an update on my “diet”

Back in November I decided to go on a “diet.” I know, even the word is incredibly triggering for a lot of us. But have no fear! This diet has nothing to do with food! I decided to stop buying shitty weekly glossy mags. those that know me know that these were my weakness. i shudder to think of the hundreds (eek, thousands??) of dollars i have spent on them. turns out? all they do is reinforce the negative stereotypes of fat people, glorify a very certain body type, and make you feel like shit about yourself – all without you even realizing it until it’s almost too late.

So, here I am, three full months later (whoa, to the date, spooky!), having not purchased one. single. gossipy. magazine. i’m very proud of myself. What i want to share is this: on my flight back from the east coast yesterday, i bought a couple magazines, Food and Wine and the now quarterly People Style Watch. I love the former, because, hello, food and wine. And I dig the second because they have pictures of sparkly jewelry and shoes and handbags and fun makeup in them! harmless, right? NO.

As a fun little experiment, I’ve jotted down most of the body-shaming, body-policing statements in the advertisements and copy of the magazine. I say most because I’m sure I missed some – those little suckers hide EVERYwhere. So, for your viewing…annoyment? displeasure?

“small by design, gorgeous…even under stress, how to look great and shop smart!, discover instant smooth perfection, magically blurs pores and lines, velvety soft perfection, because you’re worth it, tame frizz, defend against humidity, 100% poreless skin, baby-smooth perfection, perfectly perky and impossibly fresh, control your hair, amp up your lashes, get the right size, work the feminine angle, smoother-looking skin, dedicated to perfection, perfect harmony requires infinite attention to every detail, edgy cool, sexy glam, perfect pairs, unflattering top-heavy effect, makes your outfit look oversize, make your legs look longer, get your perfect fit!, it’s time to turn heads, healthy makes it happen, guilt-free shopping, shrink your pores, lighten dark under-eye circles, get rid of blemishes overnight, fade fine lines, it’s the end of dull and flat, smooth skin, for skin that’s smooth and taut, curling! separating! eye brightening! lengthening! voluminizing!, perfectly straight hair, perfectly pulled-together!, get hair shiny, flatter almost everyone!, slim and refined, beautiful and effortless, it’s easy to give your complexion a fresh, radiant look, be glamorous.”

I kind of gave up looking really hard for these messages halfway through, so there’s a good chance there are tons more. The takeaways:

don’t be big, look great at all times, even while stressed. be smooth, perfect, and velvety soft. don’t have frizzy hair. don’t have pores. have the skin of an infant. be “fresh” even though they tell you it’s IMPOSSIBLE – try anyway!, don’t forget to be perfect!, also smooth!, things that are acceptable when large = eyelashes and lips only. sometimes hair. but it better be smooth and shiny. and straight. have long legs. and be perfect.

Ragen, over on Dances with Fat, did an absolutely wonderful (and heart-breakingly sad and depressing) experiment of cataloging all of the messages she got about her body in a 24 hour period. The final tally? 1,058 negative messages in one day telling her she’s too fat, unhealthy, a drain on the healthcare system, and on and on.

And we wonder why body image issues start so young?

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17 responses to “an update on my “diet”

  1. It’s amazing how your eyes are opened when you opt out of that stream, isn’t it? Not only are you saving yourself a motza, but you’re doing your self esteem a world of good!

  2. while i do still read wwtdd and idlyitw, your “diet” has made me think much harder about those things and quite honestly i don’t enjoy them as much anymore. they don’t seem to be as funny, and i don’t know whether they’ve just gotten less funny or whether i’ve changed my perspective. i get elle magazine, which actually does have really interesting articles, once you get past the onslaught of glossy ads and ridunkulously overpriced clothes. but i’m sure it contains tons of those “be smooth” statements too. it was really interesting reading that paragraph above with all the statements lined up next to each other. god, it’s no wonder i’ve spent over half my life hating my appearance. sooooooo sad.

    • well, while i AM sorry to have taken some of the fun out of the sites b/c i know how much you love them, i’m not sorry that my diet has made you think about it! 🙂 for quite a few of the phrases, i actually had to look pretty hard, which i think makes it even scarier. it means we’re glancing over thousands of these a day w/o even really knowing it, but they’re definitely seeping in, you know?

  3. a cat lady such as myself could never opt out of the cat stream 🙂

    Yeah I opted out awhile ago. Let other women neurotically read those mags and when I have an itch for a mag I go to Discover, Nat Geo or Science which then makes me a much better conversation partner in addition to my bodacious bod! 🙂

    Everyone in awhile I will check in and flip through one… omg, still horrifically the same inept cerebral litter. Looking back now its no wonder women hate themselves. This is the stuff of brain washing.

    • haha. and i would never ask you to opt out of the cat stream. It truly is amazing how i feel SO completely differently about those mags even three months later. i was always convinced that they never affected me, it was all in good fun, etc. And i’m not even talking about the cosmo/glamour/marie claire ones! p.s. LOVED your latest post about your partner – such interesting questions and challenges you posed!

  4. I got sucked into the gossip rags at an old job. Once I found out about fat acceptance and secretly started on my journey towards it, I gave up all of those things…even Real Simple magazine. I realized that I was spending nearly as much time looking at ridiculous ads than the actual magazine! Now I have my four fave mags and I subscribe. BUST, Rolling Stone, ReadyMade and Vegetarian Times. The ads actually feel targeted to me instead OMGZINMYFACE! Ha-ha!

    • i didn’t know about ReadyMade – just googled it. holy awesome! yeah, i think you make an interesting point. it’s not just about the traditionally awful (feministly-speaking 🙂 mags like Cosmo et. al. Even magazines like Real Simple and People have incredibly harmful adverts. i also don’t have TV anymore, and when i watch commercials if i’m at my parents house or something – i am positively BLOWN away at how awful they are.

    • BUST rocks. I can only get it from one newsagent here in the UK since Borders went under, and I think it’s a real shame it’s not more widely stocked because it’s one of the few non body-shaming mags for women around.

  5. I stopped reading most ‘ladymags’ a long, long, LONG time ago. These days I mostly read Food & Wine, Cook’s Illustrated, and an occasional craft-related magazine. But since I do blog professionally about fashion and about weddings, I sometimes need to pick up a fashion or bridal magazine, and boy do most of them make me feel filthy! I was actually moved to write about one of these toxic magazines the other day over on Crafty Manolo because I was so disgusted at it… the editorial content, too! I hadn’t even really looked at any advertising in it.

    Oh, and I’m grateful to good old Mom every single day of my life. When I was a kid, sometimes Mom would see me getting all excited over some product in a commercial and she would ask me to tell her what the commercial had just actually said. We would parse out the logic together. It’s made me hyper-sensitive to some things, true, but it’s also made it a damn sight easier to follow my own drummer and recognize when someone is trying to sell me something their body wash can’t actually give me.

    I haven’t seen it lately, and I’ve forgotten what precisely the product was, but there was a commercial running almost constantly a couple months ago about (I think) a foundation makeup that was supposed to give you a ‘healthy, air brushed look.’ Every time it ran and I didn’t get to the mute button or the fast forward quickly enough, I would yell at the TV “air brushed is NOT a sign of health; it’s a painting technique!”

    • hooray for mama twistie! seriously, those types of exercises as a child are SO helpful throughout life.

      healthy, air-brushed look? i mean, i just don’t…no words. i like the yelling though! 🙂

      are you talking about your post re: gender-specific project parties? that was great! (the blog, not the actual content of the mag 🙂

  6. “are you talking about your post re: gender-specific project parties? that was great! (the blog, not the actual content of the mag ”

    Yep, that was the one. Just leafing through that magazine really got my hackles standing to attention. I still haven’t managed to really look very carefully at the projects it honked me off so badly.

  7. Actually I have a little magazine habit. I’ve discovered a love for Popular Mechanics (thanks Mythbusters!) and New Scientist. Though the latter sometimes has ZOMGBESITY! epidemic stuff in it.

  8. oh eek, really? that’s a bummer.

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