Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: Our Greatest Hits

2007 marked our first year of blogging. We're still humble newbies, but here are a few of our year-end picks...

Most hotly debated post: "Has Spock Joined the Fat Acceptance Movement?"

Most viewed series of posts: "No Anorexia Campaign"

Our favorite round-up: "A Year in (Retouched) Pictures"

Best clip: "I've Had it Goin' on Since Before You Were in GrrAnimals!"

The post we wish everyone in the fashion industry would read and debate: "9 out of 10 Doctors and Fashionistas Agree..."

The post you'll be hearing more about: "Will Models Unionize?"

Finally, we must say a BIG thank you to all of our readers. We would love to know what posts struck a nerve with you this year and what topics you would like to see us cover in 2008. Or you can just say hi. We like that, too. Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

If You're Looking for the Fountain of Youth, Just Splash on Some Common Sense

The New York Times' #2 most emailed story today contains a shocking revelation: you can't reverse the aging process! While many women would gladly empty their wallets for a miracle procedure, lotion, or potion that would keep them looking fresh and youthful forever, we would be much better off donating that cash to charity. Because for the billions of dollars we spend on anti-aging remedies, it's the "well, duh" stuff that actually works--and most of it is free or available for cheap at your local drugstore. So here goes...Wash your face, stop the smoking and pimple popping, wear sunscreen, get some rest, throw away your crusty old mascaras, foundations, etc. and resist the urge to pile on the products. You should also quit stressing about getting older. It's really bad for your skin. [New York Times]

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"I've Had it Goin' On Since Before You Were in GrrAnimals!"

If you ask me, Bea Arthur's awesomeness is one of life's constants. Okay, I'll concede that her look is a little Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? here, but how can you not be charmed by this SATC spoof, which also stars Charlotte Rae (Mrs. Garrett!), Katherine Helmond (Mona!), Sally Struthers, and a very special guest? These ladies are not senior citizens--they're "classics." And classic beauty is not about beating back wrinkles. It's about owning your hard-earned, kick-ass confidence. Bea certainly knows how to work hers.

Here's a bonus for all you diehards: Happy Holidays, Star Wars-style! "It's odd. I've gotten so many letters and requests for autographed photos from that thing," says Bea. "I just remember singing to bunch of people with funny heads."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dove Reality Diaries Live Chat: Tonight at 8:00 ET

Sydney, Chelsea, Jordyn, and Irene are real girls with real issues. It's not easy to open up while the world is watching, and that's why these four teens have completely won me over with their willingness to talk candidly about everything from body image struggles and racial stereotypes to family drama and boy trouble. Over the last six weeks, they have been recording video diaries, keeping blogs, and participating in self-esteem boosting activities with the help of our friend Jess Weiner. Tonight Jess and the girls will be hosting a live chat at 8 p.m. ET. Know a teen girl who needs some inspiration and encouragement? This would be a good place to send her.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christina Ricci Talks About Anorexia and Hollywood Beauty Pressures

"I was a teenager going through adolescence and at one point I had a little anorexia phase and then I kind of ballooned,” Christina Ricci tells Entertainment Tonight in an interview to air on Tuesday. “I feel my body now is the adult Christina and it's what I should have come to a long time ago if I hadn't been screwing around with my body so much." The red carpet was one of Ricci's biggest sources of stress. "I was too busy thinking about my skin or my weight or the clothes I was wearing instead of just enjoying it and saying, 'I can't believe I get to be here. This is awesome and I'm going to experience it.' " [OK!]

New Brain Research on Anorexia Lets Models Off the Hook. Um, Not So Fast

Walter Kaye has conducted some very interesting research, which reveals that the brain patterns of anorexics are different than those of healthy women. “This means they react and think in different ways to the ordinary person and that they are more likely to go on to develop anorexia regardless of whether they have been exposed to images of super-thin models,” Dr. Kaye said. Wow, is the British press having a field day with that statement:

"Anorexia 'cannot be picked up by looking at photographs of super-thin models'" [Times]

"Stick-thin models such as Kate Moss do not encourage young women to become anorexic, say scientists." [Daily Mail]

"Anorexia not models' fault" [The Sun]

Okay, villagers. Put down your torches. The models are innocent! The gist here is that people don't look at pictures of models and immediately spiral into severe eating disorders. Did anyone really believe it was that simple anyway? But let's not excuse the media and the fashion industry from the table so quickly. Even if they're not solely responsible for girls and women developing full-blown anorexia, they certainly play a role in the even bigger epidemics of disordered eating, drastic dieting, and poor body image.

I recently met four intelligent, articulate high school students who are participating in the Dove Reality Diaries. With zero hesitation, all four of them said they would sign up for plastic surgery (from liposuction to nose jobs) in a heartbeat if given the opportunity. Now try and convince me that all those media images of thinness and perfection don't have a dangerous impact.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Will Models Unionize?

The Independent is reporting that a group of successful models in the U.K. is trying to join the Equity union, which represents actors and performers. "Models have no voice; no one is listening to them and no one is asking them what they want," said Martin Brown, an Equity spokesman who has been involved in the negotiations with the models since the spring. Spot on! He said: "We were approached earlier this year by a group of models who said they needed a union. They complained they had no one to represent them and that if something went wrong and they went to their agencies they were warned not to complain because they would not work again."

As I wrote about during New York Fashion Week, a union is exactly the kind of shake-up that needs to happen in the industry, and it's probably the only thing that will result in real rights and protections. Models (most of whom are very young and eager to please) face harsh working conditions and unhealthy pressures within a system where there is zero accountability. A union could change that--if enough models were willing to take the risk and join. We are working to organize a meeting in the U.S. If you're interested in getting involved, please get in touch. There is strength in numbers!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Drunkorexia: Starving and Boozing

First there was diabulimia. Now there is drunkorexia--another new and buzzworthy term for some not-so-new behavior. According to this report on The Morning Show (featuring our friend Sondra Kronberg, an eating disorders specialist from the National Eating Disorders Association of Long Island), 30% of women ages 18-23 restrict food calories so they can drink more and not gain weight from their alcohol consumption.

All of the women interviewed for the piece (as well as the studio audience) fell into the "Well, duh. Of course I've done that before!" category, which makes us think that "drunkorexia" isn't always just a college phase that girls grow out of. Millions of women are willing to subject themselves to dangerous fad diets, plastic surgery, and speed-laced weight loss pills; we can't say we were surprised to learn that the health consequences of letting large amounts of alcohol absorb directly into the bloodstream seem to be of little concern when compared to the calorie-saving "benefits." As one aspiring model and self-identified drunkorexic put it, "You want to stay skinny but you want to go out and look good and have fun." And what about the known health risks? "You just try to block it out," she says. Actually, black out is probably more accurate.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Friday, December 7, 2007

Day of Action to Support Mental Health Parity

Today's the day. Let's show a united front and make sure that mental health parity legislation is passed this year! Here's what you can do.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Retouching 101: Lingerie Models Edition

Finally! The real trick to getting rid of a sexy beer girl gut. Know any boys stashing Victoria's Secret catalogs in their rooms? They might appreciate this educational video. Remember, it's not just girls who need to get the full picture of how retouching works.

Enjoy the Shakira soundtrack, please. We certainly did. Thanks to Back in Skinny Jeans for finding this one.

Action Alert: Support Mental Health Parity on Friday, December 7th

Take a few minutes to make make mental health parity a reality. Together, we can improve access to care for millions of Americans who suffer from eating disorders, addictions and mental illness.

Action: On Friday, December 7, use the toll-free Parity Hotline, 1-866-parity4 (1-866-727-4894), to call your representative and senators and leave a message urging their active support for the mental health and addiction parity legislation. (The Parity Hotline reaches the U.S. Capitol switchboard, which can connect callers to the offices of their members.)

Message: “I am calling to ask the senator/representative to not let another year go by without passing mental health and addiction parity legislation. Please work with the Leadership to pass parity now that includes the treatment of eating disorders.”

Background: S. 558, a compromise negotiated over the previous two years, passed the Senate under unanimous consent on September 18. H.R. 1424, approved by three House committees, will next go to the Rules Committee and the House Floor. We hope that the negotiations that are now underway between the House and Senate are successful in devising one compromise bill that can pass in both the Senate and House.

This session of Congress will end around December 21. If parity is not passed by then the issue will lapse over into 2008, when many expect it will be lost in an election year deadlock. With one massive grassroots telephone call-in day we hope to impress Congress with a united front that says the parity issue must not be set aside again.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

J. Love Loves Her Size 2 Body. Did You Hear That, World? She's a Size 2!

Jennifer Love Hewitt has come out swinging in response to the "unflattering" published photos of her in a bikini (otherwise known as Badonkgate). "I've sat by in silence for a long time now about the way women's bodies are constantly scrutinized, " the Ghost Whisperer star writes on her blog. "To set the record straight, I'm not upset for me, but for all of the girls out there that are struggling with their body image...A size 2 is not fat! Nor will it ever be. And being a size 0 doesn't make you beautiful."

Yay to Jennifer for talking back. I do believe she genuinely wants to send a positive message to girls. I have to throw in my (size) 2 cents here, though. Yes, Hollywood has been drinking the diet Kool-Aid for far too long. And yes, it is insane that J. Love's body became the subject of such ridicule. But listen closely and you'll catch the point where her offense turns into defense. She's itty bitty! She's a SIZE 2, everyone! Those pictures were taken from a bad angle!

Not too long ago, Tyra's beach photos ended up in the tabloids. She also wanted to protect young girls from being influenced by the mean-spirited snark flying in her direction. So she went on national television to make a tearful, impassioned speech, telling all the haters to kiss her fat ass. She just happened to make that speech in the same bathing suit she was photographed in, thus proving that her ass was not as fat as it appeared in those pics. But what if she really did have a big booty? And what if Jennifer wore a size 4, 6, or something larger? Would either celebrity have jumped so quickly to advertise her measurements as part of her pro-body acceptance platform?

I suppose all the mixed messages really boil down to the fact that these are women with some good intentions, hurt feelings, and bruised egos. By going public with their stalkarazzi frustrations, Jennifer and Tyra have drawn attention to just how crazy it is to work in Hollywood--a place producer Clifford Streit describes as "a sea of desperation surrounding the Beverly Hills Hotel."

In an industry where thinness and beauty are job requirements, actresses can make headlines when they critique those pressures. And while they've got the microphone, it's not hard to understand why they feel cornered into reassuring the world (and casting directors) that they are, in reality, still thin and beautiful.

Many Use Food to Communicate Their Need for Help. Few Understand That.

These two ads are from ABA (Associazione per lo studio e la ricerca sull’anoressia, la bulimia e i disordini alimentari), the Italian eating disorder association. The text reads, "Many use food to communicate their need for help. Few understand that."

Food and eating are ways of expressing what the sufferer is afraid to express directly. Instead of reaching out and saying "I need help," people with disordered eating turn to food or they turn away from it. These ads make that basic fact clear, but we would like to see the series expanded to show how disordered eating has become a universal language that women and men of all shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities have learned to speak. Young Jennifer Connelly look-a-likes (could that girl be her doppleganger?) are certainly not the only ones who are fluent.

What's your impression of this campaign? [Osocio]

Monday, December 3, 2007

America's Next "Real People" Models

Simon Rogers runs a talent agency called Ugly NY. He's not looking for high fashion or fierce. No, his job is to scout models with a certain je ne sais quoi. Despite the provocative agency name, the models signed to Ugly NY aren't all ugly--they are "unusual" and "unique." Remember that episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry's blind friend thinks he's dating a model (played by the amazing Jackie Hoffman)? Well, maybe she was a model after all.

There is a growing market for "real people" models. It seems that Madison Avenue is cashing in on America's recent love affair with homegrown celebrity and the average albeit quirky Joe. Perhaps that explains why YouTube sensation Tay Zonday is now the star of a Dr. Pepper commercial?

We're all about seeing more real people when we flip the channels and flip through magazines. The downside here is that "ugly" amateurs generally get paid a fraction of what the pretty pros make (shocker). Advertisers say that they're not just trying to save a few bucks by hiring these mostly nonunion workers left and right, but we suspect that many real people are getting really bad deals.

And because everything goes back to reality television, Rogers says that Ugly NY will be the subject of an upcoming cable reality show. Yeah, we'll be watching. [New York Times]