Posted by: isaaph | October 16, 2006

This ‘I don’t eat’ thing has got to stop

I don’t agree with everything Annette John-Hall said in this article but it’s still a good read.

This ‘I don’t eat’ thing has got to stop
By Annette John-Hall
I was cooking dinner not long ago when I asked my daughter – who was busy executing crunches at breakneck speed to get in optimum pierced-belly-button shape – if she had eaten. She turned up her nose and proclaimed, “I don’t eat.”

She didn’t say, “I’m not hungry,” or even “I can’t eat.” She said, “I don’t eat,” as if eating was some noble sacrifice undertaken by the bravest soldier.

I wanted to stuff her head into a pan of freshly baked enchiladas. It’s bad enough to have young women wear starvation as a badge of honor, but it’s even worse that we’ve tacitly accepted such pronouncements as the norm.

I heard similar conversations from random teens and tweens at the mall, in the movies, at basketball games. Where are they getting these starvation messages? Certainly not from my house, where cornbread trumps flatbread every time.

You don’t have to look far.

Janet Jackson must have the most famous 40-year-old midriff in America, thanks to her miraculous 60-pound weight loss after a four-month guerrilla diet. This, of course, landed her on Oprah’s couch. Billions of dollars later and only the most famous person on the planet, Oprah is still obsessed with weight loss.

And have you skimmed the gossip rags lately? They serve up stick figures like a salad bar does leafy vegetables. The Simple Life’s Nicole Richie, reigning poster child for the skeleton crew, recently told Tyra Banks in Mother Teresa earnestness that “I think I look all right.” Richie’s seeing Sophia Loren in the mirror, when what’s staring back at her is Mary-Kate Olsen.

Teri Hatcher, Keira Knightley, Kate Bosworth, Mischa Barton – will somebody please pass them a biscuit? And, of course, there’s the slew of pregnant actresses who’ve lost weight immediately after giving birth. Courteney Cox. Kate Hudson. Gwyneth Paltrow. That entire string of malnourished stars couldn’t wrap themselves once around my womanly waist. Yet they are hailed as the It girls, the fashionistas, the 21st-century standard of beauty.

Along with these emaciated figures and sunken cheekbones comes a dangerous message: It’s OK to resemble a human clothes hanger as long as you can stiletto-strut on the runway in designer duds.

Project Runway, Bravo’s top-rated reality series, ran outtakes last week of stringbean models actually fainting in front of the cameras. Cause for concern, right? Hardly. The fainting footage was played as though it was America’s Funniest Videos, not images of self-destructive behavior.

Hopefully, the recent tragic news of a model collapsing and dying backstage, reportedly of starvation, during Uruguay’s Fashion Week will continue to ignite a backlash against those size 0 models that designers covet.

Last month, organizers of Madrid’s Fashion Week, in an unprecedented move, banned models from working the runway if their body fat was less than 18 percent.

In France, designer Jean Paul Gaultier made a huge anti-0 statement when he sent a size 20 model down the runway in camisole lingerie, a garter belt and stockings.

I applaud Gaultier for his bold move. But the answer is not to send an equally unhealthy-looking fat girl sashaying down the runway wearing a corset that looked like it was cutting off her circulation.

While Gaultier’s model probably did a lot to boost self-esteem, he sent an equally wrongheaded message. With apologies to plus-sized star Mo’Nique, host of Mo’Nique’s Phat Chance, the big-girl beauty pageant, there’s a difference between being thick and healthy and fat and unhealthy. Obesity, as too many women have experienced, can lead to myriad medical problems and early death.

What happened to the days of the voluptuous movie star, when Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell spilled out of their gowns, oozing sexiness? When Tamara Dobson and Pam Grier, those butt-kicking amazons, burned up the big screen with their sultriness and strength?

Where is the image that would project to girls that it’s OK to eat? Maybe the popularity of ABC’s hit sitcom, Ugly Betty, starring the healthy-sized America Ferrera, might nudge the image meter.

Still, the irony is that the perfectly bootylicious Beyoncé would be considered too big for the runway by most standards.

Because she does eat.

Source:  Philadelphia Inquirer


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