Tag Archives: sports

Even Skinny Girls Deserve Compassion

As you may or may not know, I began yoga teacher training a few weeks ago. This is part of an ongoing “plan” (I wish it were as organized as a plan) to diversify my income, learn more about yoga, give back to the yoga community I love so dearly, and get way more OkCupid responses (because seriously, dudes go nuts for yoga teachers… they think we’re super bendy.)

It was only on the first day of training that I realized, OMG, I’m going to be teaching beginners…. Somewhere along the line I had let this small fact slip away. I had envisioned myself designing killer sequences and deep, thought-provoking themes. I didn’t so much visualize the part where I’d be teaching people for whom “square hips” doesn’t mean anything, for whom “mountain pose” and “chair pose” are new concepts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super pumped for the challenge, it’s just a different challenge than the one I’d been planning for in my head.

Part of training is observing other teachers as they teach the beginner sequence. In one such observation, I became supremely focused on one Barbie-like girl in the back who, in full make-up, was seriously struggling. Instead of feeling compassion or observing the teacher’s directions aimed at helping her, I felt a little thrill. It’s embarrassing, but sometimes when I see thin people struggle with exercise, I gloat.

As a non-thin person, I routinely face assumptions about my exercise habits that are patently false, and I’m regularly reminded about how little we can tell about someone’s fitness and wellness just by looking. So, this week for Role/Reboot, I wrote about my own struggle to be a little less judgmental, a little compassionate, and give the same benefit of the doubt to the skinnies as I expect given to to me.

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Related Post: Obesity is a problem, so is body-shaming.

Related Post: On wrinkles and love your body day!

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Filed under Body Image, Republished!, Sports

S(Tuesday) Scraps 109


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1. HOOPS: Bill Simmons, who I generally love, gets rightfully reamed by college basketball player Wayne Washington when Simmons refers to his dreads as “stinky.”

2. AUTHORS: Curtis Sittenfeld (Prep, American Wife) gets interviewed by The Rumpus about her new book, Sisterland.

3. NEW MEXICO: The New Yorker‘s Rachel Syme, writes eloquently about the hometown she shares with Walter White.

4. CELEB: I really dig this advice from Olivie Wilde in Glamour, or rather, this advice from her ghostwriter. Regardless, I’m into it.

5. MOMS: My favorite, Roxane Gay, interviews her mother for The Hairpin about how she feels about her mothering decisions, 30 years later. Should we all be so lucky as to have these conversations.

6. SPORTS: What does it say about you as a parent when you push your daughter down the path of soccer, dance, or chess? Apparently a lot?

Related Post: Sunday 108: George Saunders, OITNB, Ill-Doctrine, etc.

Related Post: Sunday 107: Amanda Palmer = awesome, millennials worry, email mapping!

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Filed under Books, Family, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sports

The Problems with “Strong is the New Skinny”

The line from that George Saunders piece I posted on Monday that’s really sticking with me is “Err on the side of kindness.” It seems so obvious, as far as life philosophies go, but the simplicity of it is blowing my mind. What a world that would be, eh, if we all agreed to live by that code?

Though he didn’t articulate it as such, I’m confident that Saunders would agree that kindness towards oneself is a key facet of this MO. My new piece for Role/Reboot this week is about body image and wellness, but I hope that the backdrop of self-love and self-kindness is apparent.

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Related Post: Critiquing the Dove Real Beauty Campaign

Related Post: 1 in 4 women think they’re too fat to exercise

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Is This How Riots Happen?

hawksChicago won the Stanley Cup last night. If I hadn’t been watching the game (pure accident, as the concert I was supposed to be at got rained out), I would have known of the victory by the non-stop honking/shouting/whooping/chest-thumping racket that continued well into the middle of the night a few stories below my  bedroom window.

But I did watch, and n the way home, right after the final buzzer, the red line was packed with Hawks fans dancing and flapping their “wings” and congratulating each other. When the doors parted, an older gentleman (portly, bespectacled, balding) couldn’t get past the wall of teenagers. After shouting “Back off! Back the fuck off!” they let him through onto the platform, but started chanting “Bruins Fan!” at him as he exited. From there, he turned on the crowd, pointed finger shoving into Blackhawk-jerseyed chests and starting yelling at them. I’m paraphrasing, but the gist of his tirade went like this,

I AM a Hawks fan, I’m just not insane like you lunatics! There’s more to the world than hockey, you know? Read a book every once in a while. Pay attention to the world. Care about something other than sports for fuck’s sake! It’s just a game!”

The crowd, for obvious reasons, didn’t like his message or his tone. As the doors closed, he kept shouting through the glass, his adult-to-bad-child tsk-tsk finger-point reflected back in dozens of college students flipping him the bird. “Go read a book or something!” I was just glad that the opposing forces were separated by panes of something solid. The fury on both sides seemed so primal (and inebriated) and it was easy to imagine a drunk kid taking a swing at him and chaos erupting. So this is how riots start, I thought.

The truth is, while I would have claimed to not “get” hockey, last night was probably more combined minutes of hockey-watching than I’ve done in the last ten years, and it was actually super fun. We conveniently had a dad on hand who was thrilled to explain some of the nuance, and as many people have unsuccessfully tried to persuade me over the years, it is an extremely graceful game if you look past the brawling.

The part I still don’t understand (about all sports, not just hockey) is the whole hog, blood-runs-insert-color-here investment that people have in the records of their teams. I get the momentary excitement, the palpable energy during the game itself, feeling like if you hold your breath maybe the shot will go where you’re willing it to go, like your viewership affects the outcome. I can cheer with the best of them, hoot and holler, etc, but when the game ends, win or lose, it occupies no further brain space. I don’t dwell on it, and neither the joy of victory nor the agony of defeat linger past the last buzzer. That was fun, I think, moving on!

So Sports People, help me out here; I’m clearly missing something, a vein that millions of people worldwide are willing and able to tap into. To my mind, most of these Hawks aren’t from Chicago, and it’s not like they picked us for any special reason. They’re contracted to wear this particular jersey vs. that particular jersey, so where does the loyalty come from? What is it about a team or the community around the team that allows the outcome of a game (because the man on the train was right, it is just a game) to determine your mood for the next week?

Related Post: The best things I read in 2012 about sports.

Related Post: Why you should be reading Grantland.

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S(M)onday Scraps 103

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1. HISTORY: Imagine you’re 23 and you’re heading off to WWII as a nurse. What do you pack? Slate‘s new history blog has got you covered with a real recommended packing list. Don’t forget your homemade Kotex!

2. ELLEN: Ellen solves all problems. In this clip, she takes on Abercrombie and their whole “only skinny kids are cool” baloney.

3. ART: Like me, you probably assumed pin-up artistry was historically a male artform. Not so! Three of the most respected pin-up artists were women, who knew?

4. SPORTS: Remember Allyson Felix, the Olympic sprinter? What happens after you win gold and you’ve accomplished all your goals at 26? Grantland finds out.

5. EVEREST: Apparently, Mount Everest is overrun by inexperienced, poorly equipped climbers. National Geographic explores what it’s like to wait in line to hike the summit.

6. MAKE-UP: In this short Thought Catalog piece, Chelsea Fagan explains some of the complex rationales that inform female make-up habits. It’s not as simple, “I want to look hot.”

Related Post: Sunday 102 – Depression cartoons, GeoGuessr, war photos, etc.

Related Post: Sunday 101 – Lean In letters, Colbert’s homphobia song, American Girl evolution

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Filed under Art, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sports

Sunday Scraps 100

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1. GAYS: In the 2010 census, one county in the US reported 0 gay people. None. Zilch. Nada. Explore Franklin County with CNN and find out if the census is true. Hint: Doubtful.

2. SCOTUS: A little late to the game on this one, but Courtney Milan’s concise play-by-play of the Prop 8 Supreme Court case is the first time I actually think I know what’s going on. Sample truncated piece of dialogue: COOPER: But these people were injured. They didn’t want gay people to marry, and now look! Gays. Lesbians. Able to marry at will. It’s very injurious. They’re injured just thinking about it.

3. FEMINISM: I dare you not to cry at this amazing obituary of feminist revolutionary Shulasmith Firestone. Written by the incomparable Susan Faludi, it’s just… a lot. Sniff.

4. POLITICS: To my surprise, I came out of Jonathan Van Meter’s NYT profile of Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin feeling pretty sympathetic for Weiner. Maybe sympathetic’s not the word…

5. FOOTBALL: From Grantland, what would happen if an NFL player died on the field? 8 years ago, Al Lucas died during an Arena football game. Is that where we’re headed?

6. LOOKS: Why does it matter that the President called Kamala Harris good-looking? Amanda Hess at Slate knows why, and I couldn’t agree with her more.

Related Post: Sunday 99: Megan Mullally and Ron Swanson, Tavi Gevinson, Rolling Rock history and more

Related Post: Sunday 98: Chinese marriage market, George Saunders, Lena in Playboy and more

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Filed under Gender, Media, Politics, Sports

The Best Things I Read on the Internet: Sports Edition

I like sports a lot. I like pretending to invest in my fantasy football team and then forgetting to set my line-up and accidentally starting three players on bye week and two who are nursing busted knees or ankles. I like following Chicago sports so I can nod along with the sandwich guy about Charles Tillman’s wife, and damn, I hope she has that baby before Sunday!

I like sports because they raise so many other issues, about entitlement and academics, about fitness, health, beauty, gender, safety, parenting, money, community and values. I also really like when people write well about sports, like these folks:

  • The Hard Life of an NFL Long Shot” – The New York Times (Charles Siebert): Following his 21-year-old nephew through the the ups and downs of a maybe, someday, hopeful NFL-er, Siebert captures some of the frenzy we see on the surface of the NFL, and some of the loneliness and struggle of the almost-made-its.
  • “The Favorite”Grantland (Brian Phillips): Serena Williams is my favorite, and Brian Phillips’ too. He explores why (and other stuff, like race and privilege and pressure) in this excellent profile.
  • “Punched Out: The Life and Death of a Hockey Enforcer”New York Times (John Branch): In this epic three part series, Branch examines the life and career of one of the NHL’s most notorious brawlers, and his death by accidental overdose at age 28.
  • “The Woman Who Would Save Football”Grantland (Jane Leavy): Dr. Ann McKee is a Packers fan. She is also the woman to whom brains are sent when athletes die.
  • “A Basketball Fairytale in Middle America”New York Times Magazine (Sam Anderson): Kevin Durant is the Oklahoma City Thunder, and in exchange, Oklahma City has devoted itself to Kevin Durant. This is a fabulous profile of a player (the youngest scoring champion in league history) and a city who levied a sales tax to build him a home.
  • “Venus and Serena Against the World”New York Times (John Jeremiah Sullivan): I know this is my second piece about the Williamses, but I just really like them, ok? Also, it’s really good.

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Sunday Scraps 85

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1. SPORTS: This Charles Siebert piece for the New York Times Magazine about the rigors and stresses of trying to make an NFL team is fascinating. How much do you want it? And how much are you willing to take to get it?

2. BOOKS: Super great Atlantic essay about author Ann Patchett (Bel Canto, State of Play) and her new bookstore in Nashville. As a lover of independent bookstores, I think this is all kinds of awesome.

3. CHRIS BROWN: After violent exchange with a female comedian on Twitter, Chris Brown deleted his account. The always excellent Roxane Gay on why criticizing Brown isn’t racist, and why it also is pretty f’ing complicated.

4. ELECTION: Curious about how all those Obama for America emails with subject lines like “Hey” or “It’s officially over” played out? Businessweek has some answers.

5. PAIN: There’s an extremely rare medical condition where you feel no pain. Sounds great, right? Not unless you step on a nail, scratch yourself bloody, or break an ankle and don’t realize it. The New York Times has an examination.

6. MEDIA: The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has put together an excellent report about the representation of women on screen (especially on children and family programming) and Mother Jones has a summary of some of the most telling facts and figures.

Related Post: Sunday 84 – Letters from astronauts, the female male model, bedrooms around the world.

Related Post: Sunday 83 – Hillary Clinton’s next move, Denver public schools, Mormons on the Romney bus

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Filed under Body Image, Books, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sports, Uncategorized

Why You Should Be Reading Grantland

If you’re not an ESPN-watching dude, or you don’t have very many ESPN-watching dude friends, you might be missing out. The first person to send me something from Grantland, an online magazine on sports and pop culture, was one of those dudes, and I doubt I would have stumbled upon it without his help.

Grantland was founded by ESPN’s Bill Simmons, what Ad Age calls a “one-man content generating apparatus,” in June 2011. I was late to the game and only added it to my reader a month ago, but in that time, I’ve starred oh so many things.

Ostensibly for long form sports and culture, I really find it’s at its strongest at the nexus of those two. Anything in the “sports and” category is where they really hit their stride: Sports and medicine (like this piece on CTE in NFL players), sports and gender (like this on the Kournikova era), Sports and race (like this one on Serena Williams), but every now and then, there’s the randomest of gems (like this diva-off).

My reader and Twitter feeds, not to mention my typical self-guided daily tour through the interwebz, is basically a who’s who of 3rd wave feminism. Jezebel, Mother Jones, Peggy Orenstein, the XX Factor, Anita Sarkeesian, Clarisee Thorn, this is my digital bread and butter. The Grantland staff isn’t exactly the equivalent of reading Drudge every morning in terms of spicing up my web consumption, but it’s a different crowd and I think I like it.

Related Post: Final thoughts on the Olympics

Related Post: I will not be joining your gym

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Filed under Really Good Writing by Other People, Sports

Sunday Scraps 74

1. WRITING: Junot Diaz has a new book. The Atlantic wonders if Diaz, whose characters are consistently horrible to women, can write a sexist character without writing a sexist book.

2. SPORTS: With the Olympics being all about Missy, Gabby, Serena and the Fab 5, Grantland wonders if we’re past what he dubs “the Kournikova era”, when being hot matters more than being good.

3. DRUGS: Artist Bryan Lewis Sanders takes most drugs known to mankind and then draws self-portraits (Cultso).

4. ADVERTISING: Man, sometimes Google knows what’s up. Instead of doing the “dumb dad” routine in their latest Chrome campaign, they actually do a pretty cool portrait of a father-daughter relationship.

5. LIT: Literary archaeology is the coolest. For only the second time ever, a photo of Emily Dickinson has been found!

6. TRANS: DC launches its first ever transgender respect campaign with billboards featuring real members of the trans community and the (obvious) directive to treat everyone with respect and dignity.

Related Post: Sunday 73Joy of Sex illustration history, Philip Roth vs. Wikipedia, my new fave NFL player

Related Post: Sunday 72 – Zoe Smith vs. haters, Valerie Jarrett, Katherine Boo on Katrina

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Filed under Advertising, Art, Books, Gender, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sex, Sports