In which I depart from the recent travelogues and other meaningless dribble and talk about something that I really care about and you should to.

In case you haven't noticed, I have become a boring blogger. I used to post my inner musings and funny stories, full of wit, humor, and a healthy dose of sarcasm... but alas. No longer. The reason for this is two fold:

1) We began getting hit with an obscene amount of asian spam every time we posted.

2) I realized people were actually reading what I wrote. (Gasp!)

The second reason might not seem like a big deal to you, but I am (and always have been) fiercely private and fiercely protective of my personal space. Therefore, the realization that my thoughts were being so widely accessed made me uncomfortable. (I don't think our blog is famous or anything, but come on, we all know how much blog stalking goes on over the Internet. I do it myself. Check your traffic feeds - you might be [un]pleasantly surprised.)

HOWEVER. I decided to break my self-imposed silence and talk about something that I really care about.


I was standing in the checkout line of the supermarket yesterday, trying to remember last-minute what it was on my grocery list that I was undoubtedly forgetting, when my eyes skipped over the magazine stand on my left. Each cover presented glossy images of hyper-thin young women demurely smiling/attractively pouting/seductively gazing back at me. One image in particular stood out: it was of a girl with rail thin arms and protruding ribs leaning her bony behind against a headline that read "Lose 5 lbs by Friday!" For some reason, I couldn't take my eyes off that woman. She was so freaking thin. My eyes glanced back to my shopping cart, and I mentally calculated that I would have to throw away 97% of the food in there and settle on meals of lettuce and tomatoes for the next few months before I would look half as thin as her. It was unsettling. I've seen these kinds of unrealistic and unhealthy messages before in magazines, on billboards, in movies, in music videos, in advertisements. This is not new to me. Women are bombarded with garbage like this every day. But for some reason, yesterday it just made me sick. And I am still thinking about it.

(Side note: Do not Google "models" unless you want to be greeted with copious amount of soft p0rn.) (Related side note: The messages sent by the media regarding women and sexuality is also a topic worthy of discussion, but this post will focus only on the Skinny factor.)
Now I know some thin women, of which many are truly beautiful. But I do not know ANYONE (who is healthy) who looks like that. Why is it, that when we see a girl who is either horribly sick or suffering from an eating disorder (which is, of course, the same thing, as my favorite author pointed out) our reaction is not to help the poor girl but to slap her on a magazine cover? Instead of driving the girl straight to a hospital, we use this unhealthy woman's manipulated image (and all those images you see are very much manipulated - see the video below as a demonstration) to convince consumers that:

1)You do not look like this (manipulated photograph of an unhealthy) woman
2)You should look like this (manipulated photograph of an unhealthy) woman
3)You need to get PRODUCT X in order to look more like this (manipulated photograph of an unhealthy) woman

No wonder our views of beauty are distorted. That kind of logic feeds off of insecurity and produces reduced self-confidence and even self-loathing. These industries, and others, are manipulating women’s insecurities about their bodies for profit. This is terribly wrong.

The message being sent is that there is a direct correlation between your size and your worth: the thinner your ankles, the lovelier you are. But being beautiful and being skinny are not the same thing. They are two different things entirely. But the line between the two is blurred for many, many women, and this needs to stop.

Needless to say, I have been thinking about beauty and what it means to be beautiful. When I think of beauty, the first thing I think of is my three sisters. They are each exquisitely, spectacularly, breathtakingly beautiful women. Truly. They are attractive, yes, but that is not what makes them beautiful. Do you know why they are beautiful? It is because they are smart, brave, loyal, funny, unique, driven, honest, hard working, kind, giving, and a thousand other things that I value and admire. This is not a result of throwing up. This is a result of their choices and their character. This is what true beauty looks like: If you don't think they are stunningly gorgeous I will punch you in the face. (Kidding... sort of...)

So while I was thinking about all this, and disturbed by the discrepancy between true beauty and what is being presented (and widely accepted) as beauty, I received an email from my friend, Liz (holla!), telling me about a non-profit organization based in Salt Lake City called Beauty Redefined. They fight against these negative and incorrect conceptions of beauty. Their website states:

We have a passion for helping girls and women recognize and reject harmful messages about their bodies and what “beauty” means and looks like. Beauty Redefined represents our work to take back beauty for girls and women everywhere through continuing the discussion about body image, women’s potential and media influence.

Needless to say, this was exactly what I needed in order to regain my faith in mankind. Check out the billboards that will soon be popping up in Utah, courtesy of BR:

That's more like it.

Mead said, “A small group of thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

I realize it will be an uphill battle, but the concept of beauty needs to be changed. It needs to be righted. And we can change it. Don't buy into the messages that tell you that you aren't good enough if your nose isn't straight or your fingernail polish is chipped. It isn't true. Our choices make us who we are, not our earlobe size. We are more than our reflections. If we truly believe that, the belief will spread. And, maybe one day, we can stand in checkout lines at the supermarket and turn to see only positive images of healthy, poised, and confident women smiling genuinely back at us.

If you've read this far, rock on. I will congratulate you by promising to revert back to posting nothing but mindless dribble and the occasional book review for at least six months.

Ah, one last nugget: Check out the below video produced by Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty (another great cause joining the fight to change the perception of beauty) for a glimpse into the process it takes before a woman gets put on a billboard.