Newt In A Tea Cup

Inspired by a comment or two in a previous post I’ve decided that it would be a great idea to compare our experiences in an honest, straightforward way. I’m not quite sure what the best way to start a discussion is so I’ve set up a few survey-style questions.

One thing I’ve noticed, especially from personal experience, is that it’s very hard to talk to someone else, a friend or family member for instance, who does have really bad body image/ health issues to do with body image. And it’s pretty clear that all of us will most probably meet at least someone with those issues; we can’t avoid it.

So let’s start talking to each other at least.

Copy and paste the questionnaire to your own blog, fill out what you want to fill out, and link it back here in the comments. If you don’t have a blog just do it straight into a comment.

Please do not refer to just yourself but to your friends and family as well – i.e. the environment you live in, or anything else you want to share. Add or remove questions if you want! Remember this is a loose questionnaire, intended to start an honest discussion not solve the worlds problems.





Do you consider yourself attractive?

Do others consider you attractive?

What is your biggest insecurity and why?

Have you/Would you consider using plastic surgery? Why or why not?

What is your relationship with make-up?

How much money do you/think is reasonable to spend on your appearance?

What is your experience of dieting?

Have you/ anyone you know tried any specific diet programs i.e. Lighter Life? How did that affect your health? your moods? your relationships?

Do you have any experiences of eating disorders i.e. either yourself or someone you know?

How did other people react to this; what was the fallout?

Have you had negative experiences relating to your appearance and people’s reactions to it?

What about positive reactions to your body?

How has your body image and attitude changed over the years?

What do you love about your body?

What is your opinion on the media portrayal of women’s bodies?

What would you change about the way you/ your friends/ your family/ general people see their bodies?

What makes you feel beautiful?

and just for fun… Do you shave legs/pits/upper lip moustache?


{April 16, 2007}   Thinking Blogger Award
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thinking blogger award

I’ve been awarded the Thinking Blogger Award by feminist nation, Sparkle matrix and brand new feminist but, quite ridiculously have only got around to responding now.

So here are some blogs I love:

1. fluffy woman Whilst the hairy feminist is such a cliched trope I still love the pictures that fluffy posts, constantly shifting my perception of beauty and “normal”.

2. Naked under my lab coat As an english, arty nerd with plenty of friends doing maths and science I can’t comprehend, I am fascinated into the intelligence that these women have; and the patience to be what feels like the lone female voice in their field!

3. Girls read comics Because feminist geekery is damn cool. And funny. Focused, intelligent and accessible- even if you aren’t into comics.
4. ’cause knowledge is power Insightful, perceptive but also down to earth (something I need to work on 🙂 ) The development on this blog is always worth watching- glad I found it.

5. And less of a single thinking blogger- but anyone who doesn’t regularly check out the f word needs to pronto. UK feminist slant on news, with articles contributed from various writers and accessible to all ages and feminist persuasions.

{April 11, 2007}   Stop the Press! Don’t Diet!

It appears, that what the many of us have been saying for years, is now once more confirmed. Diets are a waste of time. Spectacularly. In fact diets are such a waste of time you could compare them to going to Chewbacca for a haircut. Which would be snazzy, I’m sure, but not quite the sophisticate look you’re going for.

Let me go through this article adding bits from my own experience of loosing weight because this blog is obviously about me, me, me and I like talking about me. 😛

Diets are not a good way to lose weight in the long term, according to researchers. They found that although dieters can lose significant amounts of weight in the first few months, most will return to their starting weight within five years.

“Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people,” said Traci Mann, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“You can initially lose 5% to 10% of your weight on any number of diets, but then the weight comes back. We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority.”

Don’t I know it. This is ringing very true at the moment. I’m very short, officially petite which simply means under 5 foot 4 (in fact this blog title came from me going over possible names and mispronouncing “minute” into “my newt” which I tend to do. I am told this is cute. Obviously I must now resign from my feminist position as it is well known we are a “socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” No mention of cute there and quite frankly it would undermine our whole evoool agenda.) Back on topic; this shortness means that whilst I weigh a lot less than most of my peers, I keep more visible curves- especially in the hip and bum area.

Last year, partly due to financial concerns (i.e. a £1 difference) I stopped buying the proper meals at my canteen and lived off soup and bread alone for lunch, and cut off all snacks.

I went from 9 stone 3 at the beginning of (I think) November to 8 stone 5 by mid January. When I weighed myself yesterday it was back up to 9 stone. Being honest, I’d love to loose the weight again but quite frankly I have better things to focus on and I can’t find the motivation to be dissatisfied with myself.

Repeatedly losing and gaining weight has been linked in previous studies to cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and altered immune function.

Mmm… Soup is nice, but not quite nice enough to risk that if you ask me.

Of course I would encourage anyone to loose weight if they are feeling unhealthy but not to do so for aesthetics and not to do so as a regime. I’m not going to lie; It felt absolutely fantastic when my mother told me I should try on the size 14 jeans and it turned out I was a size 8. It felt great having a friend I hadn’t seen in ages say I looked “so totally hot” in my corset at the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I loved seeing the numbers on the scale going down and it made me feel very confident and accomplished.

But during the same time period a friend of mine got anorexia. I believe she was at the lower end of seven stone?

I remember her going around her house and her rolling her eyes and joking about how if she had any cherry coke it would give her a heart attack and kill her. She’s a really tall girl and this is important because the doctors told her that she needed to weigh 9 stone minimum for her height. We think that there is only one template for the body and this is where we go wrong. There is no template. We all have individual BMI charts and we all have different metabolisms and shapes. This obvious truth should not need to be said. If you are living a healthy lifestyle don’t you dare loose that weight. It belongs there and is part of you. It is not an anomaly you can “correct”. You might as well chop of your arm.

My friend is okay now but it was incredibly scary (she’s the third I know to go down from that and the one who recovered the best); it wasn’t a long time after I found out I weighed less than my friend suffering from anorexia that I stopped trying to loose weight.

They have to look at it not as a diet where they’re denying themselves because eventually people get sick of that and go back to their previous lifestyle.

“What they’ve got to think about moving towards is a new lifestyle but doing it through small, sustainable changes. They’ve got to find a physical activity they enjoy, whether it’s walking or going to the gym or taking up a new sport.”

The above is very true. The only way I could motivate myself to loose was by hating; my body, my lack of self-control. It was the promise of beautiful as something ahead of me, something I had yet to reach but not yet. It was that “just a little bit more” and then… and then what? Another little bit more. Followed by yet another. My original target had been simply 9 stone. Then 9 stone 10. 9 stone 8. What about 5? And if the scale went up, I felt that promise of beauty slipping from my hands into the abyss of my stomach.

Here’s the beauty; when I was younger and living in France I sometimes felt like I was having out of body experiences. Actually I’ll call those “in body experiences”. They happened when I was feeling clumsy and awkward. My hands would seem disproportionate, I’d be towering like a giant over the slim petite French girls (damn their bone structure), I felt like my body was too big and heavy to move around or live in. I felt like my mind was sinking in this gargantuan vehicule I had no control over.

But now this is reversing. Jane Austen said “To look almost pretty is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain for the first fifteen years of her life than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive.” This, I found to be true. But that beauty and prettiness came to me through the realisation that I had something to be confident about and proud of; my intellect, my smile, my personality.

It came when I was standing in a harshly lit dressing room, trying on jeans and ironically joking to myself whether “my bum looks fat in that”. And then I thought “yes, yes it does. It’s huge and that gives me presence. I exist. And my body is just the right size to hold my spirit; I don’t want to be smaller because I feel like I’d flow outside of myself.” So I bought the jeans and quoted some Maya Angelou “Phenomenal Woman” to myself and went home.

I haven’t dieted since.

I don’t know if I never will again but I’m certainly not going to add to the coffers of a mega-rich industry that will never offer me fulfilment.

So that’s my experience. Don’t bother; don’t diet. Really love yourself; every single bit of you; right now. The more you do, the more you’ll be able to focus on what real self-improvement means because all the red herrings will be swept away.

Besides that, we are so much more than perpetual works in progress. Ultimately life is too short to count on the way we hope tomorrow’s photo’s turn out.

But don’t forget to wear sunscreen. 😛

Source: Why dieter’s have fat chance of loosing weight- The Guardian

{April 8, 2007}   International Chocolate Day…

…is always welcome in my books.

I’ve been meaning to write for a while but everything doesn’t seem to come out at all. Lately I’ve been going through some kind of personal mental crisis at the moment. So I’m just going to write a bit about myself because maybe this will help me understand. Whilst I am aware of the very public nature of this blog, it is also a place for me to explore my thoughts and discover things, shape my opinions. So here are some free form thoughts.

When I first moved to England I was finding it very, very difficult to fit in. I tried very hard figuring it would be a fresh start from the old school which was less than ideal and apart from that I think I was forcing myself to like it to the point of being blinkered.

I was twelve, naive and blind to the warning signs. I tried so hard I screwed it up for myself and, without even realising it, I became one of the top bullying targets for my year group. I think it was a mixture of reactions to my clumsy religion, xenophobia (having moved from France) and perceived American accent (Canadian thank you very much). That and, I hate to say this, but being in a girl’s school there is an unusual amount of passive aggressive tendencies…

Well, I wasn’t popular, despite making some die-hard friendships whom I still have all these years latter. About, if I remember correctly, 13/14 I went all rather emo and downhill. It’s embarrassing to even think of.

Anyway, I was with this youth group and I didn’t feel all that comfy with them. The dynamics hadn’t clicked yet and I don’t think they did until about two years ago when we went to Rwanda together but that’s another story. This was a holiday weekend; my first with them. However things were going to get awkward.

One of the girls, who hung out with the girls who bullied me (still following?) had started coming to the group. I disliked her; she was friendly with some of the meanest, most vindictive girls in school and, besides, she never even tried to stop any bullying. Not that, she would have had any effect anyway.

She was camping with us. And we were sharing a tent.

Can you say awkward?

So, there is me- wanabee goth, and her, popular baby blue and pink tracksuit diva, in the same tent. Very interesting night time conversations we had.

And we actually did.

One of the later nights she said something that got under my skin and followed me until today.

She said “I admire you. You’re the only person I know who doesn’t make a difference if it’s a guy or a girl. It doesn’t matter to you.”

She then expressed how there was always a barrier between the guys and girls, they didn’t spend time with each other, couldn’t talk to each other on the same level. Apparently I didn’t do that.

That made me feel like complete crap.

The reason I was hanging out with the guys and girls equally was because I didn’t have any friends in either group and was desperate to find someone to talk to! I couldn’t afford to be choosy! I was hanging out with anyone who wasn’t ignoring me for god’s sake!

I didn’t quite understand what she meant then. I just felt like a hypocrite and I think I still am. But I’m trying very hard to learn.

One of my friends seems to open my eyes to what she meant- he is the only guy I’ve met who doesn’t regard me under that big sign saying “FEMALE!” first; who isn’t waiting for me to fulfil a list of givens on a gendered check list and to whom my personality is not whim to those powder pink whims, even somewhat. To him I am me; Newt- first of all and female is a coincidence. Of course he flirts and makes saucy comments and I make them straight back but we do that to everyone on reflex, like young people will. We have all, honestly, forgotten perspective genders before if only for a minute. I didn’t know that was possible or that the aforementioned check list was there, until I felt the absence of it, like a weight of constant judgement and evaluation released from my shoulders.

I’m still trying. I’m not there yet.

But I think that’s what she thought I was like, in that cramped, cold, uncomfortable tent and if I fooled her out of sheer desperate “trying to be friends-ness” without even noticing, then maybe it’s a real possibility when I’m stronger and in control and aware. I want that. I want to be what she thought I was.

I don’t want any more hypocrisy or pretence or false intentions. But I’m not fully naive any more…

So, is that feeling, that treatment possible? Is it just me? A girlish fantasy? Or is a reality for me or anyone else?

If it isn’t, why does my mind go back to her words every so often like a spiritual seeker on a pilgrimage?

et cetera