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Chutes and Ladders

I recently got stuck on an airplane for three hours, on the tarmac.

It was infuriating for many reasons. One, the cause for the delay was not weather related even though we were flying during the week of earthquakes, tsunamis and tornados.  Nor was it mechanical failures, which as far as I am concerned I’m more than willing to forego my on time departure to make sure all of the parts of the airplane are working.

We were delayed because the catering company had not yet arrived to deliver the food and beverage for the plane.  (The food and beverage that the airline would then generously sell to the captives on the plane at five dollars per bag of Doritos).  And the bag of course is the mini bag….the one where you can count exactly how many Doritos are in the bag.  As far as I am concerned when you can count the number of Doritos in the bag and divide it with the amount you pay for the bag and come out knowing how much each Dorito costs….there are not enough Doritos in the bag.

But you probably think I’m writing to complain about the Doritos and the delay.  And you would be correct to think that because that is how I started off the blog post.  And for my loyal readers you know that I tend to digress and eventually make a connection so I am writing a little bit about the Doritos and the delay…and of course more…

Because we were kept captive on the plane for three hours before finally taking off, and the battery for my lap top was dead as a doornail, I was forced to read every piece of reading material in my seat back pocket.  (Although from where I was sitting it was really my seat front pocket…never mind about that…)

After I finished the crosswords, the ken kens, and the sudokus, (in ink) read and fantasized about purchasing items in the Sky Mall Catalog, and memorized every escape route and safety precaution procedure, there was only one thing left to read….mocking me….grinning at me with a “come-hither I dare you” look….an issue of Shape Magazine.

I rang the attendant bell and asked if there was any power supply for my lap top?  I was desperate. She was impatient. I don’t blame her, she wanted to leave as much as the rest of us.


I'm Going In!

With a sigh I opened the “Mag Rag” and crossed into the enemy lines.

The front of the issue was predictable.  A scantily clad pre-pubescent looking young female surrounded by the headlines for tightening your tush, toning your thighs, blasting your cellulite, slimming with gymming, guilt free sweet tooth satisfaction and then in smaller print…a glimmer of hope… three easy steps to boost your body image.  I gathered what was “leftover” of my sense of humor and thought,

“Step one, put down this magazine!”  I kept reading.

In the middle of the magazine, as promised in between 20 advertisements for weight loss products and fat cutting diets to bikini heaven was a page and a half devoted to helping girls and women not hate their bodies.

The accompanying illustration was…I kid you not, a young cheerleader calling for us to appreciate our bodies.  By the time I got to this article having been force fed (thanks to the lack of food and beverage on the plane) picture after picture and article after article telling me how to look like a cheerleader; there was something just plain cruel about that same cheerleader being used to tell me to love my non-cheerleader body just the way it is…Fat Chance!

Life is like a game of Chutes and Ladders….Working on body image issues and self acceptance is the Deluxe Version of Chutes and Ladders.  Women are very vulnerable… and for all of the arduous, determined steps we take to climb the ladder to self-acceptance; it often takes the smallest of triggers to push us down the chute into self-loathing.  I was teetering on the edge of the chute…and then I read the three steps.

I am not making this up.

1. Identify your strengths and find the things about you come naturally e.g. being a fast runner or having beautiful eyes.

2.  Redo your wardrobe. (That’s really easy for people over a size 10! Not)

3. Exercise.

In the spirit of full disclosure the author does mention that saying affirmative things like “I am strong and beautiful,” help dispel the negative thoughts about your thighs and your butt… and I’m sure that the cheerleader is strong from the squat thrusts and workouts in cheerleading practice and hence can easily muster that up as a positive attribute.  Then the  author warns us of  the tenacity of our inner critics. The inner critic will try to make you feel badly about yourself.

The rest of the magazine however was clearly paid for by Inner Critic Associates campaigning vehemently against any improvement of a girl or woman’s body image.

Any knowlege that someone may have garnered from the author’s attempt to promote self -acceptance was obliterated by every other page in this magazine.

I came away from the magazine feeling assaulted, despite how much experience I have in the field of eating disorders and body dissatisfaction professionally and personally.  It was a token article on feeling o.k. A thin piece of cheese nestled in between thick slabs of, “If you are fat you are a loser” messages…Like some perverted sandwich.

Size and Self Acceptance are processes neither of which are supported by most of our cultural and media messages.  In the play, Leftovers, the Ups and Downs of a Compulsive Eater, the actors recite, “Hit by the Mag Rag, Hit by the Tube, Hit by the Billboards, and Defenseless by two,”  when addressing the constant brainwashing by the media to conform to their standard of beauty.

I didn’t go down the chute. In the past I would have. But I did find myself a few rungs down the ladder; mustering up my internal strength yet again to start the climb.  It gets easier and I’m fortunate because I too am in possession of several steps for improving body image. The first one of which is; don’t read the magazine no matter how desperate you are for distraction.