Why weight?

“I can’t wait to step on the scale and see how much weight I’ve lost in the last 24 hours”, was my first thought as I arose this morning, the start of my rest day this week. Having been through years of fluctuating weight, a C-section nearly four years ago which had pretty debilitating complications thereafter, and dozens of diets and exercise routines since then, I was actually looking forward to seeing that number on the scale. But, instead of springing up with excitement I laid in bed thinking, as I do some mornings when I can afford the luxury of time. Perhaps I was too exhausted from exercising 2-4 hours every day this week, or perhaps I was feeling particularly depressed physically and mentally from counting calories and eating 500-1000 calories per day each day this week, or perhaps I was concerned with my impending sore throat and nasal congestion that woke me up this morning.  Whatever it was, I couldn’t for the life of me just get up.  As I lay there thinking, I wondered, “Why in the heck am I doing this to myself?” Granted, I’ve logged a 6-pound weight loss in the last 4 days, but at what cost? Then, I was finally able to solidify a nagging thought and feeling I’ve had for years.

Why do we, as women, put so much pressure on ourselves to look (and act) a certain why? Why is that women in the US are held to such unrealistic standards of so-called beauty? In a country that has the highest obesity rate in the world, most of us are (women and men) struggling with our weight, causing eating disorders to spike and healthy body image to plummet. It seems that women in particular, though, are judged very harshly and unrealistically in this country based on their weight and looks. Talented female actors, music artists and television personalities can only become well-known if they fit a certain body type and look. Yet, famous male actors and artists come in all shapes, sizes and looks and I believe they are much more fairly judged based mainly on talent rather than an image they portray.  Very few “overweight” or “plus-size” women have found success, however marginal, in the entertainment industry. Queen Latifah, Roseann, and Oprah (who has found great success, but she’s also struggled tremendously with body image and dieting) come to mind. Kirstie Alley tried to entertain audiences with her self-deprecating but funny show, “Fat Actress”, but she failed in that very short-lived endeavor. On the other hand, plenty of men who are considered by society to be overweight, balding, short, and/or nerdy or just not particularly good-looking have found tremendous success in the same industry that shuns women who carry one extra pound of fat.

Oprah Winfrey 3  Kirstey Alley
         Oprah Winfrey; Photo credit: atlantablackstar.com                                                       Kirstie Alley; Photo credit: fanpop.com

Jason Alexander, Danny DeVito, Kevin James, Al Roker (when he first started out), John Goodman, Michael Moore, Drew Carey (for years until recently), and a whole host of others are prime examples. We won’t even begin to discuss the fashion industry, where the female models who are the most emaciated, underweight and androgynous-looking are touted as the best in their field. [As a complete aside, did you ever wonder why those runway models never smile and always look so pissed-off that you’re in fear they’re going to materialize in your living room right through your TV and chop your head off with a katana? It’s because they never eat enough and if they do, they throw it right up. What happens when you’re tired, overworked and skip a meal or two? You get very grumpy, too, don’t you? See? That explains their attitude right there].

Jason Alexander  Kevin James
         Jason Alexander; Photo credit: goldderby.com                                                 Kevin James; Photo credit: ticketcrusader.com

The irony of having the media laud women who are unusually thin, formless and weak creatures as the outer beauty ‘standard’ to aspire to is that most straight men I’ve asked don’t find these women the least bit attractive. The vast majority of ordinary (non-famous) straight men whom you ask will tell you they prefer women with actual feminine curves, and most men aren’t as shallow as to judge a woman by her weight anyway—they will say they look at a woman’s eyes, face, intelligence and personality as the determining factors of whether or not a woman is beautiful. So who, may I ask, is all this impossible representation for? It’s certainly not the average straight male.

This brings me back to my original question. I believe that we have internalized the media and entertainment industry female beauty standards into our own psyche and now we are struggling to reach standards that are not only impracticable, but highly damaging to a woman’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.  I’m certainly guilty of this myself. Having lived in this country since I was 13 years old, I had no shortage of daily bombardment of makeup, diet, hair product, clothing and shoe ads. In fact, what struck me when I first started school here was that the girls my age were fixing their makeup and hair nervously and obsessively in the cafeteria while I sat alone being shunned by them. Meanwhile, I had never even heard of much less seen makeup on my mother or any other female family members when I was in my native Eastern European country. That memory of my first American junior high school lunch period has stuck with me throughout all this time and it still undoubtedly plays an enormous role in my feelings of inadequacy, distorted body image, low self-esteem, pressures of conformity and assimilation. Unlike in my native country (which has its own host of issues), I was instantly taught here at a very ripe adolescent age that outer appearance counts for not only popularity, but all sorts of acceptance, likeability and even friendship potential. I learned quickly that what’s on the inside of a person counts for only about 5% and the remaining 95% is based solely on outer appearance. Not a good lesson to learn, I know, but I didn’t know any better.

Therefore, what this means for me in the present is that I, like most women, have to work extra hard–as difficult as it is–to let go of that quixotic and spurious portrait along with the judgement that accompanies it and I have to redefine my own parameters for beauty. Then, I can actually work on being happy with myself and who and what I am today. Only then can I strive to achieve goals that actually fulfill my own needs and help me become my best and highest self.

Corky

May 29th, 2014
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One year ago today you passed
Over the proverbial rainbow bridge
Pain ceased forever
Intellectually we know
You are in a far better place
And we are happy you have found solace and peace
Yet we still miss you dearly
Thinking of you daily
Half-expecting to wake up and
Hear your melodious purr
And the traipse of your tiny polydactyl paws
Feel your super soft fur under our palms
See your blue eyes looking up imploring “feed me” with a mimed meow
You stole our hearts with your loving sweet ways
As you managed to teach us much patience, kindness, understanding, caring, selflessness
We are far better for having known you
Our furry feline friend.
We love you always. 

RIP Corky   
Copyright © 2013 A.C.G.

My sweetheart

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My sweetheart
So full of life, vivacity, spirit
Even at your quite advanced age
You bring an unparalleled delight into my life
My confidante
My companion
My nonjudgmental happy-go-lucky
always-happy-to-see-me cutie
My best friend
My shadow

Yet your big wise sad brown eyes
Betray untold stories of suffering, neglect, abuse
Perhaps even some awful altercations both inter- and intraspecies
Which would explain a few things about your behavior now

But your steadfast loyalty
Your utter true devotion
Your protectiveness and caring
Your sweet kindness, love, affection
Your smile
Your sighs of contentment and restful relaxation
Your high jumps and squeals of joy
Your willingness to learn and to listen (at least when you feel like it)
Your ability to read me like an open book and be in sync with me every single second of every single day
Your seemingly omniscient capabilities
Your patience, compassion, and understanding
All your uniquely wonderful qualities make it easy to forget
What appalling things may have happened to you before I knew you

You chose me as your human companion
Inseparable we were henceforth since that fateful day
When I was introduced to the “painfully shy and very calm” Desi
Ha ha ha, how they fooled me!
Yet you recognized in me precisely what I envisioned in you
We completed each other in a way no one else could
Foster you? Yeah, right! You knew instantly
This was no temporary situation
Your forever home was located—even if I didn’t know it at the time
And so was mine

And thus we go through life together as a team, a unit
With each passing season your sapience intensifies
Your brick orange fur camouflages you well against the
Melange of lemon yellow, dark brown, fire red and burnt orange autumn leaves
But not so much against the perfect winter snow—which you love to dip your snout into
You frolic, run amok, jump joyously, speaking interminable wisdoms as you kick up vestiges of fall
Your carefree attitude intoxicating and liberating
Thank you for showing me the sheer pleasures in life
With every step and every action you remind me
What existence is all about

You are everything I would ever desire in a comrade
Loyal, kind, giving, caring, generous, loving
Fierce and unforgiving when the situation warrants
Yet gentle with me and those I love, always
You listen, you care, you protect, you speak when needed and are quiet when not
You love openly, consistently, unconditionally
You are and always will be
My original sweetheart

Copyright © 2013 A.C.G.

I’m back to Blogging – poem “Done”

Hi everyone! After a break from blogging for over 8 months, I am back! I’ve just been busy with life and just haven’t found time to blog. So, now that I am back, I thought I would start out with a poem I wrote almost a year ago. Enjoy!

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Done

Thunder calls
Mid-December anomaly
The calm before the storm
just a few moments prior
When all was bright, gorgeous, brilliant
An enveloping all-consuming light
Without shadow

But now
Darkness enshrouds all light
and hope
Four o’clock with nowhere to go
No one to turn to

Screaming matches
Insults hurled
The light flickers for a mere moment
Only to fade into a slow astounding yet definitive
Hatred and anger unresolved
New sinking depths of conflicts unspoken
Not one word of compassion, understanding or affection uttered
Destruction of all great things
Destruction of feeling, of comfort, of friendship, of love, of life
Nothing can exist in hatred so powerful, so palpable

Life and love transform into the ugliest most despicable monster of all
The devil himself could not dare compete with this
vapid emptiness of nullity

He is done
I am done
We are done
Life as we know it is done
Forever banish the word “forever”, for it never worked for us
Forever apart
Never to return again
Done forever.

Copyright © 2012 A.C.G.

Lincoln – Movie Review

Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln enters the vastly dark room, save for the bright moon rays shining through the window. On the floor, Tad is sleeping next to his drawings of a battlefield and his toy soldiers. Lincoln sweeps the soldiers off the drawing, lies down next to him and motions him to get on a piggy back ride in order to be carried to bed. Tad obliges, stating, “I want to see Willie.” Lincoln wistfully replies, “You can’t, son. Willie’s gone. It’s been three years now” and carries him to the bedroom.  Tad’s pain is palpable, and Lincoln’s nostalgia and poignant response to his son’s innocent request render us, the audience, a part of the intimate and moving scene and immediately thrusts us into the storyline.  We sense Lincoln’s pain, Tad’s innocence, and we are left wondering not only what is ahead for these two, but where Tad’s mother fits into this situation and why she isn’t the one tucking her son into bed.  Through the rest of the movie, we realize Mary Todd Lincoln’s emotional withdrawal from her marriage and from her younger son, Tad, and her battle with depression since her son, Willie’s, sudden death.  Indeed, Sally Field’s portrayal of Lincoln’s wife is authentic, powerful and extraordinarily believable.  She allows us an unprecedented peer into her ailing marriage, her wavering support for her husband’s radical push for the Thirteenth Amendment, her mental illness, her strength and intelligence, her assertiveness and her internal struggles juxtaposed with the pressures of being married to the most powerful man in America at the time.  Mary views her husband’s passion and stubbornness when it comes to abolishing slavery and enfranchising the “Negroes” as folly and useless. She goes so far as to attempt to persuade him to give up what is in her view a pointless crusade. “No one’s loved as much as you by the people. Don’t waste that power on an amendment that’s sure of defeat”, she implores. Lincoln, of course, persists in his resolve and will not be dissuaded from following what he believes to be the moral and just amendment to enact.

Lincoln on Horse

So stalwart is Lincoln’s determination that he will stop at nothing, including strong-arm tactics, bribery and threats, to obtain the necessary votes for the passage of the amendment.  Daniel Day-Lewis’ portrayal of Lincoln is brilliant method acting at its finest.  The actor has very obviously researched our sixteenth president in depth and has managed to capture every facet of his personality and physical traits, including his vocal pitch, his mannerisms, his distinctive walk, his sense of humor and his overall grandeur and stateliness.  Lincoln boldly goes where “no man has gone before”, relentlessly pursuing liberty and justice for all, especially for those of color. His marriage suffers at some point because of this, and his relationship with his oldest son, Robbie, is strained due to the duo’s diverging views on Robbie’s future.  Yet, despite all these weighty matters that Abe is dealing with, he somehow finds the time for pause and humor. In the midst of an attack on the Union, he tells the story of Ethan Allen, an American Revolution hero who went to Britain and the British, still upset about losing the war, decided to poke fun at Americans by posting a large picture of George Washington just above the privy.  Ethan Allen used the privy a few times, but said nothing. Finally, a Brit couldn’t stand the suspense any longer and asked Allen about his reaction to said picture.  Allen, without missing a beat, simply replied by stating, “there is nothing to make an Englishman shit faster than the sight of General George Washington.” This brilliant story telling ability is one of the cornerstone traits Lincoln is known for, and the actor’s comedic timing on this story is impeccable. Daniel Day Lewis truly shines in this stellar Oscar-worthy performance. The picture is also unique, historically authentic, suspenseful (regardless of the fact that we all know how it ends) and truly worth viewing. It receives my highest recommendations.

PS: If you’re into award shows, be sure to watch the Oscars this Sunday, February 24th at 7pm EST on ABC. Lincoln has secured 12 Oscar nominations, including best picture.  :-)

*Images Credit : http://oscar.go.com/nominees/best-picture/lincoln

The Dream

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I dream of you tonight
And as I lay my head to rest
I feel your strong arms
Around me pulling me in a warm embrace
Our noses touch
Your breath becomes my breath
Our lips touch—
Electrifying! Passionate, yet sweet and soft
Your gaze meets mine
In the splendor of a blue azure sea
You whisper in my ear,
“Goodnight, love”,
My face beams with happiness
And as I doze off
I hear faintly, “Te iubesc…”
My life is complete,
As only everything I was searching for
Is right here, next to me, holding me tightly
Love? – Too weak a word
Passion? Yes, but so much more
The life I didn’t know existed and had given up on
Is finally here laying next to me
Within reach
All I have to do is grab it and never let go
My love, my life, my all–
You are my dream.

Copyright © 2009 A.C.S.

You

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With every step, every breath, every memory I feel you
My heart, my soul, my mind long for you
You are permanently locked in everything I do and everything I am
So let’s love like it’s ours to keep
And remember the love we both need.

Copyright © 2009 A.C.S.