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Miss Kansas is Anything but the Beauty Pageant Norm, and We Love It

“I try to be like my dad, he’s where I get my characteristics and strength,” said Miss Kansas Theresa Vail. She went on to call her father her role model, but she hopes other young women find inspiration in strong females. Based on how people are responding to her participation in the Miss America pageant, it’s almost guaranteed that many will be looking up to Theresa Vail.

Theresa Crown

Raised as a self-described “military brat,” Vail moved around a lot. She was bullied as a child, and nearly ended her own life at the age of ten. Seven years later she joined the Army. Now she is a sergeant and has recently signed on for six more years of service. Only the second representative of the military to compete in Miss America, Vail has broken quite a few barriers. She was America’s Choice in last weekend’s pageant, which earned her a place in the Top 15 and placed her just outside of the Top 5 overall.

It makes sense that her platform is “Empowering Women: Overcoming Stereotypes and Breaking Barriers.” One of the biggest stereotypes Vail overcame was the thought that Miss America contestants shouldn’t have visible tattoos. Instead of hiding her large tattoos, Vail proudly displayed them.

“I told everyone before I left for Miss America that whether I win the crown or not, if I can change people’s opinion, then I’ve done my job,” she said. Many people’s opinions of Miss America and the women who compete for the title are based on how the contestants look. The focus on body image and self-confidence is something Vail has already encountered while she has been serving as Miss Kansas.
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Special K Rethinks Jeans Shopping With a Smart and Inspirational Marketing Campaign

Recently, a new (to me) commercial for Special K caught my eye. The commercial shows a number of different women entering a department store called “Rethink Your Jeans.” As they browse the racks looking for jeans to try on, they notice that there aren’t any sizes marked on the labels. A woman who works at the store emerges asking if she can measure a female shopper. As she wraps the measuring tape around the shopper’s waist she remarks “you are radiant.” There’s a shot of women’s feet under the doors in the dressing room exclaiming things like “I’m size strong” and “I like that size!”. Another woman adds, “Not seeing the number is so freeing!”

Simple text is shown on a white background reading “Let’s rethink what defines us” while a woman’s voice says, “To feel amazing, I think that’s what makes a woman beautiful.”

special k more than a number

I’ll be honest here. I’m not really a fan of Special K’s products and haven’t purchased any in recent memory. However, I really dig this commercial and its message. It might come off as a little cliche and cheesy but it resonates with me. Apparently the sizes written on clothing labels in certain stores are proportionately smaller than they really are in order to “flatter” the buyers. As someone who will avoid buying jeans one size larger because I don’t want to have to buy that next size up (even if they would be much more comfortable!) I know just how much power that number can hold over our minds. I know that clothes shopping would definitely be a more positive experience if the sizes on the labels were replaced with words like “inspiring” and “strong.”
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Debenhams Department Store Commits to No-Airbrush Policy for Models

The airbrushing of fashion models has been a contentious issue for several years, and a U.K. department store has sparked renewed interest in the topic. British department store Debenhams made a splash this week when they posted a picture of a model before and after airbrushing. The photo depicts a beautiful model in lingerie, and points out all of the flaws that will need to be corrected in Photoshop. From skimming down arm and leg size to enhancing cleavage, 16 changes were deemed necessary before publishing the photo. Merely adhering to the editing standards of the industry, Debenhams has committed to changing this practice.

debenhams model

“We’re showing our commitment to encouraging positive body image by using un-airbrushed lingerie photography,” read a statement on the official Debenhams Facebook page. Debenhams is one of many fashion brands to recently amend their practices in an attempt to set a better example for girls with body image issues. Last summer, Vogue and Seventeen Magazine announced it would no longer feature “too thin” models, with Vogue going even further by banning the hiring of underage models. Fashion houses in Spain and Italy now have a standard BMI of which models cannot fall under; Israel passed legislation prohibiting models to fall below a BMI limit of 18.5.


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Giuliana Rancic Says Miss USA “Absolutely” Promotes a Healthy Body Image

On Sunday, June 16th, Fifty one women will compete for the big sparkly crown and the title of Miss USA at the 62nd Annual Miss USA Competition. Giuliana Rancic, E! News anchor and co-host of the pageant, says she’s ready to roll with the “anything-can-happen” moments and she’s excited for the world to meet all the fabulously fit contestants.

miss usa cropJoining veteran Giuliana (who is hosting for the third year in a row) will be first-timer, Nick Jonas. In addition to emcee duties he’ll also be performing with his band, the Jonas Brothers. Before they take off for final auditions and prep work for the live show in Las Vegas this weekend, Giuliana and Nick took some time this afternoon to talk about the women, the pageant and answer a few questions from the press. We wanted to know if the hosts felt the contest conveyed a positive body image. The answer was a resounding, “absolutely.”


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Obesity Makes Career Success Difficult, Particularly for Women

When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie revealed he underwent Lap-Band surgery last month, it instantly fueled speculation that it was at least in part about his 2016 presidential aspirations. True or not, there are valid reasons to consider that weight loss as a powerful tool in helping him to the highest office in the land.woman

All you have to do is look at the people who hold the highest positions in private companies. According to a 2009 study, just five percent of CEOs in the U.S. were obese (with a BMI over 30).

If you drop down to the overweight classification (a BMI between 25 and 29), there is a dramatic difference, but only for male CEOs. The 2009 study estimated between 45 and 61 percent of top male CEOs are overweight. Only five percent of overweight CEOs are women.

What would account for such a major gender gap? Women already fight an unfair uphill battle for wage equality, so one can probably safely assume a significant double standard in how men and women with weight issues are perceived.

“It appears that the glass ceiling effect on women’s advancement may reflect not only general negative stereotypes about the competencies of women, but also weight bias that results in the application of stricter appearance standards to women,” said study co-author Mark Roehling, Michigan State University associate professor of human resource management.
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