February 15, 2010

Body hypocrisy

Check out Jezebel and Claire Mysko’s pieces on the hypocrisy of women’s health/fitness magazines and the problem with body image role models of celebrity status. Mysko states:

Whenever an actress or pop star comes forward to talk about her struggle with an eating disorder or poor body image, I say a little prayer that she will find true health. I also hope that she’ll speak responsibly about recovery and self-acceptance. Unfortunately, I’m usually disappointed.

The fact is that getting over an eating disorder (or the murkier but more common problem of disordered eating) involves getting away from an obsession with weight, and that’s darn near impossible to do if you happen to be a celebrity–a job that requires you to go on the record about your exercise and diet “secrets” if you want to stay on the publicity train.

As the Jezebel piece notes:

The hypocrisy of women’s “health” magazines becomes fairly obvious just by looking at their covers. For example, this month’s Self magazine features one cover line, “Be Happy And Healthy At Any Size” tucked below a much larger cover line:

“3 Easy Ways To Lose Weight.”

What seems common knowledge to the cultural critic, the sociologist and the person recovering from disordered eating or an eating disorder is often less obvious to most. And one of those things is that magazines hailed as health magazines or gyms euphemistically called “fitness” or “health” (yeah, right) clubs are more about aesthetics and profit. I mentioned this in my December 2008 post:

I’ve known for years that gyms are not health clubs.  As Lester Burnham declares in American Beauty, he works out “to look good naked.”

Equinox Fitness is quite candid about it’s true aim with it’s tag line “It’s not fitness.  It’s life.”

Our culture increasingly sends contradictory and mixed messages. An ad for ice-cream you can indulge in on one page and an ad for diet pills on the next. While many celebrities are applauded for speaking frankly and candidly about their fight against a distorted body image and unrealistic expectations in the industry, their venue (magazines, television) overshadows their message with a plethora of insecurity boosting themes. Their voice is lost in the cacophony of voices whispering “you’re too fat” or “too flabby” while whispering “eat,” “indulge” (Haagen Dazs tagline “the longer lasting pleasure”) and “enjoy” in the other.

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May 20, 2009

Can we talk about something else?

Filed under: Body Image,Gender,Media — Tags: , , , — Melanie @ 5:44 pm

People Magazine interviews Amy Adams who is currently starring in the newly released Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. During her career, Amy Adams has developed an impressive resume especially since her acclaimed performance in 2005′s June Bug.

The “interview” does not ask her one intelligent question about her latest film or her career.  The first topic revolves around her impending wedding and notes that she is too busy to make proper wedding plans. The second topic is no surprise. What else? Her body!

For her stroll down the Night at the Museum red carpet at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, the starlet wore a flowing lavender dress, a far more demure look than the sexy fitted riding pants she wore for her role in the film as aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.

“It’s going to be a little shocking to see everything in IMAX,” she admitted, adding that to get her body in top form for the big screen, she did pilates “as often as she could.”

May 10, 2009

I have a crush…

…on Michelle Obama and her arms.

As the controversy on “the right to bear arms” that I blogged about on April 1 rages on…


…I love that she wore another sleeveless number to the Annual White House Correspondents Dinner and stayed true to herself.

March 27, 2009

Not like anyone I know

Bonnie Fuller posted an article at the Huffington Post yesterday called, “Cougars and MILFS rule! 40 Year-Old Women are WAY hotter than 20 Year-Olds.” While I appreciate the celebration of more mature women as desirable, intelligent and beautiful beings, I was put off by the title.  Maybe it’s just me but I don’t find the term”cougar” or “MILF” flattering. Second, the article mentions women such as Sandra Bullock, Valerie Bertinelli (giving her props for her latest People Magazine cover in which she dons a bikini and shows off her 48 year-old body), Cindy Crawford and her nude cover for Allure Magazine, Julia Riberts and Nicole Kidman to name a few.

Fuller states that this is evidence that age is no longer an issue:

Need more evidence that Age has gone the way of the dinosaur? It used to be that the standard Hollywood refrain for Hollywood actresses was that there were boohoo, no good roles, for them, moan moan, over the age of 40. As for magazines: cover models used to be doomed once they hit 30.

And if an actress became a mother, it was the kiss of death, instantly zapping their sex appeal. Society was like Elvis, who couldn’t get hot and bothered for Priscilla once she gave birth to Lisa Marie.

Now here’s the new evidence: Julia Roberts mom of three, 41, is the much admired star of the new crime thriller, Duplicity. Meryl Streep, 59, and Nicole Kidman, 41, still can’t keep up with the roles they’re offered. Michelle Pfeiffer, 50, stars as the ultimate cougar courtesan in the soon-to-be released film Cheri. Courtney Cox, 44, is also starring in a new sitcom, appropriately entitled, Cougartown. Salma Hayek, 42, and Sandra Bullock, 44, just rocked on the last two covers of In Style magazine. Oh, and Calista Flockhart, 44, is to be Hollywood’s latest blushing bride after finally bringing Harrison Ford to his knees.

Call them cougars or call them MILFS, just don’t call them over. Let’s discuss Demi Moore, 2009-03-26-demiass.jpg 46, and Madonna, 50. The two Kabbalists are the envy of younger women everywhere. Demi, for her sexy, un-plastic-surgery-looking looks and devoted 15 years-younger, GORGEOUS husband, Ashton Kutcher, 31, who Twittered this shot of her over the weekend, and Madonna for her rock hard body and years younger lovers, A-Rod, 33, and Jesus Luz, 22.

Where do I start?

Well, first of all, Cindy Crawford’s sudsy nude centerfold graces Allure’s anti-aging issue in which Crawford shares her “secrets” on remaining in shape after children and reveals her anti-aging secrets as well.  Surprise! Surprise! Crawford has her own line of anti-aging product that I would imagine fetch quite a price. This reminds me of an ad campaign  Christie Brinkley did several years ago for an anti-aging moisturizer with the caption, “In don’t mind aging…as long as I don’t look like it.” Uh?  Contradiction?  Schizophrenic messages? Not to mention that fact that the caption next to her photograph says,” This is what 43 looks like.”

Uh, not really.  Um, not at all.

I don’t know a lot of 43 year-old women or for that matter 23 year-old women that look like Crawford.  I also don’t now a lot of women that have the time, money or energy to maintain her exercise regimen.  Let’s face it, Cindy Crawford is not like most of us.

Trainer.  Nutritionist. Chef. Nanny, Pilates instructor. Yoga instructor. Boot camp.  Stylist.  MONEY! Oh, and, lets add in photoshop, please.

The other women mentioned in the article don’t reflect the average woman either.  The culture has come to “accept” more mature women (if that’s what you want to call it) and, personally, I enjoy being a 30-something woman a lot more than I enjoyed being a 20-something woman.  But, I don’t feel this article focused on women that represent the average woman nor do I feel this article focused  on what truly makes a woman over 30 sexy: her intellect, her life experience, her charisma or the complexity of her character.  In keeping with the mainstream culture’s obsession with a narrow standard of physical beauty, the article spends too much time discussing the physical appearance of women that don’t actually look their age but appear much younger thanks to products and services their celebrity status can afford them

In the end, the reality is that the culture has come to “accept” women over 30 as long as they still look like they are in their 20s.