Do Mannequins Menstruate? Science says…

Do Mannequins Menstruate? Science says…

Mannequins do not menstruate, and this is not just because they are made out of plastic.

Here are some images of mannequins in clothes and fully nude. I think this difference is important to pay attention to because seeing mannequins in clothes the majority of the time impairs our ability to process just how specifically manufactured they are to drape clothing just so and to go beyond all reasonable body size aspirations. We don’t regularly see what’s underneath. But what’s underneath is nothing but angles and Barbies.

Note, for example, how hip bones often jut out, which is a way to cause skirts and pants to taper and hang low and stereotypically sexy. Note also how waists are tiny. Note also how legs are longer than the list of activity on my credit card accounts. Which is to say – Long.  Disproportionately so.

mannequin clothes

mannequins clothes

female mannequins

All_6_Plastic_Mannequins

Female High Quality Mannequins899

To which I can only say, holy crap thigh gap.

Mannequins are problematic for a lot of reasons. One of the worst is that this is a subconscious problem. We are well aware of the damage magazines and celebrities and runways and the like do to our self-love, but how often do we consciously acknowledge the power mannequins have over us?

Not very often.

Which is unfortunate – because it has been at least somewhat scientifically proven that mannequins do not have a high enough body fat percentage in order to menstruate.

Here’s how:

 Two Finnish researchers, Minna Rintala and Pertti Mustajoki, tested standard accepted body fat percentages for women against measurements they made on mannequins (of arm, thigh, waist, and hip circumference are all standard means by which to measure body fat percentage) they found in Finnish museums that were from the 20s, 30s, 50s, 60s, and 90s.

Women need, on average, at least 17% body fat to begin menstruating. The researchers also use the data point of 22 % body fat for regular cycles – though I would argue that this is a statistic biased from the sample being drawn from the super industrialized nations of Western Europe and the United States. For the purposes of our investigation, however, their standards hold since we are largely of industrialized nations such as the US. Our mannequins, we should also note, are typically about 5’10 — the same size as the “fit” models on runways.

In this study, the pre-WWII mannequins had levels of body fat that were consistent with those seen in a healthy, young female of reproductive age population: up to 23 percent, at least.  All the way up to 23 percent! That feels incredible – though it makes me sad to write that sentence. Women are known to be quite healthy up to and around 30 percent.

Starting in the 1950s, the estimated body fat on the mannequins decreased significantly. By the 1990s, a significant number of mannequins would not have sufficient body fat to menstruate if they were, you know, actual people. Check out the graph below. The bars detail body fat percentages for hypothetical women of “healthy” body mass indexes of 20-25. In the early decades the mannequin measurements come close, but in later decades fall far below a healthy BMI (note also that the WHO standard for “healthy” BMI goes down to 18.6..though this is contested, as in all things).

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Who cares about the body shape--check out the hair!!
So what do we do with this knowledge?
Stop expecting clothes to look on us like they do on mannequins, I think.
And think about that maybe not even as a neutral thing, but as a good thing.
Sure, there are women out there with body types as slender and tall as mannequins with as little body fat, and perhaps naturally so. That’s great – beautiful – natural, what-have-you. I am sure some of them menstruate, especially if they live in less industrialized countries. But the majority of us plain old are not, and its a simple fact that extremely low body fat percentages result in impaired fertility, and, hey, isn’t it cool that we have enough body fat to menstruate?
And, hey, isn’t it cool that we know (more about which forthcoming in a HuffPo article by yours truly) that runway models starve themselves precisely in order to be the same size as mannequins, and that when we do the eat-sufficient-calories-healthy thing we are simply doing the human thing?
And, hey, isn’t it cool that we have lumps and jiggly parts and quirks and scars that only real human beings who love and dance and have sex and laugh can have, and not ones made out of plastic?
Mmmmmm humanity.
My book, Sexy by Nature, describes a whole foods approach to health, sex appeal, and confidence for real human beings.
What the “Bikini Bridge” Demonstrates about America and Women

What the “Bikini Bridge” Demonstrates about America and Women

On Sunday February 2, a 4chan user devised a plan to create a viral hoax based off of the “bikini bridge,” (that tiny gap that appears between a slender woman’s stomach and her bikini when she lies down on a beach), and the plan was to make the bridge go as viral as quickly as possible. How? By leveraging social media and certain public platforms such as CNN iReports and the Buzzfeed Community page.

 

 bikini bridge plan imgur

 

Imgur.

The hoax team faked celebrity photos and tweets of the bridge, too. Katy Perry, Justin Beiber, and Harry Styles were all used.

 

bikini bridge plan 2 imgur

Imgur.

 

After generating some positive buzz, the team deliberately created backlash, hating on the bikini bridge as much as they had adored and promoted it. This was meant to cause even more stir and to make it seem like a spirited debate was going on. We’ll probably never know for certain why they did this. To have fun? To cause pain? To analyze and perfect the process of making something “go viral”? We do now know, however, one important fact: that we are wildly susceptible to fads that reduce and objectify women’s bodies.

 

Within the first 24 hours, “bikini bridge” was tweeted 2000 times. That’s not a whole lot compared to truly viral stories, but it demonstrated just how much catching power it has. Four days later, as of today, Wednesday, February 05, it has been tweeted several thousand more times by users both with and without “bikini bridge” names, with more and more photos of bikini bridges going up by the minute.

 

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Twitter screenshot, February 05.

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Twitter screenshot, February 05.

bikini bridge radio buzzfeed

Buzzfeed

 

 

It is my opinion that this fad will die. It may endure in the minds of women and men here and there over the long-term, but Buzzfeed did an excellent job exposing and debunking the whole fiasco. Its legs have been cut off too early for it to generate momentum. Nonetheless its three-day success was alarmingly catching. This demonstrates to us one important fact:

 

The American psyche is primed for objectifying memes.

 

Consider all of the ways the female body has been reduced to a simple measurement or body part in recent years. T & A. Side-boob. Under-boob. Apple-bottom. Muffin top. Camel toe. Thigh gap. I could probably invent some of my own (I dare not, in case they end up being as catchy as “bikini bridge”), and they would be accepted as a normal part of the way our culture handles women. No one was surprised by the bikini bridge before the Buzzfeed and other debunkers came to our rescue. It was just another one of a steady stream of objectifying memes to float through our culture. Those who could leverage the idea to make themselves feel superior or to degrade women did so. Those who could not or chose not to posted vociferous rebuttals. None of us said, “wait, this doesn’t make sense.” Of course it makes sense. Picking apart a woman’s appearance is just what we do.

 

Do we do the same thing for men? To some extent. We look for biceps. Six packs. But muscles are healthy aspects of a physique that can be cultivated. Thigh gaps and bikini bridges must often be starved into, or are genetic components of a woman’s body that cannot be changed. And men are not degraded or considered unworthy for failing to live up to a certain standard. How often are male musicians torn apart for the shape of their deltoids or abdominals while on stage? Consider the recent performances of Bruno Mars at the Superbowl and Beyonce at the Grammys. Was Mars’s physique the most talked about aspect of his stellar performance? Not so far as I can tell. Was Beyonce’s? Arguably yes. Beyonce is a perfect example here because not only was she highly scrutinized and objectified for her form in general, but also because many critics raved about how her outfit showed that she finally achieved a thigh gap. Really? The thigh gap? 10 minutes of passionate gyrating and soaring vocals with husband Jay-Z and that’s what’s earns the title for your article?

 

The bikini bridge did not surprise us because reducing women to objectifiable parts does not surprise us.

 

—-

 

While the bikini bridge was not surprising to us, it was in the end nonetheless easy for many pundits and critics to reject. I think this is largely because the idea is more “ridiculous” to us than the norms to which we are accustomed, such as the thigh gap. In this way, the “bikini bridge” demonstrates that we are blind—and egregiously so—to the objectification that takes place on a daily basis. The thigh gap is everywhere. And, yes, there are many vociferous voices that hate it, and those who decry the bikini bridge as the thigh gaps partner in crime. But there are so many who love it, too, whether externally or in secret. I am certain without a doubt that even as so many people decry the bikini bridge, or even the thigh gap itself, they embrace the thigh gap as a standard of beauty, and quite possibly yearn for it even as they know it is wrong to do so.

 

It is my firm opinion that the thigh gap emerged as a cultural meme only after several decades of gradual conditioning. When I was eleven years old—this was in the 90s—I stood in front of a full length mirror on a daily basis and lined my feet up to tape I had put on the ground. I did so in order to try and figure out how much weight I had to lose to obtain a gap. There was no thigh gap meme in the 90s. There was only every magazine I had ever looked at, every runway show I watched, every celebrity with tiny legs I envied throughout my adolescence.

 

The thigh gap meme is so powerful because it stands on the back of an objectifying standard of beauty that has long since been ingrained in our consciousness. This is why the bikini bridge will fail. While it might be trendy to talk about and flaunt the bridge, the bridge has not been plastered all over magazines, movies, and the media for years. We don’t spend all day looking horizontally down women’s bodies at the beach. The bridge won’t be able to grab ground (or, it probably will not) because it does not have any ground to really grab on to. This is fortunate because it enables us to easily do away with it. This also unfortunate, however, because it means that other objectifying memes—ones that focus on hips, breasts, thighs, and the like as they appear on a day-to-day basis—will continue to stand firmly in the center of our conception of womanhood while we naively objectify away.

 

The bikini bridge is a passing fancy. But objectification in America is not. How do we overcome such entrenched misery? The answer is far from clear. But I suspect it has something to do with teaching women and girls the true meaning of these objectifying memes, and I suspect it has something to do with using our belief in the dignity and wholeness of every human being to empower and support them in their defiance.

What we Need to Fight the Norms: A Community of Beauty. V.L.O.G. (!)

Yesterday I was clicking through all the noise on social media, and I picked up on this new meme being discussed, the “bikini bridge.” I wrote a whole article on it in a couple hours and sent it off to Huff Po – and in the article I decried all of the objectifcation that is involved in ideas like the bikini bridge, the thigh gap, the muffin top, etc ad nauseum.

But I was also feeling fiery about comparison and fear in general. “The community of beauty” is an idea I have long advocated. It means that we reject competition and comparison and embrace beauty in all people. It means that we do not value ourselves less because we perceive beauty in others. It means that all human beings are equally worthy of being considered beautiful, and it means that we embrace our own unique manifestation of beauty, whatever that might be.

I felt so fiery I made a vlog. You may watch below. Many more vlogs on body love and how to achieve it are being uploaded to youtube as we speak. 🙂

 

………….
More on the community of beauty in the kickass womanhood manifesto, Sexy by Nature.(!)  whoopah!
And don’t forget this week’s giveaway (ends Friday @ midnight!) – 165 dollars worth of Victory Belt paleo books by rockstars such as New York Times best selling author Diane Sanfilippo.

 

Why Victoria’s Secret can be a #1 Body-Love Enemy (and It’s Not Just the Models)

Why Victoria’s Secret can be a #1 Body-Love Enemy (and It’s Not Just the Models)

Even with my recent body fat gains (more on which here and here), I am a small human being. I am 5’2– a height that means I can comfortably lay down in bath tubs or sleep completely stretched out on sofas, huzzah!–with a 34 inch rib cage (38 bust — a 34D), 28 inch waist, and around my butt at its fattest part I am, as of 1pm on January 25th, 38.5 inches round.

If you throw me in a red dress into the absurd and terrifying world of professional photography, this is what I look like (in one of the flattering photos, obviously. It’s hard to find one where my face isn’t scrunched up like a troll on acid.)

AJP (C) --115a

Here, I’ll give you a troll on acid just to round out the reality of what I look like:

AJP (C) --49

———–

So anyway. I chose one of the more flattering photos for my body to make the important introductory point for this post of, ‘hey, I’m not out of shape.’ With more muscle than I know what to do with, clocking in at 130 pounds still lands me square in the “healthy” BMI range for my tiny 5’2 frame. I menstruate. I do not have the excess abdominal fat characteristic of pre-diabetes. By all accounts, I am a physically healthy and fit woman. My measurements also, by the way, give me a waist-to-hip ratio of .72, which is, as most of us know, in the neighborhood of the much puffed-up “universal attractive ratio” for people to find physically attractive across the globe (though this is now widely disputed–see the Wikipedia page for a simple explication).  I wear small clothing comfortably. My pants are usually a size 3.

And you know what size lingerie I wear at Victoria’s Secret?

Large.

I am one of the smallest women I know, and I wear a large.

I do fit into medium panties, but they sometimes do that awful squeeze-your-hips-into-muffin-top thing. So I split the difference between mediums and larges (which sometimes are a big loose). Smalls are of course impossible.

Even when I was at my tiniest, when I measured 34-25-36, I could wear smalls but only when I dropped all water weight and super slimmed — mediums were still more comfortable for me. Here are two photos of me at my smallest:

1.42

tiny stef

All of which is to say that – I know exactly what Victoria’s Secret is doing. It is the same thing Abercrombie does. And Bebe, and just about every clothing store that markets itself as a higher end brand. It wants

1) Slim customers, which makes the brand appear more elite in our society

2) For you to feel bad about yourself, such that you use their products and their lingerie in a feeble, impermanent attempt to boost your self-esteem.

To which I can only say

1) screw this! I know our culture associates larger sizes with being unattractive, but my recent efforts to buck those norms has helped me, honestly, legitimately, see overweight bodies as just as attractive as stereotypically fit models. So giving me a bigger size does not make me feel worse.

IE, I consider my now jigglier body as hot as this one:

adriana lima

Why not, right?

2) screw this! How dare companies so liable for how we idealize and conceptualize beauty norms make beautiful people I love feel uncomfortable about the shape of their bodies. So many women are perfectly healthy, perfectly fit, and plain old larger so far as skeletons and muscles and fat go, and they simply cannot wear Victoria’s Secret lingerie. I was in the store the other week and it occurred to me that I have never seen a larger woman in the store. I mean – I wholly respect your choice to choose your clientele. And to list your sizes however you wish. I do.

I can only say, to that, that it is, frankly, wrong. Your sizes are not accurate, and I resent fully every effort you and every other brand and marketing agency makes to force me into a self-conscious, self-doubting mind-set.

——-

In the way of a sign off, check out Victoria’s Secret panties. Here is a size small Pink undergarment held up in front of my body and held over my face.

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The panties stretch almost from one ear to the other.

I don’t know about you, but I am perfectly okay with the circumference of my hips being larger than the circumference of my head.

(This is not to “skinny shame.” I only took the photos to demonstrate just how small their clothing runs… and not, again, to denigrate bodies of any size. Your natural body is beautiful. This is only to shame how our culture associates slimness with goodness and alienates the perfectly lovely large, when really all can be good and sexy no matter their size. Read more about your natural sexiness in my bestseller Sexy by Nature)

Just saying.

————

Update: 

One of the commenters suggested that Victoria’s Secret lingerie runs particularly small in the Pink section of the store since those articles are designed with younger women and girls in mind (and she would know, since she is a designer). Fair! An excellent point. It might vary by collection. So I went and did a bit of digging around. I pulled out five more pair of small panties (clean ones-I never even wore them because they were too small) from my own drawer and laid them out next to each other. The blue ones on top have about 3/4 of an inch more material on each side, but I also wonder if that’s not because I managed to wear this one pair for several years and stretched them out. I also know there are several collections not represented here, so of course this is not a statistically, rigorously controlled study.

IMG_20140203_110850_822

In any case, it appears as though there is a small (pun intended) range of measurements among the sizes in VS lingerie (as I imagine there would be), as all of the panties depicted above were sold as smalls. They are all more or less the same size as the Pinks, with Body by Victoria (the beige pair) and the purple ones being even smaller.

————-

Update #2:

My charge probably applies to a wide range of lingerie lines, as my mother has pointed out to me her difficulty with sizes at department stores. Victoria’s Secret happens to be one with which I am particularly familiar, and one that is particularly important in the eyes of girls and women all over the world.

————

As a brief final note – the winner from last week’s giveaway will be announced tomorrow, and the new giveaway will also begin! Get pumped woooo.  

And don’t forget to read my bestselling book Sexy By Nature, available on Amazon here

My Top Ten Body Love Secrets, a VLOG (!).

My Top Ten Body Love Secrets, a VLOG (!).

My publicist has insisted that youtube carries a whole world full of untapped lady-body-lovers, and that it is my lady empowerment duty to reach out to them. “Why not make videos about body image?” She asked.  She was surprised when I recoiled in horror. “But… but that would take so much work. And no one would watch. And…yikes!

I was nervous about undertaking yet another new thing. New things give me anxiety like you would never believe. (Well, perhaps you would.) I was not an expert in film making and I knew it was going to be a battle to get ‘er done.

It was. Lighting and camera position and editing and uploading was a nightmare.

Nonetheless, Susan was right. I made the video and am so glad I did. There will be a whole series of vlogs forthcoming. It’s fun. And I think I get to convey to you more easily in a vlog just how… egregiously…or absurdly… I care.

I really. really. really care.

Thus I bring you 10 Reasons to Love your Body.

I don’t want to give these reasons away–they’re really good ones–but let it stand as a teaser trailer that these are the precise tools I use in order to feel positively about my own body, my own bigger body, every single day.

Especiallreason number 4.

God, do I ever love reason number 4.

Like what I have to say about why to love your body? My book has all the ways to love your body with a nourishing, real food diet.

I Gained Fifteen Pounds and Am Damn Sexy Still

I Gained Fifteen Pounds and Am Damn Sexy Still

Last week, I wrote a post (here!) about the changes my body underwent as I transitioned from super thin to “normal” (normal size for me). While it was a transformation full of excellent changes such as, for example, becoming fertile again, it was also a challenge.

Like every other woman and man in American culture, I have been conditioned from a very young age to associate fatness with laziness, and fat gain with failure. I wanted people not only to think I was attractive, but also to admire me for my rigor and achievement of body excellence.

I took this photo on a “fat” day in late 2011:

Snapshot_20120304_2

I have no truly good or accurate photos of my “new” body – but it looks something more like this:

IMG_20140118_202318_357

———–

In the previous post, I described how my health has changed since permitting myself the additional 15 pounds.* Aside from detailing health changes, in the post I also hinted that it has been a challenge to accept and love my new skin. Nonetheless, in the midst of the challenge, it has been exciting and empowering as hell. Today’s post is all about why and how.

I can say these days, proudly and happily, with far more “good” days than “bad,” than I am psyched rather than terrified to be in my new size 3-5 skin.

Why?

I am psyched because I am a new kind of hottness now. I cannot condemn either of my body types. One was perhaps less healthy for my particular biochemistry than the other, but millions of women around the globe have both of them. And they were both my own, and I loved them dearly.  This is a very important point. We look around all day at myriads shapes and sizes, and we do not condemn ones that look different than our own. So why get upset when we start to look like one of those other bodies? We cannot forget that looking different is not bad, it’s just different. So I have elected to be psyched about being in a new body, rather than fighting it. It’s different, but it’s not worse. I only have to remind myself of that fact. (I know that I still am not overweight by any means, and that I cannot speak to some of the more challenging health gains and body image problems out there in the world. Nonetheless, we all exist in our own bodies, and have our own insecurities, and fight our own set of demons, and must learn to love our bodies no matter their particular shapes).

I am psyched because I am doing the healthy thing. This one is obvious, but always bears repeating. If this is the size my natural body demands, then why the hell resist it?! Seriously. Why!

I am psyched because I have new curves! I gained 2 cup sizes. I wear large panties. Yeah, society says I’m supposed to hate the bit of cellulite on the backs of my thighs that comes along with the more curvaceous body, but fuck it. How many people see that cellulite, anyway? No one cares about my cellulite. No one sees it. Those who do see it love me or are attracted to me anyway. It’s a part of my body, and that’s just that.

I am psyched because people’s perception of me has changed, and my kind of appealing is a new kind of appealing. This part admittedly sucks overall. I hate that people notice. I would much prefer that they do not. But the types of compliments I receive are different. People used to say to me that I “looked great” – but I think in our culture what this means is “you look like our standard ideal” whether or not that is actually sexually appealing to them. This is important to note with regard to different sexes, too. Most men are less rigid about body standards, at least in my personal experience, than women are. So even while women might have envied my almost-thigh-gap, men didn’t. And while women might shy away from new curves, (again, lots of generalizations here), men do not. Definitely, they do not. If you open yourself up to being admired and complimented even at a size that is not the standard ideal, chances are quite good that you will be, and in spades.

I am psyched because I no longer put pressure on myself to be perfect or to be better than anyone else. It’s easy, as a thin, fit person, to get wrapped up in the thinness and fitness so drastically that you forget how very little most everybody cares, and how very little it matters. It’s also easy to get wrapped up in a superiority complex, so excited and proud of yourself for being able to achieve the standard ideal. When I gave myself the grace and forgiveness to become a “less than perfect” body, I lost that tiny edge of superiority and flaunting I had. Sure, I flaunt now. I’m a principled flaunter. But it’s no longer… viciously confident, perhaps, is a decent phrase.

I am psyched because I get to eat more! With less restriction in my life, the occasional plate of fries, roll of Starbursts, or simple daily midnight snack is not just on the board but a regular and beloved part of my eating regime. Finally, eh?

I am psyched because I am learning to control less. When you are so focused on being an ideal, it is easy, as I have said, to confine yourself to it, and rigidly. But when you permit yourself flexibility around your every day weight, it’s okay that one week you are a few pounds heavier than other weeks. And then you stop pinching your stomach first thing when you wake up in the morning (a decades long habit of mine).

I am psyched because I did not let them win. When I look at pictures of my skinny self, sometimes I wish I still had that body. It was beautiful and artistic in its own way – deliberately sculpted to please the eye. But when I looked like that, I was playing by society’s rules. I was letting other people dictate my body, my health, and my happiness. I was letting them win, and caving to their norms and ideals. Today, when I look at my new body, and when I feel at home in my new body, I am proud of myself for finally being able to summon the courage to say – “I don’t need to look like you want me to in order to be beautiful.” And I have nothing to be for this fact other than fiercely glad.

And how did I manage to do this?

I mentioned earlier that this was a challenging transition. And it is not always perfect still. I definitely still have “bad” days. I definitely feel frustrated that things have changed, that I can no longer seem like the excellent, fit self I used to be, and I definitely feel terrified still of more weight gain. These are emotions I am having a hard time letting go of on any kind of a permanent basis, but that’s okay. It’s human. I live in a tough world, so I feel tough things.

As we all do.

So we hug ourselves through the tough spots, wake up the next morning, and walk out the door, day in and day out.

I managed to do this by being allied to my health and body and reminding myself constantly. There is a trade-off. Do you prize your health, your libido, your skin, your hormone balance, your fertility, your mood, or whatever health issue is at stake for you, or do you prioritize your perception of other people’s perceptions of you? Health is a pretty kickass, and damn sexy, obviously, priority to have. (By the way, I wrote about how to make this a priority in my book.)

I managed to do this by recognizing that it was not other people’s perceptions of me, but my own perception of their perceptions, that I lived by. I was wrong when I thought people would consider me fat. I was wrong when I thought people would consider me lazy. I was wrong when I thought people would think less of me for gaining weight. This was my own fear I (perhaps even unjustly) threw into the faces of other people. My own harsh judgment. It was not real, not by any stretch of the imagination. We cannot forget that we are our own worst critics, and that even when we perceive negativity from other people (with many obvious exceptions), very often we read more into people’s negativity than they intend. Perhaps they are having a bad day. Perhaps they think we are being mean. Perhaps they are reacting to our lack of body confidence. Whatever it is – it is beyond probable that things other than our exact body shape are at play when people judge and interact with us.

I managed to do this by giving myself time. Something that I have told women for years and years is that it is almost impossible to be objective about our own bodies. Instead of seeing a standard size 4 woman when I looked in the mirror, for a whole month all I saw was all the places in which I was different – all the weight gain relative to the woman I had been in the years prior. I saw my padded hips, my rounded thighs, my new backfat. But with time, I came to forget to a degree what it “used” to be and what I wanted it to be. I came to see the new me as the normal me, and to accept that as the way things are. I became less married to the old ideal as I got further and further away from it in time, and I began to see myself more clearly in the eyes of objective people.

I managed to do this by asking for help. I asked my mom. I asked my friends. I asked my dance partners. I asked my lovers. I asked them over and over again. I’m not ashamed of this fact. I needed help. I needed to know that I was still loved, that I was still a woman, that I was still worthy and beautiful. I know it may sound ridiculous — who am I to be so troubled by a mere 10 pounds weight gain? — but that is the point. It’s ridiculous for all of us. It’s a stupid norm from a stupid culture, and we need the help of all the people we can get to overcome them.

I managed to do this by ignoring media. This is a practice I have done for a long time, and it is one that I will stick to for ever and ever and ever. Looking at pictures of models, seeing women in movies and on TV day in and day out… it does nothing but chant at us that we are not good enough, and in just about 1000 ways. Even champions of healthy eating like Jennifer Lawrence and Beyonce are stunning and bodily “ideal.”  I never read magazines, ever. I try to watch TV and movies sparingly. I stay away from internet advice columns and celebrity gossip and the like. I like books. Books let me draw people in my own head. Books are safe and I highly recommend them. Real people and friends and strangers are great, too.

I managed to do this by having other priorities. Much as I write about body image and health and such on this blog, my priorities remain my work, my peace of mind, my mental health, my family, my loved ones, and my arts. Sure, my body matters. But compared to these other things? Things that are so important to me and that are what really make the world so beautiful, and that make me come alive? No, my new fifteen pounds do not compare.

I managed to do this by feeling sexy for reasons outside of my physical fitness. I am sexy because of my body, sure. I am excited to be in the skin I am in. But I am also sexy because I am reasonably intelligent. I am sexy because I have a personality that is not ornery I hope most of the time. I am sexy because I have passion and desire and will. Sexiness is about far more than bodies, of that I am 1000 percent certain.

I managed to do this because I was damn tired. There comes a point in life sometimes when you just can’t take it anymore. It’s not that being fit was too hard, or that I was exhausted by my food choices. But when life is tough, life is tough. And I was tired of fighting in so many different ways. I let go of struggle where I could. Here was one of those places. And damn, did it ever feel good to relax. So good, in fact, that I will never go back.

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Is it perfect? No. I do not feel good all of the time. Is it easy? No. Not always, anyway. Is it much easier than other people’s struggles? Absolutely. But perhaps my transformation has helped. It’s not perfect. It’s not bulletproof. But I have done and become excited about so many of these things, so all I can possibly hope for is that it inspires and emboldens anyone else doing the same. I am so proud of my body, and so excited for where we might go next on our journey.

I am in different skin, but it is not worse skin. It is mine. And for that, I love it, and know, deep in my bones, I am worthy of being, and every square inch of me is, astoundingly lovely.

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Plenty of the lessons here are dealt with in depth in my hell yes manifesto, Sexy by Nature, which is available here. (!)

Also, don’t forget, Paleo Con  – the biggest online paleo event of every year – starts today (!!!!!!!).  Sign up for free materials and access to 30 + talks by the biggest, baddest rockstars (like me?!) at http://paleocon2014.com.