Tag Archives: beauty myth

Why I Quit Dieting

iVillage Why I Quit Dieting by Ragen Chastein with Virginia Sole-Smith

I’m so thrilled to be participating in my girl Ragen’s iVillage slideshow of Diet Quitters. 

A) Because it’s really fun to be back over in iVillage Never Say Diet land for a visit.

B) Because I’ll be so stoked if we inspire even one woman to break up with an unhealthy diet/weight cycling pattern. And with 33 awesome women featured, I think those odds are good.

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Body Image Warrior Week: Caitlin Constantine of Fit & Feminist

Body Image Warrior Week via AlreadyPretty

I discovered Caitlin Constantine of Fit and Feminist via Monday’s Body Image Warrior Autumn, (see how this blogging community thing works? love!) and was immediately hooked because Caitlin’s take on all things body is, in fact, fit and feminist. That might sound simple but it so isn’t. In many ways, “fit” has become the new “skinny,” as in, yet another unachievable beauty ideal. Caitlin has no interest in that. She’s all about fitness as a way to realize your own personal power — which means recognizing when those beauty standards are getting in the way. (See this awesome post on why the scale is our new glass ceiling for the case in point.) 

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Pinning Things Down

Virginia on Pinterest

Hi, my name is Virginia and I’m addicted to Pinterest. (If you’re already confused, click here to find out what it’s all about.)

My friend Amy got me hooked way back in September 2010. I’m fairly sure it’s the only thing we’ve ever early adopted! Since then, she’s pinned a reasonable 268 items. Meanwhile I’ve pinned 839 things.

Ahem. That total actually went up to 845 pins since I wrote the first draft of this post.

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[Beauty Overheard] Jennifer Aniston Used to Be An Onion

Oil Painting of Jennifer Aniston by  JonMickArtist

Jennifer Aniston tells InStyle that it took “years of peeling back the onion to finally stop using makeup as a mask and feel comfortable in my own skin.” (Via PopSugar.)

Of course she also makes the requisite Pretty Celebrity reference to her “dumpy teenage” self. By golly, Americans love an Ugly Duckling-Turned-Swan story. But I’m stuck on the creepy yet accurate onion metaphor. It reminds me of cleansing clients during facials at Beauty U. Whenever someone came in with a full face of makeup on, the process did feel rather onion-like. And the face that was revealed once I swirled, swirled, swirled with my finger tips and cotton burgers didn’t always bear much resemblance to the face they walked in with. Sometimes they really did look older or less attractive without that mask. Sometimes they just looked… clean.

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On Liking Your Body When It Doesn’t Like You Back

So here’s the thing: I’m sick.

Not in a life-threatening way. Or a crazy way. But rather, in a way that makes it hard to even type “I’m sick,” because I definitely don’t identify with those words. I don’t have cancer. I’m not dying. I’m tremendously fortunate to pass with flying colors on all of the physical markers of health that they check at your annual physical (blood pressure, cholesterol, reflexes, what have you). And I spend so much of my time behaving very much like a not-at-all-sick person.

But I have two chronic medical conditions — migraines and ovarian cysts — which are what doctors call “benign,” because they don’t kill you, they just beat you up so much that sometimes, you kinda wish they would.

Since I woke up today pain-free for the first time in six days, and this is a victory, I decided it was high time for me to write about what’s been going on. Because the fact is, being sick like this profoundly impacts how you feel about your body. And that seems like something we should be talking about more, but just aren’t.   Read more…

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[Never Say Diet] Thoughts on the Fat Trap

Human Trap by Memkaos

Apologies to the friends who were sharing the New York Times around my breakfast table over the weekend and thus, have already heard all of my rantings on the subject of Tara Parker-Pope’s New York Times Magazine cover story, “The Fat Trap.

But for those of you who missed that diatribe — or perhaps, just want to digest the more articulate I’ve-had-my-coffee-now version — here’s my Never Say Diet take on the weird left turn she makes in that piece. Which is mostly, so excellent. I just read her “Behind The Cover Story” Q&A with the Times6th Floor Blog and it makes me like the first three-quarters of the article all the more. It’s the first time I can recall a major media outlet taking on a story like this. And we really do need to be talking about all of the research that shows, over and over, why permanent weight loss is such a moving target for most people: Because “a number of biological factors that have nothing to do with character or willpower can make it extraordinarily difficult,” as Parker-Pope explains.

Where Parker-Pope and I part ways is in what we want to do with this information. She views obesity “as a medical condition” and thinks the kind of all-consuming, food gram-counting measures adopted by the people she profiles are inspiring, if exhausting, preventive health strategies. So she wants to use this new scientific understanding of why weight loss attempts almost always fail… to keep on trying to lose weight. Even though it will be really difficult and ineffective for the majority of people.

In contrast, I think* the jury is still out on whether obesity itself is a medical issue (at least 20 percent of obese people have no health issues at all, and there are studies show that overweight women actually live longer than normal or underweight women) or whether it tends simply to correlate with lifestyle habits that are bad for our health in other ways. And since we don’t know for sure, but we do know for sure that diets don’t work and the war on obesity has mostly just led to a war on obese people, why don’t we stop chasing the weight loss dragon once and for all, and instead focus on the specific lifestyle habits that definitely do impact our health’s bottom line? Read more…

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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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Pretty Price Check (06.03.11)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

Beauty Myth Naomi Wolf Virginia Sole-Smith Beauty Schooled

  • It’s been 20 years since Naomi Wolf published The Beauty Myth. And from where she’s sitting now, it’s mostly good news. I’m not so sure — but then again, I’m 16 years younger and she’s talking about how women feel about their bodies at midlife. More fully-formed thoughts on this to come next week after I’ve mulled. In the meantime, there is this:

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This is My Body.

So here we are, a full two months after I graduated from Beauty U. And while my life is largely back to “normal,” last week’s fat talk made me realize that I’m walking around feeling very not normal in one key way: My personal body image. And it’s time to own up to this. Which means talking about size — but hopefully in a way that changes the conversation a little bit. I’d love to hear what you think, even if you think I’m being not very nice and maybe a giant hypocrite. Because I might agree with you there.

Here’s the thing: I gained twenty pounds during my ten months in beauty school. Read more…

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Okay, Newsweek. Let’s Talk About This.

Everyone on top of your assigned reading? That would be the Newsweek “Beauty Advantage” special report I told you about yesterday. It’s all about how the beauty standards have gotten stricter than ever, and new research shows that your appearance still translates to how much money you make and how beloved you are by peers and supervisors of both genders.

It’s pretty much a big downer.

Because we haven’t made much progress on this (the numbers are almost identical to the stuff Naomi Wolf talked about in the Beauty Myth oh, almost twenty years ago) and in some ways —Heidi Montag, Heidi Montag! — things are getting worse. (If you’ll recall, a lot of us feminist bloggers cottoned on to that back at the end of last year.)

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