Monday, April 28, 2008

I've Got Mail

I love getting letters from my readers, especially when they look a little something like this (posted with persmission):

Hi Dr. Stacey,

You may think this is a little compulsive, and, sure, it represents the extreme end of things, but I have neither of the following things:
- a mirror in my bedroom
- a scale in my house

Consequently, I'm extremely happy, and whether or not I feel comfortable in my body has to do with just that - whether or not I feel comfortable in my own body.

Do we even need a scale to measure weight? There are an enormous number of things around us that do the weight-measuring for us, without the numbers. Everything from our own clothing sizes to other people's comments on any ups or downs in our weight serve to remind us of just where we fall on the spectrum. A scale seems, well, superfluous.

So then, why don't I have a mirror in my room? It's also superfluous. If I want to pluck my eyebrows or put on makeup, I'll go into the bathroom. That decision involves taking an active part in my self image - that is, seeing myself when I want to see myself, using the mirror for an activity with its own purpose rather as a tool to open myself up to the opportunity to self-criticize endlessly. What role could a mirror in the bedroom serve that a mirror in the bathroom could not? Looking to see if I have something in my teeth, washing my face, even trying on new earrings . . these are all things that could happen in the bathroom, with purposeful intent.

The radical part in me thinks we should abolish scales - except in doctor's offices and laboratories. I think it's extremely weird that they developed as a part of our hygiene habits. Shouldn't what we do in the bathroom be about taking care of our bodies instead of encouraging terrible self image? Bathing, toilet, brushing our teeth, combing our hair - this all makes sense. But the scale? Everyone should do themselves a favor and lose it.

Can't wait for your book to come out!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Morning Show Request

Wanna be on TV?

From Michelle Niger of FOX:

Hello, I’m a producer with “The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet.” We’re a nationally syndicated live morning television show based out of NYC. On Thursday, April 24th, we’re doing a segment about a study from the International Journal of Eating Disorders that says that eating disorders are contagious. The study says, “A study of U.S. high school students provides additional evidence that eating disorders may be contagious….researchers found that binging, fasting, diet pill use and other eating disorder symptoms clustered within counties, particularly among female students…”

I’m looking for a personal story from someone who has or has had an eating disorder, specifically someone that was shared with or learned their eating disorder from other women in high school or college. We will cover all travel accommodations to NYC. Please call me asap as this is time sensitive 212.301.5371

Line 'Em Up!

In an US Magazine April piece, entitled, "Hollywood Hunger-O-Meter," "stars weight in on how much, and often they indulge their appetites." The celebrities are arranged on a "hunger meter," with markings from "Feed Me!" to "I Watch What I Eat" to "Not Counting Calories." "Feed me" celebs include Molly Sims ("I just fasted for four days. . . . I'm back on food. Today I had kale, squash, quinoa, and lemon water," while the other end of the spectrum sports Sarah Jessica Parker ("I eat everything") and Michelle Trachtenberg ("I'm in New York for a month, so all I'm going to do is eat pizza!")

Other notables? Julianne Moore ("I still battle with my deeply boring diet of. . . yogurt and cereal and granola bars. . . I'm hungry all the time") to Kate Walsh ("I was afraid of becoming huge. . . I remember [just] eating a mixing bowl. . . of whipped cream with Equal in it") to Ali Larter ("I'm such a hedonist with food. . . . I'm not one of those girls who likes moderation").

Did you see this article? What types of thoughts/feelings emerge when hearing about it? Do non-celebrities model their diets after these women? What does it say about our world that this is the dimension on which we're rating our stars?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What the Buck?

I just arrived back from one of my local Starbucks stores (yes, that's plural in NYC) and need to know--does your Starbucks location post the caloric content of its food items? I've never noticed this before!

There, beneath each pastry name on the little pastry card was written the number of calories it contained. I have to admit, I was quite surprised to learn the caloric content of my beloved Rice Krispie Treat (aka Starbucks' generic "Crispy Marshmallow Square"). I know that this information is posted on-line, but I'm not the kind of person to look.

Yet, here it was, staring me in the face. What do you think about the in-store postings? Yay or nay?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Florida Manatees

Have you heard about the Florida Marlins baseball team's new acquisition? The Marlins have put together a plus-sized, male cheerleading squad they call, "The Manatees."

From the Marlins' official site, calling for participants: "The Florida Marlins are looking for big bellies with the biggest jiggle, big feet with the best dance moves and enthusiasm that will rock Marlins fans out of their seats."

A recent Today Show piece dedicated to the Manatees showed one cheerleader, who lifted his shirt to reveal his belly, and said, "Why have a six-pack when you can have a keg?"

It's funny, right? A Miami article declared: "Manatees cheerleaders put the giggle in jiggle." According to press releases, the fans seem to appreciate the comic interludes the Manatees provide. And female attention follows suit. . . One fan, captured on Today, cozied up to the squad, and squealed, "They're so cute!"

Does this represent a step toward fat acceptance (in men), or just another way to mock the fat? Would female "sea cows" inspire the same attention and praise?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Stephanie Kuleba

About two weeks ago, South Florida teen, Stephanie Kuleba, died during breast augmentation surgery. The 18-year-old captain of her high school cheerleading squad, an accomplished student who had already been accepted at University of Florida pre-med, died due to complications from the anesthesia used during her procedure.

In case you didn't know, Kuleba wasn't simply aiming for bigger breasts--according to reports, one of her breasts was larger than the other, and one of her nipples was inverted, causing her distress throughout the years.

I'm curious about your thoughts about this story. Obviously, Kuleba's death is tragic and highlights the dangers of surgery in any case. Elective procedures, especially, are called into question, when medical necessity won't provide justification. But, should Kuleba have lived in shame of what she felt was a malformation? Should a psychologist have been involved? What does this say about women's body image (especially teens') and the perfection our culture demands?

I'm being interviewed by a local news station at 11:30 am to address these questions, so if you happen to see this post before, I'd love to read your comments!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Calling All Orthorexia Commenters!

So, remember the orthorexia post I wrote, in which I mentioned I was contacted by several media outlets? One of them was ABC--they're working on a piece on orthorexia for 20/20. My ABC contact read the post (and your helpful comments) and is particularly interested in speaking to:

1) Anna
2) Emily
3) Fauve
4) Rachel

If you happen to be one of these people, please shoot me an email at drstaceyny(at) if you'd like to get in contact w/ABC. He reassures me that all communications will remain confidential until agreed upon otherwise.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Intuitive Eating with Restrictions

Editor's note: I received this message last week from a reader I'll call Karen. I responded to her directly but would appreciate my readers' input. Please comment if you have any suggestions or recommendations for Karen.

Hi, Dr. Stacey - I was introduced to your blog through a link on Disordered Times. I love the blog for a lot of reasons - but one of them is just knowing that I'm not alone in my struggles with eating and how I feel about it and even how to do it.

I'd be very interested on your opinion, if you ever have cause to give it, on how folks like me, who have a medical condition that requires an "abnormal" relationship with food, can work to be at peace.

I'm currently really ambivalent about calorie restriction, food logging, dieting in any way - the fatosphere has given me the confidence to say, hey, why should this take up so much of my time and energy, but the social reality of having lost some weight, and the impact of years of negative thinking about my body and all of that argue against giving up the diet I'm currently on. (I'm not supposed to call it a diet - but I think anytime you're restricting or changing your food intake based on some external, artificial measurement, it's a diet, and call a spade a spade!)

But, even if I do manage to kick the diet habit - I still have to write down and be conscious of every goldanged thing I put in my mouth, because I have Type 1 diabetes, and I have to play my own pancreas here, and if I don't know how many carbohydrates something has in it, I can't take my insulin appropriately, and my blood sugar will be screwed up. (It gets screwed up enough even when I do know, or think I know!)

I think for me, it might never be possible to have a comfortable relationship with food for that reason. I know a lot of us feel the same. I'm currently looking for ways to make my peace with that and to find a healthy way to be a food logger and carb counter (if not carb-restrictor). But I wonder - is it even possible? And, if it isn't, if disordered eating is always going to be a part of our lives, why isn't it part of a standard treatment plan for diabetics? I meet with a nutritionist - a very weight-nonjudgmental one, I must say - but no one ever talked to me about how this could affect my life and my psyche. I engaged in "diabulimia" off and on for years and years - I still battle it often - to control my weight and never knew I wasn't the only one until just recently. I'd love for there to be some kind of plan for diabetics to work with therapists or social workers on the impact of how their relationship with food and eating will be impacted.

Sorry this is a bit rambling. Just wanted to say thanks for the blog, and mention something that might be of interest on a slow blog day. :)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

File Under: He Won't Notice Those Extra Few Pounds

A coworker of mine is pregnant. She recently approached me in a hushed tone, "I have news!" she said.

"I know," I replied with a smile. "I've been waiting for you to tell me!"

She says she started showing early because of bloat. I think she's growing the next Yao Ming. She's three months in (though looks about five), and I've been suspicious half this time. But, did I say anything? Of course not. . . I wouldn't want to be wrong and (the horror) imply she looked fat. Moreover, I'm sensitive to pregnant women not wanting to share their news until they're ready.

A funny thing happened yesterday when this coworker informed our entire team. A 50-something male colleague seemed shocked. "You didn't know?" I asked, in disbelief. When he shook his head, I laughed and said, "But she's out to here!" (gesturing)

"I think it's a male thing. We just don't notice these things."

"At what point do you think you would notice? When she showed up at work one day with a 12-year-old kid?"