There’s new research attempting to tackle this question. I wrote about it for CNN…
By Chinh Tran—In today’s very fast-paced, highly competitive world, it may sometimes seem like being just “good” is not good enough anymore.
When the bar is raised so high that everything and everyone needs to be “great,” “awesome,” and even “perfect,” describing yourself or your skills as “good” may leave you feeling somewhat mediocre.
Perfectionism is the irrational belief that you and/or your environment must be perfect. It is neither a good nor a bad thing, but it can be harmful or helpful depending on how it is used.
Perfectionism is something I know very well because I struggled with it in the past, but I have now learned how to control it and use it productively. After experiencing so much success early on in high school where I served as the school president and captain of a winning tennis team, I didn’t know what failure and rejection was like until it hit me smack in the face. I was burst from my bubble and even though it took me a while, I eventually learned that being perfect would never be real. No one person can achieve success in every single thing they pursue, whether it is winning every single tennis match or being accepted into every college.
Dealing with imperfection can be difficult for a number of reasons. First of all, no one likes to publicize his or her failures. With social media all around us, you will always read and hear about everyone’s successes, but never anyone’s failures. This makes it even easier for us to fall into the trap of thinking other people’s lives are more perfect than our own. All the flawless pictures, perfect stories, and best memories are posted on Instagram and Facebook, but keep in mind that a lot of other moments are left out. Here are some examples of prominent and legendary people with failures that you may have never heard about:
* Walt Disney was told by MGM studios that the idea of putting Mickey Mouse on screen would never work because seeing a giant mouse would terrify women
* Steve Jobs was pushed out of Apple after he created it
* Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school 3 times
* Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team
* Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job as a television reporter and told that she was unfit for TV
Failure is going to be a thousand times harder to deal with if you are constantly comparing yourself to others. It’s great to be pushed by competition and motivated by others around you, but it’s important to also understand that everyone is unique in their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and experiences. It may not seem like it at the moment when you’ve just failed at something, but that experience is a critical part of your development and path to success (learning from those failures will also become a hot topic for college essays and job interviews). As said by Michael Jordan, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
It is great to keep striving for better in everything you do and to continually improve, but make sure to create goals that are both challenging and realistic. Know that “perfect” is not realistic and that wanting everything in your life to be perfect is not a solution, but learning how to deal with failure is. The next time you fail at something, take a moment to reflect back on what happened and how you can improve your chances of success next time. Try to reframe your failure and catch yourself if you are slipping into overly negative thoughts. Investigate the truth and accuracy of your thoughts and ask yourself if you would think the same of a friend or family member who went through your failure. Last, but definitely not least, fall back on your successes and bask in everything you have achieved. The worst thing that could happen is for your to lose sight of everything you’ve accomplished while scrutinizing the one thing you didn’t do, so take time to celebrate all your successes and strengths!
Red Carpet Bodysnarking Hurts Everyone
By Mary Grace Baldo—The Academy Awards red carpet coverage will be, as usual, widespread and almost all-consuming.
This gives rise to a discussion of the commonly practiced behavior of bodysnarking and the way in which it permeates our everyday lives – not just during “award show season.” Red carpet commentators, fashion writers, and even viewers at home engage in bodysnarking when rude and demeaning comments are made about a person’s body or body parts. In the simplest of terms, the main issue with bodysnarking, especially with regards to celebrities and celebrities on the red carpet — most of them being women — is that we are stripping these individuals of their humanity. Furthermore, as we engage in this behavior, it becomes normalized, and in turn it becomes harmless to not only criticize and shame these celebrities from a far, but then to criticize and shame ourselves and the people around us.
Of course there should be a space for fashion writers and even fashion enthusiasts alike to discuss various trends and styles as seen on the red carpet, yet this notion raises important questions. Where is the room for a discussion on dresses, accessories, designers, and all around fashion choices without essentially publicly humiliating the individual wearing, say a particular gown? Should a fashion writer be able to comment on a celebrity’s choice of gown or dress without referencing the way the clothing fits the body? It’s one thing for a red-carpet commentator or “fashion expert” to comment on if whether or not they think a celebrity’s choice of shoes and handbag match the rest of their ensemble; it’s a whole other thing to publicly shame that same celebrity because they’re “…a chubby lady who’s very, very rich, and should just calm down – or lose weight” or even so sad and skinny that it “…always looks like all she ate that day was a big bowl of sadness.” (actual comments made in fashion-related interviews, and on “Fashion Police”). Any reference to the way in which a person’s body looks in the given clothing is not automatically engaging in bodysnarking. However, it is definitely a fine line, and one we must be consciously aware of.
Bodysnarking is so unbelievably pervasive in our society and culture that even as a feminist individual that attempts to engage in media literacy practices as much as possible, I hate to say it — but I sometimes engage in this behavior. I suppose it is that I often times feel on the outskirts with regards to acceptable societal notions of beauty and fashion. As a 5’3, woman of color, with a quirky sense in fashion, I seldom feel as if I fit any of these mainstream beauty and fashion standards. Perhaps it is my own very struggle with self-esteem which is the reason I have made the occasional negative comment about a celebrity on the red carpet. I’m coming to realize that by criticizing celebrities, and even other women around me, I am essentially projecting my own insecurities onto other people —and that’s just not okay. Furthermore, although I never engage in bodysnarking directly with another individual, I realize that participating in this kind of behavior, even from a distance, is extremely detrimental and ultimately contributes to the public discourse and acceptance of bodysnarking. Moreover, engaging in bodysnarking further serves to pit women and girls against one another, as if there is only so much amount of beauty and success available in the world for us to achieve, when in reality – all women should be celebrated and empowered.
Interestingly, bodysnarking is often classified as “snide” and “witty” remarks about other women’s bodies. Now, I’m not exactly so sure what about public criticizing and shaming someone else’s body constitutes as wit, however why not direct this “supposed” wit in other ways that are empowering and inspiring for other women and individuals? (Great examples – After this year’s Golden Globes, Gabourey Sidibe responses to bodyshaming Twitter critics was not only heartening, but also quite humorous. Can we also give a shout-out to Jennifer Lawrence and her at times standard-shattering interview and red-carpet antics?!) Because after all, it is 2014, and women are continuously showcasing that we are indeed multifaceted, witty individuals; our words and actions can be used in better ways than bodysnarking to show off that very wit and intelligence. In turn, instead of engaging in shaming, we can engage in positivity and empowerment.
So as for me, and with the realization that I do not have to fit society’s ideals for beauty and fashion, I’m pledging to stop the snark – to myself and to those around me.
Mary Grace Baldo is part of the graduating class of 2014 at the University of California, Los Angeles with a B.A. in Gender Studies. As a former international athlete, balancing sport, education, and work, Mary Grace has learned that strong work ethnic and perseverance can take one to great places and new heights. She hopes to take this knowledge and apply it to whichever path her life may take where her passions now vary from fashion and entertainment to law and labor relations. She also attributes her deep love for coffee as one of the driving forces in her life.
It took work for Brittany Posey to discover who she was separate from her eating disorder. But the rewards were worth it. Read her story.
“Come to the edge, he said.
We are afraid, they said.
Come to the edge, he said.
They came to the edge,
He pushed them and they flew.
Come to the edge, Life said.
They said: We are afraid.
Come to the edge, Life said. T
hey came. It pushed them…
And they flew.” ― Guilliame Apollinaire, French Poet
My very dear friend Amy shared this poem with me during my recovery process. Constantly encouraging me, Amy (along with many other wonderful friends and family) urged me to step outside the familiarity and comfort of living in the confines of my disease, and to move into a life of freedom (against ED’s will).
Familiarity isn’t so bad, generally speaking, but when familiarity means living the same eating disordered hell on a daily basis, it instantly takes on a negative connotation and becomes the nemesis of a quality infused life.
To move toward an unfamiliar zone of living involves an enormous amount of courage and tenacity. Sounds kinda frightening, right? That’s because it is. Inviting change into our lives and doing what may feel unnatural can be the hardest, yet most worthwhile element of living a life we value.
I had no idea how much bravery, anger, tears, and frustration would be poured into the recovery process until I started fighting against the ED. Don’t misunderstand me: I know that eating disorders are mental illnesses, not personal choices. I am not suggesting, by any means, that if you suffer from an eating disorder that it is self-inflicted; it most certainly is not. In fact, one of the hardest parts of my recovery was accepting that my identity is separate from my eating disorder’s identity. Pulling the two (self vs. ED) apart and recognizing them for who they are and what each represents was critical to moving forward in my recovery process.
Realizing the separateness of the illness from the self can have HUGE implications on your relationships with others. Regardless of where you in the recovery process, when you are able to identify your own voice from ED’s voice, you can more readily attain and sustain meaningful, honest relationships with others, which can be instrumental in your personal healing and growth.
With friends like Amy, I’ve learned what loving support looks like. I’ve had moments where my ED’s anger has superseded my good intentions and it has caused destruction and chasms in my relationships with others. Specifically, the friends and family who have spoken truth into my life and called me out on behaviors (when my ED was screaming loudest) are the very ones who have seen the wrath of my ED.
Thankfully, many of the relationships affected by my eating disorder have been repairable. I realize now, on the brighter side of recovery, that my anger’s (among many other emotions) primary source was not driven by me, but by my ED. Understanding this has been incredibly liberating. Do I still experience anger (with my ‘self’ as a source)? Of course. Does this understanding make recovery easier? Not necessarily. It does, however, help to know that you have a voice. And as loud as your ED can be, you can turn up the volume of your own voice to scream back. Ask yourself, who’s talking? As exhausting and difficult as it may be, use your support system to try and help yourSELF speak over the ED’s voice. Recovery is difficult, but it is SO worth it.
Related:WATCH: The Voice of Ed: Externalizing the Eating Disorder
This tweet chat is starting right now, and I’m a panelist!
Come hang out with me on Twitter, where we’re busting myths about eating disorders, especially in how they apply to marginalized communities.
Follow me @fyeahmfabello and use the hashtag #AdiosED.
Note to self.
February 23rd-March 1st is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. This year’s theme is “I had no idea.” Find out all the ways you can participate with us!
We’ve got a packed schedule of social media events this week. Even if you can’t meet us for these scheduled happenings, you can use the #NEDAwareness hashtag at any time during the week to voice your support of our mission!
1. #AdiosED Monday, February 24th, 8-9 PM EST. We’re teaming up with our friends at Adios Barbie for the #AdiosED Twitter party. The goal of this party is to bust myths about eating disorders and highlight the reality of eating disorders—a reality often masked by misinformation and stereotypes.
2. #CaptureHope on Instagram! We’re asking NEDA and Proud2Bme supporters to participate in the campaign by posting images on Instagram and tagging them #CaptureHope during NEDAwareness Week (Feb. 23-Mar. 1). What inspires hope for you? Snap it and tag it! And follow us on Instagram to see what inspires us.
3. #StopSnark Google Hangout to End Bodysnarking, Wednesday, February 26th 3-4 PM. National Eating Disorders Awareness Week happens to coincide with the lead up to the Oscars, which got us thinking about the harmful effects of awards season bodysnarking and the scrutinizing of celebrities’ bodies. So we partnered with The Representation Project to run the #stopsnark campaign throughout the week. Follow the hashtag and Join us for a Google Hangout Wednesday from 3-4 PM EST, when we’ll be discussing the topic in-depth. Panelists include Proud2Bme editor Claire Mysko, Proud2Bme Ambassador Benjamin O’Keefe, contributor and street style blogger Jazmin Martinez and others!
4. Behind the Lens: The Fashion Industry, Beauty Ideals and Eating Disorders Google Hangout, Thursday, February 27th 3-4 PM EST. We’ve teamed up with the Model Alliance to present a live Google Hangout featuring NEDA Ambassador, Model Alliance Advisory Board member, model, activist, and author Carré Otis and model and activist Brittany Mason. Panelists will explore the connection between fashion industry beauty ideals, the pressures consumers face to satisfy these unrealistic expectations and how these contribute to the onset of eating disorders and body image issues. Our panelists will also discuss the changes that are happening within the fashion industry to better protect working models’ health and rights, as well as exploring what consumers can do to promote positive change.
We’ll be posting tons o’ #NEDAwareness Week content throughout the week and you can always check the NEDAwareness Week site for more resources and ways to get involved. Need support and resources? Call our helpline at 1-800-931-2237.