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Posts Tagged ‘Health’

side-saladOne of my friends told me a story several months ago, which I found quite shocking. She was at the gas pump one morning when a homeless woman approached her and asked for 30 cents so she could buy a salad. My friend obliged and as she was looking in her purse for a dollar to give her, the woman decided to divulge a little extra information about why she was on a hunt for a salad. She proceeded to tell my friend that she had recently “gained fifty pounds drinking beer” and was now on a diet to try and lose the weight. She had gotten “fat” and was trying to limit her food intake to salad (and apparently cigarettes as she was smoking while she told my friend her “fat” troubles).

When my friend relayed the story to me I shook my head and said “only in L.A….” Not to say that something like this wouldn’t happen in another city, but it’s so typical that in a city which is especially obsessed with body weight, dieting, exercise and image, that even a homeless woman would deem herself fat and in need of a diet.

I mean, not to point out the obvious, but this woman is homeless! Without a home! Without consistent and steady food and shelter. So why is her priority the size of her butt? I certainly don’t mean to sound insensitive or presumptuous. There could have been a number of things going on with this woman that I have no idea about and I do not mean to judge her in anyway. I just simply wish to point out the irony in this story which is that this is a woman who is deemed part of a group of society that is generally thought of has hungry and in need of food (without regard to body size or image) and yet, she actually is quite concerned with her “fatness.”

This story is quite sad because it just goes to show that our obsession with dieting, thinness and image touches all members of society. ALL women in our society, no matter social class, race, age or ethnicity are affected by the thin culture in some way shape or form.

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We all know that women are willing to do just about anything to lose weight. I’ve heard of some pretty funky things in my day but this one is definitely on the top of my list: the tongue piercing diet. Want to lose a little extra weight? Get your tongue pierced! It will swell and hurt to the point of not being able to eat or drink for several weeks! Drew Barrymore recently got her tongue pierced which resulted in serious swelling, to which she said:

“I couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink for two weeks – great diet in a weird way.”

Maybe I’m being nit-picky here. I’m sure she probably meant the comment in a joking manner. But I think her comment does reveal a mentality that so many women in our society have: pain and physical misery is worth it, if it means you can lose a little (or a lot ) of weight.

The blog Every Woman Has An Eating Disorder had a survey a while back asking the question: “Would you sign up for the stomach bug?” 133 respondents (out of 369) basically said that they would if it meant that they could lose a little weight.

It reminds me of this time when I was at a client’s office. The CEO had recently suffered from a terrible flu for which he was hospitalized. He was telling one of his business partners about the experience and how he dropped ten pounds during his period of sickness. The woman responded “Oh Wow, that’s nice! I wish that would happen to me,” To which he responded, “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy!” (Mind you this woman is middle-aged and probably no bigger than a size 4).

All of this just goes to show how twisted our mentality is about weight, even if it’s only just a few pounds. Thinner is always better; no matter the cost to get there. As harmless as Drew’s comment may seem to some people, I find it extremely problematic because it actually reflects the way many women in the world think about their bodies and their desire to lose weight.

I say forget about the tongue piercing diet (and all other diets for that matter) and let’s strive to live happy and healthy lives, free of the incessant desire to drop pounds, even if it means illness.

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simpsonJessica Simpson’s body has been the media’s sweetheart for a while. But apparently the honeymoon is over because Jessica Simpson has put on a little weight and she is, of course, being scrutinized to death for it.

“Yesterday, when I saw the pictures in the newspaper and they made some crack about her looking like she’s playing for the Dallas Cowboys as a linebacker, like her boyfriend (Tony Romo), who is the quarterback, I was so mad,” Rodriguez said. “Why do they have to pick on her?”

It’s so ridiculous that we rake women through the coals for gaining weight. We make cruel jokes about it. We show an endless number of before and after pictures to show the weight (pun intended) of the person’s crime. I found this comment to be especially ridiculous:

Today, the songstress looks like she’s having a little trouble strutting around on stage at the Radio 99.9 Kiss Country’s annual Chili Cookoff this last weekend. Dressed in a tight low-cut black top, high-waisted rib coverin’ mom jeans, and not one but two tummy-tuckin’ leopard print belts, the former toast of Hazzard County hardly looked comfy in her new curves.

Really?! So what, she’s not a size 2 anymore! So, she doesn’t look like an anorexic teenager! Does that mean she now has a hard time getting around the stage? Is that implying that people who gain weight (or are, “God-forbid,” fat) have a hard time moving around a stage for a concert?!

I think Jessica’s sister Ashlee put it quite well:

“I am completely disgusted by the headlines concerning my sister’s weight,” Simpson wrote Tuesday on her website. “A week after the inauguration and with such a feeling of hope in the air for our country, I find it completely embarrassing and belittling to all women to read about a woman’s weight or figure as a headline on Fox News.”

Ashlee Simpson goes on to say:

How can we expect teenage girls to love and respect themselves in an environment where we criticize a size 2 figure? Now, we can focus on the things that really matter.”

I would add that we can’t expect women of any age to respect themselves when we criticize ANY figure, not just a Size 2. If we truly believe that women come in all shapes and sizes (as people always say they do in situations like this), then no woman, no matter what size she is, should be criticized for what she looks like.

Jessica’s weight gain is yet another indicator that the world we live in is a cruel and merciless one that doesn’t allow for women to be who they are without critique. No doubt these criticisms will probably spiral the poor girl into a state of starvation mixed with an incessant workout schedule that will result in a tiny waistline once again. And at the end of the day, that’s what people want to see. They don’t want a “curvier” Jessica, they want to see a woman with a girl’s body! They want to know that perfection is possible and they want to see its possibilities lived out in their celebrities.

(Please note that the title of this post is just meant to be a funny exaggeration. I don’t have the slightest idea, nor do I care, about how much weight Jessica Simpson gained).

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Image Found Here

I was reading the Huffington Post this morning and stumbled upon Nora Ephron’s thoughts about the VP debates and I couldn’t help but share something she wrote that just thrilled me. All of you know that I posted awhile back about the recent attempts of Los Angeles officials to put calorie content on restaurant menus (and you also know how much I love the idea, note the sarcasm:-)). Here are Ephron’s well-written thoughts on the matter.

It reminded me of this thing that’s happened in New York City, which is that all restaurants with more than fourteen locations have to put on the menu the calorie count of each food item. This is an appalling development. It’s hard enough to figure out what you want to order without someone explicitly telling you that you’re going to drop dead if you eat it. But more important, I don’t believe those calorie counts. Who knows how many calories there are in a grilled cheese sandwich? No one, that’s who. But there it is, on the menu, in a grim black and white parenthetical, and it affects you, you can’t help it, and as a result you end up not ordering the thing you wanted and instead ordering some stupid bowl of soup that barely gets you through till three in the afternoon.

Well put Nora! A cheeseburger shout out to you!

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I came across the word “Pregorexia” last week and something immediately clicked. This has been the word I’ve been searching for to describe pregnant women who seem to be obsessed with weight gain during pregnancy.

On The Early Show Monday, Dr. Holly Phillips said women cross the line into pregorexia “when they start to change their behaviors and really focus only on that number on the scale, only on their weight. That’s when it gets dangerous. … Everything you do during pregnancy, including your diet and exercise, should be for your health not for your weight.”

I think Dr. Phillips makes a good point when she says that we have never before been more preoccupied with celebrity pregnancies, weight gain and weight loss. We are living in the “How I Got My Body Back” age.

“I think we’ve never before been more kind of obsessed with celebrity culture, and with celebrity pregnancies, as well. It’s not unusual to see pictures of these celebrities the day before and the day after birth and they’re looking super-humanly fit. They’re really incredible.

Another article I found suggests that pregnancy can actually be a trigger for recovering anorexics.

I remember a few years ago I was hanging out with a woman who was pregnant at the time and she asked if someone could get her a glass of water. She then explained that since she was closing in on her 8th month, she was trying not to gain much more weight. Everyone around nodded in quiet understanding but even back then (in my pre-cheeseburger, crazy days) I still thought there was something off about her comment. In essence, she was trying to drink her hunger (and her baby’s hunger) away.

I don’t think you have to be anorexic or bulimic to have an eating disorder or rather suffer from disordered eating. In the same vein, I don’t think you have to officially be “pregorexic” to have a problem. Just because my friend who made that comment wasn’t officially a pregorexic doesn’t mean her mentality about her body and weight was healthy. It’s scary to me that a woman’s preoccupation with weight could actually put her baby’s nourishment in jeopardy. Yikes!

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Now I’ve seen it all! The newest solution to helping supposedly sedentary workers become more active: cubical treadmills. It’s exactly what is sounds like, a treadmill in your cubicle at work to replace a chair.

” In 2005, Dr. Levine led a study showing that lean people burn about 350 more calories a day than those who are overweight, by doing ordinary things like fidgeting, pacing or walking to the copier.”

And thus, the treadmill desk became popular (although Dr. Levine did not invent the treadmill desk, it was invented by Seth Roberts, a professor at Berkeley). But it’s now seen as a way to help you burn those extra calories which will of course lead to weight loss, right?

I can’t really pinpoint why this rubs me the wrong way. I guess it’s because I see this as taking our society’s obsession with fitness and weight loss to the newest extreme. Not to mention if I worked in a cubical-type work environment and someone was next to my cubical in one of these things it might just drive me crazy.

For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know I don’t have anything against exercise (I myself workout), but I see the treadmill desk as something that is more likely to contribute to the Gotta loose ten pounds syndrome than anything else.

Your thoughts cheeseburger lovers?

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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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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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