Aug 12 2014
My daughter sat on the floor watching me get dressed. She was wearing her brother’s ripped t-shirt and her hair was bunched into a knotty knob on her head.
“That’s a pretty dress, Mama.”
Her eyes shone when she looked at me, tiny mirrors that reflected my face back to me in rainbow colors. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 23 2014
“NO BODY TALK!”
This is the refrain commonly heard at Eden Village, a Jewish organic farming camp, featured in the New York Times, where boys and girls can talk about anything under the sun except their bodies.
Eden Village joins a growing number of summer camps that discourage any discussion of clothing, nails, hair, or body parts. That means no insecure or negative body comments (“Do I look fat?”), or compliments (“I love your dress”). Even checking out one’s own reflection is discouraged. (A sign on the bathroom reads: “Don’t check your body, check your soul.”) Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 16 2014
When I was the age my oldest daughter is now, some of the adults in my life decided my weight was a problem. The way I looked in my figure skating leotard at age 9 brought on discussions of diets and food restrictions that I struggled to understand.
In pictures, it is clear that I was no longer a scrawny child, but I definitely wasn’t fat. Even so, I can remember the skating moms asking my mom what she was going to do about my weight in the same way you might ask what one will do about a bad hair cut.
I have so many memories of adults trying to limit my food, or ask if I really “needed” that candy or ice cream that the other children were eating. My aunt once wondered aloud why my parents gave me two pieces of toast if I was supposed to be on a diet. Was I supposed to ignore my hunger? Was my hunger unnatural or just generally “bad”? Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 28 2014
This post is part of our Torah MOMentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Tazria. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.
Becoming a mother is an education in both sides of the human body: the beautiful and the gross.
On one hand, there’s nothing like the sweetness of a naked baby after a bath, wrapped up in a big towel. Or watching a little one learn to walk, or jump. (I didn’t realize jumping was its own developmental benchmark until Sylvie got there last week, and it’s amazing watching her lift her little body off the earth with her own power–and giggle–and do it again.)
At the same time, among all that beauty, as the mother of a young child I’m up close and personal with multiple bodily fluids every single day. I’m talking poop, pee, snot, tears, rinse, repeat. And that’s on a good day. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 21 2014
If you haven’t had a chance to keep up with the feminist blogosphere in the last week (because you were, say, reading Pinkalicious for the 27th time), you might have missed the sh*t show that went down when Lena Dunham graced the cover of Vogue.
The actress and creator of the insanely popular HBO series Girls is often at the center of discussions about body image and Hollywood, as she openly (and very, very frequently) shows her naked body on TV in all its imperfect glory. But when her issue of Vogue came out featuring a spread of photos clearly Photoshopped (as Vogue and all other fashion magazines are wont to do), feminist website Jezebel put out a $10,000 bounty for the unretouched pictures of Dunham from the shoot.
And this upset a lot of people. Because, what, really, was the point? Of all celebrities who have graced the covers of magazines with an airbrush makeover, it seems silly to shell out that kind of dough to see pictures of someone who regularly shows us what her actually body looks every Sunday night at 10 p.m. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 2 2014
Raven Snook is a Jewish mother who acts, writes, edits… and periodically performs topless in an all-moms burlesque revue. She appeared in the original downtown run of Urinetown, portrayed a vampire on the ABC sitcom Talk to Me, guested as a “female female impersonator” on The Maury Povich Show, played a dominatrix-like self-help guru in the short film Slo-Mo, waxed poetic at The Moth and Heeb Storytelling, and was one of three female drag queens featured in the documentary, The Faux Real. And now she talks to Kveller about how that all fits with raising a daughter in NYC.
Alright, first things first: What exactly is burlesque?
Wow, how much time ya got? Back in the day, burlesque was a naughty offshoot of family-friendly vaudeville with bawdy comics and ladies disrobing, though often in a tongue-in-cheek or over-the-top way. But on the neo-burlesque scene, anything goes. Many acts are like sexy performance art without the pretensions but with pasties. Pretty much anything goes, but having a cheeky sense of humor and creative costuming and storytelling skills are much more important than having a perfect body.
You co-created an all-Jewish burlesque show called Kosher ChiXXX. Why the specifically Jewish angle? What is the history of Jews and burlesque, and where do we Jews fit into the scene today?
The Jewish Daily Forward recently did a whole article on the phenomenon of Jewish burlesque–the accompanying NC-17 video created quite a tizzy in the comments section, too. When Minnie Tonka and I originally founded that show in 2004, themed burlesque shows were just starting to take off. She worked for the 14th Street Y at the time and was asked to come up with Jewish-themed performances as part of the Howl! Festival. We were brainstorming and we thought, why not Jewish burlesque? Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 1 2014
This morning I read this piece about a woman who had a fat mother whose shame about her body changed her daughter’s ideas of beauty, and not for the better.
I am fat. I am fat enough that I notice that people stare at me and avert their eyes uncomfortably when I make eye contact with them. People cast their eyes downward at me on airplanes if they realize I have to sit next to them. Believe me, I am the uncomfortable one, having to somehow fit my plus-sized form into those tiny commuter plane seats and then have to fasten my seat belt while six pairs of eyes stare at me to see if I can.
I am also a mom.
My daughter tells me nearly every single day that I am beautiful. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 17 2013
I never saw my mother naked.
Not even when I was a little girl.
With her clothes on, she was slender and supple. Her legs were shapely beneath black Gap stretch pants, and her breasts rode high underneath her cotton turtlenecks. She’d change with the door closed, and I knew better than to open the opaque glass door when she was showering.
She never wore bathing suits. Even when we went down to the lip of the sea where the waves licked our feet, she’d stand there in her leggings and a baggy t-shirt while my father and I would charge into the billows, our firm bodies buoyant in the waves.
I never saw the softness of her belly, or spider veins etching a life story on her thighs. I don’t know if her nipples were brown or pink or red or peach.
I never heard her use the “F” word. No, not that one. This one: Fat. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 21 2013
I am pleased to report that Lilly, our 10-year-old, is enjoying her time at overnight camp at this very moment. In fact… she looked ever-so-happy in a picture posted on their site yesterday… in a bikini …the kind that I don’t allow her to wear.
That’s right; I’m one of “those” mothers. My daughter can pick out whatever she wants at the store but knows that I have veto power. Like the president. Only without any provisions to override.
Except she has now figured out a way to get around my veto; borrow the forbidden bikini while she’s at camp. Away from Mama Dictator’s eyes. Very clever. However, she must have forgotten I’d see the photo when she was mugging for the camera.
BUSTED! Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 12 2013
I love my body.
I still am amazed that I can write those words and mean them.
Like many of us, I worried about my weight. However, my normal worry slowly turned into an unhealthy obsession. When I went to college, my goal didn’t involve doing well in my classes or making friends–my goal was to not gain the “Freshman 15.” I was proud if I could get through the day eating less than I did the day before. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when I was able to resist the cake my friends enjoyed at Hillel’s Shabbat dinner. When I came home, I heard people’s worried comments of, “You’re getting too thin!!” as compliments.
My friends helped me realize I had a problem during my sophomore year and I began the treatment program that saved my life. Read the rest of this entry →