In the 1960’s the women’s right movement coincided with the sexual revolution, leaving my generation and the subsequent generations to enjoy more freedom to dress as we choose, dance with abandon, and in general no longer be held to constraints that we must be covered head to toe and speak only when spoken to.
Pioneering women broke further taboos: Barbra Streisand wearing a see-through pantsuit to the Oscars, Madonna dancing on stage in a bra and garter belt, and play-boy bunnies becoming mainstream icons. Since then there has also been a steady loosening of what’s considered sexual vs. sensual and where the line is between being an empowered woman that chooses to be scantily clad (Cher, Madonna) and an unclassy tramp who shows off her body for National attention (Anna Nicole Smith, Kim Kardashian).
That classy vs. slutty line is so blurred now, it’s hard to teach our girls the difference between being comfortable with their bodies and in their desire to be attractive, with knowing what is too much and what sends the wrong signal. My gym has several TV screens always mounted on the wall and yesterday I watched the current music videos channel as I was on a treadmill. I saw back-to-back videos (at yeast 5) where the singer was a young women (in both pop and country music genres) who paraded around in lingerie, employing stripper moves as they danced and writhed around in very sexually suggestive positions, all the while singing about love and/or betrayal.
As these are all current and popular performers, I realized these videos are telling young girls that is what is sexy, this is what boys want. Of course, ask any real man (even a high school boy if his head’s on straight) and they’ll say that type of girl is not at all who they want as a girlfriend, but they sure do like lusting over them just them same. So sadly, mixed signals abound, and what we’re left with is a large populous of girls and women displaying their bodies as nothing but devices for sex, not even realizing that many of our pop-culture icons have a brain in their head and are using their musical talents to build business empires (Rhianna, Beyonce, and even Miley Cirus).
If you feel my blog today is a bit “soap-boxy” well I’m preparing my daughter to enter sixth grade. I’ve heard my share of horror stories about girls being coerced to perform oral sex on boys as early as 5th grade, and my stomach spins, and even the age-old spin the bottle has evolved to be heading into a dark closet for an imposed 5 minutes of making-out. I feel it is imperative that I prepare her to understand the confusing hormonal impulses that are going to rear their ugly head for the next several years of her schooling, and paramount to that preparation is that I help her to understand the deference between been attractive vs. sexual. That’s very difficult with all the images around her saying this is what is normal and right.
Essentially today’s post is food for thought for all of you and hopefully we can open a mass dialogue as to how to not go backwards in women’s rights and sexual liberation, but not to keep going so far that we can have a president who says it’s okay to “grab women by the pussy.” Oops, guess we’re already that far gone!
As a business owner, I utilize many of the top social networking sites to promote Dane Life Fitness. Sites like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr utilize a visual format to entice viewers to stop and read, and then perhaps “buy” whatever it is we’re selling. Lately I have been dismayed as I see a huge surge in posts displaying women whose abs are so muscle bound that they sport more than the proverbial 6-pack – they have an 8-pack and oblique striations (see photo below).
These are not muscle-bound she-men training for a body building competition, these are young (20-30’s) athletic women who have achieved the type of abs usually viewed only on super low-fat and fit men. Clearly it’s great that women have figured out how to finally lower their body fat levels to such a state that their flat tummies rival men – OR IS IT?
While I applaud these women who work hard and make their daily focus be exercise and extreme nutrition, I’ve stated time and time again that women NEED body fat if we are to be healthy. Obviously we need our body fat levels to stay in a certain “lean” range for our health’s sake (17-28% depending on age and build), but the female form is not supposed to be as low-fat as the male body naturally is. Not to mention that the aforementioned extreme nutrition makes life sometimes feel stressfull — after all, we’re supposed to be able to enjoy good food, wine and chololate (in moderation) aren’t we?! (Oprah says yes!)
Why this is a detrimental trend in my view is because women with body fat levels lower than 17% can and do see a weakening in their immune systems, poor circulation (personal thermostat levels), menstrual and reproduction systems compromised, and thyroid confusion (thyroid malfunction is not surprisingly on the rise). It is especially hard on the body when these low-fat levels are forced vs. natural. What I mean by that is some girls/women are born naturally thin with super fast metabolisms. I was one of those – I was 5′ 7″ by age 15, but I still couldn’t break 100 lbs until I was about 22 (with 15% body fat). But I didn’t starve myself ever, I had (and still do) have a great immune system, and clearly my body could handle it. Forcing your body to have super low body fat levels when it’s not natural creates a great strain internally, especially on your organs.
Now that I am in my 50’s, and while still lean and healthy (19% body fat), no longer sport my own concave lower abs, I realize more than ever how detrimental it is to women to be always told we need to have flat abs. We’re supposed to be slightly round between our ribs and hips – we’re supposed to be curvy and…well…feminine. These uber-lean models are changing what our young girls think about how their bodies should look.
The worst part of this is that 85% of men when polled about their preferences fessed up to actually not finding super skinny or overly-toned women as attractive as someone with a little “softness” to their build. Men want us to be women – not walking muscles. So one must ask, why are we so obsessed with a washboard stomach?
With all this as food for thought, once again I plead with all my female followers and friends to maintain healthy levels of body fat, but more importantly to love your bodies and your stomach in particular. Join me in re-labeling what is attractive and sexy in our own perceptions and embrace being well-rounded individuals – including our abs!
My patience as a parent is continually tested by my 10-year old’s need to be right. I engage far too often in a test of wills as we battle for who is right. I know in the back of my mind that right isn’t necessarily what’s important. Being honest, being compassionate, being reliable – those are traits to strive for. Being right, well that’s really about the ego.
Obviously we all love being right when it comes to matters of fact or real life importance, but most of us lock horns when we are obsessed with being right on matters of the heart – things we feel passionately about. But our egos truly get in the way when they push us to stop listening or seek a compromise because only being right will do. This is most evident with the current HUGE ego standoff between republicans and democrats.
Trump is nothing but an egomaniac who is driven 24/7 with being right even when he is clearly wrong (even when just the day before he said he was right with a completely opposite stance). Many people believe to their bones that they are right about Hillary, that she’s a duplicitous power hungry bitch who cannot be trusted when she smiles and says she’s right. Because of our need to be right, we have all been subjected to over 12 months of rhetoric and mud slinging just to be on the side that gets to say they’re right (the winners).
What’s wrong with all this is that 99% of the time being right doesn’t make a bit of difference. Clearly the majority of American’s thought they were right to elect Obama. The Republican controlled House and Senate however, thought they were right to deem every one of his acts or proposals as wrong. The end result is that almost nothing has improved in the last four years, and whether Trump or Clinton wins, the next four years are likely to be just as stagnant as the last. Sadly, being the right person for the Presidency this year won’t change what’s wrong.
Forget about politics, how about the entertainment industry? Kanye West is so certain that everything he does is right, he had no compunction interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech a few years back to inform the whole world that Beyonce was the right winner. His wife Kim Kardashian believes she was wrongfully attacked because she posted a nude photo of herself as a “mother with nothing to wear.” Who’s right, the outraged women of the world, or the self-obsessed media whore who was exercising her right to free speech?
What I’m trying to teach my child is the difference between “beneficial rightness” and “detrimental rightness.” When we correct a friend, spouse or parent as they’re telling a story and their facts are little out of order, does interrupting and/or correcting them serve any purpose? Does it make the story better? Does it make them feel better or you?
Conversely, when you correct someone (like your kids) on something like the spelling of a word, or a math equation, that benefits them. When you correct their behavior or their nutrition, that benefits them. When a candidate denies lying about their past, if there are validated facts that prove them wrong, we as a people should learn what’s right (i.e., true) — that benefits us.
So who IS right, or when is it right to be right? Who cares! Ultimately being right doesn’t get the job done – real listening and compromise is what’s needed in this world.