The Naked Truth?

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I spotted this post by Claire Brummell in her Facebook Group, Feminine1st, of which I’m a member.  I was captivated by her transparent assessment of her reactions to her own physicality on her first experience at a hot springs and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

So, what was my naked truth?

So last week, I Claire Brummell, author of this post, began to share my naked truth…prompted by a trip to the hot springs out here in San Francisco….and today I reveal all (pun intended) about my experience…

When I first arrived at the hot springs I was very aware of how naked everyone was. Walking into a co-ed dressing room with numerous other people…both some that I knew and some that I didn’t, I realised how conscious I was of it.

…and how much I didn’t want to acknowledge or look at anyone’s bodies…including my own.

For the first hour or so at the springs I felt like a floating head. I was totally avoiding acknowledging anything that existed from the neck down. It wasn’t that I had any particular issue with it…it was just such an unusual experience that it took a bit of adjusting.

Then one of the friends that I was with suggested that we do ‘the hot and cold pools’.

Now, the hot and cold pools at Harbin are VERY VERY hot and VERY VERY cold. The idea is for you to first submerge yourself in the very very hot pool…then when you feel it’s time to get out submerge yourself in the very very cold pool…to stimulate the blood flow to the whole body….and repeat this process 7 times.

It sounded good to me, so I thought let’s give it a go.

Now, I’ve always struggled a bit with extremes of temperature…so it would have been reasonable to believe that this could have presented a challenge for me. …and it did.

I was advised before we entered the pools that the trick with the hot pool is to move very, very slowly…and with the cold pool to get your shoulders under the water as quickly as possible.

No problem.

Or so I thought.

When I started descending the steps to the hot pool, at first it seemed fine. Step one was OK…step 2 was quite warm…and step 3 felt like my feet were on fire.

Just walk slowly I kept reminding myself.

It was quite an unusual experience and by the time I got fully into the pool I could feel my skin prickling.

I’ve no idea how long I stayed in that first time, but I doubt it was longer than a minute.

So with the time in the hot pool done, it was time for the cold plunge pool.

and it was COLD.

If you know me well, you’ll know that I’m normally on the chilly side (to put it mildly!) so the idea of submerging myself in extremely cold water didn’t exactly appeal…but I knew it was all part of the process so I gave it a go.

Wow.

I don’t think I’ve ever known what cold was before!

After the hot pool the cold pool felt like it was only a few degrees above freezing (I believe it’s actually in the low 60s)…and it was a real shock to the body.

But sure enough, once shoulders were in and I began to relax into it…it began to feel very refreshing. My skin was tingling and I felt incredibly alive.

…and then very cold again…so it was time to revisit the hot.

I’m not sure exactly where in the 7 cycles through the hot and cold pools the change happened…but it was sudden, and it was powerful.

I went through a period of time where it no longer felt like my body and mind were connected. My body was going through the process in the water but my mind felt like it was floating somewhere else….and then it happened.

I was in the hot pool when I suddenly felt the culmination of all of the hot and cold plunges together and my skin felt like it was buzzing. As I came out of the water I felt like some sort of mythical goddess emerging from the heat…(I think that the heat might have gone to my head!)

As much as this might sound a little ‘la la’ or ‘hippy happy clappy’ to coin a term that I affectionately use for experiences that are a little outside of the norm, one thing was very clear.


I felt very empowered and totally connected to my body.

Not only that but I felt very comfortable with my body…and appreciative of it. I felt proud of it.

Every hint of resistance regarding being naked in public had gone, and I allowed myself to just enjoy the experience.

Shortly after completing our hot and cold experience we decided to indulge in the steam room with a sugar scrub…and got chatting to a couple of the other people in there.

At that point I saw just how natural it was for everyone else at the springs. I realised that since I’d arrived, not once had I felt leered at or uncomfortable with anyone there.

We all chatted in the same way we would if we’d all been in there fully clothed (although we’d have all been significantly warmer!)

The rest of the day was a real eye-opening experience….literally.

I started looking at the bodies around me…including my own. It was plain to see that every single body in there had something about it that was beautiful….and every single body had something that could be seen as a flaw, or an area that could be improved in some small way.

It was also clear to me in that moment how what those areas of beauty or improvement are is completely subjective. What I might think of as an area that could be changed or improved, could be the very area that someone else might see as beautiful and perfect….and vice versa.

One of the friends I was at the hot springs with described them as walking talking works of art…which I think summed it up beautifully.

I got to experience the elements…sun, water, wind and earth first hand…without any compromise or restriction…and it was great.

Some time to just be.

No masks, no costumes, nothing to hide behind.

All of me.

Complete. Whole. Perfectly Imperfect.

My naked truth was that I realise now that I was quite disassociated from my body, and I wasn’t really comfortable owning it in public.

My experience at the hot springs really provided the perfect opportunity to embrace every single part of it. Allowing me to love and appreciate every single curve, just the way that it is.

So this week I invite you to explore your own naked truth. See where it is now, and where you might like it to be.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you need to whip your kit off at the nearest public venue (depending on your location the authorities may have something to say about that!)…but I do invite you to see what experiences might help you to connect deeper with your own body…and to accept it more completely, just the way that it is.

Because as with everyone at the hot springs…all bodies are beautiful, all bodies are flawed, and that’s what makes them perfectly imperfect.

Stay Fabulous (whether you’re naked or fully clothed!)

CREDITS FOR THIS ARTICLE:
AUTHOR:  Claire Brummell
FROM WEBSITE:  Feminine 1st
DIRECT LINK:  http://www.feminine1st.com/so-what-was-my-naked-truth/

Because It’s MY Body

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Ragen Chastain, the author of this article, is one of my MOST FAVE Size Acceptance advocates and after reading this, you will probably agree!

 

Because It’s My Body!

I was recently asked why we don’t weigh people like luggage to determine the cost of their airline ticket. Sure, particularly muscular and/or tall people would likely flip out since they would assume that this wasn’t meant for them but was rather was a punitive means of punishing fat people.  And obviously you can’t tell whether or not someone will fit in a seat by their weight.  But those aren’t the real reason that it’s not ok.

The real reason is that it’s not luggageIt’s my body.

It’s not a representation of greed or capitalism.  It’s my body.

It’s not a picture without a head to accompany yet another OMGDEATHFAT article.  It’s my body

It’s not a stand-in for my true health and well being.  It’s my body.

It’s not for you to judge. It’s my body

Do you get it?  It’s my body. So back off.

My body is far too valuable to be treated like a car whose worth is lowered because of some wear and tear.  It’s far too astounding to be a metaphor or a political statement.  It’s far too complicated to run on the same formula used to fuel a lawn mower. It is far too profound to be reduced to a ratio of weight and height.  And it is far too amazing to be judged by anyone.

Because it’s my body.

Ragen Chastain

CREDITS FOR THIS ARTICLE:
AUTHOR:  Ragen Chastain
FROM WEBSITE:  Dances With Fat
DIRECT LINK:  http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/because-its-my-body/

Who Decides If You Are Beautiful?

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I devoted Chapter 22 of my best-selling book BEAUTIFUL AT ANY SIZE:  The Plus Size Women’s Guide to Nurturing Confidence & Self Esteem to the subject of this guest post from Tamara Gerlach’s website, so you know it is very near and dear to my heart!  As I quoted in my book,  W.C. Fields says . . . “”It ain’t what they call you that matters, it’s what you answer to!”

 

Are You Beautiful?  . . .  Who decides?

 

YOU DO!

 

There’s a woman I know. You know her. In fact, she might be you. She might be my mom, or my sister, or even me. She’s smart. She’s accomplished. She’s compassionate and loving. She’s changing the world in her own way. And she thinks she’s a failure. Why? Because she’s fat. Or at least she thinks she’s fat. Whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter, because she believes it. She believes that she is fatter than she “should” be. No accomplishment in her life competes with her less-than-ideal body. She will always think of herself as having failed.

Or will she?

Here’s the question I want to ask her… who has the right to tell you you’re not beautiful just the way you are? Who?

Possible answers include:

1. Everyone

2. Madison Avenue

3. Hollywood

4. Simon Cowell

5. The clerk at Macy’s

6. Your dad/mom/uncle/grandmother/sister/step-brother

7. Your husband/boyfriend/partner

8. Your boss/ex-boss/coworker

9. The girls in your sixth grade gym class

10. ______________________ [fill in the blank]

11. No one.

The only correct answer to this question is 11.

No one has been given the official seal of the universe to infallibly dispense the label of beauty upon those few who meet some absurd, arbitrary ideal. Your beauty is not up for public approval, national referendum, or The Galaxy’s Next Top Model.

Your beauty is self-apparent to everyone who loves you.

In sociologist Brene Brown’s wonderful TED talk about love and connection (watch it here), she says the difference between people who feel a sense of worthiness and belonging and people who don’t is that… they feel a sense of worthiness and belonging.

Yes I know, it’s a tautology. You see, the difference isn’t that they come from wealthy families or poor families, or that they had happy childhoods or unhappy ones.

The difference is their belief about themselves.

Brown’s research doesn’t cover this, but I suspect that the difference between people who believe that they are beautiful and people who don’t… is simply a belief in their own beauty. The difference is not between women who are 5’10”, weigh 120 lbs, and look like Kate Moss and women who are 5’5”, weigh 220 lbs, and look like Gertrude Stein. The difference is not that women who obsess about their weight and diet feel beautiful and women who don’t feel ugly. (Interestingly, the opposite may be more true!)

The difference is whether or not you believe you are beautiful.

No one has the right to define beauty in a way that excludes you. Not even you. Beauty is not objective. Even normative ideas of beauty change enormously over history and between cultures.

Why do we allow ourselves to feel terrible about our bodies?

Is it true that a woman can solve global poverty, cure cancer, invent cold fusion, plant a tree, or raise a happy child, and still look in the mirror and feel like a failure because her body doesn’t match some idea in her head about what it should look like?

You deserve better. You deserve to feel beautiful whatever your body looks like or feels like.

I think of Karen Carpenter, the singer who haunted my dreams as a child. Her voice was gorgeous and pure, she was an accomplished drummer, and a beautiful woman. Yet she always believed she was fat, and therefore ugly. All of her success musically meant nothing to her if she was fat, and she starved herself to death as a result. You can see clearly how ridiculous Karen Carpenter’s misplaced beliefs were. Can you see that in yourself?

Why is fat the be-all and end-all of beauty?

So what if you’re fat, or if you think you’re fat? Let yourself be fat and beautiful. Let yourself be beautiful with these five extra pounds, with these fifty extra pounds, with whatever number of extra pounds you imagine you have. Let them be beautiful too. Screw anyone who doesn’t believe you’re beautiful. They aren’t the boss of your beauty or anyone else’s.

You’re smart. You know better.

Treat yourself better.

CREDITS FOR THIS ARTICLE:
AUTHOR:  Kimber Simpkins
FROM WEBSITE:  Tamara Gerlach
DIRECT LINK:  http://tamaragerlach.com/perspective/are-you-beautiful-who-decides-you-do/

Defining Moments…In Terms of Size

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I loved this reminder about how common place it is to define people in terms of size.  It’s no wonder that at least here in the USA, even young girls have self-acceptance and low-self-esteem issues, contributed to heavily by the media incessantly promoting their very narrow (pun intended) version of size acceptance.  The  article’s author, Sassy Minx herself Lisa Clark,  makes her point humorously which makes it easy to read, but no less meaningful!

 

THE ‘FAT’ vs. ‘THIN’ DEBATE . . . yawn . . . .

 

 

Enough.

Seriously, enough already.

Every year, when London Fashion Week rolls around, you will find me rolling my eyes at the complete predictability of it all.

In the same way that, every year, come what may, on the 27th December, you’ll be bombarded with celebrities pimping their exercise DVDs and the diet industry launching a never-ending supply of supposed ‘I-can-make-you-thin’ prodz, London Fashion Week sparks the same debate – fashion models are too skinny, there should be more voluptuous women on the catwalk, yada, yada, yada.

I’m a size 18. I’m hot. I have a gorgeous friend who is a size 8, she’s hot too. Society would like to label us ‘fat’ and ‘thin’ yet we both totally rock the bodies we’re in, because the size written on the label in our knickers, is NOT an indication of our awesomeness. Last night, I went to the dress rehearsal for our burlesque show on Saturday, and the girls I perform alongside are a truly delicious array of lovely shapes and sizes because, despite what the media will have you believe, girl-kind come in a gazillion different juicy-juicy forms, not just ’skinny’ and ‘fat’.

Putting a ‘voluptuous’ (which in media terminology usually means a UK size 12) model on the catwalk isn’t an insta-fix to the crazy-assed obsession we have with body image in our society right now, in the same way that highlighting how ’skinny’ someone is, or creating niche markets for ‘plus’ size girls won’t cut it either.

Last week, Adele was called a ‘little bit fat’ by Karl Lagerfeld, and then, when she won 7 Grammys at the weekend, the media celebrated the awesome talent of ‘curvy Adele’. What’s the size of her hips got to do with either Karl OR her freakin’ AMAZING talent?

Nothing. It’s bullshit.

As a self-esteem coach and agony aunt for Mizz magazine, I find myself continually exasperated/fucked off/annoyed by society’s endless need to label and define girl-kind by their body size, and as for the endless ‘fat’ and ‘thin’ debate, it just perpetuates the message that no matter what your size, as a girl/woman in the world, you’re never ‘quite’ good enough. Which, FYI, is simply not true. I work on a daily basis in all my work to ensure that girls and women of ALL shapes and sizes, love themselves JUST AS THEY ARE.

I know, controversial, right?

Niches, labels, ‘fat’ and ‘thin debates just continue to highlight the differences between girl-kind, which is why I’m on a mission to create media products that celebrate women in ALL their fabulous forms, not just for the clothes they wear or the size of their hips – don’t get me wrong, I LOVE clothes, shoes and make-up, but they most deffo don’t define me – but for their talents and skillz, their business savvy and their YOU-nique qualities too – get ready, the SASSY-fication o’ girl-kind is coming, g-friends – you in?

The future is bright, the future is girl-shaped. And FYI. That’s the shape you’re currently in, ‘k?!

 

CREDITS FOR THIS ARTICLE:
AUTHOR: Lisa Clark
FROM WEBSITE: The Sassy Minx
DIRECT LINK: http://www.thesassyminx.com/beauty-queen/the-fat-v-thin-debate-yawn/comment-page-1/#comment-3983

 

WHY WRITE ABOUT BODY IMAGE

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This post is written by Kate Fridkis of Eat the Damn Cake.

I write about body image because I love eating cake, but women around me are always dieting.

I write about body image because I have been told it doesn’t matter, but every year, more girls have eating disorders.

I write about body image because everyone cares about beauty, no matter how much we tell ourselves we don’t. And because, really, we are beautiful, no matter how much we tell ourselves we aren’t.

I write about body image because I moved to Manhattan, where suddenly everyone was very thin and very careful about eating and always going to the gym and suddenly it occurred to me that I was not thin enough and not pretty enough and very bad at going to the gym.

I write about body image because I noticed that after I noticed that I was maybe not thin enough, I stopped eating some of my favorite foods. They slipped out of my diet. I said no to dessert. I felt guilty when I gave in and made pasta for dinner. I felt guilty all the time, because all the time, I was cheating. There were all of these rules about what I could and couldn’t eat, and how much of it was OK, and I had somehow memorized them without even being aware of it, and now, when I broke them, I was ashamed.

I write about body image because I got a nose job because my big Jewish nose seemed like the opposite of beauty. Because when I told people that famous, beautiful women never have big Jewish noses, they always said, “What about Barbara Streisand?” and that was a long time ago. No one can think of anyone more recent. And also, because when my boyfriend who became my husband told me over and over that my nose was beautiful, I didn’t really believe him, even though I should have.

I write about body image because people make fun of people who get cosmetic surgery, even though when I got cosmetic surgery, there was nothing funny about it. I hated my face. I wanted to destroy my old face.

I write about body image because I don’t look like a model, but sometimes, automatically, I really wish I looked like a model. And at the same time, I really wish I didn’t wish that.

I write about body image because when I was a little girl, I thought I was gorgeous. I thought that I was gorgeous because I was me.

I write about body image because women are always complimenting each other by saying, “You look like you lost weight!” and because it’s so hard to think that what you are is already enough.

I write about body image because the more I write about body image, the more letters I get from girls and women who tell me how important this topic is. I get letters from women who don’t want to go outside because they feel so unattractive and women whose mothers told them they weren’t ever going to be pretty enough and women who were told by the world that they weren’t worth as much as they actually are, and women who feel fantastic about the way they look and are so relieved. And because the more I write about body image, the better I feel, when I look in the mirror. The better I look to myself. The better I realize I am.

That’s why I write about body image.

And also, cake is just delicious. We really shouldn’t ever give it up.

Kate Fridkis is a Brooklyn-based writer whose work appears regularly on The Frisky and the Huffington Post. She blogs at Eat the Damn Cake. You can follow her on Twitter @eatthedamncake.

Love Your Body Now

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Plus Size Inner Peace, Weight Loss, Self Esteem, Self-Confidence

Love Your Body: 8 Reasons to Feel Great About Who You Are

by Kate Friedkis, from The Huffington Post

These are some reasons why you should feel good about your body:

1. It enables you to recognize yourself, and other people to recognize you. Which is really important, because there are billions of people in the world. You have stuff going on that no one else does. It’s fantastic. It’s a really good thing. In fact, I want to meet you, just to see all the ways in which we’re interestingly different and comfortingly similar.

2. It is incredibly complicated, but tends to work. And you’re alive. Which is absolutely astounding, when you take a moment to think about it.

3. Even though you can recognize yourself, you always look different. How you feel and what you do and who you’re with and what kind of mirror you’re looking in all shift and rearrange the way you appear to yourself. It’s cool. Sometimes it’s awful. Sometimes you feel like total crap. But there’s always potential for startling beauty. Or surprising awesomeness.

4. No matter what you look like, you’re hot to other people. Like, seriously hot. Except to internet trolls. Even supermodels aren’t hot to them. Once I read someone’s rant about how big Gisele Bundchen’s nose is. Which made me feel like my nose was about the size of, let’s say, the moon. But longer. My friend told me that she was feeling really ugly the other day and then someone on the street was like, “Hey, you’re beautiful!” A homeless guy on the street told me I have a gorgeous ass two nights ago. OK, not exactly the same. The point is — it’s pretty sweet that we’re all attractive. Did I really mess that point up, with the homeless guy comment? Moving on.

5. There are a lot of different options for clothes. Unlike a while ago, when women had to wear uncomfortable dresses all the time. And corsets. And the same neckline. And you had to make your own tampons. Wait. That’s a different thing. You have a lot of choices now. You can find something that looks amazing. When I’m old, I’m going to wear all these flowy, priestessy outfits. Like, in silver and green. I have it planned out.

6. You can find something about your appearance that is stunning. Even on a day when you feel gross. We’re trained to find the flaws. I feel like my brain is an evil little badger sometimes. It grabs the flaws and hangs on. No! Bad badger! I am capable of identifying positive stuff. I can practice at it. I can get good at it. I am looking in the mirror right now, because there happens to be a mirror over the desk I’m writing on. I like my lips. Right now. My lips are stunning. They are perfect. And I’m stopping at that.

7. But not stopping the list. Seven is a luckier number. There’s more to it than your body.Which I forget, in my worst moments of image based self-doubt. I can write really lovely songs, for example. I do not have to look lovely when I sing them. Just the songs are enough. But maybe I look lovely when I sing them anyway.

8. Oh, I have another one! You don’t have to be perfect!! Perfection is stupid. It’s a myth perpetuated by Photoshop and fantasy. You don’t have to look any one way to look beautiful, great, stunning, wonderful, pretty, gorgeous, amazing, strong, fantastic, cute, nice, cool, or any other good thing. Often, you just have to look like you.

Kate Freidkis, www.EatTheDamnCake.com wrote this article for the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival, from NOW’s Love Your Body Day. 

 

 

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