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Posts from — May 2008

Jennifer Hudson looking fab in “Sex and the City”

I just got back from a very early matinée of “Sex and the City” and I loved it!  You have to check all plausibility at the door (but you had to that with the series, to), but the movie is a great love letter to the fans.  I’ll comment on the details later (I do have a couple of boos around body image), but I would like to comment on how fabulous Jennifer Hudson looks.  She rocks the Sex and the City look, and she is not playing the standard “fat friend” in her role.

I’ll take one of every outfit she’s wearing!

From the clothes, to the apartments, to the men, this movie is all about the “female gaze,” or at least one interpretation of that gaze.  I’ll have more on that later, and I’m excited to hear what you think of the movie.

May 30, 2008   No Comments

Unrealistic body image – victims and perpetrators

I was watching The View today (ouch!) and the topic of Princess Beatrice and her size “normal” body came up (doesn’t Beatrice look great here!). Everyone on the panel lamented the pitiful state of media images and declared that, as women, we need to quit buying into the whole thing. Then Whoopi quoted a study in which 56% of women reported that they would rather have cancer than be fat. Joy Behar kept commenting on how “sick” that attitude is and how warped our cultural notions are around fat and body image. Yet, in the same breath, she mentioned that she was going to an acupuncturist that same afternoon to try to control her appetite, because if she didn’t quite eating she could get “bigger and bigger.” To her credit, she admitted:

Just because I criticize doesn’t mean I’m not a victim and a perpetrator.

This perfectly illustrates the results of the study in my previous post: even though women are better educated than ever on the myth of the thin ideal, we buy into the message even more so than a decade ago.

You can see the segment in it’s entirety at http://abc.go.com/daytime/theview/index, Hot Topics 5/7 – Healthy Women. (Be patient: the quote above occurs at the end of Part 3.)

If you watch this segment, or if you’ve already seen it, I would love your take on Whoopi’s statement at the end of the topic on body image and dieting. Whoopi is/was the spokesperson for a weight loss program, and her current diet is a regular feature on The View. What did she mean when she said that she didn’t care about her weight until someone talked to her about getting paid? Is she saying that the only reason she diets is for money? I didn’t get it.

May 27, 2008   2 Comments

Media images make us feel bad–and it’s getting worse

I wasn’t surprised when I saw yet another article on the negative impact of media depiction of ultra-thin actresses and models on body image; however,  the findings of  researcher Shelly Grabe and psychology professor Janet Hyde describe a sweeping analysis of 77 previous studies involving more than 15,000 subjects that reveals:

“We’ve demonstrated that it doesn’t matter what the exposure is, whether it’s general TV watching in the evening, or magazines, or ads showing on a computer,” says Grabe. “If the image is appearance-focused and sends a clear message about a woman’s body as an object, then it’s going to affect women.”

The effect also appears to be growing. The researchers’ analysis reveals that, on average, studies conducted in the 2000s show a larger influence of the media on women’s body image than do those from the 1990s, says Grabe.

“This suggests that despite all our efforts to teach women and girls to be savvy about the media and have healthy body practices, the media’s effect on how much they internalize the thin ideal is getting stronger,” she says.

In the past several years, I’ve been excited to see media consumers becoming more educated as  to how to deconstruct media messages and media images.  Dove has deconstructed images of beauty–Tyra Banks has pulled the curtain back on modeling.  Sadly, even though we know that the images that we see are not only unrealistic, but that often they are unreal, we are still impacted.

Or, let me change the “we” to “I”–I know that these images are plastic and manipulated, but I still feel the gut punch of the current standard of beauty.  Sometimes I find the mental and emotional fight to be exhausting.  But, I refuse to give up.  I want to love my body, to embrace my beauty, to be grateful to my body for allowing me to enjoy the fullness of life.

[Quote Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison (2008, May 12). Sweeping Analysis Of Research Reinforces Strong Media Influence On Women’s Body Image. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 25, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2008/05/080512163828.htm]

May 25, 2008   No Comments

Men and body image dissatisfaction

It is no surprise to most of us to read that body loathing has become the norm for American women, with the majority of women in the U.S. expressing dissatisfaction with some part of their body; however, Denise E. Laframboise, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Hartford, says that at least half of all American men are now experiencing body image dissatisfaction.

The Hartford Courant.com features an interview with Laframboise on therapies for treating body image dissatisfaction. This is an informative interview on body image; however, I was struck by the 50% number for men and negative body image. I find that when I speak to groups of both women and men, there is always at least one man that expresses concern over his body image. Laframboise associates this trend with college-age men; however, I’m hearing men of all ages who are suffering with body concerns.

Here’s a quote from the article:

There is lots of evidence that body-image distress in men is increasing. … There’s a real spike in college-age men. For some reason, those younger men are just getting bombarded by media images that are really unrealistic.

In research, we get about half of the men (who are distressed with their bodies) expressing the same things as women: I need to lose weight. The other half of men are very different; they want to gain weight, bulk up, become more muscular.

I hear the “I need to lose weight” from guys a lot. What are you hearing?

And to the guys out there: how are you dealing with the pressures around body image?

May 19, 2008   3 Comments

Whitney – the first “juicy booty” to win America’s Next Top Model

Congratulations to Whitney on becoming America’s Next Top Model (I wish I had a picture of her in that pink Versace dress from the finale). My favorite line from tonight’s episode comes courtesy of the make-up artist preparing Whitney for the final runway show:

You’re the first juicy booty to make it to the runway.

All season long, Whitney has been referred to as the “plus-size” model. Tonight Tyra corrected that term and said that she was the “full-figured” model. Whitney has curves, but she’s neither plus-sized or full-figured. Still, I’m glad a woman with a more ”average” sized body will have a chance to be in the media as a representation of beauty. I’ll be curious to see what kind of media coverage she receives as the first full-figured winner.

May 14, 2008   9 Comments

Mozaïk Curves – Curves as Art

Here is an art project that makes my heart sing:

The Human Mozaïk chose to sing the praises of curves and of round bodies by inviting women from across Canada aged from 18 to 50 years old to lend their forms to semi-nude photography and to unique artistic creations inspired by their curves. Each model’s curves and roundures were interpreted by different artists according to their respective styles, techniques and medium.

The Mozaïk~Curves project is also a collection of testimonies, poems and affirmations. The texts are written by the models, courageous women who become natural, artistic, proud, beautiful and intelligent. This is an original, colourful and inspiring project shedding a positive look on women’s curves and roundness!

http://www.artmozaik.com/Curves.html

I love the beautiful, sensual, artistry of the project. It is fascinating to see how various artists interpret the same photograph. The artists of the Human Mozaïk do a fabulous job of demonstrating the beauty of curves no matter the size or shape. I love seeing this diversity of female bodies portrayed side-by-side. Not only do these images move me, they make me want to see myself portrayed in such an inspiring and empowering way.

See the website for information on ordering the book (US $45) . I’m definitely getting one.

May 14, 2008   No Comments

Wii Fit bad for body image? BMI strikes again

Is 4-foot 9-inch 10-year-old girl who weighs 84 lbs fat? According to Nintendo’s Wii Fit game, she is. Wii Fit’s “fat” or “fit” is based solely on BMI. This young girl is active–she swims and dances–yet she is declared not just “unfit” but “fat” by a video game.  The article below reports that the girl in question is “devastated” to be labeled “overweight.”  And rightly so. This is such a delicate age for body image issues–and being called fat by your video game is just the kind of thing that triggers serious body image issues.

This is just one more example where BMI does not accurately represent health and fitness.

(Source:Pocket-lint)

Could Wii Fit create bad body image?

Concerns after game labels young girl “fat”

NEWS: 7 May 2008 15:32 GMT by Verity Burns

Parents on an online forum have expressed concerns over Nintendo’s Wii Fit creating a bad body image, particularly with young girls.

The controversy was sparked after a user complained that the game labelled her relative overweight.

“My [relative] came round this weekend and we let her play on our Wii Fit”, she wrote. “We have all laughed and joked about being told that we’re fat and need to lose weight but I was gobsmacked when it told her that she is overweight.”

According to the poster, the girl in question is a healthy 4-foot 9-inch 10-year-old who swims, dances and weighs only six stone [US 84 lbs]. “She is solidly built”, the poster adds, “but not fat”.

Apparently the young girl was “devastated” to be labelled as overweight.

The poster added: “I know it is just a game but seriously we already have to worry about young girls starving themselves to look like the magazine models and now we have a game that tells them they’re fat”.

Forum users have replied with varying responses, many angrily and backing the poster’s decision to write and complain to Nintendo (they are yet to reply).

However as one forum member pointed out, Wii Fit merely utilises the internationally-used BMI scale to calculate whether a user is overweight or not, and so Nintendo cannot be held responsible for the outcome.

BMI is considered by some to not be the best way to measure weight as it does not take into account frame or muscle.

May 9, 2008   12 Comments

An ode to hips

I love fashion, but I hate fashion magazines. Studies have shown that the pictures in fashion magazines have a more negative impact on our body image and self-esteem than any other images. That being said, I do read some fashion mags (Figure Magazine just isn’t broad enough for me). One mainstream magazine that I subscribe to is Glamour. I noticed about a year ago that Glamour was making an effort to be more inclusive (in comparison with others) in portraying plus sizes. What that translates to is two or three mentions of plus-size clothes. Their “Dress Your Body” segment always includes a plus size model, and this month they address fashionable plus-size labels. It’s not enough, but it’s something.

That being said, I read one of the most amazing tributes to the female form in this month’s (June 2008) issue of Glamour, in the article “What Keeps a Guy Hooked on You For Life.” This is one of those male-perspective articles on what men love about their women. This article is not posted at Glamour.com, so I’m going to post the highlights of one man’s tribute to his wife’s hips–From: “Her Hips,” by Will Robinson, 29, in love for 15 years.

… But if you asked me what I couldn’t live without, what I need above all else, what I’ve worshipped since the very first day we met, I would tell you with a smile: her hips.

Round and sensual, those hips are what transform my wife from simply beautiful to incredibly sexy. They take a hard turn from her waist and then softly curve down to her thighs, a perfect combination of forcefulness and femininity….

… I wish I could convince her that though I’ll love her forever no matter what shape she’s in, having those extra-voluptuous hips to grab onto makes life together all the sweeter.

That may be the hottest thing I’ve ever read. Female hips as the “perfect combination of forcefulness and femininity”–that is a powerful testimony.

May 8, 2008   No Comments

A bug bit you? It’s ’cause you’re fat

My curvy-cool sister had a strange little bump on her arm that was a little infected, so she went to a Walgreen’s Take-Care Clinc around the corner from her house to have it checked out (at the urging of her worry-wart of an older sister).  She’s fine–it’s probably just an infected bug bite.  She didn’t even receive a prescription.

However, as she paid her bill, she noticed noticed a “remark” printed on the invoice: “Recommended that patient lose weight.” She had been asked her weight in the standard medical history portion of the treatment, along with history of family illnesses, medications taken, that sort of thing.  No one mentioned her weight–why should they–she had a bump on her arm.

When she saw the remark, she was furious, and rightly so.  What does her weight have to do with getting a bite on your arm?  And why would a health care practitioner feel compelled to mention her weight on a form, but not to her face?  Is this standard policy for Take-Care Clinics, if your weight is above a certain number, no matter your reason for visiting the clinic, a patient MUST receive a recommendation to lose weight?

Thus, she exclaimed the title of the post: “A bug bit you? It’s ’cause you’re fat!

Ridiculous as it seems, this kind of treatment poses a real health risk to anyone categorized as overweight.  If every time anything is wrong with you, no matter the reason, you’re told to lose weight, you are going to be reluctant to visit the doctor.  Perhaps this is one reason why studies find increased death rates in “obese” people–lack of access to non-discriminatory medical treatment.

Boo to Walgreen’s Take-Care Clinic.  We won’t be going back.

May 6, 2008   4 Comments

International No Diet Day – May 6, 2008

I’ve been so busy that I almost missed it–Tuesday [not Monday, as previously stated] is International No Diet Day. The goal of the day is to encourage “women of all ages to collectively reflect on the importance of diets and on our society’s obsession with thinness.” No Diet Day was established in 1992 by Mary Evans Young, the director of the British anti-diet campaign “Diet Breakers.”

A great way to celebrate No Diet Day is to check out the fascinating blog, NotDieting.com. The blog is one young woman’s social experiment on what it means to NOT diet for a year. Her take of the pressures of body image and eating are insightful and interesting. She is not advocating unhealthly eating, in fact, she is pursuing healthier eating habits by purposely not dieting (and to me that says it all). Here’s a little of her story:

Some of you may be thinking: who is this crazy nut that is not dieting for one year?

Well, this crazy nut is 28 years old and has spent more than half her life on a diet. In fact, this is the first time since I was 12 that I have been NotDieting for any period of time. Since the age of 12 my life can be placed in two categories, dieting and overeating after the diet.

Strangely, I have never been overweight. I remember reading my mom’s Vogue magazines when I was 7 or 8 years old and hoping, praying that one day I would be as beautiful as the models in the picture. I thought they must have perfect lives, filled with happiness and love. My own mom always told me I was beautiful and gave me lots of love, but the glossy pages were too seductive.

I don’t blame the magazines themselves. I’m sure there are plenty of young girls who have glanced through the very same pages I once did without feeling completely inadequate. Aren’t there? Anyway, I often wonder what would happen if I hadn’t been exposed to media that glorifies physical perfection. Well, my skin would be pretty pasty because I’d have to live underground in order for that to happen! Today it is more prevalent then ever and equally dangerous.

I, too, like to live dangerously and I suspect that if you have made it to the bottom of this article, so do you. Let’s blow this diet pop stand together and have a life filled with happiness and love, our way.

And for anyone who is/has been a life-long dieter, her article on eating cereal is priceless.

So, on this International No Diet Day, I wish the hostess of NotDieting.com much success in No Diet Year.

May 5, 2008   5 Comments