In which we take a brief respite from shilling my work as a young adult author to consider body image issues and representations thereof in the popular culture.

So, one of Noah’s favorite bloggers, Scott Schuman (aka The Sartorialist), has come under fire  for his descriptions  of an atypically “full-figured” model. The Gloss has links to the full story, including a hilarious slideshow of ironic captions.

On his blog, Schuman responded to the criticism with a genuine query:

So help me understand; what is the modern way to speak about size? I’m not married to the word curvy. I’m just trying to describe her in the best way I know how. Let’s not hide from this issue; I don’t want to be afraid to talk about it on my blog. Help me describe this young lady without using the word “normal,” but in a way that addresses her body size and still references my point about the size of her legs relative to her shoes.

And The Gloss admits, “He raises a fair point that we seem to bury compliments of not- skinny women in what  comes off as a strangely back-handed supposition that their bodies typically aren’t beautiful. As if we can only find curvaceous women beautiful in spite of their curvaceousness,” concluding, “…It seems like a waste of outrage to direct it at someone who was genuine in his praise of a stylish, pretty young woman, if not mistaken in how to say so.”

I think I agree.

Yeah…I think I do. That women’s bodies are a source of public debate at all is an issue, but not one he created, and that deficiency of our vocabulary is something we should all give some thought to. Right?

But what say you?


As if our cultural ideal of unnatural thinness weren’t destructive enough, apparently we’re now exporting our dangerous cultural aesthetic.

Jezzie reports:

Arizona State University researchers surveyed people in nine different areas around the world and found that in every location, overweight people are increasingly viewed as “ugly, undesirable, lazy, or lacking in self control,” according to EurekAlert. Biological anthropologist Alexandra Brewis, who co-authored the study, said:

previously, a wide range of ethnographic studies have shown that many human societies preferred larger, plumper bodies. Plump bodies represented success, generosity, fertility, wealth, and beauty.”

However, when presented with various statements about body size, people from the U.S., the U.K., Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Tanzania, and American Samoa all seemed to have adopted a stigma against overweight people. Researchers found attitudes are changing quickly, too. Previous researched showed people in American Samoa didn’t have a negative view of large bodies as recently as the 1990s. Co-author Amber Wutich explained:

People from sites that have adopted fat-negative attitudes more recently seem to be more strident. The late adopters were more likely to agree with the most judgmental statements like ‘fat people are lazy.'”


Sharing is not always caring, people.

For the sake of ending on a brighter note, here’s brilliant author Sara Zarr talking about coming to terms with her own body image. Thank you, Sara!

In which we take a brief respite from shilling my work as a young adult author to consider body image issues and representations thereof in the popular culture.

Via my fave feminist bloggers at, finally, a product to give you “Latino curves!

Writes Morning Gloria:

“Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and wished your body was more curvy? You know, like a Latino? Well, worry no more, for a glorious new product called “Bodyshapers,” with packaging that promises to give you the curves of a Latino (which we all know is the curviest of ethnicities), for one low, low price.”


While I am no stranger to shapewear (I do love me some Spanx tights, to be sure), I’m definitely someone who values comfort above almost all else. When I got married in December 2009, the seamstress at the bridal shop was dead set on sewing a corset into my gown, and in the end, actually, I caved to her very strong suggestion, because it was ultimately the path of least resistance (it also happened to be the best way to get the dress to hang smoothly on my Latina curves).

But, I mean, that was my wedding. Theoretically, a once-in-a-lifetime event. And while I was way too keyed up for the duration of the event to notice, once the whole big shebang was over and I was back in my hotel and out of high heels, it suddenly became all too apparent that, indeed, I was wearing a corset.

Why yes, that is my absolute, most natural posture. Also, a completely unforced grin.

I shan’t be doing so again any time in the foreseeable future.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever donned in the name of beauty?

In which we take a brief respite from shilling my work as a young adult author to consider body image issues and representations thereof in the popular culture.

First up,  via, Why Do People Read Magazines that Make Them Feel Bad?
A very good question indeed! It’s no big secret that women’s magazines are essentially advertising tools, and therefore, making us feel not [BLANK] enough is sort of their stock in trade: we hate ourselves, their advertisers promise us tools for improvement, we buy the advertised products. And so on and so on. And while I support (almost) anything that sells the written word and contribute my fair share to the ladymag industry, it’s been a process, hardening myself from the mixed messages most of these glossies send out.

Apparently those of us with body image issues (are there any of us without? Call me – I must know your secret!) spend 50% more time looking at idealized body images if the images accompany advice on improving our own bodies.
While I guess it’s a good thing that we’re more critical of ourselves in the context of self-improvement, the fact is that often these prescriptions for fitness are little more than a regurgitation of the latest fad. Furthermore, it’s crucial to keep in mind that these ideal bodies haven’t necessarily been attained by the prescription in question – or even, for that matter, at all. Almost every single photo that makes it to such an article has been retouched, and heavily.

As I head toward my mid-thirties, I find I’m in a place where I can usually read a fashion magazine and enjoy it for what it is without spiraling into self-loathing or existential despair (though I *do* wish I could afford more of the fashions!). Teen and twenty-something me put in her dues, and then some, so I think this seems as “fair” as one might hope for.

What about you? Do representations of idealized bodies affect your image of your own?