Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Let's Be Real, Here...

In the latest issue of Good Housekeeping, Helen Phillips, who was last season's Biggest Loser winner, is on the cover looking fit and thin. I can relate to her because she is in her forties and was about the same starting weight as me, although she is a good four inches taller. I have to say that she looks great - she's gained a bit of weight back from the sickly-thin 117 pounds that won her the prize, and is now, according to the magazine article, a "healthy size six and weighs a more realistic 128 pounds."

What caught my eye right from the start was her cover picture. Doesn't she look fabulous? Her arms are thin, and her tummy is perfectly trim. I was impressed, and I have to say, more than a bit envious, as I have been struggling to camouflage the blob above my waist that has made its presence known. I'm not sure if the blob is fat, flab or excess skin, but the more I shrink the more it stands out. So imagine my surprise when I read, deep into the article, that Helen said she has excess skin on her torso and will need surgery to remove it. Now that's a personal decision and I don't fault her one way or the other for making it. But take a look at her cover picture again. There is no excess skin showing on her torso. Are Spanx that good? I doubt it...which means that Good Housekeeping photoshopped that picture. I shouldn't say that I'm shocked - shoot, fashion magazines photoshop skinny models to look downright bony - but for cryin' out loud, this is someone who has lost an entire person's worth of weight. In her forties! There is bound to be some fallout on her body, and yet you wouldn't know it by looking at her picture.

I know we all want to put our best side forward to the public, especially after years of not feeling good when we see photographs of our formerly overweight selves, but it sets an unrealistic expectation for those of us who do manage to lose a large amount of weight. For example, my aforementioned blob...it's showing up in most of the clothes that I have...knit tops are clinging to it, jeans that fit everywhere else are squishing it upwards and making it even bigger...it's becoming something that I'm focusing on. And I don't like that - neither the hyper-focus, nor the way it looks. After having a mini-breakdown in front of Kara, she got me in touch with a friend of hers who is the manager of our local Talbots. Long story short, I had someone who knows clothes pull the right ones for me that fit better and took what I felt was a neon sign pointing to my stomach and made it go away. Don't get me wrong - the blob is still there. And you would certainly see it if I wore a top like Helen is wearing in that picture. But with a pair of pants that have a different waistband, and a well-cut blouse, it's gone into hiding, while I continue to try and make it disappear through diet and exercise.

I guess what I want to say is that we're all in this together. Pretending that a post-extreme-weight-loss body is perfect is unfair, and really, sets us up for disappointment and possible weight regain. There is nothing wrong with posing for pictures with your body in the best light, but don't go there with the photoshopping, please.

32 comments:

  1. Wish I could Photoshop my body but truth be told there is lots of excess. I am almost at my goal and now am working even harder at toning.

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  2. You are so right...I guess that guidelines like "truth in advertising" can't really be applied, but there really should be something to compel publishers to portray reality.

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  3. You're so right. There's a reason that they weigh-in all season in sports bras and then for the final weigh-in they are allowed to cover their stomachs. It's because they're bound up to an inch of their life under that tank top.

    But, you know what? I'd rather have a excess skin than fat! I'll live with the excess skin when I'm done, because I've read Kathy Griffin's book and will NEVER get plastic surgery (she almost died from it and she has a messed up eye because of bad lasik to boot).

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  4. Oooh! I forgot one point. I've read that you don't get SOOOOO much excess skin if you lose slow. The reason they get so much more is because they're losing the weight so fast, almost akin to the problems women have after delivering a baby.

    And, it's also not so bad for people who lose the weight younger. Which should be a major motivator to those who are in their early twenties (which I'm not, I'm almost 39).

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  5. I totally agree; it's so counter-productive / unrealistic for them to have done that (the photochopping) and her for allowing it! Pisses me off, actually!

    My gut it slightly out of proporton now, too. I'd be a size 4, easy, if not for my lower abdomen/waist that keeps me at 6-8. Oh well. Way better than where we were, right? At least we are keepin' it real. :)

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  6. I have never really watched TBL. I feel like it's fake and too much about personalities instead of principles.

    I have been thinking alot about how I am going to hide my arms this summer. Looking into some very light half sleeve sweaters. I am more aware of them this summer then last.

    I just wish I really knew how to accentuate my positives better. I can learn!

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  7. I've worked really hard to develop good abs - not that they are readily visible due to excess skin and so when I read about what it would take to get my excess blob removed, I decided that there was no way in hell that I was slicing through those muscles to get a little (or a lot) skin removed!

    And yea, I hate the whole photoshopping thing. It seems like such a scam.

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  8. I agree. And appreciate the famous women who have come out against this practice, some having exposed that they were airbrushed and slimmed.

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  9. It really is disheartening that the media feels "real" bodies, even those which have undergone great change, are still not good enough for public consumption. This ranks right up there along my other mass media pet peeve - the gorgeous woman with the homely guy. As I always say to my husband when this occurs, "Yeah, that would really happen."

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  10. Maybe she uses the Kymaro body shaper. *snickers*

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  11. Amen, sister! Preach on! I'm with ya.

    And for the record, I don't see the blob in any of your pictures. Are you photoshopping? LOL Just kidding. You look great and you are your own worst critic. But to every one else out there, you look fantastic, dahling.

    Just keep doing what you're doing.

    PS I think Tara should have won!

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  12. I totally agree. I have the stomach pooch/blob/whatever and it drives me nuts. I wish people talked about those types of things more. It's like the dirty little secret of weight loss.

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  13. I know with the photoshopping! Makes me appreciate women like Jamie Lee Curtis. She did that spread in More magazine with no photoshopping, remember? The right clothes do make all the difference Shelley - I hope you can find your groove in that area because you deserve to feel like the beautiful lady you are.

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  14. I'm all for photoshopping everyone's eyeballs out of their eye sockets so they can't see my fallout.

    I love how you used the term fallout cuz it looks like fallout and falls out. Perfect term!

    If they left her baggy underarm skin and droopy neck and back-fat poofing out of her sleeves, people would have thought it was a cover for MAD magazine instead of Good Housekeeping and you know it. I wonder if you would have even purchase it? (don't argue with me, young lady!)

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  15. Remember how I talked about not seeing yourself as others do? You look great!

    This is obvious photoshopping. I know it and you know. My beef is that any teenager or preteen does not understand the difference and that is how body image can be shaped.

    Wrinkles and loose skin are okay. Otherwise, we would all be named Barbie.

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  16. yay for tops that fit well! I agree, the skin issue is one no one shows the reality of and that did work a number on my reality as I lost weight and the skin hung, and hangs. when I am done I will have lost over 230 lbs and it wont be pretty. If the skin is interfering with my active lifestyle and chaffing I will seek surgical removal. I just keep hoping staying well hydrated, taking good care of my skin and taking EFA's will help a lil with making the possibility of living well without surgery.

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  17. I agree, I always wonder where all the extra skin on the Biggest Loser constestants goes! You know it has to be there somewhere but it even seems hidden at the finale and it has to be against the rules to get surgery by the finale right? Sometimes you can see it a little on their arms but not too much.

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  18. I'm with you in this. She should be proud of what she lost and shouldn't have approved in the photoshopping.

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  19. Well said. So many people now know about this practice that you would think that they'd not use it quite so much. I guess it's still effective because most people who are desperate to lose weight will rationalize it in their minds and convince themselves that the pictures are 100% real.

    Personally, I'm proud of my progress and you should be too! Let's all keep it REAL :)

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  20. I'm glad she gained a little back, she looked way too thin at the finale. I thought that was a bad example too.

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  21. I hear ya.

    I actually know someone who photoshopped their FACEBOOK photo to look thinner. (She's not a real skinny gal, but is in denial of the weight she's gained over the past 5 years.)

    Oof.

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  22. I remember Nia Vardolos saying after My Big Fat Greek Wedding, "I didn't know I was unattractive until the critics told me so." Here this vibrant, lovely, real-looking woman with a nice, real-looking body wasn't "packaged" enough. Sigh.

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  23. That really annoys me and I think Magazines/tv are the reason I'm sad/depressed/frustrated that my stomach isn't TOTALLY flat. There are so many unrealistic portrayals of women and then I want to look like that too!

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  24. I'm telling ya, I think that they were some tummy control spanx thingy under those shirts. I think that every season finale for TBL. I would bet money that they do.

    By the way, you look fabulous and I'm jealous. I'm in my 40's (OK, just turned 40) and want to lose about 40 pounds. I read your post religiously and you rock!

    Keep up the great work!

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  25. I continually struggle with this whole body image thing after a 100-pound loss. I want to call the extra flaps my badges of honor and good days, I can almost believe it, but I agree that the more I lose the more noticable they become. That's not to say I would ever want to fill them to the brim again, but it is a tad bit discouraging.

    I would never fault someone for the surgery route...There's a part of me that would like to do that, but there is that $$$ piece, and mostly I'm afraid I might not ever stop. I'd end up with a firm and straigt nose attached to my third cervical vertebrae...but my tummy would be flat!

    Until I resolve that, I' guess I'll be stuck blogging about it. It's good to see I'm not alone!

    Cheers!
    Melissa

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  26. I continually struggle with this whole body image thing after a 100-pound loss. I want to call the extra flaps my badges of honor and good days, I can almost believe it, but I agree that the more I lose the more noticable they become. That's not to say I would ever want to fill them to the brim again, but it is a tad bit discouraging.

    I would never fault someone for the surgery route...There's a part of me that would like to do that, but there is that $$$ piece, and mostly I'm afraid I might not ever stop. I'd end up with a firm and straigt nose attached to my third cervical vertebrae...but my tummy would be flat!

    Until I resolve that, I' guess I'll be stuck blogging about it. It's good to see I'm not alone!

    Cheers!
    Melissa

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  27. Can I say first that I loved Lori's comment--true, and too funny.

    I love that someone showed you what a difference the right pair of pants etc. makes. And I don't know what other people think of them, but I love wearing a body slimmer under my dresses. It makes me feel confident wearing something form fitting.

    And, my second Cooking Light magazine came in the mail today. Thank you again, Shelley, for such a thoughtful gift.

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  28. I saw the winner of the last BL on the Dr's. a couple of weeks ago and he was wearing the spandex looking thing under his shirt holding all of his skin in. The Dr's are going to do a tummy tuck for him. I am sure they all wear it at the finale.
    I think the photo-shopping womans bodies or excess of their bodies has a lot to do with a lot of womens bad body image.
    Oh and I just have to say, I love your blog!

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