Mothers, Banana Maple Chia French Toast, Women’s Bodies

Today’s Happy Note: Going to the Cathedral and listening to the organ in honor of my mother!

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! I love you more than I could ever say.  You are strong, beautiful, caring, and dedicated.  I hope that one day I might be a fraction of the mother you have been to me.

Speaking of mother’s day, go say congrats to Heather and her new little HEABlet!

There aren’t a lot of things that I claim to know in this ever-changing world. But I do know this: I will be a mother some day.  I know it more than I know almost anything else about myself.  I don’t know where my career will go, where I will live, who I’ll be with, or even some of the more nuanced details of myself: but I know that I have to be a mother.  It’s sort of strange how strongly I feel this.  Does anyone else feel this way?

Exercise: I had a short and sweet five mile run this evening.  Although I felt good, the weather did not seem to agree with my mood.  It was seriously blustery!  I was running north along the Hudson River and was a little bit afraid that the wind would blow me into the water!  I also did 20 minutes of yoga, making up my own poses and doing some core stuff along the way.  I love doing balancing flows.  Today I did  a lot with airplane, standing splits, half-moon, dancer’s, hand to foot, extended hand to foot (leg out to the side), and headstand.  Balancing poses seem to reorient me and calm me down.

Eats: Eats were actually pretty fun today! Don’t expect anything too thrilling for the rest of the week though.  I’ll be working my way through my “pantry” (a very disorganized plastic bin) which has a lot of random stuff in it.  Although random food supplies seem to bring out my creative culinary side (exhibit A: tonight’s dinner).  Anyways, breakfast today was extra special!  I love weekend brunches — they are my favorite meal of the week to make and eat.

Banana maple chia french toast!

1 tsp coconut oil

2 slices whole wheat cinnamon bread (or other variety)

1 egg white

1 tsp cinnamon (divided in two parts)

splash vanilla soy milk (or other milk of choice)

3/4 C vanilla greek yogurt

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp chia seeds

1/2 banana, thinly sliced

Heat coconut oil in a pan on medium-high heat.  Prepare toast “bath” (egg white, half of cinnamon, and milk).  Coat both sides of each slice in the mixture and cook in pan (about 5-6 minutes).  Meanwhile, mix yogurt, maple syrup, more cinnamon, chia, and banana.  When french toast is cooked through, plate and top with yogurt mixture!

Purely, simply delicious.  The maple syrup really takes the plain old vanilla yogurt up a notch in terms of flavor and the chia seeds give it a nice texture.

Other eats included a vanilla peach smoothie (vanilla soy milk, frozen peaches, vanilla whey protein powder):

Topped with almond butter and pomegranat chobani.  For some reason, now that I am obsessed with SIABs, I cannot stand to eat my smoothies without toppings anymore!

Dinner was also fun.  It was basically a casserole with layers of sauteed asparagus and mushroom, macaroni and cheese, more asparagus and mushroom, fresh spinach, and fried eggs.

Below is a little diatribe I wrote after reading a certain article in Oprah magazine this month.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Women and Their Bodies: Why Real Health is Beautiful

In my monthly reading of Oprah magazine this weekend, I came across an article that disturbed me.  I felt unsettled as soon as I began reading, and quickly realized why: the entire premise of the article is that women’s bodies necessitate correction in order to be beautiful, particularly as we age.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some super ultra-feminist who rages against makeup or push-up bras or anti-wrinkle cream.  Women deserve to feel beautiful, but that begs the question: to what extent?  Where is the boundary between natural beauty and technological beauty?  Furthermore, what about the idea that beauty is on the inside?  Most women’s magazines seem to push this fact, but they also relentlessly remind us that we need our abs to look this way or that we need this new haircut.  I think that this particular article, which talks about the “fantastic possibilities” that will emerge in the field of women’s beauty and style in the next decade, reimagines the female body and places it in an unattainable context.  This strikes me as dangerous because, through a pervasive focus on correcting the outside’s of our bodies, I worry that we ignore the insides.  And I am not just referring to the fluffy “I’m a smart, beautiful, kind woman with a good personality” stuff.  Our insides are serious markers of our true health.  By masking this more and more, I worry that we are distancing ourselves from the natural frameworks our bodies have established to maintain our own health.

The article I refer to is entitled “Stop Grays With a Pill, Melt Fat With a Laser: And 12 Other Fantastic Possibilities that might be fully realized by 2020”.  It can be read online here.

Basically, the article profiles some slightly disturbing “health” innovations.  And by profiles I mean “obsesses over”.  From a magazine as empowering and insightful as Oprah, I would have expected a much more two-sided portrayal of things.  For example, one of the items I found most upsetting was entitled “A Slimmer Waistline, Trimmer Hips — No Surgery Necessary!”  It described a device that works like an ultrasound to break up fat in any desired area.   Once the fat has been broken up the body flushes it out naturally.  It can remove 2-3 inches from the waistline.  As mentioned earlier, I find this problematic for two primary reasons.  First of all, why can’t we leave the female body alone?  I find it quite distressful that, as technology becomes more and more developed, we insist on applying it to our bodies.  Isn’t this somewhat invasive?  I would like to think that there is still one personal, sanctified space in this world — my own body.  Do I really need to take a pill ensuring that I never get grey hair?  Or use at-home laser treatments to remove the “unwanted” hairs from every part of my body?  One of the innovations mentioned refers to a sort of improved botox whereby or own blood and proteins are used to fill in wrinkles.  Really?  I think women in their natural state are gorgeous.  Granted, I may think otherwise when I’m sixty, but nonetheless, I hope that I would have the courage to realize the beauty in my health, intelligence, and ability to move and dance and play.  I think these things are beautiful; not artificial mechanisms whereby we bizarrely rearrange the body in the hopes of making it more appealing to who?

The second reason I find these innovations problematic is as follows: let’s imagine a hypothetical woman who has employed these innovations.  She has no love handles, a wrinkle-free face, thick hair, perfectly white teeth, and firm skin.  Regardless of whether or not we might think of her as “beautiful”, there are dangerous health implications.  What about exercise and healthy eating and meditation?  All of these healthful practices can be thrown away when we correct the external body with such a fine-toothed comb.  I am not saying that every woman who chooses to use these technologies will let her health go to the wayside, but I do worry that such inventions could mask real dangers.  For example, many sedentary woman could become relatively thin by removing several inches of fat from their stomach, hips and thighs.  But this does not mean that their hearts are any healthier or that their lungs or any stronger or that their bones are not withering away inside.  Ultimately, I think these new conceptions of beauty create a risky divide between internal and external dimensions of health and beauty.  I think that the internal and external dimensions are intertwined — and are meant to be so.  When I lift weights, I tone my arms and stomach. But I also help keep my bones dense and build confidence and self-esteem.  I think it is morally incorrect to create a separation here.

My own mother, who is in her fifties, is vibrant, radiant, powerful, and compassionate.   She hikes, gardens, bird-watches, plays word games, kayaks, skis, works, and loves.  To me, this is beautiful.  The (few) wrinkles around her eyes are signs of a lovely journey, not signs of an ugly body.  When will we learn to appreciate this?  I only hope that we can see the beauty in the natural female body before we have gone too far down this dangerous path of reconstruction.

So, Oprah, I am highly disappointed in you here.  While I applaud you and the health innovators who are coming up with ways to make us truly healthier — like finding ways of increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables among people in impoverished communities — I do not think that these devices, mechanisms, and ideas constitute true health.  I hope you will forgive me when I say that I found this article unpleasant, upsetting, and an offense to healthy, beautiful women everywhere.


12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. eatspinlive
    May 09, 2010 @ 21:26:43

    Wow, that toast looks DELICIOUS 🙂


  2. littlemisspotato
    May 09, 2010 @ 21:40:59

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the Oprah mag article.
    I haven’t read it …but my mom subscribes and I’ll be sure to get my hands on it soon.

    The one thing you pointed out that I felt was most important: the fact that organ function, inner beauty (of sorts) and health aren’t even mentioned! It sounds as though minor outter flaws can and should be fixed quickly. All the rest really doesn’t apply.


  3. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    May 10, 2010 @ 00:32:34

    Hi Caronae, thanks for the mother’s day wishes and i hope you have a great week. O mag…don’t read it b/c frankly most “mainstream” mags and articles are either boring to me or I disagree with them…but give me some fringe stuff and at least i am happy or my interest is held 🙂


  4. Sarah
    May 10, 2010 @ 00:46:25

    Caronae I agree with your conclusions wholeheartedly! I am so so sick of the media making women feel bad and dissatisfied about themselves and their bodies, as if aging is some kind of battle to be fought against, rather than a beautiful process to be embraced with grace and dignity. My mum sounds like yours. She runs, eats what she likes, is healthy, has wrinkles and grey hairs, but she’s so happy and full of life. She has an inner zest for life that shines through, and by looking after herself rather than trying to tamper with her body, she is setting herself up for a long and happy future. I want to be just like that.

    Sarah x


  5. Joanne
    May 10, 2010 @ 06:51:36

    What a sweet tribute to your mom! I so agree with you. I know that I want to be a mom. I know it in my bones. It is something that is non-negotiable to me. Even if I have to adopt or raise a child on my own. It is something that I need in order to be satisfied with my life.

    The weather was SERIOUSLY blustery this weekend! WTF!

    That toast looks. Um. Awesome!!

    And damn straight about your criticism of Oprah. Being healthy is not the same as having all of these ridiculous quick fixes. So not okay for her to emphasize those!


  6. Maggie @ Fit.Fun.Food
    May 10, 2010 @ 10:38:22

    I know exactly how you feel about wanting to be a mother! I know that I want to have a career and go far professionally, but I’m positive that sometime in my life, I’m going to have a child. I think it’s amazing that my body can create another human being! Great eats girl! Have a good day!


  7. Kate
    May 10, 2010 @ 12:12:21

    preach it woman! i whole heartedly agree with you. i would seriously send this letter into the oprah magazine and you make some outstanding, well written points. maybe they will just pitch it but i wouldn’t it great if they published some of it?!

    btw, i am swooning over your french toast 🙂


  8. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine
    May 10, 2010 @ 13:23:47

    I absolutely hated kids until I was about 18, and now I’m obsessed with them. I want nothing more than to be a mom; my life truly won’t be fulfilled without children. If for some reason God doesn’t allow me to have my own, I’ll adopt. This desire freaks my boyfriend out a little (whenever I start talking about it he asks me if I took my Pill that morning, and I’m convinced he’s only half joking), but like you, no matter where life takes me I know I want being a mom to be a part of that.

    Awesome argument against that article. More effective sun protection? Definitely on board with that one. Pills against gray hair? If it means that much to you and you’re gonna dye it anyway, go for it. Whiter teeth? As long as it’s cheaper than Whitestrips 🙂 But you’re right, there’s this idea that women have to be perfect, that our natural selves are never good enough. I like to primp and look pretty, but I never want to be seen as less attractive for choosing not to go the way of surgery and Botox. Aging is a reality, it’s part of life, and it makes me sad that it’s so taboo in our society. I want to love myself just as much when I start getting wrinkles and pack on the pregnancy pounds (haha) as I do right now!

    Awesome post!


  9. pen (pen at peace)
    May 10, 2010 @ 20:47:06

    I know what you mean about “knowing you will be a mother” I’m not “old” by any means, but sometimes (ok, often times) I doubt that I will ever get married for one reason or another (primarily, i’m crazy), so I plan on adopting or having a baby on my own if I turn 35 and it looks like I won’t be getting marreid any time soon.

    Being a mother is far moer important to me than being a wife.


    • caronae
      May 10, 2010 @ 21:26:32

      I agree with what you (and everyone else) has said about motherhood 100%! It’s like I have to be a mother. And I definitely see it as more important than being a wife; I can see myself adopting or having a baby on my own too. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way!


  10. Diana (Soap & Chocolate)
    May 10, 2010 @ 21:10:45

    “Fantastic possibilities”? Eeek. That was a poor choice of words indeed. It is a little disappointing to see Oprah promoting such things.

    And yeah I’m pretty sure I’ll have a baby one day. Step 1 = finding the daddy, though. 🙂


  11. Christine @ Grub, Sweat and Cheers
    May 11, 2010 @ 09:17:37

    Hear, hear! I agree with you completely. These types of articles – no matter the magazine – frustrate me to no end because the underlying message is always the same: you are not good enough the way you are.

    I recall seeing Nora Ephron and a couple other women on Oprah a few years ago talking about aging and it was one of the most depressing shows ever. I thought it was going to be about the wisdom and beauty that comes with knowing yourself, having been on your own journey, loving, loss etc…but no, it was about facelifts and saggy necks. What a load of bollocks.


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