A Gorgeous Model Who Eats and Blogs About It

My attention was drawn to Robyn Lawley this morning because she is the new face/body of a UK lingerie line for women sizes 8 to 20. Clearly she’s a stunner, and her size (16) doesn’t matter to me nearly as much as how strong and healthy she looks, and how intelligent she appears to be. It’s so sensible how she calls out the idiocy of the term ‘plus size.’ As quoted in an article for The Australian, “I’m a normal size. I wish we could all be known as models, rather than ‘plus-size…” Der. It’s not like the rest of us need to be identified as “Plus Size Communications Specialists.” Down with the qualifier!

Aside from being of sound mind and rockin’ body, Ms. Lawley won me over once and for all with her food blog. Yes, that’s right. A model. With a food blog. Full of pictures and recipes of things that She Eats. And this site is not about all things kale with a side of juice fasts. This is real, sumptuous, delectable Food.

To sum her blog-self up, Ms. Lawley writes:
“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”
George Bernard Shaw.
I am a self-confessed foodie, I live in New York and I am a model, cooking and eating is the best gift in life and I want to share that gift.

This is a gift in and of itself. One of the truest messages we can send to women and girls who want to look and feel beautiful is Take Care of Yourselves! Food is meant to be savored and enjoyed. It is sustenance, not something to fear or shun in attempt to look like 7% of the female population.

Let’s all share and promote more images and sensibilities of women like Robyn Lawley, and continue to celebrate real health, beauty, and food.

 

Beauty is in the Eye of… These Kick Ass Ladies

Lou and I are back with another dual feature – this time it’s all about a few celebrities who are singing the body electric and the fashion they embrace along the way.

With all of the negativity and pressure thrown at everyday women, celebs fall under the gun of microscopic scrutiny. The following three ladies not only maintain their own positivity in the face of haters, they also share messages of confidence and joie de vivre with the rest of us.

Christina Hendricks

Let’s kick things off with the curvaceous wonder woman of Mad Men fame, Christina Hendricks. Her main body image quote floating around the interweb is from an interview she did with Health magazine in 2010:

“I guess my mom raised me right. She was very celebratory of her body. I never heard her once say, ‘I feel fat.’ Back when I was modeling, the first time I went to Italy I was having cappuccinos every day, and I gained 15 pounds. And I felt gorgeous! I would take my clothes off in front of the mirror and be like, Oh, I look like a woman. And I felt beautiful, and I never tried to lose it, ’cause I loved it.”

It is a great quote, and the whole interview is worth reading for more of the same. I like to think that perhaps her relaxed confidence is an extension of the joy she finds in the world. Chili and Pinot Grigio at 4pm? Sounds like my kind of woman.
Hi there! Lou here. Can I just point out that not only does Ms. Hendricks have killer curves, but she dresses them to perfection. Not to mention her pale skin and red hair that make her partial to jewel tones, which I very much enjoy. I don’t always love the gowns she chooses, but I do love that she plays with color and the tailoring is always impeccable. What? You want examples? Ok, exhibit A, B, and C:

ZING!!

Hair accessories are back in a big way lately and this one is perfect on her. And those BOOBS! My god. Her boobs, they’re … distracting. She has some huge boobs.

And finally my personal jewel-tone favorite from the set of Mad Men, aka Exhibit C:

In fact, I think these 60’s inspired looks suit her so well, she should just rock them in the real world, although that might get weird. She’s a major stunner. Let’s look at one more picture of her …

I chose this one as an example of bad fashion because that dress is horribly ugly and the shoes are even worse. What are those shoes?! But, the body definitely is nothin but bangin and girl knows how to dress it…usually.

Yeesh, couldn’t agree more on that last one! Pretty sure it’s the flowers. The giant, hideous flowers. But everything preceding this train-wreck outfit is the definition of flawless. Love.

Rihanna

This lady is all over the place talkin’ that body confidence talk. It’s particularly heartening coming from RiRi, because at all of 24 years old she is working to build the kind of self-esteem that eludes most of us until our 30’s.

In the March 2012 issue of Women’s Fitness, she discusses nakedness as a remedy for judging yourself too harshly:

“The more I got naked the more comfortable I felt. I just had to face my fear. You always find something wrong, you always find something you’re uncomfortable with, and one thing turns into another and you get embarrassed and self-conscious about it. After a while, it was like, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ and I just started being a little more daring with it. It was just knowing my body is the way it is no matter what that helped me, knowing that it is what it is under clothes or outside of clothes. My way probably won’t work for most people.”

In March the pop star was working overtime on the Confidence Train, telling a UK reporter all about the realities of loving what you’ve got.

“I don’t think anyone really is 100% [confident],” Rihanna said. “I mean, you get comfortable with the fact that that’s your body and it is what it is,” she explained. “That I had to learn, doing enough topless shoots with GQ and Esquire. You just have to accept your body. You may not love it all the way, but you just have to be comfortable with it. You just want something else that someone else has, but that doesn’t mean what you have isn’t beautiful. No one is every 100% ‘I’m the bomb.com’ from head to toe.”

Now RiRi will appear on the August cover of Harper’s Bazaar. What endears her to me here is her candid talk about eating (and enjoying it! what a concept!) and her only complaint being the desire for a Bigger Butt. Yes, you read that right.

“I don’t know if there’s something going on with my body right now, but I’m eating everything in life!” she laughs. “I miss my ass. It just went away! I need a butt. I have an idea of one, but it’s not living up to its full potential right now.”

Finally, Rihanna asserts this developing confidence by standing up for her art as well. As reported by NME Music News, she adamantly defends the artistic choices she makes in her videos and songs. It’s interesting to me that the two major complaints here are the “salaciousness” of Rihanna kissing a girl in a video (…other pop stars get all kinds of freaky with members of the opposite sex; how salacious is that?) and then in another video she’s accused of “promoting murder” because she *shoots her rapist.*

Sounds to me like some people just can’t abide powerful women who take ownership of their own sexuality.

I need to start by admitting I really love Rihanna’s style. And did you know she pronounces it “Ri-anne-a”? No joke. Heard her say it on the radio once. Anyway! You know what’s interesting to me? The way butts are coming back. Butt implants. J Lo, Jessica Beal, Beyonce … having a big butt is back in a big way. I love it. And speaking of butts, Rihanna’s is amazing and she loves to show it off in some of the cutest bikinis and bathing suits I’ve ever seen. How she thinks she lost it is beyond me. Girl spends so much time on the beach, and it’s summer, so I figure we should take a gander at her seashore styles (and her butt).

This is one of my most recent faves. Who says one pieces can’t be sexy? And on her skin tone, the white is white-hot:


Look at the back! So cute. Nice work Oscar de la Renta.

Erm, and check this out. This is crazy. Not quite as cute as the one above, but holy hell that is one smokin body. Girl is FIT. I know youth is still on her side, but you can tell she works for that body and doesn’t deprive herself in the process.

Another one of my favorite one pieces is below. These funky printed suits are everywhere right now. Leopards, zombies, world maps … you can pretty much find a bathing suit with anything printed on it these days. This one just happens to rule extra hard.

Cute beach cover up. Cute casual hair. And the nails and accessories really seal the deal for me on that entire beach look. Let’s look at one more before moving on to Ms. Reese Witherspoon.

Old school Rihanna! Super cutie. Great color. A little funky with those gold accents. On the rack I would hate this, but she proves me wrong by wearing the shit out of it … And look how much fun she’s having! Yay for the beach! Yay for bikinis! And yay for feeling awesome in them, whatever your body type.

Reese Witherspoon

Oh, Reese. I have so much admiration for this woman. And it’s not just because she totally won me over about 20 years ago with her gumption-filled portrayal of the younger sister in The Man in the Moon, but also because she is pretty damn consistent at Keeping it Real.

Ms. Witherspoon has always managed to keep a rational head on her shoulders, in spite of the aforementioned microscopic scrutiny of celebrities. For example, US Weekly’s website apparently has a collection that they call “Reese Witherspoon’s Body Evolution,” which, granted, is mostly a “she’s pregnant here, she’s not here, and here she is in a bathing suit!” retrospective, but still. Safe to say most of us would not welcome that sort of play-by-play on our physique.

Speaking of RW being pregnant, that’s the other thing that makes her a special feature in this blog post. She has a daughter, so her take on body image carries the additional weight of influencing her offspring, and making her all too aware of what girls go through in this information age.

Two years ago, in the UK’s Daily Mail, Reese pointed out the responsibility women have to little girls, particularly mothers:

‘…Living in Los Angeles has made her particularly aware though, she says, of teaching her children not about ‘fat and skinny’, but about ‘healthy and unhealthy.
“I can remember my own mother struggling with her weight and self-esteem. It was hard for me to watch her, because I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. When we women talk about our bodies and our looks, we have to be mindful of the effect this can have on little girls.”‘

She also credited her grandmother as an inspiring influence:

“In her day, girls could only go to certain colleges, where they were trained to be teachers or nurses, so she urged me to get a good education. She would say, ‘You can be whatever you want to be.’ She taught me to have strength and self-respect.”

Earlier this year, in the UK edition of Glamour, Reese let loose her thoughts on plastic surgery:

“I’m not for it. I’m not against it. I have plenty of friends who do stuff and if it makes you feel good, great … but I don’t think it’s the fix for some sort of unease that you’re having about who you are as a human being. I don’t think I need plastic surgery at this point: Can we just go day-by-day on that one?”

and on her own body image:

“I don’t worry about it. I have the body I earned: I had two kids and I’m still strong and healthy. And you start to have a different respect for your body the older you get. Instead of tearing yourself apart all the time, you start to go ‘Oh wow.'”

RW also tends to don the superhero cape of self-respect. When naked photos surfaced of “Blake Lively/Not Blake Lively/Wait You Can See Her Face, Yeah That’s Blake Lively,” Reese took an opportune moment to throw in her two cents on the matter:

“I get it, girls, that it’s cool to be a bad girl. But it is possible to make it in Hollywood without doing a reality show. When I came up in this business, if you made a sex tape, you were embarrassed and you hid it under your bed. And if you took naked pictures of yourself on your cell phone, you hide your face, people! Hide your face!”

To sum up: Reese not only believes in the value of self-confidence and self-respect, she also has enough savvy to lead the charge on Common Effing Sense.
I love Reese Witherspoon. As E pointed out, Man in the Moon was great, but I also rank Sweet Home Alabama and Fear at the top of my Reese watch list. Remember Markie Mark in that movie?? What a creep.

When thinking about Reese Witherspoon and fashion, it is tempting to focus on the amazingness that was her post-divorce style from that douche bag Ryan Phillipe (I never thought he was a douche bag while he was married to her though, interestingly enough), but her, what did E call it, her “breakover” style is pretty old news now and I think we should focus on the other side of Reese, the side that’s not on red carpets being glamorous, cause this starlet’s got major street style.

Reese’s street style is chic and classic. It’s not necessarily my style, but it’s a lot of my friend’s style and it’s a style I can appreciate.

She sticks to basics with a twist. That outfit on the left is really as funky as it gets (cute shoes!), but how comfy does she look? All while staying cute and put together. In addition to flouncy skirts, she also really enjoyed the boyfriend jean trend and I really enjoyed watching her do it so well.

How cute is the dress below? And I’m obsessed with my jean jacket lately … she wears hers really well here.

And those legs! They look strong, and here’s why – she works out. She is always photographed working out. She’s not one of those movie stars that claims they sit around and eat whatever they want and still have a body that defies reality. Nope. Girl works for it! And most likely, her kids will follow her example and that can only help their future body image too.

I’m sorry, but you don’t bounce back from having a baby by sitting around breast-feeding and doing absolutely nothing else. I suspect a lot of Hollywood mothers sit around and breast feed and don’t feed themselves, which is why I adore this picture of her out there working for it and being a hell of a lot more happy because of it. How grumpy would not eating make you? How great does exercise make you feel? Yay Reese! And with the muscles she develops as a runner, she can then sport adorable shorts like the ones below. In Reese’s world – everyone’s winning.

PS – give me that watch!!!

Hooray for celebrity ladies who know how to live, and know how to dress their strong, healthy bodies. Hooray for celebrity ladies who believe in themselves and their beauty and talent, all while sending loud and clear messages that we are capable of the same!

Join us next time for some shout outs to women who aren’t as famous as these ladies, but probably should be.

In the News Part One

After Jezebel posted a response to SkinnyGossip blogger’s ridicule of Kate Upton, my sister-blogger and I found inspiration to do the same.  

Without further ado, here is the chat that Lou (author of Cheap Wine and Panty Lines), and I (yours truly, RLB), had about the insanity that is calling Kate Upton fat….

CWPL: Ok – so first off – Are You F*cking Kidding Me? – is the perfect sentiment, no?

RLB: Absolutely! I realize this is one blogger spouting one inane opinion, but it’s this type of mindset that makes beautiful, healthy young women feel like s*** about themselves.

CWPL:  I can’t help but wonder, this is clearly the site of some sick people. Actually really sick, if you ask me. And it can’t possibly be the only viewpoint of its kind out on the Interweb; why do you think this particular instance is garnering so much attention?

RLB:  In terms of the Kate Upton post, it’s such a vile personal attack. While there are a lot of sites that blatantly promote unhealthy notions of thinness, this post goes the extra mile in writing really horrid, insulting things about a perfectly stunning young woman. It’s interesting to me that the author equates her shapeliness with pornography. As if an extremely thin woman in tiny clothes is somehow less evocative. Clearly this writer has issues with women’s sexuality in addition to weight issues.

CWPL:  Clearly.

RLB: Let’s talk more about your sentiment that the author or authors of this blog are actually sick, as in mentally ill. Others have expressed the same sentiment, and the blog’s author claims to have gotten some pretty nasty backlash (violent threats). Doesn’t that kind of negativity just perpetuate the cycle? (of judging women as objects)

CWPL:  I would say yes. I would say a lot of what that woman is saying on her blog is a result of media portrayal of women. That she’s clearly a victim of her own beliefs. It’s sad and I hope two things – that she uses this as a way to reevaluate, seek help, whatever (being that it’s so public now though, I fear the opposite effect) and that our attention to what is going on contributes to a change in the portrayal of women in our society.

RLB:  While I don’t want to give her blog too many hits, I was curious about her “views on self-harm,” and she says the site is “intentionally outrageous and intended to provoke controversy,” which is fair to an extent. She’s revamping or eliminating her Starving Tip of the Day (seriously, Starving tip of the day??), and closes out by saying the following: “…there’s nothing wrong with saying skinny is beautiful, just like there’s nothing wrong with saying curvy is beautiful, or red hair is beautiful, or anything else someone happens to find appealing. It’s an opinion, and we’re all entitled to them.” This closing statement seems somewhat contradictory, as her site essentially invalidates any opinion outside of Super Skinny is Best. As for the Kate Upton post, I think it strikes a chord because this person’s “opinions” are so vicious and degrading.

CWPL:  Right. And she is attacking something that many people struggle with every day. It’s a hot button issue – battling with body image is a lot more serious than having red hair. We all know I judge people everyday on my blog, but it’s an aesthetic. Something they choose. There just seems to be such a stark difference between someone not liking your clothing choices, or hair color choice, and someone not liking your body … ya know? I know what you mean when you say it’s fair to an extent, it is I guess, but it’s also just a crock of shit. Ahem. What that lady was saying on there was crazy unhealthy.

RLB:  It is fair to claim that the purpose of your blog is to indulge in snarkiness (Hi there, CWPL!) but I agree that vilifying someone for their physique is far more harmful than critiquing fashion choices. As Amelia once pointed out, we all deserve to have ownership of our own person. Tearing someone apart  because of how their body looks diminishes their ability to say “this is me and I am happy with who I am,” because on the other end you have someone calling you a fat cow because you were once photographed eating a cheeseburger.

CWPL:  I wonder if the woman in question had actually been much, much curvier, if the outrage would have been the same. From the outside.

RLB:  As in someone like Christina Hendricks?

CWPL: Sure, or even some less well-known model.
(RLB note: for example, any of these women)

RLB:  I suspect she wouldn’t have had the nerve with someone curvier. It would be more insulting that way, and infuriate more people.

CWPL:  I don’t know. There is just something interesting to me about the fact that it’s Kate Upton, freaking Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Extraordinaire. It is our standard after all, as the Jezebel article points out, so would we be so quick to defend someone curvier? I dunno. I also think the pornography comment has a lot to do with the fact that we’re dealing with a real sex symbol here.

RLB:  If you consider what a major issue body image is these days, along with the issue of how women are portrayed in the media, I think there will always be a ton of people ready to defend attacks against curvy women (or not super-skinny women). The biggest issue here is that this “critique” is so… personal. I’m starting to repeat myself, so allow me to be specific: She repeatedly refers to Kate Upton not only as pornographic, but also as a “little piggy” and ….a cannibal, presumably because she’s a “cow” eating a burger. To imply that a woman who looks a certain way is a disgusting slut (simply because of the Way She Looks), is reductionist at best and presumptuous shaming at its worst.

CWPL:  I just hope Kate Upton doesn’t suddenly lose 15 pounds.

RLB:  Or become a vegan.

CWPL:  Or a prude. Hah. Celebrity is a dangerous game, more than ever now with the Internet.

RLB:  It’s a crazy game.

CWPL:  Facebook can be damaging enough – Tumblr too – for regular young women. I can’t fathom what young women in Hollywood/fashion/etc. must endure. And I know you can speak to that very well. And still, just imagine if people had actually been talking about your weight while you were living in LA. Strangers! Gah, it seriously spooks me. I even think how awful it would be to end up on the losing side of “Who Wore it Better” in my gossip rags.

RLB:  Strangers did talk about my weight! Agents would tell me to my face that I’d fare better if I lost 5-10 pounds. And I was already about 15 pounds thinner than I am today. It was insane, and a huge part of why I left. It sucks because fashion and celebrity gossip can be so fun, but when you think about how image obsessed it makes us as a culture, it becomes a serious problem, rather than a frivolous diversion.

CWPL: It will be interesting to see how this continues to play out, if it does. Newsworthiness is fleeting, but we can certainly add this to the Discussion and if there is anything positive to be said for it, it’s that this blogger’s vitriol is bringing attention to a subject in dire need of attention: how women are portrayed in our society.

Also in the news, this, which I think is something you’ve been really interested in lately. What say you of this Gawker writer’s approach to the story? It’s quite interesting and yay for those young girls, right? Methinks the message is spreading …

And that concludes our first In The News segment. Stay tuned for thoughts on the teen girl uprising against fashion mags!

Little G Makes You Think

My friend Gwen is one of the kindest, toughest people I know. After reading a recent post she wrote on her blog, it became evident that kind and tough are not mutually exclusive, and I was challenged to – yet again – think about what determines beauty.

RLB: Let’s talk about your recent blog post… in that post you talk about the abstract concept of what it means to have beauty. You ask yourself some questions, and you touch very lightly on some of the answers… how have those answers evolved?

GE: It is such a weird thing, and I don’t know what it means to be beautiful. I will say, someone posted a comment about how… I’m gonna get this wrong… but about how the – whatever the word is in Greek that means beauty, actually means the essence of truth. It’s posted somewhere, I’m just not remembering it right now. (The woman who posted it) was like “this is the word used for beauty and it literally means the essence of truth,” and I mean, you know, how can you argue with that? But how do you see the essence of truth in someone? I could think myself in circles around this topic. But you know, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and all of that stuff… and what is it about someone, initially, outside of what they look like, that would draw you to them?

RLB: Well, scientifically we could talk about pheromones –

GE: Pheromones.

RLB: – and stuff like that –

GE: We could.

RLB: – but it’s interesting because there was a study done recently were – I can’t remember what the point of it was – but they were showing people pictures of other individuals, and if the person had features similar to their own, they were more likely to be attracted to them. If they had features similar to say, their brother, then they were more likely to be drawn to them as an individual, but not physically attracted to them, because they had these “family member” blockers. But if someone looked like them, personally, there was a certain ego-connect that drew them to these other people.

GE: Wow.

RLB: Yeah, I thought it was really fascinating. And it explains why so many couples –

GE: Look alike.

RLB: Exactly.

GE: My mom and my dad used to always get told that they looked like brother and sister…. So then, are we really only attracted to ourselves? Do we really only find beauty in ourselves?

RLB: I don’t know, is it just all one big ego trip? I have no idea.

GE: Are we just trying to find the other part of ourselves… literally?

RLB: I mean, I do think that this is the kind of conversation that begs more questions than answers. But there’s also something to be said for… even if you don’t look at someone and get an initial spark, you can start having a conversation with someone and have that create the chemistry. I think there’s at least a two-step process to discovering beauty in a person. There’s the initial, sort of thunder-clap of physical attractiveness, but… in your post you also mentioned how it’s people’s hearts that you’re most attracted to.

GE: There’s something more to a real spark than just physical attraction.

RLB: I can recall a handful of dates I went on with someone I found physically attractive, but after five minutes of conversation I knew we’d go nowhere romantically because they were boring or obnoxious, or what have you…

GE: That’s a good point. And it’s amazing, too, how after you know someone for so long, you can just really forget about it (how they look). Amelia and I talk about it frequently… we toured with this woman when we were at Barter, named Wendy, and I remember the day I met Wendy. I walked into the rehearsal hall, and here is this Gorgeous, six-foot tall woman, and I thought, “I cannot work with her for 15 months, because I will feel bad about myself every single second.” Because she’s an Amazon. She’s gorgeous. And after about a week of knowing Wendy, she’s so goofy, and funny, and clumsy, you forget that you’re in a room with an Amazon. And that’s not to say it takes away from how beautiful she is – you just see her as her, instead of this physical representation of what we label “Beautiful.”

RLB: You see her as a person, rather than an ideal.

GE: Yeah, exactly.

RLB: That makes sense. It’s interesting, what you’ve touched on – this ideal standard of beauty. It’s very abstract, or arbitrary, in a way, because it only has to do with contemporary standards. So much of what we label beautiful now, some of it didn’t even exist 100 years ago (e.g. botoxed skin), or it’s the opposite of what was once considered beautiful. Everything has changed so much in terms of what it means to be beautiful. In the distant future, so much of society will have changed, it’s impossible to know what their standards of beauty will be. Yet we cling to current ideals like they are the be all end all.

GE: And it has to last our entire lifetimes, we have to look a certain way until…

RLB: But why?

GE: But why.

RLB: I mean, who decided that these were the things to be considered attractive? It seems like every time a woman comes into the public sphere who is attractive in a new and different way, it doesn’t necessarily change things, it just adds to the standard.

GE: Well, I guess it’s still good though, if we’re branching out and accepting different things as “beautiful.”

RLB: In theory I think it could be, but what I think needs to happen… it really needs to come from the people who are attracted to women actively loving, and championing women of different types. Celebrating women for all that they are, not just what they look like.

GE: Right. I also think so much of it has to do with how you feel about yourself. I’ve grappled with this a lot because so much is happening to my body that I just have zero control over. I mean, the dry skin, the rashes… there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. But, I feel good on the inside because I’m taking care of myself. My diet is better, I’m much better about not slipping on days of exercise, like, I need to get at least 30 minutes in every day, or there’s a risk of becoming depressed, because that’s what happens when you go through chemo. I’m drinking 12 glasses of water a day – I’ve probably never been so hydrated in my life –

RLB: You quit smoking.

GE: – I quit smoking, I’m not drinking you know, eight shots of whiskey a day –

RLB: Did you used to drink eight shots of whiskey a day?

GE: – yeah probably, throughout the course of a day, it’s possible… yes, probably most days of my adult life I’ve had a good whiskey buzz and not realized it, because that was normal. You know, I’m not depending on caffeine to wake me up in the morning, just overall, no matter what’s happening on the outside, I feel stronger and happier – gosh, I can’t even remember the last time I felt this good about myself. And who would’ve thought that cancer would bring that on? Cancer is supposed to make you feel sick. And I don’t feel sick. And that has been the most – as far as beauty is concerned – I’ve had more people comment on the brightness of my smile, while I’m this sick, cancerous person, because I can feel this good energy radiating outward. That has to be closer to beauty than… whatever I was before. So much about being beautiful has to be about how you feel about yourself.

RLB: That is absolutely true.

GE: And self-acceptance. I think about all of the things I used to get so hung up on about myself physically… they just seem so silly now. They just seem really silly. I accept myself for who I am, and for what all of this is, in a way that – when you’re thirteen you only wish that it could happen someday. That you’ll like yourself. Not to say that I didn’t like myself – insecurities and things of course… but yeah, they just seem trite now. There’s no reason to apologize for who I am or what I might look like.

RLB: I love what you said in your post about how it’s a genetic crapshoot.

GE: It really is.

RLB: You have so little control over how you come out of the womb. My thing is my teeth, and I think it’s because I partly feel responsible for them. First I knocked out my two front teeth when I was a kid trying to do tricks on my bike. Then I had braces and after I’d had them off for only a year or so, I sat on my retainer and broke it. It was never replaced, and so I feel like I’m the reason my teeth are all fucked up because….

GE: Because you were a kid once?

RLB: Because I was a kid. Seriously. I could still fix them if it were really that big of a deal – but do I want adult braces?? See, so you start to get neurotic about these things and then you feel like you’re acting like a thirteen year old, when really you’re in your thirties and you should have the self-love and self-awareness to just let it go.

GE: Let it go. Absolutely. Just as humans we like aesthetically pleasing things. It doesn’t stop at human beings. It’s a very fine line to walk between appreciating something and obsessing over something. Or accepting something, or needing to manipulate it into perfection.

RLB: I concur. What is perfection anyway – who is defining that?

GE: We all define it for ourselves, I guess… But it’s so silly the things other people tell us… the things they think will make us perfect. That we accept that.

RLB: Right, because it’s someone else’s interpretation of how we should be. It’s hard to understand how we can have this knowledge, yet we can also let it affect us so much.

GE: Well, because we all want to be accepted. I mean, acceptance… as human beings. I don’t know what it is that makes the people who love us and care about us the most – why that isn’t enough acceptance. Why we need acceptance from everyone. Maybe it has something to do with the collective consciousness, I don’t know, maybe we all want acceptance so we can truly be One with one another… but there’s definitely some sort of drive to seek that acceptance everywhere.

RLB: Yet sometimes we actively make choices that we know will actively challenge people’s acceptance. Can you talk about your choice to not wear a wig?

GE: The decision to not wear a wig was more practically based than anything else. Wigs are hot and itchy and I could not imagine it ever being worth wearing one in the summertime.  Also… human hair wigs that don’t look fake can be pretty pricey.  And while there are organizations that have wig banks for cancer patients to help with the cost, or cover the cost completely, I couldn’t imagine a scenario, outside of an audition, in which I would really need one. Hats and scarves are much more comfortable.  And really… if it didn’t seem to make other people so uncomfortable, I would probably just rock the baldness. But the questions and stares aren’t worth it. I am looking forward to once it starts growing back in and it looks like shaving my head was a choice. Then… I will rock it.

RLB: Speaking of the baldness, let’s chat about that poor piece of direction you got during your last show, when your director told you to “be beautiful.” It was poor direction because he was telling you to force something, to embody some abstract idea… which is bad direction. Frankly, it’s bad direction to tell an actor to “be” anything. Good direction is all about doing, but that’s another blog….. So. Isn’t this whole concept – “Be ______” – would you agree that it’s kind of a microcosm of how society puts this demand out there –

GE: To be beautiful, to be smart, to be understanding –

RLB: Do women need to be smart?

GE: Haha, haha, that’s funny…. That’s really funny…. Being sweet is something that is heaped on us as women. Heaven forbid you get angry about something, or demand respect… and not in a Crazy way –

RLB: But if you do it, you’re automatically branded –

GE: yes, if you do it, you’re automatically branded as crazy. If you ask for respect for yourself… then all the sudden you’re a crazy bitch. Because girls have to be sweet and kind and understanding. Amelia and I were both talking about how in past relationships we’ve been guilted and guilted and guilted into accepting abusive behavior from our partners, because if we spoke out about it we weren’t being sweet. And if you’re not sweet and kind and gentle, what is it about you that’s worth loving? The amount of guilt that can be heaped upon us for not being what society tells us to be… whether that be beautiful, whether that be meek, whether that be humble… it’s different, too, depending on what type of ideal woman you’re talking about. Do you want the ideal wife? Because that is something completely different from… the ideal fling, even.

RLB: The ideal lovah.

GE: Yeah, who you’re gonna take home to mom versus who you’re gonna take to the…. college party. We’re not in college anymore – We don’t even have something that equates that, once we’re in our thirties, do we?

RLB: Sure we do. The one you’re gonna take… on the Business Trip.

GE: On the Business Trip. We just don’t know about business trips because we just pretend to be adults.

RLB: That’s right.

GE: It totally is… Everyone is telling us to be something different. It’s maddening. How can you find yourself in any of that, when you’ve got everyone else telling you what you’re supposed to be from every direction?

RLB ……..Yoga retreat?

GE: Yoga retreat. Or the eight shots of whiskey that I mentioned earlier.

RLB: I’m sure you were Truly Gwen in those moments.

GE: Hahaha, I did used to walk around with a flask in my back pocket. Everywhere.

RLB: Wow. I’m kind of impressed. You were so tough.

GE: Yeah, well, I was younger then… Oh the golden days of my early twenties….

RLB: Yeah… even in my early twenties… oh there was one Weekend, where I went camping and carried around a fifth of tequila in my back pocket. For a weekend. Then I was done being that tough. (Back on track) …It’s interesting because there seems to be a thread, that when people get sick, or are faced with an intense hardship or challenge, that is when they are pushed to this place of self-acceptance. One of the goals of this blog is that I really want girls and women to be able to appreciate all that they are, without catastrophe thrust upon them. We should feel that way all the time. I could get on my bike to go to work tomorrow and get plowed over by a garbage truck. Why do we wait to be confronted with hard truths before we love and accept ourselves?

GE: I don’t know that it always does lead to self-acceptance, though… it sounds stupid, but cancer is by far not the hardest thing I’ve been through in my life. And facing hard, seemingly endless challenges of the human spirit, it never led me to this place before. To a place of self-acceptance… in fact those were probably the moments in my life that were the most self-deprecating. So I don’t know what is different about this particular experience, that it has led me into the good place… other than I think it has a lot to do with being surrounded by the right people… by the people who see you as the beautiful person – whatever that beauty is that you hold within you – being surrounded by people who really see it, and who cherish it, and are not going to let anything get in the way of appreciating it. I think that has been the thing that has led me to self-acceptance. Whereas in the past, when I faced things that were harder than this, there was no support. It (the reaction) was, “oh, well you are no longer defined by the thing that I superimposed on you, so you’re not important to me anymore.” And that’s the thing that – as far as cultivating, in girls, a sense of self-worth, I think that is where they will learn to see their own beauty, is when we teach them that they don’t have to accept that other thing from people. They don’t have to accept someone saying ‘you’re not enough.’ The only thing they ever have to accept is someone loving them for who they are.

 

Clearly, Gwen is an absurdly beautiful person. If you want to keep up with her journey, sponsor her in the Cancer Games, or just tell her how awesome she is, you can visit her at: http://mylefttit.wordpress.com/

 

Friday Beauty Shout

Fridays here at RLB are reserved for Shout Outs to ladies and gents around the world (some famous, some should be famous), who promote what’s real. They celebrate the variety among us, and the endless elements that make humans beautiful.

Today I’m going with a celebrity, although when I say “Alicia Silverstone,” I’m willing to bet that most of you think of this:

…and even though the 90’s are back, Alicia has in fact moved on from being Clueless to becoming a vegan eco-warrior who feeds her son from her own mouth.

Regardless of how you feel about her politics or her feeding techniques, Alicia is on our radar today because she has a new line of beauty products that go the extra mile when it comes to being green.

Considering RLB’s makeup theme for the week, I thought it only appropriate to recognize a lady who is using her fame and prowess to promote many healthy ways of living… even if some of them do kinda weird us out.

Let Me Be Clear

Oh the feedback I have received about my most recent post!

One thing is for certain: Ladies feel Strongly about topics of weight, dieting, calories, food, etc., etc.

So. Let me be clear: First of all, I have embarked on this calorie experiment primarily because I want to be in my Best Possible Shape before trying to get pregnant. I honestly don’t care if I lose any weight, so long as I am as healthy as possible. This is a Real Honest Truth: Having a baby in your 30’s is usually much harder than having a baby in your 20’s. Considering the insane labor my sister just went through, I am determined to have a strong, kick ass temple of a body with which to house and deliver my (as yet hypothetical) child.

Second, I am in no danger of becoming obsessed with calorie counting or depriving myself of food and drink. After a couple of weeks with this program, that much is Very Clear. I mostly do what I want and then use the little app as a tracking device. Most days I’m pretty spot on (Bit o’ Science for you: When you exercise, your body needs more calories! Isn’t that fun?) and some days I’m a wee bit over, usually because I have an extra glass of wine. No big.

Lastly, I didn’t even buy a scale. I figure I can weigh myself at other people’s houses, because as I mentioned in First of All, I find I’m not in this to lose weight. I look good. I feel good. So far, this little experiment is helping me to look and feel even better. And that’s all that matters.