Archive for Body Image



You’ve done hundreds of situps. You’ve tried every diet known to man, and you still can’t get rid of that tummy bulge. Oh, and having given birth several times hasn’t helped either. You might be a candidate for abdominoplasty, commonly known as a tummy tuck. This operation tightens the abdominal area by removing excess fat and skin.

If pregnancy has made the skin around your middle loose and saggy instead of taut and firm, a tummy tuck may be the only way to tighten your abdominal muscles. This procedure is also an option for women who were once obese and are now faced with excess loose skin. But you should consider a tummy tuck as a last resort and not an alternative to weight loss.

Who is not a candidate for abdominoplasty?

  • A woman who is planning to have more children. During the operation, abdominal muscles are tightened. Future pregnancies could cause a hernia.
  • If you plan to lose more weight. Don’t have a tummy tuck until your weight has stabilized.
  • You are worried about scarring. The scar is long and visible. If this bothers you, talk to your doctor about your options.

Complete abdominoplasty

This is the most corrective surgery. Your surgeon will make an incision low on your abdomen, about the same level as your pubic hair. He/she will cut from hip bone to hip bone, countouring the skin and muscle along the way.

Partial abdominoplasty

If your fat deposits are just below your navel this procedure might be for you. A partial or mini abdominoplasty requires shorter incisions. Your doctor may perform this surgery with an endoscope (small camera on the end of a tube) The operation may take up to two hours as opposed to a five hour complete abdominoplasty.

After surgery

  • Whether you have a partial or complete abdominoplasty, you’ll have stitches with a bandage over them. You may even wear a special garment after surgery.
  • No strenuous physical activity for at least six weeks after surgery. Abdominoplasty is a major operation. You may need to take up to one month off of work.
  • When you arrive home make sure you have a supply of loose comfortable clothing that you can take on and off easily.
  • You’ll need a hand held shower and bathroom chair. You won’t be able to stand in the shower for a while.
  • You’ll experience pain and some swelling following the operation. Your doctor will talk to you about pain killers and other options.
  • You may feel sore for several weeks. You may also feel numbness and bruising that may last up to a month or more.

Risks with abdominoplasty

Complications may include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding under the skin
  • Blood clots

These complications are rare, but you are at a greater risk if you have poor circulation, diabetes, heart, lung or liver disease, or if you smoke.

Remember the scars from abdominoplasty will fade slightly, but they will never go away completely.

Maybe diet and exercise are worth another try? If you decide a tummy tuck is for you, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons offers a pre and post operative photo gallery so you can see how your abdomen might look after the operation.

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The Acupuncture Facelift

acupuncture facelift

The energy flow through the face during an acupuncture facelift is also restoring the balance of energy in the body as well. On June 8, 2001, Good Morning America invited the acupuncturist Russell Korda and Deborah Musso, the director of the Sea Change Healing Center in New York, to explain how the facelift works. ‘Sagging skin can be caused by weakness in the spleen and circles under the eye is often linked to liver or stomach weakness. So by putting needles in the pressure points relating to these organs, we can treat the underlying cause,’ explained Musso.

What to Expect

The procedure is done with needles that are ultra-fine and not painful. It is so relaxing that it is considered a great stress reliever as well. Results can be seen after one session but it is advised to have a series of 10-12 sessions to get the full benefit.

You will experience a more natural and toned appearance if that is what you are seeking, without any downtime or swelling. You may experience a firmer jowl line, a reduction of fine lines and deeper ones will be softened. The skin will be plumper due to the stimulation of collagen, the neck toned and bags under the eyes firmed.

Results are known to last up to 3-5 years. Your practitioner may advise you to come in for periodic treatments to maintain the lift, plus this will also keep your body in balance. The balanced energy of the body is known as ‘Qi’ (pronounced “Chee”) in Chinese Medicine.

Overall Benefits

Facial acupuncture is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine, so one’s overall health is taken into consideration. Expect a full consultation with your practitioner. An acupuncturist views health from the energetic balance or imbalance, and will assess this flow along points of the body called meridians. There are needles used along the meridian points in the hands and feet as well as the face during a facial treatment. The needles help with circulation and blood flow, so you may also experience increased energy as a side benefit.

When your circulation is increased, the skin is nourished and younger looking. The needles cause the body to form additional natural collagen, which is what creates a more youthful look.

So many women and men are afraid of going under the knife for facial surgery, and acupuncture is a viable, safe option, free of side effects. If you have had botox injections and want to prolong the effects, an acupuncture facial treatment may be the answer, and save you money.

Teaching and Training

Virginia Doran is an expert in the field of acupuncture and facial rejuvenation. She is an international teacher and practitioner.

Virginia created the Ultimate Facial Rejuvenation Program which consists of: the Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture, Facial Massage and Acupressure, Aromatherapy, Herbology, Nutritional Supplements and Self Care Counseling. Her website offers her schedule for training and certification for facial rejuvenation acupuncture.

Facial Rejuvenating Acupuncture has been performed for thousands of years in China. Baby boomers are not so eager to have a traditional facelift procedure, and alternative options are very appealing.

Acupuncture is available mainly for medical reasons, but what a great way to be introduced to this healing modality via some facial rejuvenation!

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Body Care Basics for Today’s Teens

woman body care

So you have recently turned thirteen. Congratulations! Welcome to the exciting world of teenagers. As a teener you will notice and experience a lot of interesting changes. The most obvious changes would take place in your body. It is as if some sleeping thing has been rudely awakened and is now trying to break out and catch up for lost time.

Changes in your height, weight, skin, teeth, nails, hair will seem to take place all at the same time. You will also start to think “grown up” and start becoming more independent.

These are all normal. Now that you are experiencing these changes, it would be a good idea to learn how to take care of yourself, to fully enjoy your teenage years. This article will look at five of your basic body areas.

Lookout for your eyes

Do you need glasses? Some signs that tell you that you may are:

– frequent headaches especially while or after reading.

– difficulty seeing objects far away or up close

– double vision without crossing your eyes.

A visit to your eye doctor will help to clear things up.

Sweeten Your Smile

Teeth care is very important for teens, especially if you like to eat a lot of sugary stuff. Brush your teeth first thing in the morning and before going to bed. It is best if you can brush after eating, too. Don’t be in a hurry, proper brushing takes time. Change your toothbrush regularly,. after every few months , or when the bristles start to get droopy.

A Flair for Hair

Teeners lead very busy lives and it is therefore a must to keep your hair shiny and clean. Wash it several times a week. Choose a good shampoo that is right for your hair type (oily, dry, normal, etc.). To remove tangles, use a wide tooth comb while your hair is wet. Work in small sections-this will minimize hair pulling and damage. Use a hairbrush only on dry hair. And never share your brush with anyone-it’s not being selfish, it’s good hygiene.

Now Hear This

Ears are easy. They get clean whenever you shampoo or shower. Never stick anything into your ears, not even a cotton swab. The rule of thumb is, never stick anything in your ear that is smaller than you elbow. If your ears feel plugged, it is best to let your ear doctor check them and clean them out.

Acne Advice

Pimples are a natural consequence of growing up. The best way to handle them is to just let nature take its course. Your oil glands are overactive during teen years. They will “calm down” after a few short years. In the meantime, keep your face always clean. Wash gently with a mild soap. Avoid picking or popping your pimples. Try to avoid staying out late nights and strive to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies.

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Winter Skin Care

winter skin care

Having beautiful skin is a lifelong goal. Professional skin care sales increase as the drying winter forecasts whip up chapped and drying skin. Slow the aging process down with a few easy skin care tips to keep the winter winds at bay.

Winter Skin Care Tips

Chapped and dried skin can be a thing of the past with a few easy to follow skin care secrets. Whether you have combination skin or dry skin, putting the moisture back into your skin is important. Oily skin is especially vulnerable this time of year as some people think that oily skin does not need to be moisturized.

It is important to provide your skin with the correct moisturizer for its skin type. Moisturizers for oily skin have non-oil based conditioners to prevent drying of the skin. Even though your skin is oily you do need to protect it.

Avoid Dry and Chapped Skin

Keep your skin hydrated this winter by:

  • Drinking plenty of water. Remember to hydrate your skin from the inside. Tea, coffee or lemon aid will not satisfy the hydration requirements of your skin. Drink eight one cup glasses of water per day to prevent your skin from drying out.
  • Use mild soap and cleansers. Natural oils from your skin will be removed with harsh soaps or overzealous cleansers. The detergents will strip your skin of its natural oils necessary to keep it elastic and smooth. It is best to use a cleanser designed for your skin type. During the winter months consider using a cleanser that is less drying. For example, if you are using an oily skin cleanser, consider using one for dry skin during the winter months. This will avoid considerable drying out of your skin.
  • Rather than bask in the warmth of a hot shower,take short warm showers. The long hot shower will take the oil from you skin. Just think of the added bonus taking short warm showers will have on your electricity bill.
  • When applying moisturizer after your shower, do it while your skin is still damp. This will help lock in the hydration that is present on your skin. Pay particular attention to the dry areas on your elbows, knees and heels.
  • Using a humidifier will help reduce the dry conditions in your home. Central heating and generally dry winter conditions can be combated by infusing moisture into the atmosphere by using a humidifier.
  • Just because it is winter don’t forget the sunscreen. A sun block with minimum SPF 15 is necessary to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the UVA and UVB rays.

The clear cold days of winter often bring more than just the thrill of the ski hill or the warmth of the fireside. It also brings the drying winds and drop in humidity that can cause dry and chapped skin. With a chapped skin is easy. Invest in your skin. You deserve it!

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Body Modification

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If you’re a New Yorker, you know that it seems that one in five has had some sort of cosmetic surgery; or at least, it looks like that. Ads for tummy tuck doctors are just as common in the subways as ads for companies. And the body ideal here is definitely below the North American average. If you want to trade in your natural appearance into some more conventionally perfect one, and you have money (as plenty of Manhattanites do), body Laser hair removal, nose jobs, hair implants, liposuction, silicone injections, eyelifts, facelifts and more are at your disposal. Just pick one.

Body modification: so many go to lengths to do it. It’s one thing to get LASIK surgery because your prescription can’t accomodate contacts, or to get facial reconstruction after a bad burn, or to get a precancerous mole removed. Though I’ve preached endlessly against the dangers of trying to squeeze your body into some prefabricated, unattainable current ideal shape, I have to do some more: against cosmetic surgery and other pseudomedical vanity trips.

Now, I know that certain careers all but require cosmetic surgery these days as professional recertification. But even movie stars should think about the costs. Many people say that cosmetic surgery gives them confidence in their middle age, and I know it’s easy for me to completely denounce the practice, as I’m only twenty and wrinkle-free. But, in my opinion, cosmetic surgery and enhancement is not only dangerous and costly: it’s hypocritical — and it shows a definite lack of confidence with the self beneath your skin.

Here are some great anti-body modification sites and articles: Cosmetic Surgery: The Hidden Dangers. An award-winning article from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

body (i)con. See Body Modification for pertinent facts.

Foodplay Productions. An educational resource dedicated to teaching kids about food, its benefits, and their nutritional needs. Growing up with this information, you won’t need liposuction, let alone want it.

And for the gallery of offenders, it’s alarming to notice how an Internet search of “body image” will yield countless links to cosmetic surgeons, like one who “specializes in enhancing facial and body image, including breast augmentation, liposculpture, and laser surgery.” Just check out the title — and the bad music: A Perfect Image: helping personal image through electrolysis and permanent makeup. What?!

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Falwell Does Miss America

The U.S. has a new (beauty) queen.

heather renee frenchHeather Renee French, a 24-year-old fashion design student at the University of Cincinnati and this year’s Miss Kentucky, became Miss America 2000 on Saturday amidst tiaras, roses and tears. French’s platform is aid for homeless veterans, which is certainly valuable. French also was the winner of the swimsuit competition. Was it her patriotic political stance or her great bikini figure that swayed the judges? Heather French is the “girl next door.” Unless she’s very good at concealing the skeletons in her closet, French is unmarried, has never divorced, has never aborted a child, and has never posed for Penthouse. Thank god she hasn’t–Vanessa Williams, after all, was forced to give up her crown in 1985 to runner-up Suzette Charles when Bob Guccione released her image in some lesbian porn without her authorization.

Interestingly enough, one more vocal Miss America protest recently has come from the pulpit of Jerry Falwell. In the weeks before the 2000 pageant, Miss America organizers debated the termination of set moral standards for pageant competitors. Historically, Miss America participants could not be divorced, nor could they have experienced an abortion. In the current installment of his Falwell Confidential, Falwell writes, “Thankfully, due primarily to complaints from state pageant officials across the nation, the new rules have been at least temporarily halted. Miss America organizers wanted to change the rules and ask participants to state that they are presently unmarried, not pregnant, nor the natural or adoptive parent of any child. Critics said the new questions could actually lead some participants to choose abortion in order to be able to answer questions in a way pageant organizers were seeking. The board of the Miss America organization apparently attempted to change the standards out of fear of violating New Jersey’s anti-discrimination laws.”

Falwell quotes Dr. Joyce Brothers‘ praise of the anticipated rule change as saying, ‘I don’t think it’s rational to expect virginity these days.’ “I guess Dr. Brothers has not heard of campaigns across this nation that have seen untold numbers of young people commit to a chaste life until the days of their marriages.”

Falwell again notes, “The reigning Miss America, Nicole Johnson, also criticized the planned rules changes, saying, ‘To deviate at all from those traditions, standards and principles saddens me.'”

Luckily, the judges have voted Heather French worthy of maintaining these traditions, standards, and principles–the same ones as of 50 years ago. Of course, she can wear a bikini–a new convention deemed completely amoral in the pageant 50 years ago. But French won the swimsuit competition.

Would Falwell argue with those standards of decency?

Veganism, Vegetarianism and Body Image

“Food does not make you fat; fat makes you fat.”Susan Powter.

I do not agree. Food, in fact, makes one fat, on top of no exercise, genetics, childbirth and a whole bunch of other factors. A fat-free diet is certainly not a healthy one, and probably is not going to provide long-lasting weight loss.


In that vein, it’s time to talk about vegetarian and vegan diets. A lot of people seem to adopt them because they can be potentially fat-free, because one can lose weight under them. Many people also think that vegetarians can eat the same things as meat-eaters, only without the meat. (Read: just skip the meat, eat spaghetti with tomato sauce and dessert.) A lot of skinny girls at my high school admitted that they just “didn’t eat meat” because it was fatty.

I am a vegetarian myself, and I enjoy it a lot. I am vegetarian mostly out of food preference, although there are some health and social/world economy benefits. Yet I also believe in the goodness of eating meat. Diets should be custom-made for one’s own health, economic and social needs, as well as food preferences.

Myth: vegetarian/vegan diets should and will help you lose weight.

Vegetarian/vegan can help you lose weight, but they should not be designed or adopted for that purpose. Most women, for one, get a lot of fat from cheeses and salad dressings as opposed to meat–and cheese and salad dressings are usually vegetarian. Even so, ovo-lacto vegetarians (not vegans) should be sure to eat plenty of calories and fats from good sources–that means plenty of dairy and eggs, as well as more “fatty” healthy vegetable foods, like peanut butter and other nuts, for protein, calcium and iron. Vegans should be careful to maintain the same caloric intake they’ve had previously, but to get it from a variety of fruit and vegetable sources. Again, vegans should not shy away from fat, from avocados, olive oil, peanut butter, nuts and the like.

(Note: the health benefits of cow’s milk are in debate. I’d air on the side of drinking organic or non-bGH milk for its health benefits until a substantial report emerges, but many contenders argue that soy or non-animal milk is better.

Myth: one should adopt a vegetarian/vegan diet to lose weight.

See above. If you ask me, losing weight isn’t a good reason. There are plenty of other benefits to a meatless or low-meat diet (of course, keeping the individual in mind): medical benefits, when the diet is used healthfully; social benefits, including eating lower on the food chain; economic, what with the lowered cost of cooking many meals or not buying meat (although prepared vegetarian/vegan food can be quite expensive); and simple food preferences.

If you are vegetarian or vegan or are considering becoming one, please keep this all in mind. One should consult a dietitian or a trustworthy published resource on vegetarian health and nutrition before planning the diet. Remember: fat and calories are good, when from good sources; variety is good. Weight loss should hardly matter.


Lil’ Kim Uncovered

I am not a Puritan. But I’ll admit that I do find Lil’ Kim‘s clothing kind of out there.

Lil' KimFor those of you who don’t know (and I didn’t, until very recently), Lil’ Kim is that hot rapper who seems more of a boudoir pin-up than anyone else in the hip-hop world right now. She seems to combine the TLC/Salt n’ Pepa sexy songstress diva stereotype with an even sexier undercurrent, a female counterpart to the racialized sex god “Smoove B” in the spoof newspaper The Onion. At the MTV Video Music Awards, of which I had the privilege of glimpsing on my roommate’s TV, Lil’ Kim was sporting a half-on/half-off garment:  I’m also not a fashion consultant, but I can describe it as sort of a spandex strap looped over her shoulder on one side and covering half of her torso, with the other side of her body bare, save an interesting daisy-patch covering her nipple. This is like a High Classical Greek statue of a nude man, de-penisized and sprouting a cute fig leaf in its place, thanks to some Roman Counter-Reformation zealots. (Is there a drawer at the Vatican full of dislocated bronze and marble penises?)

I don’t know Lil’ Kim or know really what she’s about, but she seems pretty happy-go-lucky in that picture above. Maybe she’s an independent woman who’s not afraid of taking risks and is certainly not ashamed of her body. She seems to be a provocateur, which I find pretty cool, even if she does seem to project more of a “spunky little girl” image with her name and her clothes–like a rapping Strawberry Shortcake. I’m not much on women who really try to sell their girly sides, but hey, blue hair is cool.

Lil’ Kim‘s website, though, via her record label, Atlantic, tells a different story. It opens with a picture of her prostrate and stamped with a warning label: “PARENTAL ADVISORY: HARDCORE CONTENT,” inviting visitors to “come spend the night inside Lil’ Kim’s palace.” “Leave your inhibitions behind,” it urges, and Lil’ Kim poses as a beacon of power, a tower of strength. Actually, Lil’ Kim seems to be posing for Penthouse in most of her photos, only with more clothes on–this is more of a visual tease or an x-ray vision temptation. She does come off looking a little silly and a little exploited.

I personally believe that while Madonna is a pure capitalist commodity, not a human being, she does in some way subvert the system that she completely sells out to. She does, in the words of a character in Hal Hartley’s film Simple Men, “exploit her sexuality on her own terms.” Madonna calls the shots in all of her work–she is a vision of power, however regressive her virgin/whore characters may be. Lil’ Kim seems to attempt the same, and she succeeds on some level. She certainly is not afraid of anything. Her gaze suggests total power.

The problem is, why should mere power in pop divas be the ultimate goal? Madonna and Lil’ Kim still write out their own exploitation. Madonna doesn’t seem like a real person, let alone one I’d want as a close friend, if Alek Keshishian‘s documentary Truth or Dare is at all on the mark. And is it wrong for a feminist to praise women who sort of replicate patriarchal usurping of power?

It seems that as long as whinier, indecisive creatures like Ally McBeal and Felicity dominate pop culture, Lil’ Kim has her place. She exploits herself, certainly, but she doesn’t seem to take crap from anybody. Even if she calls pasting daisy patches over her breasts and good enough to go.


From Hand to Mouth: Xena and Bulimia

In the wake of the Columbine shootings and all other copycat attempts, it’s all too easy to blame it all on the media. Jerry Falwell has condemned Marilyn Manson for putting semi-automatic weapons in the hands of impressionable suburban kids, and MGM has recalled copies of The Basketball Diaries. Everything from The Matrix to Seinfeld to any movie containing a trench coat is under fire, and I’ve been troubled by such rampant and unqualified scapegoating. It seems obvious to me that the tragedies couldn’t possibly have resulted from any one stratum — issues like this emerge from such complex system of complex variables.

Where is free will in Falwell‘s equation? I do know, however, that I can’t always so easily dismiss the media; it does certainly shape our daily lives, our values, and our self-image more profoundly than we may realize. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, and if one’s self-image is already diminished and susceptible, he or she may rapidly respond to media images and internalize them. A lot of identification can happen stealthily and unconsciously. The Columbine media scapegoating may seem a bit more credible in that the case for the detriment of female body images of the media, for one, has just made new headway.

Harvard researchers have just released a study with some alarming, if not surprising results: that the arrival of television in the South Seas island of Fiji correlates with the virtual arrival of bulimia. Harvard Medical School anthropology professor Anne Becker, an expert on Fijian eating habits, says that since television was introduced to Fiji in 1995, the country has seen a sharp rise in indicators of eating disorders, especially induced vomiting. A recent story from the Associated Press reads, “raditionally, Fijians have preferred what Becker called a ”robust, well-muscled body” for both sexes. But with television’s advent on an island that did not have electricity until 1985, adolescent girls became more aware of Western ideals of beauty.” The report writes that 15% of interviewed adolescent females in Fiji say they have made themselves throw up. Before 1995, Becker writes, bulimia was virtually nonexistent on the island.

Fiji now witnesses Western ideals via Melrose Place, ER, and Seinfeld, as well as through British and New Zealand series. Understandably, Heather Locklear’s bourgeois thin perfection can perpetuate unattainable standards for the modern women. Such shows are worthy of critique, and the study is a sad story to boot. But there is a flaw here in that the report also cites Xena: Warrior Princess as a problem. Lucy Lawless, as Xena, is hardly an emaciated figure – she not only is fit, but she’s bulky, hardly a supermodel physique. Xena is more like the traditional standard for Fijian beauty – she’s militant, powerful, and certainly a “robust, well-muscled body.”

XenaFeminists or women or anyone concerned about body image should applaud Xena, The X-Files, The Practice, and other mainstream programs that showcase beautiful women who look like they have eaten in the past 24 hours. The media may influence eating disorders, but it doesn’t have to, especially if one wishes to believe in free will more than Falwell desires. Must the media be solely responsible for force-feeding women with notions of their own self worth? It’s time that women, especially, be given more credibility for their own ability to process media images. Women should choose with whom they wish to identify — and with greater options of identifiable women, women’s free will cannot be exorcised from the media equation. Perhaps the problem in Fiji is that its television presents such a limited spectrum of female body types — Xena being the best aberration.

We can’t always blame the media, and we certainly can’t rely on censoring it. With 15% of a culture’s female adolescents purging themselves, we sometimes need to fight back. And sometimes that goes with addressing the issue not only as a one-factor equation, but as a complex system of complex variables.