Archive for October, 2008

I was flipping through a flyer I received in the mail the other day for Halloween costumes and was honestly surprised when I came across pictures of “plus-size costumes.” Don’t get me wrong. I am all for costumes coming in all shapes and sizes (especially because traditionally they have been made for skinny girls who can fit into skimpy little outfits), but I think it is really weird that these women are considered “plus-size.” I can see why it is a justifiable label in high fashion runway modeling. After all, a size 12 IS plus-sized compared to a Size 0, but, in the scope of every day normal life, the women featured in this particular catalog look more like average size to me.

This gets into my whole problem with the plus-size label in general. I am thrilled that more and more designers are seeing it necessary to make cute clothes for women of all shapes and sizes, but calling a woman plus-size, a woman who is closer to what most women look like in this country, seems wrong to me. By calling an averaged-sized woman “plus-size,” we are directly normalizing thin as if it is what we should all look like. We are saying that being thinner is more socially acceptable and plus-size is more out of the norm. This is interesting to me. If the majority of women in this country look like these so called “plus-size” women featured in the catalog, then, in actuality, the plus-size woman is far more “normal” than she is abnormal, and the thinner-than-average-woman would actually be the one we would label.

Can you imagine, if you saw a magazine with a section for “bite-size” or “thinner-than-average” women? That would be crazy! So, why do we do it with “plus-size?” For those of you who follow this blog, you know that we don’t believe in labels, period. My discussion of “plus-size” is only to make the point that giving something a label like this isolates the women who fall under the plus-size category and further normalizes the idea that thin is the norm (when, in reality, it isn’t).

But nonetheless, labels seem to be very important to our society. We feel more comfortable when we can categorize people and put them in a box. That way, we can more easily target them to buy our endless diet, weight loss, exercise, etc. products. Don’t get me wrong, it’s even hard for me sometimes to not get caught up in labels. But, I remember the words of a close friend who said to me one time, “Why does it even matter? Seriously?!”


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We encounter it all the time. Some person comes up to you and makes a comment about your body, weight or size. Maybe this person says something that hurts you, maybe he/she says something that leaves you really confused. I’ve heard a lot of crazy things in my life, things said to me and things said to people I know. So I thought we could dedicate this thread to crazy things people say in hopes that we will no longer let the things people say hurt us but rather laugh and make fun of those crazy comments.

I’ll start…(Please note that not all of these comments were made to me, but some of them were said to some of my friends or family, who relayed them to me).

“You’re not as BIG as you used to be!” (Mind you I was underweight at the time of this comment and have never been more than a Size 8 in my entire life).

“That shirt makes you look pregnant.”

“Hey you should go on the Biggest Loser! That might really help you.”

“You should just wear dresses.”

“Did you lose weight? You look so much better.”

“Wow! Those jeans look really baggy on you, good for you.”

“Are you losing weight? You’re getting so much prettier!”

“Don’t get any bigger.”

I think part of the reason people think that they can just say whatever about another person’s body is because we are being taught on a daily basis that weight is a public issue. We see it on television commercials, magazines and all kinds of advertisements. It is embedded into the fabric of so many of our conversations and it is a part of our collective consciousness. So, the next time people say something semi-insulting (or totally insulting) about your body, you might want to take the time to point out to them that their comments are crazy and they should find another topic.

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Model Makers is No More

Hi All,

Just wanted to update you and let you know that the MTV show Model Makers has been CANCELED!!!! I don’t know the specifics behind the cancellation, but it is effectively no more! America the Beautiful’s Darryl Roberts writes,

I called MTV today to find out when they had planned on airing the show and they said, “We no longer plan on airing “Model Makers.”

This is a wonderful victory. The prospect of this show was scaring the daylights out of me and now I can sleep again. 🙂

So, go eat a cheeseburger and celebrate!


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Your eyes are not deceiving you. This is a 15 pound burger, no exaggeration. A man in Pennsylvania recently agreed to eat a 15 pound burger (not including the toppings and bun)! It took him a little over 4 hours to finish the monster burger and he received $400 in cash and prizes for his accomplishment along with what was referred to as a “burger hangover.”

This burger definitely earns a spot on burger of the month. 🙂

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A couple of weeks ago, I posted about a new show that MTV is currently casting for called Model Makers. The show basically is about turning ordinary girls into high fashion models through lots of diet and exercise. I am completely opposed to this new show and am working with the Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) letter writer campaign against MTV and Viacom to stop this show from ever airing.

Many of you were very outraged by the new show as well, and I would like to encourage you to please express your outrage by writing a letter to MTV expressing your concerns. I found a dynamite sample letter written by Darryl Roberts, the director of America the Beautiful (the documentary that I wrote a review for a while back). You can find Darryl’s full letter here.
Here is a sample of his letter just to give you an idea:

“Dear MTV,
I remember when you used to be a music video network. That was a long time ago. Sometime since then you morphed into a “reality” television network. In fact, you started reality television with the Real World. Somewhere along the line (probably the Flavor Flav dating show The Flavor of Love) you began to delve into Surreality television. But now you have gone too far. With your new program Model Makers you are looking to actually create a new reality. A reality that is dangerous and destructive to the young minds of your target demographic. While trying to cash in on America’s impressionable youth, you are edging closer and closer to absolute moral and ethical bankruptcy.
Let’s take a close look at Model Makers. This is not just another modeling show interested in pretty faces and young women in turmoil. Yeah, you’ve definitely kept the “young women in turmoil” part, but you are also imparting a more direct and nefarious message: Transform young women into “high fashion” models by urging them at all times to lose weight.
You want reality MTV? Let’s take a sobering look at the reality of eating disorders in America. It is estimated that there are 1.3 million women with Anorexia Nervosa, 2.25 million women with Bulimia nervosa, and 5.25 million women with Binge Eating Disorder. If you don’t have a calculator handy (I’m assuming you shipped those out with all of the videos you got rid of) I’ll go ahead and provide the running tally — Well over 8 million women in the United States suffer from an eating disorder.”

So please get involved! Our efforts might really make a difference here. I am going to work on my letter this week and post it when it’s done. Please send all letters to tiffabees@yahoo.com

The Cheeseburger Girls

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Image from New York Times Article

Several scientists from Tel Aviv University have developed a new beautification software that applies an algorithmic formula to a photo in attempt to make the photo “more beautiful”. This New York Times article features a series of before and after shots that supposedly show the effects of the software.

They ran the photographs of 92 women and 33 men through the engine, creating before and after shots — essentially, a computer-generated version of “hot or not.” Changes were made only to the geometry of the faces; unlike the digital retouching done for fashion magazines, wrinkles were not smoothed and hair color was not changed.

At the heart of this software is the belief that beauty is subjective and quantifiable. The scientists applied a formula that was based on features that are generally believed to be the most beautiful and desirable across the board.

Studies have shown that there is surprising agreement about what makes a face attractive. Symmetry is at the core, along with youthfulness; clarity or smoothness of skin; and vivid color, say, in the eyes and hair. There is little dissent among people of different cultures, ethnicities, races, ages and gender.

In the example of the woman above, the after picture (to the right) completely altered the facial characteristics that made her look like her.

“I think the after picture looks great, but it doesn’t really look like me at all,” she said in an e-mail message. “My entire bone structure, face shape and eye size is different, and my lip color looks changed as well.” She added, “I would like to keep my original face.”

I think it’s dangerous to continue to develop programs like this one that alter the way people look. As a society, we are completely obsessed with before and after shots. These days we especially love the “how I got my body back” shots that show Jane Celebrity in her bikini right next to a photo of what she looked like right after having her baby.

“We have always had a huge industry to make people look better,” Dr. Etcoff said. “Everyone wants to look better. And we keep taking it further and further to all these images that have been doctored. There is a whole generation of girls growing up who think it’s normal not to look the way they really look.”

I would like to live in a world where beauty is not measured by how symmetrical one’s face is. As naive as I might be about this, to me, anyone can be beautiful, regardless of whether or not they have features that are considered conventionally beautiful.

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Unless you have been hiding under a rock you have no doubt seen everyone and their momma in a pair of skinny jeans. And although it usually takes me awhile, I finally succumbed to this contagious trend. Of course as I began to embrace the skinny jean look so did people and their crazy comments about me wearing them.

It was over a year ago when I bought my first pair from Target. I remember getting home and asking a friend what she thought of them (first mistake). She proceeded to motion that they made my thighs look “big” and told me, “Maybe you should just wear dresses”! I couldn’t believe what I had heard. Just wear dresses?! The words would linger in my ear for months on end as I realized how crazy that statement was. So I’m not allowed to wear skinny jeans because I have hips? I thought that was the whole point! It wasn’t long before I started hearing more crazy comments like these… here’s an example of some:

“Skinny jeans only look good when you don’t have any curves”

“Finally, someone skinny enough to be wearing skinny jeans”

“Skinny jeans make you look fatter if you have hips”

“They’re called ‘skinny’ for a reason”

I’m sure you have heard some form of these comments, and I’m here to tell you that they are just a bunch of stupid lies! Sorry that I don’t have better words to articulate this thought, but there are so many lies that women hear on a daily basis I feel it’s just necessary to call it what it is. The problem with these pervasive lies is that women are readily willing to gobble it up as though they were facts from a math textbook. The equation skinny = better, however tempted we are to take it as pure fact, simply is not fact at all. So next time you hear some crazy comment about how you shouldn’t be wearing those or how they make you look bigger I dare you to do what I did… go out and buy another pair with some snazzy heels to match just so everyone can see that you mean business and that your skinny jeans are here to stay!

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