Image and Identity




#thecumulativeeffectThe Hypocrisy of Arianna Huffington

1 response | March 7th, 2013

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Here are 10 headlines (and a screen shot on the left) from the front page of Huffington Post as I type. You decide if 1 by 1 or as a whole they objectify women. Or, maybe you think they help move women forward in a society that still keeps them back (whether by design or default).  We have our opinion here, and it's that Arianna is being wildly hypocritical, championing women's issues and social justice on the one hand, and overseeing a business that uses objectification and sexualization as page-bait, as regularly and consistently and in as much quantity as The Huffington Post does. Obviously we can all do and think whatever we want.  Arianna has a business to run.  But it seems to us it's nothing short of wildly hypocritical to hold yourself up as a fighter against wrongs when you keep-on perpetuating the wrongs you say you're fighting against. Here are those 10: Sweaty Selena PHOTO: Tina Fey's Swimsuit Nightmare Kate For Playboy Dita's 3D Dress "Teen Mom" Sex Tape Allison's Hot Workout Pants Renee Looks Different Naomi Watts Nearly Flashes All What Liking Boobs Could Mean LOOK: Katniss Everdeen Dons Jaw-Dropping Gown For 50 more ...

#bodiesMy Biggest Insecurity

6 comments | September 13th, 2012

chestist sad

(story submitted by Allie P., a 16 yo Chestist)

Allie may only be 16 but - sadly - nothing about how she's feeling is limited by age.  We'd bet that at least most of us have (and sometimes still do) felt this way.  How do you deal with what she's feeling?  How have you gome from feeling like shit for what you're not to feeling good about what you are?   Remember, if you share your story maybe you can help change hers.

My stomach, my chin, my butt, my thighs, everything about me is horrible. I just feel that everyone else is so much thinner and prettier, and there is no one that will accept who i am. I'm finally understanding myself a little better, but my body is still my biggest worry and insecurity. {end story}

#bodiesI Am Not My Stereotype

1 response | September 6th, 2012

50s chestist

(story submmitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

We're probably all guilty of having judged a book or two by its cover.  Feels a lot different when we're the book though.  Here's how she feels:

I have bleach blonde hair, big boobs, and apparently a decent ass. That doesn't make me stupid or shallow. It doesn't mean my life is perfect or that I am happier than anyone else. I have interest and issues too. I'm so sick of people taking one look at me and deciding I'm some sort of Barbie doll. {end story}

You ever been a victim of stereotyping?  When, how, why?  You ever been a stereotyper (most of us have)?  When, how, why?   Here's the thing about stereoptypes, they suck.  You can quote us on that.

Not Proud.

5 comments | August 12th, 2012

chestist threads

(by anonymous)

I am constantly berating myself for not doing better things with my free time. Instead of exercising, doing something productive, taking some of the household jobs off of my husband's back, etc, I hang out at the cafe with friends, read books etc. I don't have the willpower to get myself to do what I should. I should get a job and have a boss. It's all the more unacceptable because on the outside I have a completely perfect life- I'm in decent shape (could lose 10 lbs but definitely not fat), 4 kids who are healthy and do well at school (although I'm always on them to do better), a husband who makes a ton of money, a lovely house in the city and a summer house on the beach, enough money to do basically anything I want. And a ph.d in an area I am good at. Why can't I either enjoy myself or get motivated to do something so that I am proud of myself! {end story}

Bad Fathers

11 comments | July 29th, 2012

chestist black scratch

(by Natasha, 19, a Chestist)

My dad gives me crap about my weight and how unpretty I am all the time. For the record, I am 5'2'', 103 lbs (naturally, no eating disorders here), and have been called "stunningly beautiful" and "fairy-like" by my mom's friends. In a month, I'm heading off to college in New York and my dad keeps teasing me in front of the entire family. He says I'm going to come back 50 lbs heavier and looking like a whale, and that it's simply a fact. I also mentioned that a friend of mine auditioned to play a Disney Princess. His response? "She looks more like Ursula." This is one of my best friends. He keeps saying that she's "chunky" and needs to get a nose job. At the same time, he blatantly tells me that he thinks my tall, beautiful, stick-thin friend is one of the sexiest people he has ever met. This kinda language lead to my younger sister's anorexia earlier this year. I've tried talking to him about it, but he won't stop. I'm terrified that he ...

#bodiesNudity: The Great Equalizer

9 comments | July 27th, 2012

misery loves company

(by @Laurenne from

A man crossed the street in front of my car yesterday. Since I was hiding behind my windshield, I had a rare opportunity to stare at him without the possibility of awkward accidental eye contact. He had what some call a FUPA, or Fat Upper Pussy/Penis Area.  It was as if he had a monster truck tire strapped into his underwear, and he had to hobble across the street with a cane in order to carry all that extra weight. I stared without shame and followed his body from the very bottom of his ankles up. And at the top, I saw his face (Obviously. If his face weren’t there, I would have screamed). His huge bottom lip sagged down as if it were pulled by the extra weight of his FUPA. His mouth hung open, surely sloshing fellow pedestrians with uncontrollable drool.

I wanted to run out of my car and talk to this man. I wanted to know what it’s like to grow up with such a FUPA and such an uncontrollable ...

Happy HatingI’m Not Pregnant

3 comments | July 22nd, 2012


(by anonymous, a Chestist)

Yesterday, after enjoying a lovely cup of tea with some friends, an elderly man who had been at the restaurant since before we got there interrupted us to ask, "So when are you due?" Needless to say (or, I suppose, not so needless), I'm NOT pregnant.

I quickly signed my receipt and stormed out before the other patrons could see my face flush red. When I got home I dropped my purse, tore off my shoes and started weeping into my fiance's arms. I'm trying so hard to lose weight for our wedding...and for my health and my life...and it seems like in every candid photo, every walk by a mirror, I seem to have gained weight. What's worse, with every word of comfort my fiance tried to say, a louder voice in my head made a counterpoint in middle-school-mean-girl fashion. When I tried to tell my fiance about the voice, he said, "Tell it it can't stay. No one is allowed in this bed but you and me."

And the voice chimed in with, "Only because no one else could fit." {end ...

#thecumulativeeffect1 Reason We Shouldn’t Compare

14 comments | July 18th, 2012

compared to what

(OOC via CNN)

Keeping up with the Joneses has been part of the American way since at least the 50s.  We compare oursleves to what they havem he, has, she has almost incessantly and certainly inextricably.  There was less to compare ourselves to, fewer data points and inputs and our social circles were limited to who we knew in the physical world, pre facebook et al.  But now, oh girl.  from the CNN report:

"Because of social networks, though, the field of competition has expanded dramatically. Now you're competing with the best pictures and the ebullient status updates of every girl you know. 'It's as if somewhere along the line, Facebook became the encyclopedia of beauty and status and comparisons.'"

If we've got a minute to spare we might just check out what's up on FB (or tw, or whatever).  And BANG BOOM ZIP, all of a sudden we're confronted with what she did, he did, she has, the party we missed and weren't invited to, the dinner that those guys had together, the fun, the laughter, the the the the...everything we weren;t ...

#bodiesSelf-Loathing, Just Like Mama Taught Me

10 comments | July 12th, 2012

Chestist Shares

(story submitted as a comment, by Lana a Chestist, and reposted here, now)

The writer first posted this as a comment to our story on Mothers, and what they teach us about ourselves - for good and ill.  Here's her story:

When I was 14, my mom told me that, for her, 130 lbs was "big." At that time, I weighed about 165 lbs. In that moment, I wanted to kill myself.

She wasn't telling me to lose weight, she was expressing her own dissatisfaction with her body. My mom has a curvy hourglass figure - she's wears a 32DD Bra and size 12 pants. Her waist is tiny but she has our family's hips bodacious booty. My whole life, my mother talked about food, and she still does. She decides to "hate" foods that have "too much fat," like cheesecake, which, I recently found out, she actually loves but told me that she hated it my whole life. She won't even drink a latte because it has "too much milk." She has been on Weight Watchers my entire life and when we went around the table ...

#lifestagesI Am No Longer Comparing

5 comments | June 20th, 2012


(story submitted anonymously, by a 33 yo Chestist)

Sometimes what we see is not what we get.  Check out her story:

I was staring in the mirror.  Noting every flaw, every change, every thing I wished were different.  I was picking myself apart - more observationally than negatively, and wondering how what I had once been had become this 33 year-old version of me now, when I found myself saying "wow, you don't look very good."

Just as suddenly and actually taking me by surprise, I found myself saying "it is what it is and you are what you are."  And I smiled at my reflection, and walked away feeling pretty good about the me that I am and no longer comparing it to the me I used to be :-) {end story}

Truth, the happy ending here took us by delightful surprise.  How's about you, Chestists? What do you see when you look at you in the mirror?  However it makes you feel, why do you think you feel that way?   What needs to happen or change for you to feel (even) better?  Let's #discuss.   

#chestismsSmacked In The Inner Eye

26 comments | April 26th, 2012

rising podos

(story submitted by Leona Mizrahi, a chestist)

We ran this amazing story just last week ~ but we got hacked (hacked, I say, hacked) when it was up.  So in case you missed it then, here it is again. 

Before I got married, I thought I knew everything about spirituality and manifestation. Hoisting my self-realization flag in my late 20’s allowed me to manifest all of my sugar coated desires in my early 30’s: my job, my man, my marriage, and our home without a white picket fence.

Surprisingly at 31, I began to feel a spiritual buzz kill. I was disconnected from myself. My inner peace dulled. I was emotionally paralyzed. In moments of despair all of the tools that once cured moments of frustration as a single girl, no longer worked for me as a married young woman. Um, not happily ever after? Ultimate confusion set in.

My debut spiritual journey taught me to ditch toxic relationships and behaviors, meditate to clarity, and allow life to unfold. I had done ‘the work’. Life was unfolding… but my spark was diminishing. What the what!?

Seeking to reignite my ...

Can We See Your I.D.

9 comments | April 24th, 2012

I am

In the mood for a deep thought?  We've got one for you....

Here @OOC HQ, we think one of the keys to happiness is knowing who you truly are. If your sense of self and identity has been shaped - whether by default or design - by someone else's sense of who and what you should be, well, that might make happier a tougher place to get - you know what we mean?

Sometimes we want to fit in, sometimes we want to stand out, and sometimes we create a sense of our selves in reaction to X or Y, and not as a proactive effort to be the us we want to be. you feel like you know who you are?  How different is this from who you want to be?

Who (and perhaps what) else has played a role in shaping your sense of self and identity, for good or bad?  If you told you what you should be from here, what would you say?  What (or who) do you want to be that you aren't yet?  What (or who) is stopping you?.    XO, ...

#bodiesBody Image Buzzkill

10 comments | April 21st, 2012

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(story submitted anonymously, by an 18 yo Chestist) ~ On Repeat

Yesterday we spoke at the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham about the Medi and Public Health Act.  Along with other panelists, the conversation touched on what we're eaching doing to perpetutate, create and/or change norms.  It's with this in mind, that we re-share this user-submitted story from Februrary.  Here it is: 


On our FB page the other day we posted a Teddy Roosevelt quote reading "comparison is the thief of joy."  No doubt, and to think he lived before mass, popular culture.  This reader writes us with a story that takes us to a similar space.  Here's her story:

I'm 18 and have been struggling with my body image since I was 12.

I've never been overweight, but compared to the girls in magazines and all over TV, I'm huge.  I've struggled so much with comparing myself to others, starving myself and purging. As hard as I try to not have these feelings, and I try to think "maybe I can be normal and healthy and accept my body" that mentality only lasts ...

The Female Funny

7 comments | April 19th, 2012


(story by Allison Goldberg and Jen Jamula, co-creators of Blogologues)

The writers are 2 funny people.  And they happen to be ladies too.  Imagine that.  If you're in NYC, go see their show.  If you're not, fight and defy stereotypes wherever you can.  Stereotypes aren't funny.  Usually.  Here's their story:

Stereotypes are interesting. They point out so many very true things. Alli is Jewish, and she definitely always checks for quarters when we pass pay phones. Jen is Polish, so obviously she’s an idiot. Mexicans are lazy, Asian men have small penises, and women? Don’t get me started. Women. Ugh. They’re so... not funny.

We all know that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are exceptions, not the rule. I mean, come on! Have you been to the movies? Men, men, men.

Oh, wait.

That’s right.

Just in case you thought that performance was the one field where women are overrepresented (well, us and the gays) ... WRONG! The Huffington Post recently reported that 1 out of every 3 roles goes to a woman, and pointed out that “[t]his means that men's stories out number women's by the same ...

#lifestagesDressed to Impress

32 comments | April 10th, 2012

clothese horse

(story by Mir, from WouldaCouldaShoulda) I don't think I'd characterize myself as "fashionable," past or present, by any stretch of the imagination. The way I dress is... fine. I think. I enjoy clothes, and I especially enjoy shoes. But I don't spend a lot of money on clothes, or a lot of time. In my current life, I'm a jeans-and-t-shirts type, most of the time. Do I clean up pretty good? I like to think so. Do people look at me and go, "I wish I had her fashion sense!"? Probably not unless they're sniffing a lot of glue. Still, it's clothing that encapsulates so many memories for me, when I look back on my life. I've written about some of my more unfortunate clothing incidents here, even. There's lots of good memories attached to clothes, too, though... even though a lot of the clothing in question is---now, at least---similarly cringe-inducing. There was my first pair of Esprit pants, in middle school, when Esprit was very "in" and hip. The pants were wide ankle-crops and sort of a coral-colored chino, and I ...