Media and Magazines suck!

Belly dance students come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Research shows that belly dancers have fewer hang-ups about their bodies.

Belly dance students come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Research shows that belly dancers have fewer hang-ups about their bodies.

Rant alert! I am SICK to DEATH of seeing nothing but photoshopped images in the media! I know, I know, nothing radical or new about this rant, but as my daughter gets older, I find myself more and more protective of what she sees. Currently, she is very secure in the knowledge that has “a really cute bottom” (she says) and likes it when her bathers show it off (which in itself can be worrisome except she is soooo very proud that I am seeing it as a good thing). Now while she knows that she is also intelligent, kind, generous, a good problem solver and a confident reader, I am worried that in a few years when we move from cartoon based TV and movie viewing to “real” looking actors that she is going to change her view of herself. Growing up, I always looked for any signs of curves on female actors, wanting to feel “normal” as I always felt as if my thighs were enormous. And no matter how hard I looked, actresses didn’t seem to have wobbly bits or cellulite. Why the heck not?

I came across a very disturbing set of statistics from Raderprograms:

Women Are Dying to be Thin - Media Influence on Eating Disorders
Infographic provided by Rader Programs

Recently, Meaghan Kausman, went public about her outrage over an underwater photo in which she was wearing Fella Swim bathers, was used by Fella Swim on their own website, after photoshopping her body (and without permission). She was outraged and says she is a size 8 not a 4. Considering a size 8 is already quite petite, why would they feel the need to photoshop?

Meaghan is the daughter of body image campaigner Dr Rick Kausman, who advocates a ‘non-diet’ approach to health, and it’s refreshing his views seem to have been instilled in his daughter.

She told Cosmopolitan magazine: “Because of who my Dad is and the way I’ve been brought up, I’ve never felt any pressure to look a certain way. And if people can take one thing away from all of this it should be to love who you are, which I know can be hard, but it’s so important for people to feel comfortable in themselves and not to strive for something that doesn’t exist.

“That photo wasn’t me, and the reality is no one looks like that. It’s so important for people to realise how heavily photoshopped these kinds of images are.”

Here are the two photos see what you think:

Meaghan Kausman was photoshopped by the bikini makers without her permission.

Meaghan Kausman was photoshopped by the bikini makers without her permission.

You would have read my recent blog about the Feelings of a Plus Sized Bellydancer, why can’t our perceptions of beauty change? Yesterday, I found myself in a Facebook “discussion” about what constitutes “beauty”. One narrow-minded (yes that is a judgmental opinion!) person said that no-one over 40 who does not have tight skin and a thin physique should dance in public. You can imagine the hurt and outrage that ensued. The commenter actually honestly did not realise that she was being so hurtful until I sent her a personal message asking her to stop. She used the old “I’m just expressing my opinion” stance in defence. As I turn 40 next year, and am always advocating positive body-image, I found it extra offensive!

So this leads to the fact that my daughter is into Princesses (sigh) so, first, I showed her pictures of “real” Princesses without their finery on (Princess Eugene and Beatrice etc), and she was quite disappointed, but just said she preferred the “beautiful ones”. So when I steered her towards Merida in Brave, she says she likes Cinderella best (a doormat for a role modal NOOOOOO! Mind you, she hasn’t even seen the movie lol) Maybe I could stick these versions of the Disney Princesses into her books? Like this one of Jasmine:

Jasmine from the Disney movie Aladdin is much too tiny.

Jasmine from the Disney movie Aladdin is much too tiny.

 

This version of Jasmine from Aladdin shows a still slim, but less unhealthy looking Princess for our young girls.

This version of Jasmine from Aladdin shows a still slim, but less unhealthy looking Princess for our young girls.

And don’t get me started on female superheros costumes!

Lammily is a doll who has healthy proportions, and looks like she could do anything!

Lammily is a doll who has healthy proportions, and looks like she could do anything!

So what can I do to protect the self-esteem of my daughter? I guess the only things I can

do is read her empowering stories of Princesses rescuing themselves (A great list of Independent Princesses can be found on A Mighty Girl website), receive the realistically shaped Lammily Doll I ordered (see what kids think of her) praise her for attributes that are not to do with looks, but rather her ability to resolve situations and make good choices, and live as an example in showing pride in my curves. (And cross my fingers!)

Survivors wear their scars with pride

These breast cancer survivors in Taiwan performed belly dance at a Taiwan Breast Cancer Alliance Conference.

These breast cancer survivors in Taiwan performed belly dance at a Taiwan Breast Cancer Alliance Conference.

Women have started belly dance classes with me for a variety of reasons, offline or online. One of them is a way to celebrate life after Cancer. Especially “women’s cancers”. You spend so much time and energy feeling like your body is the enemy, you end up with parts missing, extra scars, and when you are one of the ones to beat it – then what? One way to learn to love your body again and celebrate the living body, with a new shape and a new mind, is to do something that gives you pride and pleasure. Belly dance is one way. This lady, Kellie Green, chose another.

I think she looks beautiful. Are you any less of a woman without breasts? (or scarred ones?) Without a uterus? Or ovaries? It may feel that way at first. But it’s not your female genitalia which makes you “female”.

Here’s what one of my student’s said about recovering from breast cancer: “I was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years back when I was 31. Went through mastectomy (breast removal), chemotherapy and then a breast reconstruction. When I was planning my reconstruction, people said I was being stupid to go for another surgery since looks don’t matter. I agree looks don’t make me what I am but I did this to make myself happy. Today (with all the scars), I feel more happy with myself than I ever did and your classes are way of celebrating this love that I have developer for myself.
Thanks and Regards
Shruti Sharma”

Peace and happiness can come after the battle.

Peace and happiness can come after the battle.

The scars can run deeper than the skin. Some women opt for a complete breast reconstruction, some of these are not successful. Being able to look in the mirror and like what you see scars and all, can be incredibly confronting and brave. Tattoo artist, Amy Black, has mastered the 3D looking nipples tattoos, or tattoos over the area where a breast used to be, so looking in the mirror is easier and enjoyable.

Look in the mirror and be proid of what you see

Look in the mirror and be proud of what you see

Never feel you are being “shallow” for wanting to look good. Build your self-esteem, allow compliments and be proud of what you have achieved, survived and gained. Life.

 

Need more information? Want to do more?
Click these links for further help or information on breast cancer or ovarian cancer or other cancers. Also click on the link on this website to give women free mammograms to enable early breast cancer detection. Or do something to celebrate and raise funds with a “Girls’ Night In” fundraiser.
For more information on the belly dancing suvivors from Taiwan read more here: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2006/10/31/2003334121