I recently purchased Jen Sinkler’s Lift Weights Faster, a library of body weight, kettlebell, and barbell workouts. I love training and look forward to it, but these days I am pressed for time, not to mention sore from lifting and carrying around my built-like-a-hockey-player son. Continue reading
Do you remember the first time you saw yourself in a mirror? Highly unlikely. You probably can’t remember the first time you saw a photograph of yourself either. If you were born after Fisher Price invented crib toys, you probably had a mirror before you could walk or talk. Knowing what we look like is integral and essential to the way we live in the early 21st century. With digital cameras in every phone, not only can we capture our image whenever we want to, we can practice poses, check out angles, smudge over the blemishes, and create an image that presents to the world the face we want, even if it isn’t necessarily the face we have. I know – I’ve done it. Continue reading
I have been thinking about “food ways,” both because it is a hot topic in the field of early modern studies, and also because I am in Italy, learning from the experts. For the most part, traditional Tuscan food is locally grown, available at colourful markets, and prepared simply, without added ingredients. I love to order spinach as a contorni at a restaurant because it tastes exactly like spinach with a hint of fresh olive oil and maybe some garlic. There is no need to disguise that wonderful flavour. Yet the most important part of Italian food is not the items grown and consumed; it is the culture of food, which includes a great respect for preparing and enjoying meals in social settings. Italians typically take hours to have lunch each day with their friends and families. Much to the surprise and shock of North Americans, shops and businesses will close between noon and 2 or 3 pm (sometimes for the entire afternoon). “How can the Italian economy survive?” Continue reading
Let me start with a confession: I have not worked out for the past month. This situation is surprising because I love training and have exercised regularly for the last twenty five years, rarely missing a session. Continue reading
My book is now available in hard cover, paperback ($25), and digital versions from SUNY Press. The State University of New York Press did a wonderful job and I loved working with all of its staff.
This post features the voices of Fitbabe and FFG.
First hear Fitbabe discuss her fitness career and philosophy with Jay Scott at Full Disclosure Fitness. Listen to the podcast here: http://fulldisclosurefitness.com/fdf-072-deanna-harder-i-discuss-fitness-mindset-more/
Then tune in to hear FFG speak about body image with Gianmarco Visconti on CJSR Radio, the student station at the University of Alberta: https://soundcloud.com/cjsrfm/beauty-brains-and-brawn
In her book Becoming Women: The Embodied Self in Image Culture (2014), Carla Rice reconfirms the commonsense notion that North American popular culture—filled with images of thin white women—damages women’s self-esteem by sending narrow messages about what women should look like. Because the mass media’s standard of beauty excludes 99% of ladies, it encourages them to develop such issues as body dysmorphia and eating disorders. Rice predictably lobbies for more diverse pictures of women. About a decade ago she served as a consultant to Dove, helping that company develop its “Real Beauty” advertising campaign. It was begun in 2004 after surveys revealed that only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful. Rice urged Dove to appeal to women’s desire for acceptance rather than judgement, admitting that the final (highly controversial) advertisements continued to feature attractive women with flawless skin.
Yet Dove was late to the party. For decades artists and scholars have intervened in dominant image culture, offering alternative images of fat, sick, differently abled, and lesbian bodies, among others. Artist Jo Spence is well known for scrawling “Monster” across her chest, taking photographs of her cancer treatments in an effort to reclaim and de-medicalize her suffering body. Such transgressive images are much more effective than those produced by Dove, though they have less popular circulation.
While I agree that the current beauty standard is ridiculously limiting, and support the display of diverse female bodies, I think that image culture receives too much attention and has in fact become a scapegoat for women’s body problems. Continue reading
I am standing in line for the “family bathroom” at Southgate Mall, waiting to use the nursing chair. Although I am pretending to be relaxed—chatting with the mother of a one-month old son—I am in fact terrified. Are there any feminists about? I scan the crowd for the tell-tale signs of bra-less tits, angry fists raised in the air, and armpit hair. Continue reading
Hey D! I just read your last post on Lianne’s blog about belly fat. Now there is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. I had an idea for another topic, although I’m sure you already have thousands; it is something I’ve always wanted to know: “Do you need to exercise for more than 30 minutes at a time to burn fat?” There are so many different time saving exercise programs out there now, like Tabata, 20 minute interval training etc. As a busy mom, I’m intrigued by this concept of the shorter workout, but am not sure that it would actually burn fat.
It’s hard not to get upset when you start back at the gym after a prolonged period away. I was off for two full months while recovering from a caesarean section, forbidden by my doctor from lifting anything over ten pounds. I was inclined to follow his advice after reading online descriptions of post-partum women who had ripped their stomachs open by training too soon after surgery. Although I had worked out seriously until I was 8 months pregnant, and then in a somewhat lame-ass way until two days before giving birth, I was shocked by how quickly my fitness level declined. Previously I had done shitloads of full chin-ups, but now I am back on the assisted pull-up machine, managing five sets of five slowly with 50 pounds of weight counterbalancing me. And as for full push-ups? Forget it. I have returned to my knees. How the mighty have fallen. It is truly humiliating.
How hard is that? Food is fuel silly.
If it were only that easy. I hate being hungry. I really hate being full. I am afraid of food. But food is fuel, right?
When people are afraid of food they have strange eating patterns. We will decide, for example, that there are six foods that are safe. At least, that is what I did. Continue reading
Pregnancy has not changed my life that much, so far. It has, however, attracted more than a few remarks from both acquaintances and strangers. My increasingly evident belly—I am scheduled to give birth by induction in only a few days—leads people to believe that they know something about me and my future. While I vowed not to blog too much about my “ladylike” pregnancy (i.e. it is conformist in a way that reminds me of Edwardian pantaloons), I have a few funny incidents that I cannot resist sharing with you. Continue reading
After attending two conferences in as many weeks, I have learned that strangers, especially white men, feel entitled to make unsolicited comments about women’s pregnant bodies.
These men can be from all walks of life – hotel staff, airplane travelers, and conference acquaintances. Yet no matter their position, when they see a pregnant woman working or traveling alone, their response is to (a) notice the woman’s belly; (b) make a remark about it; and (c) engage in unwelcome behaviour. Continue reading
This gallery contains 32 photos.
After finishing my book, which is now in the hands of external referees, I realized that many photographs—taken by the incomparable artist and designer Patrick J. Reed—could not be included in it. I think his images offer feminist interventions in the often heteronormative, … Continue reading
I have been thinking about this project for quite some time, and post here sections from the introduction to my book “Feminist Figure Girl,” written at the end of last year:
It is December 12, 2009, and I am at the gym, feeling euphoric. Continue reading