Be Your Own Cheer Squad

I was reading Pasta Queen’s excellent "Ask A Loser" entry yesterday and one of her commenters posted a link to a blog called The Skinny Website, wherein an intellectual discussion was taking place about a photograph of Star Jones and her Hideous Arm Flab.

I have no idea who the bloody hell Star Jones is, but Wikipedia tells me she’s an American lass on the telly who was once rather large but lost 100lb. It doesn’t really matter who she is because this entry is about the arm flab, or rather people’s reaction to it.

A few choice (unedited) comments from the Skinny blog:

"ew she is sooooo fugly!! the hanging skin is really discusting"

"she is the example of why people shouldn’t get very fat in the first place (put down the cake star). you will never get your old body back without seriuos surgery, that flabby skin is just NASTY"

"Why on earth would she wear a dress like that with her arms flapping in breeze? Disgusting. What’s the point of losing all that weight… when she looks so gross with all the left-over, floppy skin?"

The purpose of the site is to discuss the rise and fall of celebrity weights, and that’s fine by me. It’s not something I want to be involved with, but it’s a big ol’ internet with plenty of room for everyone and all their niche interests. And it appears there’s many folks wanting to weigh in on burning issues such as, Does Victoria Beckham look skinnier this week, does Geri Halliwell have nice legs or not, and does Rhianna look nice in her new bikini?

No matter how gaunt or gigantic the celeb happens to be, some commenter will say she’s too fat, another will say she’s too skinny, or her hair is shite or her thighs are too big for her torso or she’s just plain fugly. You can’t please anyone.

What is my point here? I do have one, I swear. I was looking at the photo of Star Jones’ arm flab and all the horrified comments and cacked myself laughing.

"If that’s what they think of the Star Arms," I thought, "What would they think of mine?"

You may recall I spent a good few years being completely paranoid about my arms. In the early days I referred to them as giant pillows spewing out of my shoulder sockets. Then they were known as the Boeing 747 arms. Then I was hysterical when I could only find a sleeveless wedding dress in 2005 and even more hysterical when my giant arms were displayed to the nation in Grazia magazine.

But then last year I granted myself the Right to Bare Arms. Five years of weight training had bossed them into far better shape than I ever imagined possible. This year they’ve got even better. Actually to be honest, the real turning point was when I was standing in the change rooms at Zara in a sleeveless dress, whinging about my mega arms and my sister Rhiannon screamed at me, "Shauna. Get over your fucking arms!"

So I am at peace with them now, you see? I am actually proud of them, how they stayed faithfully by my side, adapting and changing despite those years of abuse.

But back to Star Jones. I realised that although I may be happy with my arms and all their imperfections, there are giant packs of bitches out there that would find them horrific. They would be hacking at them with knives. They would cross the road if they saw me sleeveless on the street.

It drove home to me, yet again, that you have to be your own cheer squad. You need to be your own biggest fan. You have to set your own standards and work hard to impress yourself. It is pointless comparing you and your body and your abilities to someone else’s. Someone is always going to be thinner/prettier/fitter. Someone is always going to look at you and think you’re hideous. It makes much more sense to compare yourself now to where you’ve been or where you want to go next.

If I’d seen that Star Jones Arm Flab pic three years ago I would have had the same first thought as I did yesterday, "If that’s what they think of the Star Arms, what would they think of mine?". But instead of laughing about it I would have seriously bawled my eyes out. And put on three jackets and Groucho glasses before I dared venture into public.

But these days I have finally reached a point where I honestly do not give a toss about what anyone thinks about my body except for me. I’m happy with how it looks and what it can do in all its dimpled imperfect glory. All the healthy eating and trips to the gym are for my own selfish enjoyment, not to make my body less unpleasant for the masses.

And if anyone started poking fun at my arms now, I would happily tell them to rack off… then flap my big arms and fly far, far away!

42 thoughts on “Be Your Own Cheer Squad

  1. You are so right about being your own cheer squad! I was just watching an episode of “Oprah” about a new book/dvd called “The Secret” and this is one of the things said. If we don’t love ourselves and blow our own trumpet then why should anyone else? You are doing amazingly well and are, as always, an inspiration.

  2. I think the reason people are picking on Star Jones’ arms is not b/c they are flabby or bad or whatever they said but b/c she is not a very likable person. I don’t follow her or watch her talk show but don’t think she is liked in America. So it is more their dislike for her than really about her arms. I could be wrong but I don’t think people think much of her…

  3. I can SO relate! I’m well known in my blog circle for describing my upper arms as “tavern hams.” While I still have a few issues with the arms, I have learned to be kinder to them and to the rest of my body. They do the best they can working and accomplishing what I need done. They can’t help it I’ve inflated and now deflated the skin surrounding them. More and more I view them as my battle scars, badges of honor, a road map of where I’ve come from. And if some snarky little b*tches don’t like it and find it disgusting, then I may just swing my arms at them and send them flying out of the room!

  4. I can always count on your posts to inspire. Look at how are you’ve come with your confidence – amazing! Next time I’m having a low day, or hear the girl in the change room next to me ask the attendant for a size 4, I intend to remind myself how ridiculous it is to make comparisons.

  5. whoohooo!I am finally all caught up! And what a great entry to finish up on! I wonder what all those bitches would say if they were to analyze themselves…I think it is much easier for some to take out their issues on other people. I on the other hand have too much empathy and am very quick to criticize myself before someone else. Why can’t we all just love each other and ourselves?

    Glad to be back! And finally in the present…not that archives arn’t fun, but I was back in last spring, this current spring thinking how did I get so far behind?!?! And now my bloglines can go to just current new entries!

  6. Simply a wonderful post, Shauna, so full of positive energy. We here in plateau-land sure need that today! Thanks!

  7. Eek, I was just thinking about the state of my arms last night and how they are going to be when I get where I want to by weight-wise…By the way, Ellen is right, I think people don’t like Star Jones here because she has been described as kind of abrasive and demanding in the press here, so they just find anything about her appearance to insult 🙂

  8. I find it amazing that people are so open in their criticism of others – perhaps its because I have been fat (am fat). Shame that people can’t see the positives and say – well she’s lost loads of weight and is looking good -the arms will tone up in time….but I guess when looking at ‘celbs’ people don’t remember to be kind. Its proof that everone has their own iedas of what looks good, so the only answer is to be happy with youself – whatever size you are, and ignore what other people think – easier said than done.

  9. You hit the nail on the head.
    I was amazed at the reports yeaterday that 98% of a magazine survey responded that size 12 was fat. The world is a strange place. We can only please ourselves.

  10. The thing that annoys me the most about these folks that pick apart every woman that they see is that the standard they are comparing them to is a 20 year old GIRL’s body. There is no way to make a 42 year old (me, I’m 42) look like a 20 year old I don’t care how much you exercise, etc.

    Star Jones is one of those people who (my opinion) looked better with a little bit of weight on her… but she kept going till now her body is so skinny that it makes her head look huge!

  11. I clicked on the link too and was horrified not by Star’s arm flab but that “giant pack of bitches” as you put it so well. The people commenting on that article were like the bizarro versions of all the people who comment on the weight loss blogs. We always congratulate each other and remind ourselves of how awesome everyone is, whereas they seemed intent on ripping on people and telling them how awful they were.

    And yeah, everyone in the US hates Star Jones. I know Mopie’s blog, Big Fat Deal, frequentlychronicles the Star Jones hate.

  12. Shauna,
    You are just the best! I love this post and it is just sooooo true. Always there will be someone worse off or better off. I think some poem or quotation someone gave me once said “Don’t compare yourself to others, there will always been people better and people worse so you will be bitter and vain at the same time” or something to that effect. I am sure it may sound familiar to some.

    I love how you can be so gorgeous in your new hard earned fit body and yet be so humble about it all. You are my hero!

  13. Wow-as usual, you said it so well!! I especially love the line “All the healthy eating and trips to the gym are for my own selfish enjoyment, not to make my body less unpleasant for the masses”. It took me a long time to not feel bad about spending my time doing healthy activities instead of a million other things (i.e. dissertation, spending time with family, work etc.) I tell my patients all the time that its not bad to be “selfish” sometimes, but like so many things, its so much easier to tell others things than to take one’s own advice. Thanks for the reminder!!

  14. Wow-as usual, you said it so well!! I especially love the line “All the healthy eating and trips to the gym are for my own selfish enjoyment, not to make my body less unpleasant for the masses”. It took me a long time to not feel bad about spending my time doing healthy activities instead of a million other things (i.e. dissertation, spending time with family, work etc.) I tell my patients all the time that its not bad to be “selfish” sometimes, but like so many things, its so much easier to tell others things than to take one’s own advice. Thanks for the reminder!!

  15. “Someone is always going to look at you and think you’re hideous.”

    LOL. That may not be a sentiment that bolsters my self-esteem. I look forward to one day feeling confident enough that I don’t need to edit my appearance for the sake of others.


  17. Shauna, what an abolustely bloody brilliant post. You’ve got it so right -it’s all about YOU!!!! and if you like you then that’s really all that matters. This was a post for successful and struggling weightlosers everywhere. Thank you!!!

  18. I had read that in “The Secret” that people (who want to lose weight) are advised to avert their eyes if they see a fat person and to focus on their own best weight. Yes, according to Rhonda, the mere sight of a fat arm would be enough to make your own puff way out. Can you say big contribution to my paranoia? Yikes!

  19. Is it sad that I don’t even notice my arms? When I’m naked that really isn’t the first thing I look at.. I’m more worried about the hangy belly than the flappy arms! Thank you so much for talking about comparisons, I think we (or at least I do) get so caught up on how I want others to view me that I lose sight of the true goal, to get healthy and whole!

  20. How bored must people be to spend their time on a web site discussing someone’s flabby arms and Posh Spice’s weight? I’d much rather have flabby arms and an interesting life!

  21. That site in general is pretty depressing in terms of people hanging on the next celeb photo to pick to pieces. Possibly what staggered was the ridicule of Jennifer Love Hewit after her ‘massive weight gain’ (I’m more concerned about her choice of shoes o_0), and Uma Thurman’s ‘thunder thighs’. Still nowhere near as horrific as a comment I saw on the Tyra Banks video that said, “Lindsay Lohan is anorexic, and hotter than ever. Girls, take heed! Throw up, and you will be hot too!” O_O

    Ed. Marshy, I just removed the links to the site from your comment, no offense to yourself of course, just that I’d rather not add to their google juice!

  22. I loved your post, dearest!

    So, so true.

    You have another number 1 fan who kissed, tickled and dried gently the ‘dimpled perfect glory’ of a baby body many years ago. I thought you were the best thing then and still do. Love you heaps!!!!


  23. Well, no matter how horrid the woman may be, the cows who left those comments are far worse. Not one of them showed the slightest sign of compassion, humour or even a glimmer of intelligence. How can people like that even stand their own company?

    And awwww, your Mum’s so sweet! Her comment brought a tear to me eye, it did – that’s just how I feel about my kids. But then, they ARE perfect.

  24. Hi, I love your blog! I’ve been reading it for quite a while, but this is my first time posting. This post inspired me to leave a comment, bc I can definitely relate.

    First of all, I’m ashamed to admit it, but I frequently visit that website, and even though I don’t approve and don’t agree with a lot of the comments and psycho criticism of celeb weights, I read it bc I find it interesting. I guess it’s part of the diet obssession that I’ve had over the past 6 years.

    Another reason I can relate is bc I’m in the entertainment industry in Asia, where there’s tons of pressure about weight and the weight standards in Asia are even stricter than in the Western world. I used to be heavier (never officially overweight, but at a borderline BMI). In high school I was 135 and 5’3″, and when I went to college in fall 2001, I lost 30 lbs, but regained 15 lbs over the course of 3-4 years. Since entering the entertainment industry, I’ve dieted down to a steady 104-108 lb range, but I still get tons of criticism on being too fat. I see forum posts about me, and they say the meanest things…like how they lost their appetite seeing me on tv bc I was just SO FAT. Anyways, I know that I’m not fat health-wise, but someone’s always going to criticize. I just think to myself, “Imagine if they saw me BEFORE the weight loss when I was 135.”

    Well, I just thought your post was really interesting and wanted to contribute from an insider perspective.

  25. Awwwwwww thanks Mothership!

    And thanks everyone for all your insightful comments!

    I won’t say anything about the Secret coz just thinking about it makes steam come out of my ears.

    and i, thanks for your comment! that is a real eye opener…

  26. Where is it written that the public is entitled to only see pretty people? Where is it written that the old, the fat the crippled, and the otherwise unattractive should stay home (and who would support them if they did?)? All anyone owes the public, or the masses as you call them, is good hygiene and good manners. Frankly, we’re lucky when we get that.

  27. Yep, I’ve accepted that there are four parts that will always look rather odd – my upper arms, my inner thighs, that loose tummy skin and my saggybaggy boobs.
    Who cares! I’m fit, healthy and I look pretty damn hot.

  28. Hello Dietgirl

    You are right on the money with your comments. Good for you for saying what we all need to feel – to be our own cheerleaders. Some of us have a long way to go.

    Love the blog. And thanks for telling us who Star Jones is. I keep seeing her name and picture in gossip blogs but have no idea who she is. Well, I do now!

    Mrs Lard xxx

  29. Oh, DG. People can be so SO vile! Dumb-bots. And I love your response here – so wonderfully eloquent.

    Back in the olden days, when I was 19 , I was in a (cough) McDonald’s and some schoolgirls behind me were going “Eeeeuuwwww! Is she going to eat another burger? How could she wear that skirt? Doesn’t she know how HUGE her thighs are?” etc, etc.

    Looking around for the clap of thunder thighs, I realised they were all looking directly at and talking about ME. Until then I’d never had an issue about my legs being “too big” (I realise now they were fine). I went home, cried, and honestly wore ankle-skimming skirts for all of 1995. So I blame them for a year’s worth of fashion disaster! Skanky wenches!

  30. I used to hate my arms too, it’s the first part that gains weight on me, around the triceps area and even when I’m lean my arms are just big. In England I used to go to a really posh gym, full of posh ladies that like to cycle a bit then head down the bar (you had to walk through the bar and cinema to get to the gym.. but I digress). One day a heavily made up woman literally grabbed my arm and said ‘Oh my god, look at your arms, I want arms like yours.. LUCYYYY, come and look at this lassies arms!’ And then she said ‘are you a boxer?’ Heh. So, I look like I could really pack a punch. That’s not a BAD thing after all.

  31. Hi DG,

    It’s “i” again. It’s funny bc today yet another incident made me think of your post. We have a new agent in my management company who took me on a casting today (I’m NOT a model by the way), and out of nowhere, he says, “your body is really like an American body, huh? It’s all meaty all over…” then he proceeded in squeezing my upper arm/shoulder like I’m some sort of cow. This is like 3 min right before I have to go take pictures, too! when I got home, I just started crying hysterically, until I remembered your post and came on to read it. It’s just sad how it really begins to mess with one’s mind after a while. I don’t understand how someone can be considered underweight by a doctor, yet be poked and prodded and called meaty and fat all the time. Well, when I can’t take it anymore I’ll change careers.

  32. “If that’s what they think of the Star Arms,” I thought, “What would they think of mine?”

    That’s what I was just thinking!! I may have lost 30kgs and exercise regularly but I don’t look like what people “expect” me to look like now. I still look a little weighty and yep, my arms flap and I have a wobbly ass and thighs. But you’re right, I am the same…getting better with toning!

    You are a legend Shauna and I reckon you’ve got such a great realist attitude. Cheers to laughing about it!

    Some women have nothing better to do than shit on anyone trying to do something good for themselves. Sure she has falppy skin now but she is at less risk of a heart attack and any other risk more prone to being overweight. That’s something to be commended for.

    We can either look at the positive or negative. I personally prefer positive. There is too much serious shit going on in the world to worry about how someone’s flappy skin looks!

    Now you got me fired up…

    PS. Note, my blog URL has changed. I stuffed up and can’t get healthbites back 🙁

  33. Just found your blog via the Oprah website. You are me! Same height. Started about 18months ago at 121.3kg – now 99 – and working on it – a slow journey but getting there. And I now bare my arms – 5 times a week at the gym means my arms don’t scare me now!

  34. Arms? Arms?! You had to talk about arms?!?!?!?!!!!


    My weak spot (‘xcuse the pun)…

    No matter what I do or will do, my arms will be nothing but batwongs. It is not about toning, it is about excess skin resembling a street map!

    But I do remember the days I did not feel as insecure as I do now, and although part of the 17 kilos between now and then that still lived in my body were making the arms bigger but fuller (so the skin were not as bad), I remember wearing singlets and tank tops with pride and joy, because of my beautiful shoulders and my flabby arms that had gone from 130 kilos to 90 and I just wanted to show them off!

    (The only prerequisite to wear a tank top then was just how tanned I was)

    You are so right Shauna mou.

    If we don’t radiate our worth and value, if we do not promote ourselves, noone will be pursuaded to do so!

    But then…arms???!?!?!

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