Tag: body image

To All the Young Women Never Cast as Clara

image circa 1890
image circa 1890

In a special installment of “My Real Life Modern Family,” writer Patrice Hutton reflects funnily and philosophically on childhood Christmases past.

‘Tis the season, the season in which we’re reminded of our first failure of womanhood: never being cast as Clara. We grow up and lean in while learning that we can’t have it all, but years ago, we faced our first trial of womanhood. We’d stalk the mailbox for letters, or push toward the cast list, to see that once again we’d been overlooked for the role of Clara.

Love a Tree? Art Therapy Changes Lives at Sheppard Pratt

Notre Dame Preparatory School student Natasha Szymkiewicz stands next to her “Love Your Tree Poster, which was selected for reproduction by The Center for Eating Disorders.
Notre Dame Preparatory School student Natasha Szymkiewicz stands next to her “Love Your Tree” poster, which was selected for reproduction by the Center for Eating Disorders.

When you hear the words, “Love Your Tree” – the name of the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt’s annual poster-making campaign – maybe you don’t immediately conjure body-image messaging, but green activism or landscaping possibilities? Then again, if you know witty playwright/social commentator Eve Ensler (The Good Body, from which the quote comes; The Vagina Monologues) you easily make the connection between these posters “that confront society’s narrow ideals about beauty and embrace body diversity and self-acceptance” and the quirky slogan. By the way, watch Ensler’s brill one-minute video from the doc America the Beautiful after the jump, which explains how she met a fantastically confident woman in Africa, in a field outside of Nairobi, and was moved to ask her: “Do you like your body?”

I Don’t Really Care if Courtney Lenz the Ravens Cheerleader Goes to the Super Bowl



Maybe you’re familiar with the tragic story of Courtney Lenz, 23, the only veteran Ravens cheerleader – she’s been on the squad, like, literally forever, since she was 18 – who won’t be allowed to join the dance team in New Orleans for Super Bowl Sunday. Why? According to Lenz, it seems that Lenz had announced plans to retire at the end of the season and, therefore, the powers that be chose to ban her from the final pyramid. But close reading tells me it’s not as simple as that.

What We Can Learn from the Fells Pt. Candy Bar Thief



On New Year’s Eve last Monday, a few minutes before eight p.m., a 40-something man–5’10”, 170 pounds (read more at The Baltimore Sun)–strode through a Royal Farms in Fells Point tossing boxes of candy bars into a bag he’d brought from home.

“Are you stealing that?” asked the slack-jawed clerk.

“Yes,” replied the bold, weapon-free thief, who stole $180 worth of candy and still remains on the potentially sugar-spiked run this week.

An employee stood in his exiting path, but he merely pushed her aside. My semi-serious question for the guy: Did you perhaps intend to stop eating candy on January 1, and therefore binge wicked bad on 12/31?

Baltimore, Do You Feel Bad about Your Neck? (Your Eyelids, Your Hips, or Your Bum?)


Next time you’re feeling insecure about anything physical, we highly recommend this fantastically funny Photoshop-mocking video that cuts to the heart of our culture’s heartless fixation on computer-generated peeps. I found it at one of my favorite blogs, GaranceDore.com, a fashion-centric site with a sense of humor and humanistic philosophy. Happy Friday to all. May you accept your imperfections and have a perfectly wonderful weekend.

What If You Are Wrong?


University of Baltimore Asst. Prof. and Bohemian Rhapsody Columnist Marion Winik wants to accept one of the biggest compliments of her life. So what’s stopping her?

The other day I received an email from a woman named Marjorie, who’d just read a short memoir I wrote, set in Austin back in 1981. She, too, had vivid recollections of the period and people described — a serious flood, a piano in a tree, a dog the size of a pony, a jazz musician the size of a Volkswagen, a suicide. Her letter was a surprise to receive and interesting to read, but there were two sentences in particular that knocked me over.

Baltimore Women and Body Image: Five Commandments for Self-Acceptance


1920s female jogger

Recently I found myself wondering if the average American woman might not be evolving toward more self-acceptance where weight and body image are concerned — mightn’t voluptuous singer Adele’s wild popularity result in less rigidity in the media’s rulebook for how we’re all supposed to look? Adele is a world-famous sensation — and she’s a big girl. (True, she’s dropped some extra pounds since her throat surgery, but she remains full-figured, which seems to be what her body wants.) After Vogue editor Anna Wintour predictably ordered the singer’s spring cover airbrushed to slim her, fans were outraged and critics vocal globally.

“Confidence-Boosting Tips from Real Women 9 to 99,” a gorgeous photo essay in Shape, shot by Mary Ellen Mark, hoisted my optimism higher — walking readers through a diverse tour of physically active women, like yoga instructor Robin Wald, 42, who celebrates her fierce strength and consciously overlooks her perpetually flabby “Mommy” tummy, the piece reminds me that my body is, well, myself, my support system, my shelter, my stability and, in turn, my fragility. Bottom line: The body is a bodacious miracle whether you’re naturally a skinny mini or a zaftig diva.

Plus-Size Vogue Gets an A-Minus?


Last month, Vogue Italia featured three plus-size models, Robyn Lawley, Tara Lynn, and Candice Huffine, lounging astride the words “Belle Vere,” or beautiful truth–and these gorgeous healthy women aren’t your pseudo size-eight plus-sizers either: Lawley is a robust 14, Lynn a size 16, and Huffine a 12. Given that anorexia remains a severe problem in fashionland, and beyond, this is obvious cause for celebration, right? Well, no; evidently it’s not that simple. Even as many women we know, and bloggers we read, applauded editor Franca Sozzani’s breakout cover–Vogue Italia hasn’t featured plus-size (beyond a size eight) curves on a cover in 10 years–others had much more to say than just, “Bellisima.” (Our beloved Sartorialist Scott Schuman nothing but praised photographer Steven Meisel’s work, we should note before naming the naysayers.)

Lauren Caruso at Chicology got heavy: “I know I should be happy to see these women confidently posed on a major cover, but perhaps dedicating an entire issue to the matter is a slightly off-putting move by Sozzani, as it only draws attention to the fact that they’re different. When it’s no longer bizarre to see a plus-sized model posing next to Abbey Lee or even Lara…we’ll see some marker of progress.”

Astute Dodai Stewart, blogging for Jezebel, didn’t take the issue, well, lightly either, though in the end she gave Meisel’s cover two begrudging thumbs up; Stewart observed that these full-figured females appear, throughout much of their mag spread, in barely there lingerie, rather than high-fashion funky duds. Her big question: Don’t the plus-size beauties get to model hard-to-wear high fashion, too?

“Seems like we’re getting to a place where straight-size models are hired to wear clothes and plus-size models are hired to take them off,” wrote Stewart, who was also put off by the fact that many shots featured the voluptuous gals noshing on high-caloric treats, which portrays them as hefty-hipped, good eaters rather than objects of beauty and style, in her estimation. Again, different creatures from their thinner (generally food-prop-free) Vogue counterparts.

We think too much huff is being made of this glorious cover. The world of fashion is notoriously thin-biased, and if that’s changing, even glacially, even in stingy, dietetic little bite-size bits, we say something’s shifting for the better. Is a humanistic revolution afoot? Uh, perhaps not. It’s true that American Vogue typically features plus-size talent only in its annual shape issue, and Glamour has vowed to photograph more curves by the month, and we identify this happening only rarely; still, these petite changes represent an inspiring inch in the right direction. We predict more generous change coming. It’s encouraging to see curve-wielding, high-profile divas like Kim Kardashian, Queen Latifah, and Adele flourishing in their careers, shunning the obsessive dieting (so far as we know), and no doubt influencing young girls–and that we can name several celeb models of the plus-size variety is a new thing altogether. (Consider Emme (Melissa Aronson), Toccara Jones, and recovered anorexic Crystal Renn.)

Each marching step toward diversity in the (copycat) high fashion and entertainment realms will certainly lead to more. By the time our daughters, nieces and granddaughters are ready to consume their first Vogue–if it still exists in print–here’s hoping they consider the bodacious clothes first, the (somewhat) diverse array of model types wearing them second, and don’t give one wasted thought to the healthful stuffed sandwich they’re eating as they flip the glossy pages.