December 2, 2008

A New Kind of Warning Label

Today, I was wondering around Spark People, when I ran across this article. I thought it was interesting, and the way Brockenbrough writes just makes me laugh. I wanted to share.

There’s been a lot of hype the past few years over mommy celebrities, and how they got their buff bods back. A quick return to their little “routines” and the baby belly is gone in no time, leaving behind a perfectly toned, flat tummy to bare in a bikini shot for all the world to see. “Look at me, look at me! I’ve got a career, kids, AND a rockin’ body! I’m superwoman!” After this last month’s Shape hit the newsstand with a muscled-out Faith Hill, Brockenbrough had had enough.

She says that magazine covers and their little articles ought to come with a warning label, which states something like this:

WARNING! Article claims diet and exercise gave 41-year-old celebrity a body this spectacular! She’s actually probably had plastic surgery, a personal chef, hours with a trainer, and a little help from photoshop, so before you start feeling glum, just remember what you’re looking at is an ILLUSION, a manufactured image to sell magazines designed to make you FEEL BEASTLY so that you SPEND MONEY to improve your looks despite the crappy economy!
It got me thinking about body image. It’s such a big deal in our culture—in a lot of cultures. I find myself prey to those self-deprecating thoughts, although I think I’m probably in one of the best places I’ve ever been in my comfort level with myself and how I look. And like Brockenbrough says, I’m sure everyone wishes they could have a 20-year-old body forever, but sorry girls, it’s just not happening. Not naturally, anyway. Certainly not with Pilates a few times a week. As I approach the end of my twenties chapter, I can say that this fact is not necessarily comforting, but what’s the truth to you? It kind of makes a difference to me.

Brockenbrough quotes Faith:

“‘I was always very athletic,’ she said, ‘playing basketball and softball and running track. But in my 20s and 30s, I'd go through phases with exercise, working out for four weeks before a big tour or video shoot and not doing much afterward. Then I had three kids and turned 40, so I decided to make a lifestyle change.’

If you're not one of those people who'd describe themselves as ‘very athletic,’ you might buy this line of hooey and believe that exercise and diet alone can, in fact, give you the body of a 20-year-old even if you're 41 with three kids.”

I found this sort of enlightening, because I am one of those people who’s never really thought of myself as very athletic. And honestly, I do buy it. Faith wouldn’t lie to me! She wouldn’t even stretch the truth, not my Faith!

Bottom-line, this article isn’t about Faith’s integrity; it’s about a nation that can’t get over thighs-butt-abs mentality.

Brockenbrough is an athletic person, so she decided to take on these “Look At Me” celeb mommy articles as a challenge. She upped her workout regimen to part-time job status. The result? She’s a healthy and happy woman, but her body doesn’t look so different from before, certainly not her three-times pregnant stomach.

So what’s the harm, you ask? And here’s the clincher:
“The celebrity mothers who pretend they don't go to extraordinary lengths to look the way they do should be ashamed of themselves, though. They're not coming clean with fans, and they're making it seem like you can achieve physical perfection if you do all the right things.

The truth is, those of us who are regular folk can do all the right things with diet and exercise, even if it means we have to get our flabby old selves out of bed before dawn. We can try our best, and we can still be completely and utterly flawed. So it is with life in general.

When my 41st birthday comes around, my present to myself won't be a bikini shot on the cover of a magazine. I hope I'll be able to appreciate my ruined stomach for what it is: a map of my life's experiences, and something to be loved more for its very imperfections. When your next big birthday comes around, I'll wish the same for you.”
It’s good to be healthy. It’s good to eat the right things and get off your tush and move. It’s also good to be happy when you get there: when your cholesterol is low and your blood pressure is right where it should be. Instead of pushing yourself toward this unattainable ILLUSION, forever reaching for the vast waters, only to find out after a lifetime of low self-esteem that it was only a mirage all along. How’s that for harm.


Erin_C said...

Loved this.

Thanks, Cam.

brittani c. said...

I read a gossip article last month or so about Jessica Alba and how she quickly got into shape after giving birth in June. Seeing her post-birth bikini photos made me feel like a whale, but I guess when you are rich and beautiful, you can make anything happen.

Our society is unhealthily obsessed with body image and prompts people to dangerously attain those results. I think I'll stick with good old-fashioned healthy living and refrain from any bikini wearing.

Cheryl Fowers said...

Amen! Thank you for tellin it straight!

Ryan & Candice Nelson said...

Great post, Cami!