Category Archives: beauty standards

The Tina Fey Photoshop Problem

Tina Fey

I know Bossypants is kinda 2011, but 30 Rock is back with new episodes (thank God — does anyone else start to despair and watch The Big Bang Theory reruns on TBS ad nauseam during the dark days of December? Just me?), and so my friend Kate and I started discussing this Tina Fey question via email the other day. So, seeing as I’m tres busy making my new website all pretty for you, I thought I’d reprise that email into a blog post and… go!

Continue reading


Filed under beauty standards

[Never Say Diet] Thoughts on the Fat Trap

Human Trap by Memkaos

Apologies to the friends who were sharing the New York Times around my breakfast table over the weekend and thus, have already heard all of my rantings on the subject of Tara Parker-Pope’s New York Times Magazine cover story, “The Fat Trap.

But for those of you who missed that diatribe — or perhaps, just want to digest the more articulate I’ve-had-my-coffee-now version — here’s my Never Say Diet take on the weird left turn she makes in that piece. Which is mostly, so excellent. I just read her “Behind The Cover Story” Q&A with the Times6th Floor Blog and it makes me like the first three-quarters of the article all the more. It’s the first time I can recall a major media outlet taking on a story like this. And we really do need to be talking about all of the research that shows, over and over, why permanent weight loss is such a moving target for most people: Because “a number of biological factors that have nothing to do with character or willpower can make it extraordinarily difficult,” as Parker-Pope explains.

Where Parker-Pope and I part ways is in what we want to do with this information. She views obesity “as a medical condition” and thinks the kind of all-consuming, food gram-counting measures adopted by the people she profiles are inspiring, if exhausting, preventive health strategies. So she wants to use this new scientific understanding of why weight loss attempts almost always fail… to keep on trying to lose weight. Even though it will be really difficult and ineffective for the majority of people.

In contrast, I think* the jury is still out on whether obesity itself is a medical issue (at least 20 percent of obese people have no health issues at all, and there are studies show that overweight women actually live longer than normal or underweight women) or whether it tends simply to correlate with lifestyle habits that are bad for our health in other ways. And since we don’t know for sure, but we do know for sure that diets don’t work and the war on obesity has mostly just led to a war on obese people, why don’t we stop chasing the weight loss dragon once and for all, and instead focus on the specific lifestyle habits that definitely do impact our health’s bottom line? Continue reading


Filed under beauty standards, Never Say Diet

Body By Glamour Spoils You For Choice

Glamour Don't

On page 160 of the December issue, Glamour invites you to “design your best body,” explaining that the difference about — weight training? society’s expectations? democracy? it is unclear — today is “you can pick your look.”

So. Big decision time. Do you want to be a tall, leggy blonde like Gwyneth? Or a tall, leggy blonde like Cameron? Are you confused by the many, many options here? We can go over them again. Slowly. Does it help to know that Gwyneth has wee little muscles (aka “mini”) while Cameron’s bulkier brawn was apparently named after a feminine hygiene product? No? Then however will you decide? 

Surely, you aren’t still wasting time loving the body you currently have, no matter how lacking in blonde legginess it may be. Glamour set us all straight on that notion months ago.

Oh lady mags. Surely, we can raise the bar just an inch or two more?

PS. Thanks to Kate of Her Two Cents for the tip (and the scan!) on this.


Filed under beauty standards, Glossed Over.

[Never Say Diet] Love Your Body, It’s Perfect — Now Change!

iVillage Never Say Diet Virginia Sole-Smith Love Your Body Now Change!Over on Never Say Diet, today’s post was ostensibly inspired by this new study about how loving your body will help you lose weight. Gah. So problematic. I know.

In fact, that post was also inspired by an email that I received over the weekend from reader Lauren.

Now let’s be crystal clear: I’m posting Lauren’s email here because I think she speaks some truth and lots of us can relate, and I thought the wonderful community that is Beauty Schooled might have some words of wisdom to share. You guys are crazy smart and have so many wise words. I am also pretty smart and have a few words (ahem, 1400 or so).

But! I say to any interweb lurkers out there — you’ve been warned. I’m going to be moderating comments super carefully on this post, because I do not want this to turn into a negative, unhelpful conversation that leads, as Lauren says “to tears and yucky feelings.” For her or anyone else.

And please, please everyone be aware that even with my scrutiny, there may be aspects of this post (my comments, other reader comments) that could be triggering. Use your judgment. Come back tomorrow, when I’ll be railing about sitcom marriage stereotypes (honest, I will!) with mirth and hilarity, if that sounds more like your cup of tea.

Otherwise, keep reading. Because here is Lauren: Continue reading


Filed under beauty standards, Never Say Diet

[Never Say Diet] Reclaiming Fat

IVillage Never Say Diet Virginia Sole-Smith "Reclaiming Fat"

I use the F word a lot when I’m writing about body image, and every so often, my iVillage editor gently takes it out of my copy and replaces it with something softer, like “overweight” or “portly”* because she doesn’t want to offend anyone. (She’s nice like that.)

So we were discussing the “is fat offensive?” question and realized that maybe it would help if I just straight-up explained why I use fat — because I actually have a whole secret mission behind it. Which is now no longer a secret. You can read the whole thing here.

*Sidebar: Really, if you’re offended by “fat,” is “portly” any better? Forget size bias, I just think it is one of the most unattractive words in the English language. Also for some reason, I picture anyone described that way dressed as an old time-y ship captain. So there’s that.


1 Comment

Filed under beauty standards, Never Say Diet

[Never Say Diet] Princess Perfect

Princess Perfect Kate Middleton Royal Wedding Never Say Diet Virginia Sole-SmithY’all know I have some strong feelings about princesses. Which means the Royal Wedding cannot pass us by without a discussion of the relationship between princess culture, beauty and body image. Only this time, it’s not just the kids we’re worried about.

Leave a comment

Filed under beauty standards, Glossed Over., Happenings, Never Say Diet

[Never Say Diet] Body Image Issues: Strong Enough For a Man

Body Image Issues: Strong Enough for a Man Never Say Diet Virginia Sole-Smith

“I’m like, it’s not rainbows and lollipops,” says the man’s man in a new Weight Watchers ad campaign that debuted Sunday. “This is a plan for MEN.”

Are you clear on the distinction? Men like beer. (So Weight Watchers has created a Beer Cheat Sheet for them.) Women like… rainbows and lollipops. (Also ponies. And dotting the letter “i” with a heart. Because we’re all six.)

Here’s why the diet industry’s decision to target male consumers is bad news for everyone.

1 Comment

Filed under beauty standards, Never Say Diet