Monthly Archives: November 2011

Happy Black Friday

Take a break from all that damn shopping for some beauty-related funny from my friend, the hilarious and talented stand-up Sue Funke. 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kIDTw3cmkA&feature=youtu.be]

Hee hee. The hair mayonnaise thing, I know! Now back to shopping. Those flat screen TVs aren’t going to buy themselves.

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[Never Say Diet] Why Talking About Good Sex Boosts Your Body Image

Here we are, mere hours from a good, old-fashioned family holiday… so why not spice things up with a discussion of the role sex education can play in shaping teenagers’ fragile body image? That’s exactly what I’m doing over on Never Say Diet today.

It’s inspired by the New York Times Magazine cover story, Teaching Good Sex, where a private school teacher (teaching sex ed as an elective to seniors) gets to say crazy sh*t like “I don’t think it’s necessarily unhealthy to have sex at age 17,” and show students videos about female ejaculation (because we’ve misguidedly decided “it’s O.K. that boys ejaculate, that’s totally normalized [...] but girls, gross! Girls will think they’re peeing themselves, and it’s really shameful.”).

Obviously, you want to go straight back to high school and enroll in a class like that… although the article is pretty clear on the sad fact that there is no other class like that in the entire country. Which is a shame, not only because most American teenagers are lacking crucial information about sex (and getting it from porn or Cosmo instead) but also because most American teenagers are struggling to feel normal in their bodies in a whole variety of ways — and sex education is a prime opportunity for sage adults to normalize all of those things, and hey, while we’re at it, maybe get kids thinking about a broader definition of beauty. Than, you know, exclusively the kind of beauty they see in porn.

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[Never Say Diet] Living Outside the Beauty Myth

Today in Never Say Diet, I’m talking about the findings in The Allure New American Beauty Survey: When asked about their attractiveness, African-American women were three times as likely as Caucasian women to rate themselves as “hot.”

I don’t think the reason for this — if, indeed, we can prove it’s true beyond the perhaps not quite nationally representative sample of Allure Magazine poll takers — is as simple as the whole bootylicious thing, where women of color get to celebrate their curves in ways that white women don’t. Whether they’re demanding you be fat, thin, or somewhere in between, beauty standards are problematic because they demand that you be something and it’s impossible for everyone to be that one thing, all the time. So Beyoncé only helps us so much.

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[Never Say Diet] The Case of the Mistaken Pregnancy

Nope. Simmer down, this isn’t any kind of an announcement. Today’s Never Say Diet is all about what to do when someone assumes you’re pregnant but you’re totally not — plus why that even bothers us so much in the first place.

As you can probably guess, this post is inspired by a true story because being mistaken-as-pregnant Keeps. Happening. To. Me.

As previously discussed, I do not have a waist. I also have a thing for empire waist dresses and flowy cardigans. And that is my journey — though I think this mini-trend in my life says just as much about how much we’ve lost the plot on women and the shape of their stomachs, as I explain over on NSD. 

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[Never Say Diet] Can the Rockettes Really Be Reinvented?

iVillage Never Say Diet Rockettes Virginia Sole-Smith

Not to sound like an awful curmudgeon, but I’m not convinced we can remake the Rockettes as karate-kicking post-feminist role models, no matter how many LED special effects the new show employs. The show’s 78 year history just seems too steeped in a sexist Stepford beauty ideal that demands women work incredibly hard (five shows per day, six days per week hard) to look exactly like everybody else. I’ll admit, I’m not much of a joiner, but I have a hard time finding the empowerment in any activity that strips away personal identity to this degree. (This might be why I ran into so much trouble over military dress codes, too.)

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[Never Say Diet] Everybody, Please, Stop Tweeting Your Diets

iVillage Never Say Diet Twitter Diets Virginia Sole-SmithWhoops! This went up on iVillage last week, but I forgot to tell you about it.

So here’s the word: If you’re using Facebook or Twitter to vent about your Master Cleanse, celebrate your new life without cheese, or bemoan your hardcore Pilates schedule… please stop. Just stop it right now. Your friends and followers are not interested in your diet.

And this goes double if you are an elected member of the federal government (ahemSenatorClaireMcCaskill!). In this age of chronic over-sharing, I think it’s time to draw a line in the sand and say no more with the diet kvetching and body snarking on social media. I’m not sure if it’s an offshoot of all those blogs where people photograph everything they eat (do not tell me this is because you’re a budding food stylist, you are just being obsessive!) or simply because social media has made public what used to be just bitching to your cubicle mate over Lean Cuisines. But either way, I am so over it. We’re already inundated with messages about why we should lose weight, eat less, and workout more every hour of every day from media, advertising and all of the people we have to deal with in-person. We don’t need it to come in this form as well.

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Is Sexual Harassment the New Normal?

ivillage herman cain virginia sole-smith

We interrupt our regularly scheduled beauty & body issues talk once again, this time to discuss the insanity that is Herman Cain and his inability to behave appropriately around women. So I guess, in a way, it’s still a body issue — especially if you factor in the way conservative pundits are going after Sharon Bialek’s obviously-asking-for-it hair. (They clearly haven’t been paying attention to Slut Walk.)

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[Fun With Press Releases] This Would Be the Diet Industry, Hoping to Profit Off Your Freshman 15 Phobia.

Forgive me, because this is going to be rather … on the nose.

But when a press release like this arrives in my inbox in the very same week when I’ve been busy debunking the myth of the Freshman Fifteen, well, what’s a girl to do? Post it on her blog, of course.

Because while I was using science to explain why college students don’t actually gain as much weight as expected — and you all, in your thoughtful comments, added evidence to the theory that some of that weight gain might just be kids becoming adults — this “celebrity nutritionist” has figured out the real reason college freshmen gain weight.

And I don’t want to scare you.

But it’s because of the late night snakes.

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[Never Say Diet] Obesity, Custody Battles and the Good Divorce

iVillage Never Say Diet Obesity Custody Battles

Only everything, if you ask a certain class of divorce lawyers. Which the Wall Street Journal did. I’m finding the whole thing infuriating over on Never Say Diet today, and it’s not just because it’s offensive to fat people — and thus, to everyone with a body. To be honest, I’ve been riled up ever since I read Susan Gregory Thomas’s piece in the Sunday New York Times about whether “The Good Divorce” is really all that good for kids. She ultimately concludes that it can be, but along the way she cites research finding “children of divorce score worse in math and social skills, and suffer from lower self-esteem than those from non-divorce households, period.” And if you check out the comments over on Peggy Orenstein’s Motherlode post on the story, it’s clear that plenty of readers are skeptical of the concept as well.

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[Never Say Diet] The Freshman Fifteen and Other Lies Fed to Our Generation

iVillage Never Say Diet Virginia Sole-Smith Freshman FifteenToday on Never Say Diet, I’m talking about a new study which explodes the myth of the Freshman Fifteen by figuring out that college freshman… don’t really gain fifteen pounds.

I know. Your mind is blown.

We’ve created a lot of hype and expectation around the idea that leaving home equals piling on pounds — just like we assume everyone gets fat over the holidays or right after they get married or when they have a baby. Which is not to say people don’t gain a little weight during these times. As it happens, I gained the Freshman Twenty (ohhh triple-decker PB&J every day in NYU’s Hayden Dining Hall, you were delicious…), so I know what of I speak.

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