Category Archives: Fun with Press Releases

[Fun With Press Releases] This Would Be the Diet Industry, Hoping to Profit Off Your Freshman 15 Phobia.

Forgive me, because this is going to be rather … on the nose.

But when a press release like this arrives in my inbox in the very same week when I’ve been busy debunking the myth of the Freshman Fifteen, well, what’s a girl to do? Post it on her blog, of course.

Because while I was using science to explain why college students don’t actually gain as much weight as expected — and you all, in your thoughtful comments, added evidence to the theory that some of that weight gain might just be kids becoming adults — this “celebrity nutritionist” has figured out the real reason college freshmen gain weight.

And I don’t want to scare you.

But it’s because of the late night snakes.

Hi Virginia,
The dreaded “Freshman 15”
XXXX, Celebrity Nutritionist Is Here To Help All Those College Students Coming Home for the Holidays
The causes of the freshman 15 may seem to be common sense for many people but for those who don’t understand why they gain so much weight during the first year at a college this should help. Everyone is settling into their college life, finding out what works for them. However, somewhere along the way health gets put on the back burner. Next, you show up to Thanksgiving looking like the turkey. Here are some reasons:
  • Lack of exercise
  • Pulling all nighters (drinking/ studying)
  • Late night snakes
  • Keeping unhealthy snacks on hand (in the dorm room)
  • Not watching the calories you consume throughout the day
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Unmotivated
Although the “Freshman 15” might be a litt bit of an exaggeration, most freshmen do gain 5 pounds.
Some Fun Facts about Freshman year: Cornell University researchers found that college freshman gain half a pound per week on average. That’s about 11 times more weight than the average 17-and 18-year old will gain, and nearly 20 times more than the average weight gain among adults. Both male and female college students eat approximately 500 additional calories between the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m.
XXX’s Dorm Room Tips:
·         Get all the unhealthy snacks out of your dorm (yes the Ramen Noodles and Mac + Cheese have to go)
·         Walk to class! While the shuttles may seem to be a better option the exercise will help
·         Eat Breakfast and do not skip meals
·         Every campus has a gym and you already pay for it. Get there, even if it is 3 times a week
·         Try your best to get a full night of rest. This helps your overall health tremendously
·         Get involved in an intramural sport, it will keep you active and create an opportunity to meet new people
·         Keep an eye on what type of alcoholic beverages you are consuming, stay away from sugary mix drinks
·         Start a workout routine in your dorm room. You can start with something as small as 25 push-ups and sit-ups. You can gradually increase the number that you are doing.  
I hope you find these tips useful for your readers. If you would like to speak with XXXX RD, CNS, CDN, the Chief Science Officer of XXX, about what steps to take to lose the freshman 15 and keep it off I can be reached at XXX-XXX-XXXX.
Thank you,
XXXX RD, CNS, CDN and Chief Science Officer of XXXX
XXXX is a registered, certified clinical nutritionist appointed as Chief Science Officer for XXXX. With over 27 years of experience using innovative, complementary nutritional therapies in private practice, he has dedicated his efforts to research and product development for the dietary supplement and medical foods industries, where he has been instrumental in bringing unique nutritional substances and formulations to the health/dietary supplement industry.
XXXX is a clinically studied performance-enhancing formula designed to improve athletic performance through optimized recovery. This FDA submitted formula combines a blend of extended release proteins, anti-oxidants, and amino acids that meet the multi-nutritional needs of strength, speed, and endurance athletes.


Filed under Fun with Press Releases

[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.


Filed under Fun with Press Releases

[Fun With Press Releases] The Wedding Industry Wants You to Do Your Body (No) Favor

I spend a lot of time dissecting the beauty industry (you know, by going to beauty school, making fun of their press releases, and so on). But if you’re in a certain mid-20s to early-30s age bracket like me and my friends, chances are you’re also spending a hell of a lot of time navigating the wedding industry. Which is its own very special breed of insanity. When I got married two years ago, I worried a lot about my weight, my teeth and my makeup. And my best friend Amy was the voice of reason about one thousand times. (Amy is also the deputy editor of ReadyMade Magazine, so you might remember her from this post last week, about my house.)

Now she’s getting married in almost exactly one month — yippee! — so it’s my turn to try to say helpful things.

And since we’re both magazine folk, this particularly unhelpful press release landed in our inboxes at the same minute yesterday and I told Amy she had to go to town on it, guest post-style, for y’all.

So here we go.

Amy Palanjian The Things We Make Virginia Sole-Smith Beauty Schooled Continue reading


Filed under Fun with Press Releases, Guest Post

[Fun With Press Releases] Capitol Hill Cosmetics Party Was a Hoot.

Fun with Press Releases: Because sometimes the beauty industry just goes there.

So last Wednesday, the Society for Women’s Health Research hosted a Capitol Hill briefing called “The Make Up of Your Make Up” (see what they did there?) to discuss, “the science of cosmetics and its impact on women’s health.” They sent me a press release right after, so I could know what a great time they all had.

And my first response was: Color me excited! A great women’s health nonprofit getting Congress to pay attention to all the women’s health issues going on in the world of beauty? This is big stuff.

Linda Katz, MD, MPH, Director of the Office of Cosmetics and Colors at the Food & Drug Administration kicked things off with an overview of the FDA’s responsibilities. Which I’m sure was good times. And then they got to the rest of their speakers:

With FDA oversight defined, John E. Bailey, PhD, Chief Scientist and Executive Vice President for Science of the Personal Care Products Council, shared more information on the cosmetic regulatory system including hazard vs. risk and how products are developed. Bailey said the steps for product development are, “to decide on type of product, who is intended to use it, what do you want the product to do, what regulatory body does it fall under (over-the-counter drugs or cosmetics), and finally, selection of ingredients by formulator.”

Halyna Breslawec, PhD, Deputy Director of the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), explained the approval process for cosmetics and how ingredients are deemed safe. The mission of CIR is to “thoroughly review and access the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics in an open, unbiased, and expert manner, and publish the results in open, peer-reviewed literature.” The most frequently used ingredients and ingredients of concern are given high priority from CIR for review. They found 1124 ingredients to be safe, 875 safe with qualifications, 9 unsafe and 51 with insufficient data. In total, 2109 ingredients have been reviewed by CIR to date.

Rounding out the panel, Tina Alster MD, Director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Georgetown University Medical Center, offered insight into the top dermatological concerns with cosmetics. Even though cosmetics are deemed safe, some women face adverse reactions, including irritant, allergic, photoallergic and other reactions. Dermatitis from topical prescriptions is common so women should be diligent in observing how their skin reacts to different products. Alster’s main take-home messages for consumers are “sun protection is crucial, know your ABCDE’s (have any and all suspicious lesions checked by a dermatologist), and topicals have great therapeutic efficacy but also potential for side effects.”

Following the presentations, guests were treated to a reception to learn more about cosmetics from various companies and to ask further questions of the panel.

Ground Control to Major Tom! Because, yeah, there’s something wrong. Apparently SWHR decided to discuss the impact of cosmetics on women’s health with… the scientists that the beauty industry pays to tell everyone that cosmetics are good for women’s health. Let’s review:

1. John Bailey is the “chief scientist” of the industry’s main trade association.

2. Halyna Breslawec works for the CIR, which is the industry-funded panel that reviews cosmetic safety (and shares office space with the main trade association).

3. Tina Alster sounds all impartial in the write-up above — Georgetown, ooh fancy! — but is also “the consulting dermatologist to Lancôme” according to her official bio over here. I’m guessing she doesn’t do that pro bono.

Now, I don’t mind giving the industry a place at the table when we’re talking about what’s going on with their products. They make ’em, they get to talk about ’em. And they’re super convinced that their safety review process is awesome. (Even though they’ve only reviewed about 20 percent of the over 10,000 chemicals used in cosmetics today. What? They’re being thorough, don’t rush them.)

Fair enough.

But where were the impartial scientists and doctors, you know, the ones who don’t get paid to say beauty products are safe? Where were the activists like the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics who have spent years researching why they might not all be so safe? Where were the salon workers, who are experiencing health issues from breathing this stuff in all the time? And where were the consumers who’d like get some actual straight answers for a change?

And most of all: Why is a reputable women’s health nonprofit throwing a singles mixer for a $330 billion industry* that seems to need no help finding its way into the government’s snuggly warm embrace?

“The safety of cosmetics is an important issue for women’s health,” said Phyllis Greenberger, MSW, President and CEO of SWHR. Oh… nope, still confused.

*Estimate of industry value per Harvard business historian Geoffrey Jones.


Filed under Fun with Press Releases, Government Watch, Happenings, Ingredients

[Fun with Press Releases] Plastic Surgery Predictions for 2011

Fun with Press Releases: Because sometimes the beauty industry just goes there.

plastic surgery
January is a month of uncertainty. And it’s not just diets. We’re all filled with hope and excitement and burning questions about what the coming year will bring in terms of plastic surgery trends. Fortunately, this press release landed in my inbox just before the holidays to provide some answers.
It’s pretty in-depth, so I’ve bolded the best parts. I don’t want you to miss any gems. Continue reading


Filed under Beauty Labor, Fun with Press Releases, Glossed Over.

[Fun With Press Releases] Is Cosmetic Surgery a Career Investment?

Fun with Press Releases: Because sometimes the beauty industry just goes there.

This publicist says yes:


Studies have shown that attractive people have an advantage when it comes to getting hired.  In the recessed economy with so many Americans out of work does it make sense to “invest” in cosmetic surgery?  Smoothing out an angry looking furrowed brow or choosing from a myriad of lunch-hour procedures to look younger and fresher might give job-seekers more confidence and a greater probability of landing their job.

XXX Medical Institute in the XXX area has over 20 years experience as specialists in plastic surgery and eye surgeries. They are available for interviews and comments on this topic.  Dr. XXX of XXX Plastic Surgery is a XXX. area Top Doc and specializes in breast and body cosmetic surgery.  If you would like to speak to anyone on their team regarding a topic, please let us know.

I’m thinking a lot about how the recession has shaped our spending habits this week (like, remember how on Friday, I asked you about this and told you to email me? It is still true and you still should!). For so many of us, the last few years have served as a bit of a wake-up call, whether you were impacted directly and had to do some serious retrenching, or worrying that you might be made you think a little harder about how we got so addicted to buying so much stuff in the first place.

Especially clothes (me). And beauty products and services (me again). And oh yeah, pretty things for my house. Sigh.

And then here comes this press release, suggesting that spending more on cosmetic surgery is actually an investment in your financial future and as essential to your job hunt as your LinkedIn profile. Right away, I was all scoffing and how dare they? about it, because clearly, we would all be better off spending less right now, particularly when it’s money we don’t have.

But I’m also not sure the press release is so wrong. Because I hear from women every day about the pressure we face to look a certain way (usually younger, also thinner) to get and keep a job. And while I hate endorsing that pressure and saying, yes, you, cave and get the Botox, if you can’t beat ’em, you can at least look younger and stay employed! I’m also not sure there is a clear solution here, since, after all, you probably do really need that job.

So, this is a tough one. We do need this wake-up call. It is time to reassess our spending habits and think about how we want to use our money in the future. But we’re also still under a lot of these same pressures, which come with a certain price tag.

How are you navigating this? Do you find yourself spending money on beauty that you’d rather be saving — whether it’s cosmetic surgery, or something more mundane like needing to update your work wardrobe every season no matter what? Or are you conscious of making different choices now? Let’s discuss.


Filed under Beauty Labor, Fun with Press Releases

[Fun With Press Releases] Actually, Fat Talk is Good for You

Dear world: My apologies.

Here I go, telling you about Fat Talk Free Week, thinking it’s this lovely group-hug thing. Where women could stop hating themselves and maybe focus on their health, not their jeans size. Boy was I wrong.

Because actually? It’s going to kill you.

Thank God this press release found its way into my inbox, to set me straight. Continue reading


Filed under beauty standards, Fun with Press Releases

Just Because You Can’t See Your Cellulite Doesn’t Mean It Won’t Be There. [Fun with Press Releases]

Fun With Press Releases: Because sometimes, the beauty industry just goofs.

From: XXXX
Sent: Tue, June 8, 2010 12:54:46 PM
Subject: Womens News: Genetic Test Determines Likelihood Of Cellulite

Dear Ms. XXXX:

As part of your coverage of women’s issues, I thought you or one of your colleagues would want to see this press release. It crossed over BusinessWire at about 10:45 AM eastern time today:

Genetic Test Helps Determine Likelihood Of Cellulite – Before The Swimsuit Makes You Look Fat

Genetic Dermatology R&D Company XXXX Launches Cellulite Gene Test

IRVINE, CA, JUNE 8, 2010 — As summer swimsuit season heats up, women around the world will inspect their looks in the mirror. A majority of them will see cellulite – at some point – but a new genetic test may be able to help them avoid cellulite before anyone notices.

Molecular dermatology research and development innovator XXXX today releases the Cellulite Gene Test for Moderate to Severe Cellulite (gynoid lipodystrophy). The $249 test helps doctors predict if a patient is at a high risk for developing Nurnberger-Muller grade 2 (or greater) cellulite. The information allows a doctor to develop a plan which may include therapy and/or lifestyle changes that may reduce the risk of developing moderate to severe cellulite.

Existing therapies are unlikely to reverse severe cellulite once it has occurred; however, early lifestyle changes including exercise, medication choices (i.e. avoiding birth control and hormone replacement therapy), and therapies, such as laser therapy, may slow or stop development of severe cellulite and improve visual aesthetics.

“Even though cellulite affects a large percentage of women, very few scientific studies have attempted to understand the underlying molecular and physiological basis. Our study of cellulite is a breakthrough in the understanding of the cause of cellulite, and ushers an era of new potential therapies for cellulite,” says XXXXX MD, Research fellow, at the University of XXXX, Italy.

Cellulite Gene Test reports the presence or absence of a specific variation in the angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) gene, which has an important role in the cardiovascular system.

“The Cellulite Gene Test is most appropriate for women who have not yet developed moderate to severe cellulite and may have a family history of cellulite,” says XXXX CEO XXXX.

A patient testing positive for the ACE variant has approximately a 70% chance of developing moderate to severe cellulite.

The patent-pending Cellulite Gene Test kit is available through qualified doctors, who collect a genetic sample using a cheek swab. The sample is mailed to XXXX’s CLIA-certified laboratory for analysis. Results are strictly confidential, delivered only to doctors in two to three weeks.

So let’s break this down:

1. A cellulite gene test? Obviously, this is “women’s news.” (Yes missing an apostrophe above but I had to correct it down here.)

2. “A majority of them will see cellulite – at some point – but a new genetic test may be able to help them avoid cellulite before anyone notices.” Translation: Most of you are already f*cked. But if you’re totally paranoid and zeroing in on cellulite not yet visible to the naked eye, you’re going to want to drop $249 on this test. Which will tell you that you’re going to get cellulite.

3. “Gynoid lipodystrophy” and “Nurnberger-Muller grade 2 cellulite.” Please tell me one of you fine readers is a doctor and can tell us whether these are legit medical terms or the in the same Fake Medicine category as hypotrichosis (“having inadequate eyelashes” as diagnosed by Brooke Shields). Actually, I don’t think we need a doctor for that. I’m just going out on a limb here and say: Thigh dimples are not a medical condition. Bring it on, haters.

4. “The information allows a doctor to develop a plan […] that may reduce the risk of developing moderate to severe cellulite.” Or it may not. You can pay all this money, try the various “therapy and/or lifestyle changes” and still have to learn to live with… thigh dimples.

5. “Very few scientific studies have attempted to understand” cellulite. Because it’s cellulite. Even the word sounds like an infomercial product.

6. “A patient testing positive for the ACE variant has approximately a 70% chance of developing moderate to severe cellulite.” I will put the eleven dollars I made in Beauty U tips tonight on the fact that a patient testing negative for the ACE variant has an equal chance of developing cellulite by sitting on their tuckus.

7. “Results are strictly confidential.” Well. Thank. God. Because if there’s one thing this press release proves, it’s that we’re not ready to accept the Cellulite-Positive woman.

I Googled around for a good image for this post, but all that comes up are shots of women squeezing their thighs to showcase their dimples. Can’t do it. Stop squeezing your thighs. They’re fine.


Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, Fun with Press Releases, week 29

[Fun with Press Releases] The Nation’s First Human Bra

Fun With Press Releases: Because sometimes, the beauty industry just goofs.

photo of Safety Garb for Women Workers, ca. 1943 with plastic bra

You guys. I am a bad beauty blogger. I went on a mini-vacation over the long weekend, and just LOOK at what I missed attending for you:

Is this something you might be interested in?  Let me know





XXX Professor XXXX and bra historian and author XXXX  join dozens of models attired in periodic brassieres celebrating the 100th anniversary of the invention of the modern bra in New York City in 1910 by Mary Phelps-Jacob.

Now, some women will never need to wear a bra or bikini again thanks to a new advancement in medical technology developed by Park Avenue plastic surgeon Dr. XXXX. XXXX’s announcement has the potential to change the face of modern fashion. He will introduce the Big Apple’s first human bra, which uses a woman’s own skin to form a natural internal bra inside her chest. Women who have undergone the new internal bra procedure, also will be present.


Friday, May 28, 2010, Noon


XXXX in Manhattan’s Fashion District


In 1910, Mary Phelps-Jacob of New York City bought an evening gown to wear to an upcoming party and was frustrated with the corset because it was visible underneath the sheer dress.  With the help of her maid, the 19-year-old socialite sewed together two pieces of fabric and some ribbon to make a less visible bra. It was the first modern day bra and the first with a patent (received in 1914).   Before this, women were expected to wear uncomfortable corsets to support their busts – a social convention that was contrived 350 years earlier by Catherine de’ Medici, wife of King Henry II of France. Phelps-Jacob, who patented her bra design under name of Caresse Crosby, eventually sold her patent to Warner’s, which continues making bras today. Bras are about a $15 billion industry today in the United States.





The nation’s first internal “Human” bra.

Otherwise known as…a boob job. Because isn’t the whole point of breast implants to enable you to go bra-free and still be crazy perky at all times? I mean, for real, if I — or Alternate Universe Me — spent alllll that money on implants and still had to deal with underwire and eye hooks on a daily basis, I would be super grouchy.

Of course, it should be noted that this boob job involves “a woman’s own skin,” not implants. Which somehow qualifies it as “natural,” as in, “a natural internal bra,” also as in, the single most contradictory phrase I have ever heard.

Anyway. Sorry I missed that party. Can we all just agree to stick with Mary Phelps-Jacob’s strips of ribbon and fabric rather than having bras surgically (yet naturally) fashioned out of our own skin?

[Awesome photo from the US National Archives via Flickr. Here’s the official caption: “Safety garb for women workers. The uniform at the left, complete with the plastic “bra” on the right, will prevent future occupational accidents among feminine war workers. Los Angeles, California. Acme, ca. 1943.” Damn straight.]


Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, Fun with Press Releases, week 28

[Fun With Press Releases] Rankled by Cankles.

Fun With Press Releases: Because sometimes, the beauty industry just goofs.

Really, I should just post this and not write one word about The Wonder that is this press release. This canvas doesn’t need any more paint. It feels sacrilegious. We should just read and silently bask in the perfection of it all.

So here (and, you’re welcome):

Sent: Wed, April 21, 2010 3:29:32 PM
Subject: Story Idea: Rankled By Cankles

Hi Virginia,

The newest body part worth stressing over is the ankles…well, “cankles” to be exact.

Cankle – a word derived from the combination of ‘calf’ and ‘ankle’ – occurs when the calf merges with an obese or swollen ankle, and is claimed to be the “thunder thigh” of the new millennium.  Many women struggle with excess leg and ankle fat and no amount of diet or exercise make a real difference. The popularity of gladiator-style sandals and cropped leggings this summer has only added to the nationwide cankle anxiety.

For those who have had enough of the emotional distress, there is a now a new treatment called XXXXX, a novel laser assisted lipolysis technology that shapes and contours the body, including the lower leg and ankle area.
XXXX uses ultrasound technology, which is has the ability to differentiate between fat cells and important tissue. The breakthrough science means more precise contouring and a gentler effect on surrounding skin tissue, which results in faster recovery time, less risk of patient complications and the appearance of tighter and smoother looking skin. Check out XXXXX for more information.

We have partnered with several top physicians in the area and would love to work with you to showcase the treatment – and we can bring the equipment and expert (and patient) to you!

If you would like any additional information or to contact a physician, please email me or call XXX.XXX.XXXX.


Okay, I know, I know, but I just can’t help myself!

Top three reasons why I love this press release:

1. The quasi-scientific explanation of the word cankle. “It’s claimed” to be the thunder thigh of the new millennium. By, we can only presume, scholars and men of record the world over.

2. The reference to gladiator sandals that makes me want to party like it’s still 2008.


Now. Back to the silent* shock and awe.

*That’s just how I appreciate fine art. You should feel free to rail away.


Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, Fun with Press Releases, week 24