The Eagle Blog

Is Mediocrity Today's Norm?

Carol Alt is a super model who recently agreed to pose nude for Playboy magazine at age 47. Part of her reasoning for the shoot is to show that it is possible to look good when you are her age, if you want to work at it.

I read a letter to the editor of the Ottawa Citizen which was from a 49 year old woman whose husband wants to buy that edition of Playboy! She had a number of points to her letter but those that jumped out at me were:

a. the reasons why the writer could not look like Carol Alt were that she can’t afford a personal trainer, she doesn’t have the willpower to eat raw food and she doesn’t want to have cosmetic surgery;
b. the fact that this is somehow sending a negative message to kids today about their self-image; and
c. why aren’t there more pictures of “real” women with flab, cellulite and stretch marks.

Where to begin?

Our society has reached a point where excellence is attacked and mediocrity celebrated … how strange is that? Our kids are not allowed to “fail” any more. They are congratulated for “taking part” and they get medals for “showing up”. Their parents apply for jobs for them … AND complain to the hiring company when little Johnny doesn’t get the job! Their parents go to the University to straighten out their professors, so they can understand that “Sally” is really smart and they should be getting better grades.

The Ottawa Citizen letter writer thinks Carol Alt showing her body in a magazine is a bad image for women, not because of the moral issue but because she doesn’t represent “real” women. My view is that she is absolutely a positive role model who is merely showing what is possible. Maybe nobody is going to be able to look like her … but if they make an effort then they may do better than if they subscribe to the couch potato theory that I can’t do anything about how I look or feel!

The writer says that she can’t get to look like Carol Alt because of money! Wow … if she is overweight it is because she eats too much … period! If she is flabby with no tone it is a good bet she does no exercise. It does not cost much money to buy a pair of runners and to walk/run do stairs, stretch, do ab exercise etc. The ONLY thing missing is the willpower, or the desire. If she chooses her body image on purpose that is her right, but why knock people who make different choices?

She suggests that magazines should show “real” women. I won’t get into the business aspects of selling magazines but I think that “real” women (and men) come in all shapes and sizes. It is their decision about how they look and they are entitled to that decision. If someone wants to invest the time and commitment to look good then more power to them … I do not consider them to be a poor role model, quite the opposite.

I think that as a society we need to start encouraging our kids to strive for excellence. There is nothing wrong with having heroes and role models who inspire us to do better, try harder and perhaps raise the bar on our own performance. We need to reward effort and success and not sugar coat failure. Life is full of wins and losses, and the losses can be great learning experiences if we use them correctly.


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10 thoughts on “Is Mediocrity Today's Norm?

  1. You have some factual errors:

    1- Carol Alt has never had plastic surgery.

    2 – She doesn’t have a trainer either – her body looks the way it does because of her diet more so than excercise.

    sk

  2. You have some factual errors:

    1- Carol Alt has never had plastic surgery.

    2 – She doesn’t have a trainer either – her body looks the way it does because of her diet more so than excercise.

    sk

  3. Wow. Pretty clueless remarks about obesity Kevin! Very unworthy, and I am disappointed.

    I guess you haven’t read anything on the topic recently, else you’d know that weight control is a far more complex topic than mere ‘willpower’.

    (No, I am not overweight. But I have read a thing or two about it).

  4. Wow. Pretty clueless remarks about obesity Kevin! Very unworthy, and I am disappointed.

    I guess you haven’t read anything on the topic recently, else you’d know that weight control is a far more complex topic than mere ‘willpower’.

    (No, I am not overweight. But I have read a thing or two about it).

  5. Hey comments … I like that.

    1. I did not suggest that Carol Alt had surgery, that was the letter write to the Citizen. I really didn’t think it worthy of comment. I love the fact that someone is willing to be “out there” at age 47!
    2. Obesity is a medical problem and requires help. Over weight is a societal problem and I stand my ground … the ONLY reaon most (almost all) people are overweight is because they consume more calories than they burn. It really is not more scientific than that. There are lots of ways to work on it .. burn more calories, increase metabolism through exercise etc or eat a more healthy (ie less empty calories) diet etc. I too have studied this subject for 35 years … tell me something different I’m always willing to listen.
    I, however will not call you clueless, even if I have a different opinion!

  6. Hey comments … I like that.

    1. I did not suggest that Carol Alt had surgery, that was the letter write to the Citizen. I really didn’t think it worthy of comment. I love the fact that someone is willing to be “out there” at age 47!
    2. Obesity is a medical problem and requires help. Over weight is a societal problem and I stand my ground … the ONLY reaon most (almost all) people are overweight is because they consume more calories than they burn. It really is not more scientific than that. There are lots of ways to work on it .. burn more calories, increase metabolism through exercise etc or eat a more healthy (ie less empty calories) diet etc. I too have studied this subject for 35 years … tell me something different I’m always willing to listen.
    I, however will not call you clueless, even if I have a different opinion!

  7. Ottawa Citizen!! Hmm! I should go back to reading it online!

    What is so baffling, is the fact that this women in question would go through the trouble of writing to the Citizen newspaper simply to comment on the fact that her husband wants to buy the magazine, and why that makes Carol Alt on playboy a bad role model.

    It sounds to me like the writer is simply cheesed off that her husband 1) shows an interest in buying playboy or 2) making up for her own self image insecurities by criticising someone who has made a living in the modelling/beauty industry.

    If its such a big deal she should kick up a fuss about every men's magazine out there, or even magazines like Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Vogue, etc who all feature super models airbrushed to within an inch of their lives! Why aren't pictures of real women in these magazines??

    If her husband wants to buy the edition of Playboy, thats his business – what a moron for telling the wife that he does, especially given her totally ridiculous reaction.

    I don't know much about obesity, but as someone who is plagued by health problems, I have had to fight very hard to stay healthy and maintain a good quality of life. I believe in MOST cases anything is possible, the shocking state of people in the west (america, europe, canada) is due to their horrific diets, even more so than lack of excercise…again not something that requires endless ranting here.

    As for mediocrity – yes it is today's norm. My students don't want to slog at anything anymore, they just want to "be famous" at any cost. Look at MYSPACE & YouTUBE – millions of eejits who think they are talented and have genius. Mediocrity thrives!!

  8. Ottawa Citizen!! Hmm! I should go back to reading it online!

    What is so baffling, is the fact that this women in question would go through the trouble of writing to the Citizen newspaper simply to comment on the fact that her husband wants to buy the magazine, and why that makes Carol Alt on playboy a bad role model.

    It sounds to me like the writer is simply cheesed off that her husband 1) shows an interest in buying playboy or 2) making up for her own self image insecurities by criticising someone who has made a living in the modelling/beauty industry.

    If its such a big deal she should kick up a fuss about every men's magazine out there, or even magazines like Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Vogue, etc who all feature super models airbrushed to within an inch of their lives! Why aren't pictures of real women in these magazines??

    If her husband wants to buy the edition of Playboy, thats his business – what a moron for telling the wife that he does, especially given her totally ridiculous reaction.

    I don't know much about obesity, but as someone who is plagued by health problems, I have had to fight very hard to stay healthy and maintain a good quality of life. I believe in MOST cases anything is possible, the shocking state of people in the west (america, europe, canada) is due to their horrific diets, even more so than lack of excercise…again not something that requires endless ranting here.

    As for mediocrity – yes it is today's norm. My students don't want to slog at anything anymore, they just want to "be famous" at any cost. Look at MYSPACE & YouTUBE – millions of eejits who think they are talented and have genius. Mediocrity thrives!!

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