Wednesday, October 31, 2007

You are a Slow Thinker. Bad for: Airline Hostess and Nurse

As I wrote about yesterday, What Shall I Wear? A Fashion Game for Girls opened my eyes to the importance of dressing to the nines. I missed out on What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls, though. I didn't even know of its existence until a few years ago, when I found it at the WFMU record fair/nerd farm. I gleefully shelled out $40 on the spot to take it home and uncover its wonders.

What Shall I Be? came out in 1966 (pre-dating What Shall I Wear? by three years). The game challenged girls to reach for the stars and imagine their futures--as ballet dancers, models, actresses, nurses, teachers, and airline hostesses. The most amazing and utterly hilarious part of What Shall I Be? is the object of the game. To become a career girl, you must collect school cards (nursing school, charm school, drama school, etc.) that match up with your personality cards. Not only do many of the "personalities" have absolutely nothing to do with personality, they are chock full of Bitchy McMeanGirl material. Here are a few highlights...

You are overweight. Bad for: Airline Hostess, Ballet Dancer, and Model (Better stick to Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, fatties!)
You are pretty. Good for: Model and Actress (Help Wanted. Ugly nurses inquire within.)
Your make-up is too sloppy. Bad for: Airline Hostess and Model (What's up with all the ballerinas and their caked on foundation and clumpy mascara? Eeeew.)
You are a slow thinker. Bad for: Airline Hostess and Nurse. (So that's why I can't read good. It's okay, cuz I'm purty y'all. Slow teachers rule!!!)

Related: The Exciting Game of Career Women: You Can't Win

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What Shall I Wear? A Fashion Game for Girls

Before Bratz Fashion Party Fever (collagen-injected little bobble heads "strutting their stuff" on the dance floor!), there was What Shall I Wear? A Fashion Game for Girls. This gem came onto the scene in 1969. I discovered it years later after some older girl decided to unload hers at a yard sale for a dollar. It was a classy game, kids. You had to make your way around the board by visiting different boutiques and collecting outfit cards that matched up with your "invitations."

Mr. and Mrs. Adams request the honor of your presence at a formal dinner in honor of Ambassador White.
Charmed, I'm sure. Get me a ball gown and gloves to match, stat! Tod Smith, the movie star, gave me tickets to the premiere of his picture. I'd like to have you come with me. Signed, Jim. Jim sounds so earnest! Wait, who's Tod Smith? Whatevs. Break out the silk and the stole! There were picnic dates and job interviews and train rides to get yourself dolled up for, too. There was even a black model on the board (nowadays they are few and far between on the runways and in fashion mags). All the ensembles were tailored, sophisticated, and not the teeniest bit slutty. I don't think I understood that the game was totally retro until I found What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Salt-N-Pepa: Let's Talk About...Bulimia

If you haven't been tuning in to watch the madcap celebreality adventures of Salt-N-Pepa, you missed Cheryl "Salt" Wray's tearful confession about why she quit the group back in 2002—a decision that left Pepa mighty confused and pissed off. It turns out that Salt was suffering from bulimia. Pepa didn't know it at the time, but according to this recent Essence interview, there were some signs:

Salt: One time we were in Europe and Pepa came into my bathroom and asked, ‘Why is your toilet seat up?’ You remember that?
Pepa: Yeah, I was like: ‘Do you have a man in here?’ Wow.

Salt goes on to say that her eating disorder was the result of a combination of stresses, including a turbulent home life growing up and the pressures of being in a looks-obsessed business. "I never thought I was pretty because I went through a chubby stage as a teenager—and kids are mean—so I had to fight girls all the time. Bulimia is an addiction like any other addiction. I know a lot of people don’t understand it, but it’s the thing that caught me by the throat."

Salt is healthy today and thankfully it's all peace, love, and understanding between the first ladies of hip hop, despite the glaring differences in their lifestyles. The moral of this story? If you see a friend's toilet seat up when it shouldn't be, think twice. Then find out how you can help. [Essence]

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Trista Diets, Milla Binges: Yo-Yo-ing Moms are So Hot Right Now

Remember Trista Sutter? Yeah, we thought her 15 minutes were over, too. But it seems that even D-list reality celebs can come out of the woodwork to appear on the cover of Us Weekly--if they have a juicy baby weight loss story to tell. Trista says she feels "totally disgusted" with her "blubbery" belly. “When I fit into my size 26 Hudson jeans, then I’ll be happy.” And her Prince Charming husband Ryan is sooo supportive and awesome. "If I eat something that I shouldn’t, Ryan shakes his finger at me and says, ‘Uh, uh, uh!’" says Trista. Ugh, ugh, ugh. We're betting on a follow-up mommy makeover story in January. Trista will be out of those dowdy sweatpants and showing off her new "sexy" body. Can't wait. [Us Weekly]

Then there's Milla. According to the British glossy Grazia, the pregnant model recently got a hankering for some bone marrow, so she scoured all of Paris for a leg of cow, sliced it in half, scooped out the good stuff, and slathered it on a slice of bread. Carnivorous! Fabulous!

"As an actress and model, I lived on cigarettes and coffee, and jet-lag tended to kill off any appetite I had." She says pregnancy has opened up a world of yummy feasting opportunities.

"My diet for most of this year has been - for breakfast, four eggs with bacon, toast and butter, if I was at home. Then if I was at a diner, I'd have a Mexican omelette, a stack of pancakes and strawberry milkshake. I'd stuff myself with cookies all morning - whatever was in the cupboard really - then I'd have a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts for dessert. And I once ate two whole packs of coffee cake in one sitting!" [Guardian]

We're inclined to say that Mistress Katinka has the right attitude. Hearty meals beat coffee and cigarettes, we'll give her that. We also love that she's not blathering on about baby weight. However,
this new research showing connections between pregnancy and binge eating disorder got us a little worried about those doughnut and cookie rampages. For some women who have lived most of their lives as undereaters, pregnancy can feel like a free pass. Add to that the general stress of growing a baby and you've got a recipe for compulsive overeating. Hopefully Milla enjoys lots of normal, healthy chowing down as a new mommy. We definitely don't want her going back on the model diet.

As for Trista, if she's looking for happiness in size 26 jeans, she's got a rude awakening coming to her in about, oh, eight weeks.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Support the Mothers Act--Contact Your Senators

Monday we wrote about mothers with eating disorders. Today we are participating in BlogHer's Blog Day for the MOTHERS Act because we're all about taking action over here. Even if you're not a mom, you probably have one and you certainly know some, right? Take a few minutes and get on board.

Here's the background: The MOTHERS Act (Mom’s Opportunity to Access Help, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression) will ensure that new moms and their families are educated about postpartum depression, screened for symptoms, and provided with essential services. It will also increase research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression.

Here's what you can do: Contact your senators today and tell them you support the MOTHERS Act. We will also be encouraging our senators to consider screening new moms for eating disorder symptoms, which can often be linked to depression.

Okay, go to it!

Related: New Moms and Moms-to-be are Depressed and Unhappy With Their Bodies

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Have Eating Disorders

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Have Eating Disorders

Pro-ana websites aren't just for teen girls admiring photos of Nicole Richie. Now eating disordered mothers are trading tricks, tips and advice, too. One of these online communities called "ana_moms" has 302 members and another 318 watchers with user names like starvinmommy and wannadisappear. "How do you meal-plan when you plan not to eat? How do you stay thin without giving your kids an eating disorder?" asks the moderator in her introduction to the website.

Here's the thing: If you're spending your time online comparing yourself to Kate Hudson when she was pregnant ("the kind of mom we see when we look in the mirror") and post-pregnancy ("the kind of mom we want to look like"), there is just no way you will be able to help your daughters and sons develop healthy attitudes about food. It doesn't matter what positive messages you give your kids about weight if you're constantly contradicting yourself with your own behavior. Stop worrying about how you will hide your eating disorder from your children and start doing the work to get your disordered eating in check.

The fact that many mothers struggle with serious weight and body image problems shouldn't be such a news flash; the existence of ana_moms is just one extreme manifestation of a much larger issue. After all, it is estimated that ten million women suffer from eating disorders, so it would stand to reason that a good number of them are or will become moms. It's ridiculous to assume that pregnancy and motherhood magically trump all the body image concerns (and sometimes serious eating disorders) we had before. Those problems don't just disappear in some blissed out mommy haze. And sometimes they can actually get worse. Yet instead of real support and solutions, women get Hollywood Bump Watch and Mommy Makeovers. What's going on? We deserve better. [MamaVision]

"No Anorexia" Ad Banned in Italy

Italy's Publicity Control Unit (IAP) has banned the controversial "No Anorexia" campaign, ordering billboards to removed. Well, actually there's only one billboard that still remains in Rome since the campaign is pretty much over at this point.

"The photo is shocking for everyone, particularly those who are sick, and has been set up for commercial ends," IAP President Giorgio Floridia told AFP news agency. We would add this correction: the campaign was shocking for everyone. When they first saw it. A month ago. "Banning" it now just gives the campaign another wave of publicity. [BBC News]

See all posts related to the "No Anorexia" campaign.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Post-it Activism

The "post-it revolution" is an interesting project started by We Bite Back. The idea is simple: Write a positive message about body image on a post-it, then stick it where women will see it. Mine was inspired by this strange article in the Daily Mail. Since I'll be traveling the scenic NJ turnpike today, I think I'll bring my activism to the Walt Whitman rest stop. And maybe Molly Pitcher, too, if I'm feeling extra inspired. What does your post-it say? Where did you stick it? [We Bite Back]

Related: Would You Rather Be a Role Model or a Supermodel?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

October 18th is "Love Your Body Day"

Back in 1998, I spoke at a Times Square "Feed the Models" rally to celebrate the first annual Love Your Body Day. I'm still fighting the good fight, except these days it's in front of my computer, guzzling caffeine (I knew that espresso machine would be dangerous. Damn those little pods.) and working to meet a looming deadline. For me, this year's Love Your Body Day consisted of rocking out to GNR on the elliptical and throwing away some shoes that, despite their super hot fabulousness, tore up my feet so bad I practically needed to wrap them in gauze for a week. Hey, sometimes it doesn't take much to tell your body you care. How about you? How did you celebrate? [Love Your Body Day]

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Anorexia, Ecstasy, and Addiction

What do anorexia and the club drug ecstasy have in common? It's not trance music or glow sticks.

A paper published this week reports that both anorexia and ecstasy reduce the drive to eat by stimulating the same subset of receptors for the neurotransmitter serotonin. These receptors (called 5-HT4) are located in a part of the brain associated with feelings of reward; they are also known to play a role in addiction. In other words, anorexics can get "hooked" on starvation.

French scientist Valerie Compan and her colleagues found that stimulating these receptors caused anorexic-like behavior in mice, while blocking the receptors increased food intake. Their research could lead to new treatments and help build a greater understanding of the addictive aspects of anorexia.

"Our studies over seven years now open the possibility that 5-HT4 receptor could represent an important therapeutic target to treat patients suffering from these disorders," Compan said.

We feel bad for those poor little anorexic mice, but we're glad to hear that they got some effective treatment. We are excited to find out if it will work on humans, too. [Reuters] [Telegraph]

Friday, October 5, 2007

Alyssa Milano Takes on the Supergirl Dilemma...With Teen Steam!

A recent Girls Inc. study called The Supergirl Dilemma shows that girls are feeling increasing pressure to be perfect, thin, and accommodating. Three-quarters (74%) of girls in the study agree that girls are under a lot of pressure to please everyone. Not only does Alyssa Milano feel their pain, she's also got quite the catchy the solution. It's time to blow off some Teen Steam. Happy Friday!

[You Tube] via [Lindsayism]

Thursday, October 4, 2007

New Moms and Moms-to-be are Depressed and Unhappy With Their Bodies

More and more evidence is pointing to the fact that pregnancy can be a heavy time--and not just in terms of pounds. Many pregnant women and new moms face depression, serious body image issues, and even disordered eating:

A study published in the October issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry reveals that 1 in 7 new mothers are identified as having depression during at least one phase of pregnancy--8.7%, 6.9%, and 10.4% of the women had a record of depression before, during, or after pregnancy. Since those numbers only reflect the reported cases, it's safe to assume the true numbers are much higher. [Medscape, sub required]

Women who regularly read tabloids are more likely to describe themselves as "fat" than those who do not follow celebrity culture, and feel heightened pressure to lose their baby weight quickly after delivery.

In a study published in Psychological Medicine, researchers at the University of North Carolina found that "eating for two" can be compulsive. Some women, who never had eating disorders before, develop binge eating disorders when they become pregnant. [Science Daily]

In the U.K., a study of 1,104 women showed that 2 percent developed an eating disorder while pregnant. [Telegraph]

And what's on the menu of solutions, support, and resources for women dealing with these issues? Well, it's slim pickins (by slim, we mean, "get that pre-baby body back quick, you fat ass!"). Here are a couple of options:

Post-pregnancy plastic surgery (which we wrote about here) is the hot new trend. Last year, doctors nationwide performed more than 325,000 “mommy makeover procedures” on women ages 20 to 39, up 11 percent from 2005. [New York Times]

Oh, and the authors of Skinny Bitch are hard at work on a new eating guide for pregnant women (Hmmm, will it be titled Hungry, Cranky Mommy Desperate to Gnaw on a Big Hunk of Cheese?). [MSNBC]

So for all you new moms, just stay focused on losing that baby weight. Let's hope you don't lose your minds in the process.

*All joking aside, please call the National Eating Disorders Association at 1-800-931-2237 if you need information or referrals.

Photo credit: Misty Woodward

Extreme Mommy Makeovers
Baby Bumps and Skinny Jeans

The Woman Behind the "No Anorexia" Ad

There has been much buzz about Isabelle Caro, the anorexic woman who appears in the new "No Anorexia" advertising campaign, but stateside we haven't heard much from Caro herself. Not unless you count the predictably sensational coverage on shows like Entertainment Tonight/The Insider, who actually showed footage of Caro stepping onto a scale and then reported her weight for all the pro-anas to post on their websites.

I found some posts from Caro's blog, written in her native French (also my first language). I am translating them here so that our readers can hear directly from a woman who is much more than an image on a billboard:

On why she did the "No Anorexia" campaign:
"To show that it isn't a model of beauty, it is the image of the true sickness that will come out of it. When it does, I hope to make understood to all of those who are dieting too severely that it can lead them to a spiral in hell. Finally, I am fighting every day and try and enjoy each little joy that life can offer, no matter how insignificant! "
de montrer que ce n'est pas ça un modèle de beauté c'est l'image de la veritable maladie qui en resortira et là j'espère faire comprendre à toutes celles qui entreprenne un régime trop sévère peut les conduire vers la spirale de l'enfer ! enfin je me bat chaque jour et j'essaye de savourer chaque petite joie aussi infime soit elle que la vie peut m'offrire!"

On doing TV interviews:
"Because the whole point for me to give interviews on TV is to help young women in need of help to understand the danger of this sickness and avoid falling into it."
car le but pour moi de temoigner à la tv est d'aider des jeunes fille en détresse à comprendre les dander de cette maladieet de les éviters de tomber là dedans!

In fact, being in the spotlight was a risky move for Caro, whose health is obviously very fragile. When the campaign first became public, Caro's aide was quoted as saying that her phone rang up to 40 times an hour with calls from the press. In the midst of the media frenzy, Caro forgot to take one of her food supplements and could have suffered a stroke. But just three hours after fainting, she was back talking to reporters. I can't fault the media for covering this story, but every reporter should educate him/herself on how to cover eating disorders responsibly.

Fashion Statement: Oliviero Toscani
Why is No-l-ita Offering No-Information for Sufferers?
Has the "No Anorexia" Ad Become Pro-Ana Thinspiration?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Dove "Onslaught" Campaign

Half of girls in grades 3-5 worry about their appearance. Here are several hundred reasons why: