Body Image

Recent posts

Body By Derby

For an interesting take on body image, check out The Rollergirl Project, with part one and part two, illustrating how female roller derby players train and treat their bodies. Aiming to show the physical effects of derby on the bodies of players for the Naptown Roller Girls of Indianapolis, this website documents their training regimens and how their bodies have changed over time. I was intrigued by the beautiful photos as well as the information that many of the women have actually gained weight while playing derby… by putting on lots and lots of muscle! Body image is often a highly individual thing, but I love the idea that getting stronger as part of a community can be an effective way for women to feel good about their bodies. Continue Reading →

Comparing “Real Food” And “Real Women” Rhetoric

We’ve all seen the “real women” memes: “Real women have curves,” and so on. There’s been some pushing back against these ideas, which I think is useful, since holding up one category of womanhood as more “real” than another is ultimately essentializing and harmful. This intriguing blog post, Real Food, draws a parallel between the “real women” meme and arguments about “real food,” arguing that this logic is problematic on several levels. First, the “real food” rhetoric tends to be very judgmental: I’ve met very few people who make personal choices of the “real food” persuasion without also pressuring those around them…without also proclaiming that the foods most people rely on to survive are inherently inferior…without also implying that the reason the rest of us are fat, or poor, or don’t have shiny hair, or don’t walk around perpetually bathed in magical sunbeams of happiness, is entirely because we eat the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad food — the food that is not Real. The same thing goes for femininity and “real” women. Continue Reading →

Messages To Teenage Girls (And Boys)

Those of us who spend a lot of time on the internet will have seen this “letter to teenage girls” that has been circulating. The author, a mother, is basically telling teenage girls to stop taking sexy-looking self photos and putting them online, because it’s not good for the innocent eyes of her chaste sons. Or something like that. There’ve been a number of responses, pointing out that this upholds the idea that women are responsible for managing men’s sexuality (which they are most certainly not!), or the notion that girls need to be modest (an idea that varies by time period and culture) while boys do not. Personally, I was struck by how much the letter demonizes sexual self-expression, arousal, and, well, sexual stuff in general. Continue Reading →

Thoughts On The Porn Sex Vs. Real Sex Video

Some of you may have seen the porn sex vs. real sex video going around recently. By using fruits and vegetables to stand in for human genitals, it cutely addresses some of the misconceptions about sex that people may be getting from watching pornography. But the video is worth discussing for the assumptions it embeds, too. As blogger flexibeast points out, the video doesn’t define porn (so it could include amateur as well as professionally-produced entertainment), and assumes that only people with gender identities matching their genitals are involved. Continue Reading →

Should Strong Be The New Skinny?

The slogan “strong is the new skinny” has been making the rounds this summer, with mixed results. One blogger embraces this attitude, wishing she’d learned it sooner and saved herself a lot of grief, while another blogger thinks that idealizing strong bodies is the same as idealizing skinny bodies, just with a different image being idolized. I would advise proceeding with caution, as we shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking that being strong carries with it all these positive character traits when in actuality, different people experience strength differently. Some people put on muscle quickly, while others don’t; some people feel pride in their strength, while for others it’s a reflection of a career or hobby (such as mountaineering or rock climbing). And finally, “strength” means different things to different people: to some it might be the ability to crank out push-ups or pull-ups, while for others it might be the ability to go through one’s daily tasks, from opening pickle jars to carrying babies, without fatigue or pain. Continue Reading →

Weight Gain And Personal Responsibility

I’ve blogged about size acceptance and body-policing comments in the past, and I’m aware of how much body- and weight-related issues can impact a person’s self-esteem and general well-being. Thus, it’s interesting to note that some of the emphasis on personal responsibility for weight gain that we’ve been seeing in American culture may be misguided. According to this report, it’s not just American humans that are getting larger in the last few decades – it’s also laboratory animals (from monkeys to mice) and domestic animals (such as cats and dogs). Whatever the causes, it seems like a lot of the problem is systemic, rather than being solely an issue of personal responsibility as it’s often framed in the mainstream media. Is this much consolation? Continue Reading →

Body Image And Barbie

Growing up, I had plenty of Barbies. I had Barbie, her sister Skipper, friend Kira, and of course, boyfriend Ken. I loved my dolls, and took good care of them. I was always a little confused about Barbie’s feet as they were constantly pointed, ready for some stiletto heels. I don’t think that Barbie dolls are necessarily the best toy for young girls, especially if one is considering how body image factors into it. Continue Reading →

Weight Commentary And Thin Privilege

Because our culture equates thinness with beauty, it’s supposed to be a compliment when someone says, “Have you lost weight?” Indeed, we’re conditioned to feel good when we hear those words, as though we’ve accomplished something. I don’t mean to downplay the sense of accomplishment of people who have been trying to lose weight, and have made progress, but rather to question why it’s acceptable to comment on someone’s weight in this fashion. See, I’m beginning to think it’s hypocritical to encourage comments on losing weight, while saying that it’s rude to comment on someone’s body that’s overweight. Part of what got me thinking was this RoleReboot post on thin privilege, and part of it was recently having the experience of someone asking me if I’d lost weight. Continue Reading →

Breaking News: Disabled People Have Sex

It’s common knowledge that many people enjoy sex. Disabled people are people. So, shouldn’t logic follow that most disabled people enjoy sex? I’ve gone to many talks at conferences that cover that very topic, and I’m always a little surprised that it’s breaking news to many that people of all different abilities enjoy sex. I recently read about a campaign in the UK called “Undressing Disability” and I would love to see something similar in America. Continue Reading →

What do Helen Hunt and Sex Surrogacy Have in Common?

image courtesy of

Quite a lot, it turns out. A few weeks ago, I watched The Sessions, a new film starring Hunt as Cheryl Cohen Greene, a California-based sex surrogate. What is sex surrogacy, you may ask? I asked myself the same thing. When my mom first proposed that we watch the movie together and explained a bit of the premise, I was dubious. Continue Reading →