Thursday, March 29, 2007

Spotted Around Town

At a tea house under a menu item for Chrystanthemum tea: "known as the lady's cup of tea as it has a calming effect relieving emotions of anger and frustrations"

At a Dairy Queen store: "Ice cream is meant to be an indulgence."

And, on a bus stop advertisement for a storage facility: "Your closet's tinier than a runway model's lunch."

Monday, March 26, 2007

More on Fat and Thin

I came across this video on You Tube recently and think it captures some of our discussions on "fat" and "thin," while offering some adovacy tips. Enjoy!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Shooting the Messenger

I attended an event this weekend at a classic hotel, a New York institution. When the waiter arrived for our drink orders, I asked, "Can I have a Coke, please?"

"Diet Coke?"

"No, regular." And, in a particular feisty mood, I added: "Do you think I should have Diet?"

"Oh, no, no. . . " he backpedaled.

Poor man. Here I am targeting all my frustrations about our body- and diet-obsessed culture on him, when he's just playing the odds.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Word Association

I'm curious about our associations to "fat" and "thin," as it seems, based on the propensity of eating disorders, messages about ther perils of being "overweight," and public agreement upon what a body "should" look like that most of us are operating under a similar premise: "fat" is "bad and "thin" is "good." (Dr. Freud would have a field day, btw, with the fact that I first typed "fat" is "good". . . Hmm.) But, beyond "good" or "bad," what do "fat" and "thin" connote?

While I hesitated to ask this question--at least in a public forum, in which certain associations might be perceived as hurtful--I decided that not acknowleding our associations does not make them go away and does nothing to understand their derivation or allow us, ultimately, to arrive at a place with beliefs that are less toxic to others and ourselves.

So, with this in mind, what's the first word (or words) that pop into your mind when considering "fat" and "thin" and why do you think this is the case?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW), an event of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), ended on March3rd. During the week, scores of events were held at schools, hospitals, fitness centers, and houses of worship, all designed to convey the message "Be Comfortable in Your Genes." As the Winter, 2007 issue of the NEDA newsletter, "Outlook" states:

Too often individuals struggle against their natural, genetically influenced size just to fit into that pair of "skinny jeans" in the back of their closets. Fighting your natural size and shape can lead to unhealthy dieting practices, poor body image and sometimes eating disorders. While you can adopt a healthy lifestyle and aim to be fit for your particular body type, you cannot change your genes.

As part of the NEDAW, NEDA introduced a number of challenges (see below) that we might attempt in order to move toward acceptance of our natural size. Yes, it's the week after NEDAW, but is this really a time-limited event? Which can you do?

1. Sign the National Eating Disorders Association’s Declaration of Independence from a Weight-Obsessed World to free yourself from the three D’s: Dieting, Drive for Thinness, and Body Dissatisfaction.

2. Celebrate Fearless Friday - A Day Without Dieting - and feel how empowering a diet-free day of self-acceptance can be!

3. Attend a workshop, presentation, lecture, or meeting in your community that will help you feel better about yourself. See the National Eating Disorders Association’s website, your local newspaper or campus calendar for events.

4. Use your voice to effect change: join the National Eating Disorders Association’s national media advocacy campaign to write letters of protest and praise to media, corporations and advertisers who promote negative or positive messages concerning body size, weight, dieting and eating disorders. Sign up via the web at

5. Consciously choose to avoid making comments about other people or yourself on the basis of body size or shape.

6. Compliment someone else for a skill, talent, or characteristic they have that you appreciate. Remind yourself that a person’s value is not determined by their shape or size.

7. Enjoy your favorite meal without feelings of guilt or anxiety over calories and fat grams.

8. Donate your jeans and other old clothes that no longer fit your body comfortably to charity. Someone else will appreciate them, and you won’t have to worry about the way they fit anymore.

9. Start each morning by looking in the mirror and saying something nice about yourself out loud.

10. Put away or throw away your bathroom scale.

11. Look through magazines and newspapers, ripping out advertisements, photos and articles that promote negative feelings about weight, body image and food. Talk back to the TV when you see or hear an ad that makes you feel dissatisfied with your body.

12. Read a book that lifts your self-esteem, promotes positive body image, encourages healthy living or helps you overcome stereotypes about social standards of beauty.

13. If you know someone who is struggling with an eating disorder, take the time to reassure them of your friendship and support for their recovery process.

14. Throw out all of the diet products in your house.

15. Remind yourself and others that It’s What’s Inside That Counts!

16. Become a member of the National Eating Disorders Association and join the effort to create a world where self-esteem is not weighed in pounds on a scale. Visit or call (206) 382-3587 for more information.

(from the NEDA website)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Expanding Science

In article entitled, “Americans Are Getting Too Fat for X-Rays,” writer Harry Mount reports on a recent Radiology magazine feature. It seems that the nations’ expanding waistline is making it difficult to obtain accurate x-ray readings, either because patients cannot fit on or in radiological equipment (like x-rays, MRI machines, etc.), or because radiological waves are unable to penetrate patients’ fat.

As Mount writes, this can raise serious health concerns, if such medical problems as clots, tumors, and fractures are left undetected. The answer is, of course, to build machines that accommodate larger frames and to create more powerful radiological waves, able to penetrate fat. If we can design an artificial heart, perform entire surgeries through a microscopic needle, and successfully transport organs from one body to another, then surely we can design a larger MRI machine.

Monday, March 05, 2007

In a Cinch

In The Beauty Myth (2002), Naomi Wolf writes, “During the past decade, women breached the power structure; meanwhile, eating disorders rose exponentially and cosmetic surgery became the fastest-growing medical specialty. . . . We are in the midst of a violent backlash against feminism that uses images of female beauty as a political weapon against women’s advancement: the beauty myth.”

With this in mind, I began thinking about the relationship between feminism and our bodies, and a number of questions emerged: Can you be a true feminist and still want to dip below your natural weight? As women make unprecedented professional strides, are our bodies more prone to evaluation and scrutiny? Are we all tacit supporters of the unpublished truth that in order to be successful, you must be thin?

Considering the amount of mental energy we devote to judging/denigrating/whipping our bodies into shape, it’s amazing we have the resources to work, love, and raise kids. A friend in college once remarked, “If I could take all the time I’ve spent so far trying to lose weight and to manage my body hair. . .” The sentence was incomplete, but the implication clear—who knows what else she, at only 20 years old, or any of us could have accomplished? And, what cultural forces dictate that we focus on these concerns, at the expense of larger ones? What might happen, if our energies were to be unleashed?

I’m reminded of a holiday weight-control tip I found on The site offered: “For the duration of the holidays, wear your snuggest clothes that don't allow much room for expansion.” Reading this, I found myself cringing at the discomfort (physical and emotional) of constriction. And now, I find myself wondering, is a diet just a modern-day corset?

Friday, March 02, 2007

How Old Are You?

Kind of an odd question, I know. But, as I'm thinking about developing this project, which involves marketing the book, one question that arises is the age of my target reading audience. I'm trying, therefore, to get a sense of to whom my writing may appeal--women in their teens, 20s, 30's, 40's 50's, 60's, beyond?

So, if you don't mind, I'd love to hear how old you are (or in which bracket you fall). If you're not comfortable announcing this in a public forum, feel free to email me. Or, to approach it differently, do you have any idea as to which age brackets this blog/book may most effectively target? I'm curious about how appropriate both the content and writing style are for different age groups.