Wednesday, February 27, 2008

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Kate Harding at Shapely Prose reminds us that it is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

It is a good time to think about eating disorders, how much they suck, and how many more of them people have thanks to our society's disordered *thinking* (or non-thinking). This year's theme for NEDAW is 'Be comfortable in your genes,' which I think is a great message. They have a nice list of things you can do for NEDAW. A couple of my favorite items:

-Celebrate Fearless Friday - A Day Without Dieting - and feel how empowering a diet-free day of self-acceptance can be!

-Donate your jeans and other old clothes that no longer fit your body comfortably to charity. Someone else will appreciate them, and you won’t have to worry about the way they fit anymore.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wow, they did it

They actually found a way to inject more obnoxiousness into the wedding industry. Check this out. Yeah, there is now a show called Bulging Brides, where you can get inspired by dumb chicks who bought their wedding dresses too small.

Well, I would just say that these brides are dumb for buying into the bullshit and thinking they had to get super-thin before the Big Day. But actually the dress companies provide a nifty added incentive for ordering your dress too small and trying to shrink into it: namely, that you have to pay more for "larger sizes". And naturally, the sizes run smaller than department store sizes, so you pay lots extra and feel really crappy about yourself for ordering the size you really need. One time I was in a wedding and had to buy a size 22 dress (at the time I normally wore an 18), and so I had to pay $80 extra for the dress -- a $40 charge for a "large size" (which applied to sizes 14-16-18), and another $40 charge for a "really fucking large size" (i.e. 20-22-24). I wrote an angry letter to the company and got a reply that claimed the $80 was for "extra fabric". OK, it is true that larger dresses require more fabric, but $80 worth? And if that's really the reason for the extra charge, why not have a sliding scale and charge more for a size 10 than a size 0? Hmm... maybe because it's not really a charge for extra fabric, but rather it's a fat tax. And they figure women will be willing to pay it (as I did), since most women probably feel ashamed when they realize they wear a "large size". The alternative, which I didn't think of (but which is apparently pretty popular) is to just buy a dress that's too small. Brilliant!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Live long and prosper, Leonard Nimoy

OK, Leonard Nimoy is awesome.

Did you all see his interview on the Colbert Report last night? If not, you can view the clip here (go to New Videos and scroll down to the bottom). Nimoy was on the show to talk about The Full Body Project, a new book containing his nude photographs of fat women. You can see some images from the book on Nimoy's website. I think these photographs are so cool. They will be shocking to some, but they're not sensationalized. The selection of the models (some of whom are really fat) shows that Nimoy didn't want to 'play it safe', and yet the photos don't put any undue emphasis on the more unusual aspects of the women's anatomy; they have a genuine sensitive and loving feel to them. They are playful but not mocking. I can't help feeling that someday people will look at these nice photos with their children and have to explain that "back then, photos of women this fat were considered shocking," and the kids will only halfway believe that people could have been that ignorant.

The Colbert interview is interesting for a variety of reasons. For one thing, Nimoy gets in some great points that people from the Fat Acceptance movement have been saying, which is nice because usually the only people quoted as saying those things are fat activists -- so it feels like some of the arguments may be gaining more widespread traction. I'm not sure his closing argument about young girls choosing oral sex over the "other kind" because of their poor body image is the very most compelling argument (especially since it's also true that teens with poor body image have higher suicide rates), but overall he does an exceptionally good job. And of course it's an accomplishment just to get a word in edgewise on that show in the first place!

One interesting moment in the interview comes when they show the first image from the book. It's a side view of a very fat, older woman lying in a Sphinxlike pose, and when the image comes up, a few people in the audience laugh. I can't really tell if it's male or female voices laughing. At first I thought it was because Colbert says something like, "I like this photo in particular because she looks relaxed, rested, and ready," and I thought maybe people were interpreting "ready" as referring to sex. But on a second viewing, it's clear that the laughter starts as soon as the image comes up, before Colbert says anything. Of course it's hard to interpret laughter -- maybe people were uncomfortable with the image, or maybe they thought the woman looked ridiculous, or maybe it's just that being part of a live audience for a comedy show predisposes people to laugh. Regardless, what happens next is really cool -- in response to Colbert asking something about the photo like "What do you call this?", Nimoy says "I call this a beautiful person," and a significant portion of the crowd (mostly with high-pitched voices) erupts in cheering.

Maybe there is hope yet.

Monday, February 11, 2008

This is not a post about VegNews

Read a book review on today that was so great I had to draw your attention to it.

It's a review of both Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin's book Skinny Bitch and also their recently released companion cookbook, Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. In the review, Julie Klausner describes how both books are basically vegan manifestos masquerading as diet books. And not just any diet books, but mean ones. (And popular -- Skinny Bitch was a New York Times bestseller and is currently (2/11/08) ranked #38 on the bestsellers list.)

I've flipped through Skinny Bitch in the bookstore and was appalled at how nasty it was. Klausner's review points out a few of the meaner lines, like "you need to exercise, you lazy shit," and "don't be a fat pig anymore." The whole book is littered with that kind of inspirational language. Klausner relates the reaction of a formerly anorexic friend of hers: "When you have an eating disorder, that's the voice you hear in your head all the time." So isn't it lovely to know that this book is reaching such a large audience, no doubt including teenagers who are just reaching their prime purging years?

Another obnoxious aspect of this book discussed by Klausner is that the reader thinks she is getting a diet book (bad enough) and ends up getting a self-righteous lecture on how non-vegans represent everything wrong with America. So basically Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin are awesome perfect gorgeous human beings, and the reader is a fat, cruel, thoughtless piece of shit. Never mind that these two lovely ladies came straight from that wholesome, totally unproblematic asset to our society known as the modeling industry (with virtually no credentials in the field of diet and nutrition, but why should they let that stop them?) -- they are still superior to you, since you "are crap".

Does all of this smug, self-congratulatory, anti-fat, pro-vegan bullshit ring a bell for anyone? You know, remind you of anything? Well, it's no coincidence. Rory Freedman writes for VegNews, and those assholes have been falling all over themselves to promote the book. Their August newsletter gleefully informs us that "Getting out the message that it's easy to be skinny and healthy when you don't fill your body with junk food like meat and dairy is a snap when the advice comes from someone as smart and charming as our very own Skinny Bitch."

As for me, I'm just having such trouble deciding. Which is the more egregious waste of carbon: meat-eating, or Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Whip it good

Oh, man, did I have a great time in Vienna. Pretty much every aspect of my trip was fabulous, but the baked goods and the coffee were phenomenal. Much better than expected (and I had high expectations).

Pictured here is the famous sachertorte from Cafe Sacher. I can't begin to describe how delicious it was. And as my travel companion can attest, I was really excited about the whipped cream. The torte itself was out of this world, but the whipped cream... ahh, the whipped cream. It was the densest whipped cream I've ever had, and not too sweet. In fact I'm not sure there was any sugar in it at all. Which is normally not how I like things, but this was so good. I think it revolutionized my thinking about whipped cream (and yes, believe it or not, whipped cream is something I've put a not insignificant amount of thought into over the years).

The coffee pictured here (a 'brauner', i.e. espresso with a little pitcher of milk)was also fantastic. It was the best espresso I've ever had, even better than Caffe Trieste (who, incidentally, have put out a call for someone wanting to open a new location in SoCal... anybody want to open one down here and be my new best friend?).

Back to more substantive topics next time (probably).