Fit is a Feminist Issue, Link Round Up #86

This is where we share stuff we can’t share on Facebook page for fear of being kicked out! Read why here. Usually the posts are about body image, sometimes there’s nudity but we’re all adults here. Right?

Social Media Star Shows the Dramatic Difference Between Posed and Unposed Lingerie Photos

Megan Jayne Crabbe is exposing the truth about the lingerie campaign photos we see in magazines and on billboards.

The body positive social media star shared side-by-side photos of herself in the same lingerie set, but in one photo she has professional posing, makeup and lighting, and the other shows her in a more natural pose without her makeup and hair done.

“The photo on the left is staged as hell,” Crabbe wrote on Instagram. “I was told where to put my legs, how to angle my arm, which way to tilt my hips and even how to hold my fingers. My eyes were watering from the false lashes and my hair will probably never look like that again.”

REAL TALK: the photo on the left is staged as hell. I was told where to put my legs, how to angle my arm, which way to tilt my hips and even how to hold my fingers. My eyes were watering from the false lashes and my hair will probably never look like that again. THESE ARE THE TYPE OF IMAGES WE COMPARE OURSELVES TO EVERYDAY! A posed, polished, perfectly lit snapshot of the highlight reel. Except this photoshoot was different, because after all the typically 'flattering' lingerie posing, @curvykate asked me to go home and recreate the pictures make-up free, hair undone and relaxed. Because behind-the-scenes deserves to be celebrated too! Our bodies are glorious from every angle. Posed or unposed. Polished or not. And we sure as hell don't need to compare ourselves to anybody's highlight reel, after all, the model in the magazine doesn't even look like the model in the magazine most of the time. 💜💙💚🌈🌞 You can see more about this photoshoot on @curvykate's blog, the link is in my bio! ✨ Left photo by @alisonvwebster with make-up by @sharlottejacks 💫

A post shared by Megan Jayne Crabbe 🐼 (@bodyposipanda) on

Radical Visibility and the Myth of the Bikini Body

The idea of a “bikini body” is a grand metaphor for a body worthy of being seen. Slenderella International, a short-lived chain of weight loss salons, popularized the phrase in 1961. The company ran a series of ads in major newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post. “Summer’s wonderful fun is for those who look young,” they claimed. “High firm bust — hand span waist — trim, firm hips — slender graceful legs — a Bikini body!”

Hand. Span. Waist.

You might be rolling your eyes and feeling a little nauseous at that line, but I bet you also believe in the bikini body.

I know you do. Just a little bit. A hand span’s worth.

No, Chrissy Metz’s Sexy Photo Shoot Will Not Encourage Obesity

Earlier this week, This Is Us star Chrissy Metz jumped into the spotlight because of a series of pin up style photos published in Harper’s Bazaar.

 She looks happy and confident. Perhaps because she is. You know, successful TV show, critical acclaim, those sorts of things.

She told the magazine:

When I first heard Harper’s Bazaar wanted me to be sexy, I was like, ‘Who, me?’ I knew y’all were edgy but this is incredible — it’s validation. I can get into this now because I finally have the confidence.

My Boyfriend Weighs Less Than I Do

For the next few months, we’ll be featuring a series of personal essays from contributing writers. Each person will share a true story about dating — from texting to sex to breakups. Kicking off this theme is Ashley Ford, whose feelings about her body changed when she started dating a guy 20 pounds lighter than she was…

 

Image description: Red text reads, "You're fabulous in any size and shape." Underneath there's a line drawing of three chickens with different shapes and sizes. http://positivedoodles.tumblr.com/

Image description: Red text reads, “You’re fabulous in any size and shape.” Underneath there’s a line drawing of three chickens with different shapes and sizes. http://positivedoodles.tumblr.com/

What makes a good spinning class?

(This post has a soundtrack.  Click here or go to mixcloud.com and search George Chaker. Click any of the spinning mixes and play it while you read).

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Spinning that feels like a dance party.  That’s George, at Torq ride.  I’ve been spinning, off and on, for about 18 years, and I recently discovered George.  He’s a DJ and a fitness guy and probably my favourite spinning instructor I’ve ever had.  He has just the right blend of presence, push and trust in the class.  George starts out moving fast and it just gets faster. No pauses, very little recovery of any kind.  But I do it and leave the class feeling incredible. Here’s what happens in my head when I’m in one of George’s classes:

I like the dark… that music is fantastic … RPMs not at 85, go harder, find the beat of the music, push harder, those watts are climbing…135… 149… 187… 201… reach harder… 210 … 201… 202… this is crazy but my body is keeping up… are my knees okay?   The guy next to me is keeping time by beating his hand on his handlebars… he’s so into it… up out of the saddle — form… 3 position, core, form… music …pedal harder… 35 km/hr… 241 watts… 30 second push… 335 watts… tension off, keep pedalling, stay at 85…That guy next to me is moaning… how is it george pushes us like this.  this was a terrible class to forget to grab a towel — my hands are slipping off the bars… use your shirt… everything is slidey… everything feels strong and breathless.. 5 more minutes… one more push… 334… oof… that guy is moaning again…push push push omg that felt so good 

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This photo depicts a row of barely visible people on spinning bikes in a dimly lit room.

50 minutes pass and I’m working in the hardest zone possible for the whole time.  I hop off the bike, stretch, dripping sweat.  I wash my hands, leave the studio and check my phone, clicking my email to get my performance numbers.

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That’s a good spinning class, 50 minutes that feel like a dance party, where you actually sing out loud with the ironic dance mix of You are my Sunshine at the end of the class.

I had a class this week that was the opposite.  I won’t name the teacher, but the music was mediocre and played too loudly, and she kept shouting instructions over the music that I could never actually make out. Here’s what I was thinking in her class:

I hate it when the teacher frames the class as “you’re going to hate me” — I want to be on a team with the teacher, not set up to hate my own sense of movement. Why is she pressuring us to hit these watts right out of the gate — this is actually hurting my knees.  She’s a much bigger person than I am — does she think someone my size can actually do that?  That music is so loud it hurts my ears.  What the hell is she shouting now? How long is this push supposed to be?  Or is this a sprint?  Where is the torq stick supposed to be?  How much longer in this stupid class?  Shit we’re only 15% done.  I’ll just click the stage button so I can’t actually see how much time has elapsed… that music is so loud it’s actually damaging my hearing… fuck, what would happen if I just stopped right now… how much longer… can I still count this as a workout if I stop after 30 minutes… were we supposed to end that segment with the end of that song?  She’s not really keeping track. Oof my knees hurt, why is my foot all twitchy?  Fuck 5 more minutes, I can hang on.

Here’s the thing:   on the numbers, I actually hit similar levels in her class as George’s. But the experience of being in George’s class leaves me euphoric, completely present to the ecstasy of driving music and moving my body in unison with 25 other sweating, pushing people in the dark.  We’re together, and strong.  I believe I can do anything and I push for it. It doesn’t feel like an “exercise class” — it feels like deeply grappling with my strength and a deep pleasure and what’s possible.

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This photo is a sandwich board with the message PUSH: Persist Until Something Happens

And so, I go back. And I get stronger.

Spinning doesn’t need to be a spiritual experience.  I have some deep skepticism about things like Soul Cycle,  which claims to “change lives,” not just bodies.  Torq is inspiration-lite, the sandwich board outside the only real “messaging.”

But every instructor has a philosophy that seeps through. The ones that don’t work for me?  Now you can go to brunch and have a mimosa with a clear conscience… This will make up for going out for St. Patrick’s day… You’re going to hate me…

The ones that work?  Like George, they’re about strength and being in your body.  Use this class to get out the stuff that’s bugging you.  Find your own road and dig just a little deeper.  We’re all doing this together — you can push each other just a little harder.  

Some instructors let you dig deeper than others.  And in a week where I’m in my head way too much, where I am in charge of too many things, putting myself on a bike and letting George create the soundscape and rhythm for my life for an hour takes me somewhere important.

cate new hairFieldpoppy is Cate Creede, a regular contributor to the blog. (Look for her the second Friday of every month).  She lives in Toronto, where she is a strategic change consultant and educator working mostly in healthcare spaces.  She also blogs at fieldpoppy.wordpress.com.

 

6 things that make me feel great about my body

women of different sizes and colors and abilities, dressed as wonder woman

1) Yoga

Hanging out in downward facing dog or wide legged forward bend, I feel strong, stretched out, grounded, engaged with my muscles.  In shavasana (corpse pose for resting on the mat at the end of class) I connect with the floor, feeling my limbs and back and head and belly all sink into relaxation and stillness.  And when I get up to leave I feel grateful for the body I have. Here’s one of my posts on trying ropes yoga. Kim wrote about yoga here. And of course, Tracy reconnected with yoga on the beach here.

And then there’s the post about doing 366 days of yoga in a row.

2) Reading Natalie’s posts

Oh the body positive posts from Natalie always always make me smile and then shake my head slightly and say to myself “maybe I can be like this sometime”.  It’s impossible to pick a favorite (there are so many!), but here are a few to revisit:

Belly patrolling

why I hate going to the doctor (but go anyway)

big arms and making bread

3) Sex with myself

There’s nothing like ordering up an orgasm when you’re feeling off kilter (or not).  The fact that my body does this super nice thing for me also makes me smile.  And it clears the cobwebs and is relaxing.  I wrote more about it here.

4) Engaging in some manner of primping or poufing or attention to some part of me that I want to prettify

For me it’s my hair:  I get color, highlights, keratin, cuts,  blow dry and flat iron from time to time, and I feel (and I might add look) marvelous.  Some people attend to nails, or body ink, or piercings, or shoes (love the witchy Fluevogs, Sam!).  Or something else.  These are nice ways to feel pretty or boss or bad ass or however you want.

Here’s where you can get a look at one of the pairs of Sam’s fabulous Fluevog pointy-toed dancing shoes and her festive sparkly outfit.

5) Walking

On the beach, in the woods, around my neighborhood, on the university campus where I work, downtown in the city.  I feel purposeful, in control of speed and effort,  entertained by whatever’s happening around me, and aware of what’s doing well and not so well for me at that moment.  Walking gives me time to check in with my self, and it always always works.

Here’s a guest post on walking as a feminist act.

6) cycling on my own or with friends on a mellow ride

Cycling is my primary exercise love, and it soothes me and challenges me and revives me and exhausts me. That is, cycling is life to me. These days I’ve felt more challenged by it because of lower fitness and accompanying fears. But I got a new bike– see my post here.

And I’m also making plans for riding—alone, and with others. I’m seriously thinking about doing the one-day PWA ride with Sam and crew. See more info here.  All in all, the year is shaping up nicely for upcoming riding.

What makes you feel good about your body? We’d really like to know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Bikini Body: Can We All Really Have It? (Guest Post)

by Sara Protasi

As soon as the summer season approaches, the internet is inundated with articles and slideshows with such titles as: 37 Totally Perfect Bikini Bodies. Rule No.1: there are no rules or 9 Stunning Bodies That Shatter Society’s Stereotypes About the ‘Perfect’ Body and with memes that suggest that, in order to have a perfect bikini body, one just needs to have a body and wear a bikini, because “every body is beautiful.” These popular articles are grounded in the feminist imperative of dismantling sexist and oppressive aesthetic norms that harm women. But what kind of aesthetic ideal lies behind the slogan?

Bikini Beach Days

Image description: This is a black and white photo of a woman in a bikini. It’s a rear view shot and she’s standing at the edge of the beach. Licensed under creative commons. Bikini Beach Days by micadew.

Philosopher Sherri Irvin  has recently proposed a sophisticated articulation of this view (in a yet-to-be-published paper). Irvin proposes an original model of aesthetic practice that she calls aesthetic exploration. In short, aesthetic exploration involves a tendency to approach an object carefully seeking it out its aesthetic affordances with the specific intent of finding pleasure in them, and a tendency to do so with a sense of curiosity and adventure. Every body is beautiful because all human bodies are replete of features such as colors, textures, forms, possibilities of movement, and so forth. If one can’t see that, if one sees a human body as ugly, that means that one has not properly and carefully cultivated the right attitude.

Irvin’s view is very appealing, and it encourages us to engage in an enriching activity. But can it function as the feminist ideal of bodily beauty that we are looking for? I worry that the very strength of this view, its inclusivity, is also its major weakness: according to this view, nobody can fail short of the ideal, provided they are gazed at in the appropriate way. But I worry that this view isn’t as aspirational and empowering as the ideal we are looking for.

When everybody meets the standard of beauty, there is no need to appeal to it, because it does no work of weeding the non-beautiful from the beautiful. It is a psychological fact of human nature that we care about being beautiful because it sets us apart from others. If everybody were all equally beautiful, we would come to care a lot less about beauty.

So maybe when we say that every body is beautiful, we don’t mean it literally. What we mean is that there are many ways of being beautiful, many more than conventional standards of beauty allow for: fat women, muscly women, androgynous women, and so forth—all these women can be beautiful.

But once we start looking for more inclusive standards, another worry arises: where do we draw the line between the beautiful and the non-beautiful? Let me quickly consider two plausible candidates.

First, someone might argue that, while fat women are beautiful, very obese ones are not. But we have evidence showing that obese people are greatly harmed by conventional ideals of beauty that deem them as ‘disgusting’, and they are discriminated against in many other settings. Therefore, we have ethical reasons to resist the suggestion that obese people are ugly just in virtue of their obesity.

Another possibility would be “health”: healthy women are beautiful. This suggestion is, however problematic, according to a disability-positive perspective. Within this framework we find the idea that disabled, thus conventionally “unhealthy” and “dysfunctional” bodies, can be, and in fact have been throughout the history of art, sources of beauty, as illustrated in the work of Tobin Siebers, a recently-deceased disability studies scholar. The disability aesthetics perspective makes it impossible to draw a line by using any traditional standard of bodily beauty, such as proportionality of limbs, symmetry and so forth.

Interpreting the idea that “everybody is beautiful” in this way, then, fails at being sufficiently inclusive, and thus falls short on its ethical motivations. In order to find a satisfying ideal of bodily beauty, we have to look outside of the purely aesthetic domain.

We often talk of internal beauty, of being beautiful on the inside. This notion of beauty is metaphorical, but there is a non-metaphorical way in which what is “inside” a person—her spiritual, moral, and intellectual qualities—affect her “outside”: it affects the way people perceive her.

This is especially evident in loving relationships. Imagine someone slowly reciprocating the love of a person previously assessed as unsightly, won over by that person’s internal beauty. Moved by her attraction, she will discover valuable aesthetic features of the beloved, and at some point she will look at her or him, and see beauty. Her perceptions have changed, and, even if and when she falls out of love,  she will never look at that person as she used to look at them before loving them. Or think about how we see our children, siblings, parents: our affection makes us go beyond their aging, their physical flaws, their imperfections. Every loving parent sees their infant as the most perfect creature on earth, even when bystanders (secretly) beg to differ.

So when we say that everybody is beautiful, I think that we mean that any body can be an appropriate object of a loving gaze. According to this view, the most beautiful individuals are the most lovable ones, independently of what they look like from the outside. Some not-so-lovable individuals will retain some degree of beauty, because they are still appropriate object of love from the perspective of some people (for instance, their mothers) but will not be very beautiful, even if they look good from the perspective of conventional standards. Finally, others may be so underserving of love that those who can look inside them will see them as utterly ugly, like Patrick Bateman.

This view of bodily beauty is inspirational, empowering and inclusive.

Of course, personal preferences may still be at play, as they are in our loving relationships. That everybody is beautiful does not mean that every particular individual will actually see everybody else as beautiful. This is a view about who can be objectively assessed as beautiful. And the answer is: (almost) anyone

This post is an abbreviated version of an academic paper that can be found here: https://philpapers.org/rec/SARTPB

I’m an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at University of Puget Sound. My current research focuses on emotions, in particular love and envy. You can find more professional information here: http://saraprotasi.weebly.com/ I trained semi-professionally as a ballet dancer, and consider myself a dancer as much as a philosopher. I’m also a mother of daughters, and I hope they both grow up to kick ass and be compassionate human beings. My partner is a feminist and teaches philosophy as well.

 

 

 

A love letter to my bike, and others

Sam gave it away on Facebook this week: today’s post is about my time at bike camp in Table Rock State Park, South Carolina. We got back a week ago today, and man, do I ever wish I was still there.

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A view of the southern Appalachians from the top of Caesar’s Head in South Carolina. The skies are unsettled, cloudy and grey; the mountains are blue-grey. There is a lookout and a tree in the near right distance.

The riding was really hard and really fun, and as I predicted in my post last month, I was ready and managed some (for me) good finishes. I’ve got goals for next year, and absolutely, I’m already planning to head back (maybe even in the fall, by myself… stay tuned).

Susan reminded us recently, though, that the bunch of us who contribute regularly in this space have a tendency to toot the old horn. Not that this is a problem – women, own your awesomeness, PLEASE! – but it is sometimes, I suspect, a bit much. Maybe a little bit smug. Because fitness and athletics is all about failure, as well as success. You can’t have one without the other.

I didn’t have any epic fails at camp, but I did have a few moments when I got hit, hard, with the reminder that being on my bike is not about anything more than being on my bike. That’s enough. And women, is it ever glorious and powerful! Just to be able to do this wonderful thing called riding my bike when I want to.

I wanted to share three of these small, but precious, moments with you.

On our first day, my group (“B”) rode up Paris mountain, near Traveller’s Rest (a groovy suburb of Greenville. GOOD COFFEE!). It was my first mountain ride in a while – even though by mountain standards Paris is a bit small (20 minutes to the top, give or take). But on this day, the snow had fallen early in the morning, and it was still clinging to the branches at the upper elevations as I rode into the clouds. Blossoms and snow… it reminded me of time I spent in Japan, and felt quiet and magical as I moved through it. I stopped breathing heavily; I slowed my pace a bit so my heart rate could catch up with the scenery. I wished I could stop to take a photo but was pretty sure that would mean I couldn’t start up again… so I just drank it in. That was, I think, the right call – even though we didn’t get the chance for snaps at the top because The Law was chasing us down… apparently, at the summit, we were trespassing on state property!

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This photo shows the sun shining through evergreens, which sport snow on their branches. It’s from Paris Mountain, but I did not take it. 

On day three, we all did the Caesar’s Head climb. Caesar’s is the big challenge in the area, and I was geared up for it. My time was 48:02 according to Strava – maybe a little slower than I’d dreamed, but better than I’d hoped. We stopped for photos at the top this time (state park! Public access!), and enjoyed the accomplishment and the view.

That evening, I got a text from my ex husband and still very close friend, J. His step-mom had died while we were climbing. We were prepared for this, but the timing was a painful gift. As I was celebrating my strength – my love of my bike, and all the things I can do with my powerfully-aging, middle-aged body – she was slipping away.

I knew then that I needed to enjoy every minute on my bike from now on, and love it more than ever.

On our last day we climbed to the eastern continental divide, before getting packed up and heading home. I was, I confess, anxious to get on the road; we had 12+ hours of driving ahead of us and I really, really wanted to get back for Saturday, to clean the house, shop for groceries… Until I started climbing and swooping past the small communities on our way.

This was another magical climb: through clusters of trailers, shacks, and other makeshift spaces built into the mountains and valleys, every inch cozy homes. I slowed to enjoy them. I sped up to catch the others in my group. Then I slowed again, just taking the stillness, the loveliness, all in. Eventually Amy, one of my occasional riding friends from LonON, caught up to me; she’s a stellar athlete and climber. We chatted; I then pulled ahead to catch another rider, Derek, who was driving home with me. When we reached the divide, I was sure I’d posted a solid time.

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This photo shows me next to the sign that reads “Eastern Continental Divide: elevation 2694 feet”. I am wearing a pink Castelli riding cap, my riding glasses, and my green helmet. I am sort-of-smiling; when I take selfies I always think I am smiling but that’s not always actually true.

I was wrong. My continental divide climb was objectively terrible; I was near the bottom, on Strava, on all the segments. UGH!

But subjectively – for me – it was glorious. Some of it hurt, but mostly it was magical (like Paris), a ride through a dream of quiet, utterly spellbinding landscapes. So I’ve decided not to care at all that Strava tells me I did shit on this particular ride. Because what I felt on this ride Strava cannot capture. And because what I did on this ride was not for Strava, anyway.

It was for Norma, god bless her, and her loving family.

It was for Ruby, my beloved bike and constant companion.

It was for me.

Peace,

Kim

The Future of Climbing: Meet Ashima Shiraishi

Image is a colour head host of Ashima, wearing a black and white striped hoodie. She has dark straight hair tied back into a pony tail with bangs, dark eyes, and is looking into the camera with a closed mouth smile.

Image is a colour head shot of Ashima, wearing a black and white striped hoodie. She has dark straight hair tied back into a pony tail with bangs, dark eyes, and is looking into the camera with a closed mouth smile.

Earlier this week I attended the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour.  I saw eight different films and the one that blew me away the most was called Young Guns. The film, by Reel Rock Films, introduces the future of climbing. From the production company’s website:

Meet the new faces of climbing: 15-year-old Ashima Shiraishi and 16-year-old Kai Lightner are the leaders of the next generation, already taking the sport to the next level. A trip to Norway puts their skills to the test, and Ashima attempts to make history on a V15 boulder in Japan.

Both Ashima and Kai are impressive, but I was absolutely riveted by Ashima’s story. She’s unbelievably amazing to watch as she does apparently impossible things. At age 15 she is one of the most impressive and accomplished climbers in the world. Her father is a retired dancer. Perhaps it’s in the genes because Ashima applies the grace of a dancer to her astonishing climbing style. I know nothing about climbing but there’s no denying that she’s outstanding.

I recommend Young Guns. If you ever get a chance to see Ashima Shiraishi do anything, take it.

Here’s a link to the teaser.

Fit is a Feminist Issue, Link Round Up #85

This is where we share stuff we can’t share on Facebook page for fear of being kicked out! Read why here. Usually the posts are about body image, sometimes there’s nudity but we’re all adults here. Right?

Target’s Swimwear Ads Are Photoshop-Free
It’s nearly beach season and, with that impending dream of warmer weather, Target debuted its latest swim campaign. The ad is filled with models who represent a wide range of ethnicities and body types. What’s more? The images are also fully unretouched, showing off each girl’s gorgeous curves and stretch marks in all their glory. In other words: It’s Target’s most empowering ad campaign yet.

Naked Mannequin Photographer Banned from Facebook

A Canadian photographer has been banned from Facebook after criticism over her photos of naked women posing behind a mannequin. Julia Busato insists she won’t let the ban stop her, even though she says it’s putting her livelihood at risk. The photos have been shared more than 200,000 times and Julia says women are still asking to join the series.But the images haven’t been welcomed by everyone and Julia says she was banned after some Facebook users reported her.

We Decided To Re-Create Iconic Playboy Covers And Here’s What Happened

You miiiight have heard of Playboy. It's a magazine that's been around for a gobsmacking 63 years!

TORRID GETS IT RIGHT ON THE DIVERSITY FRONT WITH ITS LATEST SWIM CAMPAIGN