I cancelled my cable when I moved and am now living that Netflix and Hulu Plus life. When I made the change I thought I’d watch WAY less TV because my options would be scarce (they barely even carry Bravo shows on Hulu!) but I was DEAD WRONG. I’m basically a full-time binge-watcher now. I’m covered in the “everything” from the bagels, I am surrounded by Caffeine Free Diet Coke cans, my dog keeps looking at me like, “really, sis?”
The greatest gift that these unlimited limited options have given me is a show by the name of Shark Tank. It’s five super rich people on a panel deciding whether or not they want to invest an assload of money into a variety of contestant’s businesses. It’s great.
On the panel is Mark Cuban and his haunting schoolboy smile, Barbara Corcoran and her glazed Veneers (does it not look and sound like she JUST took a bite of cream cheese?), Daymond John the genius behind Fubu, Kevin O’Leary AKA Mr. Wonderful who plays the heavy and Lori Greiner from QVC. She has over a hundred patents which I guess is a huge deal. And then there’s Roger Herjavec, the son of an immigrant factory worker who created a digital empire worth millions.
I have actual feelings (largely positive) about each of the judges because I’m past the point of undressing them via their TV-ready personalities and (YOU GOT IT!) shark-like negotiation skills. I watch the show and think about their childhoods, what lead them to be so shark-y, what makes them tick and what makes them cry.
Just recently I realized that Herjavec is the most fascinating Shark in the tank. He’s typically a nice guy and attempts to be somewhat of a joker. His behavior around the rest of the group is what gives his truest colors away and oh man, there’s some darkness going on in there.
Let’s say there’s a contestant who is presenting his new line of bath salts for men. The packaging is sleak, minimalist and the man-oriented scents (like bacon-Christmas Tree) pack a punch. The dominant guy’s guy Marc Cuban has already removed himself from the negotiation process after laughing in the contestants face. Barbara has removed herself because she can’t imagine her seventeen year old son using such a product. Mr. Wonderful is still in but tugging on every thread in the contestant’s business proposal. Before taking himself out, Daymond makes a joke about not wanting to “deck the halls with bows of bacon.” The panel erupts with laughter. Herjavec is the last one laughing once of the rest of the panel is down. He looks to the contestant and says something like, “Screw Christmas Vacation, you’re talking Christmas Baca-tion!”
His joke is met with a smattering of pitty giggles by Lori and Beth. He adjusts his jacket, looks down at his notebook and asks the contestant a practical question about long-term growth.
These are the moments that haunt me. It doesn’t matter that Herjavec has earned enough money to keep his grandkid’s grandkids in private schools and summer homes. In his heart, he is still the son of an immigrant factory worker. He has never learned how to feel fully accepted and confident in his persona because he’s still working overtime to be told he belongs. And that’s just fucking sad, man. It really says it all.
Anyway, I think Shark Tank is on tonight for people with regular cable, so watch it if you’re around and let me know if you see the mix of hunger and sadness in Roger Herjavec’s eyes. I’d also like to know what you think Lori’s had done and if you have no doubt that Mr. Wonderful is a serial cheater. I’d really like feedback on my theory that Cuban is basically Patrick Bateman with a family, a loud personality and an ever-present grin. Also— how gay is Daymond?
“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”
“There are no heroes…in life, the monsters win.”
―George R.R. Martin
“Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.”
“But these weren’t the kind of monsters that had tentacles and rotting skin, the kind a seven-year-old might be able to wrap his mind around–they were monsters with human faces, in crisp uniforms, marching in lockstep, so banal you don’t recognize them for what they are until it’s too late.”
―Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
“A monster. You and your friends, all of you. Pretty monsters. It’s a stage all girls go through. If you’re lucky you get through it without doing any permanent damage to yourself or anyone else.”
“Not all the monsters have fangs.”
―J. A. London
“Adults are the real monsters.”
“The monstrous act by definition demands a monster.”
It struck me the other night that if I didn’t look in the mirror, I would never feel fat. How I only just realized this I don’t know. Now don’t get me wrong, I know I’m not fat, in fact I’m quite slim for someone my age and height, logically I know that, but like most girls out there I too have “fat days.”
You think that sounds ridiculous, right? Well yes you are right, it is ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real and it’s not relevant. And I know I’m not alone in this. So before you tell me to shut up because I’m a model and therefore I must be skinny and all that bullshit, that doesn’t mean I’m not just like almost every other girl out there who is, at times, insecure about their body.
Isn’t it interesting how what we see in our reflection can determine our relationship with how we feel about the way we look. I say “how we feel” because it really is just how we feel. For many women (too many women) it’s these feelings which form the basis of what we believe is reality. What we see is what we are. We feel fat therefore we are fat. How ridiculous is that?
There’s a scale of extremities in reaction too; for some it’s a fleeting moment and they just brush it off, for others it’s enough to ruin a day, and for far too many it’s enough to send them into a tailspin of anxiety. Why? Because they think their legs look fat, or their arms are flabby, or their hips are too big. But realistically, are they any of these things? I’m guessing probably not, or at least not nearly to the extent they believe themselves to be.
My revelation really got me thinking about the topic of body image and young women. With summer just around the corner in the Southern Hemisphere and girls everywhere declaring war on their bodies before bikini season hits, I thought it timely to open a dialogue about some of the things I’ve learned, observed, and realized in my seven years as a model and 24 years as a girl on the subject of body image.
Please bear in mind while reading this that these are just my opinions and observations based on my own experiences and the experiences of those around me; in other words, this is based on MY world and there are, of course, always exceptions. Remember also that I have spent the last seven years working in the modeling and fashion industries (in New Zealand, Australia, Europe, and the United States) to some degree, both of which thrive on a superficial level. I don’t necessarily mean this as a negative thing, but it is a fact in this type of work that looks are everything. Who knows, maybe if I was an accountant or a lawyer or a vet I would feel differently. Either way, these are things I’ve noticed and learned along the way which you may or may not agree with.
Another point to note — I’m mainly referring to body image issues in otherwise “normal” and “healthy” young women. Even using these words ‘healthy’ and “normal” is fraught with tension because to some extent that’s subjective and open to entire debate on its own (and yes I do think you can be bigger and still be healthy — but that’s a talk for another day), but you know what I mean for the purposes of this discussion.
Okay, so these are some of the things I have learned about body image over the years.
Mirrors are anything but a reflection of who you are.
Mirrors, money, men. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. No, but really, mirrors are the root of so much negativity related to body image. What you see in your reflection may or may not be what you are in reality. Learn the difference. Be rational. Chances are you’re not anywhere near as “fat” as you think you are.
It’s all in your head.
You create how you think your body looks in reality with thoughts based on irrational feelings which you believe to be facts. Okay, that’s a mouthful but you get my point. Stop blowing it up in your head and drop the negative words. Change your thoughts, change your behavior. Why not say I look fucking awesome in this dress and wear that confidence as well as you wear that LBD. That’s looking and feeling great!
There is no such thing as normal.
How can there be when everybody (and every body) is so different? Yes there are parameters of healthy, but I don’t think it’s fair to say this is normal or that is normal. Change the dialogue. Drop the word normal and replace it with the world healthy otherwise as soon as you fall outside that category your negative body talk is amplified. Healthy is aspirational (and healthy doesn’t mean skinny), normal is just stupid.
Skinnyfat definitely exists.
This is something I have noticed a lot in the modeling world, you get a lot of girls who are very thin but they’re not in good shape. They have no muscle tone and they don’t eat well. Just because someone is skinny doesn’t mean they’re toned (or healthy). Maybe it should actually be renamed skinnysoft. They’re ‘soft.’ It exists.
Boys think you’re either skinny or you’re fat.
I can’t tell you how many guys I’ve met who describe girls as either “skinny” or “fat” (yes, I have met a lot of douchebags). To them there’s no normal, healthy, toned etc. It’s just the one of two options; skinny (i.e. has a thigh gap) or fat (size 10+). This is so beyond ridiculous and it makes me so mad. Every time I ever hear a male make a comment like this I call them up on it and point out how in fact that girl is what I would call healthy/slim and then proceed to tell them how its comments like these that perpetuate body image issues in women. At this point they usually shut up. Of course there are a lot of wonderful men out there who would never speak like this, but I’m referring to the shallow boys (you can still be a boy at 35).
People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
This is mainly aimed at guys, especially those who are overweight, but unless you’ve got the body of a male Dolce & Gabbana model please do not comment on that girl’s “fat ass” when you look like you just ate an entire bucket of KFC. Thanks. And likewise don’t call a model fat when a. she’s anything but, and b. she’s a lot smaller than you’ll ever be. Just because she’s a model doesn’t mean she’s perfect. We’re all human. We all have flaws.
Never date a guy who makes you feel insecure about your body or comments on what you eat.
This is pretty self explanatory but your boyfriend (or girlfriend) is supposed to make you feel like the you’re the best person in the entire world. If they make you feel bad about yourself, especially when you have nothing to worry about, or they nitpick at everything you eat then please drop their ass before you get a complex. You want the guy who wants to have a three course meal with you and brings you ice-cream when your sad, not the guy who says “are you sure you want to eat that?” Douche.
Models do eat.
Nothing irks me more than when people assume models don’t eat, or even worse when they make stupid jokes like “oh you wouldn’t eat that because you’re a model.” I mean, PUH-LEASE. Sure there are a few girls here and there who take it to an extreme (more often than not the international runway models who are subject to minuscule measurement restrictions), but of the countless models I know (especially in the Australasian market) and in the numerous model apartments I lived in internationally I can assure you that the girls do eat. Their eating patterns may be a bit different to your average person’s (when you’re earning that much to look a certain way of course you’re going to watch what you eat a little more carefully than someone who doesn’t have to parade around in lingerie to make money) but for the majority of girls I know, this is not an issue. Case in point: have you ever been backstage at a fashion show? Put out some food out and it’s like moths to a flame. Fun fact: I would say in New Zealand the most common form of food given to the models is pizza. Do they eat it? Hell yes, they do.
Hangry is a real thing.
Hangry = hungry + angry. Models become very hangry if you don’t feed them. Please feed the models!
Cellulite is a fact of life.
Ew is what you’re probably thinking. I’ll admit, I hate cellulite as much as the next girl, or should I say every girl. “I love cellulite” — said no one EVER. But do you know what I’ve learned? It’s a fact of life, so get over it. The way I see it is you have two options: either deal with it or feel like shit every time you take a shower or go to the beach or have sex or try on lingerie or whatever else requires you to bare all. Sure there are things you can do to reduce the appearance of it — eat well, drink lots of water, body brush, exercise etc. — and in fact all these things fall under my ‘deal with it’ category, but the fact of the matter is that it all comes down to your fat cells and your genes. So, despite your best efforts at reducing its visibility, you still might be stuck with dimpled skin. In this case, rather than dreading the fact that you can’t wear your opaque stockings at the beach, just get over it and realize that at least half (probably more but this is just an estimated guess) the females around you are in the same bumpy boat. Skinny (models included), slim, healthy, overweight — no body type is exempt and I’ve seen it all, and chances are you have too. Eat well, exercise, and drink plenty of water and the rest is up to Mother Nature…
Boobs are awesome.
I used to hate having big boobs. I can remember being 14 and 15 and being mortified by the fact that I had a C-cup, and feeling even worse when people would state the obvious. Duh, you think I didn’t notice I had these massive lumps of fat glued to my chest. Cue some serious insecurity. It wasn’t really until I spent time in Europe as a 22 year old that I actually started to appreciate being genetically blessed in that department. What changed? The fact that every girl I came across seemed to want big boobs or have a boob job certainly helped shift my perception. Yes, I needed that validation, but that was enough to change my mindset and I’ve been happy ever since. Oh and make the most of it, not only are there are plenty of clothes out there that will only look good on you, but guys think your boobs are goddamn sexy.
Don’t judge a book by its cover and yes you can be skinny and eat whatever you want.
Just because someone is slim doesn’t mean they’re healthy, just because someone is bigger doesn’t mean they’re unhealthy, and just because someone is skinny (like model skinny) doesn’t mean they don’t eat. I know countless girls who are in great shape, some even super thin, and can eat whatever they want. Do you know what the difference is? These girls tend to have a healthier relationship with food than anyone else I know. Take note of what I said — they can eat whatever they want. Therein lies the difference — what they want is not mountains of crap. These are the kinds of girls who actually listen to their bodies and they eat accordingly; if they’re hungry, they’ll eat. They eat a balanced diet and tend to make healthy choices because that’s what their body craves. They don’t deny themselves of treats; if they want cake, they’ll eat cake). They certainly don’t have emotional binges, however they will sometimes have a blowout (had a few too many treats at a shared afternoon tea — no biggie. IT’S OKAY!). They also exercise to a normal degree. On the flipside, I also know a lot of girls who may have a so-called ‘banging body’ but they are far from healthy. You know the types — they’re the super strict, no carbs, no dessert types. We all know that doesn’t last. Fuck that.
Exercise should never be a chore.
Exercise should be about feeling good and being healthy. It should be something you look forward to and enjoy and pumps you full of energy. It should not be a chore. How many girls do you know who dread going to the gym or force themselves to exercise even though their body is telling them to rest? My advice: find something you love and do it for the right reasons. Don’t force yourself to do it because you feel like you have to. I think exercise is crucial to a healthy lifestyle, but in saying that I think the motivation behind it is what makes it a healthy vs. unhealthy. Think about it.
Models are the worst gauges of a healthy body.
Whatever you do, do not compare yourself to the 16-year-old girl in the magazine who’s barely been through puberty when you’re 26 and wondering why you don’t look like she does in a bikini, or those shorts, or that dress. Chances are when she’s 26 her body won’t look much like it did in those pictures. Don’t forget it!
And lastly, I’ve never personally met a single girl who’s genuinely said “I love my body!”
I left this until last because I think it’s the most disturbing realization of the lot. Maybe you know someone who can say with 100% confidence they love their body, but to this day I am yet to come across such a person. To me, that’s pretty devastating.
Every single female I know has insecurities to some degree. Of course there are the kind of girls who don’t like a certain body part but they get over it and it’s all okay, but the fact is they’re still dissatisfied with something, to some extent or another. What do you think? For most young women to truly love their bodies 100% — is it possible? I’m not talking about just being satisfied or comfortable, but really, truly embracing exactly what they are so that it’s not even a case of having “flaws” and brushing them off, but genuinely not even seeing any “flaws” in the first place. Body beautiful? I’m not sure, but I’m hopeful…
Well, there you have it. Women are crazy and irrational when it comes to their bodies. So, what’s my advice?
Firstly, take a step back (from the mirror too). Be realistic. Listen to your body and ask yourself honest questions — how do you feel physically? How are your energy levels? Do you ‘feel’ healthy? Are you exercising because you want to or because you feel like you have to? Do you realistically think you’re going to gain the 2kg you swear you did because you ate the whole packet of biscuits?
If you’re craving something, just eat it. It’s not like you’re going to be lying on your death bed thinking man, I’m glad I ate those grapes instead of chocolate cake. In fact, chances are you’ll be like damn, I wish I ate more cake. Just eat the fucking cake.
Maintain a “healthy” lifestyle — eat well (that is eat a balanced diet and don’t deprive yourself of treats. I like to think of it as an ‘everything in moderation’ kind of thing), exercise for vitality, make sure you get enough rest, don’t smoke (ew!), and try not to drink too much (it’s hard, I know).
Tell your friends how ridiculous they’re being when they make irrational and incorrect statements about their bodies. Don’t turn around by saying something equally as stupid about yours.
And finally, tell that guy to please shut the fuck up when he tells you that maybe you shouldn’t have that ice cream, or when he calls a skinny girl fat. Or throw your drink on him for being a pig. I would.
I’m at that point in my life where everyone I know is dating someone and I’m over here contemplating whether or not it would be illegal to marry wine.
It’s like going fishing with all your friends and one by one, they all catch something, some are impressive, some are just meh, but either way, they catch something. Turns out, if I don’t truly want a fish, it’s going to be even harder for me to catch something, especially since I am by ZERO means a natural fisherman. The fact of the matter is, fishing is hard. It takes time and patience, there’s a technique, and an art to it even, but you didn’t really want to go fishing in the first place so now you are stuck holding your pole halfheartedly hoping to catch something just so that they won’t all take selfies with their fish together, without you.
I have this serious FOMO nagging at me all the time. I’m trying to smile and be happy for everyone but I’m actually chipping away inside knowing that this is the first step where everyone starts leaving you behind. My dad was always paranoid that it was going to happen in middle school with algebra.
Everyone is figuring their life out and I’m just trying to cling to my youth as much as I can. I am straight up Peter Pan status at this point. I swear if I watched this movie now I would pretty much be bawling the entire time. I know I don’t want to be in a relationship right now. The mere thought of it gives me the heebie-jeebies because we’re at that age where people are starting to get “serious” about their lives. Not just with their significant others, but also in their jobs, and their hobbies.
I don’t have my life figured out and I shouldn’t feel the pressure to. It’s not like I’m a mess that’s falling apart at the seams, I just don’t have a specific plan. Moreover, I don’t want a plan. I think it’s silly to think that my life is going to turn out a certain way just because I say it will.
There’s definitely a slippery slope of adulthood. These people are going to start hanging out with more people that have their crap figured out, because they’ll be able to relate to them. You know, they’ll be able to talk to each other about their mortgages and health insurance and last night’s episode of the West Wing. And I’m still going to be watching Phineas and Ferb in my robot onesie talking about Hilary Duff’s new album (true story.) They are going to start talking about their weddings together and how their kids are driving them crazy while I end up buying Scooby Doo fruit snacks in bulk and binge watching sitcoms while being forced to babysit so that they can have “just one night of freedom.” Ironically, with every additional time I watch all ten seasons of Friends, the fewer I may have in real life. Sometimes I feel like if I don’t board this “adulthood” train I’m going to end up getting the short end of the stick a lot.
It happened with drinking. In college I didn’t drink until I was 21. It was a personal choice and I’m glad I did because it proved to me that I had some manner of self-control in my life. But that meant for the first 3 years I was watching everybody go shopping for an outfit, or do each other’s hair and makeup, or take group pictures looking gorgeous and maybe one pity picture with me in my Christmas old navy pajama bottoms in any given season. It’s even worse when I decided to go. I usually ended up being sober sister who gets to hold everyone’s hair back and take pictures of people all night long while having to deal with people who think that you are judging them for being drunk. I felt obligated to go to clubs or parties even though that “wasn’t my scene” at the time. It was either go to the party, or not be able to relate to your friends. This is an exceptionally tough thing for a very extraverted person to make — by the way. I couldn’t count the number of times I felt like everyone was hanging out without me and eventually gave up. I had to get on the bandwagon otherwise it would speed off without me.
To this day, my biggest fear isn’t that everyone’s going to start going to symphonies together and I’m going to end up at a Ke$ha concert alone — but rather that I end up going to symphonies and never buy that Ke$ha concert ticket in the first place.
I don’t want to abandon my youth at the expense of not being able to relate to my friends. It seems like a pretty unfair trade.
It’s definitely cool to be classy sometimes. Like be able to go to brunch and ordering mimosas. Or eat artisan cheeses and crackers from whole foods. My fear is the one day when doing things like that stops being special. When you do “grown up things” so often that it stops being a novelty and just integrated into your life.
I feel like the opposite happens to people who think they are grown-ups. One day they wake up and they do something that reminds them of their youth and they feel special. Like they’ll go see Tangled in theaters and then be like “haha, hashtag still a child.” I would rather be a child that does grown up things every so often, than a grown up that does childish things. The latter just seems way more sad and depressing than the other.
I just don’t like the idea of this unspoken social pressure to grow up. I shouldn’t be forced to do things just because all of my friends are doing them. And I know what people say, find better friends. The thing is I love my friends. More than anything. They are actually great and would never consciously make the decision to leave me behind, I just feel like it’s a natural part of life. There’s always the idea that one day people are going to look down on me for not having a clue what I’m doing with my life. I just know that the only thing you can count on is things not going according to plan, so it just doesn’t make sense for me to bother with one. Getting “serious” and “buckling down” for some reason seems like the most immature decision a person can make. One day a cup of coffee is going to spill all over that plan and it’s going to be the most difficult thing to ever deal with. As Jodi Picoult once said, “There are two ways to be happy: improve your reality, or lower your expectations.”
I know I’m being dramatic. I know my friends are not going to abandon me. I just can’t shake the feeling that this is all the first step — the tipping point- so to speak, and I’m just not ready to admit what this really all could really mean — that I, once again, will be the shining example of an extroverted only child with nobody to play scrabble with. Compromising my youth just doesn’t seem like something I’m prepared for and I struggle with the concept that everyone one around me is eager to make that sacrifice already.