Tag Archives: Beauty Standards

On The Olympics & Body Diversity

Holly Mangold, weight lifter London 2012Nastia Liukin

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Human Bodies: Living Fabulous, Not One Size Fits All

Yes, chickens, today I am showing you a video of Shaquille O’Neal’s appearance on The Daily Show from Monday night. You don’t have to watch the whole thing. It’s funny because John Stewart interviewing weird celebrities is always better than John Stewart asking very thoughtful questions of smart celebrities (see: anyone remotely affiliated with any government or Bono). And because Shaq describes himself as “living fabulous” and is getting a PhD. Well, alrighty then!

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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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The Tina Fey Photoshop Problem

Tina Fey

I know Bossypants is kinda 2011, but 30 Rock is back with new episodes (thank God — does anyone else start to despair and watch The Big Bang Theory reruns on TBS ad nauseam during the dark days of December? Just me?), and so my friend Kate and I started discussing this Tina Fey question via email the other day. So, seeing as I’m tres busy making my new website all pretty for you, I thought I’d reprise that email into a blog post and… go!

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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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Body By Glamour Spoils You For Choice

Glamour Don't

On page 160 of the December issue, Glamour invites you to “design your best body,” explaining that the difference about — weight training? society’s expectations? democracy? it is unclear — today is “you can pick your look.”

So. Big decision time. Do you want to be a tall, leggy blonde like Gwyneth? Or a tall, leggy blonde like Cameron? Are you confused by the many, many options here? We can go over them again. Slowly. Does it help to know that Gwyneth has wee little muscles (aka “mini”) while Cameron’s bulkier brawn was apparently named after a feminine hygiene product? No? Then however will you decide? 

Surely, you aren’t still wasting time loving the body you currently have, no matter how lacking in blonde legginess it may be. Glamour set us all straight on that notion months ago.

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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] Stop Trying to Make Cleavage Wrinkles a Thing

iVillage Never Say Diet Virginia Sole-Smith Cleavage Wrinkles

Well, maybe not you personally. But definitely the New York Times and the makers of all these wacky boob pillow products that I can’t even wrap my mind around, let alone my cleavage.

I am beginning to think somebody needs to be in charge of an Official List of Fake Body Parts Created To Make You Crazy. Someone official. And archival. Like the Library of Congress. Or Tim Gunn. (He’s still a professor, right?) Because this sh*t needs to be cataloged for the ages, so seven generations from now, they can look back and say, “Oh that’s when our ancestors forged the first boob pillow. Can you believe they used to be made out of polyester?”

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[Never Say Diet] Pretty Disturbing

Never Say Diet Fashion Model Study Virginia Sole-Smith

Looking at “perfect” models in women’s magazines (or ahem, on women’s websites) makes you feel better about your body — but twist! Only if you’re already on a diet. Because you don’t like your body. Wrap your head around that one over on Never Say Diet today.

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[Never Say Diet] Body Confessions

Diana Spechler Body ConfessionsYou know how problems can feel so impossible when they’re rattling around in your head and then as soon as you talk it out, you feel a million times better? That’s the logic for Body Confessions, the anonymous group blog where people share those tortured thoughts about what they’re eating and how they feel about their bodies on any particular day. It’s powerful, addictive, sweet, funny and crazy relatable. And it’s the brainchild of novelist Diana Spechler — who I’m interviewing today over on Never Say Diet.

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    The Eating Insinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America by Virginia Sole Smith

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