Friday, February 7, 2014

'Weighing in' on the Biggest Loser controversy

There has been a lot of hype going around the last couple days about Rachel Frederickson, the winner season 15 of The Biggest Loser who dropped from 260 pounds to 105 -- a 60% loss. I thought I'd "weigh in" on the subject (pardon the pun).

I've been a fairly religious watcher ... it even became a Saturday morning roommate tradition for a few years. For some reason though, this is probably the first season in the last few years that I haven't followed the show. So it came as quite a surprise when my Facebook feed was flooded with so much hate and disgust over the winner's unusually large percentage of weight loss.

I've seen the pictures. I've watched clips. I've noticed the extreme transformation. And yes, it was quite startling. Rachel looks very, very thin. And different pictures and angles make her look thinner than others. Many people are taking a stance against The Biggest Loser, saying that the money is causing contestants to go to extreme -- even unhealthy -- measures as they vie for the ultimate title and $250,000 cash prize. This may be and possibly is quite true.

However, the negative reaction that thousands have expressed via twitter, blogs, Facebook, etc. needs to be reconsidered.

Rachel is a 24-year-old woman who has struggled with her weight and has no doubt been ridiculed for it. Now here she is, in the spotlight, having spent weeks showing more of her body on one of the most-watched tv shows in the nation than she probably has ever shown to even her best friends, only to end up in a very different, but almost exact same situation she was in before: the subject of criticism, hate and bullying.

Now I know that I'm no saint and many of you are probably thinking, "Where does Cameron get off writing a post against being judgmental." But it breaks my heart to see someone who has worked so hard for something they want so badly receive so much hate. I am sad to see so many of my own friends (especially so many who constantly post things against bullying) express not just concern, but hate and disgust at another human being who has done nothing to anyone! She's a real person, not just a fictional character than is tailored to hate or love. She will most likely have body image issues for the rest of her life, and the sudden flood of tweets and posts criticizing her body is the last thing she needs. People have taken to saying she needs professional help. I'd venture to say that her need for help more likely stems from the public's perception of her than from an eating disorder.

I can only imagine the thoughts running through her mind: "Will the taunting ever end?" "Will I ever be good enough?" "Just when I thought I was pretty..." "Can I ever be happy?" "I thought I was doing so well." "And they said that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." "I thought this would solve so many problems, not create more." "Why do I have to be me?"

 If Rachel did indeed lose the last chunk of weight in an unhealthy manner, then that is for her to deal with. She doesn't need a nation harping on her for it.

Now to finally get off my imaginary soap box, I'll end with this: As someone who is not now, never has been, and probably never will be stick thin -- someone who has much skinny envy and who is an easy candidate for the call-the-skinny-kid-anorexic train -- I think we should stop the skinny shaming and show support to someone who has just done something miraculous through a lot of hard work. Be skeptical and utilize your freedom of speech, but do so in a respectful manner. I hope that she will be able to develop a tough skin and make it through this time that should have been full of joy, self gratification and pride. I applaud you Rachel. Congratulations.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

goodbye goldilocks -- why i cut my hair

I made a goal this year—a New Year's resolution if you will. I wanted to do something that would shock everyone who knows me—something nobody thinks I would actually go through with. I'm not talking about the random Facebook friends who I occasionally stalk from time to time. I wanted to shock the people that know all my insecurities and who I really am. Little did I know that this resolution would turn into something far greater—a time for self-reflection and a catalyst for change. 

Doing something shock worthy may seem like a silly goal to set, but I have a history of saying and doing the unexpected. I verbalize what everybody else thinks but is too afraid to say. I'm that guy.

Example? A few months ago my cousin Rikki got married. Her dad, Dale, is Hawaiian and, as is tradition in Polynesian weddings, a dance was performed. At the reception Dale introduced a "traditional Hawaiian dance," customary at the first wedding in a family. My uncle is quite unconventional, and that traditional dance turned into him, his two brothers and me performing a full-costumed choreographed dance (courtesy of Wayne's World 2) to the YMCA by the Village People. Naturally I end up as the leather-clad biker. I found out post-performance that my mother turned to my date during the dance and said, "I'm just glad he didn't start stripping." So that's me—the guy whose mother is relieved when he sticks to plan without too much inappropriate improvisation. If you care to scar yourself and see the performance, complete with my gyrating Shakira birthing hips, click here.

Well, as is the norm for me, I digress. I apologize. Back to business—I think I get a high out of people's reactions; maybe I just want attention. It probably isn't the best thing, I know, but it is what it is and I am who I am. No apologies for that.

So what do I choose for Cam's most shockable moment? I buzzed my hair off. For those who have no idea who I am, it is no secret that I love my hair. I'm a bit cocky about it, but you know what? God didn't bless me with a size 32 waist or skin that belongs on a Neutrogena campaign, but by golly did He bless me with great hair! That being said, cutting my hair is 100% something that nobody would believe I would actually do.

And that's what originally prompted me to buzz off my hair. As I said before, it quickly transformed into something much more. This depthless resolution resulted in a time of self-reflection on who I am and what should matter to me.

I made the decision, but I started to get cold feet. The thought of cutting my hair was scary. Really, really scary. I've had the same haircut, or variations of it, for nearly four years now—long on the top and short on the sides. Yes, I'll call myself hipster (this once) and say that I was doing it before it was cool. But really, I was.

Understand that growing up I was the token fat kid. It's funny, but it's the truth. Wearing a size 42 pant in high school was not the easiest thing for an awkward pimply-faced teenager who just wanted to be cool. With my size came a lot of self-confidence issues. And even as I have thinned out and toned up, many of those issues still linger. I recognize that I have become more attractive, but at times it felt that much of that has been because of my hair. The compliments I received because of my hair gave me reason to believe that I was worth something and that I might have some aesthetic value in this world. My hair was defining me. It was my source of worth. It was my crutch. I was my hair. So much so that I was scared of feeling, no, being unattractive without it.

I realized that with much of my identity tied to my hair, getting rid of it would essentially mean that I was giving up a part of me. People know me as "the guy with the hair."  People know me, well, I guess I should say knew me as "the guy with the hair." I even recently found out that a couple friends from church referred to me as Ken Doll before they knew me. I liked having that reputation; it made me feel like a somebody.

Once I realized how dependent I was on my hair, I decided (slowly and nervously, mind you) that it was finally time to change. 2014 is my year for self-improvement—not just in my physical appearance but in my attitude and in my perception of myself. I am turning my life around and chopping my hair off is the step I have decided to take to start fresh. 

And now that it is no longer there, I am taking this time to learn that I am not my hair. It does not define me. And though it has many redeeming qualities, it is not what makes me the person that people love and find attractive. I have so many more qualities that give me aesthetic value to this world, both internal and external. It's time for me to realize that myself. 

My hair will grow back; I am fully planning (and counting) on that. But upon its return, I will know that it is just an accessory that simply accentuates and magnifies the great man I already am. I will know that I am not my hair.

~ Cam

Monday, January 6, 2014

new year, new blog, new me

It's a new year and I'm excited. Well kind of. I'm sort of nervous at the same time. I decided that this year I'm going to make some serious changes.

I've grown up making New Year's resolutions, but I've never really taken them too seriously. The first Sunday of every year my family would have our weekly family night and the lesson was guaranteed to end up being the "let's all make New Year's resolutions" lesson.

With all those years of resolution making, you'd think that I'd be a master at making resolutions. Truth is, I'm not. Every year, though I expect the annual making of the resolutions, I never seem to think about them until the moment arrives. And let's face it, making yearly goals on the spot isn't going to result in the the best or most well-thought-out resolutions. This year I started thinking early, and I think I've come up with pretty durn good (It Takes Two reference, anyone?) list!

My first New Year's resolution is to start a new blog, ergo this post. I've blogged before and I loved it. But I fell out of habit and haven't blogged in over two years. So here we go again with a fresh new start! I'm aiming at at least two posts a week: one that is more life to life and one that is more thought provoking. But who knows... this may end up being something more. It'd be sweet to turn it into something more like an online magazine with several different categories. I love magazine design and see a lot of online magazines, wishing I were doing something like that. Well maybe this is the jumpstart I need to just throw all inhibitions in the trash and make magic happen.

So here it goes. I realize my resolutions may be verging along the lines of a bucket list, but they're goals in my mind and I want to make them happen this year!

  • Do something that will shock everyone who really knows me (Post on that tomorrow!!!)
  • Take the GMAT
  • Apply to business school
  • Go the month of January with no sugar
  • Go to New York
  • See a Broadway play (preferably Mamma Mia)
  • Completely pay off one student loan
  • Run a half marathon (I've done a 10K and loved it; time to kick it up a notch)
  • See the Britney Spears show in Las Vegas (I understand the disgust of all you haters out there, but she was my first true love back in 6th grade and I will hold true to her!)
  • Learn to play the guitar (I've attempted for a couple weeks before, but I want to make it happen for reals this time!)
  • Write poems
  • Learn to use a sewing machine
  • Host more dinner parties
  • Cook more fine foods (Julia Child's Art of French Cooking here I come!)
  • Have more confidence (two good things must be said about myself for every negative)
  • Think skinny (sorry, there's gotta be at least one weight loss-oriented resolution)

There it is! 2014 here I come. I've got a feeling that we're going to be great friends.