Saturday, July 29, 2006

This is why I got out of acting!

Sometimes I can hardly believe the things we put ourselves through as women. It's bad enough just being a regular person bombarded with the beauty myth in our society. When I was a professional actress, it was paralyzing. The pressure to be Mary-Kate-and-Ashley thin is unbelievable in Hollywood. Everyone is dieting. Everyone is liposucking or botoxing or injecting something. It's absolutely insane.

I have not been on an audition since January and I have to say, I thought it would be hard. I thought I would miss it. I don't. At all. I don't miss comparing myself to every girl at an audition, trying to see if I was as thin or thinner than they were. I don't miss eating beef jerky and salad with lemon juice as a dressing. I don't miss the guilt when I would enjoy myself and eat something real. I certainly never had an eating disorder. This is proven by the fact that I never got cast in a major motion picture out here. Not to mention the fact that I'm diabetic and not about to risk my life for a few extra pounds. But, I understand where the compulsion can come from.

Two things made me want to scream today.

The first was at my dermatologist's office. I'm seeing a doctor for a little acne problem. I'm just to damn old to be messing around with da' zits anymore. The only reading materials in the plush waiting room are books full of "before and after" pictures of patients who have undergone some sort of cosmetic surgery. "Look at how her wrinkles have faded from around her eyes! Wow, her neck looks so much less wrinkled! Oooo, she looks ten years younger after that face-lift." Gah! There is also a plasma TV on the wall playing a fifteen-minute video over and over and over, extolling the wonders of a new non-surgical method for eliminating cellulite. I was sitting in this uncomfortable couch-like chair thing with no armrests (I guess it looks slimmer that way) seething as I watched all the other women in the room rapt with awe as they absorbed the infomercial. It was all I could do, not to stand up and shout at the room, "Cellulite is a word created by ad execs in the 80s to sell women expensive creams and make a mint for the cosmetic companies!"

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Can you say "airbrush?"

I restrained myself and continued to seethe. I got my prescription for an antibiotic and went back to work.

After work this evening, I went to my little gym to work out some of the stress of the day. These days I don't have to work out, I get to work out. I do it because it makes me feel good, not because I have a big audition in three weeks and I have to lose ten pounds. I also love this gym. It's small, it's clean and the people are genuinely friendly. There is always a trainer there so you get a personalized work out every time you go. I get bored really fast doing any kind of exercise, so this works out great for me.

One of my favorite trainers is a young lady I'll just call "D". D is in amazing shape. She's all lean muscle. She can do real push-ups. She can do ab exercises I can only dream of. She's out here in L.A. working on being an actress and she's been trying to get an agent and a better manager. Cool. More power to ya, I say. We're chitchatting this evening and she mentions that she had a meeting with a highly reputable agency the other day. She was very excited to get the meeting, but was crushed when they told her...

she'd have to lose a lot of weight.

This town is sick.

I would love to be in the kind of shape this young lady is in. She looks healthy and fit and beautiful. They want her to look like Keira Knightly on diuretics...and she's considering doing it!!!!

Nope, I am not missing acting at ephing all!

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The less said about this the better

Doesn't that look like fun? Mmmm...

And in related news...

Apparantly they did this study either at my old acting school in NYC or ANYWHERE in Hollywood.

click below for the whole article...
Suicide risk high with body image obsession

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

WARNING: Womanly Talk Inside

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I stopped by my friendly neighborhood news stand on my lunch today and behold! the new Bust magazine is on the stands. Wheee! I spent the better part of my lunch hour flipping through the pages, skimming through articles on how to alter thrift store finds so they will actually fit, how to make my own raw milk yogurt (?) and why I should pick up a copy of The Notebook Girls this weekend. Ah, bliss. My favorite part about this mag is the plethora of itty bitty ads for online DIY businesses like this one and this one. I could spend the whole afternoon flitting from site to site, spending way too much of my hard earned money on vintage style dresses and thigh high striped socks. I almost wish I still had a period so I could try the Lunapads. (sigh)

Speaking of periods and all things gurl (sorry, boys, I warned you) I saw this headline yesterday:

FDA Approves IMPLANON, The First and Only Single-Rod Implantable Contraceptive

"Hmmmm," I thought to myself, "Self, whatever could this be?" Like any good American I am immediately distrustful of anything the government says is safe and/or good for us so I started to do a little digging. (Hey, these are the same folks that approved fen-phen and vioxx.) Call me a skeptic. Besides, I just found out that the Woman's Health Iniative was only started in 1990 in order to include more women of child bearing age in medical studies. 1990! Up until then, we were just considered "abnormal men" for research purposes so there was hardly any way to tell how a drug might actually work on us. The reasons given were that the scientists didn't want to have to account for a menstrual cycle in their analysis and they were concerned about effects on women who may want to become pregnant. Nice.

Of course, a birth control drug would only be tested on women (I hope!) but let's just say I'm not brimming over with trust and confidence here.

Implanon is a birth control drug that is implanted under your skin in a small "rod", about the size of a toothpick. You can leave it in there for up to three years and it's supposed to keep you from getting preggers more effectively than the pill or the patch. The idea being that you don't have to remember to take it every day or worry about it coming unstuck. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (yep, the Premarin people) had a similar product back in 2000. Theirs was called Norplant. It used 6 rods, lasted for 7 years and spawned quite a few lawsuits by women injured during the removal process and other side effects. Good times.

With Implanon, a doctor uses a local anesthetic to put the device under your skin and you can have them take it out at any time. Once you remove it, you can get pregnant right away. They've been using it in about 30 countries since 1998 and about 2.5 million women have tried it, so maybe it is actually safe. It works by releasing something called etonogestrel, which causes your cervical mucus to thicken. (Did I actually just type the words "cervical mucus"? Gah! I did it again!) The result being that sperm have a hell of a time fertilizing the eggs. Any eggs that might get lucky (or not lucky depending on your point of view) are unable to attach to the wall of your uterus. It also can prevent ovulation entirely.

There are, of course some problems with it. It can get lost in your arm over time so the doc might have to use an ultrasound to find it. A hassle, but not too painful I should hope. They have not done much testing on women who are very overweight, so they don't know how effective it would be or if there is a greater chance of the rod getting lost. The side effect that would creep me out is the possibility of abnormal periods and skipping of your periods altogether. That just does not seem ok.

So, I'm curious what other women think. Would you use this thing if you could forget about taking the pill every morning or worrying that your patch came off in the shower? Do the possible side effects bother you? I'm all for women having more options in their choice to control their own reproductive future. I guess I'm just a little jumpy about new drugs and whatnot. I worry that the financial motivation can override safety or health concerns. I have to admit, I would be pretty tempted to try it out. Of course, with my terrific medical luck the thing would probably disappear after a few months and turn up floating around in my left butt cheek three years later.

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Monday..Tuesday...Wednesday...wait, did I take Wednesday? Crap!

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I love these demonstration photos. Who has a belly like this!?
Where do I put the patch if I don't have a super model tummy?

Friday, July 14, 2006

One Door Closes...

Last post about my Sociology class, folks. I promise.

Last night was our final class. We took our last test and answered some extra credit questions about factory farming. (more about that in a minute) and I couldn't help feeling that this was a lot like closing night of a play. I've seen these people four nights a week for over a month now. It's pretty intense. We got to know each other a little bit, friendships developed, maybe even a crush or two. When you're in a professional stage production the same things occurs. You see your cast and crew almost every day and you...well, you bond. Then, one night it's just all over. The curtain goes down, you all go out for a drink afterwards or maybe a cast party and you promise to call.

But you never do.

Or if you do call, or maybe bump into each other at another audition, it's just not the same. That's how tonight felt. We all took our tests and met up at a little pub down the street. It was cool, we exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch. I'll probably see some of my classmates around campus. Perhaps we'll even be in another class together, but it won't be the same and that makes me feel kind of...orphaned somehow.

Maybe it's just that I'm going through a really cool period of my life right now and these people will forever be associated with it. I'm just starting to realize my potential, I guess. I'm finally acting on the ideals that I've always said I believe in. Women being valued for their education instead of just our bodies, actually using my creativity and enjoying something outside of planning a wedding or making babies. Who knew? It was seriously suggested tonight that I look into going to UCLA. Me, applying to UCLA!


I have to start applying for financial aid.

So anyway, the last thing we covered in class was something called speciesism. It's like sexism or racism only it's biased against animals. At first it sounds a little out there even to an animal lover like me. But when you think about it, it starts to make sense. Basically it's the idea that all sentient creatures have a right to live on this earth and we as human animals do not have the right to deny them that life. This is especially significant when you really get into what goes on in factory farms. I'm not going to get into the gory specifics, but it's not good. If you want to learn more about it, you can start here.

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"Whatchya got there little kid?"

We watched a twelve minute documentary called Meet Your Meat in class the other night and I think I made it through about five minutes before I had to leave the room and sob in the hallway. I really should have known better than to stay for any of the film, but I guess I was hoping if I closed my eyes I would be OK. What the %@&*! was I thinking? After watching the film I'm seriously considering switching to soy milk and giving up eggs altogether. Tofu burgers are just as tasty as the real thing and soy beans don't get beaten, mutilated or otherwise abused. They also don't scream in fear. I like that about soy beans.

It's all about distance I think. I mean let's face it, how many of us would eat a burger if we actually had to raise and kill a cow? I know I would never have the stomach for it. Since our meat just arrives at the grocery stores, neatly packed and ready to toss on the grill, we don't ever have to think about how it got there. I guess I'm starting to think about it.

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Look at those eyes and that softy little nose!

Fortunalty there are people who are trying to combat factory faming and it's terrible effects on animals, our health (ie. Avian Flu, antibiotic resistant strains of "super" bacteria) and the environment. There is one group called Farm Sanctuary that has two rescue farms, one in upstate NY and another in northern Cali. I'm thinking a road trip up north would be pretty cool right about now.

But no! I start my next class on Monday. Yep, it's on to the Health 11 and another step closer to my scholarly goals and dreams. Maybe I can ask the professor about switching to a vegan diet and what supplements a growing girl might need. Hmmm.

I doubt my Health class will be as cool as Sociology was, but then you never know...

Happy chickens!
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Very, very sad chickens.
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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

In the News This Week...

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Well, I think I have survived the holiday weekend. Whew! I have been buried in school work and job work and such, so I have been a baaaad blogger lately. Nothing like taking a twelve week course in five weeks to keep you on your toes. I'm actually kind of bummed that I took Sociology in the summer now 'cause I love this class. I think it would have been way cooler to have taken it in the fall when I could really enjoy it and not feel like I'm sprinting through the book. I'm down to mostly science and math courses now, though and I know I can't hack an accelerated math course. Yikes!

So, dear readers, what the hell has been going on in the last week or so? Here's a little headline out of the New York Times that I couldn't help but notice a few days ago:

"G.I.'s Investigated in Slayings of 4 and Rape in Iraq"

Nice, huh? It seems that four of our servicemen allegedly attacked a young woman, killed her and her family then burned her body in an effort to cover up the crime back in March. You can read the article here. Apparently these men are from the same unit as the two soldiers who were abducted in early June and found dead and mutilated, their bodies left on the side of a road that was infested with hidden explosives. (shudder) One of the soldiers from the unit revealed what he knew about the rape and killings after that incident. Perhaps he thought the two might be connected. I can't imagine why.

What an incredibly sad and tragic mess. I usually don't write about Iraq because it's just so controversial and we all have very passionate feelings about the situation. I think we can all agree, however, that there is something very wrong going on when good people do horrific things. I have family members who have fought in Iraq and I don't think this is the kind of thing any of them would would want to see. The guys I've met who were there were proud of their work and the time they spent there. Whatever I may believe about the motivations for this particular war, I really do believe you have to support the troops who are over there. And no, I don't see a disparity in condemning the decision, but defending those whose job it is to carry it out.

The government will probably try to pass this off as another one of those "a few bad apples" things, but I just don't buy it. After the Abu Garhib mess they tried to use that kind of reasoning to justify what happened and it just doesn't gel. I mean you've got good people with impeccable service records, never been in trouble a day in their lives and all of a sudden they're torturing prisoners and/or allegedly raping and murdering people. I don't think so. I am not saying it is an excuse, but we certainly have to consider the pressures of life in a combat zone and the culture of the military as factors.

For example, we were just studying about this sociologist Prof. Phillip Zimbardo and the
Stanford Prison Experiment that he performed back in the 70s. He took a bunch of regular college kids and randomly divided them up into two groups, prisoners and guards. They staged mock arrests of the "prisoners", brought them to a fake jail set up in the basement of the psychology building, assigned them numbers and gave them all the same "prison" uniform. They took the "guards" and gave them all mirrored sunglasses, sticks, handcuffs and other symbolically powerful items. Guess what happened? After only a few days the fake guards started to abuse the fake prisoners. They made the prisoners do humiliating things and generally enjoyed picking on these people who they would have hung out with a week before. The "prisoners" started to have emotional breakdowns.

My point is, if regular college kids can start to develop sadistic tendencies after only six days of a prison experiment, perhaps we should not just be looking at the individuals involved in these terrible incidents. If the institutions are set up in a way that somehow encourages and/or condones the rape and murder of a young woman and her family (or the inhumane treatment of prisoners) then we really need to rethink the institutions. It's so easy to arrest a couple of soldiers and have a trial, then declare that we are good people for having taken care of the situation. But, have we really taken care of the root of the problem?

Unfortunately I think there will be a lot more rapes and Goddess knows what else before the powers that be figure out what the folks at Stanford learned back in 1971.

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Note: I could not find the name of the artist for the picture at the beginning of the post. However, I linked to the website I found it on. You can click on the picture to see the original website.