Friday, April 27, 2012

Dressing on the side UPDATED

Ever since I've known of them, I've found fashion-and-style blogs a far superior way to follow that universe than reading fashion mags. I grew up with those, of course, but now whenever I see one, I can't imagine why someone - even someone interested in fashion - would willingly subject herself to it.* What if you want the pretty photos of stylish clothes, the news about this season's new nail colors, etc., and don't object to the photos being of slimmer-than-average, prettier-than-average women with way-above-average clothing budgets (as is almost inevitably the case with street- and personal-style blogs), but also don't want to have to sort through page after page of diet-advice-for-the-already-thin to get there?

Depending which mag it is, who it's target audience is, you'll hear either about ways to spend $40,000 getting detoxed and whatever the newest version is of Botoxed at a spa outside St. Tropez, or something about how contrary to what the name implies, Caesar salad has a lot of calories. Whether high-end or middle-brow, I find all of this detracts from the fantasy/the real-life styling inspiration. I just want the shiny!

Which is why I was disappointed to see fashion site Refinery29 have a post called "9 Healthy Ways To Lose Those Last Few Pounds": 
We’re all about healthy self image here at R29, and we consider ourselves to be pretty satisfied with our bodies overall, but even the healthiest among us will admit to having trouble spots we wish were just a little more trim (hello love handles!). [Bold in the original.] The problem is, if you are already pretty in shape to begin with, it can be so tough to lose those last few pounds — they don’t call it a plateau for nothing.
So, several things. First is that this advice is being offered up more tentatively than it would be in a fashion mag, where it's assumed the reader is a masochist looking to get from 100 lbs. to 95 in time for bikini season. Readers are drawn to sites like Refinery29 precisely because it's not a women's mag. It's not the Economist, but what it is is a women's mag minus the annoying bits. Thus all the emphasis on "healthy" - this is "healthy" dieting advice for women with "healthy" self-esteem, who, despite being "healthy," dwell on things like "trouble spots." While Refinery29 readers would no doubt push the five-pounds-magically-gone-without-sacrifice-or-crankiness button (as would nearly all women, and nearly all men over 25), the whole point of sites like this - have I repeated this enough? driven the point home? - is that there's a subset of women not 'triggered' or traumatized by seeing pretty, thin young women in nice clothes, who enjoy fashion, but don't want the associated non-fashion articles.

Next is the preposterousness of the phenomenon that is advice-on-losing-five-pounds. Unless you're two feet tall, or stand to win a million-dollar bikini-modeling gig, chances are, if you 'need' to lose five pounds, you in fact don't need to lose weight at all. It will almost certainly be less healthy - mentally if not also physically - for you to diet than for you to keep on doing whatever it is you're doing. If you think you should exercise more or eat more green vegetables, by all means, but health-improvement changes that might or might not incidentally lead to weight loss isn't a 'last five pounds' diet. (If you find that your 'health-promotion' activities are all things that might lead to weight loss, and you skip things like sunscreen, bike helmets, flossing, etc. that promote health but don't keep off pounds, perhaps you are on a diet after all. Something to contemplate.)

Then there's the question of whether there is any "healthy" way for a woman to remove five perfectly healthy pounds from her body, and to dip to a weight five pounds below equilibrium, and to maintain that artificially forever and ever. There are certainly less healthy ways of doing so, so well done, Refinery29, on not suggesting meth, or lettuce/diet Coke/cigarettes. The advice we get instead consists of things like "have a scoop of protein powder mixed with some water about two hours before your meal to help manage your appetite" and "Say No To Wheat With Every Meal." Oh, and "an ultrasound device that promises to make you one pants size smaller with just one hour-long treatment." Advice, in other words, ranging from things that make sense for people who actually need to lose weight to Nutty Diet Tips 101. 

C'mon, Refinery29. You can do so much better.

*Yes, Rufus, I know: "Men reading fashion magazines/ Oh what a world it seems we live in/ Straight men/ Oh what a world." But this is a post about the industry's primary-by-a-long-shot audience.


Poor Gwyneth! It appears she's carb-intolerant. It's, like, medical.

No comments: