Are these mannequins too thin?

Original Daily Mail article here.  I had to post this, it was just so incredibly shocking.

How super-thin store mannequins with implant-shaped breasts are redefining Venezuela’s idea of a ‘normal’ body shape.

Super-thin Venezuelan mannequins with breast implant-shaped torsos are being blamed for the country’s growing body-image problems.  The nation’s body ideal of a large chest, tiny waist, and long legs, is now being represented in retailers’ window displays around the country.  Their shape reflects the one requested in plastic surgery offices across the country, many of which are frequented by women with low incomes who set aside daily necessities to save up for breast implant surgeries.

The trend represents a change from the catwalk model-shaped mannequins (like those common in the U.S.) that previously filled stores.  Nereida Corro, the co-owner of a mannequin factory in Valencia told the New York Times: ‘The mannequins were natural just like the women were natural, [but now] the transformation has been both of the women and of the mannequin.’

In fact, mannequin factories in around the country were struggling to make ends meet until they decided to redesign the figures to reflect their native country’s voluptuous beauty standard, which women often earn through multiple plastic surgeries.  Boutique owners who have begun using the mannequins have noticed a spike in sales.  Yaritza Molina, a boutique owner in Coro says that she has ‘lots of clients that come here [to the store] and say “I want to look like that mannequin.’ She often tells them: ‘”OK, then get an operation.”’

The New York Times says that while there is no strong numerical information to demonstrate plastic surgery’s boundless popularity in Venezuela, the practice has become a definitive cultural norm–so much so that surgery has become a casual conversation topic among young women.  Bodies that have been operated on are now considered ‘normal’ body shapes, rather than altered ones. Unaltered body types, they say, are considered sub-par as they do not express the country’s beauty ideal.

In a way, the new mannequin trend corroborates this ideal, by showing women how clothes are supposed to fit on their figures.  Plastic surgeries’ prevalence has become so widespread in recent years that Venezuela’s longtime leader Hugo Chávez who died in March, once publicly spoke out against the practice. He felt it was ‘monstrous’ how women with low incomes were placing a greater priority on the pricey surgeries instead of daily expenses like food and proper shelter.

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The Times reports that the average breast augmentation surgery in Venezuela costs around $6,350—approximately three months’ worth of living expenses.  One of the more influential proponents of Venezuela’s naturally unattainable body ideal is the Miss Venezuela pageant. The competition is an immensely popular broadcast among women.   Osmel Sousa, the pageant’s leader who has been responsible for producing many Miss Universe wins says that he considers a woman’s appearance somewhat malleable. ‘If it can be easily fixed with surgery, then why not do it?’ he said of small, common beauty ‘defects’, like an imperfect nose or smaller breasts.  In fact, he feels that ‘inner beauty doesn’t exist. That’s something that unpretty women invented to justify themselves.’  His statements may sound drastic, but for women like Daniela Mieles, they feel very real.

Mieles’ family runs a tiny rooftop mannequin production company. In the last few years she has gradually helped steer the company’s products towards reflecting Venezuela’s changing body ideal.  She says that Venezuela’s understanding of physical appearance entails a focus on overall perfection, rather than individual assets. ‘Beauty is perfection, to try to perfect yourself more and more every day,’ she said.  In turn, Mieles has begun wishing for a body that reflects those of her family’s mannequins. She and her husband have begun to save money for her to get breast implant surgery.  If they save enough, Mieles could one day resemble what Molina describes as a ‘princess.’  ‘These are the princesses,’ Molina told the New York Times of two mannequins placed side-by-side in her store. ‘Because they have the best bust.’

I find it incredibly sad that the unaltered and real body is considered sub-par in Venezuela…it seems to be a trend that is not far off from reaching the United States.

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Football’s Big Secret

I originally posted this article on the Daily Hiit but I feel so strongly about this topic that I wanted to put it on my personal blog as well.

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Just peruse any newspaper and in the sports section you will inevitably find an article lamenting some aspect of the “concussion debate” in US Football.  In September 2002 a Pittsburg Steelers former center, and Super Bowl Champion, Mike Webster died of a heart attack.  According to an article on NPR, Webster was a local hero and the city of Pittsburg was shocked when his whole life fell apart.  No more money.  An end to his marriage.  Spending nights at the bus terminal.  His body ended up in the Allegheny County Coroner’s office.  This was the turning point in the concussion debate.  A young pathologist, Bennet Omalu, made an on the spot decision to make a study of Webster’s brain.  What he found was staggering.  Webster had a disease that would be called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.  The disease can cause the behavioral changes that afflicted Webster.  Omalu was certain the CTE came from repeated pounding on the football field.  If he thought this information was going to be welcomed by the NFL he was disastrously wrong.

The NFL formed its own committee to research brain trauma.  Their findings were published in the medical journal, Neurosurgery, “They publish in that journal repeatedly over the period of several years, papers that really minimize the dangers of concussions. They talk about [how] there doesn’t appear to be any problem with players returning to play. They even go so far as to suggest that professional football players do not suffer from repetitive hits to the head in football games.  Over the last decade, the NFL has repeatedly avoided tying football to brain damage, even as it has given disability payments to former players with dementia-related conditions.”

You would think that the information on the health problems facing NFL players would deter fans from the sport or at least make them think twice about their support of the game.  Across the board the answer comes back, ‘They chose this life,’ ‘They get paid millions of dollars to play’-as if that somehow diminishes their suffering…the money they make.  Let’s take a look at Mike Webster.  He was a Super Bowl champion.  He had it all.  And because of the game he was paid to play…he eventually lost it all.  Even what really matters most…his family and all to soon his life.  There is no difference in the value of human life.  The amount of money we make doesn’t minimize suffering.

In his book, League of Denial, author Mark Fainaru-Wada writes of the death of Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson.  A pillar of the football union who was trying to keep retired players from getting their disability payments.  After years of denying that this was an issue and the NFL was turning into a league of sissies…he ends up committing suicide.  And left a note.

“My mind slips. Thoughts get crossed. Cannot find my words. Major growth on the back of skull on lower left side. Feel really alone. Thinking of other NFL players with brain injuries. Sometimes, simple spelling becomes a chore, and my eyesite goes blurry … I think something is seriously damaged in my brain, too. I cannot tell you how many times I saw stars in games, but I know there were many times that I would ‘wake up’ well after a game, and we were all at dinner.” And on the last page…”Please see that my brain is given to the NFL’s brain bank”

-He shot himself in the chest to preserve his brain.  It was found to have CTE.

It’s a $10 Billion industry.  Changes are being made in an effort to make it safer.  But as Farinaru-Wada points out whether it can be safer or not is a whole other question.  Violence is part and parcel of the game but writing off the dangers associated with it is beyond callous.  Players are dying in incredibly macabre ways.  Drinking antifreeze or driving their trucks into a tanker truck at 100 miles an hour.  Denying this will not make it go away.

At what point does the player cease to be “at fault” or “responsible” for health conditions that are a direct result of the game?  When does responsibility shift to coaches and commissioners and committees who blatantly deny any such problems?  They play for our enjoyment and all to often, when they outlive their usefulness, they are cast aside to live out their days plagued by after effects of the game.

A Season of Change

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This last week has been incredible. I’ve noticed some big changes in myself after having my articles doing so well on The Daily Hiit. I have something to call my own, something that I can continually work on and devote my down time to. It’s actually the perfect place for me at this time of my life. I brainstorm topics continuously throughout the day and have now set my car radio permanently to NPR\CPR. All those days of being forced to listen when I was a kid have really made an impact. I can practically see my Dad jumping up and down malevolently saying “my plan worked!”

This week I was incredibly fortunate to make the top ten for the third time, and in doing so being the first “normal” blogger to have a #1 post for the week. It had 3,300 likes and three times as many views. Having that sort of exposure is really mind blowing. I am now one of their featured bloggers which means more exposure, becoming a paid contributor, trying out new workout equipment and clothing. I really can’t wait to see where all of this goes.

So upcoming topics for this week are: US Football’s Big Secret, an article about the deaths and concussions plaguing the sport, and an article entitled “Too Fat to be a Model” a look at model Lizzie Miller and plus sized models and their strange place in the fashion industry. Mr. Wonderful thought the football article was so good that I’ll probably incite the NFL so much and they will send their goons after me. Not likely.

Another piece of good news, Study in Silver, my silver chandelier was sold via etsy to a gentlemen who has some great and exciting plans for it. Keep on the lookout in early November for that news!!

Cheers,
Rachael

Upcoming Interview with Courtney Jacobs Photography

During the next week I am going to feature a series of interviews with Courtney Jacobs Photography to discuss how exactly to prepare for different kinds of photo-shoots.  We will have Q&As on senior photos, family, and newborn sessions.  Courtney will be addressing what to wear, where to shoot, the best time of day to shoot and so forth.  If you have any questions that you would like answered directly, please comment below.

I also have some articles from the Daily Hiit that I will be linking to as well this week.

Hope you all had a great day celebrating Christopher Columbus…and the shining reputation he doesn’t deserve.  Sorry…couldn’t help it.

When Life Changes…

You know…back in May I would never have thought that I would be on my way to seeing my dreams of writing professionally coming true.  And yet…they are.  I have been blown away.  Becoming a blogger for The Daily Hiit was incredible.  It was also completely unexpected.  I had only been blogging for about a month when I applied.  Out of 1000 applicants only 100 were chosen and from that there are two of us ready to move on to the next tier.1385277_10153317766225725_1938726867_n

Last week blew me away.  I knew the articles I had written were doing well but I hadn’t kept track to see where they fell in the top 10.  I literally started jumping up and down and then since Mr. Wonderful was in a meeting I called my Dad and almost started crying.  His very words to me:

“Can I have your autograph?  Seriously?  I mean Tom Clancy just passed away…and you’re the perfect person to replace him as a writer!”

You know that you have a good Dad when he’s just as excited as you are about potentially life changing news.  So thank you Dad, for knowing just how much this means to me.

This week has been killer stressful.  I wrote three posts this week which I thought would be great traffic generators.  The first one tanked (in my opinion), the second did…ok, and the third…my personal story has actually done really well.  Mr. Wonderful kept telling me, trying to get through my thick head, that I was writing!  I was doing what was making me happy, it didn’t matter whether I made it to the next level and it didn’t matter…everyone was proud of me.  My best friend echoed his exact same words.  I kept thinking I’d let everyone down…I’d fail.  And as I told both of them…I wanted to make myself proud.  I wanted to do something I could be proud of.  But in all honesty…I am proud.  I took a huge step even applying for the blogging position.

All of the links for the articles can be found here:

How I Changed My Life

Whats the Best Time to Workout?

How to Change the World

The 5 Traits of “Perfection”

Top 10 Reasons To BodyRock

The Thigh Gap

Are These Mannequins Fat?

It’s Time For Failure

Sorry for the deluge…I didn’t link to any because of the blogging challenge I was doing.  The link to my page can also be found here.  Please read and like!

 

 

Day 31: Five things you would hope to be remembered for.

It’s the final day…I’m actually going to take a little bit of a break. I will post the blogs that I have written for the Daily Hiit that I have not gotten to share on this blog. I have to say I am very happy to be done with this blogging challenge. Writing every day for a month is both a challenge and burden and I’m very pleased to be done.

So without further ado…

1. My faith in God above everything else. This is exactly what I remember most about my grandfather. He was an amazing man of God who regarded every place in which he found himself as his mission field. That is the legacy I wish to leave.

2. My unfailing love for my husband. I have joked with my husband that I want to be married to him for 80 years. Another legacy I want to leave my daughter is commitment to your spouse, commitment to making things work even when things are hard. We’ve saved every note we have written and it’ll be a gift to her so she knows the level of our commitment.

3. My unconditional love for my daughter. I want to send her out into the world with such self confidence that she doesn’t fall sway to the pressures of society. I want her to know that I never regretted a single decision I made that led me to being her mother.

4. That I never gave up on people even when they betrayed me or when everyone else thought they were lost.

5. That I never gave up on my dreams. That instead of letting the world wear me down I always worked towards those dreams.

Day 30: If you had to sing a song in front of a crowd, what would you choose to sing?

If you had to sing a song in front of a crowd, what would you choose to sing?

Hmm what a hard one…I have quite a few of favourite songs but I suppose it would be “It is Well” by Horatio Spafford.

Spafford was a wealthy man. He had quite a good business going in the United States. But he was wealthy beyond measure in his family. He had a wife, four daughters, and a son-the youngest. Unfortunately a fire ravaged his business in the US and also killed his youngest child and only son. The family was devastated. They decided to move back to England to restart their lives. Spafford did not set sail with his wife and daughters across the Atlantic because he was trying to settle things with the business. On the crossing, the ship carrying Spafford’s wife and four daughters crossed paths with a huge storm and eventually sank. Of his family, only his wife survived. When he crossed the Atlantic some weeks later, Spafford had the captain stop the ship over the point where his daughters had perished. There, standing looking out on the water, Spafford wrote the words to “It Is Well.”

That sort of loss is unimaginable. And when I was younger it became my favourite hymn. The sort of absolutely reliance on God that Soaffird wrote about was the only way possible for him to cope with the multiple tragedies that had befallen him.

Day 28: What is your love language?

So for those who are unfamiliar with the term, a love language is the way in which we express and feel loved. There are five: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. Gary Champan, who wrote the Five Love Languages, wrote that we should use the love language that our loved ones can receive. So if your husband or wife speaks a different love language than you, you have to learn to speak that language to them.

Fortunately my husband and i both have the same love language: quality time. I’d rather spend time just being with him than anything else. Everything else is nice, gifts, affirmation, acts of service but they don’t speak to me like quality time does. It’s the most precious gift anyone can give…their time. It also happens to be what I like to give most as well to friends and family. Time is something that no matter how rich or poor we are…it still is invaluable and no one can ever buy anymore.

On a completely different topic, one of the bloggers that I follow, Vicki Archer, is doing a giveaway for the fifth anniversary of her blog ‘French Essence.’ She has refurbished a home, Le Petit Bijou, in Provence, France and is giving away a weeks stay at the home. The drawing is October 8th. You can head over to her French Essence to enter. Good luck!!!

Cheers,
Rachael

Day 27: Five Things They Should Teach About Life in School

This is incredibly easy. Only the trick is listing the top five.

1. Filing taxes. Or anything at all to do with taxes at all. I fail to understand why this is not a part of every high school’s curriculum.

2. Buying a car or house. How to get good deals, where to look, how much you should expect to pay. Mr. Wonderful and I felt so out of our element buying our first house, some background information would have been great.

3. Job hunting and interview prep. How about teaching us actually how to land that job that we are paying tens of thousands of dollars to have the degree for. Shocker. Let’s see, where to look, what’s available, what questions to ask in an interview…this class would be incredible.

4. Household maintenance. Little things like how to patch holes in the wall and big things like hooking up a swamp cooler or installing cabinets. If you had a Dad like mine he wasn’t super gifted with the “handyman” gene so you didn’t learn these things.

5. My big one is self defence. This is especially important for women. How to get out of the plastic handcuffs a kidnapper would use, how to protect yourself from rape, how to be safe in large crowds, home defence. This should be required on every college campus in the nation where girls are at a much larger risk for rape. 1 in 4 on a college campus. That is beyond awful.

So there you go! What else would you add?