Self Care and Body Image

Art drawn by my friend, Rebecca, who does her art whenever and wherever she can. Good self care.

Artist, Rebecca Kauffman, who does her art whenever and wherever she can. (Great self care.)

Do you “Fat Talk”?

I don’t know why we do it but most women I know are not great at providing nourishing care to themselves, especially when it comes to body image. I am guilty of it too.  I am the FIRST to start fat talking with my girlfriends.  “No pie for me, I am HUGE today…” They roll their eyes. Than somebody else pipes in. Most of the time, I eat the pie anyway…

I know, I know, I am a therapist.  I am not supposed to enter into the world of negative self talk.  It is not good self care at all!

But it happens.  Anyway, I found a wonderful blog about body image, self esteem and eating.  Please read it and sign up.  I did.

Investigation: What happened to Ann Curry at the Today show?

Doesn't Matt look pleased as punch? Photo attribution

Doesn’t Matt look pleased as punch? 
Photo attribution

Where is Ann Curry?
I don’t know what happened at the Today show. If you are not aware, the Today show is a nationally syndicated TV show that comes up on the mornings on NBC. About a year ago, there was a lot of press about how Matt Lauer, the lead anchor, didn’t want Ann Curry (his 54-year-old co-host) to work with him anymore. Therefore, she got dumped by NBC.

And why is that relevant one year later?
Well, it annoys me that Matt Lauer is now surrounded by these two beautiful YOUNG women that look suspiciously like twins. (By the way, they also look like his model/wife, but that’s for he and his analyst to work out. He lives in New York and they all have analysts there, not therapists.) (And don’t we ALL know about the twin fantasy thing? So predictable!)

Incidentally, Savannah Guthrie and Natalie Morales appear to be smart, competent journalists who I am sure deserved their promotion. I am not annoyed with them at all.

But, I still don’t know why they dumped Ann. I mean, somehow, even at 54, Ann didn’t have any wrinkles. Ask any woman journalist in television media, and she will probably tell you that wrinkles on a woman are the kiss of death. In fact, it is rare to see wrinkles on any women in the media at all, much less the news.

Interestingly, when I was in Europe 5 years ago, I was shocked by a cover of a magazine that had Sarah Jessica Parker on it. What shocked me were the wrinkles around her eyes. I didn’t know she had any! As I looked around at the cover of the magazines, I noticed the American stars didn’t look the same as they did in the USA. I realized that the American magazines airbrushed the wrinkles and the European magazines didn’t. That sucks.

I know Diane Sawyer is an exception in that she is a journalist who is older and on the national news. However, wasn’t she a Miss America winner? Does that really count as TV being open to televising older and aging women?

GAG GIRL TAKEAWAY: Life isn’t always fair. Keep your head up and have a back-up plan if things don’t go the way you want — or deserve.

Snark Sharks! How to Keep Critical Strangers From Ruining Your Day

Snark Shark! Hungry for a bite.

Snark Shark! Hungry for a bite.

What are Snark Sharks?
These are critical statements or aggressive behaviors from strangers that come out of nowhere and are freakin’ MEAN!    Let me give you some examples:

Example 1: Girl in line at ski resort. “IS that even a ski jacket you are wearing?! I have never seen anything like it. It looks like a windbreaker. You are going to be so cold!” she says loudly and wheezily (think Fran Drescher) in front of 10 other skiers in my ski class. “Yes,” I reply proudly. “FYI: This is what ski jackets looked like in the 90s, BEEAATCH!”  (OK, so I did NOT call her a bitch.)

Example 2: Strange man to me at a cocktail party. “I like your outfit … almost.” (Heavy and hearty laugh). What?!!!! (Remember the pink rabbit fur coat blog entry?)

Example 3: I once dropped off used books at a used bookseller, whereupon an extremely angry salesperson said, “Put those over there. We are not your JUNKPILE!” Eeeek!

What To Do When It Happens:
1. Come back with a tart reply that proves how smart you are and that they didn’t get to you.  You are made of nothing but Teflon, baby!

2. Detach and laugh about it. These people are just filled with yucky stuff that day and trying to spread it around like a farmer does with … whatever.  Don’t let it touch you. Put your energy else where.

3.  If possible, do not make eye contact and ignore completely. Energy wise, if you never engage it makes it less likely that that negative, toxic energy will enter your body.  I had a body language expert tell me to look at toxic people right above their eyes onto their forehead and they can’t get you riled up. It works!

4.  Be assertive back, if y0u want to. In the book example, I told the guy that his statement was shaming and rude. I used I statements, “I felt____when you____.” He blushed scarlet and I could immediately tell he had been treating me just like he had been treated as a child.(Therapists can tell this.) It was an important opportunity for him to learn about how his behavior reflects.

What are some of your Snark Shark Examples? What did you do about them?

What’s Your Body Language Saying?

I don’t know about you but I was taught to use good manners and polite body language and I am glad.  You won’t see me sitting hunched over with my legs spread apart and elbows on my knees during a conversation with dinner guests. For a man, that displays interest and is totally acceptable. The point here is: What messages do we women convey with our politeness?

The Azalea Trail Maid: Pretty and Poised
Growing up in the South, one of the most honored and revered positions as a high school teen was to be an Azalea Trail Maid If obtained, this got you the opportunity to dress in pastel hoop skirts at major events, hold a parasol and bonnet.

As an Azalea Trail Maid, you get to stand there prettily, wave with your wrist only and smile. At the tryouts, you were asked questions about body language and polite behavior. My friend Tanya said one of the trick questions, was “how do you sit on a corner stool?” The correct answer: You sit with legs close together, knee to knee, pressing tightly. Everyone who thought it was an ankle cross, got it wrong.

In other words …
Women are socialized to politely take up less room and be more passive with our body language, even our voice.  We are socialized to convey weakness, passivity, and, according to experts, this conveys less competence. Question is: Does all of this get us less respect? What’s a girl to do?

Feel more powerful: Watch Amy Cuddy’s video.

3 steps to up your presence
1) Practice more assertive body language: shoulders back, uncrossing arms, walking more assertively. Take up a bit more space when sitting.

2) Use a stronger voice when making requests.

3) Simulate the body language of someone you admire. When needing a boost of confidence, practice that body language. (I once had a client that would practice her Wonder Woman arm cross in the bathroom before she stood up to her boss — it really worked!)

No drastic changes necessary. Good self-care could include just being more conscious of the message you send to others and yourself.

What to Know About Alpha Males

Have you ever noticed how Alpha Males enter rooms?

(Alpha males is an expression used from dog social hierarchy. There is usually an aggressive “top dog” literally, that makes the rules for the whole dog pack. In our society, some males like to take on more assertive/aggressive behavior and convey their “power” through both nonverbal and verbal ways.)

I have a few Alpha Male friends and they can really crack me up with their body language. One guy, let’s call him Larry, always loudly enters a room and makes a sweeping statement about how things are. “You know, I think this Obama situation is ridiculous!” He sits down and splays his legs out, moves his arms comfortably back and across a chair and takes up as much space as possible. He looks everyone square in the eye, with energy ready to attack, and is clearly ready for anybody to have an opinion that differs from his. This guy once brought me out to his car and with a sweeping arm gesture loudly explained how he had a “better and more expensive model” car than my husband’s {insert laugh here}.

Meanwhile, his wife counterpart crosses her arms, speaks quietly, keeps her head at a slight angle and takes up a lot less room when she sits. Women are much more likely to do this. We have been socialized and educated to “look like a lady.” However, according to Amy Cuddy Amy Cuddy/Huffington Post, a language expert, this passive nonverbal type of communication, effectively conveys powerlessness and passivity.

Do you sometimes want to be taken more seriously? Do you ever feel that people who are more assertive get their way more often than you do? Pay attention to people you admire: their mannerisms … eye contact … attentiveness … their style.

Begin taking simple, baby steps.  Many women wish they were more assertive. Start simply by asking for what you really want. Out and about? Keep your shoulders and head high. You bring a unique blend of knowledge and experience everywhere you go. Remember this.