Monday, February 24, 2014

Adventures in Body Image Issues

*This is your Fair and Advanced Warning warning: There are personal details about me in this post. I'll try to spare you too in-depth of details, but you're quite likely to find out some stuff you did not already know about me and my body.*

It seems to be the cool thing these days to talk about female body image. There are articles about and ad campaigns by major corporations that try to convince us that all these companies really do care about us and really do want us to be happy with our bodies. There are opinion pieces about this topic from all across the internet, now including mine, that discuss the full spectrum of issues. Because I find it an interesting topic, I try to keep up to date with these goings ons and stay informed. Sometimes I even learn a new thing! *gasp*

However, lately I've noticed a strange trend in that some of these postings fall quickly into the 'grass is always greener' trap. For articles on body acceptance they can be particularly quick to damn the other side's complaints and give reasons why they should keep their mouths shut because said complaints aren't really valid, or aren't as bad. SERIOUSLY gals? Let's all just agree now before continuing with this post that this behavior can stop now. If you wanna stay on your high horse, this is not the post for you, and I'm not sorry so you may want to stop reading now. And one quick side note: men have body image issues too. I know us girls get all the attention because of media coverage, and there are specific issues that apply toward the presentation and coverage of women in the media that do not apply toward men. Yet, when it comes down to the bare bones of body image and the conversation surrounding it, they still deserve to be invited. Not inviting the men folk and ignoring their input about male body image only continues a stigma that men are too manly to care about such things. Meaning they are rightfully emotionally closed off and therefore incapable of having issues with their bodies. I promise you, they care. At least some of them, just like only some women have major issues with their bodies, but more on that in a minute.

Now as most people who are going to find this post (hello friends!) most likely to already know, I work for a plastic surgeon in his private practice. Recently some happenings have, well… happened, which have caused the issue of my image of my body to pop into my head more frequently, as well as the general perception of body image between strangers. I have worked in this office in some capacity since 2007. As of the time I'm writing this, it's been about six and a half years since I walked through the door to interview for a chance to pick up the doctor's daughter from school and also do some general things around the office, including putting together the before and after photos from surgeries that we send to patients. This gradually progressed into helping with small parts of the patient's consult visits, like assisting them with trying on breast implants, or helping them look at the schedule to set up a procedure. During this time, I quickly learned to brush off comments and questions like, "Have you had anything done?" or "Would you?" with vague versions of the truth and bring the conversation back around to them and what needed to be accomplished to get them taken care of. -In case you too are curious! The answers are: No. and Nothing major.- I guess you can call it a job hazard that these questions are bound to pop up, and it really doesn't bother me. They are simply trying to find common ground and identify with someone who is helping them through this process. The only issue I have is; how am I supposed to tell a perspective patient that I don't have any issues with my body I think are worth spending a few grand to fix without sounding like a stuck up or judgmental snob? I have yet to find a classy way to actually answer that second one and always fall back on partial answers and redirection instead.

A few times over the past couple months though -for the first time that I know of- I've had the pleasure of either learning second hand or had it happen right in front of me, that a patient has taken the above type comments to the level of expressing disbelief that I haven't gotten my breasts augmented. If you don't happen to know me well, or have never taken a good gander at my chest, my boobs are on the small side. I wear a 34A bra most days. Being 5'7" and around 135 lbs, they are certainly considered small for my frame based on the commonly accepted curvaceous standard given to us by Playboy and Victoria's Secret. But, and this'll be a shocker for you, I like my breasts. Did I wish they'd grow a little more when I was younger? Sure. But I got over it. A comedienne I once saw described her  nearly flat chest as, "exquisite rare miniatures," and since it made me laugh, I adopted her descriptor for myself. They are high and round and firm. They match each other, so no major asymmetry going on under this shirt, and I think they fit my body type just fine, thanks.

Again though, how to respond to these women without sounding as if I feel I've been insulted, which honestly I don't feel, or without insulting the patient in turn? Without getting into a long discussion, there's no way to tell these women, that just because they have an issue with their bodies doesn't mean everyone they perceive to have the same 'flaw' will have an issue with it as well. Back to the yard analogy, sometimes the people in the yard with you think the grass pretty damn green, even if you don't. And that's OK! It's quite possible that both of you are right! Because, in no way do I mean this as a condemnation of women -or men- who have plastic surgery. I can sympathize and understand why some people seek out surgical options. That is their choice. It is their body. And as far as I'm concerned, spending a few grand on making your body the way you want it is no better or worse than spending a few grand on high tech gadgets or fancy cars. As long as it makes you happy.

And of course, it's always the same story with the grass across the street. Some people seem incapable of understanding the legitimate down-sides that cause someone to change what they think ought to be the ideal. I've heard many a breast reduction patient ramble on, aghast that women would want their breasts larger when they are already so, "nice and small" and how the women can't possibly know what they're getting into. And believe me, vise versa as well. I am stating for the record, right here: I have helped patients that have had legitimate physical and psychological concerns that validate both implant placement and breast reductions. What happens more often? Reductions. Does that make it more legitimate somehow? No. Simply because it happens more frequently doesn't indicate a higher level of validation. A point that can also be applied toward female vs male body image problems.

If you take nothing else away from reading this, I beg you to keep in mind that everyone has a different standard for beauty and how that gets applied toward themselves. If we are to progress as a society on the issues of body image and acceptance this is the first and most important thing we need to realize. Making comments about others and judging them based on your personal standard is inevitably going to lead to conflicts and misunderstandings. Even if you mean well, even if you want to help, suggesting that someone plant some bermuda grass in a lawn full of zoysia isn't necessarily going make their yard greener for them. Why not try to help them find some grass seeds they do like and attempt to accept that zoysia has the ability to be someone's ideal, even if it's not yours?

Friday, March 30, 2012

My how time flies...

I'm sorry. I'll just get that out of the way. I've been informed in very specific terms that I've not updated this poor, neglected blog in over a year. Yikes. My only excuse is that my life really has not been all that incredibly adventurous of late. And, for this, I have absolutely no excuse. As my last post indicated I have continued to find myself stuck in a routine. I work. I come home. I hang out with friends, sometimes, but really not as often as I should. I travel to St. Louis and Denver, as this is where my family is located and they tend to require my physical presence in their lives every now and again. But really no new major developments present themselves.

However, now that I think about it, 2011 did hold some events, so here is that 365 days in quick review. What should have been a years worth of posts in one, hopefully succinct, much overdue post.

January: I decided my news years resolution for 2011 would be to try vegetarianism for about three months until my birthday, and spent most of this month looking up recipes for food that did not include meat. Except for the fact that I didn't start this until about the 2nd week of January due to some leftovers I refused to throw away, and then accidentally forgot at about week three and accidentally ordered a meatball sub for lunch one day, and then refused to throw it away on the principle that it was a perfectly good sandwich that I'd just paid for, this resolution gets off to a pretty good start. Also, Dori and I start working on her manners, as jumping on new people is generally frowned upon in dogs that are about 50 pounds and look like maybe, possibly they might be part doberman pincher... almost. Even though she looks more like a vizsla and only means this in the most flattering, "WOW YOU'RE EXCITING AND NEW AND COOL AND I'M SO HAPPY TO MEET YOU" kind of way, people don't really seem to like this habit of hers, so we start trying to stop it.

February: To my knowledge and recollection, nothing too horribly cool happens in this month. I am still not eating meat, and Dori is still adamant about greeting new people by jumping upon them.

March: The jumping continues... it's a work in progress, she has lots of energy and just gets overexcited, which means she stops listening to me... to my schagrin. This month also holds the AWESOME road trip to Georgia, to see cool people that I like that insisted upon moving there. Atlanta is awesome and I to this day (in March of 2012) still use a picture of a cute dog that let me pet him in a park as my Facebook profile pic. Savannah is also really cool and has some killer blueberry goat cheese that to this day (still in March of 2012) really makes me want to move there so that I might live in the small cafe/coffee shop that served this tasty dairy product to me. Downside: I hit a curb and busted the wall of my tire on the way to drive through the Atlanta ghetto, just to see it... for some reason, so that my three friends and I end up trying to change to my spare in the ghetto and get helped by some very nice lawn care specialists in order to expedite our journey out of said slightly dangerous location. Upside: all of this happened at noon, in broad daylight. Downside: all of this happened at noon on the day we were supposed to leave at about 2 pm or so to begin the 13 hour drive back to KC, and our return trip was delayed a few hours while a new tire was purchased and applied to the car. Upside: this gives me a story to tell and the satisfaction that of the four people in my car when this happened I was one of the two that knew how to change a tire, and I could have done it myself, if the lawn care specialists hadn't shown up and done it faster than me.

April: I get to eat meat again, and in a very unceremonious fashion, break my three month veggie stint by ordering a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger from Wendy's on my way home from work because I had to be somewhere important quickly, and can't remember now where that someplace was. I have obviously decided that for me vegetarianism isn't really practical and not really worth the effort, because I don't feel any healthier. I begin to think that my dog's legs are made of springs instead of muscle, tendons and bone.

May: I take another awesome trip, this time to UTAH! I do this to see some other people that I kind of, maybe like a little bit. No flat tires occurred on this trip, phew! But there were some pretty awesome caramel apples to be eaten and an incredibly cute baby to be fussed over. I reconnected with Franz, and old flame, and he seems pretty much the same as ever, figures. But, I got to catch up on 5 years worth of changes that happened to all the living people that I knew when I lived there. Ahhh... nostalgia...

June: Recovery from all my trips begins. I decided that I'd do this by not going anywhere cool, or doing anything exciting with my life for a whole month. Mission accomplished, except for a wedding I went to, which wasn't really so horribly boring.

July: I realize at 5 pm on Friday July 1st that I have a 4 day weekend surrounding the 4th of July, so I decide to go to Denver. Family members are highly overrated and really not worth that much gas after all. Lesson learned. Want to know who isn't learning her lesson? Dori. Apparently you are spring worthy for the first 10 minutes of acquaintance, after that she can be polite and keep all four paws where they really ought to be, but for that first 10 minutes that new person is just way too spectacular to allow for proper etiquette to be observed.

August: I move into a new apartment a whole block away from the old one, but this one is just for me and Dori! FUN! Especially because it has a den, which quickly becomes the awesome room where there are multiple comfy places to read, and a bookshelf where the lovely tomes can be kept. For some reason this makes me more happy than it really probably should. And, did I mention there are two whole stairs to get down into the den? Yep... it's the best room ever. Also, my baby sister comes to visit me! My parent's don't really like her, so they dumped her on me for a week. It was horrible, but we didn't kill each other, so a successful visit over all, I'd say.

September: If I had to pick a month, this would be the one where I quickly fall into a predictable routine that will not be broken for quite some time, although I do continue to occupy myself with making my new apartment my own, mainly by purchasing kitchen things that one needs in order to cook. This, more than any other activity, makes feel like I'm growing up. Yes, because I have bought a crock pot, electric mixer with various attachments and a full set of mixing bowls with lids, I am an adult. Those and the bright purple toaster... yep that surely means I'm totally mature and going headlong into adulthood.

October: I may or may not have boycotted this month. I'm pretty sure it didn't exist actually.

November: Holiday madness starts! Mom's birthday plus Thanksgiving means another pointless trip out to Denver. Kansas is very long and straight and covered in farms. So is the eastern half of Colorado you have to drive through to get to the Denver and the mountains. In fact, they are pretty much the same looking, except for once you hit the Colorado boarder the long, straight farms are at a very slight incline that lead up to the mile high city. My reward for this is a glorious shopping spree in which I convince my mom that because it's her birthday, she should buy me a bunch of clothes. I don't know how this works, but it does, and I'm lucky my family likes me.

December: Pretty much consists of lots of patients at the office who want to have their surgeries done, like tomorrow if possible, because, "My insurance plan resets in January and my deductible will go back up." Here's a tip, if you want to take advantage of already having paid part of your deductible, get into your friendly neighborhood surgeon for a consult before December 15th. Otherwise his office staff will think you're an annoying, pushy idiot, and be quite unsympathetic when there doesn't happen to be time left in 2011 to fit you into the surgery schedule. But I'm not holding on to old frustrations at all... nope... not me! I also decide to start what will become a three month process to figuring out what exactly is causing both of wrists to randomly ache and become overly painful, and then heal them. By the end of the month we've ruled out nothing, mainly because once the holiday hit, everything was postponed until January, so stay tuned for the fascinating results to this saga. After all this, it's Christmas! YAY! Then New Years Eve! And, Dori jumps on a new person she just met. Obviously she's learned a lot in the past year... and so have I.

So, there, for the two of you that check this blog in the mostly vain hope that I will have created and posted a new entry, is a quick review of 2011. Just as April of 2012 is about to roll around. Maybe this year's delayed New Years resolution should be to update my blog more often. Let's say once every three months until my birthday. You know, to try it out and see if it works well for me. Yeah... I think that might just be the way to go... ;-)

Peace, until... whenever.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Oh yeah... 'Adventures'

I don't think that I am the only person who gets bogged down in the everyday. This is one unfortunate part of being a living creature that requires certain things on a regular basis to maintain the "living" part of its existance. I must go to work during my scheduled hours to have money to buy the food that I will eat on a semi-regular basis, along with the food that I must feed to my dog. The same dog that requires regular walks and exercise as well as the trips to somewhere grassy to relieve herself. Throw in the solid 8 hours of sleep adulthood affords me, and it's easy to fall into a routine to fit it all in. And falling into a routine is exactly what I fear I am doing.

Only one problem... I'm a young woman with relativly minimal responsibilities, or at least my responsibilities could be mobile if I wanted them to be, and I'm dying to mix things up. For me, getting into a routine kind of feels like slowly getting stuck. Throw in a general sense of unrest at having remained in Missouri for far too long... I haven't left the state since I visited the 'rents for Thanksgiving, and for all intents and purposes I've been reliably living here since I got back from France two and half years ago... and my inner nomad is screaming louder and louder to pick up and GET OUT!

Only one problem... I just don't know where I would get in after I'm done getting out of here. I kind of like Kansas City. Sure, it could be warmer. Yes, more mountains here would be awesome. It'd be nice if a plethora of quality single guys were trying to knock down my door. And, lastly, it really could use a nice little French bakery that just happened to have an apartment for rent right above it, hell I'll even settle for around the corner from it. So what if I can't find these things here, I'll be damned if I know where I COULD find them! And, here happens to have some friends that I'm fond of, even if I don't see them enough, a job that pays and isn't too much like a routine, and a growing sense of familiarity that I'm not sure I want to give up just because of my stupid, screaming nomad. Thus, I tumble right back to routine... sigh.

Therefore, my recent plight has become one of finding things to do that afford my inner nomad some wandering time and a little of that adventure I'm supposed to be having. Getting a dog has helped. I emensly enjoy having a four-legged friend around. Not only does Dori provide fun and silliness like only a puppy can, she presents a healthy dose of challenge into my life, which is something I'd started to miss since graduation. And, she gives me an excuse to do things like go to a dog park and be outside, even in the middle of winter. I've also been enjoying Geohashing. If you're unfamiliar with the concept this is where it comes from, this will tell you more about it, and this will enable you to find the current, or any previous, geohashing points in your own area. Simply move the map to your region, enter the day you want to Geohash on and then click on the map near to where you live and it'll pop up with a set of coordinates for you to go hunt down. Be warned, this doesn't work more than a day in advance as part of the equation requires the opening stock market value for the day before your exploring day. I've only been twice, and most of the area around Kansas City is farms, so not much to explore, but I've enjoyed having a reason to drive a little distance and the possibility of finding something exciting or interesting on the way. I imagine this endeavor will be exponentially more fun come spring/summer or even next fall, in the least my pictures will look less monochromatic.

Those are the only viable solutions I've come up with on my lonesome, but if any of the three of you that read this blog have a suggestion or two, I'd love to hear them.

Well I'm out of stuff to say, so until next time, Peace.

Monday, November 1, 2010

On Adulthood

It has been pointed out to me on more than one occasion, some recent and some in the slightly distant past, that I have not updated this blog since I started it.

Ooops... is really all I can say in response to that. I'm not an adept blogger and may need a shove to get a new post out every now and again. And for this, I apologize.

Moving on to the topic of the day... adulthood. This is a strange new "hood" that I have been exploring more rigorously in past few months. It's weird for me to think that based upon any previous standards I set for adulthood, such as living on one's own, holding down a job, paying for things like gas, electricity and internet, among others, I have reached the state of being an adult. Little kids look at me and see a grown-up and I can't refute their claims with, "But I'm still in school. I'm no where near the REAL world, like a REAL adult would be!" And now, this "real" world I've stumbled into doesn't feel any more real to me than the world of academia did when I was still there; a mere 6 months ago.

One major thing I've noticed about adulthood is that, at least for now, each little step further in I take is equally exciting as the last. Each step has it's own kind of excitement attached, like the day I finally got my new mattresses delivered and all I could do was lay on top of them in splendor for a solid 10 minutes before gleefully bouncing on it a little bit and eventually making my new bed for the first time. And then, all I could do was lay on top of that for another 10 minutes of joy. This may seem like overkill to some of you, but I challenge you to sleep on an air mattress with funny groves in it for 3 months and NOT be ecstatic when you finally have a lovely pillow-top all your own to replace it. Go ahead... I dare you. But that excitement was a different sort than when I paid the bills for the first time. While parting with my money was not a moment of sheer joy that I'd been anticipating for ages, there was an odd satisfaction in seeing my name on the bill that came in the mail. Also there was, and still kind of is, a twisted pleasure in knowing that this particular money I'm parting with isn't going to some frivolous thing, but rather to ensuring that as winter approaches I will have heat, and a place to cook warm food.

Speaking of food, this is a step into adulthood I have been anticipating most, if not all, of my college years. And, I have LOVED every moment of cooking for myself. I recipe surf online regularly and frequently to find tasty new things to try and make for myself. And *knocks on wood* I have been mostly successful in my endeavors so far. The new exciting recipes coupled with the tried and true ones of my family and friends have been quite fun to experiment with and make my own. I've always been a fairly independent personality, so I think I'm loving this so much because I have complete and total control! Mwaaa ha ha! I choose what I want and then make it happen. Poof... it's like magic, almost... you know, except for the actual work done in the kitchen, but that's just splitting hairs.

Anyway back to actually being an adult. Despite these steps I'm taking and all evidence to the contrary, I do not FEEL like an adult. I know I'm still young by anyone's standards (baring those under the age of 14 because, honestly, what do they know anyway?!?) but I'm beginning to wonder if people ever actually feel like an adult. Oh sure, I have my moments, but 97% if the time, I might as well be 14 again, God forbid that actually happen, it's my worst nightmare come true, because I feel like a kid pretending to be an adult. I saw this comic from xkcd the other day and it pertains nicely to my current attitude on adulthood. (Please click on the link or the next few sentences won't make sense.) When looking at it with that girl's attitude, I get to have it both ways, and I always pick the option which doesn't actually require me to make a finite choice. This way I get to have my child-like impulses and quirks, but since I'm disguising myself as an adult, they turn into paradigm changing choices. I equate this to the fact that my Grandparents never have, and never will, like rock and roll, they keep their selections in the classical and opera/theater categories. Yet, rock and roll is the majority of what my parents listen to. Therefore, my kids Grandparent's will listen to rock and roll, something that completely blows my mind, yet will seem totally passe to my kids. Same thing goes for any other "adult" choices I make for myself. They may seem weird to us now because they aren't the same as what adults chose to do previously, but it'll be normal to the next generation, who can then eventually choose to do the same thing, or shift their own paradigm a different direction. It's the beauty of being a species that is constantly evolving!

To sum this all up in a sentence: It's an awesome power that we've all been given, and I'm enjoying my new powers immensely.

I can't promise my next post will be timely, but I'll try.

Until next time, Peace.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The First One

I recently realized that I have been back in the states from my world-wind adventures in France for nearly a full year. I never finished my old blog, which is sad, but between my broken computer and lack of free time, it was inevitable. However, I also realized that I still have adventures, and am getting ready to have some more as I enter the world of semi-adulthood by graduating from college.

Something that goes along with being an almost graduate is noticing a lot of 'lasts'. I had my last undergraduate class last week. I wrote my last paper for one class, and turned in the last assignment for another. Yesterday was my last dead day before finals week, and tonight was my last late night breakfast in the Jewell cafeteria, where the professors serve the students a late night meal of breakfast-y things, almost as an apology for being the reasons we're up so late and needing nourishment. The rest of this week promises to hold many more lasts, and they fill me with a great sense of accomplishment and at the same time a sort of sad longing. I'm sure that anyone who has gone through a transition in their life can empathize with this strange duality in emotions.

Strangely it was the realization that I've been back from France for a whole year, and neglected my old blog for even longer, that led me realize all of these lasts I'm experiencing right now are headed directly toward even more firsts. Some of them have already happened, such as my first application to live in an apartment (and acceptance!), accepting my first real job, and writing my first new blog post! More will come and I will try my hardest to write up witty narrations of each new adventure that comes my way.

Until next time, Peace.