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Battle of the Barbies. December 30, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. I noticed an article on Yahoo! News yesterday about a furore over a “plus-size Barbie” that had appeared on some plus-size modeling website. The creators of the image had taken a current, actual Barbie and ballooned her out to plus-size proportions, with meaty thighs (all too apparent under her micro-outfit) and triple chins.

People who identify as plus-size rightly rose up in anger and condemned the balloon Barbie, noting that they didn’t have triple chins. Hopefully, they also don’t wear micro-mini, figure-hugging outfits, and at 19 or whatever age Barbie is supposed to be, look fresh and youthful and sport firm flesh, whatever its size.

I was sorry that what was obviously supposed to be a well-intentioned effort had crashed and burned, but honestly, a modeling site should have known better in an era when a “plus-sized” model can be a size 8, as opposed to size 00 or 000. Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Jayne Mansfield, Joan Crawford, and pretty much every sex symbol who ever lived would be considered “plus-sized” by today’s standards. As would Madonna, Kate Winslet, and Jennifer Lawrence (though she does share Barbie’s super-elongated legs). Even the lovely Heidi Klum, with her ample curves, is in danger of being labeled “plus-sized.”

But what really horrified me was the supposedly “real” Barbie that was shown next to the plus-sized doll for purposes of comparison. I could not believe that the anorexic stick figure, with its toothpick arms and legs, its flat, tube-shaped, curveless body, and its comparatively monstrously huge head with outsize eyes and lips and a teensy-tinesy nose, could be an actual Barbie.

I grew up playing with Barbies, which in those days also had outrageously long legs, a trim waist, and large, cone-shaped breasts, along with tons of (usually blonde) hair, always in some kind of ponytail, perpetually red-painted nails, and lots-o-makeup. The Barbies of my era also all had feet so totally deformed—in order to wear high heels, of course—that their like had not been seen since the days when female courtiers’ feet were broken and bound in Imperial China. The dolls also had wardrobes, which always struck me as pretty dorky. They ended up looking like B-movie bimbos from a beach-blanket Elvis extravaganza who happened to have deformed feet.

But, bad feet and bad clothes aside, these Barbies’ bodies weren’t unattainable. At 5’5″, I was never going to have Barbie’s ultralong legs. But at Barbie’s supposed age, I had a perfect 34-17-34 figure, complete with concave stomach, and I never dieted, exercised, or even gave it a second thought. It was just the way it was. (Sigh.) This wasn’t the Fifties, when the “Sweater Girl” was in and curves were everything (and, I’m assuming, the first Barbie was born), or the Sixties, when Twiggy made anorexia and stick-thinness the unattainable ideal. (Check her out now! She’s by no means fat, but those natural woman-curves are definitely in evidence.)

But no one on earth ever looked like the Barbie I was seeing in the comparison photo. Even a victim of starvation would have a swollen belly, not a tube-body like this Barbie, though they would share the outsize head and stick arms and legs. I would like to know why this is considered attractive, a role model for young girls. Of course no one wants their daughters to look like Honey Boo Boo or Mama June. But there is a vast middle ground between obese and skeletal, and in that ground lies normalcy, health, and beauty.

‘Til next time,



Eating Kleenex. April 5, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Yesterday, I read that some fashion models eat Kleenex in order to feel full without taking in calories. This brought to mind an article I’d read a few years ago about how, at the exotic locations where fashion shoots often take place, tables full of delicious food were set out on the beach (or wherever the shoot was taking place) so that the models could walk around the tables and imagine themselves actually eating that beautiful food.

The latter instance strikes me as sad, but at least I can relate, since whenever I read a recipe that sounds good, I certainly find myself imagining how it would look and taste. To actually see and smell it would make the imagining even more vivid.

But eating Kleenex? Eeeewwww!!! When I mentioned this to our friend Ben, he said, “Couldn’t they just eat plain popcorn instead?” Well, no. Even plain air-popped popcorn has calories. And it’s dry, terribly dry. And if a model were to indulge in even a handful, then wash the sawdust effect away with a couple of swallows of exotically filtered water, the water would swell the popcorn in her stomach and result in—gasp!!!—bloat. God forfend that her teensy model belly should protrude a quarter-inch for a quarter-hour.

So she turns to Kleenex instead. How anyone could choke down a Kleenex, much less several, is beyond my wildest imagining. That we live in a society that demands such unnatural thinness that models, who eat almost nothing and exercise rigorously, would be reduced to eating Kleenex, is horrifying. And we’re all to blame for keeping our mouths shut while these atrocities continue. And while anorexia, bulimia and smoking mushroom in the general population as girls try to look like models, sacrificing their longterm health in the process.

I have seen several anorexic women in airports over the years and they are terrifying, walking skeletons, the living dead. The sight of one is enough to make your hair stand on end. “Shaun of the Dead” has nothing on them.

But the most dreadful encounter I had with anorexia was years ago, when I went to visit a friend in the hospital. As I walked toward her room, a tiny, spindly girl, assisted by nurses, emerged from a room nearby. She appeared to be about six and tremendously fragile. I asked my friend if she knew about the child. “Oh, she’s 13, and has been anorexic ever since her parents signed her up as a gymnast. The doctors don’t think she’ll live another two years.”

What on earth are we doing? What are we allowing designers to do? Would you be willing to eat Kleenex instead of food, or condemn your daughter to death at 15 to fulfil your ambitions or hers?!

Let’s get real here, and show real bodies, real curves, and real acknowledgement for how bodies change. Yes, I’d love to still be 117 pounds and 34-17-34. No, I’m not willing to eat Kleenex or carve myself up to bring those days back. Far better to eat moderate portions of healthy, balanced, nutritious foods, exercise every day, and accept ourselves as we are. We may not be Victoria’s Secret material, but I guarantee we’ll live longer, healthier lives. And we won’t have to eat Kleenex.

‘Til next time,