Monday, April 29, 2013

Get Real, Hollywood!

I hate Hollywood. Absolutely detest it. Not so much the people themselves, because I don't hate anyone. It's the image of Hollywood. And I'm not so thrilled with the media and the health industry, either.
Day after day in movies, print, television, billboards, internet, and even in person, we are told that we must worship image and hate self. Oh, that's not true at all!  Want to bet? Quick, think of a healthy, happy woman. What did you think of? A thin, tall woman with not an ounce of fat on her, I'm guessing. Most actors and models are impossibly thin and they show off that figure in skin tight and/or flesh revealing clothing. There are very few overweight actors or models, especially women. When you do see one, what's the first thing a reporter or writer says about them? Plus size. Even doctors and the media tell you that in order to be healthy, you have to weigh a certain amount and not an ounce over.
There is a certain amount of truth to that statement. As in, weight does have an impact on the body. People like myself who are overweight have a higher likelihood of being diabetic or have high blood pressure. It's harder to climb stairs without huffing and puffing sometimes. But you know what? it's not the end all be all final story of health. I've seen overweight people who could run faster and out exercise their thinner buddies because they actually took care of themselves a little better.
Am I advocating that no one should try to lose weight? Not at all. After all, I'm right here on My Fitness Pal, writing this blog post while my head is screaming at me to go outside and walk while I have a chance instead of sitting here writing and avoiding making lunch. I'm drinking my water. Getting myself to move. Bottom line? I want to be healthy so I can take care of my family. And let's face it, I want to see less of me in the mirror.
So what's the point, chica? The point is we are bombarded daily with negative body images. Everyone tells women that in order to be sexy or even "pretty" you have to be skinny. In order to be somebody you have to be thin. In order for anyone to even look at you without pity or disgust you have to be slender. The lie that skinny automatically equals superior health is perpetuated hourly.
 Yes, we as a nation do need to eat healthier and slim down some. A few less value meals and a few hours spent walking or playing outside in the fresh air would do wonders. But also remember that its only part of the story. Genetics plays a big part in a person's size and shape as well as the love for KFC.  Thyroid can be a friend or foe as well. I've seen some who could eat fast food all day and never get off the couch but would still be super thin. Healthy? No. They have an amazing metabolism but are still slowly killing themselves by not eating healthfully and exercising.
 I've talked with a friend who can only see what society tells her: overweight equals fat and ugly. Her words. She considers her old self to be fat and ugly. She chose to lose weight in a way I don't consider to be healthy but hey, I'm not a person with a degree and I'm still fat so what do I know.  I know she only sees worth in herself because she's close to her goal of being super skinny and I honestly don't think she will stop there. Because it's been drummed into her that she was worthless as a fat person.
I've talked with a beautiful young lady who has very low self esteem. She can't figure out how to like herself at this point. She's trying to lose weight but she sees only the negative side of things at this point.
And I have me. For nearly twenty years I didn't like myself because I was no longer the thin girl I was as a teenager. I bought into the myth that you have to be skinny to be pretty, to be count as a person. Clothing makers help perpetuate that myth as well.  You have to look long and hard to find clothing that looks flattering and cute for women built bigger than a twig. At least, that's how I sometimes see things. It takes confidence and a sense of style to rock fashions these days. It can be done, but hello under garment industry: even us fuller figured gals like wearing pretty undies. Dont write us off with utilitarian bras. And simply coloring them something other than black or white to throw us a bone is not helping. How about some lacy, femininie fabrics along with the support?
For years we've been fed this baloney that skinny equals beauty. You know what? Anyone can look fabulous with enough make up and lighting and air brushing.  But a size zero body does not always equal healthy. Not in body or in mind. Too often I'm seeing young girls who are still growing refusing more than a few bites of food because they are afraid of gaining weight. Or adult women who think the key to happiness is eliminating any trace of fat in their diets.
Fat or thin, or any other way we describe ourselves, our goal first and foremost should be healthy.  Are you eating a well balanced diet that includes good fats (Yes, you need some good fats in your diet for optimum health!)? Are you getting up and walking or running or playing catch with your children? Being active in some sort of way? Are you a good person with a good attitude for life and compassion for others? If you can say yes to those then in my opinion you have a great start on being healthy.
Bottom line folks, weight and any other number people come up with to define us is just that. A number. Work to change those numbers if needed. I am. Just don't let your happiness and well being and self worth be dictated by numbers. Learn what is best for you. Do some research if need be. Be real. If need be, re learn how to eat. But please don't fall for the line that only skinny people have lives worth living. It's okay to not like something about yourself and want to change for the better. It's not okay to hate yourself. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Gratituesday: Light It UP Blue 2013

It's that time of year again.

If you have never read my blog before, let me introduce you to J Man. 

Yep, that's him. The first picture is an older one from a few years ago, with his uncle Bobby. He adores my brother. The second is one of his quiet moments here at home. J is now twenty years old and he has severe autism. He is not verbal although he is almost never quiet. He is loud, loving, and happy on most occasions. The happier he is, the louder he gets sometimes. If, at the grocery store, you hear a  loud shriek and an infectious giggle, it could be J, letting everyone at the store know that he has arrived. If you see a twenty year old sitting in the aisle looking bored or even lying down, he's not staging a protest of anything but standing. He does not like to stand and wait around while mom and dad hem and haw over what to choose.
   Today I'm thankful to be his mother. (Well, I'm thankful to be his mother every day, even the ones that break my heart, but hopefully you know what I mean). I'm thankful for all the mothers and fathers who are in the trenches day after day, working with their kids, loving them, caring for them, and I'm thankful for the ones who end up making the most painful decision ever : to place their darling child in a school or institution because it's no longer wise to keep the child at home. It's not a decision made lightly and it's done with a lot of swinging pendulum emotions, I imagine. We haven't come to a decision like that yet, but we've seen it on the horizon of our journey a few times. 
    I'm also thankful today for Autism Speaks   and all of the businesses and families and individuals who who participate in Light It UP Blue and promote autism awareness. It's becoming more and more prevalent, with current stats at 1 child in 88 being diagnosed with autism, 1 in 54 for boys. Some put the current stats as 1 in 50 children being diagnosed on the spectrum. Whether because the numbers are growing due to whatever is causing it (I have my own ideas and there seems to be myriad theories out there) or as some would like to suggest, they're simply better at diagnosing it, those numbers are heading in the wrong direction. 
  So what is autism?  (Lifted straight from Autism Speaks: What is Autism
  Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. With the May 2013 publication of the new DSM-5 diagnostic manual, these autism subtypes will be merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD.
ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.
Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. Autism Speaks continues to fund research on effective methods for earlier diagnosis, as early intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes. Increasing autism awareness is a key aspect of this work and one in which our families and volunteers play an invaluable role. Learn more …
  I tend to say "kids with autism" a lot when discussing it, but the "kids" that people see and tend to accept behaviors of once they know it's autism, grow up to be adults with autism. Mine is one of them. Yes, at times you will see a 20 year old in the throes of a full on melt down. Or you will see him happily waving his arms and singing in his own language. No, he's not on drugs other than medicines prescribed for his seizure disorder. No, he's not drunk or insane. He's either happy or upset or in some cases, having a type of seizure. If you can help, by all means do. If you can't, and simply are judging or in the way when something happens, please move along. Children and adults with autism are not zoo animals to be stared at, nor should they all be "locked up away from society so we will be safe" as one lady put it after a recent shooter was said to be on the autism spectrum. 
  Learn about autism. Ask questions. Wear blue today in honor of our kids and maybe Light it up Blue with the rest of us. Have a blue light on your porch or in your window. Say a prayer for the kids themselves and the parents and dedicated doctors, therapists and caregivers who work with them. And please, teach others.
  This post is share with Heavenly Homemakers for Gratituesday.
Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly HomemakersYou'll find many other bloggers that you may enjoy as well. Feel free to add your own post there or tell me in the comments here what you are thankful for. I always enjoy hearing from you..