Kyira: "Angie, thank you so much for joining us and being a part of this project!"
Angie: “Absolutely - thank you for asking me!"
Kyira: “So as we get started, how do you see culture, especially family culture, impacting the way in which you think about beauty? Whether it is your own or beauty in terms of others."
Angie: "Well I have two daughters so, um, I think that is kind of why I wanted to do this project. I mean I have always been pretty comfortable in my body for the most part. There has always been those extra influences like media or friends that can impact the way you feel and in many ways, I think it has made it so we are almost always comparing ourselves to each other. But I just want to, um, kind of teach them…” (voice breaking) "…I mean right now, my 13 year old is kind of going down the road of flaunting her body and that is difficult too. I mean we have to talk about the fact that she has boobs now and you have to be mindful of how you dress with that. But at the same time, I don’t want her to feel ashamed of them at all or who she is so its just…"
Kyira: "Its a fine line."
Angie: "Yes, it is a really fine line. Puberty is difficult to walk through as a parent. Like how do we talk about what is appropriate and what is not, in a way where she can be safe while also not limiting her expression of self. Like, you can’t just wear belly shirts to school. Like no, I don’t think that is right but then when is it allowed…or is it?"
Kyira: “Yeah, and it is hard because it is the exploration piece that you don’t want to stop because you don’t want to put up boundaries when she isn’t even sure yet who she is but it is hard to know when that exploration may be unsafe or harmful. That’s tough. I mean, you, as an adult, understand the danger, not only the real-time danger in how you dress or the way people treat you, but the danger in how you get labeled. And it is absolutely an unfair thing but if you are the 13 and 14 year old girl that gets labeled a certain way because you wear clothes like that, you will carry that with you all through high school and people, especially teachers and adults will treat you different as a result."
Angie: "Yeah and that is really what I am worried about. I mean she is already getting some of those labels now and she is in 8th grade and I just don’t want to see her take those with her all through school. I mean, she is super friendly and likes to be around people but I am seeing some of that already being labeled as flirtatious, and yeah…it’s hard. And my 11 year old is just getting into this stage. I mean she got her boobs first in her friends group so that shifted it a bit, too. For her, she is more reserved and doesn’t want to show it off or anything so I have to work harder on the other end to normalize things…like telling her that it’s okay to have breasts and need a bra and we will just go bra shopping. You know? I mean its fine. And I have always been okay with my body, at least for the most part. I mean, I know I can’t just do whatever. I can’t eat anything I want and I do try to work out. I mean its always…I think for everyone…it’s always a struggle. ‘Should I eat the cake? Well today I want the cake so yes, I am going to eat the cake’…but I can’t have cake every day. You know, so it is just about finding that balance. And I mean, I used to be very good at working out. Very disciplined and routine. And now, I have other things I am interested in - I want to play guitar, I want to watch my kids play sports, I want to do other things that might mean some days I don’t get that awesome workout in. Maybe it is just getting in a walk or something. And I have learned to stop beating myself up about it. You know, I mean, I think some women…and I don’t want to compare, but I think seeing some woman that are like ‘I can do everything’ and they talk about working out 2 times a day plus making a healthy meal and getting to their kids stuff without fail…like I can’t do that. That’s not me. That’s just too hard."
Kyira: "Nor is that something that we need to be putting up on a pedestal to aspire to because there are obviously gaps in that as well. I mean they are missing something too."
Angie: "And that is what I try to remind myself of when I am feeling overwhelmed...that they can’t do everything and they aren’t perfect so I don’t have to try to be either."
Kyira: "And its a very…I thinks its a very isolating feeling to feel like that. I remember in therapy when my therapist challenged me, the first time when I was just starting to teeter out of having an official disorder and move into recovery, to go out too eat at least once a week. And she said that I couldn't look at any of the nutrition information first…which…let me tell you was hard. But then over time, I was astonished. I mean I don’t ever want to go out to eat a lot because I do, I really love to cook, but those days I stopped and just grabbed Panera were awesome because those days I could save myself so much time and not have to think about or prep or make the food I needed/wanted for dinner. And I realized, over time, that this notion that it is all or nothing and if you go out to eat once a week you are lazy or a slob is complete BS. Nobody makes amazing home cooked meals every day all three meals a day and still get to do everything else they may want to be doing! People need prepared foods and restaurants for the days that time gets away from them and that is 100% okay and doesn’t signify a failure."
Angie: "Right it is a constant every day thing so you have to think about and do something that makes you happy and it has to be important and feel like it is a part of your day. Because if you are going to try to live up to a standard set by someone else or compare yourself to others and spend time doing things that you don’t want to do, it is not worth it."
Kyira: "It makes me think about your two daughters and how the conversation and decisions around food might change as they age and get involved in different things. How has that changed for you - this idea of food and talking to your daughters about food?"
Angie: "I mean they like junk. I try to remind them that if they are hungry, they should think about having, maybe some fruit. I mean they can have the donut too, I don’t care, but let’s think about how to balance the healthy with the ‘filler'. You know, because they play sports and you don’t feel that great when all you eat is candy and then try to go and play a sport. I just really try to make sure that food is not the major focus in everything we talk about but do what I can to have them think about how there body feels when they eat certain foods. Like I told my daughter that if she drinks a soda every day that her body is not going to feel good. You know? So I might challenge her to try water one day or switch things out. And help them think about how to make good choices because they are going to be making all of these choices on their own soon and I want them to be able to choose things to feel good and to find a balance, you know, in what they eat and do."
Kyira: "Right and asking them to think about what makes them feel good and get to know their body rather than shame the food or make it something that should be avoided because that just creates unhelpful rules for them."
Angie: “Right, and its about thinking how to build a relationship with your body. I mean I love McDonald's and I can’t eat it anymore because every time after I eat it I remember how bad of gut rot I get and it is like, ugh, why do I keep doing this! SO I have slowly worked it out of my life as I build a better relationship with my body." (laughter)
Kyira: “ Yeah I definitely have gone through the same shift and work to really nourish and heal my body. So, I know we have talked a lot about your daughters and this project is something you are doing in part because of them. So, if you could give your daughters a message for when they leave the house and go out into the world, what would you want to send with them in thinking about this project and the message behind this project?"
Angie: “Well, I just think that everyone is going to have their ups and downs and it is so important to think about how you feel and try to find that balance in your life. And so much of it comes down to how to be true to yourself and get to know yourself. You know? And just, like, trying to listen to your body and what you want rather than these outside factors. I mean, I still struggle with that feeling of not being good enough because I compare myself to other people, you know I just ate this or I haven’t worked out this week or whatever and that is such a trap to get into. I want them to do things because they want to and because it makes them feel good and not to chase the cultural norms of what they ‘should' look like. You know and I am a nurse so I often see people who really don’t take care of themselves and they are…sometimes they are tiny and they can barely even get out of bed because they are weak and their lungs are shot or whatever. So it is not always a weight thing and it comes down to how we nurture our bodies. So, yeah it is just how to help them stay away from the wrong things because there are so many outside influences - men, other women, movies, etc - and I mean, I always think about the movie MissRepresented on Netflix that shows all of these media images and how airbrushing and editing and such makes these impossible figures that we see on magazines, etc. And I know I am going off on a bit of a tangent but that is also why I truly came here and felt this was important because we are all real. You know? And you got us here and out in our bra and underwear and learning to love ourselves."
Kyira: (laughter) “It is all of your courage that makes this happen so I want to instill in you the opportunity to, when you are feeling pulled to do all of these things - cook and make every event and work out every day and blah blah blah - remind yourself that that is not a sustainable reality and that you are living a true and authentic and real life every day, doing what you can and that is already enough."
Angie: “Thank you so much for that and for this opportunity to be a part of this project."