Category Archives: Musings and Thoughts

The Skinny Within Us

“Help!There’s a skinny person inside of me trying to get out!”

A phrase, similar to the 1980’s Life Call commercial depicting an elderly woman exclaiming, “Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”

Why do we cry out in agony, as though our curves are cloaks of doom, needing to be shed?

How sad to go through life convinced that our bodies are not our own. To feel shame and the desire to discard our physical vessels like unwanted clothing. At what point did our self-loathing begin? And at what point do we find our way back to self-love?

There are countless reasons why our “skinny” body may have disappeared (if she was ever even there!):

  • Physical maturity
  • Marriage
  • Childbirth
  • Divorce
  • Health
  • Various life circumstances that evolved and changed, therefore evolving and changing us

Perhaps the thinner bodies which once existed for us humbly and respectfully stepped aside in reverence to the greater, richer, well-rounded person we became through our life experiences. Rather than view our physical transformation as unacceptable, we should proudly display each curve as evidence of the milestones we have reached.  Like the rings of a tree, which grow and expand throughout its existence, so should our curves  represent our accomplishments, wisdom and grandeur.

Consider this: When walking through a forest, what type of tree captures your attention ~ the tiny sapling just emerging from the ground or the mighty oak, casting its lush shadow across the forest floor, proffering comfort, stability and shelter?

The skinny within you may be gone, but don’t fret over your curves, Beautiful One. Instead, spread your branches and revel in your  lusciousness!

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The Impact of Misrepresentation

“In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.” ~ missrepresentation.org

Attending a special one-night screening of the documentary ‘Miss Representation’ last week, I experienced tears streaming down my face, not once, but several times. Many times. Countless times. Perhaps I was constantly crying, I’m not sure. I was mentally charged and emotionally moved, and my chest hurt trying to contain it all.

I’d known beforehand that this film was important; I’d read several blurbs about it and watched the trailer and noticed a connection to my personal mission of changing body image perception. So when I learned that ‘Miss Representation’ was showing in town for a night, I went online and purchased a ticket that very moment. But I had no idea how truly poignant the documentary would be until it played before me at a sold-out theater packed with women, girls and even a few men.

This film went far deeper than the body image concept… much, much deeper. Within the first ten minutes, my heart was racing and tears of frustration and compassion were falling, sparked by the initial montage of degrading female imagery spinning across the screen and a teenage girl discussing how lost she feels in society ~ confused as to who she is, what’s expected of her and where she fits into any of it.

The gross misrepresentation of females in the media is perhaps far more prevalent than any of us realize. And our young people are exposed to it. All the time.

“In one week American teenagers spend 31 hours watching TV, 17 hours listening to music, 3 hours watching movies, 4 hours reading magazines, 10 hours online. That’s 10 hours and 45 minutes of media consumption a day.” ~ missrepresentation.org

That’s an absurd amount of time. I have a 13-year-old son; I am just as concerned for him as I am for young girls ~ what he’s being exposed to, how he’s digesting the nonsense, what his perception of a woman is. In our home, we don’t watch much television, and we have countless, open conversations, so I know that, as a mother, I am doing my part in keeping him focused on how to filter through the bullshit. But I can only plant the seed and hope that it grows large enough to overshadow what he’ll be exposed to out in the “real” world.

In the ‘Miss Representation’ film, a couple of middle-to-high-school-age boys who were interviewed strongly denounced objectifying women, stating that they fully support  and respect their female counterparts as equals, capable of holding important positions in society. But how many other young boys/men do you think hold similar ideals…?

How do we counteract what is thrust in the faces of not only our young people but the entire American population?

Some suggestions:

  • Turn off the television; Make a conscious effort to prevent media trash from filtering into the home.
  • Focus on programs and films that refrain from exploiting female characters (although this is becoming more and more difficult to find)
  • Refuse to purchase print media that caters to sexism and false body image, especially entertainment tabloids.
  • Promote positive reinforcement in your sons, daughters, nieces,  nephews and grandchildren, whenever and wherever you can; Help them to realize their own self-worth; Hold open and honest conversations about what is being presented.
  • Mentor a youth; Teach empowerment; Coach a young girl in how to become a leader.
  • Support females in political, business and other leadership positions.
  • Visit the missrepresentation.org website and pledge your commitment to changing current distorted societal standards.
  • Plan on watching the film with people in your life when it becomes available to you and have discussions about it. 

For other inspiring ideas, please visit the ‘Take Action’ page:

http://www.missrepresentation.org/take-action/

View the film trailer here:

Remember, you DO have the power to promote change in the world!

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Tickling The Tassels

In a continuing quest to expand my horizons, and because I always appreciate the sensual things in life, I’ve now ventured into the intriguing world of burlesque. Yes, you read it right!

burlesque

“Neo-Burlesque”, to be precise.

Neo-Burlesque (or “New Burlesque”) is the revival and updating of the traditional burlesque performance. Though based on the traditional Burlesque art, the new form encompasses a wider range of performance styles; Neo-burlesque acts can be anything from classic striptease to modern dance to theatrical mini-dramas to comedic mayhem. As with the earlier burlesque, neo-burlesque is more focused on the “tease” in “striptease” than the “strip”. Audiences for neo-burlesque shows tend to be mixed gender, age, race, and class. ~ Wikipedia

Last summer, my girlfriend and I discussed partaking in either a burlesque or belly dance class ~ something provocative that would enliven our sense of femininity and nudge us from our comfort zones. As if on cue, a daily coupon special for Vivenne VaVoom’s School of Burlesque appeared in my friend’s email box. Coincidence? Perhaps. But lately, it seems that many of my experiences point in a common direction ~ one of living the Enchanted Zaftig life.

Despite our initial enthusiasm, for over 6 months the purchased coupon sat in our respective inboxes, collecting dust; for some reason, neither of us took the initiative to put it into action. I can’t attribute the hesitation to anything concrete, other than we are both single moms with full-time jobs and not a whole lot of breathing room to play. It wasn’t until the New Year rolled around that we mutually decided it was time to get our dance on.

(I should insert here that I am not a dancer. I do not possess the moves nor the skills to properly represent on the dance floor. However I AM a sensual person, so learning to burlesque is not quite as daunting as, say, hip hop might be.) 

My goal going into this project is to assume a fun and positive outlook and to glean something entertaining from the experience.  

Class #1: The fine art of using the feather boa as a seductive and playful tool.

Not as easy as it sounds, especially when twirling it around your leg like a snake while attempting to remain graceful. As the only students in the class that evening, my girlfriend and I stood in front of a wall of mirrors and witnessed our inadequacies while the lovely and talented Vivienne VaVoom demonstrated her technique with effortless agility. Not allowing myself any negative thoughts, I swirled and twirled and seduced that wall of mirrors with my feather boa like nobody’s business. All the while, a smile of giddiness played across my face, because, despite my lack of coordination and finesse, I was having fun with it (and, hey, burlesque performers smile and wink at their audience anyway!)

My girlfriend and I left that first class breathless from the workout and excited for the next one. I was sore for days afterwards in places I didn’t know could hurt.

Class #2: The fine art of using the chair as a performance platform.

Who knew a chair could be used in so many different ways during a burlesque performance? Not just for sitting on, but for kicking a leg up on, laying on, exposing the roundness of a thigh on, or giving the captive audience a peek at undergarments on. For this class, my girlfriend and I decided to “doll up” a bit in our appearance to make the experience more authentic (plus, it was easier on the eyes, viewing our reflections in that great wall of mirrors.) My friend even donned high heels, the brave soul, which served to accentuate her curves and give her a graceful height as she moved. It was during this time that I came to the conclusion that I do not have the body type for a proper burlesque performance ~ I am too short and stubby and round around the middle ~ but even so, I have great boobs and  the determination to work my body to the best of my ability. Enthusiasm can go a long way. 🙂

 

We practiced throwing a foot up on our chairs so many times that evening that my hips and thighs burned. But this is how I see it: if I’m going to partake in a rigorous workout, I much prefer it to be done with lipstick on and the tune of “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” playing in the background than in a noisy, smelly gym!

 

 

Stay tuned for details of upcoming classes ~ it’s sure to become more and more interesting! (including the fine art of striptease and how to twirl those tassels!)

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A Zaftig Warrior

When I first had the inkling to create a blog about life and love as a full-figured woman, I had no concrete agenda outside of sharing my writing, my experiences and some random thoughts. If anyone cared to read it, great. If no one cared to read it, oh well. It was something I needed to do, for me.

After my divorce, blogging became a positive outlet, a part of the healing process in which to coax a broken girl from her shell and rid her of the reservations and fears she’d been plagued with for such a long time. Additionally, blogging held the gift of connecting with others: to uplift, to inspire, to ignite thought outside of the realm of my own little universe.

I suppose that’s why anyone blogs, isn’t it?

But I believe Enchanted Zaftig has become more than that.

As I have stated before, in my adult life I haven’t dwelled too deeply on my weight nor allowed it to adversely affect the quality of my life. Of course I’ve had my moments of doubt, but I do not complain, gripe or fall into depression because I am not a size 12. I haven’t been a size 12 since I was 12. And it’s ok. 

Initially, my blog was not intended to be a political platform for fat issues; it was intended to demonstrate how a zaftig woman can do anything she wants in life ~ intermixed with sensuality, poetry, personal musings and encouraging words for others. Although this is still prevalent, somewhere along the line I veered farther down the fat agenda path, attributed mainly to the ridiculous stigmas and societal imbalances which scream for change. 

 

Now, donning the armor of a zaftig warrior, I’m joining in on the cause to educate and dispel body myths, because I’ve seen and heard too much pain regarding it ~ from friends, from coworkers, from blog readers, from a plethora of other sources. Low self-esteem rears its constant, ugly head everywhere.

People are hating their bodies and feeling inadequate, and it’s got to stop.

 

So how do we halt it…?

By this. By continuing endeavors to promote positive body image and healthy attitudes. By having conversations focused around affecting change. By denouncing false marketing campaigns created to deceive and manipulate our perceptions. By embracing ourselves and discovering our true worth, regardless of our physical appearances or the stigmas placed upon us.

Don your armor.

Join the fight.

Dispel the myths. 

 

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Dampening of the New Year Spirit

When December 31st rolled around, I intended to write a blog post about my New Year’s resolutions and what I hope to accomplish in 2012.

Then I lost momentum for it.

Being bombarded with weight loss options on all media fronts at this time of year has left me irritated and disheartened. Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, Lipozene, Alli ~ all these weight-loss companies permeating the television, radio and magazine advertisements. There is little respite from the madness, no matter where you turn. And too many people fall into the hype.

Weight Watchers commercial ~ Jennifer Hudson

I’ve got to lose weight.”
“I put on too many pounds during the holidays.”
“I’m a fat pig.”
” Jennifer Hudson and Janet Jackson and Marie Osmond all look so fabulous.”
” It’s my resolution every year to lose weight ,and this year I’m going to succeed!”

 

A good friend of mine revealed that when she was in 2nd grade, her teacher asked the students to share what their New Year’s resolutions were. Although she was not overweight, she quickly answered, “To go on a diet!” At the time, she couldn’t figure out why her classmates laughed ~ she was merely repeating what she thought everyone resolved to do at the beginning of the year. 

“Lose weight, lose weight, lose weight!”

It is ingrained in us, year after year, like an incessant neon sign.

Here’s what I think should be ingrained in us:

Improve yourself, as a human being, with compassion, positive thinking and opportunities to impact and contribute to the world.

 

Certainly, being healthy is extremely important. But fretting over how many pounds are on the scale…? Counter-productive.

Recently, I read a fat-acceptance blog post about one woman’s resolution to be absolutely fat in 2012: fat everywhere, all of the time, in everyone’s face, whether they like it or not. The concept possesses some merit where body acceptance is concerned, but it misses the mark, swinging too much in the opposite direction.

Why must we be absolutely fat or absolutely thin?

Why can’t we just be absolutely brilliant, beautiful and captivating as we are?

Resolutions be damned, people. 

* Be extraordinary where you’re at *

 

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Insecurity and Introspection

“Striving to live an extraordinary life, even through ordinary circumstances.”
 

Tomorrow, I turn 42 years old.

Not a significant number, by any means, and yet, I’ve been feeling intgrospective and a bit sad. 

Whether it’s related to my birthday or not is unclear. I could blame it on the lunar eclipse. Or this season of cold weather, slight loneliness and a holiday cheer that feels elusive despite the fact that I’m surrounded by festivity. 

Perhaps, though, it’s just simple mid-life musings and my positive attitude shifting a notch.

I have never considered myself to be affected by winter blues or seasonal depression, so I can’t put my finger on why I’ve been so blasé the last couple of weeks. But this isn’t like me… and others have noticed.

“Are you doing ok? It’s not like you not to be smiling!”
 

Which is true. I naturally exude a loving, positive energy, and it’s rare not to see a smile upon my face. I keep my chin up, roll with the punches and strive to uplift those who surround me. I have always been this way, since childhood. My mother calls it my “gift.”

And yet, through the last couple of weeks, I’ve caught myself criticizing my reflection in the mirror ~ discontent with my weight, my hair, my overall appearance. Feeling fat. Feeling ugly. Feeling unloved. Subsequently, I end up disappointed and angry at myself for having such thoughts, because I know better than to wallow in trivial self-doubt.

Life is much larger than my ridiculous personal misgivings.

At the same time, however, I feel somewhat entitled to have these negative perceptions. I feel empowered to dwell in my hesitations and depressions on occasion, because they allow me to reevaluate where I’m at, what I’m doing and where it is I want to go. Without these introspective moments, I might miss out on the opportunity to evolve and grow.

There is an occasional misconception that life is all sunshine and roses
And that we must float upon clouds and kiss butterflies all day
Wearing infectious, unfaltering smiles upon our faces
While masking the emotional barriers we hurdle over.
But even the most upbeat person faces moments of doubt and insecurity
And it’s natural and perfectly all right, because those are the moments 
That strengthen our character and offer opportunities for change. ~ E.Z.
 

Yesterday, a good friend reminded me that I am an asset to this world. I am thankful for our conversation, because it helped me place all of this in a better perspective: treat moments of inner struggle and self-doubt as learning opportunities. Grow from them and know that introspection is healthy and beneficial to overall well-being.

And as the saying goes:

 I know it will.

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On Becoming A Pin-up Girl (Part II)

“The reason you don’t see a good representation of full-figured women on our website or in our studio is because, more often than not, those women won’t give us permission to do so […] and they are the very subjects who look the best in boudoir photographs.”

~ Melissa Lazar, deBoudoir, LLC 

How unfortunate to experience a moment of liberation and beauty and yet be too embarrassed to share the results! Zaftig ladies, why not allow your captured moment to be shared with other women who might, as a result, feel uplifted by your show of courage? Or, better yet, be inspired themselves to shed their hesitations, slip into something cute and sexy and embrace their femininity for an afternoon ~ or for an eternity, even? 

This is why, when asked by Melissa while perusing my portfolio if I would give deBoudoir permission to use some of my photos on their website, I replied with an exuberant, “YES!” Because if there is even a slight chance that I might inspire women of size while simultaneously breaking down societal walls of prejudice and shame, then by all means… let me contribute!

 

 

(On a side note: As of yet, I do not have the bulk of photos from this shoot, but as soon as they are available to me, I will post more. So stay tuned!)

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