It wasn’t long ago that Special K was selling us on the idea that we could “drop a jean size in two weeks” by replacing meals with cereal, shakes and their other food-ish products. In fact, the cereal has long been marketed as a weight loss/weight maintenance plan. This is a brand that once recommended pinching yourself on a regular basis to determine if you should watch your weight. “Can you pinch more than an inch?” Try the Special K breakfast! (Results not typical. May result in bruising.) But now they are singing a different tune. Sort of. Kellogg’s has figured out a new golden formula. Here’s a 5-step breakdown of how it works:
Step 1: Women believe we’re not thin enough, pretty enough, good enough because for decade after decade, advertisers have told us these things in order to sell products as the solution to the insecurities they stoke. Keep reading »
Ever since that Camp Gyno ad hit, my feeds have been gushing over with all kinds of happy, squishy Period Power. Look at that little whippersnapper! She said “vag.” And after the recent Tampongate fiasco, the sight of tampons being gleefully tossed in the air is just what the doctor ordered. From the DIY Dora the Explorer menstruation demonstration to the Santa-for-your-vagina line, the whole thing is like feminist wet dream — of the crimson variety.
And there’s a backstory, too! The ad is for a company called Hello Flo, started by Naama Bloom, who followed her passion to become an entrepreneur, despite the fact that her own mother thinks she’s “nuts.” There are so many feel-good feelings here that my uterus is literally smiling right now.
So shit, why do I have to be the Debbie Downer needle screeching this super awesome record to a halt? Keep reading »
I was a full-blown feminist by the time I started college. I also had a full-blown eating disorder. As a teen I marched on Washington for women’s rights. I put out a zine called Wonder Woman. I played drums (and by “played” I mean I aggressively and skill-lessly beat the shit out of a floor tom, a snare and a cymbal) in a punk band whose songs included “Penis-Shaped Missile” and “Cute Band Alert.” I prepared all varieties of soy-based hippie stews for Food Not Bombs, though I don’t recall ever sampling any of them. And it wasn’t because of the soy. Or the hippie. While my dog-eared copy of Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth was proudly displayed on my bookshelf, my equally well-worn calorie counter book was hidden out of sight in my desk drawer.
I was terrified of gaining weight. I restricted. I binged and purged. I hated my body. Keep reading »
The June issue of Allure has the usual headlines about what beauty products to buy and how to get good hair and better skin. Also thrown into the sexy, sun-kissed mix is this tidbit of information about their cover girl: “Zoe Saldana: 115 Pounds Of Grit And Heartache.” Hey, she’s slight but this gal’s got might!
Do the editors of a beauty magazine think of a celebrity’s weight as just some random fun fact to share with their readers? No, of course they don’t. It’s aspirational. Even if the number itself is completely out of the realm of healthy possibility for most women, it reinforces a longing — that dream of ultimate thinness. It’s defining. An entire interview with Saldana and how do they describe the stand out qualities they learned about her for their cover? In pounds. But what is most insidious about that headline is that it immediately forces comparison. For many women, that comparison is likely to stoke insecurity. Even if it doesn’t, it’s still a giant waste of time and energy: Do you weigh less or more? But wait, are you big-boned or small-boned? You might weigh this much, but actually you wear this size in pants or that size in tops. You felt best about yourself when you were this weight. You’re proud of your weight and fuck anyone who says you shouldn’t be! Keep reading »
I turned into a teary-eyed sap as I read the New York Times obituary of Newbery Award-winning author E.L. Konigsburg, who died last Friday. Her classic young adult novel, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, is one of my all-time favorites. It’s the reason I swore from the age of 10 that I would move to New York. (I made good on that promise.) It’s the reason I am a certifiable word nerd. I still treasure my childhood copy of the book with my name handwritten on a purple sticker bookplate.
A Manhattan-based version of the greatest youth fantasy (read: a life devoid of parental supervision), From the Mixed Up Files follows Claudia Kincaid and her younger brother Jamie as they flee the suburban doldrums and hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is adventure. There is mystery. There are grammar references and vocabulary lessons. It’s loaded with poignant wisdom.
Twelve-year-old Claudia is the kind of character who inspires all the best kinds of troublemaking. Here are a few important lessons I learned from this bold, enterprising runaway. Keep reading »
Once upon a time — before URLs, handles, likes and shares — I put some good old-fashioned postage stamps inside an envelope and sent away for a zine (made of actual paper!) that was filled with some very big ideas. I was 16 and the zine was called i’m so fucking beautiful, a title that hooked me instantly because at the time I was quite literally starving myself of that sentiment. I was all punk rock by day, but I had a couple of dirty secrets that did not exactly jibe with the Manic Panic and combat boots:
- I thought calories were evil. Unfortunately this didn’t stop me from willingly and regularly consuming wretched diet foods that were almost certainly concocted in the bowels of hell. Listen, when a chocolate product in a plastic tub includes instructions on how it can be enjoyed frozen as “ice cream” or microwaved into a “shake,” it no longer qualifies as food, okay? But I ate (and drank!) that sugar-free, chemical-laden kryptonite sludge like it was my duty, each scoop and sip meticulously tallied in my Calories and Fat Grams Journal, which was really more of a disturbing collection of numbers and equations scribbled on Post-Its and scrap paper than an actual journal. Think “A Beautiful Mind” for the eating disordered set.
- I kept a stash of “thinspiration” featuring pictures of models I tore from magazines (‘90s-style! Old school!). I wanted to be that kind of beautiful. And the more I stared at those images, the more fervently I started to believe in that waifish brand of perfection. So I made myself sick chasing sizes that were smaller than the small sizes I already wore. I developed a mortal fear of weight gain. And while my weight fluctuated up and down and back up again as I abused it with brutal cycles of starvation, bingeing, and purging, I was never anywhere remotely close to being plus-sized, full-figured, curvy or any other palatable euphemism for that oh-so-terrifying F-word.
Keep reading »