Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thank God somebody finally said it

For years I've been lamenting the fact that far too many movies and television shows today feature mismatched couples—a skinny but fit perfect-looking leading lady and an out-of-shape schlub of a leading man. And now—finally!—someone else has noticed too.

Because in an article in this week's Entertainment Weekly that talks about what's wrong with The Dilemma, a movie now playing in theaters starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, one of the first thing that's pointed out is how unbelievable it is to pair these schmoes with two of the hottest women in the film industry.

"Give us a break with these couples," the article begins. "We're not ones to demand gritty realism in all our movies, but even Transformers has a more believable premise than the idea of schlubs like Vaughn and Kevin James landing Jennifer Connelly and Winona Ryder."

I could not agree more.

The article also points out—rightly so—that the female characters are insulting cliches: one is a crazy-happy adulteress and the other is a saintly girlfriend, two unbelievable versions of women we see all too often in Hollywood movies.

Am I sensing a theme here?

Unbelievable pairings.

Unbelievable female characters.

Unbelievable movie.

The only thing I don't get is why the article doesn't point out that there is a long history of pairing gorgeous women with painfully average men.

Haven't these people heard of Couples Retreat or The King of Queens? Or It's Complicated? Or Still Standing?

Oh, God, stop me, or I'll go on all night.

Still, I'm glad that somebody finally said it. Now if we all start complaining about it, maybe someone will finally do something about it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Time for the fattists to shut it

The Oscar nominations came out this morning, and I am thrilled because my favorite movie of the year—Winter's Bone—was nominated for best picture. If you haven't seen this film yet and can stand a movie that is pretty gritty and dark, rent it ASAP. It will kick your ass. (On top of that it's also a movie by and about real women.)

Now that the Oscar noms are out, I guess I should finally wrap up the Golden Globe coverage. And I want to do that by shaking my finger at Time magazine for posing an article called "5 Stars Who Looked Fat and 5 Stars Who Looked Fit" after the Globes.

Yes, as a friend pointed out, "it's not bad enough, fashion-wise, to be overweight, but now it's a fashion faux pas to look an ounce larger than you really are."

I couldn't agree more. What the hell is wrong with people—I'm talking to you, Charla Krupp—that makes them think it's acceptable to call people fat? Guess what, Krupp? It hasn't been okay to call someone fat since fifth grade. Time to grow up.

What's crazy is that this salacious headline promises more bite than it delivers. If you read the article, you'll see that Krupp calls Christina Aguilera "buxom" and "hippy," describes JLo as having an "ample derriere" (see picture above), and says Jennifer Love Hewitt's "top half is voluminous."

Buxom? Hippy? Ample? Voluminous?

I don't know about you, but I would have no problem having JLo's ample derriere, Hewitt's volumnious top half, or Aguilera's buxom and hippy. And I certainly know it would make my husband happy.

Oddly, Krupp included Heidi Klum in this list of "stars who looked fat," which doesn't even make sense. If Heidi Klum looks fat, then my next birthday wish will be to be as fat as Klum.

And I think that the fact that Krupp doesn't get this proves that she's out of sync with so many of us—those of us who want to accept our bodies the way they are and don't feel a need to cleave to some ridiculous model of perfection.

What's worse is that this article ran on the Time magazine website. Really, Time magazine? Really? You think it looks good to talk about how "fat" someone looks? It's not like this is some tabloid we'd find in the checkout line. I expect more of a "news" magazine. I expect integrity. So let's see it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Have you ever gone to put something on and found that—magically—it no longer fits? (I swear that must happen to me every few months just to remind me I'm human.) Well, if so, you're not alone. As it turns out, even celebrities can't always get their clothes to fit.

Because last Friday, Sofia Vergara, star of ABC's Modern Family, freaked out when none of the dresses she was trying on for the Golden Gobes fit her. "Nothing fits meeee!!!!" she said via Twitter. "I'm not going to the Golden Globes!!!!!!!" And suddenly I realized that in some ways Vergara is one of us—a regular person. This makes two reasons I'm happy to watch her show every week.

The picture that accompanied her tweet (above) also took me back to being a teenager . . . you remember, don't you? Lying on the twin bed, trying desperately to zip your too-tight Gloria Vanderbilt designer jeans over your still-flat belly. How many of you did something like that???

Of course, Sofia's tweet raises the question, if TV stars struggle to fit in their clothes, what hope do the rest of us have?

FYI . . . I'm on Twitter now. Follow me @IWillNotDiet.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Who's really being mean here?

Ricky Gervais
Comedian Ricky Gervais (pictured above) hosted the Golden Globes Sunday night, and made some pretty cutting remarks about some of the biggest celebrities in the world.

Gervais started the night by saying, "'It's gonna be a night of partying and heavy drinking. Or as Charlie Sheen calls it: breakfast." Not long after that, he made fun of the fact that no one had seen the Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp movie, The Tourist, even though it was nominated for best comedy and implied that certain Scientologists are in the closet. As Time magazine explained, Gervais also "went on to call Bruce Willis 'Ashton Kutcher's dad,' introduced Robert Downey, Jr. by referencing his Internet porn flick, suggested that cast members of Sex and the City 2 were old enough to have appeared in Bonanza, and offered Hugh Hefner's fiancé some unsolicited advice: 'Just don't look at it.'"

And when he introduced Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, Gervais took a dig at Allen's fading star: "What can I say about our next two presenters? The first is an actor, producer, writer and director whose movies have grossed over 3.5 billion dollars at the box office. He's won two Academy Awards and three Golden Globes for his powerful and varied performances starring in such films as Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Castaway, Apollo 13 and Saving Private Ryan. The other is Tim Allen."

Almost immediately, critics everywhere were crying foul, claiming that Gervais had crossed a line and that his jokes were "mean-spirited." Even before the show while still on the air, Hanks and Allen kicked off the criticism of Gervais.

Hanks retorted: "You know, like many of you we recall back when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby but very kind comedian."

"Neither of which he is now," added Allen.

(Call me crazy, but I think calling Gervais chubby is a lot more mean-spirited than implying that Allen is not as successful as Hanks.)

But it did not matter that Hanks and Allen—and a few others like Robert Downey Jr.—got their chance to rebuke Gervais on live television because come Monday morning, almost everyone in the media was chastising Gervais for what they saw as his inappropriate and "corrosive" humor, speculating that he would never again be invited to host another awards show and simultaneously guaranteeing he'll be replaced by someone more polite and—you guessed it—bland and boring.

(Ironically, Gervais had said beforehand his goal was to not be invited back.)

The same thing happened a few years ago to Kathy Griffith when she made a joke on the red carpet about Dakota Fanning looking like she had just gotten out of rehab, and before her, Joan Rivers was famously fired for making fun of one too many celebrities on the red carpet.

Since Griffith and Rivers have been ousted from the awards-show circuit they have been replaced not by other comedians but by another, supposedly more benevolent creature: the entertainment reporter.
These are people—like Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic (pictured above)—whose job it is to cover entertainment news. In order to do their jobs well, they need to be able to get famous people from the film, television, and music industries to talk to them. What this means is that they spend a lot of time kissing some serious celebrity ass.

Seacrest especially is known for pretending that he is sexually attracted to the female stars he interviews, which is most of the time pretty uncomfortable to watch. The end result is that the red carpet has become a huge shmooze-fest in which entertainment reporters fall all over themselves trying to suck up to the hottest entertainers, which also makes it less interesting and entertaining to viewers.

But what I think the networks and media outlets are missing is that although Gervais may be more offensive to the Hollywood elite, it's people like Seacrest who pose the most danger to the rest of us. The most obvious annoyance is that we have to worry about the fact that our brains are eroded by the inane drivel of the entertainment reporter. But, much more importantly, we also have to live with the frightening norms they continue to espouse and how those norms shape us as a society.

The most obvious example is the entertainment reporter's obsession with what the stars are wearing and how they wear it. The commentary has gotten so refined that we now hear detailed analysis of the celebrity's looks while they are still on the carpet. My God, they even have a 360-degree camera for the stars to stand in (which I imagine causes them all to have nightmares akin to those the rest of us have over three-way department store mirrors) and special television markers they use to draw attention to details on the celebs dresses—as if their clothes need to be as closely examined as plays in a football game.

What does this teach us?

It teaches us that every second of every day we are being critiqued and evaluated and judged. It teaches us that even perfect looking, sculpted, and botoxed celebrities have flaws, making us wonder how on earth we can ever measure up.

But that's only the beginning.

Because not only do the entertainment reporters immediately break-down the stars' fashion choices and the day's beauty preparations (the earlier they begin getting ready, the better!), as of late they've also begun asking them about their workout regime. I noticed that on Sunday Seacrest asked numerous female celebrities about this—but noticeably none of their male counterparts—thereby reinforcing the notion that the most important thing about a woman is her body.
Black Swan Reviews
What was most interesting about this question was that the two women who played ballerinas in this year's Black Swan—Natalie Portman (pictured above) and Mila Kunis (pictured below)—admitted to having to work out five hours a day seven days a week to get in shape for that movie.

Let me repeat that. . .

Five hours a day.

Seven days a week.
I've long said that the reason regular women can't look like the women in Hollywood is because it is the job of these women to stay fit and that they exercise longer than anyone who has a real job or children can, and these comments prove it.

On the other end of the spectrum was Sofia Vergara (pictured below).
Vergara was arguably one of the curviest woman on the red carpet last Sunday night, and she said then that she works out "two or three times a week," but also wears those new toning sneakers. (Note to self: get yourself a pair of those damn shoes ASAP.)

So Vergara is working out a reasonable amount and has a rocking bod, but Portman and Kunis are basically living at the gym in order to have ballerina bodies. That ought to tell us that women aren't supposed to look like they do in Black Swan.

But, wait, it gets worse.

Because it's not enough to evaluate every inch of these women's bodies and demand the details of their beauty regimes and workout schedules (what will they do next—ask them if they vomited in a paper bag before they got out of the limo?), but they also have to have their self-confidence undermined while they're at it, as Mad Men's Elizabeth Moss (pictured below) did during her interivew with Seacrest.
When Seacrest asked Moss what she was up to in the off-season, she mentioned that she was doing a play in London with Keira Knightley. Immediately Seacrest acted like Moss had told him she was appearing in a show with God.

"Oh my God!" Seacrest wailed. "You're so lucky. She is so hot." (Or something like that.)

Not only did Seacrest reduce an incredibly talented actress like Knightly to someone who was merely "hot," he also managed to do so while implying to the incredibly talented and equally beautiful Moss that he didn't believe she was as hot as her co-star. No, he didn't say it, but we all know that's what he meant: She's so hot! And you're so . . . well . . . not. It honestly reminded me of those boys in high school who act interested in a regular-looking girl until they meet her hotter best friend. His response was that immature and superficial.

So no we don't have to worry about Seacrest insulting the luminaries the way Gervais did. His tongue (and those of other reporters like him) is so far up Angelina and Brad's ass that they're going to have to name their next child after him. But we do have to worry about him messing with our collective psyche and reinforcing the notion that what matters most in women—celebrities or otherwise—is how hot they are and how well their dress fits.

Bottom line: I'd take Gervais' "inappropriate" digs at celebrites over Seacrest's fuck-with-our-heads comments any day.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Clothes make the woman—
so why aren't they made for us?

The Mossimo Smocked Empire dress from Target—cut up to your pantyline and down to your cleavage. Seriously, who wears this stuff???

Last summer I wrote about the fact that I was surprised to find out that one of my really thin friends hates to wear sleeveless shirts and dresses as much as I do. Sure, we have totally different reasons—she doesn't like to go without a padded bra, and I don't like to bare my upper arms—but the end result is still the same: a huge percentage of women's clothing is unavailable to both of us.

It bothered me when I realized this, but I also figured it was a bit of an anomaly. But then I was shopping with another friend over the holidays—this friend is older than me, and like my other friend, she is very thin too. But unlike my original friend, she has a little bit of a bust. So when were out shopping, I didn't hesitate to recommend a gorgeous white sleeveless blouse to go with a new red necklace she had just bought. To my surprise, she balked. "I don't do sleeveless," she said without a moment's hesitation.

"Why not?" I asked. "You're so thin."

"You haven't seen what I've got under here," she said, pointing to the part of her arm that was obscured by her short-sleeve shirt. "I'm old! This doesn't look good when you get old."

"You're being ridiculous," I said, but she wasn't budging.

I'm not going to lie—it really bugged me when I found out another one of my friends refuses to wear sleeveless clothing. It bugged me because everywhere I go I see sleeveless clothes marketed to women—sleeveless shirts, sleeveless dresses, sleeveless pajamas, etc. Next thing you know they'll have paper gowns at the gynecologist's office with spaghetti straps.

I know this to be true because I'm always trying to avoid sleeveless, but it's almost impossible to do because it's EVERYWHERE.

And when my friend said she doesn't "do" sleeveless either, I started to wonder who the hell does. I can name two friends of mine who I know regularly wear sleeveless shirts, but that's it. Just two.

And then I started thinking about hemlines.

Because if sleeveless dresses make me feel a bit sickly, short hemlines make me downright ill. But everywhere I shop, all I see are racks and racks of dresses and skirts that stop two or three inches above my knee. I know it's in style for young girls to wear dresses like this, but what about the rest of us? What are we supposed to wear? I promise you that if most women don't like going sleeveless, they certainly don't enjoy wearing a skirt that skims the bottom of their Jockey underwear.

What's interesting is that I just found two gorgeous dresses that come to the knee in the most recent issue of Lucky magazine, but when I looked at the price I was horrified—they were both over a thousand dollars a piece. So the only people who can wear knee-length dresses are rich woman? Does it really cost that much more to add a few more inches of fabric???

Of course, it doesn't, but for some reason, clothing designers and clothing stores seem to only make clothes that have too-short skirts and too little sleeves. I wonder why that is.

Or maybe it's more complicated than that. I was complaining about hemlines being too short with a female student last month when she said that has the exact opposite problem—they're all too long for her and fall between her knee and her ankle, like a prairie dress. I looked at her and realized for the first time how tiny she was.

"How tall are you?" I asked.

"Almost five foot," she said sheepishly.

No wonder dresses are too long on her.

And that's when it hit me—the reason so many women hate the way clothes fit is because they're not MADE to fit us. Think about it . . . men's pants are sized two ways—waist and length—but women's pants and skirts (and dresses) only have one size: S, M, L, or XL (or they're numbered from 2 to 24), but they do not have one measurement for height and another for girth like men's clothing. So the assumption is that if we're short, we're also tiny? And if we're tall, we're also big around? That must make it pretty hard for my skinny six-foot-tall friend to find anything to wear. Not to mention my short curvy mother. The truth is that it makes it hard for all of us.

That might be why so many people recommend that women have their clothes tailored after they buy them. I have friends who take every single pair of pants to the tailor to have that part that gapes in the back cut out. Every. Single. Pair. That's gotta add up. And I really don't think we should be expected to that.

Unfortunately, the only answer is for all of us to stop buying any clothes until manufacturers start making clothing that is truly designed to fit women of all sizes. But I know that you all like to go shopping too much for that. So instead now that we know this is a problem, we'll just have to start talking about why it's a problem that the clothes they make don't fit us. If we raise enough of a stink, maybe they'll actually listen.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thank you, Cyndi

Wow, 2011 is already beating us up, isn't it?*

I feel like I've been on the ropes for a while now, waiting for a break so I can catch my breath, but instead of finding that break, I got a sucker punch to the gut last weekend. We all did.

Just think—a week ago, a snowstorm seemed like a struggle. Now the snow feels like a prayer.

It's clear it's not currently appropriate to talk about something as seemingly superficial as dieting or body size—doing so would seem too lighthearted during such a grave time. So instead I'd just like to leave you all with one of the most important songs of our time.

*Posted just after the assassination attempt of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tuscon, which left six people dead, including a nine-year-old girl.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Post-it power

The end of the first week of the new year is here. As you know, I didn't make any resolutions myself, but those of you who did may already be feeling a bit down about how difficult they are to achieve. My God, I didn't make any, and I still find myself experiencing that new-year slump. It's almost impossible not to re-evaluate at this point on the calendar—it's almost as if we're hard-wired to do it.

In order to help us stay focused on the positive, I want to tell you about "Operation Beautiful."

This movement is designed to get women to give up "negative self-talk" and instead focus on their assets. Operation Beautiful founder Caitlin Boyle decided one day that after looking in the mirror and criticizing herself for years, she'd finally had enough of her negativity. To turn her attitude around, she wrote herself—and everyone else—a note that said, "You are beautiful" and stuck it on the mirror of a public bathroom. After posting a photo of the note on her blog, the idea caught on, and a movement was born.

According to Boyle, the goal "is to post anonymous notes in public places for other women to find. The point is that WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL. You are enough... just the way you are!"

Now women the world over are leaving notes for others that tell them to "Be yourself and work it" or "Stop the negative thoughts." These signs can be found everywhere—in grocery stores and gyms, on scales and streetlamps, at work and at schools, in bathrooms and dressing rooms, on photocopiers and treadmills. The trend has become so popular, Boyle has even put out a book, Operation Beautiful: Transforming The Way You See Yourself One Post-it Note at a Time.

As Boyle explains, "I’ve realized the power behind an anonymous act. . . When I post a note, I’m saying, 'I CHOOSE to be positive!'”

On the Operation Beautiful website, women relay their experiences with the notes. As one poster said, “Last week I felt really bad. I’ve been struggling with weight issues and eating disorders for a long time, and it wasn’t going great. Plus, it seems like winter has arrived (it’s actually snowing here right now) and I had a paper to write, that I hadn’t even begun yet. I wanted to give everything up, skip class, go home and eat everything in my fridge, but then in the elevator, I noticed a little post-it that said, 'You’re braver than you think, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you believe' (in Dutch) … at the bottom it said"

If you want to participate, send an email to with a photograph of your note or a description of your experience, and Boyle will post it on the site.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

There's nothing like a good old-fashioned
holiday with family

I've talked before about how we all fall back into our childhood roles when we visit family, and this Christmas was no exception for me.

As usual, Dave and I were lucky enough to be able to travel to Florida to see my parents.

Florida . . . the sun, the beach, the 70-degree days, and . . . my father, the one person who is single-handedly able to erase all the progress I've made with my self-esteem.

Truth be told, Dad was mostly on his best behavior this year. I think he's starting to worry about getting old, so he's being nicer to everyone. After all, they don't let grouchy people into heaven.

And I did my best to stay out of his judgmental eye—not letting him see me at my early morning pajama-clad worst if I could avoid it. (Yes, I know it's sad that I dress for my father, but we're all messed up, right? My messed-up-ness stems from Daddy issues, and, come on, whose doesn't?)

I even went so far as to make sure I ate most of my meals when he wasn't looking because I know that his favorite thing to do is to commentate other people's food choices. . .

"Is that raw?" (This comment is usually said with a shudder.)

"I don't like to eat at that place. They give you way too much food." (Translation: I don't eat as much as you do.)

"I like a dry tuna." (Meaning, "I'm too good for mayonnaise.")

"Geez, that's a whale of a burrito!" (No explanation necessary.)

"I don't eat much red meat myself. You almost have to force me to eat red meat." (This from the man who had steak and hamburger last night for dinner.)

"Are you really going to eat that?" (Gee, thanks Dad.)

These comments are the reason why I decided to fill my plate before my parents came over for dinner one night last week. We had bought roast beef and ham for a friend's visit, but so much of it had gone uneaten that we'd invited my parents over for dinner the same night to help us finish it.

But as I was putting out a buffet of pasta salad, deli meat, lettuce, tomato, and mayo, it occurred to me that if my dad had the chance, he'd make a comment about every single morsel I put on my plate. So I decided to be pro-active and put my meal together before he arrived.

Unfortunately, Dad showed up just as I put two slices of bread on my plate.

Unlike a normal person, Dad did not pick up his own plate and start selecting the items for his own dinner. No, that would be too obvious. Instead, he followed me through the buffet, making a comment about each of my selections. It was when I was at the end of the line, spreading the tiniest layer of mayo on my sandwich—I knew he was watching—that he went in for the kill.

"That sure is a lot of mayonnaise," he said with a small chuckle.

I honestly couldn't believe it. I had purposefully used the smallest amount possible, but from his point of view, it was still too much.

"Well, you know me," I said. "I love me some hip-widening fat-filled mayonnaise. Always have, always will. Want some?" I added, holding the greasy knife up to his throat like a weapon.

Okay, so this was not actually my response, but I can dream, can't I?