(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.
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.
I can’t wait for Friday!
Help Us Get to 1,000 Likes On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/fashionablyill where you can meet other Fashionably ill readers who fight a wide variety of chronic illnesses.