Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Gisele Bundchen

I took my older son for his first pre-driving lesson today. He won't be eligible for his learner's permit for six more months, but he convinced me that other kids' parents were already teaching their kids to drive. We went to Franklin Canyon after school, and drove down a long country road, and he was slightly freaked out by the power break. Every time he put his foot on the break, it would lurch and slam to a stop. He isn’t used to the power yet.

There was one solitary man on the road ahead of us walking his dog. My son sat and waited until the man became a speck in the distance. I sat there ready to pull my hair out, looked at him like he was crazy and asked, "What are you waiting for? Just pull out from the curb and drive already!" He said, "But there's a pedestrian up ahead. I would really like to avoid casualties today.” I burst out laughing.

Watching my son over the past year, I have more compassion for men by observing his teenage struggles. He is so anxious to grow taller, and now I think I appreciate men more. I am becoming softer toward them. They have so much to prove, and are under so much pressure to be "real men." They really do stress and worry over how tall they will be, how they will ever measure up to society’s standards, how will they ever get a girlfriend. They are just little boys inside.

And after watching The Real Housewives of New York City/Orange County.. now I see that women act so obnoxious because they’ve been forced to compete with other women for men. The beauty industry has put so much artificial pressure on young girls. Women have been assigned these horrifying roles in this pornogrified pop culture and we've all become vultures. We are thrust into such an unhealthy world.

Miss USA, I'm one of the judges (center)

Beauty and Body Image in the Media

"We don’t need Afghan-style burquas to disappear as women. We disappear in reverse—by revamping and revealing our bodies to meet externally imposed visions of female beauty."
Source: Robin Gerber, author and motivational speaker

Images of female bodies are everywhere. Women—and their body parts—sell everything from food to cars. Popular film and television actresses are becoming younger, taller and thinner. Some have even been known to faint on the set from lack of food. Women’s magazines are full of articles urging that if they can just lose those last twenty pounds, they’ll have it all—the perfect marriage, loving children, great sex, and a rewarding career.

Why are standards of beauty being imposed on women, the majority of whom are naturally larger and more mature than any of the models? The roots, some analysts say, are economic. By presenting an ideal difficult to achieve and maintain, the cosmetic and diet product industries are assured of growth and profits. And it’s no accident that youth is increasingly promoted, along with thinness, as an essential criterion of beauty. If not all women need to lose weight, for sure they’re all aging, says the Quebec Action Network for Women’s Health in its 2001 report Changements sociaux en faveur de la diversité des images corporelles. And, according to the industry, age is a disaster that needs to be dealt with.

The stakes are huge. On the one hand, women who are insecure about their bodies are more likely to buy beauty products, new clothes, and diet aids. It is estimated that the diet industry alone is worth $100 billion (U.S.) a year. On the other hand, research indicates that exposure to images of thin, young, air-brushed female bodies is linked to depression, loss of self-esteem and the development of unhealthy eating habits in women and girls.

The American research group Anorexia Nervosa & Related Eating Disorders, Inc. says that one out of every four college-aged women uses unhealthy methods of weight control—including fasting, skipping meals, excessive exercise, laxative abuse, and self-induced vomiting. And the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute warns that weight control measures are being taken by girls as young as nine. American statistics are similar. In 2003, Teen magazine reported that 35 per cent of girls 6 to 12 years old have been on at least one diet, and that 50 to 70 per cent of normal weight girls believe they are overweight.

Media activist Jean Kilbourne concludes that, "Women are sold to the diet industry by the magazines we read and the television programs we watch, almost all of which make us feel anxious about our weight."

Unattainable Beauty

Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that media images of female beauty are unattainable for all but a very small number of women. Researchers generating a computer model of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions, for example, found that her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body, and her body would be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and a few centimeters of bowel. A real woman built that way would suffer from chronic diarrhea and eventually die from malnutrition.

Still, the number of real life women and girls who seek a similarly underweight body is epidemic, and they can suffer equally devastating health consequences.

The Culture of Thinness

Researchers report that women’s magazines have ten and one-half times more ads and articles promoting weight loss than men’s magazines do, and over three-quarters of the covers of women’s magazines include at least one message about how to change a woman’s bodily appearance—by diet, exercise or cosmetic surgery.

Television and movies reinforce the importance of a thin body as a measure of a woman’s worth. Canadian researcher Gregory Fouts reports that over three-quarters of the female characters in TV situation comedies are underweight, and only one in twenty are above average in size. Heavier actresses tend to receive negative comments from male characters about their bodies ("How about wearing a sack?"), and 80 per cent of these negative comments are followed by canned audience laughter.

There have been efforts in the magazine industry to buck the trend. For several years the Quebec magazine Coup de Pouce has consistently included full-sized women in their fashion pages and Châtelaine has pledged not to touch up photos and not to include models less than 25 years of age.

However, advertising rules the marketplace and in advertising thin is "in." Twenty years ago, the average model weighed 8 per cent less than the average woman—but today’s models weigh 23 per cent less. Advertisers believe that thin models sell products. When the Australian magazine New Woman recently included a picture of a heavy-set model on its cover, it received a truckload of letters from grateful readers praising the move. But its advertisers complained and the magazine returned to featuring bone-thin models. Advertising Age International concluded that the incident "made clear the influence wielded by advertisers who remain convinced that only thin models spur the sales of beauty products."

Self-Improvement or Self-Destruction?

The barrage of messages about thinness, dieting and beauty tells "ordinary" women that they are always in need of adjustment—and that the female body is an object to be perfected.

Jean Kilbourne argues that the overwhelming presence of media images of painfully thin women means that real women’s bodies have become invisible in the mass media. The real tragedy, Kilbourne concludes, is that many women internalize these stereotypes, and judge themselves by the beauty industry's standards. Women learn to compare themselves to other women, and to compete with them for male attention. This focus on beauty and desirability "effectively destroys any awareness and action that might help to change that climate."



As our friend and progressive talker Thom Hartmann pointed out on his show this morning, Stephanie Miller, another friend and progressive radio host, noted that she's syndicated on some 60 affiliates from 9 to Noon ET each weekday, while rightwing whack-job Laura Ingraham is on some 300 stations during that same time slot. Yet, Hartmann noted, Miller beats Ingraham in almost every single market where they air at the same time. Does that sound like fair competition, or that "Progressive Talk" has failed? We haven't failed, corporate America, however, has failed you.

CONTEST: WHO is the model at top on left, with her butt to the camera? Put your answer in comment section. Thank you.


  1. Gisele Bundchen?

    (you really should have renamed the picture...)

  2. What do you mean "renamed the picture?" I tried to put her name under it, but couldn't. Now I put it on top.

    What do you guys think of her?

    In fact, of all the super models or super famous public figures (Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel, Britney, Jessica Simpson, or anyone else) -- whom do you find the most beautiful?

  3. Hmmmm....let's start with Emmylou Harris and my gawd, that voice. Then we can move on to Catherine Deneuve who I've had a mad crush on since I was a young man. Dianna Rigg from about the same time. There is a very talented actress, Jeanetta Arnette who I think is really very good looking (she's 54). I also find Arianna Huffington very attractive on so many levels. To round things out of course there is our incomparable and most delightful blog hostess, Lydia herself.
    As for younger women, the two that I really have a crush on are Mira Sorvino and Elizabeth Rohm.
    And for the record, I don't care for the "death camp survivor chic" look at all. The way these poor things are idolized and drooled over makes me wonder if we aren't living in a nation of closet necrophiliacs.

  4. Thank you Frank!

    Hey, Michelle Obama's speech at Merced was amazing. She really inspired the college grads.

    Is anyone frustrated with Obama right now? I mean his back-pedaling on the torture issue/photos?

  5. Blogger Lydia Cornell said...

    "Thank you Frank!

    Hey, Michelle Obama's speech at Merced was amazing. She really inspired the college grads.

    Is anyone frustrated with Obama right now? I mean his back-pedaling on the torture issue/photos?"

    Yes...........originally I THOUGHT Obama was just what we needed a guy who walked softly but carried a big stick...........i'm starting to think he's just a guy who walks softly..........between his gutless lack of a fight that ALLOWED the corporate fascist banking cartels to suck up essentially ALL the taxpayer funded bailout for themselves while denying mortgage bill that would have allowed mortgage writedowns and help to the common man..........to his weak unprincipled stance on torture and the rule of law to his weak handed stance on health care to his allowing the repugs to actually deflect the torture debate to Pelosi........i'm finding him to be a disapointment.

  6. Blogger Lydia Cornell said...

    What do you mean "renamed the picture?" I tried to put her name under it, but couldn't. Now I put it on top.

    What do you guys think of her?

    In fact, of all the super models or super famous public figures (Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel, Britney, Jessica Simpson, or anyone else) -- whom do you find the most beautiful?"

    Sorry Lydia but that anorexic look and the fake boobs that look like they were inflated with 80 pounds of air and they might float away at any moment, just dont do it for me, neither does the big lipped Angelina Jolie look and Jennifer Aniston while reasonably attractive wouldnt really stand out in my high school no less among holiwood actresses..........I like the natural toned and athletic look that was more popular in the 1970's and 1980's..........women like Heather Thomas, and yourself, Nicolette Sheridan, Linda Carter, Rachel Welch, Vicky Frederick were and still are gorgeous as for the modern generation I like alot of the B action stars Michelle Lintel, Karen Cliche, Cynthia Rothrock, Victoria Pratt etc....

  7. Thank you Mike!

    Why do the chauvinist piggies keep insulting Nancy Pelosi's looks? She's gorgeous!

  8. I have to admit that thinking Britney and Pamela Anderson are hot are two of my (many) guilty pleasures. Of course, you're far more gorgeous than any of them, Lydia.

  9. Now, I've always been a fan of his so it's no real surprise but I am really enjoying watching Jesse Ventura the past couple of days. He does not hold back and definitely says what's on his mind. He's tearing the Redumblican talking points to shreds!

  10. All praise Tom Brady...he's got a wife who looks like that and to top it off she makes 30 mil per year.I wonder if she cooks?

  11. Thank you mch!

    There are two women I think are stunning. One is Mary McCormack, the star of "In Plain Sight."

    The other is Kristin Kreuk who played Lana on Smallville.

    My all-time fave is Julie Christie, especially in Dr. Zhivago (one of the best films ever made) and in Darling.

    Apropos of nothing.. last night I was up till 2:30 doing my son's Plato-Machiavelli-Tupac Shakur project. All these Social Studies projects -- the teacher makes the kids do some in groups. All three kids couldn't get together to finish it, so guess who is always stuck doing it?

    Now I'm going to read Plato's Republic.

  12. Breaking news on health care: The Washington Post is now reporting that insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield "is launching an attack ad to kill a key plank in Obama's reform platform."

    We knew the insurance companies would eventually turn on the president, but this is much sooner than expected.

    And they're targeting the public health insurance option—the crucial piece that will help cover everyone.

    The public health insurance option is a key provision in Obama's plan to help cover all of us.

    Under a public health insurance plan our premiums wouldn't subsidize CEO salaries or stockholder profits (or in this case, misleading attack ads), so we'd all save on health insurance.

    It would finally give everyone the choice between keeping our current insurance or switching to a new, high-quality public plan.


    "Insurers Planning on Double-Crossing Obama."

    Plus, if we had the choice of a public plan, private insurers would have to lower rates and improve quality to compete, so they're dead set against it. Today's news just confirms that fact.

    In the past, Blue Cross Blue Shield has been sued for underpaying doctors and fined for refusing to cover necessary medical treatments for their customers.

    Now, with what watchdog group Media Matters calls a "desperate attempt to deceive," they've gone one step too far.

    Can you chip in $20 to help launch our AD against Blue Cross Blue Shield and pass health care reform with a strong public option?


    Thanks for all you do.

    1. "North Carolina's Blue Cross Blue Shield Trying to Kill Key Plank of Obama Plan," Washington Post, May 18, 2009

  13. Yep.........Lydia like I said last night Obama needs to carry a big stick and be willing to use it not just walk softly...........if the health care companies and banks are plotting against his agenda he NEEDS to "knock their heads in" with that big stick and make examples of them........so next time maybe they wont be so willing to fight.

  14. I think the whole image created by "Hollywood CEOs" is such a crime in its self. Models turn to bulima and stimulants like cocaine, crack and meth to contiue looking emenciated.

    Real women have the body of a woman. Their hips are usually wide and their backside due to them reaching an age where their bodies prepare for giving birth.

    Look what happened to Anna Nicole Smith...I think she was so stunning...yet she was killed by drugs that she had relied on to keep her hollywood image.

    It's not only models...actresses...male models...and singers.

    They demanded the lead singer of Matchbox20 one of my favorite singers to shed some pounds or else.

    Ann Wilson...Lead singer from the band Heart. Her weight was concealed in video warping and in photos. She was told to lose the weight or she won't make money for her and the band. She had lap band surgery to appease them. She did lose weight but in the end it failed.

    My advertisements...as I've said before...were so airbrushed and painted...that it almost didn't look like me. A painted 6 pack?
    Black crap around my eyes? And the body image really a warped thing. If you are not in the gym everyday...and you are not the perfect weight...and if you are not flawless...you are deemed a failure. You go on a list of "look what happened to him/her"
    So, I've gained 10 pounds...I haven't lost my mind or my talent...this whole thing became a corporation in the 80s.
    It's sad, so sad. And wrong. And a shame. And a crime.

  15. One last thing about some women that had no hope because, Hollywood CEOs warped and destroyed their phsyche long ago.
    You hear about the suicides but only a brief flash...then the story is gone...hidden...bought out.
    Remember the overdosing women...Remember the 3 women jumping from high buildings?

    Look at all these models/actresses/actors etc...Busted on heroin and cocaine charges. They, in an indirect way, get their supply from the Big Men that own them.
    Take it from somebody that learned the hard way...and it took years of repair...and I still am haunted sometimes for not being perfect.

  16. Voltron - you won the contest! I didn't realize you were answering the question.

    You get a personally autographed Democratic Party poster. Autographed by Howard Dean!

    Just kidding. Send me your address at Lydia@LydiaCornell.com and I'll send you a gift.

  17. LOL Thanks anyway Lydia. You don't have to send me anything.

    What I was remarking about on the first post, when I first looked there was no name by her picture at all.

    But when I ran the cursor over the picture her name was in the link displayed. (that's what I meant about renaming the picture)

    So I sorta cheated.

  18. Jim - don't be mad that you see me on here for a sec. I can't talk on phone, so I checked in on the blog, cuz the kids just got home and I have a 20 minute window in which to get back to work.

    I just have to respond to something you said about the 3 girls who jumped off the building... HOW HORRIBLE. Who were they?

    Boy do I know what you are talking about. The "beauty" thing....
    Luv xo

  19. Jim,

    It's not a cakewalk for us beautiful people either. There are just too many expectations.

  20. Spineless Demacrat Senators are STILL caving to that fear and smear crap...........those IDIOTS calling themselves Demacrats are why I will NEVER call myself a Demacrat or openly support them.........those Spineless jellyfish have learned absolutely NOTHING over the past 8 years........they NEED to be drummed out of Congress just like the piece of crap repugs do.

    These people sicken me!..........How can the Bill to close GITMO fail to pass?

  21. Although I never agreed with him
    this blog has gone down the
    crapper since the fair Lydia
    ran Worf off.

  22. Hey Rusty,

    Is that you I see posting on Sweetness & Light?

  23. I swear Obie is on TV more often
    then Dr.Phil.What the hell was that all about today?
    The human pacemaker,old deadeye
    Dick had his speech scheduled for
    weeks and then Obie felt it necessary,I guess after his own party shoved the Gitmo vote up his kiester,to counter deadeye Dicks comments.
    Now I ask you.What new info did
    Obie spout today?After his speech
    dingy Harry said even though Obie made a start there still has to be some kind of plan for the "patriots" housed at Gitmo.

  24. No volt,I've been on hiatus the past few months,been working my ass off,now have a bit of time.

    Hows by you? What the hell happened to Bart/Worf?

  25. I cant believe how this blog has dried up.What happened?

  26. I'm ok so far Rusty, as to Bart there was a little disagreement here.

    He still pops in once in awhile but not often.

  27. Thats too bad,I did'nt agree with Bart too often but he was a pretty bright guy,nothing like that
    moron Mike.Bart brought some thoughtfull comments to the conversation,not the total hate speech that Mike,Clif and Jolly Roger spouted.

  28. Blogger Rusty Shackleford said...

    No volt,I've been on hiatus the past few months,been working my ass off,now have a bit of time."

    Translation the little punk got shit canned and is back to being a blog troll.

  29. Blogger Rusty Shackleford said...

    Thats too bad,I did'nt agree with Bart too often but he was a pretty bright guy,nothing like that
    moron Mike.Bart brought some thoughtfull comments to the conversation,not the total hate speech that Mike,Clif and Jolly Roger spouted."

    Typical repuggie's delusional version of reality you did NOTHING but harrass, attack and slime Worf.........but NOW that he's gone its speak kindly about him and slime and try to run off the others who you dont agree with........slither back under your rock or bridge you pathetic little punk!

  30. I've had it with these spineless Dems who havent learned a damn thing over the last 8 years and are STILL caving in to the retarded brain addled repug fear mongering idiocy............First with Congress voting NOT to shut down GITMO and then Obama embracing and legitimizing the treasonous Unconstitutional Bush policy of indefinate detention with no charges..........i'm done with these gutless losers.

    I'm registering as a repug since its clear i'm MUCH MORE anti-repug than I am pro-demarat.

  31. As far as i'm concerned Obama is turning into a disapointment...........the honeymoon's over as far as i'm concerned its shit or get off the pot.......I need proof this guy can get things done done that NEED to get done not flowery circular contradictory talk.

  32. New blog post is up.
    Please leave comments on new blog thread. This is a startling story.

    I may follow a very smart person's advice and close off comments for good. The blog readership has nothing to do with the comment section, and my friend says that his Smart Blog is much easier to manage without comments turned on. But I might create a forum instead, so I'm weighing the options.

    Please weigh in on this. I'd love your opinions.
    Thank you for your readership.

    And remember to be kind to everyone you meet. You may be entertaining angels.