Posts Tagged ‘Physical Appearance’

R.I.P. Peter Shaw (1939-2010)

I still can’t believe my father passed away on March 2nd. Every morning, I wake up thinking that maybe it was all a terrible dream – it can’t be real. But it is real. It was so sudden, and came with little warning.

He had been recovering from a moderate stroke, but in the end, it wasn’t the stroke that did him in – he had an abdominal aneurysm. A blood vessel’s lining was thinning and burst. My father was internally bleeding to death. Thinking about my father suffering so much is unbearable for me. But at the same time, it shows you how strong he was.

The surgeon said that most people who have aneurysms like my dad don’t even make it to the hospital alive even if they call the ambulance immediately! But, of course, my dad was a fighter ’til the very end – he lasted about 8 hours. He’s so incredible, and even though he’s ‘gone’, he’s still teaching me new things.

New Things My Father Taught Me

Souls Really Do Exist

He was a really religious man who took great pride in being a Catholic. On many occasions he’d talk to me about faith and God. And I remember him telling me that the body is just on loan from God – it’s like a shell we borrow and we have to take good care of it because it’s not really ours.

I believed what my father said, but it was only when I saw my father’s body in the emergency-room operating table and then again at the funeral-home visitation that it really hit me. It’s hard to describe, but even though I was looking at my father, it wasn’t my father. Something was off.

I realized that my father was right when he said that the soul leaves the body when you pass away.

The body is nothing more than a shell. The soul is what gives a person that spark and personality. And then it made me think about how when we look at each other, it’s not actually the physical appearance we see. I mean, yeah, we notice a person’s build and hair colour, but when they’re gone, even those don’t look quite the same anymore.

When we look at one another, I now believe we see the soul. We just don’t realize it until the soul leaves.

Scientists and religious scholars may have struggled for centuries to prove that a soul exists. Naysayers can argue otherwise, but because of my experience, I will always know in my heart that souls really do exist. And it’s a comforting thought.

When Someone Dies, You Don’t Actually Lose Them

It’s become pretty common to say, “Sorry for your loss” to express your sincere condolences to the devastated family. I never gave it more thought until recently.

I realized that I didn’t actually lose my father. I found him. Where? I found him at the place where he’s always been – my heart. And there he will always be.

In an upcoming blog post, I’m going to share the eulogy I wrote (and read at the funeral-home visitation). It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write because nothing I said could ever do him justice. But I did it because he would’ve wanted me to. I’ll be sharing it because I’m proud to be Peter Shaw’s daughter and because everyone deserves to get a glimpse into this wonderful man I was blessed to call my father.

Later, I also want to share my experience when I saw my father’s urn placed in the niche at the cemetery and also all the headache regarding the myriad of legal matters you confront when a person passes away.

Please continue to say prayers for my father and my family. We need help to be strong.

Stepping up to the (Dinner) Plate: Some Food for Thought from a Feminist Turned Vegetarian

When I made the decision to become vegetarian (roughly 3 years ago), little did I know that by choosing to give up meat, I was going to fight more battles than I bargained for.

Oh, the path to vegetarianism is paved with good intentions, silly jokes, and a cold plate of prejudice. Who would’ve thought that people would care that much about what I didn’t put inside my mouth!

Let’s rewind the tape and go back to simpler, more carnivorous times, shall we? Although twig-like in stature due to a combination of high metabolism and genetics, I loved me some bacon, steak, chicken wings, and ribs. The flavour. The way it smelled. The way it padded my stomach. Oh, it was heaven!

I didn’t become vegetarian because I didn’t like the taste of meat. In fact, I was one of those people who thought that she couldn’t give up meat and questioned why anyone would. Animals are for humans to eat. How can anyone live on salad? “I love meat too much to stop eating it.”

But then a guy shared this documentary with me called Earthlings. It’s long, propagandist, and has a very comatose Joaquin Phoenix as the narrator. In Earthlings, you learn more about the role of animals, how meat production negatively affects the Earth, and how by simply eating meat, you may be subscribing to animal cruelty.

But what made me second-guess my consumption of meat was a gruesome scene of a cow being slain inhumanely as it cried out in pain. Blood rained from the beast as it was hung to die. Then there were the chickens who had their beaks cut off and who were forced to live in confined, dirty spaces that drove them to insanity as they pecked at each other and inflicted wounds. And there were plenty more hard-to-watch scenes – to this day, I still haven’t been able to watch the entire documentary because it’s so unsettling.

So I tried the gradual approach and gave up seafood first. I didn’t much care for it (except shrimp, lobster, and muscles), so I figured it was the easiest elimination. Plus, it was just a trial run to see if I could do it. It had always been my intention that if it felt like too much or if I ever felt unhealthy because of my new diet, I vowed to turn back around. But if all these celebrities could be vegetarians, then so could I.

Well, guess what? I did it, and it was way too easy. Okay, hot shot. What about chicken? Could I give up that? Did it. Easier than I thought, too. To make a long story short, the last ones on my ‘assassination’ list were beef and pork. And I felt great physically – had more energy.

But this story wouldn’t be a good story if there weren’t some villains, right? [Cue the gang]

Here are the challenges I faced:

  • Eating Out at Restaurants – Lots of my old favourite places cater to meat eaters. Finding appetizing and filling vegetarian dishes was much harder than anticipated. Most places had salad, but I’m not the type of person who considers salad a proper meal.
  • Finding Meat Alternatives – Substituting chick peas, lentils, tofu, and the like made it easy to get my protein. And I discovered Tofurkey and soy products created to imitate things like ground beef, chicken nuggets, and even bacon (believe it or not – although the ‘facon’ as I call it tastes horrid).
  • Defending Myself – Every single time I refrained from eating meat and had to tell someone that I’m a vegetarian, I’ve been poked and prodded to justify my choice. It’s not like we ask, “Why do you eat meat?” But when you’re a vegetarian, you get bombarded with questions like: “Don’t you like meat?”, “How can you get full just from eating vegetables?”, “How do you know that vegetables don’t feel pain, too?”, and (my favourite) “What’s wrong with you? You used to eat meat and were fine with it.” My abbreviated answers?
    • “I liked eating meat, but I gave it up.” Just because we like something doesn’t mean we have to continue doing it. You like ice cream, but do you have to eat it every day?
    • “I don’t just eat vegetables.” Being a vegetarian requires that you eat smart and balanced meals that may include rice, bread, noodles, pasta, etc., and not exclusively vegetables.
    • “I don’t know if vegetables feel pain.” But let me ask you something back. How do you know that the animals you’re eating don’t feel pain?
    • “There’s nothing wrong with me for wanting to cut out something that has been linked to a number of health problems and environmental issues.”
  • Cooking without Meat – Since a lot of recipes call for meat, I was forced to dig deeper and research new dishes to make. And instead of relying on meat to provide the flavour, I had to incorporate herbs and spices. Because of this, I believe I’m a much better cook than I was before. My culinary repertoire consists of a nice variety including (but not limited to) the following: shepherd’s pie, lasagna, sushi, falafels, pizza, stir fry, Pad Thai, veggie burgers, Tofurkey roasts, ‘chicken’ Parmesan, spaghetti, cannelloni, salads, cookies, brownies, and muffins. Even so, I’m still trying to test out new recipes now and then and put my own spin on them. I’m also proud to say that I make a mean veggie lasagna that even several avid meat-eaters have told me that they think it’s the best lasagna they’ve ever had! And even my dad (who will never give up meat because ‘it tastes good’) enjoys my shepherd’s pie and homemade pizzas.
  • Thanksgiving Feasts – Having a turkey at Thanksgiving is a family staple, but I have to sit out and just have my Tofurkey roast. As great as my mom makes turkey, I have to say that I look forward more to the stuffing she makes – that’s my favourite part about Thanksgiving dinner!
  • Cravings – Every now and then, I think about beef jerky, sizzling bacon, and juicy steaks. Sometimes even run-of-the-mill hot dogs at an outdoor vendor makes me salivate when before it was nothing. But I rein in the urge to backpedal. I remind myself why I became a vegetarian, and then I go make myself something yummy to eat.
  • Not Letting Other People’s Prejudice Get to Me – Some people may see my being a vegetarian as a weakness, a stupid conversion, or me just being a picky eater. Well, we all have our preferences and quirks. Some people won’t eat bread crusts. Some people pick out the olives from their pizza. Some people enjoy drinking prune juice. The world’s made up of all sorts of people.

Becoming a vegetarian might not have been the easy path for me, but I’m sticking with it (as long as I still feel healthy and happy). If holding true to your guns even when the going gets tough and standing up for what you believe in isn’t feminist and empowering, then I don’t know what is.

Celebrating Birthdays & Unbirthdays

Stopping by quickly just to say that today marks my 28th birthday.

Lots of women seem to want to cover up their real age like a crime scene. But y’know what? I’m actually proud to be another year older. And I don’t mind telling people my age. It’s nothing more than a number.

Let’s all start taking more pride in who we are, how far we’ve come along, and what we’ve accomplished.

Being older means we’ve experienced more of what life has to offer – the good, the bad, and the ugly stereotypes.

We’re all guilty at some point for putting ourselves down. On your birthday, dare to celebrate yourself, and do something special:

  • Take the day off from work to hang out with friends & family
  • Start writing a novel
  • Challenge your physical limits with rock climbing
  • Exercise your creative side with oil painting
  • Join a drawing or karate class
  • Blast your favourite song & dance naked to it in private
  • Master a new video game
  • Learn how to cook something new
  • Start reading that book you’ve always been meaning to
  • Reconnect with old buddies
  • Take a walk in the park & enjoy the fresh air (even if it’s chilly)
  • Make yourself some tea & pour it out of a teapot with 3 spouts (hehe)

And then the day after your birthday, follow up with the next item on your To-Do List. Soon you’ll see that unbirthdays are just as important as your birthday. Constantly strive to grow as a person, and make it a point whenever you can to do something positive for yourself (and others).

Megan Fox: Doing the Fox Trot & Tripping on Her Tongue

When Transformers star, Megan Fox was asked if it bothered her that people saw her more as a sex symbol than an actor, she let out this brain fart that pissed me off:

“I don’t know why someone would complain about that. That just means that the bar has been set pretty low.

People don’t expect me to do anything that’s worth watching. So I can only be an overachiever.

I think all women in Hollywood are known as sex symbols. That’s what our purpose is in this business. You’re merchandised, you’re a product. You’re sold and it’s based on sex. But that’s okay. I think women should be empowered by that, not degraded.”

Alright, so it’s okay that people expect nothing from you? And we should feel empowered to be viewed as one-dimensional people who are valued more for our physical appearance rather than intellect or talent?

Glock you, Megan!

It’s embarrassing that a woman in this day and age would make such anti-feminist remarks. It’s disappointing to find out that she’s not more than a pretty face.

Heidi Montag & Plastic Surgery: Low Self-Esteem Cuts like a Knife

People love to hate Heidi Montag (or Heidi Pratt since she is married to the most hated reality TV villain, Spencer Pratt). She’s been the butt of many cruel jokes revolving the staged ‘candid’ shots of the couple hamming it up for the paparazzi and her failed attempt at a music career. When she went under the knife, it only added fuel to the fire.

The Hills star has transformed before our very eyes. In season one, she looked sweet, bubbly, happy, and natural. Then a few seasons later, she opted for a nose job and breast implants. Then in November, she went through 10 plastic-surgery procedures in a single day and came out looking like this. (Watch the Access Hollywood interview to hear Heidi Montag speak out about her experience.)

I actually thought Heidi looked gorgeous before her surgery – she had this sparkle in her eyes that I can’t quite describe. When she smiled, her whole face smiled.

I’m also not against plastic surgery. I’ve fantasized about having breast implants someday, but threw that dream out the window because I always come back to the same conclusion: I don’t want to rely on surgery to make me happy. I want to become stronger from within and learn to accept myself as is. That is what a real feminist does – deal with hard problems instead of resorting to quick fixes. And I never want to define my happiness solely on the size of my boobs. That would just make me depressed.

Heidi Montag’s plastic surgery got me thinking about how closely a woman’s self esteem is tied to her looks. There’s a suffocating amount of pressure on us to look a certain way – fake.

Even though we know that the photos of those models have been airbrushed and even if we know that there’s nothing real about that woman, we still think, “Wow, she’s beautiful” and then pulled out the mental yardstick as we compare our physical ‘failings’ with her positive attributes. It is this process by which we gradually loathe ourselves and make it our goal to look like someone entirely different.

You could say that we learn to disrespect ourselves.

But it was something Heidi Montag said in the January 25, 2010 issue of People magazine that pissed me off and made me pity her. When asked if it worries her that people will fixate on her large breasts, she replied:

“I hope so. They better! That’s kind of the point. Sex appeal is really important and it’s not saying that you’re only sexy if you have big boobs. That’s not true at all, and honestly the way I got Spencer, I had no surgery. It was my inner beauty that he loved.”

So she wants people now to notice her because of her boobs. Lovely. So many women have fought so that we could come as far as we did since getting the right to vote. But now ignorant statements like this throw the stick in the bicycle’s spokes.

And she claims that Spencer Pratt loved her inner beauty, and that’s what he fell in love with. Well, what about Heidi? Does she also not love herself for her inner beauty? Apparently not since she was quoted as telling someone during an interview that she’d rather die than to be flat-chested. Nice.

Things like this bother me because it’s proof that women still have such problems linking their self worth with how others perceive them. Instead of being happy, you’re happy because someone else is happy.

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