Saturday, April 29, 2006

Mean Girls

The cover of the January 16th issue of Us Weekly magazine broadcasts, “Diet Secrets of Lindsay, J. Lo & Others.” Interestingly, Lindsay Lohan has been featured several times before in the same magazine in spreads which focused on her extreme, unhealthy weight loss. Open to the story and we see Kate Hudson, who’s also been photographed and described by the same media as unnaturally skinny and unhealthy looking. The message? These stars look ill, and you can, too! In the same spread, a photo of Jessica Alba shows the star running in a bikini, looking absolutely gaunt, with a protruding clavicle, ribs, and pelvis. A caption reads, “Five times a week, Alba does 20 minutes each on the elliptical and bike, plus an hour of lunges and squats.” An hour of lunges and squats? Good God.

A week later, Lindsay Lohan appears on the cover of Vanity Fair (2/06). Inside, the topless Lindsay squirms in front of the camera, and she confesses of her stick-thin days, “I was making myself sick.” Bulimia. Great diet secret. Later, Lindsay publicly denied the story, suggesting that her words were misconstrued. However, the journalist who interviewed her, Evgenia Peretz, stands by her story.

Inspired by a Magazine Ad

A post-New Year’s (2006) advertisement for Special K takes the form of a page-long narrative, entitled, “Weightless: A Short Story.” In it, we meet Melissa, who yearns for German chocolate cake, but instead chooses to “indulge in a Special K chocolatey drizzle bar.” I wouldn’t exactly call that indulging, though I may have missed the point.

Thankfully, the writer instructs me that “Every great story contains great conflict. A moment when the hero fights her greatest enemy and remains true, or all is lost.” If the last sentence were a complete sentence, I’m sure it would have highlighted the good/evil, yin/yang, German chocolate cake/Special K drizzle bar duality that we encounter on a daily basis.

Melissa finally weighs herself after two weeks of “indulging” on drizzle bars, and on judgment day, the die is cast: “For a second she thought she couldn’t look as the little dial spun toward a number. It stopped. She was almost a full six pounds lighter! She wanted to jump for joy. This was going to be a very good day! This was going to be the start of something great.”

I’d hate to mention it could be water weight, that she’ll probably gain it back, and then some, or that she might not have energy to jump, given the fact that she’s been eating just a bowl of cereal for 2/3 of her meals. What I really want to say is how angry this ad makes me, how sad it is that we invest so much in a scale and in a number, and how frightened I am that someone might read this copy and actually buy the message and like herself a little less. No author is identified, and I’m afraid that might be because she’s in a closet somewhere, bingeing on cookie dough.


I'm here to write a book about eating disorders. My contention is that every woman has an eating disorder--not necessarily anorexia or bulimia per se, but a fixation on food/weight/shape that is unhealthy, unwanted, and undying.

This is a forum in which I may present some of my ideas (from the media, personal stories/experiences) that, with a touch of editing, will magically gel into said book. I'm most curious about your reactions and your personal experiences.

Oh, and for what it's worth, I'm a clinical psychologist.

Friday, April 28, 2006

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