Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving: Motivational Mash-Up #7

Fellow Americans, enjoy the day. Encouraging words for this holiday can be found on my blog from earlier years here Thanksgiving Message from Arielle, here Happy Thanksgiving...Don't Stress, and here Happy Thanksgiving 2007.

Hopefully this new Motivational Mash-Up will help give you a boost.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Progression of Positive (Affirmations)

Today, I'd like to tell you a story.

It's about why I believe wholeheartedly in the power of positive affirmations.

About 8 years ago, University of Delaware, my undergraduate alma mater, held a Love Your Body week. I know many of you are familiar with this. One of the items that was being handed out was a door-hanger that read: BEAUTY IS NOT A STATE OF BODY. IT'S A STATE OF MIND.

I loved it from the second I saw it, but in a hopeful way. I wanted to soak up the wisdom of that statement. I wanted to wake up with a smile every morning knowing it was really true. In short, I had an eating disorder coupled with intense self-perception problems, and that door-hanger made me feel good.

So I took it back to the dorm with me. And I hung it on my door. And I looked at it every day. And I wrote "BEAUTY IS NOT A STATE OF BODY. IT'S A STATE OF MIND" in my notebooks in class. And I wrote it in my journal. And I tried to remember it when I looked in the mirror and hated the image of the girl looking back at me.

Sometime shortly after that, I happened upon this quote by Janis Joplin:

"Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got."

I really, really liked it. I read it and knew instinctively that it was true. At the end of the day, it's only you. If you give up everything, there's still you. If something or someone takes everything away from you, you're still left. You are all you've got.

So I decided that compromising myself, as Janis put it, was going to have to end. I wasn't stupid - I knew I couldn't make a decision like that and automatically stick to it. I also knew that as much as I might want to love myself and believe in myself and think I was great/smart/pretty/special, it wasn't going to happen overnight. I wished I had a Janis Joplin magic wand that I could aim at myself and suddenly embody that quote of hers.

I did the best thing I could think of that would instill her words in my brain and her message in my heart. I printed out that quote and I stuck it on my mirror. Every time I looked at myself in the mirror, I saw that quote. Every time I thought self-hating things about my body, that quote was there in the image too, reminding me that I shouldn't compromise myself because I am all I have.

That quote stayed on my mirror for years. I moved it around with me from place to place, even from mirror to mirror. Sometimes another quote of merit joined it for a time, but always that Janis Joplin message was there. I began to think of it like an item on a To-Do List. Like, "Don't forget the milk." Instead, it was, "Don't forget - don't compromise yourself. You're all you've got." 

You can't read something multiple times a day (especially at your most vulnerable and self-hating moments in front of the mirror) and not start to believe it and take it to heart. 

It started to work its magic, slowly but surely. Years later, when I moved into my first house with Rick, I framed my little Janis Joplin quote and hung it in my bathroom - next to the mirror. It's still there. It's no longer a reminder not to compromise myself. Now, it's a reminder of my journey and path to self-love.

I look in the mirror and smile. I see that Arielle woman in the glass and I like her. I like her face, I like her body, I like her stance on life. I've come a long way from that girl who criticized every inch of herself...that girl who thought she needed a tan, shinier hair, more muscle, more height... that girl who thought she was too fat, too big...that girl who told herself she had dry skin, dull hair, small breasts, not-white-enough teeth, and even went as far as to make the declaration that her eyelashes were too short.

I'm confident. I'm brave. I'm great. I'm beautiful. I'm me. And I don't and won't compromise myself. I'm all I've got. So I don't need that quote on my mirror to remind me anymore. But I keep it...because sometimes... I like to see it there next to my reflection in the mirror and say, "Thanks, Janis."


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Miss Representation: My Take

I was lucky enough to go to a film screening of Miss Representation on Thursday night. I had seen the trailer and the extended trailer, and had also read lots of great posts and reviews of the film, so I was excited to finally see it in its entirety. I went with some of the women from the eating disorder support group I lead and the consensus was that it is an important film.

It touches on a variety of topics, from body image and eating disorders to violence against women to sexualization of women. The negative media onslaught is something of which I have long been aware, but to see the plethora of examples Miss Representation shows, it really got me fired up anew.

I don’t think I was alone in my thoughts and feelings of the film. One of the women with whom I saw the film said poignantly, “There was a point at which the film was discussing eating disorders and I started to feel isolated and almost ashamed like I would have if I were alone in the past...and then I realized I was sitting amongst three extremely intelligent, successful, and beautiful women who had either gone through or are still struggling with what I do and it made me feel really proud.” I find her statement to be extremely self-aware. I also love that the film - coupled with the experience of watching it with other, similar women – transformed her shame into pride in a matter of moments.

That's what solidarity can do, and solidarity was certainly a theme of the film.

I was somewhat annoyed when I heard male snickering from the audience at points during Miss Representation that were NOT meant to generate laughter, such as sexual images of women clearly being exploited or clips of men sickeningly taking advantage of women. I think it showed how true it is that “we live in a society of teenage boys,” as Carol Jenkins says in the film. To really understand what is meant by that quote, you have to see the film itself, as there is clearly nothing wrong with being a teenage boy, nor am I inferring that good mean don’t exist.

Another important quote from the film: “The more power a woman gains, the more backlash she receives.”

It’s true. Think about it for a few seconds. Think Hilary Clinton, Sarah Palin, etc etc etc etc. It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation – the misrepresentation of women in the media is a big deal. I also thought, for the most part, that the film did a great job with keeping the film bipartisan. Both Nancy Pelosi and Condoleezza Rice, for example, are interviewed in the course of the film, highlighting that this is a women’s issue, not a political issue. There is enough woman-hating out there without women doing it to each other, and the film did a good job of focusing on women as a sisterhood instead of pitting women against each other.

To find out where you can see the film, go here:

The site also has a variety of ways to get involved, spread the word, and find out more. You can even take The Pledge.

Follow the movement and film celebrations on Twitter here: @RepresentPledge

If you’ve seen it, share your thoughts with me. I’d love to hear them. And keep using your voices!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Barbaric Yawp (...Or What I'm Trying to Tell You)

My heart leaps, and reaps…it gently seeps the lessons I’ve been taught. No longer caught, I live my life without the strife of pain, strain, or fear of gain—I’m free. The world has opened up to me. I see. Struggles past have hurt their last and I have cast a new light—and in my sight is everything. I sing. I bring with me the story. There is no glory—only fact. Exact truth. No age or youth. Just life and understanding, the helping-handing, the demanding…of solution. Revolution. Retribution. I’m here, I’m here—for restitution! I’ve found at length I have the strength to now survive…really thrive…to jump and laugh and come alive. I’ve stood my ground, I’ve looked and found, I’ve died and tried to live again. I can. I can! There is no wall, no battle call, no way to know when you might fall. You must stand tall. You must recall the way you do not want to live—then give, and give and give some more, ‘til you are spent and on the floor. And then, yes then, and only then—it’s time for your ascent. You’ll start out bent…but slowly you’ll stand tall again. You can.

(c) Arielle Lee Bair 2008
And if you don't know what a barbaric yawp is, I suggest you do 2 things immediately: read Song of Myself by Walt Whitman and rent Dead Poets Society. You'll get it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Family & Eating Disorders

YouTube's allowed me limitless videos now, which is awesome. This means I can make and post videos that are longer than 15 minutes. I don't normally need/want to talk longer than that, but there are some topics on which I seem to keep going and going. :)

In any case, in response to a message I received regarding family,(difficulty) understanding, control, and challenges, I made a bonus video entitled "Family & Eating Disorders." There are so many things out there for parents of kids with eating disorders, but not much for the other way around (kids who have parents with eating disorders) or spouse support, etc. There are so many different "significant others" in people's lives so I tried to make this video as applicable as possible.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011