »
According to an article in the New York Times’ “Well” Blog, a study found that a staggering 93 percent of college women engage in something called “fat talk.” Think, one woman says: “I can’t believe I just ate that whole bag of Oreos. I’m so fat!” Think, another woman says in response: “Oh my god, you’re not fat. Look at my ass, I’m the one who balloons when I eat sweets.”
Sound familiar? I’m sure it does. “Fat talk” is a vicious cycle wherein we tear ourselves down so we don’t seem too confident and then, in order to maintain equality in the friendship, we praise our friend and then tear our body down even more aggressively. If you’re a woman, than you’ve more than likely engaged in this toxic conversation cycle that sets the stage for poor body image and eating disorders, sometimes without even consciously wanting to. Why?
Because it’s become a way to bond with other women. And the really sick part is that researchers have found that it’s so automatic and embedded in women, that it may not even reflect the way we really feel about ourselves, but rather the way we think we are expected to feel about our bodies. That’s fucked up. It’s time for us to make an effort to shut the “fat talk” down. But how? Anything that happens automatically is a habit. Just like biting your nails or smoking cigarettes, we need to think of it as a seriously bad habit that must be broken. After the jump Winona and I have come up with some suggestions for cutting fat talk out of your life. Keep reading »
Bad news. That “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” video, where a group of women describe themselves to a forensic artist, and realize how skewed their self-images are and cry, was not quite as accurate as we’d like to believe. The message was moving, yes. And for a moment, it was reassuring to believe that “you are more beautiful than you think,” but according to research, the opposite is true.
A series of studies done at University of Chicago and University of Virginia suggest that , if anything, we overestimate ourselves. Not just in terms of our appearance — but in every way. Researchers took pictures of participants and created enhanced versions of those pictures so that some were more attractive and others were less so. When asked to select the real picture of themselves, participants tended to pick the most attractive one. When asked to select the real picture of a person other than themselves, participants were able to do that with no problem. Keep reading »
Have you been watching the new Comedy Central show, “Inside Amy Schumer”? I haven’t, but after watching the sketch above, I’m adding it to my now-lean DVR queue. In the clip, Amy and a gaggle of pals (including “Saturday Night Live”‘s Abby Elliott) exchange compliments on everything from clothing items to job promotions to pregnancy news, but each is, uh, incapable of accepting the praise graciously. The sketch is hilarious because it absurdly illustrates something that is totally true — by and large, many women have a hard time accepting compliments without at least disparaging themselves in some way first. Keep reading »
It seems like one Harvard professor or another in exceedingly blue, alarmingly stiff jeans is always coming out with a pop psych book about happiness and how misunderstood it is.
Apparently, people make a lot of the same mistakes about happiness over and over. We keep thinking that we have to work really hard to get to it, and do certain tricky things to capture it, sort of like that scene in “Avatar,” where they have to bond with the giant flying dinosaur things, and they’re just as likely to get killed, because you have to really earn that bond—not just any Na’vi can fly! But man, when you stick your hair tentacle into your bird dinosaur’s tendril thing and make that platonic, yet soulmate-y connection—there is NOTHING else like that shit. So worth it.
My point is, we expect happiness to be hard. But it isn’t really. And instead of fighting and waiting for it, we should probably just work on recognizing where it’s already sneaking around in the shadows of our current lives, like a little smiley cat burglar. It’s there, seriously, I promise.
I think it’s like that with beauty and self-acceptance, too. Keep reading »
A little over a month ago, I stopped using shampoo. And, speaking as someone who has clearly never been in serious bodily danger, it felt like I was being very brave. Just a couple days, I told myself reassuringly. And then, when you look like a horrifying ball of dripping grease, you can do the rational thing and return to the sweet comfort of purifying chemicals and delectable fragrances. Because that is totally how I think of shampoo, when pondering its many virtues alone in the shower.
Honestly, I’m not sure what motivated me to attempt this reckless experiment. An article about the mountaineers who have scaled Everest’s ferocious flanks? That documentary on Netflix about the dude who illegally, triumphantly walked the high wire between the former World Trade Center buildings? Maybe just a quiet, deep-rooted sense of “now or never.”
But seriously, it was weird, considering my history with my hair. Which I am going to tell you. And as I tell you, please know that I am intensely aware of the fact that my last piece for this column was a critique of the phrase “first world problems.” This whole piece might fit into that phrase very neatly. But I am writing it anyway, because you have to hear the truth. Because I have to tell it. Keep reading »
“My drive from work is too short for me to decide what to listen to on Spotify #firstworldproblems” was a recent tweet from the Twitter account First World Problems. The tweet reached over 50,000 people, and it was only one in a long list of mildly amusing little complaints about an easy, well-fed, upper-middle class life.
The idea of first world problems has recently become a meme, with inspired tweeters hashtagging the phrase on the back of every observation that doesn’t seem world-changing or ring out like a strangled scream from the depths of oppression. It’s kind of a fun trend. Maybe it serves to remind us all of what we already have. It offers a little dose of perspective. And when it first appeared, I was totally on board. But then I started seeing the hashtag cropping up a lot more when women were talking about all those things that get labeled “women’s issues.” Keep reading »
Don’t get me wrong, I am a sucker for the message “seriously, though, you’re beautiful.” And I agree with the viral clip, so many of us get distracted by all of our perceived flaws. We get caught up in criticizing our appearances and miss out on our own beauty. We are often more generous toward strangers than we are toward ourselves.
I like that the Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign is pointing all of this out. I hope it starts a bunch of conversations. And I hope that my reaction is interpreted as a continuation of the conversation, rather than nitpicking criticism. Because I really don’t want to nitpick, I just want to point out some things I noticed as I was watching.
In the clip, some lovely, thin, mostly white women who are all pretty young describe their appearances to a forensic artist, who sketches them without looking at them. And then other people describe these women, and the artist starts all over again, based on the new description. At the end, the women are shown the two portraits of themselves, and they can see how differently the sketched faces turned out, based on the descriptions. They realize that they’ve been unnecessarily critical of their appearances. Keep reading »