Thursday, July 20, 2006

Triple Play

This past week, three of the most widely circulated celebrity magazines hit the newsstands, covers beckoning with variations on a theme:

In Touch: “Body Confessions”
US Weekly: “Extreme Diets: Inside Hollywood’s Dangerous Obsession with Being Thin”
Star: “The New Lipo: New Procedure Melts Fat & Tightens Skin in Minutes!—& It’s Affordable!”

I suppose this is more a question than an actual post: In your view, has coverage of eating and body image issues amongst celebrities skyrocketed as of late? I’ve noticed an incredible increase in the amount of attention (on television, in magazines, on the web) devoted to shrinking stars. However, I’m, as you might imagine, more attuned to these now, as part of my research and writing, so I’m willing to accept my hypervigilance as a possible confound. By asking you, I’m hoping to get some clarity—has such coverage increased, or am I just on the look-out?


PalmTreeChick said...

I think the media coverage may have gone up a tad, but I think it's been like this for a while. I think you're just more tuned in to it. But, it has risen a little.

Kristi said...

I think the Internet plays a large part in that you are bombarded with images all the time, not just when you go to the grocery store and see magazines like those all the time. I know when I was obsessive about my weight and anorexic in college, there wasn't NEARLY the amount of coverage there is now.

Then again, there wasn't as much of this celebrity obsession as there is now.

And then again, that was the grunge 90's, and everyone was to busy being a disaffected youth :)

Donna said...

I think the coverage has always been there. I thinking depending on where you are in your life, brings you in tune with it.

I can clearly remember, as a child, seeing a Family Circle magazine, covering the Cabbage Diets and like. I also think that people are more interested, personally, in celebrities. Celebrities and good bodies... that's what sells covers of the mags, right?

Honestly, the media attention that celebrity's receive with regard to their bodies, makes me feel more sorry for them.

I know how I struggle to maintain a healthy self-image, so I can't even begin to imagine the media blitzing my body.

wading through recovery said...

I think the media focus has always been there. Which stars they choose to focus on changes.

I have to admit (rather sheepishly) that I did pick up the US magazine that you mentioned and browsed through it at work the other day.

What I found rather irresponsible was that they mentioned products that stars supposedly use to help them maintain the super-slim look. Despite the side-effects being listed and comments from eating disorder experts weighing in on the products, I KNOW that highlighting the products will only serve to encourage some people to try them, especially since the price and manufactuars were listed as well.


PalmTreeChick said...

This post, and people's responses actually provoked and interesting thought in my mind, drstacey. Why is it that people with eating disorders are so obsessed with eating disorders? I'm sure I'm not just speaking from my own experience here. Is it because we want to feel like we're "not alone?" (come one, we know we're not) Or do we want to get tips from others?

Examples: I love reading about people with eds, watching movies about eds, or shows that deal with them. I did reports on them in school. What's the obsession that people with eds have with eds? Do you think it's that way with people on drugs? Do drug addicts like reading about other drug addicts or watching movies about them? (yeah for lifetime. ha)

Just some random questions.

Teacher lady said...

I think Kristi's right on target. Perhaps the obsession with body size has stayed the same, but I do think that America's obsession with celebrities has kind of gone off-the-charts crazy. After all, remember about 7 or 8 years ago when Calista Flockhart got all scary-skinny (I had a boyfriend who used to say, "Ally McBeall, you should eat an Ally McMeal.") and it was all over the place? I think the difference is now if she DID eat a sandwich, there would be a HUGE arrow pointing to a little gas bubble on her stomach with the words "BABY BUMP?" in neon yellow writing.

littlem said...

I think it's a little of both. Dr. S, I think you're very tuned in to it.

I also think that as our technological abilities to "micro-improve" ourselves increase (due in part to the competitive instinct?), there's more and more attention paid to it.

Wading, I will also admit that I read the article in "Star". :D

A friend of mine who is a history buff has an interesting theory. She points out the cycles that human history goes in, and that a few years before the last World War, the entire world was also preoccupied with celebrities and the comparatively trivial. She says (and I have thought this myself on occasion) that we're distracted as a culture from the real and serious tragedies in the world, and the way that certain factions may be draining our resources as a country, by all this celebrity hysteria and trivia.

(I've certainly at least thought, every time I discover some quiet passage of law or, conversely, some quiet veto, that I've been so busy trying to stay on top of my own personal little world that I haven't had time to do research about what's happening in the larger world, so I feel guilty about not being as responsible a citizen as I might.)

She says it was also like this in America in 1937.

So yes, I think larger media forces have turned up the volume, if not necessarily on the trivia (because body issues are important in the larger sphere), certainly on the minutiae.

drstaceyny said...

So, the consensus is that it's always been there, but maybe media like the internet have stepped it up a bit?

wtf and m--I have to admit, even more sheepishly, that I have a subscription to US Weekly for, um, research purposes.

ptc--excellent question. I think you're right on, for the most part. There's also the aspect of learning from others how to be "better" at an e.d., but for the most part, I think it's comforting to find a sub-group that feels like it defines/understands you.

I came across this quote recently, and it seems to be apropos:

"The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that
which must also make you lonely. -Lorraine Hansberry, playwright and
painter (1930-1965)

I might want to clarify the use of the word, "exceptional," but I like the basic gist.

Any other ideas?

m--I love the cultural theory, mostly b/c I think it mirrors a personal one abt e.d.s--i.e., it's not (at the core level) about the food (but rather abt other struggles with identity, family, self-esteem, etc.). Any obsession can be looked at (in a classically analytical way) as a defense against something larger/more painful. . . like an internal war.

Good stuff!

PalmTreeChick said...

Ha ha, I'm laughing Stacey because you put "WTF" instead of "WTR" Freudian slip? lol.

Yeah, there is that part of a person that wants to read, talk, and watch about eds to get "better" at them. That I totally agree with.

As for the quote, it sounds good, but I'll have to ponder it to figure it out a little more. I may have a master's in journalism, but poetry and quotes are not my forte. ;)

drstaceyny said...

PTC/WTRRRR--oops! Now, why do those keys have to be so close together? Sorry, WTR. . .

And, PTC, please remind me to call on you for any of my editing needs. Nice work!

PalmTreeChick said...

Ha ha, thanks! I thought it was funny.