Tag Archives: people

Playing with Wordle 1

Made at wordle.net, the words are taken from a blog post of mine. I adjusted all the colors and fonts to get the feeling I wanted.

The funny things were that the biggest words were Oprah, bodies, life, and world. Interesting.

By clicking the image, you can get full size.




Waiting to be Filled

I started a book, but never finished it because I felt that it was too heavy. And it made me depressed for a while because it didn’t talk at length about the solution to the problem but rather focused on the problem itself. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it just didn’t suit me. I recommend this book to anyone struggling with an eating disorder. I really think it’s a good book. Just heavy and packed with information.

400000000000000052548_s4Also, I’m not feminist. That’s another thing.

Here’s what I wrote. This is just from reading the introduction.

The book is titled Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: the frightening new normalcy of hating your body by Courtney E. Martin. You can check out the writer’s website at www.courtneyemartin.com. This book was published fairly recently, in 2007.

Martin writes in the introduction that eating disorders affect more than 7 million American girls and women, 70 million people worldwide. Over half of the females between ages 18-25 surveyed would rather be mean or stupid. Anything but fat. A survey of parents found that 1/10th of them would abort their child if they found that he or she had the genetic tendency to be fat. (Thanks, Mom and Dad. They were your genes to start with.)

She states that we live in a time when getting an eating disorder, or at least being obsessed over weight, is thought of as a rite of passage. The writer talks about her many friends who bought into this kind of thinking. They sound like my friends. Many women use what they put into their bodies or/and the amount of exercising they do to define their worth.

It is not our kindness, or courage that we count at the end of the day, it is our calorie intake.

310967011_2dcab45a8bI, too, know people with really screwed up ideas about health and fitness. There are the girls who believe that any food is bad and that they have to exercise to get the Tic Tac or chip out of their system. There are my friends who daily post stats on how much they eat per day. Their limit is 210 calories. Not per snack. Not per meal. For the whole freaking day, they restrict themselves to 210 calories. What goes in those 210 calories? An apple.  A 60-calorie lollipop. That’s it. It’s not about eating healthy, it’s about eating less. Then there’s the miserable girl who eats food – lots – when she’s depressed, and then purges it later.

I know girls in my church who struggle with this as well. There’s one who exercises often. She’s 13, goes to the gym, and does weights. In front of people, she talks about how fat she is, and picks at her food when eating in front of others. She always worries that she is too fat, even though everyone else could tell her that she isn’t.

364637840_761d56792dIn fact, I recently talked to one who was stressed out about her homework. She’s 12. She said she was eating like a pig and was fat. I told her she wasn’t fat. “Ask your big sister,” I said.

She replied, “She says that I’m fat.”

I think this kind of thinking is so ingrained in our culture that we cease to notice it.

Martin puts it well when she writes that we’re not apathetic, we’re distracted. What about the starving children in Africa? I’m thinking about whether to have a granola or skip lunch altogether. She continues that we can’t see the the needs of others because we’re too busy looking at ourselves in the mirror. We don’t want to go to the beach because we don’t want others to see us in bathing suits. It’s all about us and how we feel.

What can we do about it?

This is a social problem as well as psychological. Some people believe that this is normal. I say that our culture must be pretty messed up, then. I knew a bulimic girl who wrote on her public food diary, “I don’t want to be normal. I don’t even know what normal is.” It seems that “normal” nowadays means women and girls stressed out about what goes into their mouths.


Something you should eat and not compare your body to

Martin says that womanhood “was about something solid and beautiful right in the core — a vulnerable yet unbreakable center of strength and openness.”

I can identify with that. That sounds like the definition of a woman from the Christian book Captivating. Except that God is our core.

Martin continues,

At the center of most of the young women I know today are black holes.

On the outside, we’re busy and active. On the inside, we’re crumbling. We have these holes that we try to fill with anything and everything. But they’re still there. We’re starving, because the distractions are never enough. We’re just not enough. Not good enough. We have no control.


Black holes at the center of us

Our ultimate goal is “effortless perfection.” We’re to be everything we’re supposed to be, without showing any apparent effort. Of course, this is impossible. I know another girl who said, “I want to be able to fast for days at a time without struggling. I want to be able to have no desire for food. I want to be able to stay skinny without such hard work.” Effortless. Perfection.

The perfect part really does get us into trouble, either with an eating disorder or with an unhealthy obsession with food and exercise. It really turns out to be such hard work.

The truth is, we waste a lot of time on our bodies. How much time do we spend thinking about what to eat when we could be organizing a fund-raising event devoted to some cause?

Martin puts forth the mission of this book: a call to action. She wants this book to move us to admit that we are sick, but also tired of  being sick and ready to do something about it.


The price she paid was her dancing.

Note that this isn’t a purely American problem anymore. I remember the ballerina from Denmark. She had been struggling with anorexia for some time. The disorder came to a point where her bones were too weak for her to stand on her toes. I’m a ballerina too, and to stand on your toes, you need to have very strong bones. Because of the disorder, the calcium was steeped out of her bones, leading to brittleness. She loved dancing. Really loved dancing. But what could she do? This was the price she paid, and she felt that she couldn’t do anything about it.

There was the girl form Brazil and the girl from Taiwan. There was the girl in Spain and the girl from Wales who messaged me on facebook begging for help. There was also the girl from Qatar, a country so tiny that people don’t even know it exists.

The Independent, a London paper, reported that 1 million in Britain have eating disorders.

Martin closes the introduction by saying that she believes “in the possibility of a world where a girl doesn’t learn to count calories at the same age she learns algebra.”

That’s the world I’m fighting for, now.


Heavy Makeup

Part 3 of Chapter 10 of the book Looks

106376261_ukhTN-S-3Consider those addicted to plastic surgery. These are the people who risk their lives and spend millions to chase after what Dr. Patzer calls artificial perfection. They are the people who appear “abnormal” but look forward to their next procedures.

There’s the case of the 34 year old porn actress “Jen X.” She had Botox multiple times, a chin implant, and breast augmentation. She reported to Hustler magazine that she was afraid that she was getting addicted to plastic surgery. She still pays monthly for silicone injections to her lips, a highly illegal procedure which is fraught with danger. She knows, but is driven by the need to compete. Jen X said, “The more surgery everyone else gets, the more I have to get to keep up.”

Only in your mind, sadly.

There’s also Rhiannon, a woman in quest for bigger boobs. Her breasts now weigh 10 pounds each. That’s 20 pounds total! Talk about back pain. Their size is 48MMM. This began in 1991. She has had 30 surgeries on her right breast alone. 

There’s something about my personality that big is never big enough. If I’m going to do it, I’m going all the way.

She added that she wants still-larger implants.

Another good example is the Beverly Hills realtor Elaine Young. In 1979, she saw a silicone injection in the face of a friend and wanted it. She went to her friend’s doctor, who told her that he’d make her beautiful. That was all she had to hear.

At first, Young was pleased with the results. However, the silicone migrated and interfered with her facial nerves. When the doctor tried to remove the silicone, the surgery left the left side of her face paralyzed for two years. Young blames her silicone injection for the downfall of three of her six marriages. The doctor who injected her committed suicide.

brokenwindowYoung said,

It’s typical insecurity that leads women to [cosmetic surgery]. I don’t care what they say; most of the women who do it are either aging, and they want to look younger, or they’re very insecure.

Read the entire, original Hustler article here.

Many people addicted to plastic surgery suffer from BDD (as written in an earlier post). They often look for ways to deal with an imaginary or trivial defect in their appearance. They can spend lots of time and energy picking at their skin or looking into a mirror. Or wearing a hat or heavy makeup. An article in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology reports that as many as 3 million Americans may have this disorder. Among them are those with the money and resources to pay for countless surgeries.

A spokesman for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons said that there are some well-balanced people who have many surgeries. But at the same time, another group is not happy with whatever you do.


Katharine Hepburn went to see him after her bout with skin cancer

Dr. Z. Paul Lorenc sees these addicts frequently. His practice has attracted notables like CEOs and even Katharine Hepburn. Most of his patients are the ultrarich who live in opulent homes near his offices. His book describes the reality of dealing with a society that more and more wants to be perfect in appearance. Some patients lie about their medical histories. Some lie about the  medicines they’re taking.

One male patient was taking steroids but wouldn’t tell me. He wanted a facelift and nothing would stop him. I’ve never seen a patient’s face bleed so much in my life.

Scalpel_smallIn cases like this, says Lorenc, the plastic surgeon is to refuse to do surgery. He gives another example, this time of a guy who thought he had an awful acne scar. Dr. Lorenc saw nothing. The worst thing he could have done would have been to operate, because then the poor guy would have had a real scar.

Maybe we are growing into a culture that is endlessly fixated on appearance. Seeing media images refuels and reinforces the notion that physical attractiveness must be had at all costs.

The Dove Campaign

Part 3 of Chapter 8 of the book Looks

Gisele Bundchen, a popular model of today

Gisele Bundchen, a popular model of today

I’m sure that a lot of you are familiar with Dove’s ad campaigns. Their ads speak of broadening the definition of beauty. Their ads have caused quite a sensation because of this. The pretty, underwear clad women have appeared on billboards across the county– and they’re much heavier than Gisele Bundchen. Their naked older ladies have appeared in magazines. How did this come about?

Dove wanted to explore empirically what beauty means to women to today, and why. They also wanted to look at the more authentic, satisfying, and empowering ways to think and talk about feminine beauty. 

Dove’s study, “The Real Truth about Beauty: A Global Report,” was published in September 2004. 3200 women, ages 18-64, from 10 countries, were interviewed. The study, which you can read by clicking the link, concluded that while most women are not lost in despair and self-hatred because of their looks, few women feel the “power and  pride of beauty.” Only 2% claimed to be beautiful. That’s only 64 out of 3200 women.

A popular ad for Dove

A popular ad for Dove

This study showed that women are less satisfied with their beauty than with almost every other dimension of life (social skills, honesty, kindness). The study calls the women of today to reject the images of manufactured femininity as too narrow, inauthentic, and not enough. Manufactured femininity being the ideal: tall, thin, with blonde haire, fair skin, and blue eyes. (Sort of like Gisele Bundchen?) Three-fourths of those surveyed revealed that they wanted to see women with different shapes, sizes, and a varying range of ages. More variety, in short.

Dr. Susie Orbach stated that while these women believed that physical appeal was important (or even crucial), conforming to the media’s definition of real beauty should make them resort to extremities like cosmetic surgery. 

Dr. Patzer agrees that the media could broaden their definition of beauty. However, he reminds us that beauty’s less visual qualities are rather difficult to portray on a magazine spread, or a TV ad.

While these models are not ideal, they still have beautiful hair, features, and clear skin. That old lady up there has clearer skin than my grandmother. And nicer hair, too.

Secretaries and Good Equipment

Chapter 5 in the book Looks

My economic professor always said, “Do you know which secretaries in a company get a raise? The ones with the best equipment.”

3235284705_612a4e69c7We all laughed, because we knew what he meant.

No, not that type of equipment.

It turns out that he may have been right.

This is true if you’re competing for a position against candidates who seem to possess similar qualities, and you’re very attractive while they’re just average. If this is a job search, you’d get the job. But if the other person is more qualified than you, then you might not get the job, even if you’re very good looking. This theory of “hire-the-handsome” has been around for decades. People who work in big firms know about this, and are supposed to beware of hiring the person just because he’s hunkier.

Do they follow it?

Not really. Studies show that it’s the same as with the attractive students (other blog post somewhere). People still view the highly physically attractive person as more equipped to do his/her job.

death-by-cubicleAn article in the Journal of Applied Psychology stated that short men start any interview with immediate strikes against them, even when the hiring decision is being made by a manager with high experience. 

And sadly, I do remember an article which mentioned that some people do believe that getting breast implants can get them ahead at work. If this is true, then I see why they believe that.

Height is also related to income in some strange way. Economist Barry Harper concluded that both men and women who were unattractive or short experienced an earnings penalty. This is, in short, employer discrimination.

Professors Daniel M. Cable and Timothy A. Judge had evaluated data about this trend. They’ve noticed a clear linkage between physical height and career success.

Height flavors the way people dole out social esteem, invest in leadership, and rate performances.

These two professors examined the relationship between physical height and income. They suggest that tall people enjoy many advantages in careers. But why?

contemporary-home-office-furniture-739500They found that greater height boosted the subjective ratings of work performance. We’re talking about literally hundreds of dollars of earning advantage simply because the person is tall. The researchers wonder if being tall boosts self-confidence and thus improving performance. Who knows?

But looking at this, we realize that it’s hard for short or unattractive people to compete with taller, more attractive people. Simply looking different from the norm means a paycheck penalty.

A professor at the Tel Aviv University did yet another study between height, weight, and physical appeal of lawyers and their salaries. The data gathered suggests that thinner, heavier, and shorter were penalized with lower salaries and less important jobs. Less attractive women attorneys were less likely to get jobs that required face-to-face contact with clients. Face-to-face jobs were in fact the jobs that had the better pay.

TruckThe exception is when beautiful women compete for jobs that are traditionally associated with masculine qualities like strength, endurance, and exercising good judgement under pressure. For example, being a truck driver. Maybe it is because people view female physical attractiveness with femininity. Therefore an attractive woman would be viewed as less capable of meeting requirements for masculine qualities. This bias also extends to manager positions. If a highly attractive woman reaches a manager position, it’s viewed as luck. But if it’s an unattractive woman, then it’s because of her ability rather than anything else.

Sometimes merely being good looking isn’t enough to get a job with much public contact (better pay). Being youthful is also very important. A survey of men found that youthful appearance, like height, also affects salary and promotions. Two-thirds of the people surveyed said that they lost job opportunities because they looked too old. Three-fourths believed that looking younger gives job applicants a distinct advantage. It doesn’t help that a lot of job interviewers tend to be younger than the applicants screened.


Flight attendants working for China Airlines

Don’t forget flight attendants. In 2003, the management of Malaysian Airlines (MAS) announced that their female flight attendants must retire at the age of 40. The logic behind this is that “customers prefer to be served by young, demure, and pretty stewardesses.”

However, it’s important to note that MAS targets business travelers, whore are mostly male. Having pretty flight attendants gives the airline a competitive edge.


Malaysian Airlines plane

Malaysian Airlines plane

I suspect that China Airlines may does this as well. All their stewardesses are young and beautiful. When I go flying in Asia, I see their attendants (see left) filing into the plane. Every single one is young and beautiful, with perfect hair and makeup. But in Northwest Airlines, my airline of choice, the stewardesses seem to all be in their 40s or 50s. If they don’t have an age restriction, they probably look at the women and select the ones which are the most attractive.

There’s also the popular clothing retailer Abercrombie and Fitch. Some time ago, they were accused of promoting whites while relegating their dark-skinned, less attractive employees to the back of the store. And it does seem that their catalogs and advertising campaigns all utilize beautiful, young white people. 

An Abercrombie and Fitch shopping bag

An Abercrombie and Fitch shopping bag

It always struck me as funny that while Abercrombie and Fitch sells clothes, their models in their ads don’t wear much clothes. Look at the shopping bag to the left. You’ll probably see the shopping bag often. I have friends who shop at the store, and they reuse the bags for stuff… therefore exposing me to Mr. Muscles more often than I care.

Ancient Beauties

Looks: Chapter 1

I’ll be going through this book chapter by chapter and posting my thoughts about the contents. Enjoy! 

In this chapter, Dr. Patzer looks at how people in the past viewed beauty. He also mentions several notable beauties in ancient times. 

650px-helen_menelaus_louvre_g424The first one is Helen of Troy. Do you remember the legend? Paris was offered three things: wealth, power, or the most beautiful woman in the world. He chose the most beautiful women… over wealth and power. This woman’s beauty started a war. She was responsible for the deaths of many. However, her feelings and reactions are never described in any detail. I found this picture of a pot or vase on google… I believe she’s the one in the middle. 

I always wondered how she must have felt, if she was real. All we know about her is that she was beautiful. We don’t know if she was smart, witty, wise, spirited (well, maybe she had to be plenty spirited if she ran off with the hunk). 

Dr. Patzer states that to women in those times (and maybe now), she represented the power and potency of human beauty. Beauty that could start a war? Wow.

There’s also Sarah from the book of Genesis in the Bible. She was so beautiful, her husband Abraham was afraid that he’d start a war as well. So when he went to Egypt, he begged her to lie and say that she was his sister instead of his wife (chicken). Pharaoh admired her beauty so much that he gave her husband lots of moolah. The same thing happened to his son Isaac years later, but with Abimelech of the Philistines (I think), not Pharoah.

The writer says that “to the ancient Hebrews and Christians who followed in their… path, physical beauty was a reward from the Almighty, and its opposite was punishment.” He cites Ecclesiastes 8:1-10 in support. This is true, then and now, as wisdom and being assured of God’s grace does more for you than any anti-aging perfume. Sin and worry really does add lines to the face. Botox is not the solution, God is. You’ll look younger.

200px-venus_of_brassempouy1Patzer goes on to cite findings of Stone Age carvings which depicted women with braided/curled hair. An example is the Brassempouy lady on the right. He asks why primitive humans felt the need to compete for sexual attraction. 

The answer, Dr. Patzer goes on to say, is in the biology of sexual attraction. 

We as humans feel the unconscious need to reproduce. “A healthy, youthful appearance is attractive because it signifies reproductive capability.” Men want women to bear their children, which is why they would look to younger women. Women want men to support them, which is why women tend to learn towards older men with stable jobs.

However, not everyone looks like the perfect beauty. As a result, people worried that if they weren’t attractive enough, they wouldn’t get laid. This is true, even now. Competition ensues. 

0728peacock_07-28-2005_om53s60Like in the case of peacocks. 

It turns out that there’s general agreement about what is attractive. Look at the magazine covers! Dr. Patzer asks, “Is there an absolute standard?”

The Roman ideal was “absence of flaws.” (I forget who said it, I think it was Cicero.) It’s not the presence of attractive features. It’s not that nice nose that makes you attractive, it’s the absence of age spots due to airbrushing. This implies a standard of perfect beauty. And if you do look at some professional airbrushing sites, you’ll see that these sites tend to airbrush all the flaws away. Ugliness is measured by how far you depart from the standard.

Oops… very far.

What about bodily beauty? 

In several surveys, young men leaned toward hourglass shapes. Women with large breasts and hips and a small waist. Young women liked big, balanced, properly built men. 

It turns out that Dr. Peter Ellison in his article “Ecology, Reproduction, and the Human Evolution” found that the hourglass figure is the one designed best for motherhood. 

However, not everyone can look like Marilyn Monroe. Maybe there’s something else we women can try. 

A study done by Dr. Craig Roberts showed that a woman’s face is most alluring when she’s at the  peak of her fertility. 

womena6Which leads us to cosmetics. Remember the Egyptians with their elaborate hair, heavy makeup, and strong perfume? The picture to the right is an excellent example. (Those perfume cones are bigger than their heads!!!) Preparations were also used by both sexes to keep their skin smooth and young. According to the link (click on kohl) the Egyptians had the equivalent of rouge, lip-gloss, and nail polish. There was also kohl. It blackened the upper lid and lashes, sort of like eyeliner and mascara. Rouge was used to make their cheeks pink. White powder was also used to give them the appearance of fairness.

Dr. Patzer says that a woman does this because it more closely resembles the coloring that comes during ovulation.

nefertiti_berlinWhile we’re talking about beauty in ancient times, we should remember Nefertiti. Her name literally means “beautiful one.” We don’t know anything else about her, other than her beauty. We know she was the queen of one of the most notorious kings of Egypt… the king who changed the religion of Egypt and made the artists draw him and his wife AS THEY WERE. Which means showing him with a pot belly. Which we do know that he had. (He was a very sickly king.) As a matter of fact, we also know that he died early, leaving his wife and many daughters. There’s a theory going around which says that King Tut was his grandson.

But anyway. What happened to Nefertiti after her husband died is unknown.

But we’ll still remember her as one of the most beautiful women of her time.

Helen of Troy as well as the goddesses Aphrodite and Hera (even goddesses took advantage of cosmetics, apparently) wore dresses, veils, jewelry, etc to enhance their appearance. They usually ended up getting laid, too.

xin_330303080933384298495And let’s not forget Chinese women of the past. Beauty was important to them as well. There was the beautiful dancer Chao Fei-yen who caught the eye of an emperor. She and her more beautiful sister used their beauty as a sword against the guy and threw the palace into a power struggle.

From this article:

Like many women in Chinese literature who have the beauty of a delicate flower, our femme fatale also has great beauty. In the story of “Empress Chao Fei-Yen,” “her gait was so light that her graceful carriage, which was beyond imitation, was compared to the single stem of flower dangling in the grasp of a human hand” (307). But a delicate blossom she is not. She is scheming and lascivious, sleeping with many men in an attempt to have a baby she can pass off as the Emperor’s child to secure her position in the palace. She is jealous, resenting her sister who has won the Emperor’s favor. She is deceitful, lying to the Emperor of her pregnancy. She is threatening, bribing the Eunuch Wang to find her a baby to pass off as her own to cover up her false pregnancy. 

Empress Chao is not the only scheming one in this story. Her sister, Chao-Yi, proves to be a formidable opponent. More beautiful than her sister, Chao-Yi is also more ruthless and heartless. Suspecting her sister’s trickery, Chao-Yi also becomes suspicious of other women having the Emperor’s baby, and orders the baby of an attendant, as well as all pregnant maids, killed. In her madness, she kills the Emperor and then commits suicide. In this story, both femme fatales fell victim to their own evildoing.

They failed. And Confucians sought to promote dignity and virtue as better qualities than beauty. 

They failed, but they are still remembered as ladies who used their beauty to their best advantage. 

Dr. Patzer concludes this chapter by saying that the biological imperative to reproduce fuels this phenomenon. It should be no surprise that both men and women use beauty to their personal advantage.

After all, we’ve learned how to play the game very early in life.

Regular Exercise is Good

Magnetic Dumbells

Magnetic Dumbells

This was written in my composition class. The outline was supplied by the instructor, but we had to come up with the arguing methods ourselves. I did a pretty good job. There was one correction: where I say that you can get toned abs. The instructor said that he didn’t like that as much because for most the goal of exercise may be to get a little less fat-looking.

I think he’s right.

A few days ago, I read in O magazine that many health experts are concerned about the lack of regular exercise in many people’s lives. The article mentioned that regular exercise to many people consists of lifting themselves off the couch and changing the channel manually instead of with the remote. Regular exercise should be a strict exercise plan that consists of both aerobic exercise (like bike riding) and anaerobic exercise (like weight lifting). Regular does not mean once a week, but at least three or four times per week. Maybe you should consider the benefits of regular exercise. This essay will address some of those benefits that are associated with regular exercise like your health, your quality of life, and your appearance. Maybe after you read this, you’ll think about what you can gain from regular exercise.

Regular exercise may benefit your health. Researchers from Yale University have talked to the editors of Prevention magazine. Their breakthrough research has found that exercise benefits the heart, lungs, and skin. Along with that, these researchers have found that exercise may equip your body to resist both viral and bacterial infection. As a result, you’ll get sick less and be able to spend more time with your family. You can even use the money you spend on doctor’s bills to see Miley Cyrus. Not only that, the study found that regular exercise is proven to lower blood pressure so that you can live a longer life and maybe see your great-grandchildren.

Your quality of life may be improved greatly. Dr. Oz is one of the most notable experts in Oprah’s series titled “Live Your Best Life.” In the series, he regularly talks about how exercise can vastly improve your life. He states that while you can have more energy to do the things you love to do, you will also require less sleep. You will be more alert and have a better memory so that you can finally remember your children’s birthdays when people ask you. Along with that, Dr. Oz found that you may have the desire to travel more and do more physical recreation. With better mental health, you will get depressed less often.

Your appearance may also be affected positively. The website Health and Study has documented the psychological benefits as well as the physical benefits of exercise. As well as lowering weight, exercise, especially lifting weights, leads to more muscularity. Ever wanted those toned abs? You can have them! My overweight friends tell me their frustrations in finding good clothes that fit. As well as giving you a better posture, your clothes will fit better on you. The site says that your complexion will be radiant. Your hair will be healthier and shinier. Most importantly, the confidence that exercising regularly brings will turn heads everywhere you go. 

In conclusion, regular exercise is extremely important. Regular exercise is proven to bring impressive health benefits. It gives you a better resistance to infection, as well as a longer life. On top of this reason, regular exercise improves the quality of your life in many ways. One of these includes giving you more energy and alertness so that you can do the things you love. Finally, why not turn some heads while you’re at it? Exercise can do that by dramatically improving your physical appearance. Imagine what the boost in confidence can do for you!