CHANGE THE WORLD: Owning Your Beauty


AUGUST 6, 2011

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>> RITA ARENS: Hi, everyone. I will go ahead and start because I have been told to start stop on time. That's polite and in good form. So it's 3 o'clock right now and this session goes unfill 4:15. I will stop at 4:00 because we want to leave the last 15 minutes for audience participation. I will introduce our panel in just a minute. But our mic wrangler is Christine.
>> RITA ARENS: I wanted to kick off the conversation by telling you that though this panel is very much about body image and self acceptance inside and outside beauty, what we really want to focus on here today is the messages that we're receiving from outside and the messages that we're sending out and how we as bloggers and as women can start to change the conversation about beauty, what is beautiful and with regard to ourselves about we look in the mirror and we look at each other. And, um, we had our call and some of us were chatting. I said one of the things that had changed for me most in the past year of reading Karen and Caitlin Boyle was one of our bloggers from Operational Beautiful and Bonnie Crowder was from Shape of a Mother, two other excellent blogs. Every time would read their monthly postings and some of the thing that people were pitching? And syndicated, I realize I was slowly changing from blocking in the mirror from my worst characteristic immediately to looking for my better features. And in doing, that I started being kinder when I looked at other women. And I think that it's not something that we'd like to admit, but we judge each other and we think wow. Those are horrible shoes. I hope I'm not the only person that does this, but I found that as I was really immersing this on the beauty campaign, I stopped doing that and it changed the way I looked at the world -- it changed the way that I viewed some of the messages they was getting. I started really pushing back against those. If we can go down the row and say one thing that they have kind of been experiencing as they think about beauty and body image and then I would like to hear super? Of the audience. Go crazy.
>> KAREN WALROND: So, one of the -- I tend to be very evangelical about this sort of stuff as you can imagine. And I was actually talking with Jess about this yesterday. One of the things that make me crazy, um, are the whole particularly like anti-aging creams or makeup advice columns, flight is where the premises that this is the way you can minimize your flaws. And you gotta minimize your flaws. You have to minimize those flaws. I have really sort of come to believe through writing a book and spending the last year talking about it and writing it and this is sort of revolutionary. There are no flaws. There are no flaws. I will say it again. There are no flaws. There are differences. Hallelujah, there are differences. But what if we actually started looking ourselves in the mirror and all those things that some corporation has decided is wrong with us, what if we decided to look at them as difference instead of flaws. Right? Because who gets to decide that? And one of the things that I love to bring up is like if we all think of some somebody like Halle Berry, which most people would agree is quite a stunning woman. First, 60 years ago, she would not be considered beautiful in this country. Corporations have decided what beauty is supposed to be given the times. And if that's true, then how can we trust that? Why do we put so much faith in that? But you and I and society knows when we're in the presence of a beautiful person. I mean somebody who just gets you right here when they walk in the room. Somebody who is captivating and that may not look like Halle Berry. They probably don't look like Halle Berry and if they do, that is not why they came to mind. There is something else about them. For me, I have gotten to the point where there are no flaws. There are differences. Celebrate that. There's no more minimizing flaws. That's my thing.
>> RITA ARENS: First time she told me that, I thought about it and I called her back and I thought. You're right. There are no flaws. It's true. It's all relative.
>> JESS WEINER: I'm going to touch the third rail which, um, I tend to do in my work anyway. So one of the titles that I -- or hats they left off in the beginning is the global ambassador for the Dove campaign. So, where I want to ping around corporate responsibility and my, is at the intersection between CSR, PR and marketing and how do we create more authenticity and transparency in those messages. I am the third rail lover that likes to live between that space of how do we change between beauty and a big system like advertising and bite brands and media and how do we change consumer culture because it is a relationship. We have a relationship. We buy those products that tell us to minimize our flaws and there is a corporation producing beauty and the definition beauty.
So, I come in and try to figure out, um, where there is opportunity to transform in both those areas. And one of the things that I've learned kind of walking in a really gray area for a while is that well, that would be it. Nothing in beauty is and around beauty is extreme or, um, thoroughly defined, but it's fluid. And it's relative and it's graceful and it's gracious and it's inclusive. And what we perceive as beauty and our perception is reality and our personal perception is reality. For instance in the work that we've done with self esteem and beauty and Dove, the messages that we had in this country around real bite didn't resinate as strongly as they did in Asian countries where the relationship to beauty is difference.
I think what we have to certainly that this builds and what you were saying is there is this sort of outer definition beauty that comes our way whether from our mother or there a corporation selling you a product or from an advertiser in beauty. There is someone sending you a message but we get to choose how we receive those messages and how we perceive those messages. Not everything is through the same lens. It is through those moments and things like this isn't a flaw. This is my body. This is my beautiful body or this is my opportunity to find grace and selflove.
Those are great victories. I don't think we get to see those a lot. Those are internal. For me, if I was going to take something away, this is a complex and layered issue. This is all something we have an opportunity to opt into and I find that in this work, I feel most beautiful when I am being as transparent and beautiful in that moment and that kind of fort face me into the next place and to see beauty and other people as well and to continuously redefine it. I think it's evolving. I said this the other day. To me, this conversation san evolution and a revolution and they have to kind of happen simultaneously.
>> KATE HARDING: You supply guess by the title of my book, my wheelhouse is size acceptance. Sometimes called fat acceptance. When I started blogging about that, I was really kind of just stumbling my way into it myself. I had read somebody about the existence of a fat acceptance movement and concept called health at every size which holds that you can exercise and eat a balanced diet, but not necessarily lose weight and it is still worth doing. You can still healthy even if you don't lose the weight. And that was the first time when I read the book The Obesity Myth. That's the first time I heard someone say fat and health at the same time. This is after I had lost 65 pounds and gained it back and then lost 45 pounds and was in the process of gaining it back. It was partly to keep myself honest about these things where I had decide I am never dieting again. I am going to just live in this body and see what happens to it and try to treat it as well as I can within, you know, whatever limitation might be there on any given day.
And so I started blogging about it just to kind of testify, keep track of how I was going to keep reinforcing it for myself. That's one thing we'll say going along with what Rita said she was doing this and her attitude has changed so much. The more I did it, the more I trained myself to fill believe in things that I have only believed in myself. One of the first very popular posts that continues to be perennially popular was called The Fantasy of Being Thin. And it was an explanation of how I used to think when I was in the dieting years and when I was so disgusted with myself for being bigger than I wanted to be, which was basically bigger than a model and much shorter than one. I am 5 2 and I can't do anything about that either. And so I wrote about it wasn't the idea of losing the weight. It wasn't smaller body they was really focused on. I thought losing the weight would make me a completely different person. It would make more more adventurous and confident. That it would make me is feel less conscious around men or, um, even a new normal situations. I was a bit shy and I liked to spend a lot of time alone. I'm a writer. I had this fantasy that if I lost all the weight, I would suddenly be like this great go getter kind of woman. And I would, you know, want to go backpack through Nepal. No. That is not me. It's never been me. And if it were me, I could do those things fat. And that was sort of the big revelation for me and I had to go through the process of losing a lot of weight and gaining it back twice before it really sunk in for me that I am the same person when I lose the weight and I have the same fears and the same hang ups. Even down to body image.
When I first lost weight, I was 22 years old. I got down to so I was wearing a size 4, which was tiny for me and I had not been that small since before puberty basically and I would still look in the mirror and the way my body was shaped, I would obsessed with how much birth my thighs were than anything else. I could starve myself and proportionately, I had birth thighs, but that's what I was focusing on when I was thin. Nobody looked at me and thought she shouldn't be eating that. Any I still had the same hang ups about my body or different hang ups about my body rather, but I still had hang ups. So, I think the fact they came to this realization they thought losing weight was going to be the magic key to a whole different person isallity that would make so many things so much easier. That was big for me to realize that I have all these limitations that have absolutely nothing to do with my weight and mostly to do with my personality. It's okay if I would rather be in a comfee hotel in an English speak country than trekking.
It's okay if I, you know, am afraid of heights. So I'm never going bungie jumping. It's not because I'm not thin because I'm me. So, I wrote this post and it didn't exactly go viral, but it suddenly was very popular and it was my first post and I think there were 5 or 600 comments now a couple years later. And what interest me is people keep coming back to it that every few month, there would be another spike in traffic on that post where someone would discover it and every time someone would discover it, they would share it and there would be this whole new circle. What I heard over and over related to that is it's not just about fat. It is the fantasy of getting a new job. I had the fantasy of finding a boyfriend. Shut fantasy of finding a guy.
I had this fantasy of moving into this new house and I was going to be all Martha Stewart. In many case, many people whatever their perceived flaws were that aren't really flaws, we all have this idea when something external changes, that's going to unlock all of these insternal things that will make everything so much better and easier and happier. It's just not true. External changes, some good, some bad, but genreally, you still are who you are and, you know, if you're a shy person now, you probably will still be a shy person. There's nothing wrong with who you are no matter what package that's in. So that's my bottom line.
>> STEPHANIE NIELSON: When I think about beauty, I think we all have our own different stories. My story was different. I was kind of pushed in to a different life, different way of looking. My body was completely different and so I started looking inward in a good way and I thought I can be whoever I want. I can do whatever I want if I -- inside of me is still beautiful. It still likes the same things that my outside did. And so just push that out, push that forward and then that conversation that I had gone without for so long because I felt ugly for a long time and never ... it just came out. And then I saw life in a completely different light. I was able to, you know, take ... I'm not wearing long sleeves anymore and that's huge for me. We all have those insecurities about us. Well, I'm sure you all have looked at my arms, but I don't feel it any more.
And even if you do, I don't care. I'm happy with who I am. My children are happy. They love me. My husband loves me and that's all that I care about. So I think it's important for us to dig really deep down inside and bring that beautiful person that you are out and then let your spirit lead your life instead of your outward appearance.
We all want to be beautiful. We all love to look good and feel good and I'm not saying ignore that. I think that's very important too, but I think once we take care of who we are inside, then our body outside is taken care of as well. I see bite now as completely different. Beauty to me is my pink skin that is new skin. That's bite to me. Or my painted toe nails., just my children. Those things are beautiful to me. Whereas before it was my beautiful long hair or, you know, things that are still beautiful, but it's just different to me now and I'm grateful for I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful that I see this now. My perspective is different.
>> RITA ARENS: I think that's perfect, Stephanie, because there's a post like that on BlogHer written by Kim Pearson who is a contributing blogger and professor. I always read posts by her and they've always been phenomenal, but she's never gotten super personal until lately. She suffers from -- I wrote it down so I wouldn't say it wrong and I probably will still say it wrong. Basically she's bent like a shepherd's crook. She has this amazing post that's on our site right now about feeling like it was impossible to be beautiful if she couldn't stand erect, be able to stand all the way up.
Between that and kind of what Stephanie is saying, I have talked to two of my friends at this conference who in wheelchairs now and were not in wheelchairs three years ago and we were talking about beauty and we were talking about how our concept of that have changed. One of them said I look back at pictures from BlogHer a couple years ago and I thought God. I was so whatever. And she said, you know, I didn't realize how gorgeous I was. And I think that I thought about that, but I also thought she's still gorgeous. They're all still gorgeous and we're gorgeous right now. And 20 years from now, we'll wish God -- I wish could look like I did in 2011. I was hot.
>> JESS WEINER: Kate and I were talking about that this afternoon and we were like, what were we thinking?
>> RITA ARENS: You're all hot now.
>> KAREN WALROND: To that point, I spoke at the World Domination Summit. Some of your supply is gone. It was pretty incredible. And this woman got up at one point. I can't remember what the session was about and the woman got up in the audience and she said something that for me was just sort of, up, cherubs started singing. She said when I was 30 years old, I used to worry what everybody was saying about me and then I hit my 40s and I didn't care. Now I'm in my 50s and I realize most of them were not talking about me in the first place. And I thought that is so awesome. I'm in my 40s, I feel I have a head start. Oh, nobody is really talking about me. Imagine they'll freedom with that thought. Nobody is talking about me. I can be who I am and I can, um, as a very good friend of mine who I am sure is already in here says I create my own story. I don't need other people to create it for me. Other people are probably not that interested in creating it for me. My PR is that I'm awesome. I'm beautiful. I'm awesome. I'm a good person.
>> RITA ARENS: You surround yourself with people who believe that.
>> KAREN WALROND: Talk about world domination.
>> JESS WEINER: Let's give up it for that.
>> RITA ARENS: Let's talk to you guys. We have an amazing panel. Would anybody like it ask a question? Christine is right there.
>> Yeah. I was talking ... as you can tell by the color of my hair, I'm over 50. And I was talking to another over 50 last evening out on the terrace. And she is -- we both are suffering a different body issue. I was talking with one of the young people at one of the booths and a young woman came by and that person instantly stopped talking to me and started talking to her. And this has happened many times. And I still feel like the young woman inside. My body looks like my grandmother's and I am a grandmother, but there is an age beauty issue for us boomers who are not old. You know what I mean?
>> KAREN WALROND: Yeah. I totally get that and I think, um, I think anybody who's over the age of really 20 kind of notices when people start treating -- definitely people treat me different now than when I was in my 20s. And you notice it and I think it's very, um, natural to kind of go hold on. Wait a minute. The person inside of me is still that person. For me, what I do is I actually call them on it now. I'm like, oh, no, no, no, honey. You were talking to me, babe. Hang on, sweetheart. We're not done.
>> JESS WEINER: I want to go back and find that person now.
>> RITA ARENS: She's probably thinking "aww."
>> KAREN WALROND: People in the audience who know me know I'm like no, no, no. Oh, you're reading a different story than I'm telling you. You're misreading this. Here's the story. Here's how vibrant I am. Here's how awesome I am. You need to shift that paradigm because here it is.
>> RITA ARENS: We were talking about aging a lot on the call because we were talking about invisibility, exactly what you're talking about, and I think that we all kind of agreed that this panel, I'm not sure exactly how old everyone on the panel is, but we're not 20. We were talking about how we're starting to move that demographic of young, young woman, target audience. And, you know, I brought up is that in my work with BlogHer, I've become much more aware of how ageist I was, other media can be -- and bloggers. When you're part of the target demographic, you don't always notice that that's odd because it represents you. Right?
I think with age it can be a gift. We'll open our eyes to not be that person that the other person is immediately wanting to talk to.
>> KAREN WALROND: It is not to sort of stereotype us. In a lot of ways it is a shift. Definitely somebody who is not in the demographic, they could more often represent in the media. Like I kind of relish it when people kind of ... you can almost see certainly as a black woman, you can see a lot of times a paradigm shift somebody will approach you and assume certain things because of the way you look and it can be race, gender or age or whatever.
I am sure all of us or most of us in here are women. We've all had an experience probably when we were in a situation when we weren't supposed to be a certain way. That is or that was the presumption. And then all of a sudden people are like you're a woman. You're not supposed to be smart. And then people realize oh, wait. You're smart. You're not whatever made-up stereotype I have about your age or your race or anything else. It really is sort of like I just taught you a lesson. I think we kind of have a responsibility because the media is so strong about saying what that is. As strong women, go hear the story.
>> JESS WEINER: You're right. Women over the age 40 are disappeared in the media. However, advertising dollars would reveal something totally different. It's a very sought after commodity. But when you see who is creating the media, those creators are under the age 35. So there's a couple of ways that we can attack from an industry perspective as well, but the biggest part you take the motivation that Karen is addressing and you combine it with buying power and consumer power and voice in a way that demands a different kind of attention and it's -- we have to reinvent the conversation around beauty and age significantly in this country. However you choose to do that whether publicly or privately or whether you're sitting here thinking my God, thank God I don't have to worry about, this I will. It's inevitable.
>> KATE HARDING: I think there's a side effect of making older women invisible. It is what Jess is saying. I'm 36. So I'm not that young, but I'm young enough. I think it is not going to happen ask I was saying on the phone with the ladies that age keeps surprising me so much. I can't believe. Oh, my God. This is hard to me at 36?
>> RITA ARENS: And it's amazing what the people in the magazines look like.
>> KATE HARDING: We have sort of normal changes and what are the stages that we go through. I keep saying I don't have any kids and I want to write an article somewhere that's basically ten things that would have changed even if you hadn't had a baby. And it's like ... I suddenly carry my weight in the front and I didn't used to before. And I get tired and I don't want to stay up past 10 o'clock at night and all of these things. And my husband and I are like oh, well, we have sex or we just sit and watch TV. Well, TV's good. These things, we're getting older whether we have these things.
I think for so many women, the changes happen and this is because I'm a someone. No. It's because you're getting older. Certainly not to say that become a mom doesn't change absolutely everything about your life, but that's not the only reason that things are slowing down and taking on a different character. But because we don't talk about the age process except to say we should all be avoiding it using anti-aging product as much as we can and that sort of thing and to create this illusion that goes along with dieting do where that's connected to health. If we do all the right things and buy all the right product, there's a chance that maybe we won't die.
Maybe by the time we get that age, they'll figure it out by then and our jobs are to keep ourselves as young and as thin and as, you know, externally appearing healthy as possible.
>> This is a topic that I love and, ah, one of the things that comes to mind when you talk about aging and beauty, my oldest daughter is 15 and my other daughter is 12. So I'm watching both of them come into this early bloom of womanhood watching them come into puberty, discover themselves as sensual, sexual people. And it's fascinating and the same time, I'm 44 and I'm covering up gray hair and things are shifting and it's not always something I'm comfortable, but, um, but it's really a kick start. You look at, you know, these adolescent girls and what their idea of their own beauty is. And I feel like my daughters have very good self image at this point T. hasn't been crushed and I want to keep encouraging that. So, can you ... I think with any initiatives that we can take as bloggers or writers and changing this conversation and changing the culture looking at young people is key. You know? What is their idea of beauty and where does it come from?
>> RITA ARENS: My daughter is 7. She's probably not ready for that yet, but that initiative will be archived on BlogHer probably forever and it's probably all organized forever. I would strongly encourage mothers of teenage girls to preemptively say by the way these people are all beautiful and the writing is some of the best writing I have see. So authentic and so raw in most cases.
>> KAREN WALROND: I think because my daughter is 7 as well and it's funny even sort of her own ideas of beauty now that she's getting just from school. I remember when she was begin first grade. One of her classmates told her that she's sort of pretty, but she would be really pretty if she wore blush. She was 6 at time, which made me wonder who was going on at their home. But one of the things that I really -- I think we all know if for, which I think it is important to term them they're beautiful, they're strong they're great.
As far as role modeling I think there's two things. One is don't be publicly hard on your outside. I try really hard about wanting to lose weight in front of my daughter. That's one thing. And the second thing that I do and I'm really conscious about doing this is I point out the beautiful people when I see them and they're in all different shapes like, um, we saw a woman who was probably in her 80s and she had this really beautiful white hair and I pointed that out to her. I point out people of all different shapes and sizes. Doesn't that person have a really great smile? And I really try hard because I figure by the time she's a teenager, I don't want her thinking that when I tell her she's beautiful that I'm just saying it because I'm her mom. My mom really does believe this on a different level. That's what I do personally.
>> STEPHANIE NIELSON: Can I talk about this? I think what you're saying along with the lines of that is if we're worried about it all the time and we're constantly picking at ourselves and shaming our bodies, hating our shapes what we look like, what do we expect our daughters to do? They will do the exact same thing.
>> RITA ARENS: People compliment you on different things as you go through life. They say like your haircut and other times they say I like your writing. If somebody says they like my writing, that's the nicest thing anybody can say to me. Just trying to underscore for her that the compliments on physical appearance are nice, but your physical appearance, you're talking about the diabetes and blood sugar. There is nothing about beings -- about human beings who go up and down -- for us to expect that we could stay looking one way forever even day to day is ridiculous. So that's the message that I'm also kind of trying to tell her. Compliments on your experience are nice and that's great and we all want to look nice, but one thing that's sure to happen is aging or death. I know I keep saying that. I keep saying it, but I mean it. You know? I got to a point where my old farmer uncle would be like "happy birthday. It's better than the alternative." But then when you get to the point where you have lost people in your life, you realize it is the better alternative.
>> JESS WEINER: I think we can talk more openly and honestly with our daughters and our sons about the celebratory process of age. We celebrate moments where our bodies change and our lives change and creating those as celebrations and not doomsday moments especially for girls and their bodies changing during puberty. We have a 9 year old in our house and we celebrate things that are popping out and developing. It's like apparent. Thank God she's not listening, but thank God that nothing has intruded that space yet to say otherwise. And I think it's kind of what you were pointing out you teach the example whether you're a mother, a paramedic, a role model. Not just through your words but through your actions and literally create celebratory moments of life's stages.
>> RITA ARENS: Stop buying the "over the hill" balloons.
>> STEPHANIE NIELSON: We need to look at it with plastic surgeries and those types of, um, different kinds of things that you can get through plastic surgery. If we're cons at the same time we're worried about that and changing our bodies, our daughter will -- I just think that's a road that is scary. It's a scary path to start on. I wanted to add that in with that as well.
>> Hi. I'm Laurie. I shot a lot of head shots yesterday and it was for a special project I was doing. Almost every woman to a woman that I shot, 25 people, said something negative about herself while I was shooting. And essentially apologized for themself. Something wrong with them, something wrong with their chin was big. I found myself almost doing motivational work as I was shooting.
>> KAREN WALROND: Oh, honey, I know.
>> But when you left, I was exhausted and was sad and it was sad to me. These were beautiful, beautiful people. And smart people and kind people and I felt -- I just left feeling kind of overwhelmed like what can I do. And the young girl piece is so important, but I'm thinking about our peers and I'm an action person. So I'm immediately thinking what can I do? What can I write? How can I contribute? Just from your backgrounds what is something you can do when you hear it from your friends or co workers or do you pre empt it? We're walking under here, all of us. So, I am curious and I want to hear from your paths.
>> RITA ARENS: When I talk to people about my previous eating disorder, I was this or I was that, I end up saying let's pretend that we're talking about leges on or something. You know? I will talk to you about my body and I will talk to you about how it looked then and how it looks and how it's different and I don't want to you make me feel better. You know? I think it's really hard for particularly women to talk to each other about their looks without having there be awareness there. You can please just talk to me about my hair. I don't want you to tell me it looks good. I want you to talk to me about my hair. I think that we could do ourselves a huge favor if we could just kind of clear the air before the conversation starts and say, you know, I don't. You to worry about your chins. Let's please is
>> KAREN WALROND: For photographing.
>> RITA ARENS: In photographs or if you're talking to someone concerns about body image, their settle or something like that because weight issues get framed in health conversations and I know these ladies have a lot to say about that. I am all for being direct. I am not fishing for a compliment. I want to talk to you about something or I am not trying to criticize you in any way, shape or form. I'm wondering why your appearance has changed. Not in a look good or you look bad.
>> KAREN WALROND: I have a project that's been ongoing where I am trying to photograph a thousand faces and yes. My experience, I am up to 200 something now. And my experience is everybody, you can get me on this side or don't get my smile. So there's two things that I want to say about that. The first thing is I am really shocked by how often the thing that people are most embarrassed about are the things that I am actually most drawn to and the reason I wanted to photograph them. I've had one woman said I had my eyes and her eyes were absolutely what I thought were beautiful. Come she was younger, she had a lazy eye she had corrected and I hardly noticed it at all. And so she was really worried about that. So, I think the first thing is the whole create your own story that someone you know very well, once said .. Lori is the one who said that that what if you took that thing that you're so worried about and actually made it your beauty spot? Really start working at that.
And to that end, one of the things, one of the first lessons about beauty I think I had when I was an adolescent, I was watching a talk show. It might have been Phil Donahue. I'm 44. That probably aged me when I said Phil Donahue. Candace Bergen was on the show and I think it was Phil. It was a man. I can't remember who the talk show host was. He turned to her and said first of all, Candace, you are so beautiful. And I remember she turned and she looked at him dead in the face and went thank you. And I remember thinking that was the most gracious, graceful thing I had ever seen. It wasn't thank you where she ducked her eyes. It wasn't an oh, stop. Oh, whatever. She looked at him and she took it. She said thank you. How often do we ever do that. If somebody compliments you on how you look, what you wear, what you did, oh, it was nothing oh, oh, this old thing or, you know, we minimize it. I think there's two things about that. If we keep doing that, we believe it. We keep saying that and we start to believe that.
And the second thing is it's kind of rude. Like if somebody is giving you a compliment, right, when you go it's kind of like saying you have no taste, do you. If you think about it, right? And so one of the things I've been working really hard on what I'm doing myself and I've been challenging myself as I talk to people is somebody compliments you, I dare you to look at them dead in the eye and say thank you so much without qualification, without anything else. If you want to say oh, you are beautiful too, that's fine, but accept it. Actually accept compliments. Start a practice of doing that and I think a lot of that will really help personally as far as self esteem.
>> JESS WEINER: I'm good for another question.
>> KATE HARDING: Can I add one thing to that? When I was younger, I had pictures -- I almost never smiled with my mouth open in picture. I would give a ... but I wouldn't give a big grin based like how my teeth looked. I thought my nose was too big and my eyes too small. I have since realized since digital cameras came out and I'm on film and seeing it I see picture of myself smiling and see a specific someone who is smiling and having fun and I realize don't know if there's a way I can do that and instead of saying you look pretty, you look happy. You look like that was a really cool place to be. The more you can remake it that way the more you can see yourself whole instead of along at so called flaws.
>> I was thinking about the if your daughter's and the way Lori and everyone speak about ourselves. Particularly by industry, they almost train at a particular time, see ourselves through this external lens and whatever happens in our homes because I do think Stephanie and Karen made the point of the way we speak about ourselves with our daughters and sons is important, but at the same time at a certain point, um, kids are going out into a world where they're trying to find their own identity and looking to pop culture for that. I was thinking about the change in the culture and recognizing the voices that we have and also the limitations that we have. There was a point at which my mother was telling me I was beautiful I stopped being able to insure. No matter what example she said, I was still looking at supermodels and wondering why I was not that. Um, how do -- how do we navigate the positivity that we want to frame for another generation to grow up with against what they tend to perceive as a reality, but this is bite because this is what is sold as beauty. How do we deal with that intersection between what maybe we in this room are able to see and what is still beg sold and marketed out there? Kiss kiss can I jump in on that one?
>> KAREN WALROND: Go ahead. I'm right after you.
>> JESS WEINER: I think one of the options and opportunities we have is one thing to talk about framing it for the next generation and there's another thing for us to continue doing it in this generation and for generation prior. I feel sometimes it's very easy for us to say I have these issues, but I will change it so that my daughter and son grow up differently. I want to caution us to maybe think of our own lives as being in progress. Again, that grace for our children to see us to stumble and fall is the framework we want them to have. My personal belief is we won't be able to create a complete utopia for that space. In a lot of ways, we are publishers. The greatest thing I am enjoying about this conference and this is my first time at BlogHer. We are all our own media industry sitting right here, right now with power, incomprehensible power to some generations, that we have a voice and a call to action.
I think part of it is of it is teaching our children to responsibly publish their voices. So, when you talk about their action with the media, teaching them consumer policies now as young people is really important how they vote, how they buy, why they're attracted to that media literacy, break down images. They're conscious about that. It will impact what we're talking about with beauty and more so online because our kids are the first generation growing up in a completely different digital universe. Just because you can fabricate a picture doesn't mean you have to. Just because you come up with an anonymous persona online, there are ways to play with that and there are ways not. I think we teach them to be real good citizens at the same time. All of that comes back to us really working on deconstructing the elements that are holding us back in understanding and loving ourselves fully and completely and by a part of it. You talk quality and being able to point out, um, changing the vocabulary for ourselves and for our children, then I think we have a much richer ability to have a conversation about this for generations to come.
>> KAREN WALROND: I think that's exactly right. All, if we think about is first of all, I think as parents, we only do as much as we do within our home. We have to create a shaven where our kids have a safe place even if they're not listening us to anymore. There's part that, but then the other thing is it kind of boggles my mind how many millions of eyes are represented by what we do here in this room. All of us here are blogers. All of us here are media. Right? We can talk about the media giving us unhealthy images and unheldy messages. We're the media. We started thinking about that a little bit more and maybe we don't Bitch about ourselves in an unhealthy way so we start creating the content that is out there that our children are seeing, that children will eventually see and start taking that responsibility. There are millions of people that read the content that is represented in this room. I think that's a hugely powerful thing.
>> RITA ARENS: I completely agree.
>> KATE HARDING: I was going to say before in response to another question which is all of this, you know, tearing ourselves down and preemptively Bitching about our bodies is a way that women bond infortunately. I think that's something we need to change both individually and in terms of what we're putting out there in our blogs. You request say I feel fat today and then you get comments oh, dude, I know how that is. It is nice how you're building a community, but it is all this self loathing and you have to X self loathing as a member of the club even if you don't. What I want to tell you is absolutely true that you can go the other way and when you start saying no. I like my body just way it is. I don't feel the needs diet. I don't feel the need to change. You can get lot of positive feedback on that too and there are lot of women that are saying thank God somebody saying it.
>> KAREN WALROND: What if we were celebrating each other on the blogs instead of tearing other people?
>> KATE HARDING: You can create a committee that is yeah. We're all really asome.
>> RITA ARENS: I want to make sure we start on this side of the room and I cannot believe I'm going to say, this but we have like 15 minutes, 20 minutes left.
>> KAREN WALROND: We're just getting started.
>> RITA ARENS: I know. We can talk about this forever. We want you to participate in this. But we're going to be starting to transition it in the month of August out to all of you. I'm still going to be framing things on with Own Your Beauty. We really want to empower the blogosphere to take that into your own hands now. You know, it was great and it's still there and it's completely changed my life. Let's not let this die just because it's not a weekly newsletter or something like that because I can tell you quite sincerely that some of the conversations I've had with people over email or in person about how they finally stopped hate themselves. I could cry right now. It's life altering. And so one thing I would say to you, Bonnie, we have to make sure that we don't look at too many pictures that aren't like Karen's. You know? But I mean pictures that have been tweaked. You go in there and you Photoshop ourselves and you put all your picture in Facebook. It is important that we interact with each other. The one thing that is healing for me is as I age and look at real body image issues is look at real women who are my age and not 12 or something look at real women and realize that wow, these things that are bothering me about what's happening to my body are happening to everybody because it's normal and the more we look around at each other and accept each other and we'll accept ourselves. It's really changed my world view. I would like to hear from all of you like what do you acknowledge we could do to change the conversation.
>> Actually, you kind of took my question because I have a wonder. If perhaps all of our self image and our ideas of beauty and our flaws
>> KAREN WALROND: There are no flaws. They're differences.
>> What would happen if we stopped looking at ourselves and look at the person in front of you and the person around you and what would happen if we started looking to praise what we see outside. I thought guys can have some input on that. Karen I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I have one thing and then I promise. Upon when I interviewed should be from my book, one of the things they said about comparison is she said that she doesn't compare herself to anybody anymore because that's comparing my insides to somebody's outsides, that it is really a complete waste.
Don't know if it is so much intraspecific but a comparison and I think we need to stop that. Stephanie, go ahead.
>> STEPHANIE NIELSON: I wanted to say I think we worry too much about ourselves. I think we spend too much time talking about our problems. There are -- we need to look out to other people is. That's where it all starts. It's all love and once you have love for other people, you have love for yourself.
>> That is exactly my topic yesterday as one of the Voices of the Year. You actually said some of the things I said -- you have exactly echoed many of the points they made and it was pretty much the idea that women do become inavailable when we're 50 and I'm sitting back here kind of laughing to myself when I'm hearing you say, well, at my age, you're in your 30s thinking oh, my God. You know, when you look back at how you looked, you know, um, and it's really something that in some way is actually liberating because as said before, I was is -- I had a conversation today with a couple of women and we were both saying -- it was a woman of close to my age and another one and we each feel kind of exactly the same as we did when we were in our mid 20s. I feel no different and I'm actually not even 50 anymore. I'm 60. And, um, which is kind of like a big thing think or say because I never thought I'd get. There I was just going to give you a little perspective about the idea of what somebody said about no one is really look at everybody.
When I was in my mid 40s, which is one of the ways I learned this lesson, which is why I'm so passionate about it now, I lost my breasts. Both of them to breast cancer and my surgery, my reconstruction failed. So I used to wear two fakes and one night I thought I was pretty hot in those days in my 40s. Now, when I look back I was hot in my 20s, but each time you go back now I think God. I was hot in my 50s and I was in my 40s, I thought I was hot in my 20s.
And I was in my 40s and I go out one night and we're just standing at a party and I think oh, my God. I forgot on wear my extra, you know, boobs. And I realize I had been at this party for hours. No one had noticed. Nobody was looking and that's when I kind of came oust the closet and I just stopped wearing them. I wear the styles came in with is -- I wear scarves. At my age, the truth is nobody does notice. At your age when I was 40, maybe, maybe they were noticing. But that's one thing.
But I also do feel that there is a lot that we -- no matter how I feel and all of us feel in this room, the message was powerful. There's only so much that we can really do as parents. One of the things that we really do need to start doing what somebody said is stop looking inside ourselves. Several not looking at all of us and the less that we stop doing that ourselves and the more we realize that, you know, everybody is so concerned with themselves and everything that you just don't realize that everybody isn't along at you. You're looking at and you you're feeling bad about you, but, you know, that's part of it and the other thing is I do think that as much as we can, um, I'm hoping that even now that you look at somebody with gray hair and you appreciate their, um, you know, who they are and be able to see them women as they get older because you all will be there before you know it, it happens so fast. Society more you can do even as young women and the same and your children will get that too that you see people for being people, not for the outside and what you can gain from them. I don't want to run on and on.
>> RITA ARENS: That sounds good.
>> Hi. I'm Barbara. I have is -- I'm a group participant and a group blog about fitness and weight loss and when I'm feeling awkward in this room and yet I want to be here because I want my daughter to be active, to be healthy. A year ago, I weighed 20 pounds more than I should have and I wasn't active. I couldn't do it last year. I understand beauty, but I don't want to make people feel they shouldn't take steps to become healthy and to lose weight if that's impacting their health and it's keeping them from being the person who is inside and outside healthy. I don't have to be beautiful. I dyed my hair. I don't have to be beautiful, but I have to be strong and I have to be alive 40 years from now if I can be or 50 years from now because I want grandbabies, damn it.
>> RITA ARENS: I'm really glad that you said that because I think Jess has some great points to make about that.
>> JESS WEINER: I wrote a story in Glam magazine about my own health transportation. I have been a voice in the confidence community talking about body acceptance and almost 2 years ago, I was diagnosed as being prediabetic and through a series of nutritional changes and lifestyle changes and emotional change, lost weight and transformed myself. What I was at odds about is about my own evolution of belief around where we can talk about body acceptance and where we can talk about our own individual health needs. It's personal.
And for me, I came public with this story because I want to add a layer into this conversation that can be about the obesity debate and filled way lot of shame and anger and confusion for people at all spectrums of health and wellness, but for me it became about conscious weight wellness, which is about utilizing not just weight as a barometer, but all of the numbers. Blood sugar for me in my case, numbers that I wasn't familiar with. I hand't weighed myself in 16 years. So the fact I had to get intimate with numbers and I have a history of eating disorders and poor body image as a teenager, I touched the third one on my own.
But this is how I see it personally and I think I mirror some of what you're sharing is that there's a difference between being well and not beg sick and for a lost times, um, I wasn't sick, but I don't know that I was as well as I could have been and active and vital and vibrant and alive as I wanted to be. How I get there, and um, the team that I have around me to help me get there in my own life is really important I feel it's a variable for us to talk about, very candidly as women because we talk a lot about body bashing and weight and eating disorders and shelt at every size and obesity and through all those strains and conversation, we hear it come out very differently and from very different points of views and it is very personally tied. It's the most dynamic issue for women is their body image and size and weight. I'm looking forward to having a conversation about that more publicly and privately obviously, but I think I hear you and I think it's important for us to realize there are incredible layers to this conversation is that we need have. There are things we know and things we don't know and then there are things we don't know we don't know and giving us this space just to figure out and to grow and to evolve into that is that inner love they think can be really beautiful too.
>> KATE HARDING: This is something important to me and one the things I am evangelical is health at every size. It's really important to me to separate health and fit, and feeling good and having the numbers that suggest your on target and by which I mean cholesterol, blood glucose, et cetera. We have this idea that weight loss will be a cure all.
I want to point out if you can rethink it for one second. If you got liposuction, it wouldn't cure all of those things. It's not about take the weight off your body. It's about change those behaveiors and not all of us will lose the weight or that much like Jess has said. She has done this and had lost 25 pounds. She still is clinically obese. And that's -- I am as well. So this is part of the message that's really important to me is that you can be exercising. Could be eating a balanced diet. You can have perfectly good bloodwork and still be obese according to the BMI.
I think it's important for kids with what Michelle Obama that's doing with the Let's Move campaign. I loved 95% of that and the other 5% I'm like why do we have to stigmatize the fat kids. I know everybody says that's not who we want to do, but when you try to keep the kids from being fat, that's what you're doing. The kids can that are already fat and receiving all these messages that it's bad and it's shameful and they're doing something wrong, this just adds to it. You grow up in a fat family with this message that, you know, eating a balanced diet and exercising are things due as punishment for being fat and they're supposed to be painful and difficult and that when you, you know, if you fall off the wagon in some way, you are choose took fat as if fat is the easy way out. So, shameful in this country.
So, I think the more that we can say yes, you know, movement is fun and really good for you and yes, vegetables taste good they're really good for you without saying, without making it about you'll be fat.
I was just with my nephew a couple weeks ago and my sister, not his mom, but another one of his aunts. He was saying, you know, he wanted to have a cookie and Skittles and I said you can eat the cookie now. You're saving the Skittles for later. And he said why? My sister immediately went because you'll get fat. And I was like because you'll get a sore tummy before dinner. Why do we have to do this? There are good reasons to do this that have nothing to do with weight loss. The more we give the kids that message, a lot of these health issues that are associated with obesity crisis will start to take care of themselves.
>> RITA ARENS: That's something that I find myself thinking about this morning as I'm sitting in the Bloodmobile. I'm not sure what time they stop donating blood today, but there was a Bloodmobile. I'm talking to this nurse and she's asking me if I am going to give platelets or plasma. And I was like kind of like right on the edge and I was like I don't know. Do you have a scale? We can find. It was the first time in my life I wish was five pounds heavier because I really wanted to do it. She was so excited that I would be willing to do it and she's looking at me so hopeful that I'm 5 pounds heavier than I think I might be and I don't. I ate salt, I ate guacamole. No. You're too close. But it made me very aware that I am getting to the point in not every day where I am starting to be able to divorce shelt from weight and, you know, things like that. We have time for maybe two more.
>> My name is Ame. I'm here as a blogger. So, thank us to guys for opening this conversation up. I had questions. They're already been asked. I also work for girls on the run in San Diego and I'm not sure how many of you may be familiar with that program, but there are ways to mentor boys and girls. Whether you're 50 with gray hair or you're 20 with no gray hair, I would ask awful you to maybe look for a way that you can impact a young girl's life and teach her to not only look you in the eyes and have a conversation with you, not with her computer, not with her handheld device, but to learn how to talk to and you to look you in the eyes because neigh can look at themselves in the mirror and appreciate who they and are the person from the inside out. The objects that we all tend to be out there in so. If you want to talk to me about it, I would love to. But there are promise all over the place. We just can all mentor a young girl or boy. Someone talked about teaching our young daughters and sons. It is about teaching our sons and the men in our life how to respect us.
>> RITA ARENS: I think after this it's a break. If you didn't get your question answered. I think we can all stick around for a few minutes.
>> My name is Debra Shane. It is great to be here and nice to meet and you nice to meet you. Darrell, hi. Wow. This is a really, um, important subject that we're talking about this because every single one of us has DNA we have to deal with, family dynamics we have to deal with. We have probably four generations sitting in this room together and, um, I'm really excited because when I grew up, I was athletic. I was musical. I was like not doing the same things as my girlfriends were doing. My parents said you be and you be whoever you want to be. I was also encouraged can to be myself. I never really had a weight issue, but I was taunted for being athletic back in those days, but I didn't care because it was so much a part of my DNA because it was who I was and not what I did.
You made a really great point. You said look inward and I want to say it is an inside job. Self acceptancing, self esteem is an inside job. It starts first inside and we can't do much about -- gray sucks. All right, gray sucks, but you have to do all that you can every day to be healthy, to be a good person and today, I will tell you that what I think is really valuable is kindness. Okay? Kindness. People helping each other. You know? And generosity. Those are the things that bring me self esteem now from the inside out is being that way to you. I came to this conference from Florida. I was privileged to be one of the speakers here and I am blown away by how beautiful and accomplished and passionate everyone is at this conference. So thank you.
>> RITA ARENS: What a wonderful way to end. Thank you all for joining the by the panel.
>> KAREN WALROND: You're all beautiful.
>> RITA ARENS: You look beautiful right now. You all do.
>> KAREN WALROND: Thank you all.