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Redbook Magazine: The Boycott

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Meme Roth is right. There IS an obesity problem in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control have published a survey that spanned from 1999 to 2002. The results showed the following:

  • *“An estimated 30 percent of U.S. adults aged 20 years and older – over 60 million people – are obese, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.
  • An estimated 65 percent of U.S. adults aged 20 years and older are either overweight or obese, defined as having a BMI of 25 or higher.”

So, there’s that. All we have to do is look around to see a few love handles here, an extra chin there – and I mean…not look very far. So yes, Meme Roth is right.

But her approach to promoting a healthier lifestyle is pretty outlandish – at least in this instance.

Recently Ms. Roth declared a boycott on Redbook Magazine. Yeah, that Redbook that has been around forever. The March 2006 issue, with the cover story called “We Love Your Body From Size 2 – 20”, disturbs her. The article in question has a color spread of 17 women, most of who are Redbook staffers, ranging in sizes from two to 20. The whole point of the article is primarily about the fashion industry’s methods of manufacturing and providing sample sizes. Redbook asked several manufacturers to give them clothing samples in “real sizes”, like petite zero to 20W along with the regular size six and then they let America see these attractive women dressed in duds from the likes of Liz Claiborne, Chico’s and Forth & Towne. The accompanying text is a little lesson on the ins and outs of sample sizes, and retail supply and demand. It’s not necessarily hard-hitting journalism, but it is interesting and refreshing.

Meme Roth took offense to this article however, and called it “reckless in the age of obesity.” She also states, “Until Redbook Magazine gets real about the risks associated with extra heft rather than parading health-compromised, plus-sized women in its pages, boycott it.”

Parading health-compromised women? That’s a little extreme, since Roth has no way of knowing the exact health status of all the women involved. Sure some are overweight, and as it’s been stated here and elsewhere, too much weight can be deadly. But ‘health-compromised’?

Also, what Ms. Roth failed to mention on her Blog was that the very same issue carried the third installment of a health series, “Real-Life, Healthy Life Makeover”. This piece is following three women on their efforts to lose weight and get in shape. It’s more inspiring than the fashion article, but both serve to give women – who are not size six – a sense of acceptance.

You’d hope with all the enlightenment women have been blessed with in the last few decades we would be immune to the impossibly beautiful faces gracing the glossies on the newsstands. You’d like to believe that we’ve all come a “long way, baby” – and that we suffer no inferior feelings whatsoever. Sadly that is so not true. Young junior high girls who are probably a size 4 or 6 feel they are too fat. Yes, that is still going on and that has to stop.

Whether a woman (or a man for that matter) is actively working towards being more fit or not, they do deserve to dress with comfort and style. Redbook does not cater totally to plus size women – and is not exempt from offering beautiful and thin cover girls – but at the least – this issue includes real women, looking great.

*“It is important to remember that weight is only one factor related to disease. If you have questions or concerns about the appropriateness of your weight, please discuss them with your health care provider.” From the CDC.

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About MaryKay

  • my oldest daughter, almost 20 and an avid gym-goer, has recently started to lament her ass — a fine one of good breeding that shakes like jelly (cos jam don’t shake like that) and could, if she so chose, support the birth of baby after baby without threat to mother or child…
    i’ve taken to telling her just how disrespectful this is to the woman she will be in 10, 20, and 30 years from now — the woman who will look back at pictures of this firm and fully packed young lady and say “look at how beautiful i was…why didn’t i see it then?”…
    we act how we feel regardless of how we look…
    if we feel “fat” then we’re going to act “fat”…
    if we’re not fat and still feel that way, well it’s a big old fat waste of time and energy — both better spent working on the real issue: acquiring the tools for a healthy self-image…

  • Great way to sum it up Diana. Funny, I just got my issue of O Magazine, and there’s a nice section on inner beauty. There’s an essay by Anne Lamott, for example, saying she wished she recognized how great she looked at different stages of her life.

    Sounds like you have a good handle on stuff.

  • Meme Roth failed to mention the “health-compromised” twigs of women who regularly grace the pages of Redbook and many other women’s magazines. Sure obesity is bad, and so is being too thin.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if those-in-the-know figured out the rise in America’s weight was a backlash; that a whole bunch of people, all about the same time, tried to be “ideal,” found they couldn’t be perfect, and gave up on even a moderate change/improvement.

    A 160lb women who feels better about herself because she’s lost 40lbs isn’t going to get a lot of encouragement from the fashion industry — or even very many other women. Depending on her height (something many completely disregard when weight is mentioned), she’s still as much as 50 lbs overweight.
    If we’re “fat” until we’re perfect, then 99% of us will never be perfect. Letting the remaining 1% set the rules for size and dress is just dumb, but it’s reality for those who haven’t the self-esteem to realize just how off-kilter it is for a 5’10” woman to weigh in at 110lbs.

    The fashion industry’s choke-hold on size (what was recently an “L” is now a 20W or 2X), has put the “pig” back in pygmalion. Boycotting isn’t the answer. That would take a large number of people who give a rat’s ass. The answer is each individual person reading labels (food, clothing, etc) with a proper perspective. I’m eating right, I’m working out, I’m 140lbs on a 5’7″ frame, and I’m still having to shop at Lane Bryant to get clothes that actually fit (without making me look like a hooker). I’m not fat. My health is good. I’ve been this size most of my adult life (save pregnancies), and yet what is marked “M” these days is way too small for me — even though the M’s in my closet that I bought just 10 years ago and have been washed and dried numerous times still fit me.

    If Meme really wants to help someone, she would suggest that we eat right, stay active, and buy what fits without regard for what the label says.

  • Obesity is a problem, but being overweight doesn’t necessarily mean one is not healthy. As noted in this article, many factors play a role in health.

    Frankly, I’d prefer to see fleshier people depicted in magazines than all the anorexic coat hangers that we usually see.

    My daughter is 13, has hips and curves and is by no means anywhere near overweight. She’s very sports minded and regularly plays basketball and flag football. She’s an active kid. But I worry about her falling victim to the size 0 mentality as I’ve seen many teens have in my career as a nurse. I’ve fought hard to instill a sense of self in her to ward off that narrow-minded thinking and so far, so good.

    On the flip side, I’ve also cared for many kids who are overweight and dealing with health issues because of their size. However, not all health problems are related to weight in these cases. In fact, the vast majority of the children with diabetes I tended were not overweight, nor were their parents.

    We can promote health and not base our concerns solely on size. We can point out the various reasons to maintain a healthy weight while not focusing on simple numbers and often unrealistic societal expectations. And, really, we need to find a better method for determining BMI. That’s a scale that’s been out of whack for years.

    In the meantime, we need to focus more on healthful practices instead of size alone.

  • Marsha – CDC or no CDC – Obesity, especially in children, is a very real problem.

    I just heard today that a school district in Santa Clara is proposing a ban on all junk food, including fundraising bake sales, and traditional classroom birthday party cupcake sharing affairs. I think that may be a little too extreme, but I think the motivation is good.

    Of course, the whole shame thing needs to be reconciled as well. Got to find the balance!

  • Mark – it’s that kind of mentality that is so dangerous. I remember hearing a comment about Elizabeth Shue in Karate Kid – something like: “back when she was heavy” (or some similiar term) How bloody bizarre!

  • Obesity is not the threat. Shame is the threat. Shame women into feeling badly about our bodies and you invite a host of physical and mental illnesses.

    People can be healthy at every size, from small to extra, estra large. Hopefully, we will see more mainstream media featuring the uncompromising beauty of big women.

    The CDC is not the place to get honest information. They lie and have been caught in their lies to the public. I invite you to have a look at: http://www.bigfatfacts.com for the truth about obesity.

    Viva La Vida!

    Marsha Coupe

  • we sure are an overweight nation. we also have some extremely freaky ideas about size.

    i remember a couple of years ago reading an article about hollywood actresses and how size 0 was the new standard. christina ricci made that point when she said that she was referred to in a magazine as ‘chunky’….this when she was a size 6.

  • This “boycott” is naught but a thinly veiled attempt at mercenary self-promotion. Yawn.

  • People complain about thin models in magazines and now they’re complaining about plus-size women being pictured.

    We women should just eat sensibly, exercise and quit worrying about it. Men don’t go all to pieces over how another man looks (or at least if they do, they don’t talk about it).