Sunday, December 25, 2011

Magazine Madness: Third Time's A Charm!

As January rolls around, we've come to expect that women's magazines will present us with their latest and greatest diet and weight tips. Playing on the insecurities of their readers, a brand new year brings promises to fix our bodies once and for all. For the past two years, I've channeled my disgust at these ridiculous headlines into editing them with a good dose of humor. It's become a playful tradition for me, so when I found myself at the drugstore last week, I headed over to the magazine section, pen and paper in hand.

This year’s selection of headlines didn’t disappoint. The usual insidious messages still bombard us with their focus on weight loss. But I did notice there weren’t quite as many as last year – and that there were even some changes for the better. It made me wonder if we're all doing such a good job of calling out the diet industry - or as my colleague Deb Burgard has renamed it, the weight cycling industry - that the outrageous promises for weight lost of past years are less believable or acceptable. So here we go with the good, the bad and the ugly (but not necessarily in that order!)


Drop 10 lbs This Month - Our Simplest Plan To Get The Body You've Always Wanted

My Edit:

Drop 10 lbs This Month: Gain Back Fifteen Pounds Next Month (What's Simple Is The Math...)


Blast Fat Fast (in only 10 minutes)

My Edit:

Have A Blast (Slow Down and Enjoy Your Life)


Get To Your Show-Off Weight Fast

My Edit:

You’re At Your Show-Off Weight Now…If You Choose To Show Off!

First (for Women)

Dr. Oz’s Extreme Weight Loss. News! A Fruit Fiber Melts Stubborn Fat & Sweeps Cholesterol Out Of The Body. Merril Lost 196 Pounds.

My Edit:

Dr. Oz’s Weight Loss Advice is Extreme – No News There! Take the focus off of weight, practice healthful behaviors (fiber can have a positive effect on cholesterol). Merril Gained Her Self-Esteem


(sexier by Saturday) Lose Two Pounds This Week

My Edit:

(sexier by Saturday) Lose Your Inhibitions and Move With Attitude!

Women’s Health:

Fight Fat (And Win!) Melt Pounds And Trim Inches In Minutes A Day

My Edit:

Stop Fighting Fat (We’re all Winners!) Melt Away Your Self- Criticism And Add Compassion For Minutes A Day

Woman’s Day

Look and Feel Your Best: Burn 200 Calories In 10 Minutes; Erase Wrinkles And Dark Circles

My Edit:

Look And Feel Your Best: Stop Worrying About Calories And You’ll Erase The Stress Wherever You Feel It In Your Body

That pretty much covers the bad and the ugly. Now for the good:


Mega Makeover Issue: Whoa! Sexy Haircut: And It Works On Every One

My Edit:

Whoa! Sexy Haircut: And It Works On Every One - Way to go, Allure!

And my favorite 2012 headline that moves us away from the shame and blame game:

Good Housekeeping:

(Paula [Dean] Says) My Kitchen Is A MESS Y’All. Not Anymore. See Our Amazing Makeover

If we can talk about making over kitchens - rather than people - we’re going to be okay in 2012!

Wishing you a nourishing and peaceful year, at every shape and size.

Eat well! Live well! Be well!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

That's What I'm Talking About!

Earlier today, I was telling my 16 year old son about some of the people I ran into during a brief excursion to the local mall. I added, "I don't think you'll remember this person. He wasn't in your grade." My son responded, "Yes I do. He's chubby and he used to go to our Sunday School."

I was reflecting on our conversation later, and I thought about how easily the word "chubby" rolled off his tongue. There was no hesitancy in using the word, and most importantly, there was nothing pejorative or judgmental in the tone of his voice. "Chubby" was merely an accurate description that let me know he knew exactly who I was talking about.

This interaction made me recall a very different experience I had this past spring when I attended a conference on the topic of eating disorders. After the speaker presented her research, I asked her a question about her methods in assessing the relationship between fat children and emotional problems. A woman sitting at my table - who I did not know - leaned over and admonished me for using the "f" word, shocked that I didn't know it was "politically incorrect" to refer to someone as fat! I tried to explain that I was merely using "fat" as a description and that, in fact, in the circles I travel, the words "overweight" and "obese" are often considered "politically incorrect" because they assume pathology. Just as the phrase "black is beautiful" was a way to reclaim a positive connotation of being black in the 1960's, so too are people in the size acceptance movement reclaiming the word "fat" as a legitimate description of body size - and one that they are entitled to feel pride in.

I'm usually good with words, but whatever I said seemed to make things worse. The moment the conference ended, this same woman came up to me and said, "We need to talk." I braced myself - I don't usually argue with people about this sensitive topic, and I was also anxious to get home. But I felt trapped, and thus the conversation began. She told me that she felt that by using the word "fat," I was intentionally humiliating her. This was quite a jolt to me, since I consider myself to be a person who is extremely conscious of not shaming people about body size. I did my best to be present with her, to listen patiently to her concerns, and to reassure her that my use of the word "fat" came from my own beliefs. I explained my point of view: that people naturally come in all shapes and sizes, and that they deserve to feel good in their bodies whether thin, fat or anywhere in between. This time around, I seemed to get through to her. She visibly relaxed and graciously thanked me for the conversation, saying now she understood where I was coming from.

I suppose it's cliche to say that the next generation is our hope. But I sure like knowing that by modeling an attitude of size acceptance within my own family, my son is able to let the word "chubby" roll off his tongue with no more judgment than saying a person is tall or short, has brown hair, or green eyes. After all, it's only when people choose to view body fat as a negative trait - and associate it with judgmental words like lazy, stupid, or overindulgent - that it takes on a pejorative meaning that's peppered with shame, so that the majority of people in our culture consider it taboo to use. Take away the stereotypes, add in the individuality of each person and the uniqueness of every body, and "fat" simply becomes one more word that helps us communicate with each other. Now that's what I'm talking about!

Eat well! Live well! Be well!

Friday, January 7, 2011


Last year, I had a lot of fun taking all of the January magazine headlines that promise weight loss in the new year, and editing them to add a little humor. After all, this is a particularly trying time for people letting go of the diet mentality and shame about body size. I got lots of great feedback and several suggestions to make this an annual event.

Now that we're a week into January, you've undoubtedly seen the bombardment of tips to create a new and better you in 2011. I also wish you a year that's nourishing and joyful...but living a full and satisfying life just doesn't come from hating your body.

I made my annual trip to the newsstand yesterday. This year, there were a few magazines that seemed to stay away from diet and weight loss tips - could it be that they're finally getting it? But alas, there were still plenty to choose from - I offer them to you with the same suggestions from last year:
  • First, take a deep breath. And now another one.
  • Remember that if any of them really worked, they wouldn't need to keep coming up with more.
  • Finally, a little humor always helps. With that in mind, here is my attempt at rewriting some of my "favorites."
People Magazine:
Half Their Size: How They Did It
My Edit:
Full Of Themselves: What They Did To Promote Compassion In The World

Drop 10 Pounds by Feb. 1
My Edit:
Drop 10 Pounds by Feb 1: Gain Back 15 Pounds by March 1

I Lost 107 Pounds...For Good: One Woman's Diet Victory
My edits:
I Lost 107 Pounds...For Good: One Woman's (And We Mean ONLY One Woman's) Diet Victory (The Other 2, 167, 682 Women Gained It All Back...)
I Lost 107 Pounds...As Of Eight Months After My Diet. Check Back With Me Next Year At This Time
I Lost 107 Pounds...For Good: I Know This Because I'm Psychic And Can Predict The Future

Lose Weight Without Trying: Your Weight Loss Grocery List (Yep, Chocolate's On It)
My Edit:
Stop Trying To Lose Weight: Develop A Nourishing Grocery List (Yep, Chocolate's On It)

Drop 2 Dress Sizes In Just 4 Weeks
My Edit:
Did You Drop 2 Dress Sizes In Just 4 Weeks? You May Have An Eating Disorder

O Magazine:
Weight Loss Made Simple: The Only Tip You'll Ever Need (p. 126)
My Edit: Weight Loss Made Simple: Don't Diet!*
(* I saw this cover online, so for all I know, the tip on p. 126 really is: Don't Diet...)

Marie Claire:
Another Year, Another Diet: How To Really Lose Those Last 5 lbs.
My Edit:
Another Year, Another Diet: Because Your Diet From Last Year Failed You Once Again. How To Make Peace With Food And Your Body

GQ ((yes, men were included too this year...)
A Man's Guide To Dropping The Last (And Hardest) Ten Pounds
My Edit:
That's what she said! Ouch!!!
(for those of you who are fans of The Office)

Glamour (kudos for not suggesting anything weight and diet related, but no harm in making it size friendlier too :)
10 Signs That You're Amazing In Bed
My Edit:
10 Signs That You're Amazing In Bed: At Any Size

Have some New Year's fun too and add your own headlines and edits in the comment section of this entry for all to see. Also, feel free to repost/tweet this link.

Until next year,

Eat well! Live well! Be well!
(And avoid toxic magazine messages)