This past week I did a brief interview for Care2.com, about vegan parenting. With some of the controversy that arose with the “Vegan Is Love” book, I was asked a few questions. They posted the piece yesterday.
Today I read this comment that was posted to the article. This person said:
“What I have noticed most with all the vegans I have met or seen (including the photo of the author of this article) is their skin always looks prematurely wrinkled, extremely thin or exceedingly pale, usually with dark undereye circles, probably from iron deficiency.”
Can I speak to this, folks? I did leave a comment on the article, but really want to elaborate here. That photo was taken as part of a family photo shoot just 2 or 3 weeks after our third baby was born. 3 WEEKS! Anyone that has had children knows that 3 weeks pospartum, you look and feel like crud. And, not only was our baby up about 5 times through the night (and had reflux), I had two other children to take care of during the day – and also had in-laws visiting at the time. So, forgive me if I have dark circles under my eyes and some age-appropriate wrinkles, I had a lot on my proverbial plate. And, I was 39 at the time.
And, I had a few wrinkles. What 39 woman doesn’t? Ok, I don’t mean Jennifer Lopez or other women in Hollywood. I mean real-life women. Because, on that topic, when Jennifer Lopez was named “the most beautiful woman in the world” last year, I thought “great, now us 40 year old women have THAT kind of standard to live up to“.
She doesn’t look 40, because she is being filled and fixed! I would like to see Jennifer without the fillers, without the special make-up and lighting and photoshop work. I know she is still beautiful, because she IS a beautiful woman. But, I bet she looks more like 40 than 30.
I just need to say this because I’ve been “out there” for more than 10 years now. I know that being a visible spokesperson for living vegan, and being a vegan mom, I will always be judged on my appearance – because my photos are on the internet. It’s very hard, and like I said in my comment, I try to judge my health by how I feel. And most days I feel pretty damn good. Most days. I am a mom of 3 with no extended family support, that is also running her own career without much assistance. So, my days are full-on, and there are no vacations or weekends.
I work hard because I am passionate. But, alas, I am 41, so I won’t look 30. I think I look pretty good for my age, but also I feel very good for my age. (Excepting these occasional judgemental comments, that is.)
As women, we are judged FAR more on our appearance than are men. It is unfortunate that women take so much judgement for how they look – rather than being judged for what they contribute.
Finally, to address the issue of iron. It is a gross misperception that vegans are anemic. It has been shown that “iron deficiency anemia is no more common among vegetarians than among the general population“. If you are eating foods like dark leafy greens (kale, collards, bok choy), beans and nuts and seeds and other varied whole foods, it is not at all difficult to obtain the iron you need on a vegan diet.
(p.s. I write this today not to seek compliments or reassurance – we all enjoy such positive feedback, but that is not my intention. Rather, I want to speak to the unreasonable and unattainable expectations for women as they age – and the equally unfair judgements placed on vegans.)