The Model Paradox: Ken and Barbie Vs. Homer and Marge

Truthfully, do we prefer to see perfect airbrushed models or just reminders of our own bodies?  Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder or does how we spend money on magazines what we actually believe?

America has always had a love/hate relationship with Barbie and Ken. Unsurprisingly, it exactly reflects the way we both worship and curse the models we see everyday on TV and in movies and magazines. During the Fall season of 2009, there was a lot of Internet buzz about a model named Lizzie Miller who was featured in the September issue of Glamour magazine. The picture showed her proudly smiling, displaying her nude yet self-censored body, seeming both unaware and apathetic about the fact she has a “belly”, stretch marks, and thick legs.  The letters and emails poured in by the masses, praising the magazine for showing the beauty of a “normal” woman. While Glamour has been known to feature plus size women on the cover, like Queen Latifah in May 2004, the magazine mainly uses thinner models instead on a regular basis.

But, if normal sized and average looking people are what the general public really wants to see and even the magazine editors know this, why consistently do we continue to see models with perfect abs and bodies with less than 2% body fat? Because when it really comes down to it, we don’t truly want to see a model who reminds us of what our own bodies look like. The proof? Lean models sell more magazines. Bottom line. And we the average people are the ones buying.

In 2006 Dove soap began their Self-Esteem Fund campaign, featuring “real women” in their TV and Internet ads.  While the ad campaign is still active as of today, according to their website it will be ending after 2010, for whatever reason.  But even if these ads with “realistic models” help sell more soap, why are there still skinny, muscular, sexually provocative models on the covers of fashion, beauty, and even health magazines?  Because despite increased sales of soap, the image of the person on the cover of a magazine is largely what sells it. And on a regular basis, I continue to see the real life equivalent of Ken and Barbie on fashion, beauty, and health mags, not Homer and Marge Simpson.

The physical ideal self is what so many consumers are looking to become. It’s a nearly impossible image that we may be able to get close to, but never actually permanently attain for ourselves, unless we own a gym.  And that perceived void in our lives to feel beautiful or sexy (or maybe simply to feel worthy of being in a healthy relationship) largely helps to magazines to sell, by feeding into our subconscious. It’s the image that some people keep stuck in the front of their minds when they work out or when make a conscious decision to eat grilled salmon and a salad instead of a bucket of fried chicken and a 48 ounce soda.

We blame the magazines and media for bombarding us with unrealistic models. And it makes us feel good when magazines do display people that remind us of ourselves. For about five minutes. Then a flash of a shirtless Ryan Reynolds or Jennifer Aniston wearing nothing but a men’s tie on the cover of GQ changes that. We can say we want to see imperfection, but how we spend our money directly affects what images continue to show up on magazines covers and retail ads.  Tired of seeing unrealistic models?  Stop reading and buying those kind of magazines until they only feature people who look like you and me.

But that obviously will never happen.  Because our love/hate relationship with models is somehwat like a kid who goes to Disney World for the first time but is old enough to know that Mickey Mouse is not actually a 6 foot tall mutant mouse, but instead a college student in a really expensive costume.  Even so, this child is no less excited even though he or she knows it is just a fantasy.  And that’s just what models are- a fantasy, both equally demotivating and inspiring.

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So Maybe I’m Allergic to Peanut Butter… in Large, Consistant Amounts

But not allergic to peanuts themselves.  Noted, I’m no doctor.

One of the darkest places in life for me is when I am throwing up- which only happens a few times each decade.  It’s that feeling of inescapable depression, like being a notches away from a sickly death- a hellish gravity so overwhelming that I tend to wonder if I will wake up as a ghost like Bruce Willis and not realize I’ve been dead the entire movie.  Usually I try to keep things a bit classier when I write, but in this case there is really no way around the fact that over the weekend I spent the hours from midnight until 4:30 AM constantly vomiting, only interrupted with sporadic periods of rest on the bathroom rug.  I understand that some people have never gotten food poisoning.  As for myself, I can easily think of my three worst occasions: The Central Park drive-thru in 1990, the shady Chinese buffet restaurant in 2007 (back when I still ate pork and shellfish), and the apple & peanut butter incident of 2010.

I don’t know; maybe getting food poisoning every couple of years is like getting stuck by lightening more than once in a lifetime.  Or maybe my digestive track is just ultra-sensitive to any food that is slightly less than proper and sanity.  But what I do know is that I am unable to digest slightly massive amounts of anything- even if it hasn’t been setting out in a Chinese buffet for three hours unattended. What clued me into my possible allergy to large, consistent amounts of peanut butter was my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup overdose of 2003, when I consumed 36 of them in less than 24 hours: I had just came back from spending a summer in Thailand where both peanut butter and rich, American chocolate are rare finds.  I experienced a major depression for the following two days along with a mild rash on my left wrist for the next six months.

Last week my choice snack every day was an apple with three tablespoons of peanut butter. So good- and seemingly healthy.  But I guess by Day 6 of this treat, which I made my lazy dinner Friday night, was just enough peanut butter in a week’s amount of digestion to throw my digestive track into shock.  Because this was the first time that after I puked up all my food from that evening, I puked up a thick yellow substance, then a thick green substance, then blood- and that pattern repeated a few times before I finally fell asleep until late morning. Eventually though, every single trace of peanut butter was erased from my body. Now, a few days later, I was able to eat my first meal with meat (tilapia, okra, and salad), though my voice is raspy from all the ralphing and my ribs hurt any time I cough or sneeze.

To my understanding and according to my self-diagnosis, I have survived yet another case of food poisoning- and surprisingly this time it didn’t involve a restaurant, but instead a good snack.  I’ve eaten a lot of peanuts in a week’s time and never had anything like this happen.  There must be something about the simple process of smashing the peanuts to turn them into butter than makes them slightly toxic to me.  Sure, I didn’t experience any of the typical symptoms of peanut butter allergies like swelling, but I just think it that peanut butter is smart enough of a food to hurt people in its own sneaky ways.

Lesson learned: From now on I’ll go light on the PB.

I’m Mr. Clean When It Comes to Personal Hygiene

Cleanliness is next to obsessiveness.

Danny Tanner was OCD about cleaning his full house.  Howie Mandel is insane in dealing or not dealing with germs.  As for me, I am obsessed with feeling clean and fresh in regards to my own body.  If I had to go a full day without taking a shower, brushing my teeth, or clipping my fingernails (they grow very fast; I have to clip them every five days), then it would pretty much ruin my day, like a canker sore.

I keep an extra toothbrush, toothpaste, and pair of nail clippers with me at work.  As well as in my car.  Heckler from the crowd shouts out: “Well you better get used to feeling dirty!  That baby of yours is going to be puking and peeing on you every day…”  But that’s different.  To me, that’s more of an external situation.  I’m obsessed with the internal.

What I get on me, I can clean off and be okay with.  It’s what comes out from within my body that bothers me.  Knowing that sweat is constantly slowly seeping out of my skin and that bacteria in my mouth begins festering again the minute I finish brushing my teeth.  Yikes.

And truthfully, this obsession has a lot to do with my extremely strict diet which is based around “clean eating”.  The way I see it, the foods I put in my body either make my insides cleaner or dirtier.  It’s typically hard for me to eat a big greasy hamburger because I imagine the liquefied, digested fat leaking out my pores.  What a nightmare.

Surely everyone is at least a little bit OCD somehow when it comes to cleanliness.  This is mine.

Here's something else I keep at work. It's that important...

*Unnecessary ethic information: Both Bob Saget and Howie Mandel are Jewish.

Movie Guy, at Your Service: Inception

A captivating, culture-relevant movie that explores the mysterious capabilities of the human mind and the weirdness of our dreams.

I realized that the movie Inception would be an inescapable movie for me after at least 37% of my facebook friends had a status update praising it the moment they walked out of the theatre.  Then my sister and brother-in-law told me it reminded them a little bit of LOST; at that moment it became official that I would not only see Inception but that it would be a movie worth writing a movie review/recap about it.

In my first official Movie Guy post (click here to read it: Movie Guy, at Your Service: My Top Ten Favorites), under the “Basic Do Not Watch” criteria for movies I listed “simply by watching the trailer for the movie, you fully understand the plot and possibly the resolution”.  That definitely wasn’t the case with Inception.  When I first saw the preview several weeks ago all I knew was that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was having some trouble finding the floor while for Ellen Page accompanied by Leonardo DiCaprio the floor was becoming a wall.  Perfect.  That meant it would be worth seeing.  Though I had no idea what the plot was.  Perfect.

While the movie does have a strong plot, I see Inception as a vehicle for interesting theories which attempt to explain and explore the mysteries of the dream world and the human body (especially the mind) as it is in a dream state.  For example, the facts that often we usually wake up from dream if in the dream we are falling or if we get killed in the dream are vital to the plotline.

Surprisingly, there were two ideas about dreams in particular I have written about before (which I thought were unique) which the movie touches on:

1)     Years after the memories are made, what really is the difference between a good memory from an actual event and a good memory from a dream, as long as in that moment of the actual event or dream you were truly happy and it remains in your mind as a positive place you can return to when you remember it?  Read Adventures in Thailand: Man Cave Time Machine.

2)     A dream only last a fraction of the time that the dream seems to take place (in Inception, five minutes equaled one hour).  Therefore, if a person could be forced to be trapped in a dream, it could be a horrible type of punishment for a person.  Read Lowercase Punishment.

Aside from being a little like The Matrix (which I never really got into, even after seeing it twice) and LOST, it also reminds me of Vanilla Sky, The Butterfly Effect, and even The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  There is nothing not to enjoy about this movie: A+.

Bonus: Ethnic Backgrounds of the International Cast

Leonardo DiCaprio (as Dominic Cobb): American- 1/2 German, 1/4 Italian, 1/4 Russian

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as Arthur): Jewish-American

Ellen Page (as Ariadne): Canadian of English descent

Tom Hardy (as Eames): English of English and Irish descent

Marion Cotillard (as Mal Cobb): French

Cillian Murphy (as Robert Fischer): Irish

Ken Watanbe (as Saito): Japanese

Tom Berenger (as Peter Browning): American of Irish descent

Dileep Rao (as Yusuf): American of Indian descent

Pete Postlethwait (as Maurice Fischer): English

Luke Haas (as Nash): American- 1/2 German, 1/2 English

Michael Caine (as Miles): English

The spinning totem started to wobble before the screen cut to black. While there easily could be a sequel, I believe the totem ended up falling over.

The Cure for Eczema and Hand Dyshidrosis: Replace Processed Sugar by Eating Whole Fruits, Get Rid of Metals, Consume Chlorella, Sweat a Lot, Become a New Person

STOP! WAIT! This blog post is nearly 7 years old. I only keep it online to document my journey in curing dyshidrotic eczema. But I have learned a lot more since I wrote this back in 2010…

I beg you, please, instead, read the much-updated, and much more accurate 2018 version of this article. Just click the link below to find out how to cure dyshidrotic eczema:

How I Cured Dyshidrotic Eczema in 5 Steps and Have Remained Symptom-Free for 5 Years (But No One Cares Since I’m Not a Medical Expert)

It costs nothing but a lifestyle change.

For you to be taking the time to read this article, chances are you or someone who is close to you has suffered for years from the skin condition known as eczema.  Of course, after visiting at least a few doctors and/or skin specialists, the answer was that there is no cure.  Then a topical lotion was prescribed to “help keep things under control”.  But there is a cure that I had to discover the hard way, and thank God for it.

Make note that I am in no way a medical doctor.  And that’s a good thing.  Because the doctors say there is no cure.  But I say there is.  And I’ve been cured of eczema, specifically dyshidrosis.

I will make no money by telling you the cure.  You will not buy a book from me, nor will you subscribe to website that costs you any money.  You will simply read what I have to say and apply it to your life.

My hand a few months before it got really bad.

This is a very cut-and-dry issue.  It works if you do it.  It doesn’t work if you don’t, or if you cheat yourself by not fully committing.

If you are desperate enough to be healed, like I was, you will be willing to change your lifestyle.  And that’s what this will cost you- your lifestyle.  But not your life.

How to Be Cured of Eczema

1)     Completely cut out sugar from your diet, except for fruits in their whole form.  That means no fruit juice.  That means no yogurt (which is loaded with sugar.)  Instead, eat at least three servings of fruit everyday: bananas, oranges, apples, and grapes are the easiest and cheapest way to go.  You need the healthy sugar from the fruit with the fiber from the fruit.

This is the exact cilantro/chlorella extract I used.

2)     Completely cut out unnecessary metals from your body.  If you have metal fillings in your teeth, get them taken out.  (I even had to switch to a ceramic wedding ring.) If you have cartilage piercings, remove them.  Stop eating shellfish (shrimp, scallops, lobster, etc.), which have high levels of heavy metals.

3)     Sweat as much as possible.  If you have access to a sauna, take advantage of it.  If not, do plenty of outdoor exercise.  If nothing else, sunbathe.  Sweat helps remove the toxins from your body that sustain the eczema.

4)     Eat lots of chlorella (seaweed extract) and cilantro.  These both help your body to extract the poisons in your body that feed the eczema. I used a heavy metal detox like this one.

5)     Read these other articles I’ve written which explain more about why the first four steps are so important:

The Shell Diet

healthnutshell: The Unholy Trinity of Food

healthnutshell: A Tablespoon of Sugar or a Cigarette

healthnutshell: No Pork on My Fork

You should start seeing results by the third week.  It took me about seven months for my body to be fully removed of my eczema.  And if you go back to your old lifestyle, (not following my 5 steps) your eczema will return.  You have been chosen to live a different lifestyle; you have to accept it.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, or stories you have for me.  Remember, I’m not a doctor.  Just someone who’s been where you are and wants this good news of hope to be spread.  There is a cure.

Contact me by email: nickshell1983@hotmail.com

 

Wake Up, Get Going, Run Hard, Wind Down, Shut Off, Repeat

There is something comforting in routine.

Most of us participate in some sort of daily routine that guides along our bodies and minds throughout each 24 hour period.  First, we get stimulated with coffee, tea, a hearty breakfast, or even just by reading the newest daily articles on MSN or our favorite online author.  The day hasn’t officially begun until we have done whatever it takes to “wake up”.  I know on any given day, I’m no good until I’ve been awake for 90 minutes- until then, I’m just a Sayid zombie.

Once we are in gear, we spend most of the daylight hours doing our thing.  Being active in body and mind.  Good stress hopefully more than bad.  Often the part of the day where hours seem to pass the quickest, since this is typically the busiest time. 

But then, as we approach the final work hour of the day, we begin reaching for the towel- the towel to throw in, and call it a day.  This begins the “wind down” phase where we start becoming less active.  By the time we get home from work, we’re ready for whatever it is that helps us to drift off just a little, to wander out of our “active mode”. 

Mindless TV, playing on the Internet, a halfway nap, a walk outside, a beverage of choice- something to signify to ourselves- “I’ve still got stuff to do, but I’m at my own pace now”.  Then we do whatever we want to do (along with most whatever those we live with want to do). 

A few (or several) hours later, we’re asleep.  Then we start it over the next morning.

This is nothing groundbreaking, as we are all obviously familiar with the routine of an average weekday.  But for me, it’s interesting to see this typed out in front of me.  It shows me though a routine often symbolizes monotony, routine also keeps this interesting and different.

To imagine a typical weekday without our “wake up” and “wind down” devices…

Just to wake up, fully alert, and remain that way all day until we go to bed and instantly fall asleep.  No coffee.  No playing on the Internet or reading.  Nothing to float us through the mundane parts of the day. 

Nothing superficial to push us or jerk us in the right direction or up to the necessary speed. 

We rely on routine.  We rely on vices.  Routine helps our lives from becoming too routine.