Thursday, January 31, 2008

Body Hatred Baby Clothes

U.K. retail giant Tesco is selling these "Does my bum look big in this?" shirts for baby girls in size 3-6 months. Better hold off on that breast milk and formula, lil munchkin! Looks like you've got some...what do you call that? Oh, yeah. Baby fat.

I'm betting the mommies who are drawn to these shirts are probably so used to talking smack about their own bums that they're totally clueless about why it might be, I don't know, WRONG to hand down their body issues to their daughters in the form of a message tee. And one more thing: How would anyone's bum look big in a t-shirt, anyway? Just asking. Or is that the joke? I'm gonna say not funny. [Any-Body]

Write to Tesco
and tell them this shirt is beyond ridic.

Fashion Week Has Issues... And That's Good News

New York Fashion Week kicks off tomorrow amid serious conversations about diversity of size, shape, and ethnicity on the runway. The buzz word is "change." And while that trend might be slow to take off, it's certainly one we're committed to following for the long haul.

CFDA Health Initiative Chair Nian Fish tells us that CFDA President Diane Von Furstenberg sent out a letter in advance of the New York shows reminding designers to follow the guidelines set out last year.

Three industry forums
have been held in New York to discuss the lack of models of color on the runway.

Newly-appointed Chairman of the British Fashion Council Harold Tillman intends to enforce strict adherence to the Model Health Inquiry's recommendations. "If the British Fashion Council weren't doing something about it I wouldn't have joined," he told The Evening Standard. London Fashion Week starts February 10th. [British Vogue]

"Real people models"
are turning up in ads and on runways in other cities. Will we see any during New York Fashion Week? Time will tell. [Newsweek]

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Model Mentors

Runways are filled with girls modeling clothes meant for women. Behind the scenes, these young models' careers depend on their ability to behave with savvy and sophistication well beyond their years. Their physical and emotional health depends on whether they can manage to stay grounded in an industry built on fantasy. Veteran models who have been there, done that, and lived to tell about it could have a lot of guidance to offer these girls. That's why the British Fashion Council's newly appointed chairman Harold Tillman is advocating for model mentoring.

"These are women that younger models admire," he said. "We should get these original supermodels on board and get them more involved." Tillman is also serious about adhering to the guidelines developed by the Model Health Inquiry. "Many girls are looking after themselves but there is unfortunately a minority that isn't. We need the rest of Europe and the rest of the world on board." [British Vogue]

Monday, January 28, 2008

New Miss America Will Focus on Raising Awareness of Eating Disorders

Kirsten Haglund from Michigan was crowned Miss America on Saturday. The 19-year-old was diagnosed with anorexia when she was sixteen and says her disorder was triggered by pressures she felt when she was trying to become a professional ballerina. She plans to spend her "reign" educating others about the dangers of eating disorders.

To Kirsten's credit, she avoided talking specifics about her weight and eating behaviors in her interview with the Associated Press (although the reporter did throw in the shocking info that Kirsten actually ate the chocolates on her pillow in the hotel. OMG!). It would be great if she continued her outreach with the same savvy. We would also love to see her work in partnership with a reputable organization like the National Eating Disorders Association.

And of course we hope that Kirsten takes care of herself in her own recovery. Ballet is not the field to be in when you're trying to overcome anorexia, but the pageant circuit is no picnic either. [AP]

Friday, January 25, 2008

Diversity and Responsibility in Fashion

With NYC Fashion Week fast approaching, agency owner Bethann Hardison hosted a forum this week to discuss the absence of models of color on the runways and in the pages of fashion magazines. This was the third event in a series she launched in September.

The topic is an important one, and we were especially pleased to see that some of the most vocal contributors to this conversation have also been leaders when it comes to addressing the issue of eating disorders and other health issues affecting the industry. Nian Fish of KCD, who chairs the CFDA Health Initiative (and who we interviewed about her role) and creative director James Scully, who has been a strong proponent of eating disorders education and awareness, both spoke at this week's forum. Their leadership is evident in their ongoing willingness to take responsibility, start tough conversations and to speak the truth about their own experiences in order to bring about positive changes.

In a message he wrote for the diversity forum, Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley expanded on the Obama slogan (he is currently volunteering for the campaign) to say "change we can believe in has to happen." We'll second that.

For more coverage, check out Jezebel.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"How Not to Look Old" is a Bestseller. Meanwhile, 16 People Die From Botox.

It's not such a shocker that How Not to Look Old by former Glamour beauty director Charla Krupp is a hit. Forget growing old gracefully. Ageism is a very real prejudice, and women are expected to fight tooth and nail to get rid of those gray hairs and beat back the wrinkles if they want to compete for jobs (including that title of President of the U.S. of A.) and be taken seriously in today's world.

“My book is hitting a nerve because I am giving not looking old a spin as if your life depended on it,” Ms. Krupp told The New York Times. Well, if Botox is part of your "not looking old" plan, that question of life and death is no laughing matter. Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen is now asking the FDA to include a strong warning with Botox after reviewing reports of 16 deaths related to injections. So our lives depend on looking young, but cosmetic procedures might kill us. Is it Friday yet?

"Nice Resume. Have You Considered Botox?"
"U.S. Group Seeks Botox Warning After 16 Death Reports."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Coming to a Bookstore Near You: Professor Happy Cat's Guide to the Lolcats and The Skinny Bitch Journal

Random but entertaining news...

Word on the street is that Gotham is publishing I Can Has Cheezburger's Professor Happy Cat's Guide to the Lolcats this fall. It will feature old and new images from the blog.

Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin have sold Skinny Bitch Journal, for publication in early 2009. "Dear Diary, last night I had a dream about a thick, bloody steak. I couldn't help but wonder: Is 'skinny bitch' just another term for a really freakin' hungry lady?" A Skinny Bitch book adapting their message for guys will hit shelves in fall of 2009. Enough already! Do not want.

[Publishers Marketplace, sub required]

Obesity Panic Triggers Disordered Eating in Kids

By now we've all heard about the big, bad childhood obesity epidemic. In fact, we've heard so much about it that our collective fear of fat is probably hurting kids more than it's helping them.

Experts are now pointing out how school-based obesity programs can backfire when kids decide that they want to be the best in the class at not being fat, and then go on to lose too much weight. Dr. Leora Pinhas, a child psychiatrist and psychiatric director of the eating disorders program at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, has already seen many cases like this. "It seems like whenever we decide there is an epidemic, people run around helter-skelter trying to solve the problem without really thinking about it in an organized fashion,"she says.

Of course it's not just schools where kids absorb this thin-at-all-costs message. Parents might think they are passing healthy, weight-conscious habits on to their children when in fact what they're often handing down are unhealthy weight obsessions. And for kids who are overweight, shaming and dieting just leads to more weight gain and sometimes eating disorders. A recent study shows that more than one-third of overweight girls engaged in what the researchers called “extreme weight control behaviors,” like vomiting or taking diet pills or laxatives in an attempt to lose weight.

Kids need to learn how to have healthy eating habits and a healthy self-esteem that's not wrapped up in how thin their bodies are. Unfortunately, a lot of adults have yet to figure those two out for themselves. So let's start there before we tackle the "epidemic" with programs and approaches that don't work.

"Fat Phobia Feeds Kids' Eating Disorders"

"Overweight Teens Have Extreme Dieting Habits"

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Record Number of Middle-Aged Women are Being Treated for Anorexia

Tonight 20/20 airs a report on Sue Harootunian, a 47-year-old woman who has suffered with anorexia for two decades. According to Dr. Susan Ice, the medical director of the Renfrew Center, a residential eating disorders treatment facility, more than 20% of their patients are women over the age of 35.

Some women seeking treatment have been dealing with their illnesses since they were teenagers, but for many others (including Sue), the anorexia onset is in adulthood. In these cases, the disorder is often a means of coping with issues like the stress of marriage and motherhood, divorce or a fear of aging. Anorexia is a complicated illness (read: we're not blaming Trista, y'all), but we do think the ridiculous pressures on women to be slim & trim moms, sexy bombshell wives, and perfect specimens of youthful beauty just might be a contributing factor here. What do you think? [ABC News]

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Did We Call This or What? Trista Debuts Her Post-Baby Bikini Bod

Remember when body-hating new mom Trista Sutter re-appeared from reality TV obscurity to talk about how desperate she was to lose her baby weight? She told Us magazine that her goal was to be thin by the new year! And remember when we predicted that Sutter would be out of those shlumpy sweatpants for her follow-up mommy makeover cover in January? Well, here you go...

So how did she do it? In October she said that her awesome hubby was "supporting" her weight loss by wagging his finger at her every time she went to eat something she shouldn't. If that isn't a winning diet strategy, we don't know what it is!

But seriously, folks. This baby weight loss obsession has gotten completely out of hand. And we really hate that we were right about this one. Magazines have found a bankable strategy: "inspiring" insecure new moms with stories of celebrities who get back to their pre-baby weight at light speed (with the help of expensive trainers, nutritionists and nannies, of course). So when other moms can't manage to keep up with the stars' diets, they end up feeling more insecure--and wallets-out-hungry for the next miracle mommy makeover story. Because maybe that one will work for them.

Now can we just talk about this picture for a sec? It's all about Trista'a hot bod, isn't it? She's holding her baby like he's a free weight, for cripes sake. Little dude doesn't care how much his mom weighs. He probably just wants to get his hands into some sand.

P.S. We also mentioned Milla in our earlier post. She's now a proud mommy. And according to the ever-sensitive Daily Mail, "Enormous Milla is no more." Well, thank God for that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Here's Looking at You, Kid: Why I Don't Tell My Two-Year-Old She Looks Beautiful

I have a two-year-old daughter. Ever since she was born, I have avoided telling her she looks beautiful. I will tell her the outfit she is wearing is beautiful on her, or how the shoes she chooses are beautiful. I use with the word "beautiful" when it comes to the drawings she makes, the music she plays, how hard she works at putting cubes together, or what a generous girl she is. I have seldom told her she looks beautiful because I believe that her looks will never constitute who she is as a person.

Over the holidays, my beloved parents came to visit us. They are gaga over their granddaughter, and they are truly the most well-intentioned grandparents you could ever imagine. When they arrived at our house, some of their first words to my daughter were, “Let us see how beautiful you are!” My daughter stared and didn’t move. They showed her how to twirl around so they could have a good look at her. I saw her taking in this new kind of attention. I watched her absorb it, react to it, and adjust her behavior to get more of it. From that point on, every time my mother or I would do her hair or put a new outfit on her, she would run into the living room and coquettishly raise her shoulders, moving her arms from side to side until she heard the confirmation she craved: “Awww, look how beautiful you are!” And so went the dance for three weeks.

First I was puzzled, then I became weary of the effects, and then it all made sense. One thing's for sure: If my child were a boy, I would not be writing this. And if females--as babies, toddlers, young girls, girls, teenagers--are constantly rewarded or chided for something as shallow as our looks, it's no wonder we grow up believing that our physical appearance is such an important key to getting positive attention and feeling successful in our lives. It's no wonder so many women's New Year's Resolutions are centered around changing their bodies and faces, and becoming more "beautiful," when what we all really need is to be rewarded for the beauty in what we do with our lives--our contributions, our creativity, our smarts, our kindness, our strength, and our compassion.

Artwork by Megan Jones, Age 7

Monday, January 14, 2008

Would You Rather Be a Role Model or a Supermodel?

Since we're into post-it activism, we love this post-it from Karen Salmansohn's book, Quickie Stickies: 100 Pick-Me-Ups for When You're Feeling Unglued.

Sadly, the "would you rather?" game is no joke when it comes to women and their body image issues. A recent Fitness magazine survey asked readers how much they would be willing to sacrifice to get to their ideal weight. The results are predictably depressing:

23% would spend a week in jail (Hey, if Paris can do it...)
23% would shave their head (Too obvious. Insert your Britney joke here.)
21% would trade ten years of their life (emphasis ours because, well, wow.) [USA Today]

There's the bad news. The good news is that more than three quarters of women are not willing to make those kinds of ridiculous sacrifices to be thin, which makes us think that maybe the world isn't as hopelessly out of whack as we sometimes fear it is. So let's pass along some body image sanity to the next generation, ladies! If you would rather be a role model than a supermodel, ask a girl in your life how she would answer these questions:

Would you rather...

Skip lunch to save calories or enjoy a good meal with good friends?

Wait in line to try out for America's Next Top Model or volunteer those hours for a cause you care about?

Be thought of as cute, pretty, and skinny or as strong, smart, and bold?

Parents: Family Meals May Lower Girls' Eating Disorder Risk

Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that adolescent girls who eat five or meals a week with their families are approximately one third less likely to engage in extreme weight control behaviors, such as making themselves vomit, taking diet pills and abusing diuretics or laxatives than girls who ate less frequently with their families.

For many girls who suffer with disordered eating, the desire for thinness is really a desire to be heard, to be accepted, and to feel like they matter in the world. In other words, it's probably not the chicken, fish, or mac & cheese at dinner that make the real difference in their lives. The meaningful benefits are in the "How was your day today?" and "What's on your mind?" convos that happen around the table. If you can't swing at least five family meals a week, make sure you're scheduling some other quality time to have those talks. [Reuters]

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Sephora Thinks I Should Lose Weight...With Lip Gloss

I admit it. I'm a big sucker for beauty products. Fruity, floral, kitschy cutesy packaging, you name it. I'm like a kid in a candy shop at Sephora. In fact, I dropped a significant wad of cash there this holiday season. Oh, boy did they find a special way to say thanks for my business.

This morning I received Sephora's "Top 7 Beauty Resolutions" email. According to their list, my #3 resolution should be to lose weight with "guilt free" lip gloss. Really? Because my doctor says my weight is just fine. And I didn't spend all that time recovering from my eating disorders to go back to the place where I obsess over the number of calories in my freakin' lip gloss.

The product itself comes from Too Faced and claims to be "infused with the healthy, delicious fruit flavors and appetite curbing energy boosting ingredients found in the FUZE Slenderize beverages." Puh-lease! Sephora's website goes on about how "one delicious dab on the lips will give you a taste of what all the Hollywood starlets are losing it over! Always on the lips, never on the hips!" Did I say I'm a sucker for beauty products? Yeah, I'm not that big of a sucker.

Tell Sephora they need to revise their beauty resolutions.
Tell Too Faced why "guilt free" lip gloss is 100% sanity free.