A couple of reminders appeared today about the cult of flat stomachs and the deadly diets promoted so often in the “weight loss industry”.Tom Naughton at Fat Head deconstructs one of those “before and after” pics extolling the virtues of a liquid starvation diet. After re-processing the “before” picture back to its normal dimensions … it had been stretched to make the model look fatter … he makes the point that should be hammered home to this image conscious society:
You know what I see there? With appropriate apologies to my wife, I see a hottie with some good muscle tone. If this is actually the same woman (I have my doubts), it’s ridiculous to label her as overweight.I said it in the film [Fathead], I’ve said it in interviews, and I’ll say it again here: the obesity epidemic has been exaggerated to suit the goals of the weight-loss industry.
Perfectly normal men and women are obsessing about being a few pounds overweight, yet they are trying to meet an impossible goal. Our ideal of the female body has changed with the advent of starvation diets, over-exercise and steroid abuse. I like to refer people to the Playboy Magazine 1953 photo shoot of Marilyn Monroe.The amazingly beautiful Monroe has a wonderful little belly bulge, a “defect” that I’m sure would prompt a modern day Marilyn to starve herself for that “extra 5 pounds.” This is a portion of the image to make it acceptable for posting here, but it is unchanged in its original dimensions. And its no camera trick; Marilyn is stretched out in this pose, with her arms over her head, so that tummy bulge is not a result of bending forward. It is the normal, sensuous curvature of a woman that modern, normal weight girls are trying to starve away. Gabriel Anwar is a great actress on the USA Network TV show Burn Notice. She may be naturally thin as my wife was at her age, so I’m certainly not saying that she is involved in over-exercise or starvation diets. She does show up on “fit celebrity” sites for her defined abs. The casting people for Burn Notice may have needed Gabrielle to look buff for the character (she plays the “trigger happy ex-girlfriend” of the exposed – or “burned” – spy, and isn’t supposed to be a ‘soft and gentle’ character). But for my taste, she is “too buff”, and I worry that girls trying to emulate her would fall into a dangerous diet and exercise regime that may compromise health. Actresses are often over-criticized for their appearance on camera which really does “add pounds” … if you see Felicity Huffman or Chelsea Handler in person, you are amazed at how tiny they really are to look “normal sized” on camera. These are petite, beautiful women who appear larger (but still beautiful) on camera. I don’t want to add to that image pressure by criticizing them for being “too thin” in real life; they probably struggle with diet and exercise like many of us do, and work hard to maintain their appearance. (I want to stress that I’m not saying any of these actresses are on dangerous diets, abusing steroids or have an exercise regime that is too strict. My use of them as examples of society’s “ideal body type” is meant only to point out that it is largely unattainable for most of us). On a related front, Jimmy Moore posts a proposed notice of a class action suit against the woman behind the Kimkins diet, a “starvation diet” that includes the use of laxatives. Moore has more on the woman and his exposure to its victims linked from that blog post. Its a fascinating chronicle of a promising diet plan that was mostly smoke and mirrors. Our concept of beauty and ideal body types should not include undue pressure to emulate Anwar’s defined abs, or Huffman’s petite frame. We should be more accepting of the natural body shape each individual has at their ideal weight, small tummy bulges and all. After all, it is the potential for a healthy, happy lifestyle that should be our goal.