Monday, February 23, 2009

All the Right Places

So, Kate Moss gained some weight. "I just put on a couple pounds and they went in the right place," she says in New York Magazine. I read that at first and wondered, "What is the right place?" But, we all know the "right" places, assuming that there are any, true? And, clearly, there are "wrong" places, no need to mention those, right?

Well, maybe there is, because some of you may assume that a "wrong" place to gain weight is one's backside. Not so, New York Magazine insists, as evidenced by their focus on Kate's:

As you can see from the photo, Moss has put on a bit of weight, not a difficult accomplishment from her days of heroin-chic. Many women would fret about gaining weight "back there," but not Kate, nor the editors of New York, as now, Kate simply has a backside. I'm left thinking that there aren't necessarily culturally acceptable "right" and "wrong" places to gain weight, but rather culturally acceptable "right" amounts of weight to gain. If you're underweight, it's okay to add a few pounds. If you're not, you better watch your placement.

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Working it Out (with Kids)

For how to apply the post below to conversations with your children, see here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Working it Out

I've been taking a new (to me) class at the gym that focuses on interval training. I love the way it makes me stretch, offering a challenging alternative to my solo workouts. The instructor's great: energetic, positive, and pushes students only as far as they'd like to be pushed. But, the other day, she began to talk in class about her dessert consumption. "I ate some cake the other night, and it went right here!" (pointing to outer thighs) Later on in the class, she again mentioned consuming cake and cookies and said, "Who else was eating cookies? I know I'm not the only one!" (As in, let's all work that much harder--we must work off our sweets!)

Just a bit of background in case you're confused as to why I found this troubling: Cookies and cake are not bad. We do not need to atone for eating them through exercise. Exercise (with or without cookies/cake) is beneficial to our physical and psychological health.

Ok, so what does an eating disorder psychologist (who also has a fitness background)do in a situation like this? I like the class, but dislike those kinds of messages. And, I have a bit of a political agenda, truth be told. So, I approached the instructor after class and told her I had enjoyed it, but had a small concern. I mentioned the work I do and the prevalence of eating disorders. I even spectulated on the incidence of eating disorders among class participants (yes, I know not EWHAED, but if I had to gamble, I'd say rates might be higher in this class than in the general population). I explained to the instructor that comments that linked exercise to food might be triggering for some, unhelpful to many, and that I always appreciate a dialogue that focuses on the health and wellness benefits of exercise, rather than its role in calorie management. I tried to convey this in a casual way, as I can imagine feeling a bit on the defensive if approached with similar feedback. So, here's the kicker--she says, "You're right, you're totally right. Actually, I'm a social worker."

Monday, February 09, 2009

Weight Bias

Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity recently published a couple of online videos regarding weight bias. The first involves weight bias against children, both at school and in the home. The other focuses on weight bias amongst healthcare professionals. What can you do to help reduce the incidence of weight bias?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Too Fat, Too Thin, What's a Girl to Do?

Did you happen to catch this?

Is it a step in the right direction (that we're more accepting of a healthier size and newly critical of "too-thin") or do the results just represent more of the same judgment and criticism of women's bodies, when we should be focusing on something else? (e.g., Holmes reportedly was a Broadway success) What do you think?

Monday, February 02, 2009

Student Health

Karen, over at Some of My Other Random Thoughts, emailed me an excerpt from one of her recent posts. Check it out:
Last week, I went to the student health center to get an allergy prescription. I'm a grad student and student health is free! I still have to pay for the prescription because I don't have health insurance for the moment, but the appointment is free! Maybe you get what you pay for, because it was a weird little experience that I've probably retold to five or six different people in the last seven days.

The nurse had me step on the scale in the hallway. I did, and watched the number appear, all digital style, the same number I've been frowning at when standing on the YMCA scale, jiggling the non-digital balance thingy, hoping it'll bounce up, er, down, a little.

The nurse, on the other hand, was shocked at the number. Not because she knows me (never seen her before) or saw that I'd gained a significant amount since my last visit (I haven't) or was even looking at my chart. She was shocked because, as she put it, "Wow. You do not look like you weigh that much!"

I chuckled or snorted or something, perhaps slightly uncomfortable, but not hearing the alarm bells that later reflection told me I should have heard. My people-pleasing kicked in, and I said, with a little slap to my, ahem, outer thigh, "It's all in my hips!"

"Seriously," the nurse continued, unable to impress this upon me with only one inappropriate comment, "You do NOT look like you weigh that much."

Heh, heh, I might have said. I went into the room, briefly chatted with the doctor, got my script, and I was gone. It wasn't until after class, on my hour-long drive home, that I thought, Huh. Something was not right about that.

I probably should write a letter to the medical director, as more than one of my post-event confidantes told me. I should probably include in that letter that no staff member should ever comment on a woman's (or any patient's) weight while weighing them and writing the number in the chart. If a comment needs to be made, as it might, about significant gain or loss, or concerns about medical complications, it should be made by the primary provider, in a sensitive, confidential way.

Here's the thing. I think she thought she was complimenting me. "Wow, you look skinnier than that number!" or "Wow, you look like you weigh ten pounds less!" But isn't there also a subtext:
"Wow, that's a high number!" or "Wow, you don't look that fat!" And what about this? What if I were recovering from or still dealing with an eating disorder? This is university student health. I know I'm 36 and don't flatter myself that I look 18, but eating disorders have been around since my college days. If it bothered me, who has never been particularly obsessed or concerned about my weight, what would it have done to someone who was finally at a "normal" weight after years of anorexia or bulimia. What if I'd heard negative things about my weight through my whole life from my mother or other important role models? (And isn't that A LOT of women?)
Reactions to Karen's experience?