Friday, June 06, 2008

Media Bites

We continue to be bombarded by media messages about weight and shape, as if we're constantly dodging attacks. Last week alone, AOL News told us "How Not to Look Fat in Tank Tops," new mom Angela Kinsey, of The Office fame, shared with People that she's not yet "red-carpet ready" (what kind of ridiculous bar have we set?), and in US Weekly, actress Marisa Tomei revealed her means to weight-control success: "I pray a lot, like, Keep me skinny, please."

All this in just a few days. . . Did you see it? How do you react to these kinds of media messages? Is there a way to insulate ourselves?


Anna said...

My family doesn't have a television - that helps quite a lot.

But still...if you get the newspaper, PARADE usually comes with the Sunday edition and is chock-full of diet ads and all its recipes have caloric counts and it's really hard to avoid that. Of course, in addition, if you read the news at all you're bound to see the latest "evidence" about what helps you lose weight, whether it be MSNBC, Newsweek, or whatever magazine or website you prefer.

As for stars...ugh.

Robotitron said...

I don't watch television news, at all. I have a tivo that lets me fast forward through commercials -- other than sports, we don't watch anything live.

I don't read lifestyle news sites like msnbc, etc. I don't have a newspaper delivered to my home. I get my news from NPR and Democracy Now!, plus the internet. I feel like I'm pretty informed, and I can avoid obesity hysteria for the most part.

Anonymous said...

I found a great blog article about how starving yourself can be counter-productive in an effort to lose weight.

azusmom said...

Yes, the foremost thing on every new mom's mind should be "Am I red carpet ready?" YERGH!!!!!!
When I left the hospital after the birth of my second child, I received one of those free diaper bags (love that) with lots of coupons. One of them was for JENNY CRAIG!!! It had a photo of a really cute, pudgy baby, and the logo was "Baby fat is cute...on a baby." And I thought to myself, "Fer cryin' out loud, I gave birth 27 hours ago! Give me a freakin' break!"
Having escaped from Hollywood a couple of years ago, I can say that I feel kind of like an escapee from a cult. I'm still working on de-programming myself from all the fat-phobic thoughts that plagued me for years.
The fact is, most actresses are not "naturally (that) thin." They don't get that way by walking their dogs. There's so much disordered eating/exercising/behavior in Hollywood that it seems like the norm. (Living on coffee, cigarettes, and the occasional glass of lemonade. Working out 2-4 hours a day. Taking Adderol (sp?) because it speeds up your metabolism. And much, much worse.)
Sorry for the long post, but the ideal which is sold to us by Hollywood and Madison Ave is not just unrealistic, it's downright dangerous.
It's a bad influence, and it's horrible for all the women (and men) who put their bodies and minds through it in order to get a job.

Anonymous said...

I was blissfully unaware of any of this until I saw it posted on this blog.

How to insulate yourself? EASY. Don't read stuff like "People magazine" and "women's magazines". click away when you see a headline on a place like AOL about "how not to look fat". I read the New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly and the Nation and sometimes even Sports Illustrated. I read the NY Times online, so I can pick and choose exactly what I want to read. I never watch TV news, and in fact only watch movies (old ones), sports, and channels like Discovery and History Channel. The only question I have for myself, is why do I look at blogs like this, since this is the only place I get exposed to that stuff? I guess I'm hopeful that someone might be providing some ways for women to free themselves from weight and fat obsession. Not sure that is happening yet.


Beth said...

Ugh, I'm still buying it, and I'm sick of it. Why does fat have to mean anything?

Deborah said...

I just don't pay attention to this sort of thing. I hadn't heard of any of these until I read your blog entry. IMO, media focus on weight and diet is incredibly skewed, and I just don't need to process that sort of information all the time.

I lost 80 lbs more than 4 years ago and have kept it off by eating sensibly, exercising, and just living my life. No guilt, no issues. It has helped immensely, I think, that (a) I'm older and therefore have a stronger identity and more self-confidence than when I was younger, (b) this time I focused on health and how I feel, not on looks, and (c) I ignore media crap such as this.

himawari said...

I put a moratorium for myself on buying magazines women's or celebrity magazines. I don't really have time to read magazines, period, but if I'm at the gym or the doctor's office and there's nothing else I'll opt for Scientific American or Newsweek and don't even touch the trash. I don't watch TV, except for a few very specific shows that I enjoy, and I can usually watch those online instead. I don't read pop "health and fitness" stories that are really about weight loss and not at all about true health and/or fitness. I get my news from the NYT online, so I don't get a newspaper with diet ads. I generally manage to avoid it pretty well.

luv said...

How do I deal?

I laugh and talk back to the TV, magazines and my computer screen... and, I often laugh out loud at some of the crazy crap I see pushed in the name of "thinness" or "health".

It has helped me to frame the weight-obsessed masses as "pod people". :-D

I also regularly celebrate life free of dieting and food-restriction... which helps me feel sorry for the poor saps who bow down to the altar of "thin".

Ms. Heathen said...

My television only gets PBS if I have my hand on one of the rabbit ears and it's a clear day. I find that helps me avoid not only odious commercials, but the relentless celebrity "news" that craps up the national psyche. Add to this I'm too poor to afford printed publications and that remaining seated for long hours at a time is painful, thus precluding reading every news story thrown my way, and I manage to avoid all sorts of bullshit about celebrities, fashion, and dieting. I get my entertainment from movies I check out of my local library, and of course, books.

I keep on top of global news, local news that affects me directly, and the weather report. I live without tv and without being wired into a hundred news stories every single day, and I'm a lot happier that I've ever been.

Sarah said...

unfortunately, I react to these messages more often than not by comparing myself. however -- after my initial reaction, I start thinking about the amazing blogs I read and women I've "met", both in the ED recovery community and the fatosphere, and I find myself able to separate the false from the true.

Slowly but surely.

Some days (like today), VERY slowly.

The Zaftig Thespian said...

Oh, Angela, NO!!! :( I desperately hope she's referring to the fact that she's just too busy with her baby. ....unlikely? Yeah, I figured as much. :/

Natalie C. said...

I'd like to be blissfully unaware, but you'd have to go around with a blindfold! Standing in line at the grocery store, the headlines & cover models are just screaming out at you.

The other thing I don't like is that the music videos at the gym are almost pornographic. It's like Gold's Gym is thinking because I'm there to get fit, I want to have scantily clothed skinny bodies in my face on every TV monitor. I think it's another form of societal pressure that keeps us from accepting ourselves.

azusmom said...

Natalie, Gold's is the worst when it comes to that sort of thing!!!! I walked in to sub a class a few weeks ago and was bombarded by Jessica Simpson washing a car in a bikini and stilettos. (Luckily, the class was in a quiet studio with covered windows!)

The LAST thing I want to see when I'm working out is a bunch of mostly naked women gyrating around. No thanks!

Meaghan said...

We don't watch TV either, at all. We don't have cable, we don't read People--none of it. But, for me at least, it still creeps in. Maybe while I'm standing in line at the super market with a dozen magazines staring back at me screaming "Lose 15 lbs in 20 Minutes!" or "Is Angie Too Thin?" or "Is Britney Too Fat?" I look away, but it's too late, all of it has already seeped in.

I battled with anorexia, a lifetime ago, it feels like, as a teenager and in my early 20's. Now, as a mom, in my early 30's, I give myself a bit of a break, more than I used to anyway. But I still make many of the negative mental notes that I always did.

I think pushing back against the twisted and sick ideals the culture accepts as normal is only part of the fight. The other part--the deeper part--comes from within. It comes from what we tell ourselves, from what we teach our daughters, from how we talk to and about each other, as women. We must work to build each other up, rather than tear each other down. It begins and ends with us. We owe it to ourselves and to our daughters to place value on the real and the true, rather than the superficial and fleeting.

Femaleclaws said...

I usually am pretty horrified at what I see on the magazine racks. I don't buy them anymore - I just found them so superficial.

I'm sick and tired of having 'fat' being equated with 'ugly'. The word 'fat' is just a verb, its just all the stupid associations people have come to think about when they hear that word, like "useless", which is absolutely not true.

Anonymous said...

"Fat" is a VERB?

zubeldia said...

I don't think there's any way to insulate ourselves from media messages, even without TV and magazines we're subject to very powerful cultural messages about the meaning of our bodies. I think that if it were simply that fat/thin were tied to just beauty that it would be a little easier to contend with as we could certainly attempt, more efficaciously, a representational politics which could lead more diversity... With that said, images of thinness and what that means have been medicalized and demonized across so many cultural and institutional realms that it makes it hard to know where to start.

it is very hard to recover from an eating disorder in this culture, not least because weight obsession is everywhere and you almost become abnormal for not constantly watching your weight.

With all that said, I don't think that cultural factors, on their own, cause eds, but they certainly make them possible, providing the tools and grounds for their appearance in society. I do, though, think that cultural production which centers on thinness sets us up for a whole lot of disordered eating.

I could go on and on, so I'll stop here!

foodaddict said...

It's unfortunate that these celebrity magazines don't point out that weight could have a substantial impact on the working lives of models and celebrities (i.e. gaining or losing 20 pounds could mean the difference between working and not working for them, because their work depends so heavily on appearances), whereas for the rest of us in the real world, gaining 20 pounds doesn't mean losing a job.

What would be interesting and insightful is if a magazine picked out 10 women who are successful in other lines of work, say law or finance or the visual arts, and gave us a snapshot of their attitudes toward food (regardless of their weight or appearance).

Anonymous said...

"...actress Marisa Tomei revealed her means to weight-control success: "I pray a lot, like, Keep me skinny, please."

Why isn't she praying for better acting skills?

Seriously, the only way to handle some of this stuff is to poke fun at it. I know Tomei is a talented, Oscar-winning actress, but it's just cracked that she's hammering at the Big Guy to keep her thin. What with cancer, Tsunamis, starvation and other forms of misery in the world, God has to also deal with keeping Tomei thin, too??? I pray that my loved ones will be safe from the various threats of this world; how silly I've been. Why didn't I realize that Real Prayers are about getting and staying Thin? (Of course, if I had The National Enquirer just Waiting for me to put on a little weight, maybe I'd be praying like Tomei does, too, unfortunately).

Laura said...

I read all the different posted comments, and became exhausted! This is definitely women talking, lots of important points were made and some very emotional ones!
I am a triathlete too, and just becoming a triathlete is a great challenge and a big accomplishment! Women can be very hard on ourselves, this is very evident from this blog. Of course the training and just getting to the race is hard enough, you wouldn't think that the biggest obstacle would be finding technical clothing for training or racing in!! of course body size, shape and weight are always a sensitive issue, naturally.
I think the big challenge is how you feel about yourself in your own skin. I think that a women that may be a size 6 or 16 could be going through the same psychological body issues, it just depends on how you view yourself and maybe what you have gone through in life.
What happened to just being happy! This world makes it very hard to ignore media and how body image is portrayed and sometimes people can be very judging.
What happened to who a person is and what they are all about and what they care about and what they are doing in life??
From my own experience over the last 15 years I have noticed how much more superficial the world has become, causing us to be more selfconsious! Which isn't right!!

I also have problems finding triathlon clothing but my problem is different. I am very tall and slim and according to my height I should be a size large, but yet a size small is what fits the best! Best meaning as best as it can be! Everything is too short in the bottoms and tops and bathing suits. I have to wear a two piece tri suit or bathing suit because of my height and then it still shows the middle of me and sometimes my shorts are falling off because they are too low.
I have yet to find a great fit??

I haven't exhausted all my avenues of searching yet. I am thinking of phoning some manufacturers and see what they offer.

Any ideas? or anyone have similiar problem?

I think the word normal is used very loosely.....I think different is normal, because everyone is different!

Happy training and racing!