Friday, January 8, 2016

National T.V. In A Bikini?

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

Coincidence?  Fate?  I don't much believe in coincidence.  Could it be fate. Maybe.  All I know is a few days after deciding I would be focusing on "soul matters" as I laid out my New Year's goals this year, I was once again contacted by the t.v. news magazine, Inside Edition.
The first time they reached out to me was in May of 2014.  It was right after my book "Healthy Family, Happy Life" came out, just before Mother's Day, less than two weeks before my daughter's baby was due. While scouring the internet for subjects, some producer discovered a photo of my daughter, myself, and my mom, and decided we were the perfect ones to fly to New York City for an appearance on their show.  The focus of that show was Mother's Day,  featuring three generations of health.  My book was on health, and I guess they were impressed that we all looked attractive and to be in good health. They also read that my mom is still an avid tennis player and that I exercise on a regular basis.  My daughter is a fitness instructor.  I'm always excited to get message of "Healthy Family, Happy Life" across to a national audience so it was disappointing to have to turn them down (the first time) because my grandson was due any day so obviously my daughter, Christina was grounded.
 Fast-forward three days ago, a week or so after deciding I wanted to focus on soul matters.   The same Inside Edition producer contacted me to say they were doing a segment on healthy, fit grandmothers and their daughters.  At first I was "all over it" so I agreed to talk to Christina and get back to the producer the next day.  Oh wait!  They said, "we want you both to appear on camera in a bikini!"
 As I went to bed that night I was filled with anxiety.  I thought and prayed about why.  Many episodes of my life flashed through my mind:  all I've learned about body image, health emanating from the inside-out, and the lies we tell ourselves about the importance of looks.  The best way for me to explain the rest of what happened is to share my emails to her so I'm copying and pasting them here: 
"Hi ___,
If this piece the producers are working on is about grandmas and health what would the purpose be of showing us in bathing suits?  Health is so much more than physical looks and I don't see myself as promoting only the beauty aspects of such.  To be healthy one needs to love who they are: body, mind, and soul and there is so much that goes into teaching our daughters and grand daughters just that.  Our lives are filled with images of celebrities and people we are taught to emulate and look up to and yet many of the ones we put on a pedestal are not healthy in mind and soul.  You know the saying, "beauty is only skin deep."  I believe that (edit: it is deeper) and as a daughter of a professional model and a model myself when I was younger it is a hard emotional barrier for even me to break-through.  It's what I was taught: the importance of being pretty, being a homecoming princess, a pageant winner, a good-looking person.  The main focus was on all of that and I've spent years and hard work on myself to break through.  I feel I'd be going backwards and giving the wrong message to young people if I just showed-up in a bathing suit and talked about how my body is okay at (nearly) 60.  I have lots more thoughts and I'd love to pursue this if you want to.  I am interested in promoting the right message about total health: body, mind, soul.  
Sincerely, Donna"

Well, I didn't get the response I wanted but she did say we could wear whatever we wanted and they would do a B-roll shot (t.v. jargon for bankroll, as in is supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot)  My next email was similar after I literally broke down in tears when I told my husband how much I disdain the idea of me or of any woman being portrayed as just a pretty face (or body).  Do you ever feel like people aren't interested in the real you?

Here's what I wrote next:
 "I'm not trying to be difficult but I'm passionate about the message of health and fitness and disseminating it the right way. 
I don't want to pose in a bathing suit.  This is not the message I want to promote.  I have no problem talking on camera about why not.  I think the message that fitness is about bikinis is not healthy although I'm happy that I can still wear one!  
 Most women feel like they are not good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough, etc. There is a myriad of other misconceptions concerning health and happiness.  I think that in and of itself is a strong message. I'm not your average 60 yr old and I never want people to think I'm the norm.  I don't mind wearing stylish leggings or anything else. What if the interviewer asks why I chose not to wear a bikini ?  What about highlighting a grandma (or two) who will wear one and one who won't?  Again, the interview is on health and fitness.  Nutrition for the body, mind, soul.   I really want to do this but I don't think wearing a bathing suit on camera is good for my message or for anyone. 
Sincerely,  Donna"
Needless to say, I'm not doing the segment.  "They have plenty of Grandmas who really want to appear in a bikini." (of course they do) 
I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I relished the idea of gaining new clients;  I love helping people with their health issues, which would also help to ease my financial woes.  And of course the increase in my book sales would have been great.  But I said, "no."
 Call it integrity, standing up for what I believe, a tap on the shoulder by God, years of research writing and learning; whatever.  I know I made the right decision.  I also know that distributing and encouraging the message of real health is an uphill battle, but I rarely take my athletic shoes off so I'm ready for the climb!  
Do you ever feel like people aren't interested in the real you?  I'd love to read your thoughts.

Contact me via email at


  1. A great post and I couldn't agree with you more! Health is SO MUCH MORE than simply the way we look on the outside. Congrats to you for holding your ground -- that's the first step to creating change.

  2. I noted in the beginning of the show's first approach to you, about having all three, you, your Mom and daughter, the producers noted " they were impressed that we all looked attractive and to be in good shape". So right from the start it seems, photo perfect was on their minds. They clearly were interested more in "perfection" than "health of mind, body and spirit". Typical TV talk and advertising nonsense, assuming viewers would listen and stay watching for the visual not simply the content. Good for you to not lower yourself to their misconception of health and wellness nor to their lack of respect to their viewers intellectual interests. Fate? no, coincidence? no, something God would be proud of ? YES!

  3. I also agree with your decision. There is so much emphasis on appearance and body image today. Good for you, Donna.


  4. Wow Donna good for you! You are so right Health is so much more than how we look. You taught me that and my journey to gain better health has been one big adventure. Yes, in the process I have slowly lost weight however I have gained so much more, in so many other areas of the my life, that I no longer feel hopeless.



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