NKOTB Prove “The Right Stuff” Comes in All Sizes

Me in 1989
Me in 1989

New, Related:  On Friends, NKOTB, Meeting Jordan Knight, and The Power of Words

(Full disclosure: I am a diehard blockhead since 1989.  And I’m going to the New Kids concert this Friday (07/19/13). In fact I attended a 2008 concert three hours after surgery when I was in bloody bandages and a wheelchair.  More about that later.)  Did you know that the average American woman is 5’4 and 145 pounds?  Yet she is rarely seen in advertisements, fashion magazines, and music videos.  We’ve made great strides in recent years (think of Dove’s Real Women campaign) but we still have to face narrow-minded critics.  Think of the Abercrombie & Fitch CEO who recently came under fire for saying his brand is only for “cool kids” and skinny teens.  A & F carries nothing larger than a size 10, which is several sizes smaller than the nation’s average.

Groundbreaking Video (NKOTB’s “Remix”)

Last year I saw Jordan Knight’s appearance on The (now-defunct) George Lopez Show.  A woman in the audience asked Jordan why he never has any plus-size women in his music videos.  I’ve never seen a plus-size or average-sized woman as the “it girl” in any music video.  What is “The Right Stuff” anyway (aside from an awesome music video)?  Jordan, like all of the New Kids, still has the body of a twenty-year old.  So I figured that as men who don’t age, the New Kids couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like to be the average woman.  What’s it like when your weight has more ups and downs than a rollercoaster at Great America because of treatment—because you have cancer or an autoimmune disease?  Thankfully I was surprised to see that the New Kids do get it as evidenced in their latest music video for, “Remix (I Like The).” 

Aside from the vintage hairdos, synchronized swimming and Joey, Jordan, Jon, Donnie, and Danny, the video is awesome because this New Kids girl is built like the average American woman.  She’s like most of us.  She is us.  She’s got The Right Stuff because she has confidence.  Despite weight gain, hair loss, surgery scars, and other side effects, you still have The Right Stuff.  Don’t ever forget that!

Why I Love the NKOTB: Resilience

I became a New Kids fan in 1989 when I was five years old and saw my teenage cousins watch the boys do The Right Stuff (those legs still drive me crazy!) on their Hangin’ Tough Live videotape (remember VHS?).  I had a Joey doll, Jordan buttons, the lunchbox, posters of every guy, and the infamous sleeping bag.

most of my NKOTB memorabilia
most of my NKOTB memorabilia

But my love for the New Kids was about more than their harmonies and good looks; I could relate to them.  I remember Jordan and Jon’s appearance on the Oprah show years ago when they talked about depression and anxiety.  As someone with Bipolar II, there were times when it was hard to study in college.  Aside from prayer, when I got nervous before a test, I would watch New Kids videos and think that if they could do it, so could I.  I graduated from Northwestern University cum laude with two majors.  I also helped dozens of other students with depression get professional help and finish school.  Today I work in mental health.  In addition to Bipolar II, I also had to fight Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in college (something I still fight).  When I was 24-years old in October 2008, I was diagnosed in critical condition with Myasthenia Gravis, an illness similar to Multiple Sclerosis.  During my two weeks of treatment, I begged the doctors to let me out so I could attend the New Kids 10/24/08 concert at Allstate Arena.  That day, after I had surgery without anesthesia, I attended the concert in bloody bandages and a wheelchair—against everyone’s wishes.  At that point, the doctor had given me a 50/50 shot of living.  Here we are five years later.  In treatment I was only allowed to bring one thing with me.  I would bring my iPod and listen to New Kids’ songs and think about their resilience—whether it was going from food stamps to Forbes magazine or overcoming mental illness to run two real estate businesses (Jon) and comeback to sold out tours.

Excited Blockhead (me!)
Excited Blockhead (me!)

I can’t wait for Friday!

–Your Stylist,

Jessica Gimeno

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JessicaGimeno

Hi, I have five illnesses--bipolar disorder, myasthenia gravis (neuromuscular autoimmune disease), polycystic ovarian syndrome, asthma, and psoriasis. Most of the organs in my body are affected. I'm dedicated to being a stylist for sick women. As someone who has experienced changes in my appearance due to my 12 meds (including Prednisone), I know how hard it can be when your face and body change overnight. (In fact, because of treatment, between 2008 to 2010, I went from a size 0 to a size 10. While I lost the weight, there are permanent changes in my face and body, which I've grown to appreciate.) My blog will also help women deal with other issues like surviving chronic pain and fatigue. Healthy people can also use this blog as a window into what life with illness is like. Let this website be a place where we can draw strength from each other despite our illnesses and find solutions to our everyday challenges!

4 thoughts on “NKOTB Prove “The Right Stuff” Comes in All Sizes

  • August 7, 2013 at 11:35 am
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    I love this! “…”as men who don’t age, the New Kids couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like to be an average woman.” Well said and hilarious! 🙂 You have a way with words and obviously a fighters heart. I hope we cross paths someday and bond in our BHness.

    Reply
    • August 7, 2014 at 11:50 pm
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      This is so great. Last year, while in end stage cancer, I went to see NKOTB in Charlotte, NC (not an easy task by any means). I had no hair and had gained weight, especially in my face. I called it my “moon face”. I was incredibly self-conscious, which sounds so funny now in retrospect. Regardless of how horrible I felt and how weak I was, I was still worried about what people might think…most especially the guys in the group. I had no reason to worry, because I encountered nothing but love and support. Fast forward to a year later, I am eagerly awaiting my transplant and enjoying remission. I don’t know how I would have gotten through chemo, without The Block. It has gotten me through some really horrible days. This was exactly what I needed to read today. I could never tell you just how much I appreciate this. I have got to send you a message.

      Reply
      • August 8, 2014 at 12:10 am
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        WOW! Erin, you just encouraged me too. So happy to hear of your remission. I listened to The Block album while in treatment; helped me get through some dark days. I hope to meet NKOTB some day. #BHlove

        Reply
  • August 8, 2014 at 6:49 am
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    I love this Jessica! It’s true that NKOTB has impacted all of our lives in so many great ways and it’s hard to explain it to someone outside of the fandom. You’re an inspiration! 🙂

    Reply

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