BlogHer and Body Image: Building a Healthy Identity?

BlogHer Original Post

As I sit and re-read the post, or more accurately, the comments to the post at Body Impolitic, about the BlogHer Con panel "Our Bodies, Our Blogs", I'm eating cream horns. Yes, more than one. I do like cream horns and am thoroughly enjoying reading women talking about "fat" and "diet" and "body image" and "discrimination" while eating them. And no, I'm not going to worry all day long about how many fat grams or calories I just put into my body. I'm also not going to restrict calories over the course of the day or increase my exercise to make up for these yummy cream horns. Nope, they're not a healthy food choice but I'm enjoying them and that's what's important to me. I deserve a cream horn break once in awhile!

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's look at the body image discussion that happened over there:

Laurie said:

I’m planning to talk about body image in the broader sense. Obviously I’ll be talking about the issues of fat, beauty, power and health at any size - but body image (as folks who read us know) includes a lot more. When the beauty standard is young, blond, white and thin, it leaves almost all of us out. It leaves most women and men feeling “never attractive enough”, causes endless discrimination, and makes billion$ for the beauty and diet industries. There is so much we can talk about - fat/size, aging, ability/disability, color, “right” facial features, class, children.
I’d love to hear readers’ ideas and stories that I can bring to the panel.

And here are some of the comments that I was interested in:

Susan Senator Says:
That’s great that you’re going!
I wonder about getting in a thing or two about imperfection and disability, how little acceptance there is for bodies/brains that are different in that sense. It takes more than a “handicapped” parking sign, you know! :-)

SarahR says:
I think about the “tyranny of pretty” a lot- a lot of women feel oppressed by the need to look good all the time. I kind of enjoy it and think of it as “dress-up play” and don’t feel oppressed by makeup and fun clothing. I think a lot of women have ambivalent feelings about this, not knowing if they truly enjoy shaving their legs and wearing lipstick or if they’re just really well-conditioned by the culture.

Rachel wonders:
I do have a question about the inclusion of Wendy McClure on the panel. I have read Wendy’s book and catch her articles in each edition of Bust I receive. She is a very smart, witty and clever writer. But, her book details her attempts to lose weight with Weight Watchers, and her site details her Weight Watchers chronicles and other diet-related attempts to lose weight. Wendy may not have bought into the diet mantra as other women, but she’s still following a diet plan which has been shown to have a very, very low effectiveness rate for sustained weight loss.

And Wendy responds:
I understand your concern, Rachel, but it should be evident to anyone who’s read my blog for the past two years that I’m not still following Weight Watchers. If there’s anything I represent about Weight Watchers at all, it’s that dismally low long-term effectiveness rate. To paraphrase another commenter here, I’m not a “static image.” My life didn’t stop at the end of my book—which, to be clear, was never about being a so-called diet success story to begin with, and in fact was about my ambivalance with the whole endeavor.

RW had a very long comment, and here is a snippet:
When we speak about women and body image there is a risk that we promote the idea that society has a scale (i.e. a measure) against which to measure beauty - with ‘good’ at one end and ‘bad’ at the other. Actually, I don’t think this is true - there are a multitude of scales, and getting higher marks on one invariably means getting lower marks against another measure.
What this means is that if we aren’t careful then campaigns about body image can actually add to the problem rather than improving things (because we promote the idea of there being a single measure).

And Wendy comes back with some questions:
For awhile now I’ve felt that when you put a photo of yourself online you subject yourself to an “internet gaze” wherein others feel fully entitled to comment, compliment, or correct you. Doesn’t that influence the way we represent ourselves? What happens when, intentionally or otherwise, your body—and/or what you do with it, or don’t do with it, or did several years ago (like, say, Weight Watchers)—is up for discussion? I’m just tossing this all out here, but these are the kind of questions I’d like to see addressed at the panel.

Interesting ideas, experiences and questions were tossed around in that one little post. There are thousands more "body image" ideas and experiences in the blogosphere and even more questions being asked by women, about women and for women. I'm really looking forward to the Our Bodies, Our Blogs panel and am anxious to see which direction we go with it.

If you are attending the Our Bodies, Our Blogs panel, do you have your questions, stories and comments ready? If you aren't attending, please go ahead and share your thoughts on the subject now. Can your blog help you create a healthy identity that isn't tied to how you look?

~~Denise
Flamingo House Happenings and Fast Times @ Homeschool High

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