Refuse to be Homogenized—Beauty, Bullying and Media "Mean Girls"

Yes, Kristen will never be a toothpick. 140 pounds in this picture and 5' 3" (technically overweight)

140 pounds (at 5’3″) in this picture and an “old” 35.

Last week I wrote two posts Brave New Bullying: Goodreads Gangs, Amazon Attacks—What Are Writers to Do? and Are Some Humans Born to Bully? Born to Be Victims? Can It Be Changed?. The first post was my own story of enduring hoards of Mean Girls and bullies in school (I switched schools 18 times).

Many people in the comments seemed perplexed as to WHY bullies acted the way they did and how to handle them. Thus, the second post offered even more tips and my Armchair Neuroscientist explanation as to what FEEDS bullies what they CRAVE (and tips to shut bullies down).

A Culture of Control

Since these two posts, I’ve received hundreds of comments and loads of messages and links shared on Facebook. This prompted me to speak a bit more on this topic. My opinion? I feel we live in a culture of bullies. We see it everywhere.

Yes, Steve Jobs was a genius, yeah, yeah, yeah. But, he was also a legendary nightmare boss and a foaming-at-the-mouth-bully…who will be remembered for all time for being awesome. Marissa Mayer (the current CEO of Yahoo) is well-known for being ruthless and even cruel to the employees, yet she’s rewarded.


The corporate world is rife with bullying (which is often encouraged) and mob mentality rules…and we won’t go there. Not enough room on today’s soap box. And, yes I am speaking out on this issue because things need to change. Look at any major cultural revolution and writers probably started it.

I think that’s probably why coups and dictators shoot us first.

Media Mean Girls

In advertising, I feel we see a subtler form of bullying. As a white female, I am unattractive if I’m not a size 0-2 with flawless 20-year-old skin and giant Angelina Jolie poofy lips. I’ve always been muscular. Right now, I am 158 pounds and a size 6-8 (and buy my jeans at Cabela’s because only gals with guns apparently have curves).

I have 42-inch shoulders and an hourglass shape. I have hips and THIGHS. Yet, try to shop anywhere other than an ethnic store or a hunting store and what I find are rows and rows of Skinny Jeans, Matchstick Jeans, and Toothpick Jeans.


Use my skinny @$$ to hold hors d’oeuvres together. Yay!

Um, when did MATCHSTICKS become sexy?

Um, when did MATCHSTICKS become the ONLY sexy?

The attractive Size 6-12 woman is the New Media Sasquatch.

If THIS is Plus-Size? SIGN ME UP!

If THIS is Plus-Size? SIGN ME UP!

The image above is Australian model Robyn Lawley (who is a Size 16, 180 pounds…and 6′ 2″, btw) and the photo is from the Huffington Article Robyn Lawley Is The New Face Of Plus-Size Lingerie Line Boux Avenue (PHOTOS).

Me at 5'3", 165 pounds and a Size 10.

Me at 5’3″, 168 pounds and a Size 10-12.


I’ve given up on women’s magazines. I tried buying a handful of copies of More? *rolls eyes* This was supposed to be a magazine that catered to women 30 and over. The issues I purchased mostly had pictures of food. Recipes. Diets. Craft projects. Face-scrubbers.

Have a hot 45-year-old in a sexy lingerie ad? Are you nuts? 

When women’s magazines have an article about how to do our makeup as we age, do they have a 40-something model? NO. A twenty-something (ok, we can throw in a Hollywood starlet “repaired” with plastic surgery).


I also bought a copy of Women’s Health. As an athletic/curvy woman, I have a hard time finding clothes. I can be 100 pounds and still have a butt and thighs and wide shoulders and big arms (um, look at my wedding picture). So, in this past October’s issue, WH had this feature of dress clothes for the athletic woman. Did they use any of the gorgeous muscular women from their workout routines or ads? Nope. They used six-foot tall toothpicks.

Oh, and they were all super-young because we all know any woman over thirty is a fat slob who lives in sweatpants and wolfs down donuts daily. DUH.

Have We as Consumers Unwittingly Encouraged This?

We’ve allowed Hollywood and Madison Avenue and the fashion industry to tell us that anorexia is healthy and aging women should be hidden. They are at least classy enough not to recommend a burkha. Our culture treats aging like ebola. With all the creams, surgeries, injections and procedures, one might think growing older was a disease. We’ve shamed women about their bodies and faces so they’ll line-up and hand out cash for creams, diets, magazines and surgery.

I’m not quite sure, but I think smile lines might be captured in a tube at the CDC somewhere deep in the belly of the Earth, cached away with smallpox and Spanish Flu.

What this “bullying” has created is a generation of older women who either give up or go to extremes and even plastic surgery addiction (um, Jenna Lee?). Young girls are lining up for breast implants even though their bodies have yet to fully develop. Truly athletic women live in yoga pants because one can’t have muscles and wear Matchstick Jeans.

Oh, but even yoga pants are no longer safe. Lululemon’s CEO blamed the “piling” of their overpriced yoga pants on women’s thighs and bodies (not the quality or lack thereof regarding the product). I’ve been 11% body fat before and my thighs still touched.


Benevolent Bullies

And if we don’t fit the “Hollywood Image”? Angels with plastic surgery skills will step in and help the hideous. Maybe I’m missing something, but when one of my Facebook friends posted this article in Today Health, I wanted to cry: Tormented over their looks? Bullied teens seek free plastic surgery from a NYC nonprofit.

This young teen, first of all, had yet to fully grow into her looks. I was actually kinda goofy-looking when I was her age. When I was her age, I’d also suffered my front teeth knocked out when I was 8 and my nose broken at 10 (so I had a crooked nose and gapped teeth for a time). I never had braces or surgery on my nose. Time allowed me to “grow into my face” so to speak.

This girl was beautiful, but the surgeons benevolently made her “more acceptable.” Boy, I bet the bullies cheered when they could cower someone into slicing up their face for “approval.”

She didn’t have a cleft palate or an extra ear. She had a unique nose.

Why are we allowing this homogenization?

A Jewish nose or Armenian nose or an African nose is just as lovely and far more interesting than a fake Hollywood nose. Sarah Jessica Parker is an actress I respect and admire. She has embraced her lovely and distinctive features and continues to have a great career. On the other hand, Jennifer Grey (from the original Dirty Dancing) gave into the pressure of bullying and traded being a stunning Jewish woman to be a “cute white girl”…and hasn’t really worked since.

Embrace gaps in teeth, different noses, freckles, curves and wild, curly hair. Embrace the naturally super thin gal as well as the gal with curves. There are all different kinds of beauty and we are missing that as a culture.

Be brave!

Refuse to Give in to Bullies

Write to the editors. Stop buying magazines who don’t represent you. Complain to store managers. Refuse to allow cultural bullies to make you a drone. We should not permit bullies to create the agenda or affect our behavior.

And I’m not saying I don’t highlight my hair, use creams to take care of my skin or exercise so I can age well. I stay out of the sun, take loads of vitamins and kale and my Vitamix are my best friends. But where I see the problem is instead of being shown how to look great and age well we’re brainwashed into believing we shouldn’t age at all. I have NO CLUE if I look good for my age. Everyone is Photoshopped or Botoxed. What does a healthy weight even look like?

Granted, I’ve used tools on Pic Monkey to brighten the light, enhance the color of the image, erase smeared mascara/eyeliner, cover a blemish or crop a good picture taken from a bad angle that makes my arm look like it’s the size of a small oak, but I leave my smile lines. I earned them.

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 9.09.38 AM

Me at Size 12 with….neck wrinkles *hides face*

Me at Size 12 with….neck wrinkles *hides face*

I’m not opposed to plastic surgery, creams, botox, etc. so long as our decisions are for healthy reasons. For instance, if I ever start looking like an issue of National Geographic? Breast augmentation might be a consideration :D. But my desire is to be the best darn looking 50 or 60 year-old I can be, not to try and look like I’m 20 (and only end up looking bizarre).

When It Comes to Blogging/Writing

Blog. Write what you want. Wear what you want. Laugh a lot and make some smile lines. Be you. There is only ONE, you know ;). You are precious, unique and one-of-a-kind. There will never in human history be another YOU.

And THAT is super cool.

If you blog, don’t shut down your comments because of fear. Then you are allowing bullies to deprive you of the joy of a wonderful, loving, supportive community. THEY WIN. When their behavior makes us alter our lives, or harms our self-esteems? They score bully-points. Whether they can get us to change our habits (hiding in a library, avoiding the coffee break room), our on-line activity (shutting down comments or taking down a site or profile) or even harass us into needless surgery, THEY WIN.

Regular bullies profit from shaming others because of the high it gives them. Bullies in the form of corporations, advertising, the fashion industry, magazines and surgeons profit from shame with…um, money.

We can be the change we seek.

So many of you make me SO PROUD when you dare to write stories with characters who are different, older, ethnic, overweight, clumsy, etc. You show the light beyond the surface so keep doing it!

What are your thoughts? Have you given up buying clothes? Given up on “women’s” magazines? Do you feel our culture is driven by bullying because it creates insecurity which equals profit? Do you have children and what are you doing to help them feel good about who they are and resist the Drone Deception? Are you tired of all actresses and models looking like they fell off an assembly line? Do you have a hard time finding clothes? Do you write (or enjoy) characters who are different? I, personally, LOVE writing love stories with seniors (two have won awards).

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less)

I hope you guys will check out my latest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World and get prepared for 2014!!!!


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  1. One of the cool things about Authors is we can look and dress like whatever we want. Seen George RR Martin? Beloved and respected. J.K. Rowling’s not typical of societal beauty standards, but she still looks great and is confident.
    Of course with the amount of money they have, it’s easy to be confident, but still. There they are, inspiring the rest of us.

  2. Thank you for writing this. I suffer from major self esteem issues along with jealousy because of this issue. I’m now trying to get my own confidence back in a world where not being 100% flawless is a sin. And in terms of writing, I love characters who are different, who aren’t perfect. They’re the best kinds.

    • Crystal on January 8, 2014 at 11:50 am
    • Reply

    I have two things to say. First off you are a knockout beauty. Second of all you look extremely healthy.

    1. And yet the doctor insisted I be tested for thyroid issues because I was “obese” *rolls eyes*. Thank you. I DO love makeup, LOL.

      1. Omg O.o

      2. Was your doctor going strictly with BMI? Because body builders with something like 2% body fat are ‘obese’ according to BMI. It’s ridiculous.

        Thank you for posting this, though. It’s taken me nearly fifty years to learn that I’m okay being me, with all my fading hair, sagging boobs, bulging butt and belly, and wibbly thighs, not to mention my life lines on my face. I’ve earned all these things with the choices I’ve made and the things I’ve experienced. I hope, like you, that, one day, our society will learn to accept ‘the different’ and not try to homogenize us all.

        1. I work with public health statistics and you’ve nailed the major problem with BMI and how people use that calculation. It is the best indicator to use to understand trends in obesity over time, on the aggregate level. But for an individual, there are so many other factors that should be taken into consideration. Someone who is labeled as obese by virtue of their BMI may still be a healthy and active and attractive individual.

          1. Exactly, BMI was developed to be one of many tools in the insurance industry’s arsenal for figuring rates, NOT to be a major crutch for doctors dealing with patients. It disgusts me how many doctors fall back on BMI with no other considerations.

          2. Indeed. BMI is all well and good for looking at population trends but individuals are unique. I feel lucky that I have a physician who takes in my whole health profile (BMI, but also blood work, mental state, level of physical activity, etc) before delivering a judgement.

  3. I love this. That line about buying jeans at Cabela’s “because only gals with guns apparently have curves” is a crack-up. Great post.

  4. An excellent post. As a scrawny, short chick (5’4, 100 pounds, can’t gain weight for trying — it’s medical), I also have problems finding clothes. Not because I have curves but because I don’t and because I’m not keen on showing the universe my butt, cleavage, and belly … or lack thereof. I actually want to wear /modest/ attire. That’s almost sacrilegious these days. Clothes hang on me like Omar the Tentmaker creations or leave /nothing/ to the imagination. Fortunately, I know how to sew.

    1. I’m jealous. I wish I knew how to sew. GO YOU!

    2. I wish I knew how to sew as well. I’m considering taking a class because I can tell my daughter is gonna be muscular and strong like her father and I. The longer I can keep her in clothes that fit well, the better.

      And Kristen, thanks for writing this post!

    3. I have no desire to show off those parts of my body just like you. Sad to see how rare it is now a days. I plan on learning to sew myself, because I know how I wish to dress. Good job on being able to do it!

    4. I am slowly learning to sew for myself because a) I don’t want to advertise what I’m definitely not selling, and b) clothes in shops seem to assume that women come in two sorts: no waist or no hips.
      I have a waist, I have hips, and I have a small wardrobe that is being slowly worn to death as a result.

  5. I stopped buying magazines years ago. They’re filled with silly ads that don’t apply to me, and the women in them aren’t even real; too much photoshop. Ads for women are a real turn off. It as though they are aimed at men because they all have pretty women in them. I’ve never cared much about beauty products, but I’m still alive and healthy and I have friends and family who aren’t afraid to be seen with me in public.

    I’ve never had a bully issue to speak of. It might have been because of my seven brothers or my “I don’t care what you think” attitude or the “pick on me and I’ll beat you up” attitude. I just didn’t have time for such silliness, and I was big enough to take care of myself. There were a few kids bullied in my youth, but they were few and far between. I grew up in a tight-knit community where we all played, fought and laughed together. It was a time before cell phones and the Internet.

    I can’t imagine the pressure young women are feeling now to fit in. Men are being fed the same nonsense, made to think women should fit into this ideal look. I sometimes worry about my daughter, but she’s like her mom and doesn’t really care much about that sort of stuff. We actually laugh at the models and their fake looks. It’s not our world. Laughing might not be appropriate, but it’s our way of saying that these girls are from some other world and do not represent reality.

    Fashion comes and goes, and although it can be difficult to get a pair of pants that doesn’t show the crack of your butt, like low-riders and toothpicks, it will move on to something else. I find the best jeans can be found at the second-hand stores. That’s where girls with muscles can be outfitted for a quarter of the price.

    Faced with today’s fake beauties reminds me of my favourite saying, “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, “Hot Damn! What a Ride!”

    And that’s how I’d prefer to live. Let everyone else worry about what they look like. I’m just in it for the adventure.


  6. What a fabulous article! Thank you for being brave enough to write it. I’m going to pass it around to all of my gal pals. I hate that this is such a major issue. Even smart women are falling for this crap when what we need is to be embracing ourselves as valuable and unique human beings.

  7. Refuse to Give Into Bullies! YES. I’ve told that message on my blog over and over and over.

    Thank you so much for this article. As the mother of a teenage daughter body image and corporate bullying (fashion industry bullying) are hot topics in our house. My daughter is a national champion in her sport without an extra ounce of fat and beautiful but she could NEVER fit into a size 2. She is has curves – natural healthy curves. And luckily she knows that and hasn’t bought into the media frenzy of being a stick figure or coat hanger with fake boobs (because you’ve lost yours starving yourself.)

    My 14 year old daughter keeps asking me “Why aren’t there any stores that make cute fashionable clothing for middle aged women?” She is looking out for all the frustrated moms who can’t wear the toothpick jeans and don’t really want to shop at Hot Topic or Hollister – but we’re not ready for elastic polyester pull up granny pants in assorted pastel colors. She has a good point there. Why is it so difficult to find a great pair of pants or a dress for a natural healthy cute size 10-16?

    I DID give up at one point – but now I’m stylish and get complimented on what I wear and how I look. I’ve had to be really really creative but it can be done. Thanks to the help of my husband and daughter I “de-frumped”. I no longer have my pre-motherhood Victoria’s Secret body but that does not make me a social outcast who is required to wear burlap bags and ugly shoes.

    And speaking of “older” folks. I write romances about people of a certain age – that is older than 35. I also write about seniors (some of the most popular on my blog.)

    Thank you so much for this post Kristen! You gave us a lot to think about and act upon.

    1. I have given up. I wear Star Wars shirts and yoga pants. Around here, the clothes are RETARDED. Either I have an option of looking like a teenager and ridiculous or like I need to be issued a mini-van and a Bible. Sigh.

      1. Is it a *bad* thing to have a mini-van and a Bible? I have both and the idea that somehow those things are not “good” or fashionable is what makes “Fashion” a joke to me. And a cruel one, at that. By even thinking that way, you let yourself conform to the bully culture, Kristen.

        Personally, I wear what makes me comfortable enough to write the way I *need* to write. I can’t imagine being who I am and doing what I love in fashion tops and high heels, but if they work for someone else, that’s terrific. Star Wars T-shirt TODAY, right now, this minute! And I bought it on purpose! GO ME! I’m wearing baggy, relaxed jeans and I LOVE them. I go out dressed this way and say, “burn the Victoria’s Secret magazines!” Ugh! I want ‘comfortable’ and my life goal is to stop “conforming to this world but be transformed by the renewing of my mind.”

        We, each human on the planet, is made in the image of God and reflects his beauty and glory. We need to see each other through those eyes. The wrinkles of wisdom and laughter, the crown of white hair of a life of experience, these things are joyously, marvelously beautiful.

        1. No, it isn’t bad, but isn’t there something in between? I have an SUV and a Bible, LOL. But either I have a choice of hip-huggers with sparkles on the butt or “mom jeans” with a stretchy waist just under the bra-line. Compromise? A little? And I am wearing a Star Wars t-shirt, too. I have a vast collection, :D.

          And, “We, each human on the planet, is made in the image of God and reflects his beauty and glory. We need to see each other through those eyes. The wrinkles of wisdom and laughter, the crown of white hair of a life of experience, these things are joyously, marvelously beautiful.” AMEN to THAT!

  8. Great post, Kristen. I look back on my college days with horror when I remember being so thin I had trouble opening the heavy doors of the dining hall. I had to time my walk to go just behind someone else coming in. And this level of illness was praised! I can tell you from experience it is so much better to be strong than to be “pretty.”

  9. I’ve been reading all your posts about bullying and am cheering wildly. When I saw your photos and today’s post I had to write. You are a beautiful woman with a strong body. The spirit that comes through your writing shines in each picture. Traces of what it takes to get there also shine through both the writing and the smile in each portrait. I know you have a son and he’s lucky to have a mother who believes in all of this. If you ever have a daughter, or a niece, or any young woman nearby, she is lucky to have you too. A great example.

  10. I, like you, have earned my smile and laugh lines…I tell my eldest daughter that she gave me the wrinkle on my forehead…lol I have 5 girls, they come with wrinkles. Great post Kristen. I don’t remember there ever being a size 0 or 00 when I was young. When did they come out with that?

  11. Great post. I must check out Cabela’s, and see if Bass Pro is as kind to its customers. Supportive friends and a lot of positive self-reflection help combat body-image bullies. In addition, I found cutting out cable two years ago had an unexpected–and positive–secondary effect: I’m no longer bombarded by commercials featuring anorexic, surgery-sculpted, digitally-enhanced women and men pressing me to agree to an unhealthy standard of beauty.

  12. I gave up on women’s magazines because I feel terrible about myself when I buy them. My husband and I lift weights and run together, and I’m not a model, and love my body, but when I see those magazines I forget how awesome I am. So I don’t read them, and then i remember, and life is good on the healthy side. 🙂

  13. Definitely! I think you’ve told it as it is. I was in a Banana Republic several years back and when I dared to ask for a 14, the store clerk got nasty. Unfortunately for her, I’m not one to appreciate nasty. I left the store, wrote a letter to the corporate headquarters, and have never been back. We definitely have to stand up for ourselves against bullies no matter where they show up.

  14. Wow! That was refreshing! It made me smile. A thing that I reluctantly do in photos now as it shows those wrinkles off to a tea! But hey! No more. I feel inspired. I’m turning 50 next year, the pounds fortunately don’t worry me, yet. Sport handles the extras. The wrinkles harass me daily, so I apply expensive, no exorbitantly priced creams, consider surgery daily, feel old…am I…not! yes, I am guilty as the next.

    I don’t buy the magazines I’m pleased to say, I can not relate to any of the “characters”. Absolutely tired of seeing perfectly sized actresses/singers being criticized in the media for having a bum or boobs or a few extra pounds since the last photo. I mean, who’d have thought that women were supposed to have a shape!! Given the magazines etc. we were meant to have no curves, be skinny and have clothes that hang on us like a dust rag.

    As a child I too was bullied as I wore a milwaukee brace (worn around the body and neck to support the spine as I grew). Which meant that boys would tease brutally and girls didn’t want to be friends, thinking I was deformed, so didn’t fit in with their ideal best friend. Roll eyes!! We all need friends not shallow companions.

    Bullies leave scars on their target, and I wish to encourage girls and boys alike to find their own development, be strong in the face of your adversaries and don’t let them have their way. I fought back as my personality insisted that I did. it was not a smooth ride but I survived and I am a better person than any of those bullies ever were and so will you.

  15. Thank you. With three daughters, that s exactly the image and attitude I want them to see. I hope they see that I exercise etc so that I can do all the things I want to do as I age, not so I can meet someone else’s criteria. Some days, I have to remind myself of that as well. Stay on that soapbox.

  16. I think it is very interesting how this new culture of waking up to media bullying and media brainwashing is being approached to in the western part of the world. My newsfeed is full of articles like yours, some sites( are doing a great job too – bringing out the real truth behind the scenes-the opinion manufacturing as it has been called. I wonder sometimes though whether this culture had always existed or whether it is one of the many consequences if the internet revolution(,but that is wondering for another time).

    I think you are very brave in putting up your picture, smiling away to glory. I myself have been too embarrassed to post a recent selfie ( even though i am a 5’8” and a 128 pounds, i think i am so fat). But what you have termed as media bullying is just a normal capitalist tactic – pretty thin things in pretty little clothes, photoshopped or otherwise sell, it is not them it is we who want that dream body in that dream house with all the curtains and the silks and the pretty pretty things. Yes our idea of beauty has been immensely distorted by these poor thought of beauty philosophy school.

    I think everybody, each one of us, needs to take some time off and ask themselves – what is my idea of beauty and why? The why being the more important zone. A media boycott is a good idea, yes it will certainly alter a few mechanisms of production and creation. But since we as humans can think we might as well do it now than later over a pile of ruined youngsters.

    1. It’s nice to hear/read about young women, a la Jennifer Lawrence who speak out on these issues, because she/they are role models for young girls and women who are absorbing body shaming almost every second of their lives.

  17. I’m sure by now you can see by your response you have touched a book worthy topical nerve.
    Your experience with bullies, and your writing skills point the way, can’t you just see it ” Kristens Bully Busting guide book”? or how a size twelve gives bullies a new wrinkle.
    Great post, great responses. Great that you take up the cause.

    1. I was a tad worried people would want me to just drop the issue. I do tend to be a pit bull. And yes, a book on cultural bullying has crossed my mind. Just have to finish the two I have due first, LOL. Glad you guys are enjoying it. I am blessed to know all of you and see how special you are. I want you guys to see it too ;).

      1. Yes, it was at first a question in my mind as well, how will people respond to your post. As I seek my own footing I have found you blog to be very informative on two levels. One is in the direct writing and two is in the responses you get, many are heartfelt aligned, not just people wanting to send praise, but send out a quiet call of being there too. (community)
        I think it is your writing style coupled with a sincerity of message.
        NIce postings.

    • melorajohnson on January 8, 2014 at 12:41 pm
    • Reply

    I’m not sure I can even encapsulate my thinking on this in a comment because I’ve lived with it my entire life. I was just thinking this morning about how the bullying started for me in grade school. I was a big girl who developed early and when I ran in gym class, the boys, and some of the girls were merciless in their bullying. The gym teachers refused to do anything about it so I started refusing to run. When it comes to this topic, I really appreciate the writing of Ragen Chastain on her Dances with Fat blog. I was a big girl and I’m a big woman. There were no real stores that served me when I was young but it’s gotten better. The war on obesity has turned into a bully fest, just look at what they do to people on The Biggest Loser. There’s a huge difference between working on becoming healthier and just trying to become skinny. I fired a doctor because he was focused on the latter. I believe in the former.

  18. I completely loathe the brain of the media and Hollywood and their “standards of beauty” which are total garbage. Many women on the planet are RUINED in one way or another because of it and even as a man, I say NO MORE!!! I refuse to follow, I refuse to be the sheeple of California and of the media.


    1. PREACH ON!

      1. ohh, you really don’t want that! LOL

        But thank you.

    • Sarah_Madison on January 8, 2014 at 12:52 pm
    • Reply

    This is really an interesting topic to me, not just because of the bullying aspect but because of the comments you’ve made about aging women and the need to hide or disguise such. I recently was forced (yes, forced, I never would have made this decision voluntarily) to stop coloring my hair, and I’ve been blogging about the changes in the way I’ve been perceived and the way I perceive myself: I call it “A Single Shade of Gray” :-). One of the biggest things I’ve run into is the number of well-meaning women who keep encouraging to DO SOMETHING about my hair–even to the cost of the hair’s health itself. It was a bad color job that resulted in my losing over a third of my hair in a month’s time–and I don’t know if I will ever recover normal growth again.

    Not only is anti-aging seemingly mandatory for all women over forty, we seem to forget that most actresses in Hollywood have their own stylists, their own colorists, their own specialists to keep them looking young because that’s part of their *job* description. And when these things fail, Photoshop steps in. I read an article last night that showed how media magazines now spend just as much time making anorectic-thin women look *larger* in their photos as they do smoothing out wrinkles and trimming ‘unsightly’ bulges. I am frequently astonished when meeting celebrities how incredibly thin they are in real life–even when they don’t appear that way on television. I can’t imagine what the pressure to maintain this impossible ideal must be like. Well, yes I can. I feel that same pressure most days, and am conscious of failing the ‘standard’ badly.

    For me, coloring my hair was practically an addiction. It was a quick, relatively cheap way of making me feel better about how I looked. I savored every incident when someone mistook me for being 10 years younger than my actual age. Now, every few days I glance into the mirror, loathe what I see, and nibble on my thumbnail as to whether to risk coloring again or not. But in the last week, I’ve had three unsolicited compliments over my hair–which makes me wonder where the real problem is. I’m beginning to suspect it’s me. 😉

    So I’ve tossed out all of my ‘health and beauty’ magazines. Like you, they advocate one thing and then put unrealistically thin models and actresses on their covers. Same with the crazy, whacky diet and exercise books. I know what I need to do to lose weight. Eat less. Move more. Less processed food. More vegetables and leafy greens. I’m learning to embrace the silver color of my hair, too, recognizing that for years I’ve been placing a higher priority on protecting the color than enjoying activities that I love. And I’ve stopped looking in mirrors too. I used to joke that every time I looked in a mirror it shattered the thin veneer over my fantasy that I looked like Angelina Jolie. Now I no longer want to look like her. I want to be the best me I can be.

    1. What a great blog topic and book idea! When I got pregnant I went back to my natural color (dishwater blonde, yay). I miss being platinum, but it is SO MUCH WORK. Silver can actually be really beautiful and it diffuses light softening hard planes of the face. Gray taken care of can be stunning. As a former bleach blonde, I recommend Joico for heavy-duty repair and ANY product by Pureology. Whatever color you decide to be, you want healthy hair. A collagen vitamin supplement can help a lot too. And make sure to get a trim every four weeks until the damage is gone (speaking as a person who’s melted her hair a few times, LOL). LOVE the “Single Shade of Gray.”

        • Sarah_Madison on January 8, 2014 at 3:41 pm
        • Reply

        Thanks for that tip–I do have some Pureology products I’m using and I cut off the worst of it, am taking vitamins and so on. I’ve been through the ‘melting hair’ before. This time it’s simply coming out at the root. 🙁 I’m keeping my fingers crossed I haven’t permanent damage… You’re right, it’s just not worth the work–or the money. When I think of how much I’ve spent on coloring my hair for the last couple of decades…yikes!

        So pleased I could make you laugh over the blog topic!

  19. Now you tell me! I just got Botoxed and Juvedermed up last Friday!

  20. My ex-wife and I had a neighbor who was a fashion and beauty bully (who, btw, did not meet her own standards. Methinks it’s a control issue.) One time, she railed on a local anchorwoman as “hideous.” She looked like someone you’d meet at a PTA meeting, not gorgeous, but not quite the elephant man’s sister our neighbor was describing. Having grown up on that fringe between the Cleveland suburbs (which was never fashionable in my youth) and Amish country (anything not plain is a ticket to hell on a banana peel), she set me off. I literally screamed at this woman that she was a shallow, vain hypocrite who had no sense of anyone’s true worth and would she please just shut the ****ing hell up? She agreed she was being shallow, but then said, “But isn’t that woman hideous?”

    When I hear dirtbags like Perez Hilton calling someone in a size 4 fat, I’m reminded of my former neighbor, who, btw, resembled Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company.

  21. What can I say, Kristen, I think you’re beautiful in fact and in spirit! You keep being you and I’ll keep being me, and us little guys will gang up on those big old bullies!

  22. I loved this! I have two young daughters, who are impressionable to say the least. Marketing skinny jeans to a nine-year-old! Like you said – WTH! As for bullies, our society rewards them instead of standing up to them. Great post.

    1. I hate to say it but there are days I am happy I have a son. I really feel for parents of daughters. Keep up the good fight!

    2. My daughter (14) doesn’t ‘fit the mold’, and hates skinny jeans which is almost all we can find these days. None of them fit her right.

  23. I’d love to be ONLY a size 16. But I’m not. My husband told me for years that I was beautiful as I was and not to listen to my parents and others who kept telling how fat and unacceptable I was. I took me a long time to accept myself as I was though.

    My daughter laughs at the “fat” pictures of me as a kid – I was actually pretty thin, but of course not as thin as everyone else. That has really helped me realize that the media, family and others don’t know jack when they criticize me or try to tell me something is better.


  24. You’re truly lovely. I never have bought into the hype. I had a strong, beautiful mother who loved herself, and I raise my girls the same way.
    Toothpicks are for hors d’oeuvres, absolutely.

  25. You know what’s also heartbreaking ? my mom and MIL both hate the way they look in our wedding photos. I see smiling lovely women. But my MIL thinks she looks like an ‘old witch’ and my mom can stand looking at her weight. All I see is two lovely women who look extremely happy. But I haven’t been able to put up our wedding photos because I don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable. I’m sure I’ll look down on it later, because of the way media is, but I want laugh lines. I want them because it means that I have spent my life in joy, that I’ve had a good time with the people around me. I just hope I remember it when I see them. Oh wait, is that a wrinkle?

  26. Thank you, Kristen! I have a story I am working on and wanted the main character to be my age or perhaps a little older (I’ll be 45 in two months – woot woot!) and I really struggled with that. I wondered if readers would buy a love story with “oldies” like me but the reality of it is that there are a lot of us 40-somethings who are in the process of discovering who we are and looking for our soulmates.

    I am going to be more cognizant of allowing my older characters to embrace their flaws and not try to make them someone they’re not.

    Thanks for the confirmation and for opening up this topic for discussion. I hope other authors can also embrace characters with imperfections and bring them into the limelight. I’m sure they have amazing stories to tell.

  27. You go girl. I don’t buy magazines but I find them a great source of entertainment while I’m standing in line at the grocery store. I don’t know who most of the folks are and I sure can’t tell them apart, because their plastic surgeons turned them into virtual clones of one another. I’m old enough to remember when people wore hats and gloves to church every Sunday and instead of paying 50 magillion dollars for one handbag and therefore having to carry it all the time, we had handbags to match each of our pairs of shoes, that in turn matched our outfit. I miss those days. Visiting Northpark or the Galleria was like attending a fashion show – and that was BEFORE you entered the stores. I hate shirt-tails that hang out below the jacket and pants that hang down below your underwear. I hate clothes that look like they are two or three sizes too small. I hate jeans that have been destroyed before you buy them. I hate stretch everything. I hate that everyone wears black all the time. I hate looking at people’s mammary glands. I hate looking at muffintops hanging out over too tight jeans. I hate lingerie masquerading as street clothes. They can advertise it all they want, but that doesn’t mean that I have to buy it and wear it. That’s the difference between following fashion and having style.

  28. Great post Kristen. It’s unfortunate that we live in a society of bullies. I’ve just experienced an incident of this as well in the work place. It’s not fun!

  29. Great post, as were the earlier ones. I witnessed a repulsive incident of bullying in my local town one afternoon while waiting for my car to be serviced. The girl who was working in the cafe was told by her employees to suck it up and get on with it. I was so angry I came home and changed the ending writing a book about it!

    • Laurie A Will on January 8, 2014 at 2:21 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Kristen,
    Great post as usual. I’ve nearly given up on buying jeans. I resent the assumption many jean manufactures have that if you have a thick waist you have a large butt and hips. I put on my extra weight in the stomach. My hips are by no means tiny, they are in proportion to my body and most women I know either put the weight on either in the hips or thighs or in the stomach, not both. I am tired of having jeans that bad out on my behind. I gave up finding a strapless gown in my early twenties. I have an athletic build and I was thin enough at the time that I felt comfortable in a bathing suit. But apparently there was some sort of assumption that is you are large breasted and have a large rib cage you shouldn’t wear a strapless gown. I agree about Jennifer Grey. I saw her in a Christmas movie a few years back and I had to check the credits twice. She erased everything that made her Jennifer Grey.
    I also know as I begin to blog I will attract bullies. It’s not a question of “if” but “when.” I’ve been a target for them off on my entire life because I do what I want to do. I go my own way, wear what I like. In school I took the classes I was interested in and didn’t get together with friends and plan out our classes together. Eventually it became my choice to be different, but at first when I was very young it was through ignorance. I just didn’t see the logic in copying others unless it was something I wanted to do it. Bullies seem to hate individuals.

    • sallie bissell on January 8, 2014 at 2:25 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Kristen– Just wanted to say as an old, traditionally published writer (5 books out, 6th coming out in April) that I am loving your blog! I took a few years off in mid-career and returned to find the publishing industry totally changed–old houses gone, everybody self-publishing, blogging, social-media-ing like all get out. Downloaded your book on that (which helped me sort it all out) and have just bought the newest one (love the cover, btw). Still working up the courage to blog, but I’ll get there, sooner or later. I did want to comment about your last several blogs, about bullying and this impossible body we are all supposed to have. I noticed early on, back when I was trying to put my 5’10” self into size 10 jeans (if I tried that today I’d probably have an aneurysm), that television presents an impossible version of life. Everyone is skinny and beautiful, but eats ice cream, cookies, beer and pizza all the time. I know the advertisers are trying to sell their product in as compelling a way as possible, but I think it sets up a real sense of frustration for those who haven’t figured out they’re being gamed. As for bullying, I think the relative anonymity of the internet has given some folks license to be their snarkiest, and, as my agent advised me long ago, the people who write the nastiest, most undeserving reviews are usually the ones who don’t have the talent to write a grocery list. So keep at it, girl (I’m a fellow Southerner, so I can say stuff like that). I look forward to your blog every day, and eagerly await the next one! All best regards, Sallie Bissell

  30. This was a wonderful use of a soap box! I agree with you in spades. Unfortunately, we have given power to a few fashion designers and fashion editors to dictate what is attractive. If I found skeletons with skin attractive, I would have become a mortician. I love to people watch at airports and the first thing you realize is that what the magazines call attractive, is less than one tenth of one percent of the world’s population. “Normal” people still find each other attractive enough to get together and make families. Curves are good…no…great!

  31. Kristen your photos and your luminescent personality are proof that the magazines are wrong. Living in the shadows of LaLa Land I find the homogenous society stifling. It’s discouraging to see so many ageist trends carry over onto the page, like they’ve bled onto the silver and small screens. Having lived a fair amount of my life in France, I’ve seen first-hand the difference in attitudes toward aging. We need more diverse characters, female and male, on the page as well as the screen. And on our airwaves as well …. Thanks for being a sparkling example of possibility to writers (and readers) of all ages.

  32. Wow. I really, really loved this article. It was so refreshing! I have suffered from self esteem issues all my life and as a result, haven’t felt ‘sexy’ since before my daughter was born. I now weigh more than I have my entire life but dress to hide it. I find it hard to buy clothes and dread having to buy in the BBB (Big, Bold and Beautiful) stores because of the stigma attached to them. I have written two novels for young adults, and though the characters are still fairly good looking, they do suffer from self esteem issues. I think my favourite character is Gabriel, because he has a stutter, is tall and gangly (as a teen) and isn’t remotely vain. Anyway, my books are The Heart’s Discovery and Worlds Apart (with the third, Dreams Come True, coming out soon). Thank you so much for the article!

  33. Kristen, you’re gorgeous, good looking lady.

    Yes, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting regarding this ‘body image’ issue. I took it to twitter and discuss with some friends about this.

    First: there’s a huge beauty misconception in my country. Every girl is beautiful if she has light skin, long and black hair, and slim. Of course, the face has to be acne/wrinkle/freckle free.

    I have fair skin (and freckles). Some women have darker skin and it makes them intimidated by the commercials. Some people like to make fun of people with dark skin which is irritating.

    Second: i’m married with a 4 y.o son. My breasts are sagging, my tummy is flabby, and I got stretchmarks here and there. People make a fuss about it, saying that nothing fits me, that my hands are big like a pig. At first I was annoyed, but now I sarcastically laugh with them.

    Every woman wants to look attractive, but each individual is unique.

    I read a book titled Hungry, written by a plus size model (i forgot her name). The bullying in modeling industry is really fierce. Matchstick jeans, WTF?!

    Since I’m used to be alone, nothing bothers me anymore. I don’t dress to impress others. I dress to be happy, to look good according to me. I’m glad that I can do things that make me happy, and I’m also glad that I’m not anybody’s clone.

    Do you think girls nowadays are like robots? They all look the same.

    Bullies seem to hate individuals, yes it’s true.

    Oh, yes, I don’t buy magazines anymore. I don’t watch MTV/Channel V bscause it’s so boring.

    1. Real life CLONE WARS, LOL.

  34. Interesting and timely (should say far overdue!) post, Kristen. More people should be writing and, more importantly, acting on these precepts. It’s time for the world, and especially America, to see real women, not airbrushed and Photoshopped stick figures.

  35. Discussions concerning women and body-image never cease to amaze me. So often I hear women complaining about themselves; although they are quite sexy and alluring. Ladies take a tip from a man: your voice, body language, intellect, and spirit all contribute to how a man sizes you up.
    Forget the magazines: The model in the photo doesn’t really look like that either…so why should you? Those photos are massively computer enhanced.
    Kristin: On writer’s and revolutions…look up Vaclav Havel. Author and first President of the Czech Republic.
    On corporate bullies: They not only mentally torture their employees, they bully the general public as well. Try to open your own business in a niche market and see what happens. Big corporations invest heavily in lobbyists to create mountains of laws and regulations designed to silence the business aspirations of John and Jane Q. Public. Which are then ruthlessly enforced by Gov’t agents.
    Shameless Plug, but it is germane. My short story “Stasis” deals with these issues.

  36. I adore you! By the way ,Mikey is bullying me ! 😉

  37. I LOVE this post. First, you are stunningly beautiful. Please don’t ever doubt that. Magazines should put you in them.

    I am part of the group that does not buy magazines. I am a real plus-size woman and I fight against it all the time–not because I’m a size 18-20 but because I want to be healthier. But buying clothes is a nightmare and I hate it. I hate that buying a size 16 wedding dress was going to cost me an additional hundred dollars–even though it was the RACK dress that lots of other people tried on. I didn’t get it, by the way, because a very wise guy-of-honour asked me if I would feel like the princess in it, or would it always be the fat girl dress. Ten years later, that “oh wait, it’s $100 more because it’s an oversize dress” still burns.

    And I see it in young girls I work with. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s at the root of much of the cutting and destructive self-injuring that I see.

    I see it with one of my writer friends, completely crushed at the cruel scoffing some anonymous (insert unprintable word here) thought would be funny.

    I see it in my family, I’m ashamed to say. If you want to fit in…

    But I don’t. I choose decency and joy. Even in my size 18-20 body.

  38. This is one of the best statements I have heard on beauty EVER!!! I struggle constantly with the way I look and was raised to look and feel about myself. As a Mother I am constantly telling my daughters how beautiful they are. How unique. How wonderful. I constantly tell them to be themselves, love themselves and show them videos of how the airbrushing workings on ad campaigns so that they know it isn’t real. I try hard to help them embrace their individual beauty. But I know deep down that the true way to get them to embrace their own beauty, is to embrace mine. I’, still working on that one!
    Thank you for this awesome post!

    “Why are we allowing this homogenization?

    A Jewish nose or Armenian nose or an African nose is just as lovely and far more interesting than a fake Hollywood nose. Sarah Jessica Parker is an actress I respect and admire. She has embraced her lovely and distinctive features and continues to have a great career. On the other hand, Jennifer Grey (from the original Dirty Dancing) gave into the pressure of bullying and traded being a stunning Jewish woman to be a “cute white girl”…and hasn’t really worked since.

    Embrace gaps in teeth, different noses, freckles, curves and wild, curly hair. Embrace the naturally super thin gal as well as the gal with curves. There are all different kinds of beauty and we are missing that as a culture.

    Be brave!”

  39. *sigh* an issue I’ve dealt with all my life. As a 4’6″ woman, I don’t even have a place on the “BMI” charts of how I’m “supposed” to be. Yet I clearly remember in college a women’s health course I had to take for my bachelor’s, during which I heard that apparently I was supposed to be 90 pounds or so. (My rheumatologist of the time would have been really nervous about that; my current rheumatologist has been known to freak out if my weight goes anywhere near as low as 100… currently it’s about 130 and he’s fine with it). Shopping? Lemme see: I have curves, like women are supposed to (scientific fact). But yeah, trying to shop is a nightmare. I order stuff from Blair sometimes and find that the sweatpants are a bit too big at size 12, but somehow jeans at the exact same size fit fine. Nope, I don’t get it. Thankfully, as others have noted, I am working from home. I’m a game designer and occasional writer. I don’t slop around in really crappy clothes, I don’t eat donuts (I don’t even like them mostly), I’m just a person.

  40. One reason I admire Jennifer Lawrence so much is because she said that she would never diet for a role, that she doesn’t believe in dieting but she believes in exercise. She’s considered “fat” by Hollywood standards and she said she doesn’t care. And I believe it. She’s quirky and beautiful and has a round face that probably makes her look heavier than she is. She’s a great role-model and she also has had an amazing career that’s only going to get better.

    Great article — I’ve never really cared about my weight because I’m active (though less than I used to be) and after playing soccer for 10 years, my thighs will always be huge; after five kids my hips aren’t getting any narrower. Coldwater Creek is the only place I can get jeans that fit right. I think it’s more important to be healthy than “skinny.”

  41. You are always so uplifting! I too moved countless times when I was young. Ok. I counted. It was 15. And I too was bullied. I remember being chased home by gangs of girls, having rocks thrown at me at the bus stop and having no friends. I mean none. Because every time I’d make a couple we’d move again. So what became my refuge? Books and writing. Perhaps if we hadn’t gone through all that pain we would not be the writers and communicators that we are today. We can go to that place, grab hold of the pain and put pen to paper. We are better writers for it.

    Keep writing! I look forward to more of your posts.

  42. You amaze me! I don’t want to tell anyone my weight or age and you have pictures posted with both. Of course, if anyone sees anything other than the happy glow on your face, they’re blinder than the Three Blind Mice.
    I have the same love/hate relationship with my body image and my weight as most American women. Most of the time, I couldn’t give a fig about it. When the pants start pinching the waistline or don’t fasten at all, I get serious about watching what I eat. I have exercised regularly for 20 years, so if I want to get rid of the extra cookies (don’t we all love Christmas for this reason?), I have to eat less.
    Thanks for not being afraid to talk about hard subjects. I admire you for that almost as much as for helping a little wannabe writer like me.
    BTW, you were a gorgeous bride and look great now (even on the outside).

  43. The other night my wife (early 40s) was complaining about her looks. She has two wonderful kids, and her body shows the affects. I stopped her short in her complaining and told her I actually like those things about her that she was complaining about. She asked me why and I told you, “It makes you look real.” I want a real woman, not some collection of photoshopped pixels. Those wrinkles and smile lines are testament to eighteen incredible years we’ve spent together. I wouldn’t want a single one of them gone.

    • Patti on January 8, 2014 at 4:52 pm
    • Reply

    Great posts on bullying and on our culture’s crazy narrow definition of beauty. As grandma of a 4 yo girl with significant physical (visible) handicaps, I worry about whether or not her spirit will even survive, let alone thrive, and whether she will be able to find enough good, thoughtful people in her life who will see her beauty and value her for who she is. Coincidentally (or not) I just came across this amazing Ted talk by the “ugliest” woman in the world.

    I’m hopeful that good, loving people speaking truth can out-post, out-comment, outweigh, and finally just overwhelm the bullies using media to shame, torment, and intimidate. But as Kristin says, it won’t happen if we run.

    Another exceptional (unfortunately) example of someone trying hard to expand our perception of what beautiful people look like is here: Wouldn’t you love to see these in your town’s shop windows?

  44. By the time I was about 14 I had begun to notice that women’s magazines were full of bodies and faces I could never aspire to and stopped buying the. I still don’t buy them but I’ve had a career in marketing so I know about photoshop and what they do to enhance those images. When I was a kid I used to stand in front of the mirror smiling as hard as I could so I could grow crows feet. I’ve never fitted in.

    I have a 43″ chest and a 35″ waist. I cannot get women’s tops to fit me. If they fit across the boobs, they are like a bell tent around the waist. The fact is, women are a certain way, we look a certain way and when we get old and have kids we um… well frankly, we sag. It’s just the way were are.

    So yeh, I’m with you. I like the way I look because it’s who I am.



  45. I do all kinds of crap to try and hold back the signs of age, but that’s because I want my outsides to match my outsides. But, I love my age AND my curves. (Ok, so what if I paid for the top half–pregnancy and breast feeding are a cruel bitch.)

  46. I have really enjoyed the insights you’ve shared on the topic of bullying. As a therapist I help people overcome the consequence of being a target of bullying behavior. I was so impressed with your comments, I felt compelled to write about “family bullying” on my blog, quoting you and directing my readers to your site. Thanks for speaking out and taking a strong stand on this pervasive problem. You can find my post here:

    • Dellah on January 8, 2014 at 7:14 pm
    • Reply

    Wow, I can’t believe Lululemon would try that bull. Pilling has everything to do with laundering and the quality of fabric… I wish I could remember what forum I saw a discussion about gaps between a woman’s legs the other day… a few girls were discussing the fact that you could be thick and still have a gap, or thin and not have one at all. It depends on a number of factors about a person’s body… and it certainly isn’t the sole cause of pilling in fabric. Actually, I think they were picking on Jennifer Lawrence (whose beautiful, of course), but it doesn’t matter who it was was because no woman should be judged on a gap or no-gap basis, and certainly not on the poor quality of a product meant merely to generate products.

    Being super petite, at just 5ft tall with a size 32 bust (which department stores where I live don’t even carry in adult sizes anymore, they used to so I guess its just not profitable anymore) and size 5 feet, I can’t find clothes that don’t need tailoring. Despite how much I love fashion and shopping, I learned early not to hold myself up to standards unrealistic for me. I still read fashion mags because I love the looks in them, I’ve learned not to focus on the models because they are just there to display the clothing, not to tell me how to live or what I’m worth.

    I saw an interesting time lapse video a few weeks ago showing a model posing for a picture from the moment she arrived on set without makeup to the last brush stroke on photoshop– she no longer even looked like the same woman despite being beautiful even without all of that attention. You may have seen it but in case you haven’t or anyone else is interested, here’s there link:

    It’s astounding to me how we as a culture can know that this is going on yet still allow it to get under our skin… Just because someone is putting an ideal out there doesn’t mean we need to accept it as our own.

  47. Another fantastic article on an essential topic. Good on you for swimming against the tide and speaking out! My favourite characters – to read and write – are those that are at odds to some degree with what is deemed acceptable or desirable by society’s standards. Pretty, skinny, perky, well-behaved plastic people are a bore to read AND to write. Give me ordinary, healthy, interesting people who live an authentic life and I’m hooked! Cheers. 🙂

  48. Let me tell you about size 16 in Australia – it is NOT what 16 used to be. 16/18 is what size 12 used to be: before clothes manufacture was done in China where their idea of sizes is completely different. In my wardrobe I have an old size 12 suit jacket and a new size 16 suit jacket: same label. They are the exact same dimensions.

    Aussie women everywhere are going through a savage pounding the the self-esteem department due to this. I now buy 18 to fit me and I am a small woman. It’s ridiculous.

    Kristen, you look awesome. You always do. Thanks for speaking out about bullying. It is a critically important topic and there is too much of it in the online writing community. More power to you!

    1. We have the same insanity here. They say “Don’t use a scale. Go buy your clothing size.” Um, which one? Cheap clothes, I am probably a 16. Finer clothes? A six. I am anywhere from a 6-16. WTH?

      1. It stinks. Guys used to be exempt. Now the same is happening to them. This planet has lost the plot… but there is always hope. You’re right. In numbers, we have strength.

      2. This really gets under my skin. There is no standardization in clothing sizes so buying clothes, especially online, is always a gamble. I’m what they call a “pear” shape: small on top, small waist, fat butt and thighs. The shape won’t leave me. Even when I was 30 pounds lighter, I was still pear. But so many clothing designs think all women (at least the attractive women in their minds) are matchstick figures. So when I find a pair of pants that nicely accommodate my butt and thighs, I have to alter the waistband to fit. Pain the butt, pun intended 🙂

  49. I think this is right-on re corporate bullying. I’m one of the ‘Invisibles” i.e. women over sixty. I have given up on buying clothes, and now I’m going to have to go on a diet because my size 14 and 16 jeans are so distressed, they look like oversized versions of something Adam Levine would wear. 😉 I have hips, too, and those low-rise jeans never fit my body, even when I was 16. I’m totally disgusted with the fashion industry. They’re losing serious money on me, btw.

    Thanks for your honesty. I’m reading Rise of the Machines and hanging on every word.

    1. Awesome and THANK YOU!

  50. YOU are BEAUTIFUL, Kristen! And so insightful.

    1. *blushes* Thanks :D. I appreciate it.

  51. I HATE clothes shopping – I’m 5’11” and most stores don’t carry slacks or jeans long enough. (Oh, and I have HIPS!) Somewhere down the line the fashion industry decided that everyone over 5’7″ requires a 32 inch inseam. Um, no. I need a 35 inch inseam. I finally found jeans that fit – and are long enough – at a national chain store, but I have to order them because they don’t carry the “ultra” tall lengths in store! (I shudder to think how hard shopping must be for women well over six feet.)

    I have had body image issues most of my life. If I’m being honest, I still struggle with them. But, I’m getting better. It took me until I was 45 to start feeling comfortable in my own skin – to accept myself as the middle-aged mom that loves video games and writing. I’m now 51 and have decided to hell with what others think – I’m going to wear what I like. My hubby seems to like the fact that I have a marked preference for clothing and shoes with studs, lol!

    I don’t color my hair – I’m a strawberry blonde in the process of going grey. I can’t wait! As soon as my hair goes grey, I’m having it streaked with purple!

    Now if I can just find a way to deal with my pet peeve – the commercials that insinuate that I am somehow less than everyone else if I don’t have blindingly white teeth. GRR! My teeth have a naturally yellow tint and I can’t have them whitened because of all of my crowns. This seems to be the hardest issue for me to deal with, but I’ll get there – I hope!

    Keep up the good work Kristen!

    • RK on January 8, 2014 at 8:38 pm
    • Reply

    You look great Kristen Lamb.

    I never read ‘women’s magazines’ because it’s generally full of fluff & insecurity. As a young girl of color, it was clear that in those magazines the only attractive women were whiter or lighter and I am a dark skinned AA woman who is happy with the way I look. Ignore those magazines. They are designed to make you feel bad for growing older, not having a certain type of body, or anything else that is different.

    I exercise and eat healthy to feel better, but I don’t care about some media assessment of how I look. I look to books and novels that feature a variety of heroines and that is the sort of thing that I write. I rarely watch TV anymore because of the same cookie cutter looking women.

    This obsession with looks is part of the whole bullying culture that has spread like wildfire. Largely their are too many unhappy, idle, people in the world who has nothing else to do but tear other people down. The line of legitimate criticism and vigorous debate has too often crossed into cyber bulling and mob mentality bloggers. I have seen important discussions on serious issues devolve into nothing more than name calling.

    For me, I just cheer on the people out there who are authentic. Who share their creative abilities, add good to the word, and support others.

    • RK on January 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm
    • Reply

    Sorry for all the typos!

    1. LOL. It’s a blog comment. And we just blame the NSA for hacking in and misspelling our words. Well, I do :D. Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

  52. Reblogged this on Lara McGill and commented:
    Spread the word…society needs to make a change!

  53. Reposted on

    1. THANK YOU!

    • Mandy Wenchel on January 8, 2014 at 9:30 pm
    • Reply

    Yes, we are indeed living in a world where society sees on the thin and skinny as the right kind of body. But I don’t care. I believe that you have to be comfortable in your own skin for you to show your own beauty from within.

    Mandy @ Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Sydney

  54. This is a great blog post. I happen to think you look beautiful.

    1. Thank you, and I don’t have a problem with my looks (…um, yet). Where I get frustrated is TRYING TO FIND CLOTHES. Society frowns on donning fig leaves, LOL.

  55. I did allow my oldest daughter to have plastic surgery. At 16, she was a size 6, and had a double E bra cup. Her back hurt all the time, her bra straps were digging into her shoulders, and she was getting headaches that the doctor said was from the nerves in her shoulders being inflamed by the weight. Her peers only made things worse. After the surgery she was down to a C-cup, and a much happier girl, physically and emotionally. It did cause her problems nursing her baby six years later, but she swears it was worth it.

    Personally, I’m glad we come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and features. The world would be a boring place if we all looked the same, and I would be horribly embarrassed if I thought I was hugging my husband and it was someone else!

    PS – I’m a size 24/26. If I stick to a 1000 calorie a day diet and walk 3-5 miles a day, I can get down to a size 18, but that’s as small as I go because I just stop losing (darn you polycystic ovary syndrome!). It’s okay, because, to quote my husband, there’s more of me to love.

    1. Kudos to you for supporting your daughter. I have a friend who had breast reduction surgery many years ago. Her mom was unhappy that she chose to do it and I think her mom also resented me because I referred my friend to the plastic surgeon 🙂 Still, I remember sitting with my friend when the anesthesiologist came in to discuss the surgery with her. The first thing he did was list all the health benefits she would enjoy from having the surgery. One funny story about her experience: She told the plastic surgeon that she wanted breasts the same size as mine. The surgeon said it would be too radical to go that small. She had to settle for a B cup 🙂

  56. Hmm…back when I sewed (a teenager in the ’60’s) a size 12 in a Simplicity pattern was 32 inch bust, 25 inch waist and 33 inch hips. That’s a size 2 now. Size 9 (which I wore) was 31 inch bust, 23 inch waist and 32 inch hips. Tape measures don’t lie and who’d be dumb enough to put all the work into sewing a dress (or suit or formal) without being accurate? We ARE larger. I’m stunned walking around my campus that most of the girls I see are chubbier than I am. I’m 62, 5’1″ 160, size 10 (current size 10 which is something like a size 16 in 1968). I have arthritis from sports injuries and wear and tear; it’s worse when I’m heavy or out of shape. I sincerely feel concerned for these very large girls — where are they going to be when they are my age? It’s not about looks. It’s not about wrinkles or the size of someone’s ass. It’s about being healthy and fit enough to live a long life without diminished mobility. No, I did not think of this in my 30’s. Never. Or my 40’s. In my 50’s I faced early-onset osteoarthritis in my hip and had hip resurfacing. It took my (inept) doctor two years to diagnose this because I was (allegedly) TOO YOUNG.

  57. Matchstick ? Toothpick? What. The. Hell.

    I have a hard time finding clothes because I have broad shoulders, and I’m short. 5’4″, but even the “petite” (ha) sizes that are supposed to be for 5’4″ and under are waaaaay too long. If I could afford it, I would have clothes made for me. I despise clothes shopping.

  58. I absolutely LOVE that there is more emphasis being put on having healthier standards for women. I really love Sophia Vergara in her commercials when she says that they need in their clothing, “More this” and “less this.” Yay curves!! Along with that thought, it really breaks my heart when I hear young girls talking about plastic surgery…I wish they could all read this post.

  59. I adore you for writing this and I’ll be sharing it with my readers on Facebook. I’m a size 12, 5’4″ and the smallest I’ve ever been is a size 8. If I recall, Marilyn Monroe was a 12 and nobody was calling her ugly. Before Twiggy, the standard of beauty was different. I have a really hard time finding clothes to my taste that fit properly. Shopping always makes me feel badly. I feel judged. And yes, I have a gap between my front teeth (which are all straight). My choice was to endure 8 root canals to enable an orthodontist to close it, have beaver-sized caps put on, or grin and bear it. Know what? I kept it. I like my space now and friends say it makes me look friendly. I like me and if somebody doesn’t like it, it’s just their loss. In my opinion, what makes a person attractive is their degree of comfort in their own skin. Self-confidence is alluring.

  60. Reposted on wordpress jessmollybrownauthor

  61. So much YES in this post! I might have even shouted YES out loud and possibly frightened my neighbours. In particular, I love that you’ve highlighted the fact that we as consumers – and women – have the power to change it. Yes there is pressure to look a certain way, but we can give into it, or we can just… not. I’d even take it further into the pressure put on women to be or live a certain way (prioritising marriage and children above all else, for example): we can give into it, and feel there’s something wrong with us if we are passionate about our careers or *still* single in our 30s – or we can just own our choices and anyone who says they are wrong is, wrong. It’s easier said than done, but the only way this will change is if we speak up and force it to!

  62. SUCH a great post! I, too, have hips and thighs and it has driven me crazy this summer that I can’t find a pair of 3/4-length pants that I can get all the way up. This used to be a thing. And I haven’t gained any weight!

    I always thought it was crazy that girls I went to school with would get up early to do their make-up and straighten their hair – I wanted to spend that extra half hour in bed! And I haven’t changed my attitude since. I just can’t be bothered making the effort that every advertisement I see seems to think I should.

    • thewritingblues on January 9, 2014 at 2:52 am
    • Reply

    This was fantastic, Kristen, thanks, and right in line with something I wrote earlier today. I love coincidences.

    I inherited a curvy, muscular build that will always be heavier and bigger than what’s considered normal, attractive, healthy. Right now I’m a lot heavier because my body has put on stress weight but I still feel attractive, if not healthy. I’m working on getting stronger after a couple of years of medical stuff but I’m also accepting that my weight is just my weight; it really doesn’t define me. (I love being in my 30s!) My body is the way it is. And IT’S OKAY. When it’s ready, my body will drop the weight. Until then, I’m thinking of the extra pounds as battle scars….

    Thanks again!

  63. As always, thanks for another great post, Kristen. Visiting your blog makes me both laugh and feel better about myself.

    I work in advertising and I can tell you that the bullying only seems subtle because it happens out of sight. You do NOT want to know the kind of comments a room full of very average-looking, over 30 marketing people can make about the models / actors while viewing castings!

  64. This is a beautiful piece. I think that as authors people in the mainstream also want to see the “bright” side of life and resist anything that makes them think too hard: perhaps why literary fiction is always a hard sell.

  65. Sometimes I wonder if Hollywood started the trend or we did and then Hollywood rolled off on it.
    In either case it’s terrible that we can’t just be left to be who we are. When I look at my own body I think I look horrible but when I look at other women who look the same I think “she is beautiful.”
    I think we’re wired to be self-critical. It’s interesting that the girl amongst my friends with the most sexual energy is the overweight one. She has so much charisma and self-respect that she doesn’t need anything from the outside.

  66. Kristen, I read, but seldom comment on your inspiring blog. You get so many incredible comments I often feel as though I have nothing to add. Seeing all the heartfelt comments on this most relevant post has made me feel I truly am not alone. Rock on, Kristen and all you other defiant ladies.

  67. I love this, Kristen!

    Growing up, I was bullied too and I bought into the idea that, if I didn’t look a certain way, I wasn’t beautiful. I spent a lot of time thinking little of myself but thankfully, I didn’t have the resources to “correct” those flaws. Now, I look back and I want to both smack and hug that teen. What the hell was I so worried about? I was fine just as I was. Just as I’m fine now. Sure, I could stand to get rid of a few extra pounds but a lower weight on the scale doesn’t make me a better person.

    As a mother, it especially kills me to see children obsessing over their looks. I’ve worked hard to give my kids the tools to appreciate themselves and others for who they are, not how fancy they look. Society’s message is strong though and it scares me.

    One of the most important thing we can do as parents or role models is to accept ourselves first. If we don’t accept ourselves for who we are, right now, we can’t hope to really pass on the message that our children and anybody who looks up to us is acceptable for who they are.

    As cliche as it sounds, the most important beauty is in the character. It shines in the person’s eyes and smile and especially their actions. Mother Theresa may not have looked like Cindy Crawford but she radiated beauty.

    Thank goodness we’re not all the same! There’s so much beauty in each one of us, if we only look.

  68. Reblogged this on Theo Fenraven and commented:
    Sarah Madison pointed me to this blog, and I thank her. We ARE living in a culture of bullies, and I don’t like it either.

  69. Kristin,
    I agree 100%! We all need to embrace our individuality as beauty, Not Conformity!
    Well said!

  70. Beauty isn’t a tangible ideal! It’s a constant energy. One that is present in all living beings.

    But that truth doesn’t sell anything. Speak your truth, Kristen. Real women are in the majority. If we combined our efforts, stood up to the corporate bullies, just said no to unrealistic standards, the tide might even turn. We have to stop buying the images that they are forcing us to conform to. Young tiny girls are easier to control and manipulate. That is what the mainstream media image of ideal ‘femaleness’ is pushing us towards. Some stupid sex object to be pushed around, abused, and discarded at 29. Why are we signing up for that?

    The feminine beauty that exhibits our life giving and life sustaining power, is shamed right out of us. We fight, beg, and fuss to reduce ourselves, literally and figuratively, and in the process give away our true beauty. We become useless slaves, giving our full attention to some meaningless task, hoping that all the time and money we’ve wasted to look ‘perfect’ will somehow prove our social relevance. Give us the rights to be heard and respected.

    This battle keeps me up at night. Thank you for being another voice against the subjugation of womenhood.

  71. Reblogged this on eileengriffin.

  72. Great blog! I feel like you’ve been reading my mind!! As an author I have been trying to keep my characters realistic and beautiful in their own way.

  73. Really enjoyed your post and your honesty! You might like what I am doing…encouraging women to care about themselves…self esteem is sending too many of us to the gutter. Hope you can stop by and YES, I will place you on my blog roll!

  74. Loved this and shared with my midlife women writers’ groups on Facebook. There is a movement afoot among bloggers and online magazines to have more realistic representations for women in midlife. Considering we have more money and buying power, as well as time and discriminating tastes, it seems to make sense that marketers, manufacturers, and influencers would pay more attention to our demographic.
    Sometimes the earworm is Short People by Randy Newman…
    And thanks for the writing encouragement on the different and unique. The jeans and makeup even trickles down into womens’ fiction and romance in publishing – in all forms, not just traditional. Women in midlife would like to see more heroines in their own second chapters of life, with heroes who have matured. Mellowed doesn’t have to mean boring. But with agents fresh out of college or newly navigating life on their own, with weddings and new babies on their minds, it’s hard to be heard with a midlife romance.

  75. I’m glad you’re keeping this topic going. As a woman of 63 I’ve lived through a lot of the changes in clothing, etc. The difference between sizes from cheap to designer is laughable. So, if we have a lot of money we can delude ourselves into thinking we’re a size 4?? That’s just so damn wrong! I started my blog the year I was about to turn 60, because I was having ‘issues’ with that #. It was the best thing I’ve ever done, aside from raising 2 great sons.

    I modeled back in the day, even owned a modeling agency. I used to speak to women’s groups and preach the gospel of accepting yourself as you are. “You have earned those lines and wrinkles,” I used to say. Until they showed up on MY face! Like you, I take care of my skin, stay out of the sun as much as possible, and use good skin care products. When I look at celebrities who’ve had plastic surgery, people who can afford THE best and yet they look like freaks afterward, I figure I don’t stand a chance. Better to just be grateful for what God gave me and let it go.

    You and I have a lot in common…I went to 14 schools in 12 years. Maybe it’s what makes us flexible? Who knows?

  76. An issue near and dear. Those of us who get it need to keep being vocal, keep sharing our diversity, keep speaking out against fat shaming, beauty shaming, unrealistic stereotypes–whatever. Women’s magazines…ahh. I do see SOME improvement, for example Glamour makes a lot of intentional efforts to include different sized women, women of color, features on women who are accomplishing things in politics, world health, etc. Yes, it is still shallow at times, but a very concerted effort means I will still pick it up.

    I was very annoyed by Elle’s cover treatment of Mindy Kahling, setting her cover to black and white while the other 3 alternate covers for that month are all white women in color. Hmmm. Why? Mindy appears lighter skinned with the b&w treatment. Was that intentional? It raises a lot of questions.
    More on this here:

  77. Unfortunately, bullying and shaming about what women are “supposed” to look like is like foot-binding – we do it to each other.
    A dear friend and I used to bond over our diets du jour. I stopped that when I realized I had to take care of my body to avoid chronic pain and live a full life, not to present a certain image. My friend thought that was a great idea, cheering, so supportive!
    On her last visit, my friend started giving me tips on how to color my hair – my dear, SO many grays!
    “Yes, I know,” I told her. “I’m rocking the Silver Fox.”
    Now we have to find something new to bond over. Without self-loathing we have much less in common to talk about.

  78. Thank you for your posts about bullying. I too have been a victim of bullying. Middle school was a nightmare – I took after my Dad, he didn’t have breasts either.

  79. It’s sad that unrealistic “beauty” expectations are still so prevalent in pop culture. There are actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and others who are portrayed as beautiful and they’re not stick thin – but they are still tall and relatively thin. I am shamed to admit that I was into modeling a few years back and I had to quit the fashion industry – being way too thin already at 5`10`and 119 pounds but my hips were “too large” at 36 inches to be accepted by the big agencies. It’s ridiculous. :S

    I switched to hair and promotional modeling which is much, much more “forgiving” in its beauty expectations. Read: They want healthy women, not starved 18 year old waifs.

    What I noticed is that when I gained weight and curves, I got much more male attention. What men find attractive is much, much different from what fashion designers and fashion photographers do. There are some models who are “older” in the 35-40 range but they’re still quite thin and photo shopped… yeah… there are still so many things that need to change in the fashion and editorial world.

    What happened to the 1950’s when a woman’s natural beauty was more widely accepted? Hm…

    • MK on January 9, 2014 at 8:52 pm
    • Reply

    Reblogged this on Muslim Girl in America and commented:
    One of my favorite bloggers is Kristen Lamb. She’s a great resource for writers (and I HIGHLY recommend her classes as well). But she seems to have lived a life parallel to mine at times. Her recent posts (and the other 2 recent ones referenced in her blog) deal with bullying. She talks about bullying that writers endure on sites like Amazon and Goodreads, but she also talks about her own experiences.

    I didn’t have the easiest time growing up (as you may have gleaned from my blog from time to time). I have blocked out most of my high school (which I like to call my “Dark Ages”) and I have thus far avoided my reunions and most of my high school classmates (except when I head home to visit my parents and inevitably run into one or more of them). Being the only, shall we say, tan-colored, person in school (except for my brother) for the majority of my experience, it’s not hard to imagine what happened.

    I got off pretty lucky, though, overall. The hatred, the comments, the just plain meanness of folks was still tamer than others received. I was really depressed through high school, but I kept my head down, studied and worked hard, and I made the best of each situation that I could. I had to go to high school, so I just muddled through.

    I completely agree with Kristen that bullies grow up and become adult bullies. Several adult bullies were my bosses through the years, coworkers, and even, while I worked retail or at a coffee shop, my customers.

    And, just like the blog below, my looks were also apparently up for criticizing. I even had a recent suitor tell me that I didn’t look good enough for him. Why should we put up with it?

    I recently posted a video from Upworthy (I strongly recommend watching it – see my post “How much space should I occupy?”). Letting others decide how much space we should occupy and how we should look is ridiculous. To quote a recent video with actress Jennifer Lawrence, “What are you going to do? Be hungry every single day to make other people happy?”

    I AM ME. And I’m pretty darn amazing, thank you very much.

    What experiences have you had with bullies?


  80. It’s comforting and relieving that I’m not the only person out there who feels this way! I remember this one time I was chatting with a fashion designer about his line and he started to make a point about women’s bodies not fitting correctly into the clothes he makes. He used me as an example and literally said that my butt was too high, my stomach was also too high, my hips were too wide, thighs too big, breasts too low and took photos of how I looked and compared them to “how I should look”. I was sort of aghast with his blunt honesty but didn’t think much of it ( I had already been in beauty contests & worked with modeling agencies and my sense of self beauty was already destroyed). That was years ago and to this day I still think of what he said EVERY TIME I buy clothes, EVERY TIME I put clothes on and EVERY TIME I look in the mirror. When I was in high school I used to think I was pretty but since I entered my twenties I have gained anxieties about going out in public because I don’t want to repulse someone with my looks. I think a lot of people can’t think for themselves so they eat up what ever is served to them through media and celebrities and a lot of people get hurt as a result.

  81. What a great and important post, Kristen, and what wonderful comments! As so many have already mentioned, you are gorgeous. You and I are about the same height (I’ve got an inch on you), but you looked a lot better at 168 pounds than I did when I carried about the same weight. Of course, I wasn’t working out as much then. I’ve gotten myself down to about 142 and the fact I believe I look better is just icing on my desire to feel better and treat myself better by exercising and eating (mostly) healthy food. In fact, I believe I look better *because* I feel better. No thanks to the so-called fashion industry or women or fitness magazines. I stopped looking at women’s magazines long ago when I realized they were making me depressed. Funny story: somehow my husband got a subscription to Shape magazine (we have no idea how that happened). Anyway, it goes right into the recycle bin because even my husband can’t stand to see the photos of matchstick models 🙂

  82. I couldn’t agree more with this post. I was a matchstick girl until my kidney transplant, when the wonders of the prednisone that saves my life caused me to gain…and gain…and gain. I went from 5’1″ and 112 lbs at surgery to 5’1″ (well, at least that didn’t change) and 152 lbs at my wedding a year later.

    I have spent the past seven years working to lose the weight – not for vanity primarily (though, I openly admit that gaining 40 pounds in the course of seven months post-surgery did not help my self-esteem) – but because of diabetes in my family and the diabetogenic qualities of my anti-rejection drugs.

    The up-side is the push-up side of weight gain – I have FABULOUS boobs now. I mean, drop dead, perfect peaches. A cup to C cup has been an eye-opener in the power of breasts. My husband certainly hasn’t objected…though he isn’t as happy about the other men that don’t object either.

    The down-side is the blow to my skinny ego, the increased health risks as a transplant recipient I face, and dreading clothes shopping. Worse yet, the prednisone is a real devil when it comes to weight. You gain it fast, but it is impossible to lose. A two pound loss is a MAJOR victory for me. Major. And that takes starvation and obsessive working out to achieve.

    I have fought my way down to 135 lbs, and I will continue to fight because I’m determined to be healthy and keep the diabetes at bay. I’m going to live. And I’m going to live long, healthy and strong. I won’t get to 112 again, I don’t think. I was 33 and very sick, and 112 was probably too skinny – though it photographed really, really well. I’m hoping for 120 with lots of lean muscle from power-walking, rock-climbing and weight-lifting.

    Ethnicity is a really funny thing in this country. I’m half-Indian and half-Croatian – curry and schnitzel, basically. I don’t really look one thing or another in person. I pass for Mediterranean European or North Indian, depending on whom I’m with. I grew up in the midwest, corn-fed, basketball-loving, big-sky girl with hometown values. I went to school on the East Coast and have lived in Boston since 1996. I’m a Red Sox, Irish-pride, parallel-parking-in-the-snow-with-one-hand maven that loves my local bar, city living and the ocean.

    I’ve never really belonged completely to anything or any group. I got teased for my big nose and strange looks for my parents. I was the smart, creative, geeky girl in a world of bleached blondes and jocks. I was the practical, shy, pragmatic girl among artists and free spirits. I was the oddly young transplant patient who was planning a wedding instead of showing pictures of grandchildren.

    I have decided that I am the ultimate minority of one, and that is where I belong. And this minority is taking the risk of a lifetime in a lifetime full of risks by making 2014 the year I stake my claim as a full-time writer. I have three published books already, am going to submit my next one this week, and I am using Kristen’s book as my guide to marketing myself and my brand. I’m scared shitless, but I’m more determined than scared, so that’s in my favor.

    So here’s to being brave, looking in the mirror, and chasing the dream.

  83. You are spot on. The only way to deal with bullies is to go in all guns blazing. Thanks for leading through example.

  84. Reblogged this on .

  85. I’m 5’3″ and 125 pounds. I love to exercise, to stay toned. I have the same problem you do – seriously, how am I supposed to fit into jeans at regular stores? I think it’s awesome that you had the bravery to post your height and weight, I’ve never seen someone not shaming themselves do so. Especially not and be secure about it. You look great.
    I’m beyond sick and tired of seeing fake models and actresses and all this brainwashing crap telling young, impressionable girls. that looking like a barbie doll is the only way to look beautiful. Especially since those photos are fake. Those women are fake. Sorry, but its true. Women without plastic surgery and computerized touch ups don’t look that way. And it’s causing hundreds of women to literally hate themselves because they don’t look that way.

    On another note, I did something ironic. I let people and circumstances in the world around me affect my blogging self. I stopped blogging on things that required my opinion. I erased all emotion. And not just from my blog. From me. Felt like it was shameful to feel and especially to share what I feel. I let all the negative get to me and keep me on the ground.
    I never thought about it as bullying until I just read this though. And it makes me feel even more stupid. I let everyone else’s shaming me into being someone other than me do just that – I erased me.
    Now I’ve got to find me again. Not easy.

    Thank you for standing up and speaking your mind. You probably help more people than you realize. 😀

  86. I LOVED this blog! Thank you for writing it! It really reminded me of what is important (especially since I feel like I’m always hating my body)! It’s good to hear someone speak out against the ridiculous standards placed on us to “be” something other than we are, which is perfect in our own ways!

  87. You look amazing, Kristen!!
    As for me: I know I’m a little “over the top” – but what am I supposed to do? Disappear out of the sight of “toothpicks” to make it better for them? HAHA – no way!! Without me they wouldn’t even have someone to compare!
    I am who I am – and if someone doesn’t want to look at me – fine: I’m not going to force them.
    Sometimes it’s harder than other times – and yes – I have been bullied for that. I think this is what caused me becoming sick… not for being bullied – they were just idiot – but for some others who KNEW that it’s not my fault and that there’s something from birth on that causes me weight problems – and they still didn’t have my back…
    Oh well… it’s a lot time ago and I don’t want to live in the past – but I figure I learnt not to ever accept anything so bad ever! Nor tolerate it – or even watch it! Should this ever happen I’ll fight back with everything and every possibility I have!

  88. Totally agree with you 100%. I’ve got more muscle and athletic curve to me as well so I can sympathize with having trouble finding jeans/clothes that fit. I’m a size 12 and i’m almost 6ft tall. I refuse to buy into the stereotypical female model because I too believe it encourages the this behavior to continue.

  89. Right on! Thanks for writing this post. Here here!! 🙂

  90. 1. You’re beautiful. 2. I’m 5 foot. Just. Don’t even get me started on jeans. Being titch used to bug the *hell* out of me! As a teen I’d work 12 hour shifts on my feet in heels. And there’s only so many inches heels can give you without crippling you! I was sick to death of short jokes. Also – I hated my nose, it has a bump in it. It was always a toss up between the two in the game ‘what would you change if you could change anything about yourself?’ Thankfully, I developed a C cup, which made up for my face. HOWEVER – I have grown out of it all (the feelings, not the features – if anything, I’m getting *shorter* and as for my nose, sigh…)… But I’m so glad there was no NFP there when I was a tweenager to wave a magic wand. I’m so glad I was given the chance to grow up and get over it and become comfortable in my skin – worth SO much more than a quick fix. I know I’m one of the lucky ones – I have a bf despite my nose – but I so wish that some people would choose work on themselves inside, rather than feeling that outside is the main issue… Great post.

    • Robin on January 13, 2014 at 4:48 am
    • Reply

    I’m 41 and I’m never “fixing” the gap between my front teeth. It doesn’t bother me. It does seem to bother other people who can’t understand why I haven’t “fixed” it. “Why don’t you want to look like the rest of society?” Why should I change myself to make society more comfortable?

  91. I really loved the article! I wish I could say more, but so much of what I would say, has already been said in the above comments… wait… I am sure I could think of something else to say (thinking… thinking…) I guess life provides us with lots of ways to push through fear and find ways to learn to love ourselves in spite of the fact that most of the world loves to try to force us into tiny little boxes, so we will either do their bidding or just shut up and color. That’s probably why they want us skinny, when we refuse to fit in the box, we’re harder to control and we start thinking about other things, instead of make up and the size of our jeans, and when we start to think we become dangerous! I hope the FBI, CIA, and NSA got that 😉 (I also enjoyed, You Know You’re a Writer When…)

  92. I didn’t have time to read every comment (please excuse that). I heard on MediaBuzz that Israel does not allow the sale of magazines with computer enhanced images. Also you can’t appear on Israeli TV unless you have a certain Body Mass Index (BMI). They’ve stopped allowing all of their TV personalities to look anorexic.

    1. Go Israel!

  93. There are some great insights here. I’m short (a little under 5 foot) and have some extra padding around my middle (I gained some weight after I turned 40, which isn’t an uncommon thing for women). I have a hard time finding clothes that fit because most clothes are for well-endowed, tall, thin women with no rear end and toothpick legs. I wish the folks making the clothes would realize not everyone is shaped like Barbie. I have been in the process of learning that I shouldn’t define myself by other’s perceptions of what is acceptable. I still have times where I get tired of being judged by how others think I should but realizing it is there problem and not mine helps. It’s not as big an issue now as it was when I was younger; it’s a difficult thing for young people when they feel like they don’t fit in because they’re considered different. I am working on losing some weight, but that’s for my own benefit and not because I really care about impressing anyone.

  94. Hahaha, that should be “by how others think I should look or be” but you probably get it. 🙂

  95. Reblogged this on mchllmdm and commented:
    Some thoughts about bullying…There is some sound advice here.

  96. Hi I’ve just started blogging and wrote some thoughts on this subject.
    To answer your questions as a heterosexual middle aged male: I’ve never liked the fashion industry, so never taken much interest in clothes. I’ve always been curious about women’s and men’s magazines though never supported them by buying them (btw the female models in mens magazines are larger than those in womens magaines ???) Yes, tired of actresses looking the same and excellent broadcasters disappearing from the TV once they are over 40, where do they go? I struggle to find clothes I like, finding ones that fit is super easy (very slim 6’2″).
    Controversial point: Men traditionally don’t follow fashion, so we get cheaper better quality products (though this is changing for the worse). So women, particularly young women, stop buying into this madness!

  1. […] A must read from Kristen Lamb. Click here for: Refuse to be Homogenized—Beauty, Bullying and M…. […]

  2. […] Yesterday’s post from Kristen Lamb was a great one (go read it..we’ll wait): Refuse to be Homogenized—Beauty, Bullying and Media “Mean Girls.” […]

  3. […] Refuse to be Homogenized—Beauty, Bullying and Media “Mean Girls”. […]

  4. […] I came across this wonderful post by Kristen Lamb titled “Refuse to be Homogenized.” This has obviously struck a nerve with a lot of people–the comments have been […]

  5. […] Kristen Lamb talks about our current culture of bullying and how we can refuse to be a part of that mindset. […]

  6. […] Lamb, a fellow blogger, has written a post called, Refuse to be Homogenized. It’s addresses the “mean girls”, the media, and the bullies that make our lives […]

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