Thursday, January 29, 2009

Naked - the painful truth.

Carson Kressley (from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) has a fairly new TV show on right now, How to Look Good Naked. Yeah, right. The last time I looked good naked I was 3 months old, laying on my tummy on a bear rug. (I only had a couple dimples in my bottom back then and they were cute - or so I'm told)

Anyway, his show is all about boosting a woman’s self-confidence and improving body image. Now, okay. I’m all for that. But I’m all for world peace and buck a gallon gas but I don’t believe either are going to happen in my lifetime. Neither do I think that a gay guy (who I adore) is going to convince a woman who has most likely had self-esteem issues her entire life, that a straight guy is going to love looking at her cellulite, spare tire and back fat.

I’m not being mean. I can say this because I have cellulite, a spare tire and back fat – and truth be told even more that I don’t care to think about let alone write about. Back in the days when I was a cute and perky size 6 (today that would be a 2, I believe) I still had ‘body’ issues. My boobs were too small, my butt was too big, I was too lumpy, too stumpy … it went on and on. NOW, I look at photos of myself back then and I wish with all my heart that I had that body – imperfect as I perceived it then – back.
Honestly, I’ve never met a woman, be she size 1 or size 22, who is happy about the way her body looks. Have we not – most of us anyway – from the time we opened our first Teen magazine or Cosmo or Glamour or ‘ego deflator’ of choice, compared ourselves to the airbrushed models with the perfect thighs, flat abs and tight butts and wish we could measure up?

What's up with that? Why are we never happy with ‘the way we are’? Anorexia, bulimia, obesity. All are very serious problems. Are they all by-products of impossible standards set by a fashion industry that caters to the 1% of women who could actually walk a runway and more notably, be blown away by a good stiff wind? BTW: More than 60 percent of American women are a size 12 or larger, yet we're bombarded by images of size 0s, which can fuel a barrage of insecurity and self-doubt.

In any event, if you, too, struggle with your self-image - be it too much fat or not enough, here are some suggestions from Carson to help adjust your thinking:

• Take baby steps.
• Live in the moment.
• Get rid of clothes that are too big or too small. "Keep the sizes that work for you and that fit for you, and then get rid of the other stuff," Carson says. "Don't mourn your old body."
• Look at your whole body. "Don't just focus on the bad stuff. If you have bad thighs, don't automatically go there every day when you wake up and look at that," he says. "Look at the good stuff, and reprogram your brain into thinking, 'This is good. This is good. This isn't so great. So what?'"

When you are shopping, Carson suggests a few tricks of the trade you should keep in mind to minimize your flaws and flaunt your assets.
• If you are worried about big hips, wear flared jeans. "You don't want a skinny, peg-leg jean because that's just going to accentuate that shape," he says.
• Big purses can make your butt seem smaller.
• A wrap dress in a knit fabric can be flattering. "It's body-hugging in all the right places, and it's forgiving in the right places," Carson says.
• Knit spandex can help to give your arms some shape and minimize jiggling.
• A large pattern can help to camouflage the stomach.
• A cute patent leather belt can help to define the waist. "It just cinches you in and gives you a great waistline," Carson says.
• A long jacket can help to elongate your look. "When you feel short-waisted … you tend to wear very short garments, and that only accentuates a boxiness. If you wear longer, more column-like things, it just makes you look longer. It's like magic," Carson says.

So, what do you think? Can we really improve our self-images with these few helpful hints? And how about you? Am I a lone voice preaching to a crowd of well adjusted people, or do you struggle with body image, too? And if so, how do you deal with it? And what do you think of Dove's efforts to use 'real' models with 'real' bodies to showcase their products? Genius marketing idea or a sincere attempt to help improve a woman's self-esteem?

24 comments:

Candace said...

A subject close to my heart, Cindy. The magic of clothes, that is, not body image. Like you, I look back at pictures of my twenty-something (or even thirty-something) self and wonder what in the h*ll I spent all that time obsessing about and agonizing over. That twenty-something me was pretty fabulous -- and, yet, I was constantly worried about being too tall, too hippy, too pale, too squishy...

My favorite "clothes" show is "What Not To Wear." Love it! I especially love seeing how the right clothes can totally transform a person. Carson is right; clothes are magic.

Incidentally, my secret for making my butt look smaller is jeans with big back pockets. Trust me on this. Big back pockets make your butt look smaller. Small back pockets make your butt look bigger. And flared jeans (with heels) are the fashion gods' gift to women with hips.

As for the Dove commercials... Genius marketing AND a sincere attempt to help improve women's self esteem. At least, that's what I choose to believe.

Arkansas Cyndi said...

Before I make any comment, I have to say...I LOVE YOU Cindy because you have cellulite, a spare tire and back fat! :) I WISH I had only A spare tire. Unfortunately, I could do one of those rapid tire changes we see as NASCAR. One from each buttock, one from my belly, etc etc

I did not know about flared jeans making hips look smaller. See what internet surfing at 3 am can do for ya? I still "cover my ass" (CYA) with a long overshirt.

I have a pictures of me thin, tight, tan and then I thought I was fat and unattractive. Oh to have that body today. But I never will. I keep wondering about stuff like the Acari berry and the likes for weight loss.

I love the ad that shows the "normal" girl who shows up for the ad, all the "stuff" they go through to get her ready to photograph (make-up, hair, etc). THEN the photoshop changes to make her "look better". The final picture is gorgeous and looks very little like the woman at the beginning. Very interesting and enlightening.

Betina Krahn said...

Cindy dear, you're a gem. And I personally think you're a beautiful woman. . . how can you possibly have back fat or cellulite? Oh-- the point here is: you can have that and more and still be BEAUTIFUL!!!

I think the media and the fashion industry (media driven as they are) do a number on us daily. I have avoided watching Carson Kressley's show, thinking it would just serve up one more set of impossible expectations. Looking good naked? Now I have to look good when NOBODY ELSE CAN SEE? ARGHHHHHH!

Now, I may have to watch to see what's happening. Couldn't they have named it LOVING YOUR BODY or something? The irony of the title amazes me. For a show trying to help women love their bodies, it seems they chose such an off-putting title for the shock value.

Cindy Gerard said...

Candace - I'm with you on What Not to Wear. I love that show and do my best to shop with their guidelines in mind. And love the tip on the big back pockets. I never would have thought of that!

I'm with you on the Dove commercials too.

Cindy Gerard said...

Arkansas Cindi - i love you too :o) Cellulites unite!!

And if you ever find that spare tire pit crew, give me a shout out, okay? I'm in!

Betina, sweetie, thanks. And right back at ya! you're gorgeous!

As to the Carson show and titles. Something tells me that having Naked in the title will draw many more viewers than "Loving Your Body". There's something a little naughty implied with Naked :o) that would draw more.

As to the show, it's not on my auto watch list by a long means, but I have seen it and I can't decide if it really is a self-esteem builder or a train wreck :o)

Helen Brenna said...

I'm with Candace on the Dove thing - it's both genius marketing and may very well help improve women's self esteem.

Betina - I kinda like the title of the show - gets right to the point. Better yet, they could've called it Loving Your Naked Body!!! Yeah.

I'm fortunate this is one issue that isn't so much of an issue for me. While I do often look back at pictures of my younger, skinnier self, I regret not dressing sexier. I'm trying to make up for it now!!

And there's a bonus to the extra pounds I've put on. I have freaking cleavage for the first time in my life!!

Cindy Gerard said...

Helen - It SHOULDN'T be an issue for you! You're gorgeous!!

FIONA said...

Cindy--I do think the right clothes can make a huge difference in how someone looks--and feels.

I haven't see this show yet, but I'm going to find out when it's on.

I love the British version of WHAT NOT TO WEAR. It has helped me weed our some fashion disasters from my closet.

amy*skf said...

Cindy--you are adorable, never forget that. And yes, I think a gay man can help women feel sexier about their bodies--why would he lie? Right?

Helen--I dressed like some kind of school marm with bad taste when I was younger--I too am making up for it now. And lovin'it.

Michele Hauf said...

So that's what I've been doing wrong. I carry a small purse.

Guess I"d better go buy a big one!
:-)

Michele

Cindy Gerard said...

Michele - Who knew the BIG purse would solve all our problems - but then, there's that pesky digging for keys issue :o)

Amy - I love the choices we have in clothes now. Once upon a time it was either Misses or Over The Hill. Fashion really can be fun and age appropriate has a whole new meaning these days. Kind of like the no white after Labor Day rule - we can break 'em if we want to.

Fiona - I've had my share of fashion disasters. Sadly, I'll probably continue to make mistakes no matter how hard I try. Those shows do help.

Keri Ford said...

I look back to the days before I had my baby and sigh. My legs were trim, my rear tight, my tanned tummy flat, and my chest...well, there wasn't anything fascinating there, but with the backside I had, it didn't matter :O)

Now everything is sagging down to places it shouldn't be sagging! I need a bowflex! And space to put it! And time to use it!

Dove-BOTH. Best marketing idea ever for this department. And I like seeing real women with real curves

hey, what do you know, verification word: lower, as in if my rear moves any lower it's going to be touching the back of my knees

lois greiman said...

Ahhh Cindy, how I love thee. And right...we're all well-adjusted. Get real. I don't know anyone who is adjusted at all, though some people fake it better than others. As for me, I'm with Amy and Helen, now's the time to dress sexy. Why the *ell not? Enjoy the moment and all that. And, too, I truly believe that men aren't as critical of us as we are of ourselves. Curves are curves. So what if they're curving the wrong direction. :)

Cindy Gerard said...

Keri - you're too funny! Just wait another 20 years when what I like to call the WAG factor sets in. Weight. Age. and Gravity :o)

Cindy Gerard said...

Lois - You know - i really don't mind the curves - Like Helen, I'm kind of enjoying my cleavage - something i agonized over NOT having when I was young and perky :o

It's the dimples in the curves that have me shaking my head.

Debra Dixon said...

I have loved Dove's marketing campaign. It's made me more aware of their brand and IF I did the family shopping I'd buy some of their products. But hubby does the shopping so I'm never really connecting with shopping and Dove at the same time.

The one thing that Dove is doing is using "fit" overweight women. They aren't using sloppy women. It's a reminder to us that fitness is what matters, not skinny! I think it can change perception over time.

I love WHAT NOT TO WEAR and I try and shop by their guidelines too.

Right now I'm currently in a "Why don't my clothes fit phase?" and pondering my options.

Cindy Gerard said...

Fit is important, Deb, I agree. It's not just about image. It's about health. I'm trying very hard this year to get some kind of exercise in for at least 30 minutes 6 days a week. My goal is to have healthy butt dimples :o)

Misty Wright said...

After three kids, I have given up on slim and trim. LOL.

I'm with you on body image and that everyone has something they don't like about their body. It's a cycle that is hard to break. It is something that keeps us from being happy with ourselves.

I think we first have to accept it. Love who we are and then we can slowly change it to what we want it to be. No one said it would be easy, but we are all beauitful. :)

Kylie said...

I've agonized about my body since I was 14, at approximately the time I started dieting. Never quit. My daughter has a much healthier self image and I noticed when my boys were in high school it wasn't the thin thin girls they thought were hot, it was the girls more athletic looking.

Cindy Gerard said...

Missy - what a sweet message. And you're right. We are all beautiful!!

Kylie - buddy, pal, you are one of the faithful who exercises regularly and you look great!! And I agree with your boys - there's nothing like a healthy toned body. I want one. I just don't want to work as hard as I need to to get it. so, I'll settle for healthy and somewhat toned :o)

Christie Ridgway said...

I remember my mother letting me go on a diet when I was in 8th grade. Lunch was a piece of bologna that I broiled and lettuce with just vinegar as dressing. Now, I remember this, but I don't remember how long I was on that diet. Maybe my mom said "yes" realize it would last about 30 minutes.

I also love What Not To Wear! But I haven't been smart enough to try applying the rules to myself. I get so caught up in the particular individual, that I haven't thought about deciding which one was like me and going from there.

I'm going to check out their website right now and see if they have good general tips like Carson's. Thanks, Cindy!

Cindy Gerard said...

Christie - I know you keep healthy. You're an excerciser. Yea for you!
One thing I am rediscovering with my new exercise program is that I do feel better when I move and I have more energy

Anonymous said...

What is this rule about "no white after labour day"? Labour Day is in October here, ACT Australia. That would mean no white during summer!
I love the Dove ads, I think "real women" look soooo much better, most of the models look sick to me.

Cindy Gerard said...

From the time I was a little girl here in the US, I heard, "you can't wear white shoes after Labor Day." Our Labor Day is in September and winter is about to begin. Not sure why were weren't supposed to wear white shoes. Maybe because you couldn't see them for the snow??? Okay, bad joke.