Some Thoughts on Fitness, Body Image and Self-Respect


Every new year comes with resolutions, one of the most common being to lose weight or, at the very least, to finally get fit. Sometimes we want to lose weight because of a health scare, but a lot of times we just want to look better. Women are bombarded every day with images of perfection, beauty, youth–ideals that can wreak havoc on our self-esteem. Others rebel against these ideals and refuse to conform to society’s impossible standards by refusing to work out or lose weight, sometimes even if it affects their health. Either stance is problematic because they’re both reactions to external opinions. This new year, I want to suggest an alternative view, one that’s entirely self-driven. Hear me out.

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A Spankin’ Fresh New Year

Happy New Year!

I live in NYC where you’re often measured in terms of your accomplishments: books published; awards won; promotions earned; marathons ran, etc. That’s how we often think of personal growth–in terms of the externals. Or maybe that’s how it seems to me because that’s how I was raised and so that’s how I valued myself until recently. The problem with this outlook is that, while it can be tremendously rewarding, sometimes all the work you do does not necessarily garner public recognition. And then what? In this day and age, with Facebook and Twitter, I get the sense that if you don’t talk about what you’re doing, writing, training for, then people get the sense that you’re not doing anything at all. I feel a loss of respect and regard from some quarters and my little ego can get very bruised if I get on that train. I acknowledge that the problem to overcome here is my own proverbial Latin bourgeois fear of “el qué dirán”, what people will think.

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Paper Dolls

You know what I hoppaperdollse the next wave of feminism is about? I hope it’s about how we women are human. I don’t want to be a superwoman or an archetype. I just want the right to be seen and treated as a human being who is good at some things, clueless about other things and who sometimes needs a little help and other times knows just the right thing to make things better. A human being who sometimes has a bad day and doesn’t feel like smiling all the time like a Barbie doll when, say, she just had to meet last minute deadlines at work, and has just gotten scary news from the doctor. A human being who sometimes doesn’t know what the hell she is doing, who makes mistakes, who tries her best and often falls short, but sometimes is unexpectedly brave and strong. Just a person, not an object of desire, not a heroine, not a goddess, not an Earth Mother.

When do we get to be that? When will people accept us as just people who happen to have female reproductive organs? Is that really too much to ask?

The Diabolically Solicitous Friend

There’s a certain type of person who thrives on making even the simplest request into a huge complicated mess. For instance, if I ask for something, instead of giving me a Yes or No answer, they’ll provide additional options that, in their view, are so much better than whatever I originally wanted. Like, say I ask for a glass of water. They’ll tell me: “Are you sure you’d like water? Because orange juice quenches your thirst AND supplies your daily requirement of vitamin C.”

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Typewriters and the Art of Attentiveness

heminwaytypeAfter several years of writing scripts, I’ve decided to go back to writing fiction and, let me tell you, I’m finding that my prose muscles are really out of shape. (Terrible metaphor, I know, but it feels exactly like I’m going on a run after several years of being a couch potato.) That spare script style has made it hard for me to set a scene in full sensory detail. But what’s made it most difficult is the fact that I’m so easily distracted nowadays: by email, by friends, by a constant stream of, well, information. And when I do sit down to write, I find my attention wandering. My usual tactic when this happens is to take out the airport card on my laptop and lock my phone away. When things are really bad, I just write longhand. Then I read this article about typewriters and how they aid attentiveness.

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