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Being Mean to Paula Deen

January 31, 2012

If you are a female over fifty, the fashion industry’s decades-long promotion of impossibly slender bodies as the ultimate image of what is sexy and beautiful is getting umm, OLD. Stale. Has. Been. Used. Up.

Not many women would deny that the mantra of “skinny is the only pretty” hasn’t abused the womanly psyche connecting us all to motherhood, the goddess, and the girl; to a genuinely healthy self-image.

Or that this toxic mantra has influenced ourselves, our daughters,  and countless sister women for far too long.

A disappointing affirmation of the old pervasive power of skinny-pretty showed up in a recent Huff post about Paula Deen’s diabetes. Written by a self-appointed leader of women in my age group, it thinly :) disguises an all out support of  the ‘skinny-pretty’ ethos behind the word ‘healthy’.

Like the comedienne who digs in and reams her own ethnic/cultural background in ways nobody on the outside can, I’m calling this one out.

In Embrace Your Inner Potbelly I owned that “gosh being a shining role model of ‘aging well’ takes A LOT of work–been there, done that.” I can confess that at age 51 my buy-in to maintaining a skinny-pretty size six through peri-menopause and beyond was to:

  • eat no gluten or sugar
  • never drink alcohol
  • consume tiny portions of expensive organic food
  • work out doing cardio 5x a week and yoga 3x a week

I kept this up for three years. A deep sense of burnout, the natural consequences of aging, and cupcake depravation made me get real.

Thank goodness for thinkers and truth tellers like writer Dorothy Sander, who names a good chunk of what’s at the heart of this so well in a recent post:

Paula Deen, Aunt Bee and Motherhood

I feed my beauty now as a size 12, I love my body, LOVE food–yum. I can’t wait to write more.

Disclaimer so I will feel okay about not publishing certain kinds of comments: Diabetes is serious. It is in my family. It can happen through poor choices, genetics, or both. Books and articles from the medical community about the healthy eating choices you need make to help protect against diabetes and support good health in general can be found in libraries, book stores and on websites.

  1. February 1, 2012 11:13 am

    Thank you Sophie for taking a stand against the perpetuation of poorly conceived and conveyed perceptions. I am behind you, with you… we’re in this together!

    • Sophie Lumen permalink*
      February 1, 2012 11:38 am

      Yes! Thank you Robbie-your support means a lot to me. {{{:*

  2. Vivian Wooster permalink
    February 2, 2012 2:58 pm

    I LOVE Paula Deen! If I could choose a celebrety to spend time with, I believe she would be at the top of my list. Diabetes runs in my family also. I know the consequenses of not taking care of yourself. Paula Deen seems to be one of the kindest, loving, happily married, motherly women that I know of. Because she didn’t mention the diabetes doesn’t effect my feelings for her at all. I think she deserves some privacy in her life!

    • Sophie Lumen permalink*
      February 2, 2012 6:25 pm

      Amen, that’s right Vivian! xo, :)

  3. cindy clark permalink
    February 2, 2012 3:07 pm

    I’m looking at the scale going up and up and up! I would love to be a size 12 again. I’m going to do my best to get back there by exercise and making wise decisions. I don’t think that I have to STARVE myself to do it.

    I do not want to be ‘skinny’ but healthy. The magazines may show anorexic models, but there’s a movement towards a healthy image that I’ve seen on Facebook.

    • Sophie Lumen permalink*
      February 2, 2012 6:24 pm

      Cindy-Yes, there is a growing movement to support healthy body images on Facebook and other sites. Please email me or send a message via my Sophie Lumen profile on Facebook of the sites/pages you like…I’d love to compare notes! It sounds like you know what to do, and with love, for your body! xo

  4. February 7, 2012 9:43 am

    I, too, am tired of the way discussion about aging has turned to achieving the perfect YOUNG LOOKING body after 50; (reference the hoopla over Helen Mirren’s swimsuit clad figure.) Can’t full-figured, thick-middled, droopy boobed, wrinkled persons get an Amen?!

    Being well past 50, I know that achieving health is the most important “body image” issue we should have. I eat well (don’t starve) and exercise (bike ride and walk) to stay healthy and strong. But MOSTLY I do those things because I LIKE TO! I love cooking fresh foods. I love a bike ride. I love a long walk. I know that these things also make me healthier and stronger, which are so important. Am I skinny? Hell no. Am I even slender? Nope. Would I like to lose a few pounds. Sure.

    God bless Paula Deen’s sweet little soul. Diabetes IS a problem that should be taken seriously. But she didn’t mislead us or lead us down some unhealthy path to ruination. We know how to eat healthy. Of course we’re not going to eat a Paula Deen meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including her fabulous desserts! We KNOW you can’t eat like that every day and stay healthy! We’re not stupid, and neither is she. There. I said it.

    Aging well should not be synonymous with trim. Aging well means we embrace who we are. Aging well means we are mindful of our health and strength. We “generously proportioned” women don’t need to berate ourselves for being who we are. I look the part of a woman who has consumed big chunks of life. And, that’s fine with me.

    Thanks for the great post!

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