Rejecting dieting in favor of healthy living and a positive body image
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Pregnant women lead us into the light
In honor of National Poetry Month, I thought I'd share another poem with all of you. This one is by Christine Stewart-Nunez, and I think you'll agree it's a great fit for the blog. And if you're not hungry after reading this ode to indulgence, you're probably dead.
IN PRAISE OF A PREGNANT BODY
Some women count calories, step on the altar
of weight each week, mourn the loss of waist— jeans too tight to button, I prefer to blossom. I surrender to coconut salmon in banana leaves, miso soup with prawns, paella, lasagna, seafood risotto, mangu and tostones, salads of blueberries, blood oranges, and papaya, the bloom of belly, breasts spilling over seams, petals of areolas darkening.
I’ve abandoned the lunch-break park with its tire swing and picnic of stale chips for the circus, lion tamers, dogs with purple tutus, magicians pulling doves from top hats, trapeze artists somersaulting through the air. I want the Big Top’s pillows of cotton candy dissolving in my mouth, mounds of popcorn shiny with butter, globs of caramel apples, hot dogs drenched in mustard.
Blood thickening and milk springing from nipples remind me: be open. Enough of this suburb with its square meals served in look-alike houses. Give me Paris with its artists scattered on sidewalks, painted confetti, dancers in discotheques stretching onto streets at dawn. With more body to envelop, I’ll browse boutiques at the Rue du St.-Honoré, lounge sipping café-au-lait, nibbling a croissant’s flakey layers. Order coq-au-vin or pot-au-feu, decorate the board with baguette, brie. Will mousse aux fraises complete me?
If I’d been born with different genes— petite, straight-hipped, willowy-tall—would I enjoy fat bowls of kalamata olives, sliced avocado, desserts of mangoes in cream, pumpkin pie? I surrender to possibility, to joy, to feasts of seven-grain breads, lamb stews, chocolate soufflés. I thank this baby whose growing bones demand wheels of provolone, sticks of mozzarella, cubes of sharp cheddar, cups of vanilla yogurt at two a.m., whose kicks remind me to taste roast beef, venison steak, the cream of deviled eggs.
Christine Stewart-Nuñez is the author of five volumes of poetry. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in a variety of magazines, including Prairie Schooner, Calyx, Arts & Letters, and North American Review.
The themes of her work range from explorations of popular culture, inquiry into the lives of historical women, and the gendered body to pregnancy/childbirth, loss, and travel.
is updated Tuesdays and Thursdays. See my profile for more info. You can also follow me on Twitter.
Gallery of Gorgeous Women
I've included pictures below of the kind of women we need to idealize more in our society: women who are drop-dead gorgeous but don't look like they haven't eaten any carbs since puberty. I applaud these women for not only wearing their curves with pride, but also for not giving in to Hollywood pressure to become rail-thin and anorexic-looking. . .check back to see more gorgeous women we can feel good about admiring.
Last summer, Glamour magazine ran this photo of plus-size model Lizzi Miller sporting a real stomach and thighs, generating tons of praise for the magazine and making Miller a hero to women of all sizes. Click Lizzi's photo above for the whole story.
The first lady has brought the kind of youthful, exuberant style back to the White House that we haven't seen since the days of Jackie O. And she did it with a real body. Bravo, Michelle!
Amy Poehler stars in one of my favorite TV shows, PARKS AND RECREATION, and one thing I love about that show is how real most of the actors—including Poehler—look. Since having her first baby last year, Poehler has settled into a more normal weight, and I admire the heck out of her for not starving herself until her body looked exactly the same as it did pre-baby.
We all know that Williams has an incredibly buff body, but what I really love about her is that she shows it off in super feminine clothes even though she isn't model thin, proving yet again that curvy girls are beautiful too.
Hendricks, who plays the amazing Joan Holloway on MAD MEN, has done more to bring back curves than almost any other actor working today. Christina, I salute you!
I once heard GREY'S ANATOMY star Ramirez say that people are always surprised by how thin she is in real life, proving how obsessed we all are with body image. Good for Sara for knowing she looks good on TV and off.
American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson says she loves her body and rightly tells everyone else that they need to accept her the way she is. (Click on pic for full story.)
Shawkat, formerly of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, can now be seen in Drew Barrymore's WHIP IT, and Shawkat's sexy curves in that film are a refreshing counterpoint to Ellen Page's teeny little frame. Kudos to Barrymore for featuring two beautiful women with completely different bodies.
Not only does Arianna run one of the most influential websites in the world, she also does so while looking both gorgeous and real.
Beyonce . . . a happy medium
There is no limit to my admiration for Beyonce, a woman who is super curvy but who still feels comfortable wearing incredibly sexy clothes and singing about it in "Bootylicious." I see her as a crucial part of the movement away from worshipping underweight women.
Shauna Reid, a.k.a. Diet Girl
Reid is the author of THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF DIET GIRL, a book based on her blog about losing half of her body weight. (Click on pic for her blog.) But what impresses me most about Shauna is that she stopped dieting when she got to a healthy weight (175 pounds for her 5'8" frame), rather than starving herself to become thinner than natural. And she looks amazing! Be sure to support her by buying her fabulous new book!
America Ferrera. . . The Original Real Woman with Curves
I have been a fan of America Ferrera ever since she starred in REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES, a must-see for all women, no matter what their size. I'll never forget when she dropped trou in that movie and showed the whole world she was not ashamed of her REAL body.
Musician Andra Suchy
I saw Suchy when she performed with Garrison Keillor's A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION and immediately admired her confidence and natural beauty.
I was thrilled when Arquette began starring in MEDIUM and still looked like a real woman. How many TV stars (not sidekicks) can we say that about? And she's defended her real body too (click on pic for more info). You go, girl!
Taraji P. Henson at the Oscars
For my money, Taraji P. Henson was the best-dressed woman at the 2009 Oscars. And she can work it!
Kelly Osbourne . . . Wise beyond her years
Kelly Osbourne says she looks normal and doesn't want to lose weight. (Click pic for full article.) Give this girl a medal. At the tender of age of 24, she's wise enough to teach us all something.
Hayek never hides her curves or acts ashamed of her va-va-voom body. I love her for that.
Meryl Streep—curvy goddess!
I have always loved Meryl Streep and the fact that she openly admits she wears a size fourteen. (See! Size fourteens are beautiful too!) Also, she looks better and better all the time. Look at that bod!
J. Lo . . . duh.
This is the person who made big tushies popular. How can we not love her? The woman ought to have her own religion.
Movies every woman should see
Support actresses with real bodies and the directors who hire them by seeing these films. . .
Real Women Have Curves—the first movie (as far as I can remember) that celebrates curvy women. Let's give this one the credit it deserves.
Julie and Julia—As first chef Julia Child, Meryl Streep looked more like an average woman than she ever has before, but somehow she still managed to glow and be so appealing to her husband that he came home every day at lunch for a "nooner." Gotta love a movie that makes a real looking woman so sexy.
Whip It—The women in this inspiring girl empowerment story are all different sizes—Bliss is an adorable little pixie while BFF Pash is a lovely roller coaster of curves. The other girls sport imperfect stomachs, thighs, and arms without self-consciousness. I credit director Drew Barrymore with depicting them as both real and hot, making it easy for the audience to cheer because they look a lot more like us than most women we see in the movies.
Muriel's Wedding—If you haven't seen this one yet, rent it this weekend and laugh, laugh, laugh and cry a little too. I promise you'll love Toni Collette's breakout role and Muriel's very unconventional beauty by movie's end.
Bridget Jones' Diary—At first, Bridget wants to change everything about herself, but then Mark tells her that he likes her "just the way" she is. Mark Darcy: the man all men should model themselves on.
Penelope—Okay, this movie (which stars Christina Ricci and Reese Witherspoon) doesn't have a curvy body in sight, but still, it's about a young woman who is forced to accept herself the way she is—imperfections and all. In my dreams, that's what we'd all do.
Dreamgirls—Jennifer Hudson and Beyoncé headline this emotional musical . . . need I say more?
Sideways—Sure, this was a movie about wine (not women), but the fact that the woman who captures the interest of the main character—Virginia Madsen—looks stunningly beautiful even though she isn't rail-thin or a traditional head-turner means that this film makes my list.
Shallow Hal—Admittedly this movie isn't high art, but the fact that it celebrates the idea of seeing the good in people rather than obsessing over their dress size makes it a must-size.
Mamma Mia!—In this movie, Meryl Streep danced her way into the hearts of three different men—played by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgard—despite that fact that her body was age appropriate. (Sure, Amanda Seifried was too skinny, but we'll let that go since she played a woman who was still growing up.)
It's Complicated—Yet again, we see another Meryl Streep movie that celebrates a woman with a real body. In this rom com, Streep's character looks both real and lovely, proving that women can age gracefully, while her ex, played by Alec Baldwin, sports a globe-like tummy.
Bend it Like Beckham—girl power RULES in this fun little film about a young woman who must fight for her right to play soccer. But the real reason it makes my list is because of the brutal scene in which the main character is forced to don shorts for the team and thus reveal a huge scar she's managed to keep hidden for years. She does that AND still gets the guy. You gotta love it.
How to lose weight without dieting
Many people have asked how I can lose weight without dieting, and I am slowly making my way through the different ways I am able to make that happen. So far I have outlined the first seven aspects of my non-dieting approach:
Also, you may want to read my manifesto and my post about how I define the word diet to get some understanding of what this blog is all about. You should know that though my approach will work in the long run, it is not about quick results as much as lasting ones.
I am a fiction and nonfiction writer, and my first book is a collection of stories called HOW TO SURVIVE GRADUATE SCHOOL & OTHER DISASTERS. I spend a good deal of my time teaching English and creative writing classes at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
I would describe my body as curvy, and I refuse to call myself fat or complain about my curves—I love them and so does my husband.
I have created this blog for a number of reasons—see the link to my manifesto above—but also more simply to document my weight while I try to lose weight without dieting.
For those of you interested in tracking my progress, I started at 203 glorious pounds.
READER'S TIP: This blog is updated on Tuesdays and Thursdays.