Monthly Archives: September 2011

[Never Say Diet] Happy Weight Stigma Awareness Week!

Oops, I mean… I hope you enjoyed it. Wow, where did Friday come from?

But really, shouldn’t every week be Weight Stigma Awareness Week? Well yes. So in the spirit of carrying that message forward (not, ahem, falling hopelessly behind on loading posts), why don’t you hop over to Never Say Diet and review what Weight Stigma (or Size Bias or Fat Acceptance — though I prefer the first two terms because this isn’t just about fat people) is really all about and why we need it now more than ever.

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[Never Say Diet] Need a Better Body Image? There’s an App for That

iVillage Never Say Diet Virginia Sole-Smith Body Image App

But I’m not so sure that’s a good thing — I know, body image blogger blasphemy! But stay with me, I explain it all over on Never Say Diet today.

It was also a good excuse to pick the brain of one of my favorite writers, Peggy Orenstein, who had so many smart things to say on the issue. I didn’t get them all into the official post (oh 550 maximum word count rule, how you torment me!) so I thought I’d paste the rest of her email below.

You might want to quick read the Never Say Diet post, so you know what the heck we’re talking about with this new body image app and then come back here for Peggy’s full take:

Ai-yi-yi. Clearly, the woman who invented this is sincere and means well. But really, wouldn’t it be better  to get girls off the focus on body ENTIRELY? To realize that they are MORE than their bodies? MORE than how they look? To invest them with OTHER sources of self-esteem? For white, middle-school girls, how they look is the MOST IMPORTANT determinant of their self-esteem. That is a problem–and makes “self-esteem” a tricky concept. It’s not enough just to have something called high self-esteem, it’s the source of it, the domains from which you derive it.

So yes, ideas about beauty and body and what’s acceptable and what’s BEAUTIFUL must  change and broaden. But the all-consuming importance of body and beauty also has to be minimized in favor of who we are and what we do.

Also, what can it mean to a girl to hear positive body-image talk from people like Demi Moore and Ben Stiller who have subjected themselves to MASSIVE amounts of cosmetic enhancement and use personal trainers, personal chefs etc to maintain a the very kind of body that we’re telling girls isn’t important?

Though again, I think she’s absolutely right about the problem and its impact on girls and women. And I have compassion for the pain she went through–which is so common as to be almost normalized–as well as her desire to do something positive for girls and women. I’m just not sure there is any reason to believe this would be a useful or helpful tool…..So I wouldn’t want to slam her. I appreciate her passion. I just think there’s not going to be an app for self-love. I hope I’m wrong about that.

It can be such a fine line to walk between getting girls to think about a broader definition of body and beauty… and getting them to think beyond body and beauty. How do you strike this balance when you talk about body image issues with girls (of all ages)?

PS. If you missed my last post about Peggy’s fantastic book of Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, which, bee tee dubs, includes a picture of the world’s most adorable three-year-old, you can catch that over here.


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[Never Say Diet] Why Even “Lose a Pound Per Week” Diets Fail

iVillage Never Say Diet Virginia Sole-Smith Diets Fail

Some more interesting research out of The Lancet, kittens. Verrry interesting. Scientists are finally figuring out why even that most sensible of diet advice (“lose 1-2 pounds per week”) won’t work indefinitely for everyone — and stops working a lot sooner for some folks than others.

The bad news is that their new idea doesn’t sound like much of a solution. But maybe when they get the kinks worked out? Anyway, read all about it over on Never Say Diet today.

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[Never Say Diet] Julie Bowen Doesn’t Need Your Sandwich Suggestions

iVillage Never Say Diet Julie Bowen Doesn't Need a Sandwich Virginia Sole-Smith

She is perfectly capable of ordering her own lunch, thankyouverymuch.

More to the point, this whole hating on skinny actresses thing has really got to stop. Or at least, just call it what it is: Good, old-fashioned, body snarking, just like when the kids on the playground called you fatty. (If they did that. In which case, I’m really sorry because it must have sucked. Just like… see where I’m going with this?)

As I explain in today’s Never Say Diet post, I am far from innocent in this, but I am working hard to reform. I have suggested sandwiches to skinny people myself many a time when I was feeling bad about my own body and/or particularly confused about all the many tangled messages we get about health, weight and beauty.

So that you sandwich-pushers out there don’t get too testy with me, I did a search for “sandwich” on this here blog to see what I needed to fess up about. There seem to be two.

April 1, 2010: I suggested that Lady Gaga eat a sandwich. Now, this was in response to her pronouncing that “pop stars should not eat,” and nobody could tell if she was being ironic… so maybe nobody could tell if I was being ironic either? But still. Very sorry.

November 18, 2009: I was very excited about that song “Barbie Eat a Sandwich” by Care Bears on Fire. Well… I still like that song. And the video where they chase a Barbie doll around with giant sandwiches. Maybe it’s because the sandwich is metaphorical, since Barbie is, after all, just a plastic icon for a giant corporation responsible for pinkwashing generations of little girls? And it’s okay to be snarky about corporations even though they are people too?

Certainly, if someone makes a video chasing Julie Bowen around with giant sandwiches, I am going to be pissed. Whatever is going on with her weight (which I cannot tell by looking at her and have not been informed about by anyone who has any reason to know), she’s a terrific actress, with rock solid comedic timing, making one of the best shows on television even funnier — and that’s why she won the damn Emmy.

And if she were a man, that’s all anyone would be talking about.



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[Fun With Press Releases] Maybe Just Go The F*** To Sleep, Instead?

This has to be one of the most random press releases I’ve received maybe ever, and believe me, there are candidates for the “most random” award on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

Dear Virginia,

Turn in that late night bowl of ice cream for some late night home shopping. If you need to keep yourself busy when you’re relaxing on your couch, XXXXXX now offers a great alternative to packing on the pounds., a flash sales website that offers a curated selection of home and lifestyle products from coveted brands and emerging designers at up to 70% off retail, will now be offering its members new exclusive night time sales series.

Beginning on September 20, XXXXXX’s night time series promises the same thrill at a new time.  The series will feature cohesive themes to inspire your next redecorating, hosting or holiday occasion.

Curb Appeal, the first night time event, features bench seating, patio furniture and outdoor lighting.

I would be happy to send over additional information, images, or put you in touch with Style Editor at XXXXXX.

So first of all: Obviously, I’m eating ice cream on my couch late at night. Every night. That’s just a given. Moving right along. Why on earth didn’t I think of shopping for weight loss sooner? More to the point, where has the diet industry been on this one? Persuading women to shop more and think they’ll lose weight in the process?

Also, it’s so smart because as Emily over on XO Jane has explained and I’ve also discussed here and here, shopping can fit right in to the ole diet-binge-purge cycle.

At first I was being snarky, but now I think this publicist may be an evil genius.

PS. I included the photos (but not the store’s name, because the purpose of Fun With Press Releases is hardly free advertising!) because that lamp in the middle is tres adorable. So there is that.


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[Never Say Diet] A Junk Food Tax to Reverse the Shame Game?

iVillage Never Say Diet Virginia Sole-Smith Junk Food Tax

Today on Never Say Diet, I’m trying to figure out if “war on obesity” tactics like a junk food tax and restrictions on food advertising to kids will be good for our body image along with our physical health.

It’s a tricky one, since right off the bat, you know I have some differences of opinion on whether it’s really a war on obesity or more of a war on heart disease, cancer and diabetes where we seem to be needlessly fixated on bathroom scales and Body Mass Indexes. Sort of like those weapons of mass destruction that nobody ever found.

But I like public health initiatives that go after the industries profiting off our poor health rather than sticking individual sick people with yet another guilt trip about how they’re fat and it’s all their fault. So I think this time, we’re all on the same side. Isn’t that a nice way to end the week?

Of course whether the diet and fast food industries will ever let such ideas become actual enforceable laws is an entirely separate question, with, I fear, a less happy answer. Just ask Mayor Bloomberg.

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[Never Say Diet] Adele is Ready for Her Not-So-Close-Up

iVillage Never Say Diet Adele Close-Up VIrginia Sole-Smith

Ah yes, the delightful media trend of chopping up fat women so they are either floating heads or headless bodies has a new victim. Read all about it over on Never Say Diet today.

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[Never Say Diet] Don’t Inject Beef Fat Into Your Face

Never Say Diet iVillage Virginia Sole-Smith Beef Fat Lady

Honestly. I leave you people alone for two weeks and this is what I come back to?

Except, of course, it’s not really about Beef Fat Lady at all. So no getting distracted now and hating the player instead of the game. And in it may seem ironic but stay with me news, I also have a guest post up over on the Daily Glow’s Beauty Buzz blog on Why Beauty Makes Us Happy. Because — especially in a perfect world where nobody feels pressured to inject kitchen waste into their pores — it really can. And frankly, it should do that even here in the very much imperfect world.

At least, I sure hope Beef Fat Lady found some happiness in her beauty work somewhere along the way. Before things got really, really sad.


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