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New Year’s Resolution: Change the world, not my body

29th December 2007

New Year’s Resolution: Change the world, not my body

by Rachel

In just a few days, thousands of people everywhere are about to make their New Year’s resolutions. A New Year’s resolution is a noteworthy concept – start the year off with a change for the better. So how did the tradition evolve into a subconscious exercise in self-flagellation?

Lindsay over at Babble recently posted her thoughts on the subject. It’s almost as if she peeked inside my brain and summed up what was percolating inside. Writes Lindsey:

I wonder what kind of world we might live in, if instead of “lose weight”, people would instead make a new year’s resolution to “learn more about myself and the people in my life”. Instead of planning to shed pounds, how about working on shedding self-hatred/loathing/dislike/discomfort, or shedding the notion that the way a person looks is really one of the least important qualities about them?

Why not celebrate this new year by trading in those tired (and probably oft-repeated) resolutions for something more purposeful and constructive?

If I hadn’t landed my semi-dream job and met the man I would later marry all in the scope of a few months several years ago, I’d most likely be living in a squalid hut somewhere in Africa working with the Peace Corps. My job, academic and family life now keep me firmly bound in the Midwest but I discovered a way to still help international non-governmental organizations through the United Nations’ Online Volunteer Programme.

The program is ideal for people with a multitude and variety of skillsets: Volunteers are needed with expert advice on a variety of topics, article research and editing, website development or translations to skills in project management, proposal writing, information technology, and print publishing and graphic design.

Organizations register and post jobs, which volunteers can search through and apply for based on skill level, interest and availability – volunteer opportunities are available for as little as an hour a week. I just applied to volunteer one to five hours per week for eight weeks with an Ethiopian AIDS/HIV awareness organization to help prepare print materials to educate the local populace on HIV and AIDS prevention and care.

If you’d like to help out closer to home, there are endless opportunities, from working in soup kitchens and food pantries to volunteering at animal shelters, nursing homes or hospitals. Interested in promoting a healthy body image? Check out some of the organizations listed in this link or donate your time to the fledgling Coalition of Fat Rights Activists.

This new year, instead of resolving to change your body, commit instead to help change the world.

Topic of discussion: What are your New Year’s resolutions, if any? Have you ever successfully fulfilled any of your annual vows? Or, post your ideas on ways others can help impact real change this new year.

posted in Body Image, Pop Culture | 7 Comments

28th December 2007

The Skinny on Starbucks

by Rachel

Ordering coffee at Starbucks can be challenging, what with the gazillion of choices available – a tall non-fat double-shot vanilla latte with whip, anyone?

StarbucksNow the brewing baron is making ordering easier for perplexed patrons with its new “Skinny” platform. The new lingo – the word “skinny” – saves you from having to say nonfat Latte made with sugar-free syrup. As Mo at Big Fat Deal nicely sums it up:

So if I wanted a nonfat sugar free gingerbread latte (which, yum) I could just call it a skinny gingerbread latte, therefore saving on both calories and syllables.

The company also added a new sugar-free syrup flavor – mocha – to its existing selections of vanilla, hazelnut, caramel and cinnamon dolce.

The husband and I try to eat a healthy, natural and balanced diet, so as a personal rule I tend to shun sugar as much as possible. But instead of touting this laudable aspect of its sugar-free selections, Starbucks instead is playing the popular New-Year’s-resolution-to-lose-weight card.

“We regularly hear from our partners that customers are cutting calories and seeking healthier options,” said Katie Thomson, registered dietitian, Starbucks Coffee Company.

“We understand how important overall wellness is to our customers and so we’ve made it easier for them to stick to their New Year’s goals without giving up their daily coffee routine by introducing the Skinny platform.

“In fact, customers can consider replacing that sweet snack so many of them reach for in the afternoon with a Skinny Latte. Not only will they save on calories and fat but they’ll be getting an extra shot of calcium and protein to get them through the day.”

… that sweet snack so many of them reach for in the afternoon…” Hmmm… I wonder if Thomson’s conclusions that Starbucks’ customers are uncontrollable sugar addicts is based on any kind of credible market research.

If Starbucks’ new lingo seems like wishful thinking in a cup, that’s because it is. Swapping out a tall Cinnamon Dolce Latte (made with non-fat milk and no whip) with a tall Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte is a difference of just 70 calories. And even if you indulge in a drink a day, that’s still just 490 calories per week – it would take nearly two months before those daily drinks resulted in a gain of one pound.

So, enjoy your drink du jour, whatever it may be, and ask Starbucks to hold the guilt. Or try mine: Steamed soymilk, plain, with a sprinkle of vanilla powder and a few packets of Splenda sweetener.

posted in Food News, Pop Culture | 15 Comments

28th December 2007

I am blogger, hear me roar

by Rachel

So, while I was on holiday hiatus, I was “roared” at by Harriet at the blog Feed Me! Many thanks, Harriet.

Roar etiquette directs me to do two things: list three things I believe are necessary for powerful writing, and then send roars out to another five of my favorite and fearless writers. So, here goes:

Rachel’s rules for powerful writing

1. Be clear, be concise. Okay, so it’s technically two rules in one, but the two often go hand-in-hand. Proper grammar and clarity are essential for not only capturing readers’ interest, but in engaging the reader through the conclusion. Omit unnecessary words. Write smart, but don’t use a $1 word when a 25-cent word will suffice.

2. Write so that the reader not only reads the story, but sees the story. Avoid clichés and over-flowery language, but write with detail, using rich language and enticing imagery. Good writing not only engages your mind throughout the read, but for a long time after. Part of this lies in good interviewing techniques; when you put people at ease, the story follows.

3. Develop your own voice. Powerful writing requires a unique voice, which can take decades to develop. And by voice I don’t mean style or tone of a story – I mean a writer’s vision, thought, and insight. If you aspire to be a newspaper writer, read as many newspapers as you can. Ditto for magazine writing or business writing or whatever form of writing to which you aspire. Practice writing every day, even if it’s a brief journal entry or blog post. Great writers aren’t born; they develop.

So, on to the second part. In no particular order, here are a few authors whom I adore:

Kathy Y. Wilson – Kathy is a no-holds-barred, piss-and-vinegar, tell-it-like-it-is kind of writer who fuses some of the absolute best creative writing I’ve ever read with very sensitive and even inflammatory topics. She formerly wrote a column for Cincinnati CityBeat called Your Negro Tour Guide in which she wrote about issues of race. She’s now moved on and is a contributor for Cincinnati Magazine. She released an anthology of her YNTG columns several years ago and has a new memoir coming out soon.

When it comes to news, veteran NPR reporter Daniel Schorr sets the bar. The senior news analyst for NPR boasts a career of more than six decades reporting national and international news and even at 91-years of age shows little signs of slowing down. In fact, he just released a new memoir this month, Come to Think of It: Notes on the Turn of the Millennium.

When I first read works by Sherrie Inness I grew excited: Finally, a historian who doesn’t write in the typical dull, dry, and boring historian mold! Then I discovered Inness to be an English professor at Miami University and it all made sense. Inness writes the books I only wish I had written. She concentrates primarily on how food intersects with race, class, and gender, but also writes on other feminist-inspired topics. Her well-researched topics are infused with interesting observations, creative writing, and clever wit.

Blog writing is entirely different than most forms of writing, and it’s one not everyone has a knack for. But Monique over at Big Fat Deal has mastered the art of writing about the portrayal of weight in popular culture with aplomb. Her writing is fun and always sure to bring a smile.

Not to be confused with Big Fat Blog, who likewise boasts interesting and engaging reads. Author Paul McAleer looks at the more weighty topics of fat discrimination and fat rights in society, and writes in such a way that you can’t help but nod your head in agreement. His writing is succinct, his verbiage adroit, and his wit is quick and sharp.

So, what are some of your own suggestions for powerful writing or who are your own favorite writers? What makes you keep reading?

posted in Book Reviews, Personal | Comments Off

27th December 2007

Belated holiday greetings

by Rachel

And a very belated Merry Christmas to readers of The-F-Word!

The husband and I took a delicious several days off work and the world generally, hence the gap in usually routine posting madness. I hope everyone had a wonderful and stress-free holiday.

Christmas, for me, is a time to literally shower those I love with gifts, but I also got a few choice things I’ve been wanting for a while but never wanted to spend the money on, namely books. So, expect to see some upcoming reviews for such books as The Gospel of Food (in process of devouring now, Twinkie Deconstructed, Action Chicks, Appetite for Profit, The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life, and Hunger: An Unnatural History.

I have some (relatively) exciting plans for this site, including adding a library of recommended reads with reviews when possible and creating an archive of vintage food and weight-loss advertisements. I also still have our Stories of Our Bodies archive to add. Sadly, the ideas I have for this site are tempered only by a lack of time.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year’s celebration.

posted in Administrative, Book Reviews | 2 Comments

21st December 2007

The real elephant in the room

by Rachel

If Paul Campos were running for president, I’d consider backing him. Seriously.

If Campos used an ounce of the methodical reporting, rational examination of the numbers and plain ole’ common sense he uses to deconstruct stereotypes and discrimination against fat people towards, say, the American economy, the nation would be much better for it.

In his latest column, “Yet another excuse,” Campos takes on right wing idiot Michael Savage, who recently suggested America’s health-care woes could be solved by interning fat people in what he euphemistically calls “work camps.”

Savage, the appropriately-named conservative radio host, vented his disgust toward “fat women” and claimed non-thin Americans do not deserve access to health care. Ironically, as Campos points out:

That a shameless demagogue like Savage advocates concentration camps for people with what he considers inappropriate bodies is bad enough (Savage’s parents, it’s worth noting in this context, were Jewish).

There are many people who believe fat people don’t deserve equitable access to health care, or insist that fat people ought pay more for equal coverage. But – or so I would hope – there are few people who would agree with the shock-jock that fat people should be rounded up and corralled in concentration-like camps.

But as Campos notes, “The same sort of ignorant hysteria that fuels Savage’s foaming at the mouth also inspires more respectable, but potentially much more dangerous, suggestions from our political elite.”

Case in point: Barack Obama in the Dec. 7 Democratic presidential primary.

During the debate, the presidential hopeful claimed the Medicare system could save a trillion dollars – yes, a trillion – if we hopped aboard the obesity time machine to 1980 – see the Big Fat Blog discussion of it here.

And, of course, it’s common knowledge that former fattie and diet-industry shill Mike Huckabee, who’s steadily gaining amongst conservative voters, has turned his own battle of self into a national crusade against fat(people).

“The theory, it seems, is that an ounce of weight loss is worth a pound of Medicare spending,” writes Campos of Obama’s remark. He then goes on to briefly deconstruct the claim, before ultimately concluding:

…The reason Medicare costs are skyrocketing is because Americans are living longer and longer lives, and very old people almost always eventually become very sick people, who are very expensive to care for.

Indeed, those who wish to do their patriotic duty, in fiscal terms, ought to aim to die of massive heart attacks at the precise end of their economically useful lives.

The reality is that a significant portion of the anti-fat hysteria that has gripped the culture over the past decade is driven by a desire to find any plausible excuse for not doing what every other developed nation in the world does: provide basic health care for all citizens.

It seems the real elephant in the room isn’t obesity at all, but rather, our attitudes towards fatness and the current system affording health care to privileged Americans.

posted in Fat Bias, Legal Issues, Pop Culture | 11 Comments

20th December 2007

Angelina Jolie: It’s grief, not an eating disorder

by Rachel

The tabloids and even some so-called reputable media outlets have been rife the past year withAngelina Jolie speculations that Angelina Jolie has an eating disorder – The National Enquirer even went so far in May as to diagnose the star with anorexia nervosa.

But in a portion of an interview posted by Digital Spy, the United Nations Goodwill ambassador and actress told Grazia magazine that her weight loss is connected to grief, not an eating disorder. Jolie’s mom, Marcheline Bertrand, died in January after a battle with ovarian cancer. Said Jolie:

“I have always been lean and this year I lost my mother and I’ve gone through a lot.”

“The thing that’s disturbing is that instead of people saying, ‘This looks like a person that’s actually dealing with something, probably from emotions’, they say, ‘Does she fit into skinny jeans and look thin?’

“I want people to understand who I am as a person is not somebody that’s trying to look thin, but just trying to work through a very difficult year.”

This, of course, comes as no surprise to women like writer Anne Ream or cartoonist Mikhaela B. Reed, both of whom lost weight via serious illnesses. Instead of eliciting cause for concern, the women were complimented on how “healthy” and good they looked.

The media casts a concerned light on the shrinking figures of Hollywood celebrities, but a recent study by two researchers at the University of Alberta found most media coverage tends instead to glamorize the disease. Rebecca Inch and Noorfarah Merali led the study of 10 popular magazines, that shows magazine coverage of eating disorders overemphasizes weight loss strategies and thinness, and fails to accurately convey the grave health consequences associated with eating disorders.

The National Eating Disorders Association has a tip sheet for media outlets on how to cover eating disorders without glamorizing them. Unfortunately, I don’t think the tabloids are much interested in the responsible and ethical coverage of any subject.

posted in Eating Disorders, Pop Culture | 16 Comments

20th December 2007

Losing weight, losing myself

by Rachel

Fillyjonk at Shapely Prose has linked to and commented on a personal essay submitted to Newsweek’s My Turn feature. The article is titled “My Secret History: I may be thin now, but that doesn’t mean I share your opinions about fat people,” written by Megan Northrup.

In the article, Northrup recounts a lifetime of humiliation and deprecation, both inflicted by herself and others, that too often and tragically comes hand-in-hand with being an overweight adolescent and morbidly obese adult. Last February she had gastric bypass surgery and has since whittled herself down to 130 pounds.

Yet Northrup now feels torn between the person she once was and the person people now think she is. Her “newly thin” status now admits her to clubs of sociability and humanity to which her former fat self was once denied admittance. She seems genuinely torn about her passive acceptance and even endorsement of the discrimination of others towards fat people. She writes:

It’s almost surreal how I find myself privy to the hushed conversations thin people have among themselves. I’m part of this insider group, but I carry a secret identity that renders me an impostor to some degree… They take for granted that my physical presence—I am now 130 pounds, having dropped 135 pounds after my operation—has always been this way, and I let them believe this myth because I see now, more than ever, how much judgment is directed toward the overweight and obese.

…But every day I struggle with who I am and what this new membership to the normal-weight group means to me… When you take on a new identity, and you’ve let others believe that this is your one true identity, it’s easy to find yourself completely disowning your previous self.

As a fat acceptance activist, Fillyjonk’s first reaction is naturally one of indignation. She writes:

Are you seriously writing a whole article about how you’re too much of a sniveling wuss to pipe up when the people around you are acting like flaming assholes? You’d think that she’d go on to say that she’s a little ashamed of her meekness, but it doesn’t really happen. She does end on the note that she “can only hope” she won’t keep her mouth shut next time someone talks shit about fatties, but after several paragraphs detailing “the day-to-day humiliations of obesity” and the splendors of gastric bypass (which hasn’t caused her any health problems AT ALL!), you can’t help but think that perhaps hoping isn’t quite enough.

And in the commentary there, Tari asks:

…I find it incredibly confusing for this chick to be all “I can’t say anything to an asshole when he’s being an asshole, but I can pen an article with my name and picture and have it published in a nationwide newsweekly.” Say what?

I understand both the reactions of Fillyjonk and Tari. I’ve never met Fillyjonk, but I have met Tari and she exudes self-confidence and assertiveness. But I also completely understand and empathize with Northrup. When you spin on the furthermost arm of the social galaxy, the need for inclusion can be overwhelming. And though Northrup’s physical metamorphosis came about rather quickly, the transformation of the mind can be glacial.

I have never understood these women who lose weight and lay claim to some newfound self-confidence that has just laid buried beneath fat, like a diamond waiting to be mined. After I lost a drastic amount of weight and even lodged myself in the “too thin” category, I found I was more meek and timid than ever before. I hate personal confrontation, even now, but as a writer I am 10-feet-tall and bulletproof. While I might not engage in debate or confrontation face-to-face with a person, I can write about it with aplomb. Perhaps this is true for Northrup, as well.

I also completely understand the willful disassociation between the self as before and the self as after. After my own transformation, even my sister, the person to whom I was closest to at the time, remarked that I was like a new person. I sometimes wonder if self-erasure is what I was going for all along.

Several years ago while in recovery for the eating disorder, I took a class on memoir-writing. The assignment was to write about a revelatory event in our childhood and how the incident has impacted who we are as adults. I wrote about the time that I – a tormented, socially harangued fat girl – stood up to a teacher who said women were historically insignificant. When I was 15, I had the courage to speak up to injustice, whereas at the time of writing, my inclination was to shrink away. Here’s a snippet of the piece I wrote:

In my zeal to recreate myself, in my vain attempts at total erasure of the body, I have succeeded in eradication of not just weight but also, the best parts of myself. Through the threshold of hindsight, I mourn for the loss of the girl who learned to speak her mind although she wore her weight as a shield. The strive for perfection is a double-edged sword and a journey whose destination I have not even reached. I may have chipped away at the physical mold, but in doing so, I have lost the characteristics that made me, me.

The past at times seems like a bad dream but like the nights of Gethsemane, they were always lived through with the promise of morning within reach. Our delusions contain within them an ability at times that allow us to live but they can also kill us. It becomes necessary not only to lie, but to believe the lie. But when we look past our delusions, at times we find that the reality isn’t as horrendous as we once thought. The realization, however, often comes too late for salvage to be made of the ruins.

One of the most defining moments in that slow process I call my revelation of self occurred after I returned to college after taking a several-year hiatus. I became friends with a group of artsy popular kind of folk, the kind who have an unspoken weight requirement for admittance to their clique. I was newly thin, thanks to the same eating disorder, which I was still actively battling at that time.

One afternoon, the ringleader of the group began regaling us with stories of his past work as a sales clerk at Torrid, the bulk of which centered around derogatory mentions of the clientele there.

After a few minutes of listening to the group laugh at women much like my former self, I took a deep breath and said, “I’ve spent a lifetime battling my weight and body image issues and its assholes like you who are to blame.” I spun on my heel and walked off and never spoke to the group again.

For me, this small act of protest marked a turning-point in both my self-consciousness and my decision to eke towards recovery. And on a less dire end-note, I’ve managed to find and reclaim some of those parts of myself I feared once lost. I only hope that Northrup’s article, in some equally small way, is just as influential for her.

posted in Body Image, Eating Disorders, Fat Bias, Personal, Pop Culture | 16 Comments

17th December 2007

New research on anorexia as brain disease

by Rachel

A study published this month in The American Journal of Psychiatry sheds new light on the anorexia-by-super-thin-models controversy.

A team of psychiatrists, led by Walter Kaye, of the University of Pittsburgh, conducted the study, which suggests that the brains of anorexia sufferers behave differently to those of the rest of the population and that certain people are born with a susceptibility to develop the condition.

“What this points to is that anorexics have something different going on in their brains, which marks them out as having either different structures in the brain or different pathways for processing thought that stay with them for life,” said Kaye. “We may be able, with a lot of hard work, to get them back to eating, but deep down in their brain there appear to be biological differences that don’t go away.”

For the specifics on the study, read more at The Times. (The Times article credits Kaye as a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, but according to the University of California San Diego website, he’s the new psychiatrist and program director of its Eating Disorders Program).

My quick take on the study’s findings:

I think the study marks a positive direction in looking at anorexia as a pathological condition, one whose roots are organic rather than as the result of neurosis. However, I wonder if the study’s grasp exceeds its reach.

The study is limited in scope, based on the responses of 13 former anorectics with that of 13 non-sufferers. Thirteen women can hardly be considered indicative of the eating disordered population as a whole.

While I agree that many with anorexia are genetically predisposed to develop characteristics of the disease, I don’t believe they are necessarily genetically predisposed to develop anorexia, or any other eating disorder. Rather, I think there exists a genetic propensity to developing characteristics that might very well manifest itself in an eating disorder – or any other number of addictions.

The study also doesn’t include the age of onset for the former anorectics in the study nor does the study attempt to explain why the most common age of onset for anorexia is adolescence. If anorexia were entirely a brain-centered disease, why wouldn’t such characteristics also be exhibited throughout childhood? Why is adolescence then a common starting point for many an anorectic?

The study also doesn’t account for why lowered rates of anorexia are found in eastern European and African countries, and much higher in industrialized, western cultures like the U.K. and the United States. If anorexia is entirely a genetic brain disease, it stands to reason that the genetic variance of the disease would then be more evenly distributed.

I do believe anorexia, like other eating disorders, often has much to owe to biological conditions already present. But nor can I ignore the fact that humans are also products of their social environments. Super-thin models, for instance, may not cause one to develop an eating disorder, but the prevalence and saturation of unrealistically thin women bombarding culture does have a powerful, if immeasurable, impact on many in society to then choose food and weight as a loci of obsession.

The characteristics Kaye describes of the anorexic mind are quite similar to other addiction-based behaviors. Therefore, there has to be some environmental influence leading one to choose food as a means of vice and not, say, sports or drugs or any number of thing people can and do become addicted to. Eating disorder-like characteristics may be genetically predestined, but our social environment is the petri dish in which a disorder simmers to life.

posted in Eating Disorders, New Research | 21 Comments

13th December 2007

Rewarding what really matters

by Rachel
Project Runway - What's the Skinny

Neither my husband nor I have an iota of fashion sense, but we’re both addicted to Project Runway. Last night’s episode, “What’s the Skinny,” challenged the designers to re-style the favorite but now-too-big outfits of 12 women, all of whom have lost a significant amount of weight.

Each woman introduced herself along with the amount of weight she’d lost, which ranged from 30-something to 160 pounds. The designers ooh’ed and ahh’ed, particularly at the women who had lost the most amount of weight. It was as if the dozen had singularly solved the crisis in the Middle East or cured cancer.

It seems each new season of Project Runway includes the now obligatory challenge to design for “average”-sized or even plus-sized women. In each scenario and in each season, most, if not all, the designers look like they’re going to pee their pants when the challenge is announced.

Despite that the designs for challenges involving non-model-sized women are, for the most part, abysmal, I really appreciate that the show does take an effort to include size diversity, even if it is just a token episode each season.

But what bothered me about last night’s episode is that the premise wasn’t about designing for the “everyday woman.” It was presented much more as a congratulatory gift to weight-loss success stories, who, by virtue of newly-svelte figures, “deserve” to now be rewarded with a new look.

Once again, the act of weight-loss is celebrated and heralded as a feat to be admired, envied and imitated.

Several weeks ago, I was trapped in a Coach limo with four women all engaged in diet and self-deprecating talk. Because I was there in a professional capacity, I didn’t feel comfortable trying to convince them otherwise.

But after finding it impossible to ignore the women, I interjected with a few feeble attempts before revealing that I have maintained a weight loss of more than 100 pounds for nearly five years without dieting, killing myself at a gym and/or self-restriction of any kind, and tried to talk to them about Health at Every Size.

It got their attention, though they missed my point. One woman actually tried to high-five me, as if I’d done something monumental or noteworthy. She appeared genuinely puzzled when I didn’t return her enthusiasm and instead, just shrugged.

I’ve overcome a difficult childhood and championed against both depression and an eating disorder. Despite struggling day-to-day with ADD, I have succeeded in earning my bachelor degree while both working and attending school full-time. I am a former volunteer emergency medical technician and plan to resume my volunteerism after graduate school. I have a professional and accomplished career. My husband and I own our own home and we contribute both our time and money to various charity organizations.

There are many achievements in my life I am proud of. Weight-loss ranks low on the list of them.

This isn’t to say that the women featured in the Project Runway challenge aren’t deserving of the make-over they received. For all I know, they’re absolute saints. I truly hope they found the experience to be an empowering and enjoyable one.

But instead of celebrating women for losing weight, let’s celebrate them for what really matters. And what really matters can’t be found on any digital scale.

posted in Body Image, Fashion, Pop Culture | 36 Comments

12th December 2007

It’s official: Janice Dickinson is crazy

by Rachel

Perhaps Botox ought to come with a warning: Caution, may destroy part of brain capable of making rational decisions.

Blogs and media sites across the nation and beyond are all hashing and rehashing the latest debacle starring the Queen of Crazy, Janice Dickinson – see here and here. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the former model-turned-scary-reality TV star weighed in on the much-criticized bikini photos of Jennifer Love Hewitt in an episode of The Today Show:

“These are unflattering camera angles on her,” said Dickinson, 52. “You want to see someone who’s fat? I’m sorry, Tyra. Tyra Banks is fat. This girl is not fat.”

Seriously, with women like this, who needs the patriarchy?

Traci Moslenko - Janice Dickinson Modeling AgencyWith the latest brouhaha still raging, I settled the remote last night on an “all new” episode of Dickinson’s Oxygen reality show, in which Dickinson conducts an open call for new models. After signing a model who clearly has self-harming issues, Janice takes model, Traci Moslenko, to task for gaining weight.

Janice humiliates a bikini-clad Traci in front of her peers following a casting call, pointing out and criticizing what she perceives as weight gain. Traci, visibly uncomfortable with the scrutiny, appears on the verge of tears. “I’m not going to starve myself again, Janice,” she says quietly.

Traci exits, presumably to change clothes, while Janice and members of her entourage wait for her in the foyer. Looking to her loyalists for reassurance, Janice shrilly criticizes the 21-year-old model: “She’s a fat sausage; you can eat her,” shrieks Janice. “She’s huge. She’s a hot dog!”

Enter Traci, now changed in a dress, which Janice has her lift to expose her near-naked body. Janice proceeds to pinch, poke and prod Traci – much like a cattle rancher inspecting his herd – all the while, hurling criticisms at Traci’s body, criticizing her thighs and the texture of her skin, squeezing her arms… each part of Traci’s body grotesquely magnified, judged and condemned.

The scene alternates between Janice’s body examination of Traci and cameo interviews with Traci recorded later. In the interview, Traci explains that she feels she looks and feels healthy, and that even if she is “overweight” she doesn’t want to starve herself again to fit into an unnatural size for her body.

The scene flashes again to Janice, who abruptly strips off her “perfect sample size four” skirt and demands Tracy try and fit into it. “I’ll eat my words if you can fit into it,” she screams a-la Janice style. The episode ends as Traci struggles to squeeze into the black pencil skirt.

This is what Traci wrote for her bio on the show’s website:

I was battling an eating disorder last year of anorexia and I became very addicted to laxatives to stay in shape. Now I watch what I eat, I’ve almost overcome my eating disorder, however, I do not work out, and as I am writing this I’m on the fifth day of the Master Cleanse.

The website lists a 5’8” Traci at 108 pounds. Her BMI is 16.4. If Traci were in Spain, she would be prohibited from participating in Fashion Week because her BMI falls below 18, the minimum set by the Spain fashion council. So, even if Traci did gain weight (which isn’t visibly apparent to anyone besides Janice Dickinson), she has plenty of wriggle room.

Clearly Traci has serious problems with an eating disorder. Yet, Dickinson – who knows about Traci’s eating disordered past and who continues to insist throughout the show that the health of her models is of paramount concern – berates, demeans and otherwise denigrates a girl with fragile mental health.

Of course, this is coming from the same woman who, when asked what she thought of the recent controversy surrounding super-skinny models earlier this year, replied:

“I’m dying to find kids who are too thin. I’ve got 42 models in my agency and I’m trying to get them to lose weight. In fact, I wish they’d come down with some anorexia. I’m not kidding. I’m running into a bunch of fat-assed, lazy little bitches who don’t know how to do the stairs or get their butts into the gym.”

Yes, it seems as if Janice Dickinson isn’t kidding. In the insane world Dickinson inhabits, it seems “some anorexia” is good for the bottom-line. Not so good, of course, for the models.

posted in Body Image, Eating Disorders, Fashion, Health, Nutrition & Fitness, Pop Culture | 37 Comments

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