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.
Happy Friday! It’s the last day of Body Image Warrior Week, so I’ll be bringing you the last three posts throughout the day. I hope you’re enjoying this onslaught of body image goodness. As much as I appreciate y’all stopping by to hear me yammer on (and I’ll be yammering on later on today!), it’s been so fantastic to have all of these other amazing writers guest posting and thought-provoking all week long.
First up today is my girl Kate of Eat the Damn Cake. Kate was one of my first blogger friends and she’s visited us round these parts before. (Oh and on Never Say Diet, too!) So she really needs no introduction. She’s just awesome.
We’re only one week into 2012 and I’ve already lost count of all the weight loss and beauty makeover-related press releases in my inbox. I could be doing a massive Fun With Press Releases series for y’all, but honestly? I’m not even finding the fun. I’m just finding it all a bit sad and exhausting.
What has been fun: Looking back over 2011 to pick my 12 nominees for the Diet Hall of Shame over on Never Say Diet. (This post obviously went live on New Year’s Eve — sorry that I’m just now telling you about it! Let’s put prompter posting on my resolution list, shall we?) Oh, Beef Fat Lady, AskMen.com A**holes, and Kelly Osbourne… what a weird and wacky year it was.
The main thesis behind Why Women Need Fat (out this month from William Lassek, MD and Steven Gaulin, PhD of the University of Pittsburgh) is super fascinating and builds nicely on the Fat Trap business we were talking about yesterday: Your body fights weight loss tooth and nail because evolution has found fat to be quite handy in a survival of the species sort of way. So I went ahead and blogged about all of that on Never Say Diet.
But, full disclosure: I haven’t read the book yet. I’m still waiting to get a copy into my hot little hands, so I had to restrict my analysis to the unfortunate, red flag-waving subtitle (How “Healthy” Food Makes Us Gain Weight and the Surprising Solution to Losing It Forever — oh boy!) and, more encouragingly, the way Dr. Gaulin describes their research in this Salon.com interview.
So I’ll be back with a more in-depth post about the book itself once I, you know, read it. Ahem. Yes, tireless and thorough reporting is what you can expect around here.
In the meantime, let me clarify that I’m not blaming Gaulin or Lassek for the subtitle. My guess is that was the publisher’s doing, as part of their “now this is how you sell a book about evolutionary biology!” strategy. They’re probably not altogether wrong either. But it does put the researchers between a bit of a rock and a hard place because they are simultaneously trying to explain why we’re probably all supposed to be a bit fatter than the Beauty Trap (and the diet industry) allows — and yet also, that we’d all weigh less than we currently do if our diet wasn’t so heavy in highly processed omega-6 fatty acids or “bad fats.” (There’s another red flag.)
Depressingly, I guess that sounds about right: Read more…
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 Times‘ 6th 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…
I actually wrote this Never Say Diet post back before Thanksgiving, but I somehow missed posting about it here (maybe this was why). (Un)Fortunately, it’s what we in the news biz call an “evergreen” because, well, mountains of holiday food + family members who press all of your body image buttons can = mayhem at Christmas or Chanukah just as easily as at Thanksgiving. I could probably also make a note to repost this at the 4th of July. See also: Arbor Day.
But don’t worry. This website — which culls its literary talent from the very finest of frat boys and 40-year-old virgins — won’t come right out and say that to your face. Instead, they present a slideshow, imaginatively titled “Top 10 Subtle Ways to Tell Her She’s Getting Fat,” so we can all learn and share.
I don’t usually link directly to garbage like this, but in this case, I am — so y’all can click-through and add your votes to the “First Impression” poll. I trust that you will not feel that reading this article makes you “a better man.”
Because here are some of the gems on their list: “Buy her smaller clothes” on purpose, “try serving her smaller-than-usual portions,” and “plan a beach vacation” — all to shame your lady until she looks down at her body in horror and realizes how fat she has apparently gotten. Maybe because she has, I don’t know, birthed your child recently? Is too busy working hard to support your family to get the gym? Or is just a human with a full life and better things to do with her time than constantly train to be your sexbot? Anyway, as soon as the light dawns thanks to all these sneaky AskMen strategies, she’ll apologize for putting you through the hell of having to look at that. Oh and vow to take up a shame diet of carrots and Spin classes, obvs, until she can shrink back down to a person worthy of your love. Everybody wins!
It’s a valid question — but it is not the question that former America’s Next Top Model winner Whitney Thompson asked herself when she set out to create her new online dating site, “The Big and The Beautiful.” Thompson seems to have been asking, “what can I do to earn $40 per month from tons of women I’ve never met?” Or, alternatively, “how many times can I use the word ‘real’ when I describe my new project?”
The answer to the latter question is three, as in: “I created this site for real women with real curves … looking for real pleasure,” says Whitney.
As regular readers know, copious use of the misguided “real woman” concept is one of the first warning signs of bodywashing… which is a term I just made up for when celebrities or companies pretend to be all about body positivity but are really all about themselves. Like what Bare Escentuals and CoverGirl did here. I’m borrowing liberally from greenwashing and pinkwashing, obvs. Except, yes, my term sounds like a sponge bath. We can work on it.
Nope, those aren’t real girl bellies.
And they don’t belong to the models whose (heavily Photoshopped) faces you see above.
Those bellies are actually all one and the same belly — let’s call her Eve. Eve is H&M’s digital representation of what they feel to be the Platonic ideal of torsos. She has pointy hip bones, a concave abdomen, very many ribs between her belly button and eerily symmetrical breasts and absolutely no body hair of any kind.
Yes, we’ve reached the point in these end times where it’s not enough to merely Photoshop already flawless but nevertheless flesh-and-blood women to match one impossible, narrow ideal. We’re now able to take that ideal and clone it, so we can build a digital army of lingerie modelbots. I don’t have to worry about the implications of the whole real women vs. models debate, because these models are not and never have been real women. And you don’t have to wonder why your H&M underwear gives you a muffintop and back bacon — you can just know that it does this because it was never intended to be worn by an actual human body.
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.