Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: June 2012 (page 1 of 5)

She looks wonderful tonight

Twitter exploded in conversation this week around teen girls and image thanks to the bravery of a young woman asking magazines to tone down the airbrushing (to follow the conversation: #KeepItReal). The stats tossed out in support of the movement make me want to cry, shout or find a teen girl and give her a hug.

  • The number one magic wish for young girls age 11-17 is to be thinner. (@PigtailPals)
  • 80% of 10-year-old girls in the U.S. say they’ve been on a diet. (@Feministing)
  • 78% of 17 yr-old girls are unhappy with their bodies (@RepresentPledge)
  • 53% of 13 year old girls are unhappy with their bodies. That number increases to 78% by age 17 (@PigtailPals)

Now, we all know that 87% of statistics are made up on the spot. However, I think we can use studies to help color the picture where we already see shape. 
But the challenge: to be part of the solution. I agree with the “68% of women strongly agree that “media & advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most woman can’t ever achieve.” (@Shisham).

And we all know I’d happily throw corporate greed and decision making under the bus. But corporate greed and decision stems from consumer spending. We can’t angrily shake our fist in the air while slipping them the $3.75 per issue and not take ownership. How we act informs what is published – not solely, but it’s part of the equation. 
So how do we treat eating and weight and image in our homes? What remarks to do we give to our daughters, mothers and friends? How do we emphasize health, celebrate successes and encourage confidence in our bodies? What was the last complement you gave another woman about their looks that didn’t involve asking where they purchased a product? (“The cut of that dress looks great on you!” differs largely from “I love green! Is this the new Old Navy Classic Tee?”)
It’s not a secret that I’ve changed my eating habits. And honestly, I begrudgingly succumbed to the idea for the sake of my baby’s buns. I’ve really missed yummy treats. A byproduct of my grainless lifestyle cost me several trips to the store as my pants kept falling off. I dropped about 3-4 pants sizes through the process (keep in mind I was less than 6 months postpartum as a starting size and I started working out pretty regularly in this time as well). My physical appearance noticeably changed. 
I’ve watched others’ reaction to my reduction like a science experiment, and what I found fascinated me. I could put tally marks around different responses, the fewest being along the lines of “You look really great // you lost some weight” and most common: … … chirp, chirp… 
My fortunate position in this experiment lies in that I don’t care what people think. I’m not “loosing weight.” I can’t really help it, other than to eat twice as much trail mix (which gets pretty expensive). So my eating decisions depend little on how others perceive my “success.”  
For a large majority of those seeking to attain a particular body shape or size, positive reinforcement plays a role. And I wonder if it’s opposite our natural inclination. Let’s do some assumptive thinking to get to my point. 
What if people’s perceptions of my weight loss were amiss, assuming I’d done something unhealthy or with less upright motives? At the most severe: what if they thought I was anorexic? 
And what if they (somewhat rightly) thought: I don’t want to encourage this behavior. 
And what if they thought: I don’t want to complement her on something that might encourage her to continue down this path. So logically, “if I say nothing, she won’t get the positive reinforcement and perhaps stop.” 
And I wonder: for someone who struggles with the image issues, how would the lack of feedback be interpreted? My guess: try harder. 
Now this theory depends largely on several set of assumptions and lacks true scientific study. But I think it makes sense. 
So here’s my small little suggestion to help change the tide of body image of young girls: remind them how great they look. Don’t judge their motives. Don’t feed the monster of starvation by withholding love and encouragement. Lay down your pride and congratulate someone who has met a goal or found reward for their hard work. Most importantly, let them know that beauty isn’t a number. 
Pretty has no quota. If someone else looks good, there’s no less “looking good” for yourself. Actually, it’s reverse. Because the confidence of someone who can give an honest complement enhances physical appearance (there has to be a study out there somewhere to prove this hypothesis). At least it does in my eyes. 
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Sleeping with a faith blankie

Over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve read two memoir-ish books which pulled the sheet off of my faithless lifestyle. Behind the curtain it appears I believe largely in the power of God, but after experiencing how others prayed and listened and waited, my own faith seems bare boned. 

Part of it lies in my lack of trust for the horse & pony show-type public faith of some. Another part is my cynical nature and dry humor. My highly cerebral nature. My tendency for Armchair Participation (you know, directing and providing commentary without ever getting out of my comfy leather seat). I believe that God can, I’m just not sure He will nor that He should. 
But I have a prayer that I really, really, really want him to answer. It’s a prayer that can see the other side and says, “Sure, we’d be okay if you didn’t. We’d make it. But we really want this.” I want everything to be okay in ways that makes it difficult to catch my breath. 
After S/Paul’s conversion, people would find scarves and hankies and clothing hat had touched his skin and took them to others to be healed. Paul didn’t bid them well and say, “here, take a piece of my magic blankie.” But likely taking cues from the Bleeding Woman, their faith brimmed to the point where they believe that touching the cloak would be the tipping point.  I’m jealous of their seemingly sketchy faith. 
I’m totally one of those disciples sitting in the boat saying, “This does not make sense. I’m glad for you, Peter, that you found a way to walk on water. But nothing about this situation says it will work for me.” 
I’m insanely jealous of faith that allows them to rub a snotty rag on their arm and the rash disappears. I’m jealous that they know (in a more-than-theoretical way) they can claim the faith of others as their own when they can’t muster the words or the power. 
Sometimes it’s scary to believe. To put yourself out there and trust when everything in you says that God doesn’t have to listen. He can, He could and you hope that He would. But who am I to make demands of God? 
I’m not afraid of being wrong. I’m afraid of being disappointed. I set the bar of expectations for God to work so low that he can slide his feet over it without tripping. Sure, I can tell you he’s a high jumper. But why allow room for hope to be deflated? So live in the realm of I do not have, because I do not ask
Here’s what I need right now: I need someone with that living, down-in-the-bones belief to infect me. Not the soft sentiment of learning a “life lesson” through whatever happens. Not the cheesy responses that turn into Todd O’Neal songs. But I want to stand beside someone who has heavy-lifting faith. Someone who isn’t afraid to trust and set the bar high and does so in ways that don’t lead to selfish gain (because, quite honestly, I’m tired of the stories of finding money in the trash can. That’s nice. But how have others‘ lives been changed by your good fortune?). 
I want to sleep with the blankie of a heavy hitter in the faith stadium and know that somehow, in some crazy celestial way, it can rub off. I’ll only need to borrow it for a little while. Please. Or perhaps just tear off the silky edge. 

(David Crowder once again says it better than I can – I need words from the Can you hear us album. Excuse the amateur editing.)

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Who’s your church?

One of my newest favorite things about our town is the presence of a Co-op to help enable me to buy local foods and goods. I’ve loved the localvore idea for a while but lacked the gumption to seek out vendors and farmers and artisens for all my goods. The idea that I can arrive at Meijer and get it in my cart and out the door in under an hour held too strong a temptation. But Stone’s Throw brings together these goods in one roof (where the world’s best bacon is also sold). I love the whole idea. 

So we joined the cooperative this spring (don’t ask why it took us 9 months… because I’m positive laziness had nothing to do with it. *Insert sarcastic eyeroll*) and have been enthusiastically showing patronage to “the market”. Gradually, but with increased vigor.
Tonight a friend invited me to a meeting for all member-owners where the work of the coop is discussed and distributed. Up. My. Alley. They spoke of newsletters and signups. Words like “community” sloshed freely. I might have even piddled a little when someone made mention of a board retreat. 
As poor attendance at board meetings took the lead in discussion, I almost blurted out a remark about the drastic similarities in operation with my church work life, but held it in. From that point forward, I began making a mental list. 
1. First and foremost, it’s a group of people with a common vision. Ask any person about that vision and you’ll get unique answers, but among the group it’s narrow enough to become distinguished. Everyone’s initial reason for joining stems from a different source, but at the end of the day the thread of the vision sews the people together. 
2. Board meetings, newsletters, committees. None of which have ever actually proven effective, but alternatives are few and far between. So the machine moves slowly, no matter how much energy and excitement the people put forth. Not a criticism: a statement of reality. I imagine it like a group of people pushing a large steamroller up a hill. I’m enthusiastically getting out to push. 
3. Buildings. I never took an Org Comm or sociology of groups class, but I wonder if territory always sits in the high place of goals and conversation. Our coop currently borrows space in the meat shop (which, as mentioned, sells the best bacon. Yes, it’s good enough to warrant a second mention), but a storefront has been a part of the original plan. However, that conversation has been tabled to (as my business world partners would say) “focus on the core needs of the business.”  But meshed into the conversation is the idea of if we build it they will come vs. other core principles of identity. This one might be most fascinating to me. 
4. Beliefs. It comes down to how a person sees and interprets the world and what is true about it. Whether it be about the celestial, green, local, or health views, people participate and engage because something at their core says, “this. is. good.” 
Despite ineffective delegations and monotonous meetings, people seem to congregate together for a common purpose to see change. As if, whether or not they have a church that worships Jesus, they have other churches. And in some ways these pseudo-churches are doing better at having church than the Church. They understand that breaking bread is instrumental. Members show excitement for the cause and engage on more than a surface level. The rate at which participants show up on Sunday for the sake of coming seems much lower  – probably because there’s no fear of eternal damnation, just the threat of cancer from bad food.

I think we have a lesson to learn. And I’m super excited for a ringside seat with my coop. Actually, more than a seat: a shovel. I’m ready to dig in.

Visit me elsewhere:
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