“The Conversation.” | If you can’t say it *to* her face, don’t type it *about* her face. … Ryan Gosling gets it.

me again.

Now that I’ve got your lady parts tingling, I hope you’ve been having a happy Friday.  It’s late afternoon here, and this is the post I was born to write.     

The tweet that launched a thousand feelings

It started with an intriguing tweet that popped up in my twitter feed yesterday.  It was from Sarah Yates; she was thanking Ashley Judd for her response to an article Sarah had written in reaction to Judd’s article, about ‘The Conversation.’  (Note: if you like it whenever Bamboface McPup graces this blog, you’re gonna like Sarah’s, by the way.)  Alright, the tweet: “@sarahyates TY! RT @AshleyJudd This is a beautiful post, Sarah. Thank you. It’s a core theme and essential part of changing #TheConversation. Well done”

The tweet was so intriguing to me (I mean, Ashley Judd’s never written to me on twitter; that’s pretty cool), that I stopped what I was doing and did what you do when your interest in a conversation on twitter is piqued.  I clicked AJ’s twitter, I scrolled down to find the tweet, clicked “ In reply to sarah yates” to unfold the conversation to reveal Sarah’s blog post link, and clicked that little stinker.  SO MUCH WORK.  I mean it took me like, *at least* 0.7 seconds.  Twitter needs to understand that I am not made of free time.

Fast-forward to me having read both articles – Judd’s and Sarah’s – and it was decided that this post had to be written.  I’m sure a lot of you would have wanted to write reaction-stories like I’m doing, but unlike a lot of people out there, I have the unique fortune of writing a blog that reaches a lot of people.  I would be remiss if I didn’t use that “power” in the right way at least some of the time.  So this post has little to do with weddings, and I hope you’ll pardon that for today.  What it does have to do with, is body image.  Specifically, my body image.

The issue of body image (this includes ya faces; the whole shebang head to toe) is something that plagues most if not all women, to varying degrees, myself included.  It’s one of those annoying but persistent things that we’ve all had to address within ourselves throughout our lives, it plays a significant if not dominant part in our daily routine and self-confidence, and we are all at varying levels of being able to deal with it properly.  It never quite goes away, the awareness of it.  The worrying about it.  The moments of utter despair over it.  At least if you live in this society.  And now, with even Pinterest becoming somewhat of a haven for anorexia-motivation and insult-slinging, it stands only to get way, waaaay worse.

The Judd Saga

Everybody knows Ashley Judd has been on the receiving end of a pretty insanely inappropriate media frenzy about her pretty little face.  She’s got the look.  She’s always been beautiful.  And isn’t it fun how it’s those girls, the pretty girls, who get the absolute worst scrutiny, when it comes time for them to be any age other than young?  But who cares, right?  Screw them!  They were lucky enough to be born beautiful, so they deserve to suffer for their birthright, at every. single. physical. mark. of change. we see.

Like I’ve made clear in the past, there are things that make me sigh.  And so I’ll go “sigh” in writing, like I’ll actually write it down here, to express my feelings to you on the internet.  And then sometimes, when I’m feeling especially taken aback over something, I’ll make the sigh French by saying “le sigh.”

This whole concept’s got “le sigh” written all over it.

A lot of people argue that people in the spotlight shouldn’t have stepped into the spotlight in the first place, if they weren’t ready to receive a lifetime of public scrutiny.  A LIFETIME of it.  ”It comes with the territory of being a public figure,” many argue.  I don’t know where that originated, but it’s the prevailing groupthink in our society.  People hear it, and then many think that it’s justification for leveling judgment.  It’s this type of rudeness that gestates within the broken pieces of our psyches, and the people who do it seemingly without shame, are coming from a place of intense and unrelenting insecurity of the self.  Their end game = feeling better about their own looks.

I can say now that this is an insane concept to me.  But in my sustained interest of remaining transparent on the blog to you guys, I will admit to drinking the kool-aid on occasion in earlier years.  Not the kool-aid flavor sipped by those horrible wenches who troll the gossip blogs just to leave hateful comments under pictures of celebrities, but definitely a watered down, low-sugar kool-aid, that made me feel comfortable making mental judgments about other women in magazines, etc.  And not to excuse it, but snap judgments are a part of human nature.  Which is part of the reason it’s so hard to make it stop.

When I think about my appearance, I’ve never felt, like, in love, with it

Lemme share a little bit about me that you don’t know if you haven’t met me personally.  I am 5’4, and I haven’t actually weighed myself in what feels like years so I can’t speak to that, but I’m a size 2 in clothes.  While I am happy with my body as it is, that is not to say that I am not an insecure person, because I am.  I am also someone who has been at a few different weights in my life, and it has taken me tiiiiiiiime to get to a place where I stopped being so acutely aware of my shape.  I started off at your typical healthy weight throughout my early years; then, a late bloomer in all things, I had trouble shedding my baby fat as I entered middle school.  The Abercrombie & Fitch tops just didn’t fit me the same way they fit my close friends.  And lemme tell you, it wasn’t a picnic still looking like a kid, when others around me were starting to look *sexier* and more shapely.  By the time I hit college, I was in shape, but almost instantly I gained the freshman 15, plus a little extra to really hammer home the insecurity.  While in college I developed a gluten intolerance (for instance, can’t eat wheat flour) and so I’ve been the weight I’m at now pretty much since then.  And I guarantee you, my inability to digest most carbs plays a HUGE ROLE in maintaining my figure.

I can tell you with confidence that the awareness of the importance of looking attractive hit me in middle school, and that was hard.  So knowing that in today’s society it reigns supreme at earlier ages than I ever could have imagined, I get goosebumps.

Ok, this is the tough part.  If they read this post, this part is going to make my parents cry, probably.  Though I hope it doesn’t.  Because I’m choosing to write about it for the express purpose of letting people know that it’s normal.  I have been growing more and more comfortable with bearing the Truest Me, if it can have a positive impact on the people who cozy up in my little nook on the internet.

When I think about my appearance, I’ve never felt, like, in love, with it.  The people who know me well know that I rarely wear makeup, but that’s not to say that I can get away without it.  When I have a tan, I feel like the prettiest little f**ker that ever did walk this earth.  But when I haven’t just come back from vacation (which is most of the time), I am one of the palest people I know, and I will forever wish that I had more color in my face.  I also wish my nose was smaller.  I wish my upper lip was ‘plumper.’  I could use a little toning here or there.  These are things that would have dominated my thoughts, years ago.  There were times when I wouldn’t go to a party because I didn’t feel pretty.  It happened more often than I care to discuss.  Those nights were dreadful; you feel like you’re at the bottom of a black hole of unattractiveness, and there’s absolutely no way out.  Honestly, high school was the hardest thing I’ve personally been through in my life.  And I’ve BEEN THROUGH SOME S**T, you guys.  I would come home from school crying over what someone said about me more times than I care to remember.  And if I didn’t have my mom there at home, telling me I’m beautiful, smart, funny and worthwhile, and then telling me that those mean girls are just troubled souls, I honestly don’t know what would have become of me.

As I stand here now, I can say that I am content with my appearance.  But it is a feeling that comes on the heels of many, many years of the opposite.  And it is a feeling that builds in you as you develop more love for yourself over the course of your life.

Of course, I still have those nights when I don’t feel like going out over something as minor as a zit.  They really never leave you, I think.

Final notes (I know, I know… I’m wrapping it up.)

Now, I know I said I’m good with my body, as it is.  But that’s not to say that if I ended up in a gossip mag tomorrow wearing a bikini, that I’d be buying up all the copies in my neighborhood so that I could mail them to everyone I know including past boyfriends; certainly not.  I’d probably be bundled into a spread entitled *why spray tanning was invented* or *the importance of working out those glutes when you’re pushing 30* or something equally as sinister.  (Because they’re all sinister, those articles doing anything but celebrating the female figure no matter its form.)  So just imagine, what women and girls in the spotlight have to endure, and what they must go through, emotionally.  NO ONE is immune to hurtful things from the get-go.

Ashley Judd says in her article, “The only thing that matters is how I feel about myself, my personal integrity.”  This is all that should matter, and I find that each day I live, I grow to feel more comfortable and confident in who I am, and how I look.  And the fun side effect of *feeling* good about yourself has always been that you *look* better, on the outside.  Who doesn’t love that? :)  Also, moisturize, get enough sleep and drink enough water.  Those are key, if you’re looking for tips.

Ok.  I believe in our society, and I feel that this can change.  And I feel that we can help to change it.  Because after all, it’s the collective Us, who allow judgment to prosper.  We buy the magazines that feed it to us, we read the websites that crap it out on the daily.  I am no innocent – I’ve paid for a gossip mag here and there, for a train ride simply because it’s fun to look at and I like the fashion factor.  But whenever I read the scathing copy about this actress or that model, my heart hurts.  Not for them necessarily, but for us.  For women.  I hate reading that bullshit, it is SO. EFFED. UP.  But here’s the wonderful thing to which we have to look forward: I already know it won’t go on forever.  How do I know?  Because I have to believe it.  I have to believe that we are going to become better than this, for the sake of ourselves, and our KIDS.  I imagine bringing a daughter into this world, and I hesitate.  I HESITATE, you guys!  Because I don’t want her to suffer the way I’ve suffered.

So!  Howsabout we grow past this.  Seriously, right now, let’s grow past this.  Let’s not comment on the outfit of the girl at the table next to us, and instead, comment on the status of whatever new project we’re working on, or the political climate, or even THIS s**t I’ve been blabbing on and on about in this blog post.  I do know that it’s going to take a LOT of time, and a LOT of people participating, but we can grow past this.

We pretty much just need to change The Conversations we’re having.

So, who’s with me?

xoxo  - superc Ali fragilisticexpialidocious.


Thanks for getting to the end of this.  I’m feeling kind of like a shriveled up little lamb, on account of this being an aggressively revealing post.  It’s the written equivalent to shoving my labia in your face.

I look forward to hearing anything you have to say.  Like, at all.  That, and keep smilin’.  Also also, always remember, that no matter what, Bambino will always love you.

Label(s): Real Life Issues, Ryan Gosling

Love all of this...


  1. Meg on April 13, 2012

    great post! and i think all women face those fears of having a daughter for many of the reasons you’ve stated here. (i also personally hate whenever their speculating on a celebrity being preggo .. you know the photos of female celebrity with the pouch we all have at times and a big fat arrow pointed right at it, that is the worst!)

  2. chandra ~ Oh Lovely Day on April 13, 2012

    I’m with you, although it is SOOO hard. At this point in my life, I’m less confident than I have ever been, because I have a baby, don’t get enough sleep, am still carrying an extra 10-15 lbs of weight that I can no longer call baby weight b/c my baby is now a toddler, and I am constantly seeing celebs who look great after two weeks of giving birth. It is so hard not to judge yourself when you are constantly being bombarded with images like that. I say all the time, and have said on my own blog, that I feel like we (womankind) should be more honest, because we are only hurting ourselves and each other when we aren’t. Be honest that things aren’t as easy as they look, be honest that you aren’t as confident as you seem, be honest that losing baby weight isn’t that easy or looking young isn’t that easy. Thank you for your honesty, Alison. It was refreshing. And as far as judging others, I am with Ashley Judd. I actually saw her at The Grove yesterday where she was talking about this on Extra and not only did she look gorgeous, but she was speaking with great honestly as well, and she is one of the only celebs that I feel is.

    *this comment isn’t as eloquently written as I’d like b/c I currently have my kiddo tugging at me to come play. So, I’m off. please forgive the rambling :) xx

  3. Carol on April 13, 2012

    Alison, as I sit here with tears in my eyes I can only say two things (maybe 3 ‘cuz I have to say something ’bout Bam). One, been where you have been..it sucks. Have never had the nerve to ‘put it out there’ as you have so eloquently. Two, you are so right. Stop making fun at others expense and talk about something good in life. I am guilty of it.We all are but I dont think some women realize it. Third, I love Bam..would you kindly pick up the rope in your pic and throw it for him and tell him it was from me??? You rock..XOXO

  4. Sara Lucero on April 13, 2012

    I’ve been down for a GIRL WORLD REVOLUTION for years. Thank you for sharing your heart out loud. And for the record, you’re a GORGEOUS woman. I enjoyed every second with you.

  5. AmyPunky Photography on April 13, 2012

    Let’s do this!!!

  6. sarah yates on April 13, 2012

    allison, thank you! i LOVE this post. i am so effing sick of women being pitted against each other, being valued exclusively for their looks, being ripped apart for any flaw in their appearance (in the media and in life). i get all spice-girl riled up about it. i don’t have a single girlfriend who doesn’t struggle with these same issues.
    so i’m thrilled that ashley started this and i think it’s so important that any of us that have the ability to make this a public conversation do. so, thank you thank you thank you, it’s a brave story to tell and so fantastically great that you chose to.
    big hugs! xoxo

  7. Rachel on April 13, 2012

    Alison, this post rocked me to my core. Your words are beautiful and because I feel like I know you, I know you are beautiful inside and out (and I mean that in a non really creepy stalker guy kinda way). Women, on average, are way to judgemental. I’ve been saying for years that women dress for other women. If I had to go to a party where there would be a whole bunch of guys I’ve never met…I’d probably go in sweats, a hoodie and maybe a hat….same scenario but with women…my best jeans, platform pumps, cute top and perfect hair and makeup. Plain and simple: girls are bitches (I know I’m stereotyping and I’ve always been guilty of being one of these bitches). I’m all for changing the conversation, but I think what really needs to change is societies views on what’s accepted as a beautiful woman. Because tv, the magazines and Victoria secret tell us that you’re not beautiful of you’re not a size 0 or 2 that is what everyone believes. I was watching Khloe Kardashian on Ellen and she gets non stop ridiculed for her weight..she is a SIZE 6!! In what universe does that warrant being called a large woman who can’t be considered beautiful?!! I feel the same way as Chandra…still carrying around “baby” weight (my daughter will be two next week) and I haven’t felt good about myself in a really long time…even though my beau is always telling me how beautiful I am and that I’m perfect the way I am (yeah, I kinda love him). I’ve just recently gotten to a place Of feeling good about myself when I’m leaving the house and I’m starting to find that inner confidence again….and it feels good! “Shut up Rachel”, what everyone is thinking!! Anyway, thanks for sharing such a deep and personal post with us, I can’t imagine thatvwasbeasy for you to do!

  8. Anna on April 14, 2012

    Excuse my language but HELL YES! You have described my own thought process about body image,and I am sure many others. It took me years to realize that it is more important for me to be healthy. After years of diet pills, crash diets, obsessive self loathing I realized after a heart scare in the hospital I wasted 10 years of my life hating myself and I was only 22. I am approaching 30 and I am the happiest I have ever been with myself. I keep a clean diet for my own self satisfaction and avoidance of future medical issues. I still snack attacks and God knows I will never pass up red velvet cupcakes or coffee but I learned to live my life for me. At my smallest weight I couldn’t run a mile without fainting because of what i put myself through. Now I am a marathoner, curvy, healthy and happy.

  9. Naomi on April 14, 2012

    You read my mind with this post…it’s what I told myself a few days ago…thanks again for bringing light to this…I’m with Amy. let’s do this!

  10. Loe on April 14, 2012

    This is so true. We really need to stop this- its one of the reasons that I’d hate to be a young girl now even more than I hated it when I was one. The things said to me will haunt me forever- the boy will tell you how frustrating it is to try and make someone feel better who hates their body. I have never been a small girl, but due to years of torment, I can’t even look at a photo. So. Frustrating. I would never wish this on anyone, yet so many of us have these problems.

    For women everywhere, we gotta do this.

  11. Jennifer Bacchiocchi on April 14, 2012

    Very well said! I think we can all relate. As a 43 year old woman I finally feel comfortable in my own skin (although I still occasionally focus too much on those pesky wrinkles). Now I can look back and laugh at some of those downright cruel things other girls said to me in those middle school years. (My favorite is that my lips were too big, so no boy was ever going to want to kiss me. Cuz, you know, boys don’t like full lips…) I totally second Chandra’s call for more honesty! Life is not pristine! Women should not be expected to be at their pre-pregnancy weight in 2 weeks! When you leave the gym, you should look like you just worked out! For some reason, I have noticed that a lot of women feel the need to portray their life as perfect (perpetuated by facebook). My kids are perfect! They are gifted! They eat all of their vegetables! Oh, and I run 5,000 miles a day!!! While I think we should be proud of our accomplishments, I love surrounding myself with women who are totally real. None of us are perfect. We should not be expected to be perfect.

  12. Candice Cossel on April 14, 2012

    Ack, ok so this hit home for me. All the stuff about judging others aside….I can’t seem to stop judging myself. I literally spend several minutes at a time….several times a day in front of my mirror analyzing if I’m ever going to get where I want to me. Is my stomach a little flatter? Are my thighs a bit smaller? Is my butt a bit higher? And each time my conclusion is ….no…..and it effects the way I feel the rest of the day.

    I’m a photographer and I every week compare myself to those I’m shooting. I’m fatter, I’m wider, whatever. I even find myself jealous of fake boobs because of their gravity defying perfection. ARGH.

    So as I read this….I cried a bit. I don’t know if I will change….but maybe I need too.

  13. First let me thank you for a well-written article.

    I am 69 years old and have lived through the women’s lib movement. I have seen changes that have happened since the 1960′s that I am sure the young women of today cannot image. It wasn’t a “glass ceiling” when I first started working, it was a “cement ceiling”. Mad Men is a good depiction of the environment. I worked through all of those years and raised a child as well. Now, that was something to handle in the ’70′s. Everyone was sure he would be a juvenile delinquent because his mother choose to work. I am happy to report that he has an MBA, a beautiful wife and daughter and a very successful business. But the back-biting that I had to endure was unbelieveable, especially form the stay-at-home moms my age in my family.

    But, enough of my whining! The one thing that was different back then is the body image thing. Of course, everyone wanted to be slim (which I never quite attained until I was 25, I think it was baby fat) and beautiful, but we were not accosted by the images on TV, movies and magazines constantly. Even at my age today it has an effect on women and I am always questioning myself about it, however, now it is much easier to just be content because it would be too much trouble to be otherwise. One of the benefits of getting old.

    Why can’t girls be taught that the images they are trying to achieve can only be achieved with lots of money, fitness trainers, make-up artists, great photography, air-brushing, etc. It is a career to look like that and probably not achievable in ordinary life, unless you are f—— lucky.

    I feel so bad for the younger women who grew up and are growing up in this atmosphere. It is so hard for them to develop any self-esteem when they think so much of it is based on how they look and the bullying about looks in middle school and above is horrendous. I am especially frightened for my 15-month old granddaughter and the future.

    I read an article just yesterday that said that we should start telling girls from the time they are babies, not how pretty they are or how beautiful, but how smart they are and how well they have done. The article emphasized that they should be told they look pretty because they put themselves together well or as a baby they helped dress themselves. So the pretty part came from being smart, not just from being. Sounded like an interesting concept.

    Allison, count me in on anything that I can do to help with this crusade. I think men have to be recruited also, especially fathers of young girls, because, let’s face it, they have contributed to the problem as much as spiteful women have!

    Oh, by the way, why do men become more distinguished and good-looking as they age and women become wrinkled, grey, fat and cranky as they age???????? Or so we are led to believe by the media.

  14. Lena on April 14, 2012

    This post made me tear up in a big, real, honest way. I can’t imagine facing constant scrutiny about the way I look for anyone else–don’t I give myself enough hell? These days I try to avoid things that I know will upset me or send me in to a tailspin, since I struggled with a fairly serious eating disorder growing up (and forever, since that stuff never goes away). I don’t follow those “fitness” pin boards, I stay away from people who complain about how bloated they are and how they just have to do a cleanse right this minute before they balloon into disgusting creatures not to be seen, and I refrain from letting myself obsessively spin. But I have, and sometimes I still do. And while that’s my job to manage now, I know I’m not the only thing that contributed–a lifetime spent flipping through fashion magazines and stretching at the ballet barre, even my own mother helped build a culture where I could count calories at 12. And it’s not until we change that culture that we start helping ladies–women and girls, and hopefully put an end to this conversation, and the start of a new one.

  15. Unique Wedding Favors on April 15, 2012

    Thanks for sharing, this was a great blog with useful information. I do agree that if you cannot tell someone something to their face then one should refrain from writing it.

  16. Courtney on April 15, 2012

    Thank you for writing this. After reading it, you inspired me to stop looking at celebrity gossip sites. I hate to admit it, but lately (as a grad student and working at an office job) I’ve found myself going to People.com etc on autopilot- because it’s “fun”- and doesn’t take too much brainpower. But the truth is, it’s harmful to me. It makes me feel bad about myself. Women being obsessed with other women’s bodies, hair, clothes- and comparing how they fall short in comparison- it’s truly a sickness in our culture. I’ve lately been feeling like an insecure middle schooler, and I really had no clue why. Your post clued me into a few changes I need to make to be the confident, secure woman I know I am.

    Intelligent women know that these celebs have hair and makeup people with them at all times– not to mention jobs that allow ample time for exercise and primping– but still, we hold ourselves to these standards which aren’t even real. And the JUDGMENT we feel as we look at these pictures — whether towards the celebs for not being perfect enough- or towards ourselves for falling short in comparison- is absolutely ridiculous.

    Women today have achieved so much in the world- but this whole beauty/body image thing really keeps us stuck. I want to believe, as you said, that things HAVE to change, and our daughters will live in a less looks-obsessed culture.

    Especially for young women like myself, planning a wedding, we get wrapped up in this idea that everyone is going to be judging us to see if we are the most beautiful, perfect bride on our big day. I think the truth is, the people we invite are the ones who love us for who we are on the inside– and more than anything want to see us happy on that day.

  17. Alex Neary on April 17, 2012

    A Fact: This past weekend I left my makeup bag at my sisters house and am not able to pick it up till this coming weekend.

    The dilemma: I have a first date tonight and although I think I’m decent looking bare faced….I’m way more decent looking all made up.

    The solution: After reading this article, I’m totally going to go on this date makeup free and let my personality shine. A social experiment if you will. Will he like me for me even though I’ll be bringing a set of dark luggage under my eyes and some translucent winter skin?

    duh duh duhhhh….i’ll let you know what the end result is.

  18. I really like weddings on April 18, 2012

    I grew up in a strange environment. I went to an all girl school from 6th grade to 12th grade. I also was did ballet for 13 years. Needless to say the combination of an all girl school and pressures of ballet weren’t the best. I remember thinking how fat I was and that I wasn’t attractive. I look back at pictures and I have no idea what I was thinking about. I was tiny! Literally half the size I am now.

    I would wallow away in my room after dance practice. The girls in my ballet class were skinnier than me, longer limbs, beautiful. I didn’t feel that way. I felt like the fat runt. I remember one year for about 6 months I would only eat a banana and a bagel. That’s it. I didn’t want to have to eat anything I didn’t have to. Just enough so I wouldn’t get the hunger headache and pass out.

    I remember the last ballet class I ever took. We were doing barre work and my teacher was picking on me and pointing out all my mistakes to the class. I stood there silently crying as she poked and corrected me, loudly, in front of everyone. After the class I picked up my bag and said, “I quit,” and never came back.

    I generally don’t like to use the word hate. Only with specific people. This ballet teacher is one of them. Did she know how much she affected me? Did she know that I wouldn’t eat because of the pressures she put on being perfect?

  19. Jenna on April 18, 2012

    Thank-you for writing this. Women of the world unite! Also i’m in love with Bambino.

  20. Raychel Wade on April 20, 2012

    Love it! Fantastic post. Of course, Ben and Courtney are omitted from this conversation right? Nah, I can even find something nice, or nothing, to say about them too. And being one of the lucky ones who’s met you in the flesh, you look lovely exactly as you are.

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