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Archive for June, 2008

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Earlier this month, The Counsel of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) held a Health Seminar to discuss “The Beauty of Health: How the Fashion Industry Can Make a Difference.”

The women shown above (Snejana Onopka on the Left, Siri Tollerød in the center, Olga Sherer on the right) are currently three of fashion’s most successful international runway models.

I’m never really sure if anything comes out of these fashion council meetings. It just seems like the models continue to get thinner and thinner despite the endless talks they have about the health of fashion. Sure, we have seen the French Government take a stand recently to ensure that these images don’t end up on thinspiration websites, but all in all, I don’t see much of a difference yet and maybe that’s just how it’s gonna be for a while. Despite the “Plus Size” modeling scene, the most successful runway models continue to look like they need a whole bunch of cheeseburgers!

But quotes like the one below make me believe that one day, things will be different.

I think we have brainwashed ourselves into believing that [Size 0] is beautiful. It’s time to admit that we’ve all been drinking the Kool-Aid”.

-Nian Fish, PR Consultant speaking at the Health Seminar on June 10, 2008.

So what do you all think? Have we been drinking the Kool-Aid? Are we brainwashed into thinking that this type of body is beautiful? Do you really think skeletal models’ reign on the runway is coming to an end?

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Do you ever catch yourself staring down other women? Speculating their pant size? Analyzing what they’re wearing? In essence, comparing yourself to them? I know I’ve been guilty of it more than once.

One of the things that bugs me the most about fashion and tabloid magazines is the “who wore it better” section (like the pic above). I’m sure many of you have seen it. It generally features two celebrities who wore the same outfit and asks the reader to decide who wore it better.

Some of you might find it harmless, but I think it only contributes to our nasty little habit of unhealthy comparisons. The who wore it better mentality is all about pitting women against each other and asking us to be the judge. It’s this mentality that gives us a false sense of empowerment and makes us feel like we are the judges of other people’s bodies (in contexts outside of fashion magazines).

We can see from all the comments on Rule #15 that many of us have experienced the harmful affects of other people’s thoughts and opinions on our bodies. I know I have been negatively affected by even the nicest of “compliments.”

I remember one time I did a crash diet that landed me lower than my high school weight (my size 4’s were baggy) and I got SO many compliments on my weight loss. This was confusing to me because I was thin before. The “compliments” made me wonder what was wrong with me before? Why did I look better just cause I was thinner? And that’s when the eating problems began.

So I made a decision a long time ago (after I recovered) that I wasn’t, for the most part, going to comment on people’s bodies anymore. I might compliment you on your dress or your earrings, but your body is not mine to judge and not mine to comment on. Most of my friends thought my stance to be extreme and even harsh (and probably still do). But I see weight and body as very sensitive, private issues (specifically for women). I have decided to work on keeping my eyes on my own body and I invite you to do the same! ☺

(Ps. If you think a friend might have an eating disorder, then this rule obviously goes out the window. I was well on my way to a full-blown eating disorder until a few of my friends stepped in and told me I had a problem and I am SO grateful for them.)

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Thanks to the reader who sent me this article on a recent interview done with model Velvet d’Amour. Model she is, but thin she is not. Many women (and men) find her an inspiration in an industry that tends to represent only one type of woman. Here are a few quotes from the interview that I liked:

And I think it’s a positive thing to incorporate women of size wherever media allows, without having it be sort of derogatory. You know a lot of the things I get offered, I don’t take, because they tend to be mocking fat people.”

There’s necessarily a power in beauty. That’s always been the case. Which is why I think that as a society, we can empower ourselves by diversifying how media shows beauty – by being more inclusive. And the more we hold up different, diverse types of beauty, the more people can feel better about themselves.”

Here, velvet is answering the interviewer’s question about why she thinks the Fashion Industry is nervous about incorporating larger models.

It’s like high school all over again. There’s like, cheerleaders, and there’s the nerdy people. And fat people have been perceived as sort of the nerdy people for quite a while now.”

A lot of the designers, or at least the magazines, are certainly dependent on advertisers. And advertisers don’t want to take any risks. It’s clear that people know that fat is unhealthy. However they don’t seem to get that what’s humorous about that whole argument is just the fact that every day we are inundated with images of Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Kate Moss, Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie etc…. And so while I’m banned virtually from being in any womens ‘magazines, or in any media, because they say, ‘Well, you know, you weigh so much weight, it would be like sort of like promoting obesity’ – the notion that every single thin person is healthy is utterly ludicrous. I think that that stops the mainstream designers from being inclusive of bigger sizes. Because then it’s going to be purported that they’re celebrating what is perceived as being unhealthy.”

She says much more in the interview so make sure to check it out!

Ps. Please make sure to check out Our Guidelines before leaving a comment.

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Hi All. So we have quite a few Cheeseburger Rules now and we wanted to create a Cheeseburger Quiz so you can personally check on how you are doing in living the cheeseburger life. No need to answer them here (although feel free to share if you want to), “just a cheeseburger for your thoughts.”

1) Do you demonize food regularly and make some foods out to be “good” and some foods out to be “bad”? (See Rule #1).

2) Do you have a dress in your closet that hasn’t fit you since Bill Clinton was president yet you keep it in hope that it will magically fit one day? (See Rule #10)?

3) If you weigh yourself often, do you have intense feelings about yourself and your body after stepping off the scale? (See Rule #6)?

4) Do you read fashion magazines often? If so, do you feel worse or better about yourself after you have put the magazine down? (See Rule #2)?

5) How would you react if someone called you fat? Do you (personally, not society as a whole but YOU) look at the word “fat” as an insult? (See Rule #11)?

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If you ever lose weight and find people saying “Wow you look great!” or “Wow, good job, I need to lose some too!” or “Oh my gosh, how much did you lose, how did you do it?”, you must immediately explain to them that weight loss isn’t the big accomplishment we make it out to be.

A few years ago, when I was going through a difficult time, I stopped eating for weeks and ended up losing tons of weight. I probably got to a size 4, which is the size I was in high school. My feelings of sadness had translated to my body, and it was clear that I wasn’t emotionally OK. What I saw in the mirror terrified me, because it wasn’t me at my natural self. However, during this time, when my mom saw me she would exclaim, “Oh you’ve lost weight! You look so good!” The fact of the matter was, I was sick and not eating…but she didn’t care because the pounds were flying off!

My story is just one isolated incident of weight loss being taken as an accomplishment instead of what it is- your body’s reaction to either an illness or personal change in behavior. (In my case, it was not eating, but this may not be the case for everyone since all of our bodies are different). This got me thinking about how much we idolize the ability and the goal of weight loss. To show you just how silly it is to act as though weight loss is a celebratory accomplishment, I will pretend that we can change another part of the ourselves other than body weight…

“Oh wow, you’ve gotten really tall! How did you do it?” Oh my gosh, you look great! I love how tall you’ve gotten!, “Wow I’m so jealous, I wish I was tall like you!” It just sounds silly, because the truth is, we accept women at all heights, we accept women with short hair or long hair, dark skin or light skin, big noses or little noses. These different attributes are what make us, as women, uniquely and undeniably beautiful. So why can’t we just look at weight as another attribute that makes us all different? Why should we all try to aim to be the same weight?

Now if the media decided that we should all be tall, with short hair, a big nose and light skin we would all scoff in their faces because: 1) it isn’t possible for every woman to achieve (just like an “ideal weight” isn’t possible for all women to achieve) and 2) not all of us define beauty in those specific terms.

So, next time someone tells you that you should be a certain weight or look this way, or makes a big deal about losing an X amount of weight, remind them that just being happy with who you are is the real accomplishment- not weight loss.

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Yesterday I found a really great website and this particular article discusses the effects of media on women. For those of you who have been with us for a little while, you know that one of our main goals is to de-construct the thin ideal as it is seen in the media and other areas of our culture.

I think most of us can agree that a major part of the mainstream’s definition of beauty is a thin body. And a thin body has come to represent all that is beautiful to the modern, western woman. But I have often wondered what our world would be like if thinness didn’t equate to beauty? If media didn’t exist, what would beautiful look like to you? And taking it a step further, what would life be like without beauty ideals in general?

In the trailer for the upcoming documentary, America the Beautiful , the filmmaker asks a young man about what he likes (physically) in a woman. He admits that he looks for a slender girl and when the filmmaker asks why, he responds “I couldn’t even tell you why.”

This young man’s honest answer raises some compelling questions. I mean, have you ever stopped to think about how you came up with your idea of beauty? If you were to describe what beauty means to you, would your mind fill with media-imposed images of women with thin waists and large breasts?

As Jean Kilbourne, a well-known media activist, points out, the media defines standards of beauty on a daily basis and we, as women, internalize these standards and make them our own.

“The real tragedy,” Kilbourne concludes, “is that many women internalize these stereotypes, and judge themselves by the beauty industry’s standards. Women learn to compare themselves to other women, and to compete with them for male attention.”

I remember when I first started challenging the notion that thinner is better. I started asking myself, “Why is thinner better anyway?” “What’s so great about being thin(ner) and what does it have anything to do with beauty?” I think it’s past time for us to figure out what beautiful means to each one of us individually. I know it will be hard, since the media’s images of beauty are imprinted on most of our minds, but in time, we can all find out what beautiful means to us personally. And maybe we will come to find that it actually has very little to do with outward appearance.

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I guess Special K hasn’t read our Cheeseburger Rule #8!
Let’s break down this commercial, shall we?

Special K’s Message: “Give your ego a boost. Lose up to a Jean Size!”

Tiffabee’s interpretation: Losing weight will give you the ego boost you are looking for. Losing a jean size can help you love the way you look and give you confidence. You will be happy with yourself and enjoy jean shopping when you finally lose those pesky 10-15 pounds.

Special K’s Message: “Replace two meals with two bowls of Cereal a day plus a sensible snack for two weeks and you could lose up to a jean size.”

Tiffabee’s Interpretation: Eat an unreasonable amount of cereal (that you will most likely get sick of after a few days) for the sake of losing a little weight. It’s worth it if it means being thinner.

Ever since I stopped letting my jean size define me, the Special K challenge has REALLY bugged me! They are not even trying to hide under the guise of “health” for this one. Instead, they are flat out saying, eat our products and you will be thinner. Well, if we are not allowing the size of our jeans to make us feel like better people, special K products (and their message) really don’t apply to us do they?

Plus, what guarantees that you will feel better after you lose a jean size? One of our readers once posted a comment in which she talked about feeling betrayed after she lost a 100 pounds at which point she started obsessing over her “huge” thighs. I know for me, in the past when I have lost a jean size, I only become that much more obsessed with being thin and staying thin. So what can the loss of a jean size really accomplish for us? Does it contribute to “self-esteem” or does it make us that much more fixated on our weight and the shape of our bodies?

Ads like this one totally feed off our culture’s obsession with thin and they contribute to our attachment to the Weight Loss Fantasy. I’m sorry, but the size of your jeans says NOTHING about who you are as a person so why is it so important? Despite what Special K (and everyone else in the dieting industry) says, we are all much more than the numbers on our pants.

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