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Archive for September, 2008

Now that’s a serious burger. You can find it at Five Guys, a restaurant chain that began in Northern Virginia in 1986 and now includes chains all over Maryland (see details in this article).

The burgers start at $4.19 and come with up to 15 free toppings! This place was voted No. 1 by Washington Magazine. So if you like cheeseburgers and happen to live in the area, head over to Five Guys for a great burger and fries!

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MTV is creating a new “Transformation Reality Show” called Model Makers. But this is no America’s Next Top Model, which features girls who are “ready” for the life of modeling, this show in contrast will feature girls between the ages of 17 to 24, between the heights of 5’9″ to 6′ and between 130-190 pounds who are willing to do what it takes to transform their bodies into bodies worthy of the runway.

Have you always wanted to model but don’t know where to start? Maybe you don’t know the right people. Maybe you are not thin enough. Maybe you are not photogenic. MODEL MAKERS will give you the ultimate make-over and transform you into the model of your dreams.

Women come in all shapes and sizes, but models don’t.
The term model conjures an image of stick-thin, towering beauties oozing confidence, glamour, poise and sexuality from every pore.

“Skinny,” “no body fat,” and “size zero” are the words and phrases associated with models.
“Chubby,” “well-fed,” and “big- boned” are not…

“Under the watchful “eye” of these experts, models will endure twelve weeks of intensive physical fitness training to help them get down to their ideal size. Models will also compete in various high fashion challenges to determine who has star quality. With weekly eliminations looming, models must put their best foot forward at all times while staying focused on losing weight.”

There are so many disturbing things about this show I’m not sure where to start. I think for me, the idea of a weight loss competition is very dangerous. This show is like the Biggest Loser in reverse. Emphasizing weight loss as a good solution for a “better you” and pitting people up against each other to see who can loose the most body mass. Does anyone else see anything wrong with that?

I would also like to point out that under the standards of the BMI (which most of you know I don’t generally subscribe to), a girl who is 6 Foot and 130 pounds has a BMI of 17.6, the recommended “healthy” BMI minimum is 18.5 depending on who you talk to. So for those experts who want to use the BMI to measure “health” wouldn’t this person be “unhealthy” and therefore an inappropriate candidate for weight loss?

In addition, I have also found a reliable source that stated that 12-year old girls are among the demographics for this show. That’s just downright scary.

I have contacted the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) about this show and asked them what a blogger like me might be able to do to protest it. It could be a seriously grassroots effort, but I just can’t stand around and do nothing. So please, if you have never commented before, seriously consider leaving a comment on this post. The more uproar we can get about this show, the better. I happen to believe that a show like this can and will do serious damage to the vulnerable women it preys on and that just isn’t right.

**HERE IS HOW TO GET INVOLVED**

Ok riled up readers, I am so pleased to see that you all are as ticked about this as I am. I spoke to ANAD yesterday via email and they told me that if we can get a letter writing campaign together that would be a great help. They are already all over trying to get this show banned. So here is what you can do…

1) Write a letter addressed to MTV about your thoughts and opinions about this show. Let them know just how disgusting and dangerous (and whatever else you think) this show really is.

2) Send your letters to tiffabees@yahoo.com and we will send them all together to ANAD. From there, ANAD will send them along with all of the other letters they are working on to MTV.

3) Get other people involved who may not even read this blog. It’s important that we get as many voices together as possible.

Together, I think we might have a shot at shutting this show down before it hits the air. Here’s to a fierce letter writing campaign!

-Tiffabee

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It seems that the media has been going crazy about the ultra-thin girls of the new 90210. You guys know that I posted about this when it first premiered and I wasn’t too happy myself. But you know it has to be pretty bad when an actor from another show, that also features pretty thin girls, has something to say about it. Penn Badgley of Gossip Girl was quoted saying “I hope they eat a double cheeseburger or something” when asked about the new 90210 cast.

Popsugar did a poll about whether or not Penn’s comment was out of line and 90% of people said “No”. Although I don’t believe that the girls themselves should be the topic of public gossip, I do think that the producers of the show should take some responsibility for the images of beauty they are portraying. As I stated in my earlier post and as many of you agreed, young girls watch this show and whether we like it or not, feel they have to emulate what they see on TV. Personally, I don’t want any teenage girl that I know looking at those girls and thinking they are something to emulate.

The sad thing is, I remember seeing these girls in other movies/shows that they did before 90210, and although they were obviously thin, they didn’t look so frail and gaunt looking. I just think that at some point someone has got to take some responsibility. And I just can’t shake the nagging feeling that the producers of this show on some level wanted this mass media coverage. If they were going for shock and awe, well that is definitely the response they are getting.

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For those of you who have been around EAC for a while, you might remember an early post –Anorexia’s not just for white chicks! This Article by Newsweek sheds even more light on this issue.

One study, by Wesleyan psychologist Ruth Striegel-Moore, found that black girls who do suffer from eating disorders are less likely to seek treatment. “I know stories of African-American women who’ve gone to see a physician, with all the symptoms of an eating disorder, and the doctor says, ‘That’s a white girl’s disease’,” says Cynthia Bulik, an eating-disorder specialist at the University of North Carolina.

I happen to be a minority who has suffered from disordered eating and someone very dear to me always used to call it my “white girl mentality.” So I know first hand that this is a common misconception that should be addressed.

What I found very interesting about this article was the suggestion that eating disorders have not had as much media coverage in the past decades, despite their rise in numbers.

Anorexia was formalized as a diagnosis in the late 19th century, though it didn’t become a household word until the 1970s, when feminists protested the rise of Twiggy as the body ideal. Media attention peaked in the ’90s, with Naomi Wolf’s “The Beauty Myth,” but has waned in recent years, perhaps overshadowed by obesity. But the number diagnosed continues to increase. In a 2003 review of the literature, researchers found that since 1930, the rate of anorexic women, ages 15 to 19, has gone up incrementally each decade. And between 1988 and 1993, bulimia in 10 to 39 year-olds tripled. Some blame skinny models and magazines that tout an often unattainable aesthetic. But for the majority of sufferers, the problem has historically been far more complicated, regardless of anorexia’s popularity as a political cause.

There could be many reasons why eating disorders don’t seem to get much Health Media coverage. For one reason or another, the media wants to focus on other issues they find more pressing (i.e telling us we are too fat and need to lose weight). But what about those who are suffering from disordered eating? Where’s their mass media coverage?

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New York Fashion Week began last week and one of the stories surrounding the popular fashion event was that the models were not as thin as last year. Many reported that there were less Size 0 models and more Size 2 and 4 models. There was quite a lot in this article that I found interesting.

“I think a lot of the direction from the designers has been a much healthier approach,” said James Aguiar, co-host of Ultra HD’s “Full Frontal Fashion,” who noticed more curves and smiles on the runway.

This statement confused me because I thought designers always claimed that they can’t do anything to change the tastes of consumers. In fact, at the end of the article there is a designer saying just that:

“Thin is going to be the ruling look — until someone says, ‘I want voluptuous,'” said Fish. “I don’t know if that ever is going to come back.”

So which is it? Do designers have a say in what type of look they want to project on the runway or don’t they?! I would say they do, and that’s why they choose a different look this season, which included models with fewer bones protruding.

The other thing that disturbed me was the following confession from a 15-year old model that lost 10 pounds in six weeks when modeling abroad.

“I’ll never forget the piece of advice I got from people in the industry when they saw my new body,” she wrote in eemail to The Associated Press. “They said, ‘You need to lose more weight. The look this year is anorexia. We don’t want you to be anorexic but that’s what we want you to look like.'”

Look anorexic but don’t be anorexic?! Seriously?!

But I guess at the end of the article you really have to ask yourself: is saying that there were less Size 0 models this season really an improvement? (And can you even tell the difference between a Size 0 and a Size 2?)

I’m not so sure that just because there were less gaunt-looking models on the New York runway this year (that is also largely due to make-up and the style of the clothes) that means that the models are still not having to meet unrealistic expectations in terms of what their bodies can and can’t look like. I think we still have leaps and bonds to make on the runway, the key word being variety. Variety in body shapes, sizes, skin color, ethnicity…the list goes on. When the runway starts to reflect true diversity, that will actually be a newsworthy story.

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Dove recently contacted EAC about a mini-documentary which goes behind the scenes of “The Women,” a major motion picture opening in theaters today. The goal of this documentary was to discuss the manufactured beauty images that we see in movies and get to the bottom of what “real” beauty really is.

The film follows Cami, a young journalist in her pursuit of the definition of real beauty. Cami interviews various cast and crew members about the film and what she finds in the interview process is quite interesting.

The cast members, which include Jada Pinkett-Smith, Annette Bening, Meg Ryan and Debra Messing, tell Cami that real beauty comes not from what one looks like but from a sense of confidence, a sense of humor and a strong sense of self. Meg Ryan says “real beauty is real authenticity and its pretty much as simple as that.”

Jada had the most insightful reflections in my opinion as she states, “that is the beautiful thing about being a woman is that we are so many things. As we mature, we learn how to balance all the things that we are but to have acceptance of who we are at an early age is the most important.” Jada says that one of the wonderful things about getting older is that you have more of an acceptance of who you are and what you look like; a “this is what I got” type attitude.

The director of the film, Diane English, who also narrated the mini-documentary thought it important to point out that as Cami interviewed these movie stars she realized that none of them defined real beauty as being thin, or having long eye lashes, or the perfect nose, etc. and as Cami discovered this, she felt more at ease.

From the short clips I’ve seen from the movie so far, it seems as though it does in fact seek to tackle body image issues and the fashion industries influence on beauty images.

In one scene, a young girl is talking to Annette Bening’s character and confesses that she hates her body and wants to look like the models in Annette Bening’s magazine (I assume that Bening’s character runs some type of fashion magazine). Bening tells her that nobody looks like those models and that they are actually all airbrushed.

In another really fantastic scene, Annette Bening’s character is standing around a table with her magazine staff pointing out the hypocrisy of what they do, “We tell women to feel good about themselves and then we print 15 pieces on crazy diets. We run ads for wrinkle cream and the models are 20 years old!”

It seems important for the director to get across this idea that as beautiful as these actors are on screen, nobody actually looks like that when they come on set in the morning. It takes “special lighting and a whole army of hair, make-up and wardrobe people to turn them into movie stars.”

I find this a very interesting thing to say for a movie that seeks to tackle issues of “real beauty.” I guess I’m just wondering: if real beauty has to do with a good sense of humor and a strong sense of self rather than the way one looks, why is it necessary to use an army of people to turn these women into something that they actually are not in real life? Why can’t Meg Ryan just look like Meg Ryan or Debra Messing just look like Debra Messing? (The airbrushed image of Meg Ryan on the movies website is so ridiculous! She looks 25 years old!)

One of the make up artists on the set comments on how she thought it really brave that in one scene, Annette Bening opted to not wear any make up. Why should it be considered brave that a woman chooses to look like herself in a scene?

All in all, I liked the mini-documentary and am looking forward to what else the film offers in terms of body image commentary. But I think the documentary also sheds light on what I call the dichotomy within: we like the idea of positive body image, and believe that beauty should come from within, but when it comes to putting it into practice, there seems to be something slightly conflicting about practicing positive body image. I think thats because, at the end of the day, it’s a lot easier said than done. Saying that real beauty means authenticity is a lot easier than actually being authentic.

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A couple of months ago I posted about a documentary that was being released in major cities everywhere about beauty ideals. I recently saw it and thought it was wonderful. The director focused on several aspects of beauty including the cosmetic, plastic surgery and modeling industries.

What most intrigued me about the film was the story of a young model named Gerren Taylor. To make a long story short, Gerren began modeling at age 12. And when I say modeling I don’t mean cute print work for JCPenny, I mean runway modeling for LA and NYC Fashion week. Gerren became an overnight sensation and all the big names wanted to work with her. But only a year later, Gerren was totally forgotten about as designers and the media lost interest in her. In a desperate attempt to save her modeling career her mother flew her to London and Paris to try and book shows there. When Gerren walked into a Parisian agency she was told that her hips were too large for Paris runway standards and that her cheeks were too chubby (She was 6-foot at the time with 38-inch hips). When Gerren went back to the States defeated, her self-esteem took a serious plunge.

This story is a very important one because it highlights just how dangerous impossible beauty standards really are and how they negatively affect real people. In the film Darrly Roberts, the creator and director of the film, went around interviewing people who are all directly involved in either the modeling or magazine industry. It struck me how nobody wanted to take any responsibility for the impossible beauty standards their industry creates and how they negatively affect young girls and women everywhere. In fact, some of the people Roberts interviewed were downright angry that he would even suggest such a thing while others had a “well that’s just how it is” attitude.

Most of these people blamed the consumer for our personal tastes and preferences. But I’m not quite sure if I really buy that argument anymore. Just take a good look at how beauty standards have morphed over time and how “what’s hot” and “what’s not” changes almost seasonally. Who determines these things? This may be a chicken or the egg argument. But the bottom line is, someone needs to take responsibility because we need to see a change in these industries.

Although I found the film illuminating on so many levels (more than I can express here, you will just have to go see it), I walked away feeling a heavy burden. There is so much work to be done and so many minds to convince that this world of high fashion, endless dieting and the pursuit of perfection is so futile and empty. I find more and more people who believe that this is true on an intellectual level, but that don’t except it on a fundamental level or don’t see how it effects them on a personal level.

But truth be told, even Gerren herself who was personally hurt by the modeling industry has a hard time giving up the dream,
“Taylor — like most women — wants to rise above the fantasy, even as she keeps it alive.”

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