Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fresh from Florida

The parents flew us down to Florida for a week, which was really hard to come back from.  We spent most of the time in their gated retirement community swimming, sleeping and sunning.  It was a very welcome break after the craziness of this past semester.

About mid-week I noticed an absence of body consciousness on my part.  We were spending about two hours a day at the pool, and I was running around in sleeveless outfits the rest of the time.  While I go sleeveless in my usual haunts, I still have an undercurrent of anxiety whenever I do.  I feel conspicuous, and somehow daring (even if I know on some level that no one actually cares one way or the other if they can see my shoulders).  I suspect there was something about the age group in the community (55+).  When a gaggle of teenagers visiting their grandparents came to the pool to show off their bikinis, I would feel the anxiety creeping up again. 

There was something about the older crowd that made me feel free of body judgement.  Even though most of them seemed to be on Weight Watchers, I really felt that their criticism didn't extend beyond their own bodies.  They would tell friends they looked great, but the compliment seemed to arise from their clothing or health, rather than their weight. Is this a generational thing?  A reordering of priorities and prejudices as people age?  Or is it a false assumption on my part?  After all, feeling safe and being safe are not the same thing.  Has anyone else experienced a similar feeling?

If you're ever in the Sarasota area in winter, go see the Lipizzaner training sessions.  They're free (a hat is passed at the end) and you get to see how the young horses learn the various moves.  You also provide an audience for them to get used to clapping and visual distraction.  It's a much more intimate way to experience the Lipizzaners, and it can get really exciting if they're feeling fractious!

You also have no idea what grapefruit is supposed to taste like until you've had it right off the tree.  Who knew that it should be more sweet than bitter?  Well, other than people who live in the south of course :-)

If you're gluten-intolerant and flying Delta Airlines (maybe any airline) consider bringing a small bottle of handsoap on the plane.  The soap in the airplane bathroom said that it left a "coating of wheat proteins on your hands for long lasting moisture."  I've written the airline to complain. 

I hope everyone continues to have a safe winter season, wherever you are!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Students Speak on Photoshop and Body Image

I came across this great discussion on the NY Times Learning Network, asking students to share what they think about the effect of photoshopped celebrity images in the media.  The blog mentions the attempts by several countries to force advertisers to reveal when an image has been altered using a scale of 1-5 for the degree of alteration. 

I read through the first page of comments (there are four pages at this point) and it was both heartbreaking and hopeful.  Girls talked about how terrible they would feel about themselves after exposure to a retouched, impossible face and figure in a magazine.  Boys and girls both talked about the beauty of "real" people.  Instead of ivory tower academics discussing the theoretical impact of false beauty standards, here are the targets crying "foul!" all by themselves. 

It's a good read when we start to get discouraged about fighting the good fight for body acceptance.