Jul 29, 2008

Today Show, Ideal Weight, Diet, and Poor Body Self-Image

A friend mentioned watching the Today Show where she heard an "expert" say that the ideal weight for a 5' 5" woman was 125 lbs.

Now, my friend is FIT. She likes to bike 30 miles at a clip. She works out at the gym 5 times per week and she is a vegetarian. She looks fabulous, fit, and thin, is 5' 4" tall, and weighs, gasp, hold your breath - 129 lbs.

"I should weigh 125 lbs?" she said incredulously. "BAH! I'm not even as tall as 5'5", and if I lose more weight I'll look scrawny." She is right. She looks fabulous just as she is, and she is generally admired for her wonderful posture, glowing skin, figure, and stylish clothes.

My sister-in-law is a size 6. She is lean and mean. Every morning before work she walks 30 hard and fast minutes on the treadmill. She also walks the dog several times per day. For six years she has been on a diet 24/7/365. Before her daughter's wedding in November, she means to lose a total of 25 lbs so that she will be the same size she was in college.

We are all appalled. Where will she lose the weight? Her self-perception is that her legs are fat, but frankly she looks fabulous. At her son's wedding four years ago, when she weighed 5 lbs. more than she did in high school she looked positively scrawny. Though she looked great in the wedding photos, up close her face looked drawn,dehydrated, and much too thin. How will she look in November when she's lost that 25 lbs? Shouldn't she save face? Literally?

When it comes to our body self-images, where will the madness end?

For myself, I don't want to look like Angelina Jolie - all boobs and lips, and skinny arms and no hips. I rather like being meaty and offering a man (and mankind) something curvy to view.

So let's stop the madness and question those so-called fitness gurus. One told me during a time when I played racquetball 3 times per week, ran 5 times per week, and lifted weights 3 times per week, that my body fat percentage was too high. She was all of 22 years old, I was nearing forty. If you look good, are happy with your weight, exercise, and take care of yourself, why try to measure up to some so-called expert's arbitrary standard of female fitness? Why not try being happy with your physical self?

When I was 24 I weighed 114 lbs. Decades later, I am happy to weigh between 134-148 lbs. At these weights I am a size eight, my BMI is below 25, and my waist is well below 30". Sorry Today Show, your so called expert is contributing to the epidemic of low body self esteem by promoting that unrealistic "ideal" body weight. It does not take into account a woman's age, or her bone structure, or her fitness level. Go back to the drawing boards, Today Show, and come up with a more realistic standard. Oh, I know Americans as a whole are overweight, but let's not add to our self-guilt by measuring us with unrealistic, cookie cutter standards.

Biggest Loser Winner Ali Vincent at 122 lbs. How tall is she? How old is she? How fit is she?

Biggest Loser Kelly Marks at 162 lbs. How tall is she? How old is she? How fit is she?

Kelly doesn't look half bad these day. NBC and your so called fitness experts - shame on you. Your 125 lb. weight target would place Kelly in the Biggest loser-loser category.

Jul 26, 2008

Tribute to Randy Pausch

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand." Oct. 23, 1960 - July 25, 2008. Click below to see and hear his last lecture.

Thank you for your inspiration, Randy! May your dreams come true in heaven too.

Jul 24, 2008

Project Runway 5: Ah, Wesley, We Hardly Knew Ye

Granted, I wouldn't use this dress even as a grocery bag. And granted, Mr. Wesley saw only obstacles when he viewed his model's fabric choices, not creative solutions, but I am going to miss him. I suspect he still had a variety of ways in which he planned to show off his legs to the viewing public. Here's a young man, godblesshim, who's not afraid to wear slim pants.

It's about time that the retro 60's look returned, and that men proudly show off their, well, manly equipment in form fitting shorts and pants. Go Wesley! May you find success in revolutionizing your look to the world.

Update: Coincidence? Uh, yeah! I was surfing the web when I came across this Wesley article on EW which began with: Oh, Wesley, We Hardly Knew Ye . I lived in Boston during my post bachelor-degree days, and Jack Kennedy still loomed large in Allston, where I lived. This phrase was used shortly after JFK's death and is well known in his home city. So, the words stuck with me, as it evidently did with this reporter. Great minds - great phrase.

Wesley still should have thunk outside of the design box. Oh, well, not all is lost. He started a relationship with rival contestant Daniel, and they're still going strong.

Jul 22, 2008

Project Runway 5: Trash Bag Dress - Bin Dere, Done Dat Better

Sew what made Stella think that the trash bag outfit she barely created for the first challenge for Project Runway 5 was in any way original or reflective of her rather banal rocker style? Let's just skip over the whining, complaining, moaning, groaning, and sad sack first impression she made (for that could have been entirely fabricated by Bravo's editing department, but I doubt it) and take a look at the result, shall we? Out of respect for the model, I purposely left the image small, though you can click on it for a fuller view.

The model looks like she's wearing - cheap trash bags. There was hardly any sewing done at all. I used to whip stitch moccasins at summer camp, which is the level of sewing and design evident in this truly horrendous outfit. I suppose I could have forgiven the outfit's lack of structure if Stella had shown even a smidgen of humor. Could Stella, the Queen of Astoria, have pulled this assignment off? You decide after reading the following:

The Dailey Telegraph wrote a scathing review of Kylie Minogue's $38,000 black plastic Dolce and Gabbana "sack'', which they nicknamed a Binogue (far right). The publication challenged three Australian fashion students to come up with better and cheaper designs made from trash bags.

The three dresses cost a total of $3.76. Did their designs compete with Dolce and Gabbana's? Should Stella have taken a page out of these novices design books? You betcha.

Shee-it! Upstaged by students!

Jul 16, 2008

Self Exam vs. Mammogram? Use Your Common Sense and Be Proactive

Nancy, a personal friend and colleague at work had a recurrence of breast cancer a few months ago. She felt a hard lump and rushed to the doctor. He was skeptical, for the mammogram was normal, but my friend (an M.D. herself) is no Chicken Little, so her doctor ordered tests and an ultrasound, and sure enough the lump was cancerous. Nancy is now recovering from a mastectomy and will have to take a chemo pill for the next five years.

Watching NBC news last night, she was treated to the sight and sound of Dr. Robert Bazell endorsing regular mammograms over self-exams. He said that the American Cancer Society had stopped recommending self-examinations as a form for detecting breast cancer years ago. There was no scientific proof that regular self-examinations worked better than regularly scheduled mammograms. Brian Williams, cool and skeptical, questioned Robert's remarks. Here's the link to the newscast: Breast Cancer Self Exam.

And below is the letter Nancy wrote to NBC news. By the way, my good friend Leslie died of breast cancer two years ago. She had relied on mammograms and her doctor's advice. Little good that did her! Oh, yes, I know there are exceptions to the rule, but women KNOW their bodies and if something feels off, well, I will pit instinct and self-awareness over a cold and indifferent machine any day.

Here is Nancy's letter to NBC Nightly News:

Dear Mr. Williams,

You were right when you said that probably many women were screaming at their television screens as they listened to a report denouncing the benefits of self-breast examination. I was one of them and I am still screaming.

Five years ago I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer after a routine annual physical with my doctor. I had had a mammogram only a few months earlier. If I had practiced a self-breast examination, I would have discovered it myself. For that reason, during these five years of remission I have practiced it every month or so. In April of this year while I was taking a shower, I felt something unusual in my left breast. Again, I had cancer. Among a battery of diagnostic tests, a mammogram was performed. The results of this mammogram practiced six weeks after the tumor was first discovered, was negative for a tumor. It was, however, confirmed by ultrasound and biopsy.

If I had not done self-breast examination and not pursued my concerns with my physician, but had trusted a diagnosis to a mammogram, the cancer would not have been discovered until many months later. My prognosis which is excellent now, would have been very different.

I seriously question the wisdom of anyone who discounts the value of self-breast examinations. Could it be that these are free and mammograms reap huge financial gains to some in the health care industry? This may seem cynical, but it makes you wonder. In addition, it was very surprising that spokesmen for the American Cancer Society would discontinue conducting campaigns for self-breast examination. How difficult or even how expensive, would it be to promote a three pronged approach to preventing breast cancer: annual physical, mammogram, and self-breast examination?

As I now enjoy good health and as I fume at the folly of the “experts” on your news report, I am of the sincere opinion that these experts be taken out at dawn and shot for their irresponsible advice.


Nancy Faux

Richmond, Virginia

Jul 12, 2008

Privacy, or the lack thereof: our invasive society

Brangelina are awaiting twins at a French hospital. A headline assures us that no one can peek inside the windows because they have been papered over.

The Brinkley/Cook divorce case was opened to the public because Christie, who wasn't born yesterday, knew that the press would sensationalize the lurid details even more if the proceedings were kept private.

Celebrities and public figures are photographed at all hours on the red carpet, at a private outing with friends, and during a casual stroll through Target (Kirsten Dunst probably felt like one when a photographer pounced on her to take this photo). Regardless of the setting, celebrities are rated on how well they look.

So, should the price of fame include this enormous invasion of privacy? Are we really owed a glimpse into celebrities' private moments when they are not on a publicity tour or promoting their products? Every day the boundaries of good taste and privacy are shoved back to the point where the concepts themselves are becoming almost non existent. In regard to the Brangelina twins, even the Boston Globe joined in the hysteria, posting a photo of Brad inside a limo after visiting his caro sposo and speculating about the birth. The photographer who sells the first photo of the twins stands to make a bundle of money ( a reputed 24 million dollars). If we can go by past experience, Brangelina will probably sell off the rights to a chosen photographer and donate the money to a good cause. What a smart strategy: fighting fire with fire. As for me, all the hoopla surrounding these multi-millionaire celebrities makes even cynical me feel sorry for them. Other celebrities choose to reveal their private moments to the public (see Colin Firth post), which then makes them fair game as far as that story is concerned.

Lest we minions think we are escaping Big Brother's invasive eye: think again. Our daily movements are monitored through cell phone calls, Website visits, and credit card purchases, and as we pass security cameras and traffic junctions. If someone elects to take our photo while we are in public, they can legally (without our permission) post our image on the Web.

Any time we make a comment or share a photo on the blogosphere, someone with the right search words will be able to download it. My blog's sitemeter stats will tell me the I.P. address of the individual who came to visit, how long they stayed, where they're from, and what posts they clicked on. On WordPress, if you leave a comment you leave your email address as well.

The word "privacy" has become a relative term. 1984 has long come and gone, but the specter of Big Brother watching us has arrived on so many levels that the enormous scope of invasion would boggle even George Orwell were he still alive.

What intrigues me even more is our casual acceptance of this invasion. Moments after hearing of Heath Ledger's death, his family showed up in front of the cameras to share their grief with the world. In times past this would have been a supremely private moment, and reporters and the public would have honored their need for privacy. Except during the aftermath of Princess Diana's death, there is no huge public outcry against paparazzi who follow celebrities at wild speeds, endangering them and their families. Bottom feeders like Perez Hilton make hefty incomes from stalking their famous prey, and then writing scathing comments that overstep the bounds of propriety, but that also enter the gray areas of defamation of character.

If this is progress, quick, put me in a time machine and deposit me in an era where boundaries were respected and people were allowed to live out their lives of quiet desperation away from an ever present eye.

Emerging from sleep

I will be blogging on Dishin' Dat again, but without obligation and only when the fancy strikes me! Project Runway is coming, and I feel my creative juices flowing again.