Tag Archives: New York Times

[Never Say Diet] Obesity, Custody Battles and the Good Divorce

iVillage Never Say Diet Obesity Custody Battles

Only everything, if you ask a certain class of divorce lawyers. Which the Wall Street Journal did. I’m finding the whole thing infuriating over on Never Say Diet today, and it’s not just because it’s offensive to fat people — and thus, to everyone with a body. To be honest, I’ve been riled up ever since I read Susan Gregory Thomas’s piece in the Sunday New York Times about whether “The Good Divorce” is really all that good for kids. She ultimately concludes that it can be, but along the way she cites research finding “children of divorce score worse in math and social skills, and suffer from lower self-esteem than those from non-divorce households, period.” And if you check out the comments over on Peggy Orenstein’s Motherlode post on the story, it’s clear that plenty of readers are skeptical of the concept as well.

As it just so happens, I come from a Good Divorce — my parents share holidays and vacations, welcomed each other’s new spouses and children to the family, and never, ever fought in front of me or undermined each other’s authority. So confidential to those researchers: I scored 700 on my math SATs. And my social skills and self-esteem are generally through the goddamn roof.

There are exactly three things about me that will tell you I come from a “broken home:” I’m really organized, after 18 years of joint custody. (It’s great to live with both your parents. It is not great to forget half your science homework at the other parent’s house.) I over-worry about where my husband and I will spend the holidays now because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

And I will become irate quite quickly when you try to tell me how much divorce messes with kids’ heads.

I’m not saying that doesn’t happen. For every Good Divorce, there are thousands of terrible, heartbreaking divorces where parents won’t or can’t put their differences aside for the collective family good. But what really messed with my head as a kid wasn’t anything my parents did. (I mean: They made me organized. And considerate of other people’s feelings. Quel horreur!) It was the cultural perception of my family as fractured and dysfunctional. Teachers, friends’ parents, and unsolicited strangers often shook their heads and tsked that my cruel parents made me spend half the week at each of their homes so they could play equally important roles in my life. Everybody assumed I must hate my step-parents or new half-siblings (nope, they’re cool). One school secretary told me it was so sad that I had a hyphenated last name, “because it shows you’re secretly hoping your parents will get back together.” I had a lot of feelings about her.

Fortunately, since my family is pretty kick-*ss, these experiences didn’t leave many lasting scars. I’ve long assumed all that early cultural confusion was a sign of how trailblazing my parents were, since they more or less invented the Good Divorce back in the early 1980s. After all, as Thomas notes in her article, 30 years ago, only three states upheld joint custody arrangements at all — now they all do. I didn’t even know what to call it back then — I’d just have to say, “my parents are divorced — but no, really, they like each other.” We’ve made so much progress, right?

But when I read about trumped up custody battle tactics like “you’re too fat to be a mom,” and shoddy, stereotype-perpetuating research like “divorced kids suck at math,” I realize that the Good Divorce is still depressingly rare. And this traps families in unhappy marriages because there’s a default assumption that anyone getting divorced is screwing up. When in fact, getting divorced is very often an act of great courage — and of love.



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[Never Say Diet] Stop Trying to Make Cleavage Wrinkles a Thing

iVillage Never Say Diet Virginia Sole-Smith Cleavage Wrinkles

Well, maybe not you personally. But definitely the New York Times and the makers of all these wacky boob pillow products that I can’t even wrap my mind around, let alone my cleavage.

I am beginning to think somebody needs to be in charge of an Official List of Fake Body Parts Created To Make You Crazy. Someone official. And archival. Like the Library of Congress. Or Tim Gunn. (He’s still a professor, right?) Because this sh*t needs to be cataloged for the ages, so seven generations from now, they can look back and say, “Oh that’s when our ancestors forged the first boob pillow. Can you believe they used to be made out of polyester?”

Maybe that’s why the paper of record is reporting on this issue? Can we call cleavage wrinkles an “issue?” That’s not an overstatement? Anyway, archiving for the ages or not, the Times piece sure comes across as a ringing endorsement of some pretty unrealistic beauty standards.

So go get my take on that in today’s Never Say Diet post.


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Pretty Price Check, plus Fun New Thing! (07.15.11)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

Nail Art Awesomeness

  • The New York Times has 10 interesting takes on why wild nail polish has gone mainstream, including an awesome one on why no more formaldehyde helped. Can I just say how much I heart nail art? Happy sigh.
  • Tom Hanks is 11 years older than Julia Roberts, his love interest in Larry Crowne — and Amanda Marcotte is noticing he’s not the only dude getting to rob the cradle on the big screen right now. Which is not to hate on May-December relationships, but more to ask we we can’t see older actresses getting these parts and even — wait for it! — looking their actual age?
  • 10 percent of babies aged 0 to 2 are overweight. People are upset about this. I feel sort of like how I feel when the vet says my cat is fat. Which is to say I mostly think it’s cute and also: Chill, people. (via Jezebel and yes, yes, I know, comparing cats to human babies is yet more proof I’d be a very questionable mother.)
  • Kate Middleton might only weigh 95 pounds now. Except this is probably shamelessly inaccurate, sloppy journalism. And also, what if we all just relaxed about the princess and her weight? (Via The Examiner and Peggy Orenstein’s Facebook page where I was a little surprised to see the comments go in a rather disturbing “that is so sick” direction, sigh…Hate the game, not the player, people!)

Fun New Thing! Is so fun. And I was going to tack it onto this post, but I’ve decided it’s so very fun, it deserves its own post. So get excited… and I’ll be back later this afternoon to tell you more!

[Photo: Multi coloured leopard nails! by terri_jane via Flickr.]

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Pretty Price Check (06.03.11)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

Beauty Myth Naomi Wolf Virginia Sole-Smith Beauty Schooled

  • It’s been 20 years since Naomi Wolf published The Beauty Myth. And from where she’s sitting now, it’s mostly good news. I’m not so sure — but then again, I’m 16 years younger and she’s talking about how women feel about their bodies at midlife. More fully-formed thoughts on this to come next week after I’ve mulled. In the meantime, there is this:
  • 30 percent of women are “change agents” who define beauty for themselves, according to the 2004 Dove survey that Naomi Wolf quotes here. Rock on 30 percent! But didn’t we all sort of hope that number would be higher by now?
  • The kind of teenagers who get interviewed for New York Times Thursday Styles are now spending upwards of $750 on their prom dresses. I know I should be more horrified by this (it’s one night! Someone will probably puke on you!) but I feel like there’s always that one girl in the $1000 dress that everyone is all “it’s not even that special!” My senior prom dress cost $350 in 1999. In case you were wondering. And I sure did think that was an ungodly sum of money — and that it was the prettiest dress in the world! — at the time.
  • Teenagers also received 12,000 Botox injections in 2009 — nearly twice what was reported in the previous year. This concerns me way more than prom dresses. (Even though, I know, I know, I said the Botox epidemic was mainly fake earlier this week. I was talking about adults!) And apparently it concerns New Jersey too, where a pending bill may make Botox illegal for anyone under the age of 18. (Via CBS Philly)
  • The Norwegian National Register of Adverse Effects from Cosmetic Products received 96 reports of adverse effects from beauty products in the past two years. (Via EurekaAlert.)

PS. Not gonna lie, this trippy laser hair removal commercial does sort of capture my feelings about leg waxing.

[Photo: Beauty Myth, original cover, uploaded to Flickr by cdrummbks]


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Pretty Price Check (05.27.11)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

Hair on 125th Street by SpecialKRB

  • If you’ve ever wanted to see 12 models without professional makeup or retouching, now you can. Phew.
  • BellaSugar asks: Does $38 worth of makeup work as well as $209? I totally can’t tell which side of the model’s face got which products. And I’m a trained professional, yo.
  • Teen wears $25,000 dress to the prom, reports Jezebel. Hope no one spilled the spiked punch on it.
  • If the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act passes, developers building new strip malls (you know, where beauty salons live!) would have to require tenants to pay $10 per hour plus health insurance or $11.50 per hour without it. Fingers. Crossed. (Via Broadside)
  • Lead was found in 96 percent of cosmetics tested in a new and scary study, reports No More Dirty Looks. Don’t worry, arsenic was only in 20 percent of samples.
And happy Memorial Day Weekend! Here’s the Environmental Working Group’s latest sunscreen report, so you can be safe when you’re sun-bound this weekend.
Oh and if you’re in LA (why am I not in LA?!) you should totes go to this amazing photo exhibit, Beauty CULTure.  If you’re not, at least you can read this New York Times story about it.
See you Tuesday!

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Pretty Price Check: Enough With the Fat Hate (05.13.11)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

Ragen Chastein Dances With Fat Photo by Richard Sabel

It seems like everywhere I turn this week, the news is about how much our culture hates fat people. So this a special theme edition of the Price Check. Because people, this has got to stop.

  • My beautiful friend (and amazing blogger and dancer — that’s her above!) Ragen Chastain received over 260 hate-filled comments on her blog this week from evil Internet Trolls who think she should die in appalling and violent ways. (And if you think she must be some strange, isolated example, check out #thingsfatpeoplearetoldon Twitter — and prepare to lose your mind.)
  • Kirstie Alley, the formerly Fat Actress, won “Dancing With the Stars” this week despite admitting she was eating just 150 calories while dancing for hours per day. Naturally, the world is celebrating her dancing-fueled weight loss instead of worrying about her health. (Via ABOUT-FACE)
  • Psychologists found that 72 percent of overweight and obese individuals depicted in the media are stigmatized, often appearing shirtless or headless, according to a study (PDF) published in the Journal of Health Communication. (Via Good)
  • As I reported yesterday on Never Say Diet, when new research showed that only 69 percent of Americans are trying to lose weight (down from 77 percent last year), nutritionists threw up their hands in a state of panic that we might just be accepting our fat selves and preparing to die. (Note that 69 percent means that more than half the population is on a diet.)

This is on top of a major, multi-country study published in the journal Current Anthropology in March, which found that fat stigma is increasing around the world, even in countries where larger bodies have previously been celebrated. (See Tara Parker-Pope’s column and Michelle Segar’s blog post for great analysis on why increasing fat stigma will do nothing to actually “fight obesity.”)

And the Seattle Times is reporting that Georgia just launched a new “Stop Childhood Obesity” campaign featuring fat kids saying things like “Chubby kids may not outlive their parents,” and “Big bones didn’t make me this way. Big meals did” and generally ensuring that they’ll be teased on the playground for the rest of their days.

So. What the f*ck is going on? Continue reading


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Pretty Price Check (05.06.11)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

  • 32 percent of teenage girls have used a tanning bed in the past year, and 81 percent report tanning outside, despite hearing all the time that the sun will make you old and wrinkly before your time (and oh yeah, skin cancer). Hear that? It’s the sound of a thousand dermatologists banging their heads against a wall as they realize their existence is futile. (Via MedicineNet.)
  • Nutritionist to the stars Natalia Rose eats around 1776 calories per day — all of them vegetables, according to this Marie Claire piece on what nutritionists eat. Maybe that doesn’t sound soo crazy, but oh yeah, she also doesn’t consume anything until after dark because: “I believe that we take our vitality predominantly from the air, sunlight, and clean water, so I don’t take anything but this ‘life force energy’ until the sun goes down.” Oy.
  • Proctor & Gamble stands to reap a cool $7 billion if women fall for their new Have You Tried This? campaign, reports The Beheld. People, have I taught you nothing about upselling? A Fortune 500 company is not your best girlfriend showing off her new lip gloss.
  • Siobhan came up with 10 awesome things to do with coconut oil over on No More Dirty Looks. Basically, you should slather it everywhere. Except maybe your face if you’re prone to breakouts.
  • All of the fat that you get sucked out in liposuction will return within one year, says new research. But twist! It pops up in fun new places, like those Whack-A-Mole games at arcades. (Via the New York Times.)

[Photo: les trois shibuyettes by colodio]


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