Media Portrayals of Female Athletes

By Katie, 5:53 am

*Warning: Some photos NSFW.

I recently came across a comparison of the following two Sports Illustrated covers. Notice a difference?

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I probably don’t need to say anything else, huh? But I will anyway. Notice how Roger Federer is portrayed first and foremost as a tennis player, naturally.  Anna Kournikova, on the other hand, is portrayed first and foremost as a sexual woman.

This got me thinking: do magazine covers, advertisements, and other media images usually portray female athletes as athletic or as sexual? Which aspect is usually emphasized?

Not surprisingly, I did a search and came up with a lot of ads and covers like these:

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Apparently this is how the Florida State University website portrays its female basketball team:

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Now, I’m not saying that because they’re athletes, these women aren’t also beautiful and sexual. I’m just tired of only seeing them portrayed in a sexualized manner. The truth is that their bodies are amazing – hello, Serena Williams! – and they have absolutely incredible athletic capabilities. That is what I want to see more of, that is what I want to celebrate. Not what they look like in a bikini or how good they are at doing the standard “come hither” look. They’re athletes, so I’d like to see them portrayed engaging in their sport – that shouldn’t be too difficult!

To me, it boils down to this: if we want to teach girls that women are valuable for more than just their sexuality, then we need to start celebrating women for more than just their sexuality!

Of course, it isn’t all bad. Here are some more positive portrays of female athletes, bodies included!

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Sure, this one plays on the whole “sexualized female athlete” theme, but it’s funny because it’s acknolwedging that trend.

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Game face!

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I know I’m not breaking new ground here. I know that many women, regardless of their profession, have trouble being taken seriously as more than anything but a sex object. And I want to change that.

But here’s the thing. As I’ve been thinking about this topic, I’ve realized that I’m part of the problem. Because besides the Olympics, I don’t watch any women’s sports. I don’t. Granted, I don’t watch many sports in general, but the ones I do are men’s. Because those are the ones talked about around the water cooler at work. Those are the ones broadcast on national television. Those are the ones that are hard to ignore. So yeah, I might have to make a little effort to watch women’s sports; that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it.

Basically, I’ve realized that if I want female athletes to be taken seriously in our society, then I as an individual need to start taking them more seriously. I need to start giving them the attention I feel they deserve. If I want to change the world, I’ve got to start with me.

What do you think of the way female athletes are portrayed in the media?

Do you watch any women’s sports?

Moment of Zen: Summer Thoughts

By Katie, 5:48 am

Today, I hope you feel as happy as a sea gull with a French fry.

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That is all. 8-)

Friday Feline Follies

By Katie, 5:59 am

Has this week been draining for anybody else? I am so thankful it’s finally Friday; I feel like I’ve been sucking in air all week and today I can finally exhale!

So in the spirit of exhaling/relaxing/keeping it all in perspective, today I present to you a photo montage of the crazy creatures who make me smile every single day of the week: Domino and Hamilton. :-)

Because, honestly, how can you not smile when you stumble upon them in the oddest of places? Say, in the sink.

Or in the laundry basket.

Or in a random box.

They’re awfully cute when they’re searching for warmth, in a blanket…

…or on top of the radiator.

I always think cats look especially silly when they sit in such a way that they appear to have no legs.

Or when they’re just being goofballs on their backs!

But for all their silliness, they really are great cuddlers…

Is it any wonder that these faces melt my heart?

How has your week been? Anyone else feeling a bit drained?

AND

Tell me about your furry friends!

File This Under GROSS: Taco Bell’s “Seasoned Beef”

By Katie, 5:23 am

Have you heard about the latest fast food scandal?

Taco Bell is being sued for false advertising. Apparently some lawyers did some testing, and the “seasoned beef” in many of the fast food chain’s products isn’t really beef at all, or at least not entirely; the results indicate that less than 35% of the meat mixture is actually “beef.” According to the lawyers, the existence of so many binders and fillers means that the product doesn’t even meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s minimum requirements for a product to be labeled as “beef.” (Kind of sad that the government needs to define what is and is not food, huh?)

So what are those binders and fillers? Apparently water, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent and modified corn starch – yummy! :roll:

Of course, Taco Bell claims that the lawyers “got their facts wrong” and that the allegations are unfounded. Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet on it because 1) it makes sense that they would use lots of fillers in order to cut costs and increase profits, and 2) the lawyers aren’t even asking for money, just that “Taco Bell be honest in its advertising.” (I realize that act of kindness is mostly marketing for the law firm, but still!)

I’m always torn over stuff like this, and here’s why. In order for me to prevent an episode of overeating, it’s important that I incorporate all foods into my diet, so that no food is labeled “off-limits.” That might even mean fast food every now and then, and I know it isn’t going to kill me. But on the other hand, I find this particular situation downright gross I know for a fact that my body feels better when I feed it actual meat rather than a “meat product.”

And that’s the beauty of Intuitive Eating. There’s no plan that forces me to eat something or to avoid something completely. There’s no rule that says I can’t go to Taco Bell, but there’s also no rule that says I have to. The power to decide what goes into my body is completely mine.

Have you heard of the Taco Bell lawsuit? What do you think about it?

Simple Vegetarian Baked Ziti

By Katie, 5:52 am

I talk about “balance” a lot here on Health for the Whole Self, about finding the middle ground between the extremes. And while I often look at it through the lens of food and exercise, the idea of balance can be applied to almost every aspect of our lives. Including personal finances.

Most of the time, Dave and I are pretty good about striking the money balance; we’re careful about our spending and save a lot of our income, while still leaving room for indulgences and the occasional impulsive splurge. But right now is not “most of the time”; right now we’re pinching our pennies even more than usual, sacking as much away into savings as we can.

Which means it’s time to break out meals like this Simple Vegetarian Baked Ziti. It’s a huge money-saver because 1) it’s vegetarian, and we all know how pricey meat can be, and 2) it makes plenty of leftovers, which can be turned into lunches or another night’s dinner. All without sacrificing taste, satisfaction, or nutrition.

To make this dish, I first got some water boiling to cook the pasta. While that was bubbling away, I sauteed some roughly chopped mushrooms with onion and garlic.

Then I added some spinach and let it wilt. Looking back, I wish I had added more. It always wilts even more than I’m expecting it to!

Ricotta!

Added the pasta, plus some tomatoes and mozzarella.

Baked until bubbly!

A cheap, healthy, totally satisfying meal! Perfect for striking a balance, both in my tummy and in my wallet. ;-)

Simple Vegetarian Baked Ziti
Makes a heaping 8×8 pan

Ingredients
8 oz. uncooked ziti pasta
1 small package sliced mushrooms, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 cups firmly packed fresh spinach (could up it to 3 cups)
1 cup ricotta cheese (light works fine)
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
2 tsp dried basil
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
grated Parmesan, for topping

1. Preheat oven to 375º.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.

3. Meanwhile, coat a large skillet with a bit of olive oil and bring it to medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic, and cook for another 5 minutes, until mushrooms are soft.

4. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.

5. Remove skillet from heat and stir in ricotta cheese and dried basil. Add mixture to the bowl with the cooked pasta, then add the tomatoes and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Stir well.

6. Transfer the mixture to an 8×8 baking pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Top with remaining mozzarella, plus some grated Parmesan. Bake until hot and bubbly, 10-15 minutes.

What’s your favorite money-saving meal?

CSN Winner!

By Katie, 5:57 am

Thanks to everyone who entered the CSN Giveaway for a $65 gift certificate!

The winner is #16: Jessica, who says: “I would love to win this, I need a new blender sooooo bad.”

Congrats, Jessica! Send me an e-mail at katie@healthforthewholeself.com and I will get your gift certificate to you right away! :-)

You Don’t Need an Excuse to Eat!

By Katie, 5:27 am

“I ran an extra mile on the treadmill today.”

“I’ve had a really stressful day at work.”

Or my personal favorite:

“I’ve been good all week!”

Those of us who have a rocky relationship with food often find ourselves coming up with excuses or justifications for our eating habits. We feel like we have to rationalize eating. It’s no surprise, really, when we see ads like this on billboards and in magazines:

This ad for Auntie Anne’s pretzels reads, “Pick a reason to get one – any reason.” In the background are some suggested reasons, many of which I’ve used in the past.

There are the emotional justifications, such as my boyfriend dumped me and it’s the perfect break-up snack.

And then there is the vow to “make up for” the treat: I’ll run another lap in P.E.

Though the advertisement is a bit cheesy, it’s still effective because it gets into the heads of so many women and girls. I’ve certainly spent inordinate amounts of time rationalizing my eating in this way: “It’s ok because…” or “I deserve it because…”

But guess what? Nowadays I can eliminate all of the “reasons” on that advertisement in one fell swoop: It’s ok to eat because I’m human. I deserve to eat because I’m hungry. End of story.

One of the most important steps I’ve taken in the process of healing my relationship with food has been giving myself full permission to eat. I don’t need a reason, an excuse, or a justification. I don’t need to “make up for” it. And I certainly don’t need to feel bad about it, thank you very much!

Have you seen this advertisement, or another one like it?

Have you ever found yourself looking for “reasons” or “justifications” for your eating? Do you now give yourself full permission to eat?

*All photos are courtesy of Sociological Images.

Office Om: Stretches I Do At My Desk

By Katie, 5:48 am

I want to be this guy.

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I’ve mentioned before that back in June I started my full-time, 9-to-5 desk job. There are so many things I love about my job – the people, the benefits, the money (hey, let’s be real!).

But one thing I most certainly do not love is sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day. :-?

A few weeks ago the extended spans of sedentary time really started getting to me; by 3:00 in the afternoon my legs were literally jittering from being relatively motionless for so many hours. Something needed to be done before I up and ran out of the office!

So I set my Outlook calendar to go off every hour with this simple reminder: MOVE! When I see the message pop up on my computer screen, I immediately get up and take a walk around the office. Or switch to a task that requires standing up. Or even just take some deep breaths and do some simple stretches to wake up my body.

Here are some of my favorites:

(I wanted to photograph myself doing these, but we’re having some Internet issues at my house, so this little lady will have to do!)

The Shoulder Shrug

The Swimmer

The Twist

The “Reach for the Sky” Stretch (so called because I pretend I can actually see the sky above me, rather than a popcorn office ceiling!)

The Cross-Legged

I don’t plan on being a 9-to-5 desk worker forever; it just isn’t my style. But for now, I cope by moving and stretching as much as I can!

Do you work in an office? Do you spend long spans of time sitting at a desk?

What are your favorite stretches or in-office movements? (I need more suggestions!)

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Have you entered my CSN giveaway yet?

Be sure to check out the Embrace:Me project from Emilie at I Came to Run!

And don’t forget to sign up for Christie’s free virtual class Make Peace with…Sugar.

Living at the Extremes: My Review of Black Swan

By Katie, 5:20 am

Warning: My review contains spoilers!

Last weekend, my brother’s girlfriend and I ditched our significant others and headed to the movie theater together.

I was excited to see Black Swan because I had heard such extreme reviews of it. Some people told me they loved it and thought it was the best movie of the year. Others thought it was terrible and never wanted to think about it again. Interestingly, those dichotomous opinions fit in perfectly with the movie’s themes.

In brief, Black Swan is about a naive, sheltered ballet dancer named Nina who gets the role of the Swan Queen in Swan Lake. In order to play this role effectively, she has to embody both the White Swan (who is pure and innocent, like herself) and the Black Swan (who is dark and loose and sensual, all things Nina is not at the beginning). As Nina gets in touch with the “black swan” within her, she becomes so obsessed that she begins losing touch with reality (as does the viewer). Her story also begins to parallel the story of the Swan Queen in the ballet, including its shocking ending.

For movie buffs, Black Swan is a worthwhile view simply for its artsy cinematography and its amazing acting. Yes, there is a lot of weird, dark stuff, which sometimes serves a purpose and other times seems overly-sensationalist. But within that there are lots of interesting themes – perfectionism, balance, etc. – that I think are relevant to our discussions here on HWS.

THEME 1: Perfectionism and Reality

Nina is dedicated obsessed with ballet dancing. In case you’re not sure of that, she comes right out and says she wants to be perfect at it. Her drive to achieve this perfection – which includes learning to feel the movements rather than just performing the steps – becomes so extreme that she quickly begins losing touch with reality; in essence she loses her mind.

For me, this is most apparent when a guy in a bar asks Nina who she is, and she replies, “I’m a dancer.” He laughs and says, “No, I meant what’s your name.” It’s meant to show that Nina doesn’t just do her art; she has become her art. Which all foreshadows her later visions of actually becoming the black swan.

Seems a little wacky, no? But I find that when I take out the extreme nature of it, the whole scene looks rather familiar.

When I was obsessed with achieving perfection in my eating, a single cookie or piece of chocolate would throw me over the edge. When I was determined to get straight A’s in school, the mere possibility of a B+ caused me to panic. In essence, I too lost touch with reality in that my tunnel vision blinded me to how inconsequential a single misstep really was. Like Nina, I couldn’t see that my obsession with perfection was causing me to achieve anything but; indeed, it was fueling my own demise.

THEME 2: Living at the Extremes

Not surprisingly, Nina struggles to achieve any kind of balance; she lives at the extremes. At the beginning, she is entirely like the “white swan” – innocent, sheltered, graceful, etc. But as she starts getting in touch with her inner “black swan,” she completely loses touch with her prior self (as evidenced by the fact that in the end she falls during the white swan performance). She’s all one way, and then all the other way; never does she exist in the middle ground.

Again, while Nina’s case might be extreme, many of us can relate to her situation. We’re either dieting or bingeing. We’re either succeeding or failing. We’re either good or bad, right or wrong, beautiful or ugly. The movie is a stark reminder that living at the extremes is a surefire path to disaster.

THEME 3: The Cost of Perfect

I find the ending of Black Swan extremely intriguing. In her final hallucination, Nina ends up stabbing and inadvertently killing herself (I believe her death is a reality). By the sound of it, this is a tragic ending, no? And yet the way the movie portrays it, it doesn’t exactly feel tragic. She sees a beautiful bright light. She says she really felt the dance, that she really achieved perfection (or at least her version of it). The New York Times review calls her a “martyr” to her art, as if she willingly gives herself up for it.

And yet I have to believe that Nina is as much a victim as she is a martyr. While she may have achieved some kind of perfection in the end, the viewer cannot help but ask, “But at what cost?” Perhaps the message is that while our lofty goals may be attainable, we inevitably lose ourselves in the process. Not to mention that her desire for perfection is, in the first place, determined as much by outside forces and pressures – her mom, the ballet director, her peers, the art of dance – as it is by her own wishes.

A Note on Eating Disorders:

It should be noted that Black Swan attempts to portray the ballet world as accurately as possible, which means the film includes the intense competition and body pressures that are so often associated with it. The actresses are extremely thin, and Nina obviously suffers from an eating disorder (no doubt part of her perfectionism). While I respect the film for including this reality, it can be triggering for people struggling with an eating disorder or a negative body image. As always, I urge you to take care of yourself first; no movie is worth putting yourself in a compromised, triggering position.

Have you seen Black Swan? If so, what did you think? Do you agree or disagree with my analysis?

What’s the best movie you’ve seen recently?

Another CSN Stores Giveaway!

By Katie, 5:56 am

Giveaways are fun, aren’t they? ;-)

I’m excited to announce that I’m giving away another gift certificate to any one of CSN Store’s 200+ sites – this one is for $65. Not bad, right?

I like CSN because you can get pretty much anything there. They have everything from home decor to kitchen appliances to swing sets to fitness equipment! You can browse CSNstores.com to see the full selection.

You can enter up to two times:

1. Leave a comment on this post – anything will work! It can be as simple as “I’d love to win this giveaway,” or just “Hi, Katie!”

2. Share this giveaway in some way – on your own blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, or through an e-mail to a friend. Then leave a separate comment telling me how you shared it.

You have until midnight on Saturday, January 22 to enter. The randomly-chosen winner will be announced on Sunday, January 23.

GOOD LUCK! 8-)

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