Keeping up with the Jonses (or at least the JCPenny Catalog)

Apr 29, 2008

#Fitness#Weght Loss and Body Image

I like to think I’m a modern feminist. I’m all for equality. I believe in having choices, in being a Mother, a Wife, a Sister and a Daughter. I believe in having girl friends and in enjoying the people in your life. I believe in equal pay for equal jobs and I believe I can program a website even though “women don’t do computers.”

I guess I believe I can have it all.

I’ve come to realize something very upsetting. I can’t have it all. This should be obvious with the balls that get dropped or the dishes that don’t get clean or the emails that go unanswered. It should hit home when my daughter grips my arm to stay home instead of leaving her while I work or when my son lights up when I get home. I should catch a clue when my husband pulls me to the couch just to grab a moment in front of the TV together, to relax, to just BE.

It should.

Instead, it was the JCPenny catalog that really drove this concept home to me today. Because while I am a modern feminist believing I can be both female, soft, and emotional while simultaneously pacing the men at programming or mowing the lawn or fixing a car engine, I still believe in the advertisers’ perception of the female form. Those women, thin, strong, paint-brushed women, in the catalog looking better in those clothes than I will ever, make me feel bad about myself.

How anti-feminist is that?

I’d like to participate in the Letter to my body initiative on BlogHer but I’m terribly afraid it would say something like this:

“Dear Body,

Fuck you.

The end.”

That “Fuck you” would include a long list of detailed critiques I don’t need to spell out like my stretched out belly, my thighs that no longer look like a 20 year old owns them, my arms that thicken when I lift instead of shape. I don’t need to spell it out, my body knows. But why not celebrate the life it created and the joy those two little people get from being cuddled by it? Why not embrace the ten pounds I’ve lost since September? Why not?

Because of JCPenny.

Because I don’t look like the women I see on every catalog, on TV, in the minds of most Americans. Why will two extra pounds on the scale can cause me to obsess, to critique, to diet? Why will I see someone from years ago, someone who lost 20 pounds on her own, and be jealous instead of proud? Why don’t I celebrate with her instead of berating myself for not being strong enough to follow suit?

Weight loss is to women as sex is to the seventeen year old male: We think about it every 6 seconds.

I’m not kidding.

So, while I like to say things like, “I love you for all you do, Body” and “Look at what you can do if you try!” what I really want to say is sometimes the JCPenny catalog makes me want more than just shoes.

** Other fabulous women who have touched on this topic whose posts stuck in my brain: Sweetney, Amy, Y, Anne and about four billion more. Have you?



  1. ROFL!  That is the funniest, most honest thing I have read all day!!!!!

    OMG - ROARING here!!!!!

    By Darla on 2008 04 29

  2. You know, I think that I figured out last night a couple of things, and the FUCK YOU body thing was one of them.

    The other of course was that I am not the only woman in the world who thinks that she is a horrible mother, and can’t parent worth a damn. There are actually like a LOT of us.

    So I don’t feel so neurotic, and you shouldn’t either.

    And JC Penny can SCREW off with their skinny models. I mean none of them ACTUALLY WORK there now, do they?

    By Faith on 2008 04 29

  3. I’ve gotten past the catalog images.  I just want to look like you Leslie. smile

    And yeah, I did the letter to my body thing a while back.  I haven’t kept the promises I made either.  One of these days I’m going to get on track and stay there.


    By Sleeping Mommy on 2008 04 29

  4. Know what? I was at Kohl’s today trying on body shaper / suck-it-in things, so I can wear a pair of modern pants without bulges and panty-lines showing. Anyway, I noticed that there were a lot a lot a lot of these things in the intimates department. Racks and racks of them. Apparently they sell. Cuz who the hell looks like those catalog people?

    By Marie on 2008 04 29

  5. Marie - aint that the truth!  Who the hell does?!  (besides Mrs F that is wink ).

    By Darla on 2008 04 29

  6. love your mom body!  come out and celebrate it THIS Sunday.  we will have cupcakes : )

    Sexy Mamas: Mom?s Night Out
    Sunday, May 4th, 7:30PM, FREE!

    Sex, sanity and sleep?you can have it all! Our panel of savvy moms will help you get back in touch with your sexy self. Join Babeland Sex Educator Shannon, Tantra teacher Lizz Randall and Psychologist Leslie Butterfield to share tips on rekindling desire, embracing your mom body, and creating time for yourself. Let Babeland pamper you for a night with refreshments, snacks, and mini massages and more!

    707 E. Pike St., (Capitol Hill) Seattle. 
    Call 206-328-2914 to reserve a spot

    By audreyaudrey on 2008 04 29

  7. I say we just kidnap Miley Cyrus! That bitch is showing moms like us up!

    By Mrs Mogul on 2008 04 29

  8. I DID post about my body.


    It’s a daily struggle, yo.

    By Angella on 2008 04 29

  9. Yes. Dear Body, Fuck you. my thoughts to my bod precisely.

    By themommykelly on 2008 04 30

  10. I feel the same way whenever I go into Victoria’s secret or any other store to buy bras.

    By mdvelazquez on 2008 04 30

  11. And THIS is why I don’t keep catalogs or girly mags around the house. It only serves to make me FEEL bad and I’m oh, so tired of that.

    Skinny is overrated and all I ever want to do is hand them a cheeseburger.

    Here, honey. Chew it and swallow it for once.

    By Mocha on 2008 04 30

  12. Every 6 seconds?  More like every 3.
    This issue is so huge (poor choice of words, I know).  Why isn’t it just okay to be who we are?  Because even WE don’t believe that line of bullshit!  It doesn’t matter how much we want to believe we are more than the sum of our physical parts, we get bombarded every day that we are delusional in the eyes of America. 

    It pains me that I have to raise a daughter in this atmosphere and find a way to REALLY make her understand how much it means to be compassionate, wise, gentle, funny, talented, determined, independent, and, yes, soft (in the heart).

    HATE IT.  Wish I had a way to change it for all women.

    By Katie Kat on 2008 04 30

  13. Ok, confession time….I ordered a swim suit from…guess where…yup JCPenney this am.  I got it in “Darla” size - it’s a 2 piece (that’s more like a skort and a tank LOL). 

    I’ll be posting about it on Friday.  So for today, JcPenney can stay….at my house anyway. haha

    By Darla on 2008 04 30

  14. I think my letter to my body would be very similar to yours… i hate looking at catalogs, and the internet for that matter… ugh..

    Loved your post!

    By Mommy Moments on 2008 04 30

  15. How have I gotten through life until now without that 17-sex-weight-loss connection in my arsenal? 

    Seriously smart stuff here, lady.  Love it!

    By To Think is to Create on 2008 04 30

  16. So glad I am not in this boat alone. I struggle with the new body I have. Your letter made me laugh, then cry and then laugh again. I think from now on I am just going to tell my belly to ‘FUCK off!’ Ahhhhh, I feel better already smile

    By Kat on 2008 04 30

  17. This hit home for me. I can’t even tell you. We don’t have JC Penny in Canada, but we have magazines, and billboards, and TV and movies, and stores that sell ridiculously small clothes….

    By Haley-O on 2008 05 01

  18. Can I just say,......I hate getting older. ARG

    I’m totally giving my body the Bird!

    By sister flinger on 2008 05 02

  19. ” Dear Body,

    Fuck you.

    The end.”
      I swear I thought this same thing the other day when reading the Letters to my Body.  Except I added a , “PS. GO EAT SHIT!”.

    By Amanda (Shamelessly Sassy) on 2008 05 03

  20. You know what you should do?  Print out two photos, one of an air-brushed version of your favorite star and one of the real them.  Tape them next to each other and immediately feel better about yourself.  Eating some chocolate can help increase this feeling of smug satisfaction.  I recommend dark organic with lavender and blueberries.  Oh yeah.

    By Summer on 2008 05 03