Tag Archives: iVillage

[Never Say Diet] The 2011 Diet Hall of Shame

We’re only one week into 2012 and I’ve already lost count of all the weight loss and beauty makeover-related press releases in my inbox. I could be doing a massive Fun With Press Releases series for y’all, but honestly? I’m not even finding the fun. I’m just finding it all a bit sad and exhausting.

What has been fun: Looking back over 2011 to pick my 12 nominees for the Diet Hall of Shame over on Never Say Diet. (This post obviously went live on New Year’s Eve — sorry that I’m just now telling you about it! Let’s put prompter posting on my resolution list, shall we?) Oh, Beef Fat Lady, AskMen.com A**holes, and Kelly Osbourne… what a weird and wacky year it was.

And I’m so grateful to Angela, Dina and all the other folks over at iVillage who gave me the opportunity to write the Never Say Diet blog and get up to my eyeballs in all of this body image business. I thought ten months in beauty school taught me a lot about how women relate to beauty — but ten months of blogging about diet scams, obesity research, and celebrity silliness was an education in its own right.

Nevertheless, I’ve decided that 2012 needs to be open to new adventures — so this is actually my last post as the official iVillage Body Image Expert/Never Say Diet blogger. But don’t fret — I’m still an unofficial body image expert (that’s a real thing, right?*) and for sure, I’ll still be blogging right here, all the time. In fact, I’ve got a fancy schmancy website redesign in the works that I’ll be rolling out in the pretty soon future, at which point I expect your socks to be metaphorically off.

In the meantime, please bear with me as some of my blogging energy goes into working on that vs. publishing posts — but expect a more regular and entirely-this-blog-focused posting schedule to resume shortly.

Oh and Happy New Year! (I know, I know, so last week.)

*I’m also an unofficial expert on chocolate gelato, shoes, and why Veronica Mars should not have been cancelled after just three seasons. In case those are issues that come up for you a lot.

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[Never Say Diet] Do Women Need (To Be) Fat?

Why Women Need Fat Gaulin Lassek

The main thesis behind Why Women Need Fat (out this month from William Lassek, MD and Steven Gaulin, PhD of the University of Pittsburgh) is super fascinating and builds nicely on the Fat Trap business we were talking about yesterday: Your body fights weight loss tooth and nail because evolution has found fat to be quite handy in a survival of the species sort of way. So I went ahead and blogged about all of that on Never Say Diet.

But, full disclosure: I haven’t read the book yet. I’m still waiting to get a copy into my hot little hands, so I had to restrict my analysis to the unfortunate, red flag-waving subtitle (How “Healthy” Food Makes Us Gain Weight and the Surprising Solution to Losing It Forever — oh boy!) and, more encouragingly, the way Dr. Gaulin describes their research in this Salon.com interview.

So I’ll be back with a more in-depth post about the book itself once I, you know, read it. Ahem. Yes, tireless and thorough reporting is what you can expect around here.

In the meantime, let me clarify that I’m not blaming Gaulin or Lassek for the subtitle. My guess is that was the publisher’s doing, as part of their “now this is how you sell a book about evolutionary biology!” strategy. They’re probably not altogether wrong either. But it does put the researchers between a bit of a rock and a hard place because they are simultaneously trying to explain why we’re probably all supposed to be a bit fatter than the Beauty Trap (and the diet industry) allows — and yet also, that we’d all weigh less than we currently do if our diet wasn’t so heavy in highly processed omega-6 fatty acids or “bad fats.” (There’s another red flag.)

Depressingly, I guess that sounds about right: Continue reading

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[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

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[Never Say Diet] Body Image Baggage and the Holidays

chocolate-covered-marshmallow-reindeer

I actually wrote this Never Say Diet post back before Thanksgiving, but I somehow missed posting about it here (maybe this was why). (Un)Fortunately, it’s what we in the news biz call an “evergreen” because, well, mountains of holiday food + family members who press all of your body image buttons can = mayhem at Christmas or Chanukah just as easily as at Thanksgiving. I could probably also make a note to repost this at the 4th of July. See also: Arbor Day.

So I brainstormed some helpful responses to the variety of well-meaning (or, um… not so much) comments you might get about your weight/body/food choices/etc as you gather round the yule log this weekend. Oh, and since this post first went up, Ragen on Dances With Fat has written about avoiding holiday weight shame and wading through weight loss compliments, which are both fantastic reads if you’re anxious about facing either/or.

I mean, hopefully it won’t even be a thing. Your loved ones will gather, merrying will be made, and food will be enjoyed as the nourishing, community-building, comfort-providing, joyful experience that it should be.

But just in case, please remember: You look great. Your health is your business. And you can eat (or not eat) whatever you want. 

Wishing you all everything that’s merry and bright! xo

[Photo: Adorable and tasty chocolate-covered marshmallow reindeer — with pretzel antlers, gah! — via Pinterest, originally from here.]

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Sh*t Girls Say: Funny Because It’s True? Or True…But Not All That Funny?

The newest episode of Shit Girls Say is out, so I’m pondering the meaning of it all over on iVillage today. Is it really funny? Subversively funny? Sexist-ly funny? Or just not funny enough? Why can’t YouTube just stick to LOL-ing about cats?

One quick coda: I wrote that I didn’t think any real, live, self-respecting girl would ever yell “Twinsies!” when she discovers that she and Juliette Lewis are wearing matching bracelets, the way Kyle Sheppard does in Episode One.

But anyone who has ever shown up wearing the same article of clothing as me can tell you that I will immediately exclaim, “People will know we’re friends!!”

Which, I think you’ll agree, is just better. Nevertheless: Well-played, Sheppard. Well. Played.

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Michele Bachman’s Dating Advice and Other News

iVillage pulled me off the body image beat again last week so I could bring you these two breaking news stories:

  • While Michele Bachman believes a woman can be President (I mean, as far as we can tell from her campaign efforts) but she sure doesn’t think it’s okay for a girl to do something crazy, like call a boy up for a date.

And while I’m throwing links at you, here are a few other articles of mine that came out recently(-ish) and are making the rounds of the interweb. Click, link, love, etc.

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[Never Say Diet] AskMen.com Thinks You’re Fat

But don’t worry. This website — which culls its literary talent from the very finest of frat boys and 40-year-old virgins — won’t come right out and say that to your face. Instead, they present a slideshow, imaginatively titled “Top 10 Subtle Ways to Tell Her She’s Getting Fat,” so we can all learn and share.

I don’t usually link directly to garbage like this, but in this case, I am — so y’all can click-through and add your votes to the “First Impression” poll. I trust that you will not feel that reading this article makes you “a better man.”

Because here are some of the gems on their list: “Buy her smaller clothes” on purpose, “try serving her smaller-than-usual portions,” and “plan a beach vacation” — all to shame your lady until she looks down at her body in horror and realizes how fat she has apparently gotten. Maybe because she has, I don’t know, birthed your child recently? Is too busy working hard to support your family to get the gym? Or is just a human with a full life and better things to do with her time than constantly train to be your sexbot? Anyway, as soon as the light dawns thanks to all these sneaky AskMen strategies, she’ll apologize for putting you through the hell of having to look at that. Oh and vow to take up a shame diet of carrots and Spin classes, obvs, until she can shrink back down to a person worthy of your love. Everybody wins!

There are so many things wrong with this story (and AskMen.com in general, and the slideshow’s author, Thomas Foley, in particular) that it was hard to know where to begin. When I put this on my Monday ideas memo for Angela, my iVillage editor, the best I could do was, “Gross, gross, grossgrossgross. Gross. They are gross. What is wrong with everybody? Gross.” Etc.

I’ve gotten a little bit more coherent in today’s Never Say Diet post, but wow. A lot of feelings. One thought that came to me after I wrote the post, so I’m sharing it here:

It’s not so much the core idea — one person in a relationship feeling less than attracted to the other due to a recent change in that person’s physical appearance — that is so abhorrent. It is gross to assume that anytime a woman gets fatter, her partner will automatically lose interest in her — plenty of people are attracted to bigger people of both genders in general, and plenty of other people are so attracted to their particular romantic partners that the standard fluctuations in weight that life brings don’t really do much to change that fact. Still, plenty of people aren’t attracted to bigger people, ever, and that’s their deal. Mostly. It’s also society’s deal, of course, because if we had an overall broader definition of beauty, “fat” wouldn’t be so automatically synonymous with “unf*ckable” in the eyes of AskMen.com and friends.

But what’s truly abhorrent about AskMen.com’s take on the issue is that it assumes that open communication with your partner is completely off the table — that there’s no respectful way to have a conversation about her appearance, health, lifestyle choices and/or whether any of the above is impacting your relationship. And that is a bunch of bullsh*t. I’m not saying that conversation will be fun or easy. But — excuse the gendered phrase but it seems appropriate here — manning up and having it sure beats AskMen.com’s approved tactics of lying and guilt-tripping your way through the issue.

Thoughts? Do you agree that it’s okay for one partner to sometimes not be so into something about their partner’s body — or is that never the business of anybody except that body’s owner?

Or should we just talk about how grossgrossgross that AskMen.com story is? Tip #5 is “Playfully grab her love handles.” I mean. You can’t make this sh*t up. More on all of that over on Never Say Diet. 

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