Monday, September 16, 2013

Longie but Goodie

Here's what's new.

Caroline and I moved into our new home, and we love it. We love the apartment, we love the atmosphere and the ward, we love our roommates and we love each other.

Baking skills beyond compare.
There was a mighty rainstorm in Provo which resulted in all manner of flooding and destruction. People were running around and splashing and swimming and canoeing and playing in it. Some loser even showered in it. What a freak.

Noah was gonna get his ark, but I was like, it's OK Noah. I think we can handle this.

 School started. It's going to be an intellectually challenging semester for me. I am coming to the painful realization that I have been relying entirely too heavily on my natural ability and instinct for writing and grammar, and not actually learning the parts of speech and why they go where they go. But I'm excited for the challenge and I'm excited to learn.

Britney and I started a new exercise regimen (regimen is easily confused with regime, a mode or system of rule or government, and regiment, a unit of ground forces, consisting of two or more battalions or battle groups, a headquarters unit, and certain supporting units. I admit to making this mistake) and have been working out like fiends.

This is one of the strongest people I'll ever know. Just sayin.
We have also committed ourselves to eating more healthily (healthfully?). And while we're here on this subject, I want to talk about healthy habits for a second.

I've been thinking a lot lately about taking care of my body and I recently formatted an essay for my print publishing class that had me reevaluating my motives for eating/not eating certain things and working out.

Side note, I also whipped up this Simpsons character in my print publishing class using Adobe something-or-other. Please, hold your applause.
The essay was about objectifying women. It discusses the effects of the sexualization and objectification of women, which is a topic I feel like I've seen floating around a lot these days, but I found this essay particularly interesting because it talks about the effect on women individually. I'm going to spare you the full 12 pages of the original and condense it into the quotes that stuck out the most to me. Hopefully it flows OK. I don't know who wrote the original piece or who I can credit it to, but I feel I should clarify that the ideas from the essay are in blue and these ideas are not my own. Don't worry, mine are coming later.

Most of the studies discussed in the essay were based on the Objectification theory, a model for self-objectification developed by Barbra Fredrickson and Tomi-Ann Roberts.
Objectification is defined as when a woman's body is seen separately from their person and women are viewed merely as bodies. The basis for the theory is the hypothesis that women model the way in which others objectify them, particularly men. 
"One of the most consistent observations is that men place greater emphasis on the physical attractiveness of a woman when evaluating her desirability, than women do when evaluating the desirability of men."
Thus, "Women more than men are viewed and treated as sexual objects," and women have more to gain by being preoccupied about their appearance. 
"Evolutionary theorists contend that women's physical attractiveness indirectly signals reproductive value, and so evaluating women's physical attributes has become an important criterion in men's mate selection. Others argue that the cultural practice of objectifying female bodies originated to create, maintain, and express patriarchy."

"Girls and women learn, both directly and vicariously, that their looks matter: Other people's evaluations of their physical appearance can determine how girls and women are treated in day-to-day interactions"
That's natural, it's life. It is what it is. The real problem, according to the essay, is not that women are objectified by others. The problem is that women begin to objectify themselves.

"Objectification theory posits that girls and women are typically acculturated to
internalize an observer's perspective as a primary view of their physical selves."

Objectification is impossible not to notice or be affected by. It is not limited to pornography. It is in advertisements, movies, and all kinds of visual media. But it's not limited to visual media either. It manifests itself in the way women are talked about, in books, movies, articles, and everyday conversation. "Every woman is in some way affected by men's objectification and almost all self-objectify to some degree.  But if this becomes a pattern by which all self-confidence and success is measured, or simply a preoccupation that makes other healthy behaviors get pushed aside it deters normal and healthy development."
The essay cited several studies finding that "self-objectification consumes mental resources."
It distracts from other things that should be going on in the mind and takes away time from other activities. It becomes a complete obsession.
"Self objectification leads to a form of self-consciousness characterized by vigilant monitoring of the body's outward appearance."
Most of these risk factors have a basis in body-based shame. This shame is more potent than guilt or dissatisfaction.

"Shame generates an intense desire to hide, escape the painful gaze of others, or disappear, along with feelings of worthlessness and powerlessness."

This shame is believed to lead to more outward problems as it leads to a desire to change the body until it is not the object of shame for the individual anymore.

Here is where eating disorders and plastic surgery come in. There have been countless articles and books and documentaries about this, because it's so dangerous. But sometimes even a seemingly healthy diet can be emotionally damaging if motivated by self-objectification and appearance obsession, because a person can experience this shame and respond to it obsessively, even if not by starving themselves or demonstrating other physically risky behavior.
"The extent to which body 'correction' is motivated by shame elevates the task of meeting societal standards of beauty to a moral obligation. Thus, women who fail to live up to this obligation have been deemed uncivilized and immoral."
That was kind of the gist of it. I always like these kinds of studies because they help me understand myself a little better. It is so true. How sad is it that women can be so easily convinced that our appearance determines our worth? And that those feelings of worthlessness can be literally debilitating. How awful is it that a woman can be treating her body just right, and still hate it because it doesn't match the bodies portrayed in magazines as attractive?

This essay got the wheels churning for me, because I'm at a point in my life where I care very much about attracting the opposite sex. And reading it made me ask myself, am I making food and exercise choices as a favor to my body, or as a punishment? Am I working out to make my body strong, or because I'm not yet as sexy as I would like to be? Am I basing my self-worth on what I look like? Am I mad at myself or ashamed of myself because I don't look the way I want to look? Am I spending so much brain power on worrying about my appearance that I am not dedicating my efforts or focus to things that actually matter (i.e. my job, my education, looking for opportunities to serve the people around me)?
And I am sad to admit that I didn't like my answer to most of those questions. And it's a shame.

So I know it's not my place or anything, because I'll be the first to admit that I suck at this myself, but I'd like to ask you a favor.

If you're a guy, please let as many girls as possible know that they are beautiful. Each in her own way, even when she is not photoshopped or instagrammed to the point that she barely looks like herself anymore, even if she does not have giant boobs and a giant butt and a tiny everything else, like all the TV and magazines and ads tell us we're supposed to. Girls need to be told they're worth loving without trying to manipulate themselves into looking completely different than they really do. Seriously. Don't be shy. Tell us. All the time. We are always internalizing other people's perspectives, and the constant bombarding of messages that we are not good enough the way we are is magnified a thousand times in our own mind. So give us something positive and uplifting. Please.

If you're a girl, please love your body. Because it's a gift from God.
A thought came to me a few days ago. If anyone gave me a present for my birthday or Christmas, I would never, ever, ever sneer at it in disgust and talk about how ugly and terrible it is, or how I would be happier if I had received something else. Not just because it's a magnificent gift that I will cherish, but out of respect to the person who gave it to me. Your body is one of the greatest gifts the Lord has given you. It allows you this incredible mortal experience. It lets you run and jump and cheer and see and smell and taste and feel. It lets you learn and create. Create art, or inventions, or LIFE. What a precious gift. So try to take good care of it. Don't starve it, don't shovel all the junk you can fit into it. Don't overwork it, and don't neglect it. Don't spend so much time decorating it that you forget to USE it for all the things your Father in Heaven intended you to use it for.

OK, I'm off my soapbox. Thanks for staying with me. That's all.

be happy :)