Archive for April, 2006

Do you know the ‘muffin top’?

Yes, the muffin top – yumm, you think: that delicious, flavorful topper, the pastry overflow, cascading down your warm, sweet, morning bun?  Well, of course, yumm….but guess again.   NB: and for you Seinfeld know-it-alls out there, it’s not about those muffin tops!

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While playing catch up in a recent phone chat with a fellow mom-friend of mine, I came across an apt description of what many of us baby birthers (but not limited to) have come to live with: the Muffin Top.  Yes, the muffin top.  4notes.gif“Do you know the muffin top, the muffin top, the muffin top…he lives on top of your hips”.  Apparently the newest name given to that excess, bulging fat and floppy skin, oozing over from your trendy low rise, hip hugger pants is known to many as a ‘muffin top’!  Close your eyes, imagine…(or just lift up your shirt and look south). Yikes.

My funloving Australian friend had me in giggles when she described this nouveau body terminology – which I assume may be part of the daily jargon ‘Down Under’ – or it’s been around for a while and I just never knew that there was such an innocent a term for such a heinous a sight.  According to some bloggers out there, apparently the New York Daily News coined the term last summer muffintop.jpg(photo on left, courtesy of NYDN), for something many before us also referred to as the ‘spare tire’, afflicting both genders of society.  Sadly, we both admitted the horrid reality of this unsightly and vivid visual lurking beneath. 

But why are they so visible and noticeable now?  Is it a result of the new fashion trends, where pants and jeans are worn below the waist, coupled with body hugging mini T-shirts made of 2% cotton/98% spandex, which just refuse to stay down, rolling upwards and exposing the muffin top?  Would there even be a muffin top if we wore waisted clothing?  Or is it just accentuating a health concern which potentially afflicts many post-30, post-baby delivery women?  I know it has thrown me in an agonizing state off and on, until I finally felt I should try to get ‘fit’ again, time and effort permitting.  Motivating factor: primarily, to get rid of the ‘top’ and also to improve my long term cardiovascular health, which I’m sure was also going down-muffin, err, hill as I aged.

My first thought on trying to get rid of of that horrible visual, was to do ab work, sit ups, crunches, leg lifts, pilates – you name it.  All of that does help, naturally. But after starting a short one hour (better than nothing) weekly workout at a no frills, home grown, ‘Mom’s Gym’, as it is called, I learned from the instructors that while toning is key, the more important thing is to actually burn the fat away, and cardio workouts are the main ingredient for that. 

Apparently, according to the medical experts, women tend to have more fat bulges on their sides as that is where fat cells tend to mutate because of the estrogen levels in womens’ bodies.  According to the American Heart Association (AHA), elevated waist circumference equal to or greater than 35 inches is one of three components which characterize something called Metabolic Syndrome.  While men are more likely to have heart attacks, the risk for women increases with age – where more than 60% of total stroke deaths occur in women.  The AHA reports that:

Nearly twice as many women in the United States die of heart disease and stroke as from all forms of cancer, including breast cancer.

The American Heart Association has identified several factors that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The more risk factors a woman has, the greater her risk of a heart attack or stroke. Some of these risk factors you can’t control, such as increasing age, family health history, and race and gender. But you can modify, treat or control most risk factors to lower your risk.

Some illuminating and grim statistics to think about:

From the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

Link to article: The Heart Truth About Heart Disease and Risk Factors

  • Heart disease is the # 1 killer of American women.
  • 1 in every 3 women dies of heart disease, 1 in 30 dies from breast cancer.
  • Nearly two-thirds of American women who die suddenly of a heart attack had no prior symptoms.
  • Americans can lower their risk of heart disease by as much as 82% just by leading a healthy lifestyle.

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MoMA’s ‘Without Boundary’, Without Politics?…more commentary

I had posted earlier (previous entry) on this show's opening and some initial reactions.  The following offers the views of two of the participating artists and how they feel about the current exhibition and how it is not in the least making any political reference or comment on how religion and society have affected the artists and their artistic product.  It is uncustomary for an exhibited artist to publicly criticize or air apparent disappointment towards the art show they are part of, but so was the case for at least two of the show's artists.  The New York Observer published the following:

Without Boundary is the most important exhibit MoMA has launched in at least a decade, and it’s the first exhibition of contemporary art from the Islamic world in a major American museum since 9/11. The show features 14 artists from Islamic countries, an Indian born to Muslim parents, and two Americans (Mike Kelley and Bill Viola were added late in the show’s development). Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Turkey and Pakistan are represented in the exhibition, though nearly all of the artists from those countries now primarily work in the West. The exhibition is a reminder of the difficulties that museums face when it comes to merging—or not—art and politics.

“My immediate reaction was, how could anyone today discuss art made by contemporary Muslim artists and not speak about the role the subjects of religion and contemporary politics play in the artists’ minds?” Ms. Neshat said. “For some of us, our art is interconnected to the development of our personal lives, which have been controlled and defined by politics and governments. Some artists, including Marjane Satrapi and myself, are ‘exiled’ from our country because of the problematic and controversial nature of our work.”

Ms. Neshat is right: Many of the artists in the show have addressed the exilic condition and geopolitics in their art, but you wouldn’t know that from Without Boundary. There’s not a single reference in the show to the United States being at war in two Muslim countries, to its running intelligence operations in others, to its “war” against an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organization, or to how the civil liberties of many Muslims have been affected by the governmental response to 9/11. Without Boundary often seems more a product of RISD than Ramallah.

The two artists, Shirin Neshat and Emily Jacir have spoken out:

That artists included in a show at the Museum of Modern Art would speak out against that show is highly unusual. MoMA is the most powerful art museum in the world, and the pressure from gallerists and collectors to not criticize the museum is intense. Outspokenness can hurt relationships that could lead to important sales or inclusion in exhibitions. For Ms. Neshat and Ms. Jacir to be willing to speak out is an indication of the complicated politics involved in this kind of show—and of how the show’s apolitical nature has frustrated its artists.

You can read the complete article in the New York Observer here.

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