Sunday, June 22, 2014

Love Your Body, What Does That Mean?

Just a warning before you continue, this blog post is laden with controversy. I don't mean to offend, just to offer another perspective that many of us may have not considered in our experiences with food and exercise. Proceed with caution and take this with a grain of salt.

If you've ever been on Tumblr, odds are you've seen young women blogging about loving their bodies and embracing their natural curves. Right off the bat, I think that's awesome. It is so important to be proud of your God-given shape and the way you're "programmed". If you're naturally slim without any prominent curves, odds are you're not going to wake up one morning with the boobs of a lingerie model. By contrast, if you're like me and you have a larger bottom half, you're probably never going to fit into size 2 pants. That's okay. The sooner you learn that, the better. Sizing charts and Victoria's Secret Angels are both unrealistic examples of Western society's beauty standards. I know that, and deep down so do you; we've heard Christina Aguilera tell us we are "beautiful, in every single way" enough times to recite the mantra in our sleep.

However, I think the new "Love Your Body" campaign is taking a negative turn that is dramatically rebelling against societal expectations in an ultimately hurtful way. By teaching girls to love their bodies, we're confusing love with laziness. We're creating a malformed, half-assed version of self-acceptance that is causing unhealthy habits. Because guess what? Truly loving your body goes beyond embracing your natural shape and eating as much pizza as you can sustain. Loving your body means understanding its functions and its ability to serve your daily endeavors. Loving your body means respecting it and leading a healthy lifestyle so you're able to live a long life free of illness and full of opportunity. And no, that doesn't mean you can just eat Cheetos all day with your middle finger up to the world.

Before I proceed, I just want to note that no one has a completely perfect relationship with their body, no one will ever completely understand and nurture the inner workings of themselves 100% of the time; anyone that tells you otherwise is lying. In fact, I preach a healthy lifestyle and go to the gym at least five days a week, but I also have eaten tacos, pizza, and cinnamon rolls in bed this week alone. Having a good relationship with food means allowing yourself occasional indulges, and I'm not even going to pretend like I disagree with that premise. That being said, I do believe in treating one's body like a temple and making poor habits the exception and not the rule. If you truly love your body, you should be energizing it with healthy foods and exercising. I'm not sure where people got the impression that proponents of clean eating and cardio are evil, but for some reason if you were to talk to someone about working out or eating vegetables, you're considered a terrible sadist. I don't follow that logic.

So here's the bottom line: I'm not here to judge you, and no one on Earth can make you feel inferior without your consent. So while you and I both know that it would be in everyone's best interest to be healthy, if you don't care, then don't. Eat more mozzarella sticks and start heaving every time you go up a flight of stairs. But consider this: while that may be comfortable now, and while you're 100% entitled to loving your shape and weight regardless of your eating habits, I urge you to really consider if you "love your body". My guess is that if you really did, you would do everything in your power to make sure its in good shape. Think about it this way: if you were given a top-of-the-line sports car absolutely for free, with the only catch being that you had to fuel it with premium gas, it'd probably be in your best interest to do so. Sure, maybe if money was tight one week or you just didn't care, you may occasionally fuel it with regular grade gasoline, but you have to admit that the car won't run at its personal best under those circumstances. And if you got a sports car with no charge and no gimmicks, I would argue that top-of-the-line gas isn't a terrible offset.

God (or whatever spiritual force you do or don't believe in) gave you a top-of-the-line body, and all you need to do is fuel it with the best gas you can--that doesn't seem too difficult, right? Let's find a balance between these two images below:

Take more responsibility than this.
But know that life is too short to not eat cupcakes when you want a f--king cupcake. Also I should note that if your mindset resembles this one, you may be a candidate for disordered eating and may require the attention of a professional physician or psychiatrist. 

Leave your thoughts in comments below


Sunday, June 15, 2014

This is Summer

When I was a little girl, I used to count down the days until summer vacation officially started. I would cross the days off on a calendar, daydreaming about days spent at the pool and sleepaway camp. The heat was invigorating and I could eat pizza in a bathing suit without worrying about my body. Now? Not quite. This is Summer 2014.

Wake up. Alarm clock, because even if there are no plans for the day I detest wasting an entire morning in bed. Go to the gym if I'm feeling ambitious, only to find when I get in the car that my gas tank is running on empty. Fuck, again? I definitely bought gas last week. Where do I even go? I think to myself, begrudgingly driving to the God forsaken gas station only to spend 50 dollars I don't have. In the time it takes to get to there, I realize I've used all my gas driving to Target and Starbucks, where I have fallen into the habit of spending more money I don't have. As the car is filling up and I see my savings account draining right before my eyes, I count down the days until my next paycheck. The conclusion I come to is, as always, "not soon enough".

Arrive at the gym and use one of three ellipticals that actually works properly. As usual, all the other gym patrons are senior citizens. I turn up the Iggy Azalea song on my iPhone so the sound of my heaving breath is drowned out instead by the sound of Top 40 pseudo-rap. Move to the weight room and spot a cute boy doing reverse crunches. Of course receiving any sort of male attention in my current sweaty state is a joke (receiving male attention in any capacity is a joke, actually) so I sigh, pick up a kettle bell and squat in a corner. Squat until my ass is sore then lift more heavy things and feel my muscles turn to jelly. Leave the gym to get a cup of coffee. Much to the dismay of both my bank account and sleep schedule, this is only the first cup of coffee of the day; if it's an average weekday there's at least two more cups where that came from.

Return home to shower. Dry off and apply makeup. Put on a cute outfit. At this point, canoodle with the soccer moms and elders at the grocery store or Pier 1, because if you didn't already get that impression, I'm a granny at heart. Start to realize that maybe the makeup and cute outfit has been wasted on present company, so maybe make plans with friends. In the process, see friends from college publicly missing each other on Twitter. Sigh and wish someone missed me like that, then remind myself that "of course people miss me, just not on social media. Friendship is a two-way street. Text your school friends"; of course I will soon thereafter neglect to text my school friends yet somehow have the audacity to sulk in loneliness. Make and execute plans with friends from home and actually have a nice time. Come home late and get in a fight with my mom because "why the fuck should I still have a curfew, anyway?" She says we'll discuss later, but we never do. We just wait until the next time I stay out late then fight about it again.

Go to bed musing about how much fun I had with friends, promising myself to make plans and go out more often. Spend the next week in solitude doing the exact opposite.

This is Summer 2014.*

*so for those wondering, "what has Lauren been up to since school got out?!" here's your answer. I've been waiting for school to be back in session, basically.