Tag Archives: vanity

Rubenesque


Rubenesque adj. (of a woman’s figure) full and rounded

 

Rubens,_Peter_Paul_-_The_Three_Graces

I have been listening to a lot of Prince and Queen lately – mostly because my 16 month old son really gets into those particular artists. He loves Killer Queen and Raspberry Beret especially and bops around to Fat Bottomed Girls as well . I feel like I am schooling him in a new form of radical feminism when we listen to these songs. They embody a sense of admiration for the full figured female we seem to have lost in this day and age. Here’s what I mean…

In Raspberry Beret, Prince notes:

Built like she was
She had the nerve to ask me
If I planned to do her any harm.

Since Prince is a pretty small dude one would have to assume that the beret wearing girl could hold her own because she was larger – but it’s not a bad thing in the song. It makes her memorable and attractive. In fact, she seems quite proud as he describes her as not wearing much else than the beret.  In Get Off, he also mentions explicitly:

Honey, them hips is gone
That’s alright, I clock ’em that way
Remind me of something James used to say
“I like ’em fat”, “I like ’em proud”
“Ya gotta have a mother for me”
Now move your big ass ’round this way
So I can work on that zipper, baby

I would bet there are other references to his preference for larger women in his music, but what I find really interesting is that even a few decades ago, there was a certain appreciation for the voluptuous, womanly body. Whether it be Sir Mix A Lot or Prince, models still had asses and boobs and I am pretty sure no one was trying to lose all of their muscle mass to be attractive. What happened between then and now to so drastically change our preferences when it comes to the female form?

I think about body image a lot. The smallest I have ever been was a size 4 and that was when I was in college. It was a lot of fun. I could walk into any clothing store and fit into anything I wanted. I had no breasts so the shirts buttoned perfectly. Low rise denim sat on bone, not muffin top. Being able to wear whatever I chose made me forget that I was absolutely starving all of the time. Now as I write this in the bootylicious leggings of a size 10/12 (gasp!) shopping is more akin to getting a pap smear than having fun. The fashion world has banned me from being able to look attractive easily. At 5’2 , I am petite, but with an ass and boobs, I am full figured. Anyway you slice it up, I am fat by the standards of the fashion and clothing industry and deemed unattractive by the anorexic minions of Madison Avenue.

Every time I see the standards for womanly attractiveness shrink, I pray that this time they have gone too far and that next year the new “it” size will go up instead of down. I fear that when I am hitting 40 the new goal will be to fit into 2T pants. How I long for the days of Rubens and Botticelli whose lovely ladies flaunted flesh. I think there is a definite connection between Modern Art and the cultism of waifishness that is prevalent amongst women. In the same ways that traditional, beautiful, skillful art is rejected these days, so is the traditional female body. Much of a woman’s free time is spent plucking, waxing and toning so as not to be regarded as some barbaric, poorly groomed gorilla in public. It’s as if we’re supposed to stay 14 forever.

…and the music about Fat Bottomed Girls and Raspberry Berets has faded away as well. Prince has been replaced with Justin Beiber and One Direction singing about hair flipping insecure 12 year olds in between rapid successions of “ohs” and “ahs” instead of actual lyrics. Even Jennifer Hudson lost her booty and Anne Hathaway looks like she’s dying. Good god, even the Twinkie is a thing of the past.  Alas, I lament the loss of substance in all of it’s historical forms – art, music and womanly flesh…bye, bye Miss American Thigh…

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voulu


voulu adj. lacking in spontaneity; contrived

How many words do you know that end in a “u” like this one? I don’t think I know any others, hence the reason I chose it.   Voodoo ends in an “o” but that doesn’t count. It’s the “u” that makes this word special. For some reason this word makes me think of the Lululemon shopping bags they give out – because spending 80 dollars on something you are going to sweat in should come with a little free inspiration. So in the spirit of spontaneity, I am going to ponder some of these sayings from my shopping bag as an exercise for today’s post. Now some of these quotes are well known and wise, while others sound like they came out of the mouth of some type A, female, yoga freak psycho…so I’ll include both varieties.

Do one thing a day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Okay. I think have this covered. I wake up and deal with a screaming child that’s usually covered in urine and jumping on a crib mattress. I also face several different kinds of poop – baby, dog and if I’m not careful, some other kinds when we go to the mountain for a walk or run. Poop is very scary. I don’t know if Eleanor got the verb in her quote right though. Am I supposed to drive the wrong way down the highway or drink bleach? I suppose in the Lululemon yogaverse I’m supposed to do a head stand in class and be in the moment while fearing that my $80 tank top will flap down and expose my flabulous belly…

“Salt + High Fructose Corn Syrup + Butter = Early Death”

What if I dip a carrot in it?

“Friends are more important than money.”

Does this hold true if you go shopping with friends? I would think that the two would cancel each other out. What if you wanted to buy a special present for your friend and you have no money? What if the friend is dying and it’s the very last thing you can do for that person before they expire? What if you and your friends have no money and you can’t buy food? No, wait. What if you and your friend have no money and you need to eat but the only way to get money is to not be friends anymore? What’s more important then? Gotcha Lululemon.

“This is not your practice life. This is your actual life.”

Shit. I thought we were just practicing and I’m already sucking at this. Well, I’m going to stay in bed and eat donuts all day since I’ve already screwed this up.

“Visualize your eventual demise. It can have an amazing effect on how you live in this moment.”

So this morning while munching on half of a banana I visualized my death. Hm. Now let me go do something that scares me. Hand me the bleach and a donut because this ain’t practice. Tootles! I’m going to drive the wrong way down the highway now!

“The world moves at such a rapid rate that waiting to implement changes will leave you two steps behind. DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW!”

This is the last quote because the bag is yelling at me now. Unfortunately, I know people who live like this – many of them. I had never really met anyone who was like this until I moved to NYC and worked on 5th Avenue. They are the perfect young ladies in the Chanel boots with perfect teeth and pencil skirts. They carry their lunch in little Lululemon bags and talk about their Wall Street boyfriends and where they ate dinner last night. They can take you down with one swipe of their perfectly manicured paws in a meeting and then pop 3 Aderalls in the ladies room 30 minutes later. They are on top of their game all of the time – except they are ALL THE SAME. Like little fembots from an Austin Powers movie waiting to shoot you with their boob guns.

The thing is, if you are constantly forcing yourself to change, eventually, you will not be the same person. Change is good on a small scale. No one is perfect and I think trying to be a better person or eat less fat is a fine thing to strive for. It’s a matter of what you are changing and for whom. So DO IT NOW is a dangerous thing. If anything, Lululemon should be a little ashamed of this quote on their bag. Yoga is about being in the present, meditation and self acceptance – at least when you are doing it right. This element is important even in Bikram, which is pretty intense.

So here is a quote that would be more fitting to be on a yoga bag:

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi

The world would be a better place if we spent less time on changing ourselves and more time trying to change the world around us through our deeds and actions. This is the change we should DO NOW.

Namaste:)

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muliebrity


muliebrity n. womanly qualities; womanhood

 

 

Muliebrity

by Sujata Bhatt

I have thought so much about the girl

who gathered cow-dung in a wide, round basket

along the main road passing by our house

and the Radhavallabh temple in Maninagar.

I have thought so much about the way she                                             5

moved her hands and her waist

and the smell of cow-dung and road-dust and wet canna lilies,

the smell of monkey breath and freshly washed clothes

and the dust from crows’ wings which smells different –

and again the smell of cow-dung as the girl scoops                             10

it up, all these smells surrounding me separately

and simultaneously – I have thought so much

but have been unwilling to use her for a metaphor,

for a nice image – but most of all unwilling

to forget her or to explain to anyone the greatness                                15

and the power glistening through her cheekbones

each time she found a particularly promising

mound of dung –

Many times when I begin these posts I will use a Google search to get myself motivated or to generate some ideas. I had never read this poet before today, but I can say that this poem captures the full meaning of the word. When I chose the word, I started thinking about what makes a woman “womanly” – outside of physical appearances and the ability to bear children. Is there a grace that women possess simply because they are just women? What exactly makes a woman “womanly”?

 There is a huge difference between being pretty, pink and girly and being womanly – and it has nothing to do with body weight. I find it interesting that our society labels clothing for females above a size 12 a woman – and everything under her as juniors or misses. As if having a larger ass means you are more mature and matronly. However, it raises an interesting point about the relationship between female anatomy and this idea of womanhood. Larger breasts and hips used to be what defined beauty. A young lady was deemed a woman once she passed out of puberty and developed the trademarks of her sex. Even until the 1950’s, “t & a” were essential to being considered the height of womanly beauty. Today there is no doubting that the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren were women – not girls. I’m not going to make the analogy to our current societal predilections of beauty – you already know what there is to say about that. I just think it’s a little sad that the feminist movement is most likely to blame for this drastic change.

I drive around with my son a lot and I see these bumper stickers everywhere that say “Save the Tatas.” I know breast cancer is a devastating disease and one that I might have to face in my lifetime if statistics say anything, but these bumper stickers offend me. It’s like having a bumper sticker on my car for testicular cancer that says “Save the Sacks” or “Don’t Bust My Balls.” I doubt the man with testicular cancer would find it funny. It’s not that I think that breasts have super powers, but God did give them to only women so we should probably honor them. We have Playboy, the plastic surgery industry and Victoria’s Secret to exploit them already. Can we please not degrade them further by calling them “tatas” on the same vehicles we shuttle around the future of women of America in?

There is something more to womanhood than boobs, though. A certain grace  (regardless of how clumsy they are) that women possess in their movements, actions and auras. Maybe it’s in our eyes or the sway of our walk or the fact that we can give birth to a child. I’m not quite sure there’s any way to pin exactly what it is down, and I think that it’s better that way. We need to keep it secret so no one exploits it and gives it a goofy name.

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absquatulate


absquatulate v. leave abruptly

This sounds more like an exercise move than a verb that means to leave abruptly. It could be a combination ab -slash – squat – slash Pilates move. I think I should develop a new workout with this move – like Zumba – but more sophisticated, with less ass shaking. Instead of Latin dance moves perhaps we could incorporate hip hop or Bollywood. Maybe I should use pan flute music…anything new age would work too.

People talk about the lack of innovation in our society, but there is quite a lot of innovation going on in the world of exercise. Take Zumba, for instance. I purchased the Wii version to do at home and it’s pretty bazaar. If you have a tight ass and abs, of course you look awesome doing it…but if your 34 and you had a kid – it ain’t pretty. The game comes with a belt that holds the controller and tracks your moves so that the console can tell if you are hitting the marks. So on top of feeling like a fat ass secretly working out to a Zumba video game in your family room, you get to wear a remote control fanny pack. Sigh.

Then there is the Shake Weight, which I do not own but have seen. There’s nothing further to say other than it’s obscene and looks as if you are practicing something I choose not to write about on this blog. There are also many ab muscle electric pulse belts that you can wear during the day to tone your abs – even if they’re buried under a layer of flab.

Then there are the encyclopedic DVD collections like P90X and Insanity that are designed to endanger your well being in your own home. Many of these transformative collections use something called “muscle confusion” to tone even the smallest muscles. To be fair, I have never tried one of these, but the names alone scare the shit out of me. I don’t want to confuse my muscles. Can we figure out how to confuse my fat so it thinks it’s muscle?

There should really be a Hall of Fame for icons of the exercise genre. We need to honor Richard Simmons, Jane Fonda, Denise Austin, Jake, the scary Tai Bo guy, Susan Powter…and of course, John Basedow, who may or may not be moonlighting as Paul Ryan…there was that whole P90X reference…just saying…

 

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vainglory


vainglory n. excessive vanity

A few months ago I was watching an absolutely horrible show entitled “Wife Swap.” The premise of the show is to take 2 families at completely opposite ends of the economic spectrum and switch wives for a week. For the first week, the “new” wife had to follow the usual house rules of the home she is temporarily visiting. Then the next week, the family had to live by the visiting wife’s rules. This particular episode featured a mother who was a self help guru and had a series of books and lectures on how to “Be Your Best You.” This included dressing well, eating all organic food, wearing make up and being overly friendly. During the episode she gave a lecture at a homeless shelter and tried to sell her book to people who didn’t have any money. The much less affluent family she was staying with was appalled.

The question is where to draw the line on “Being Your Best You.” What does that mean? Isn’t the phrase somewhat narcissistic in itself?

To clarify my thoughts I looked up the story of Narcissus which I remembered the basic plot of but not all of the details. I stumbled upon an excerpt from Milton’s Paradise Lost that captures the mythology beautifully:

“That day I oft remember when from sleep
       I first awaked, and found myself reposed
       Under a shade on flowers, much wondering where
       And what I was, whence thither brought, and how
       Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound
       Of waters issued from a cave, and spread
       Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved
       Pure as the expanse of heaven; I tither went
       With unexperienced thought, and laid me down
       On the green bank, to look into the clear
       Smooth lake that to me seemed another sky.
       As I bent down to look, just opposite
       A shape within the watery gleam appeared,
       Bending to look on me. I started back;
       It started back; but pleased I soon returned,
       Pleased it returned as soon with answering looks
       Of sympathy and love. There had I fixed
       Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire,
       Had not a voice thus warned me: ‘What thou seest,
       What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself;” etc.
                                              Paradise Lost, Book IV.

Every morning when I awake, I look in the mirror. Most days I am somewhat apathetic to my appearance. Other days, I hate what I see. Rarely am I pleased. Now that I think about it, I look at my reflection a lot during the average day. Not even because I am trying to. There are just mirrors everywhere – windows, puddles, etc. I am sure if you think about it, you are looking at yourself a lot too.

The world would be much better without mirrors. Imagine that you had a rare opportunity to look at yourself – perhaps once a week. Imagine how much less time you would spend on yourself and what you might do with that time. If Narcissus had not been able to stare into the water, perhaps he would have fallen in love with someone other than himself. Perhaps we would all stop trying to “Be Our Best Us” through physical appearances. Perhaps we could use other people as mirrors.

Other people can reflect us. Our families and children. If we focus on using people as our mirrors then our reflections are our actions and not just a facade that people see. Think of how different “Being Your Best You” would be if all you had were other people to be your mirror and you theirs. You would most likely be a nicer, respectable person. Or the opposite – if you’re an asshole, you would get it thrown right back at you.

It scares me to think that we live in a world of vainglorious people. I fear that vanity is the default for the vast majority whereas it used to be a deplorable trait. Yet another modern dilemma. I wonder if things will level out as the years go by…

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