Tag Archives: America the Beautiful

Health at Every Size®: Now a Registered Trademark

Lynne Murray says:

An August 1st press release from The Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) started me thinking how often the diet industry has stolen body-positive ideas and used them to sell body-damaging products and programs. The press release announced that ASDAH has claimed Announces Health At Every Size® as a registered trademark.

To my mind this is a socially healthy move. The best way to keep someone from stealing “Health At Every Size” (ASDAH politely calls it borrowing, but I prefer the stronger word) is to let them know a nonprofit, body-positive organization owns it and won’t allow it to be co-opted and used to market “love your body into a smaller size” delusions.

“This is not about keeping the Health At Every Size approach exclusive to ASDAH,” said ASDAH President, Deb Lemire. “Through the diligent work of many people both within and allied with our organization, the Health At Every Size principles have come to mean something very important to people of all sizes who want access to compassionate, relevant and rational health care. We simply want to protect this phrase from individuals or large corporations who would seek to co-opt the phrase to hawk their latest diet or weight-loss program.”

Kate Harding nailed this phenomenon in a 2007 post:

“Diets don’t work, but…” Fill in the blank with any of the following–or make up your own!
• Diets don’t work, but Weight Watchers, which is not a diet, works.
• Diets don’t work, but “lifestyle changes,” which are not diets, work.
• Diets don’t work, but restricting calories for the rest of your life, which is not a diet, works.
• Diets don’t work, but cutting out carbs, which is not a diet, works.
• Diets don’t work, but eating only whole foods, which is not a diet, works.
• Diets don’t work, but reducing fat intake, which is not a diet, works.
• Diets don’t work, but “portion control,” which is not a diet, works.
• Diets don’t work, but eating right and exercising, which is not a diet (and clearly not something anyone’s ever thought of before!), works.

Gosh, there’s so much conflicting information here! However to synthesize it? Do you suppose there’s, like, a single element common to all those statements?

Ooh! Ooh! I see it! DIETS DON’T WORK.

What do I win?

The thing that causes so much confusion (to put it charitably) here is that diets do work, actually–in the short term. All diets, from cabbage soup to Weight Watchers, will cause people to lose weight. At first. But after five years, all diets have the same result: the vast majority of people who lost weight at first gained it back.

Read the rest of Kate’s post too; don’t stop with what I quoted.

Incidentally the “Diets Don’t Work” phrase has been trademarked by a “lifestyle change” organization. I’m glad to see that ASDAH has made sure that won’t happen to Health at Every Size.

ASDAH is getting involved in a number of what I think of as truly noble efforts:

… a series of proactive responses to the continued misguided public and political approach to health and weight. In June, ASDAH launched healthateverysizeblog.com featuring outspoken advocates for the Health At Every Size® paradigm. ASDAH also recently responded to a commentary in JAMA suggesting the removal of higher weight children from their homes. While the removal was proposed as a last resort, “the option should not even have been on the table,” says Lemire “when the Health At Every Size® approach is a viable and compassionate alternative.” ASDAH has drafted a policy response which can be downloaded from its website.

Many of the guiding lights of ASDAH will be attending its annual conference August 12-14 in San Francisco:“No BODY Left Behind – The HAES® Model: Ensuring an Inclusive Approach to Health and Wellness.” Also at the conference, the SF Bay Area Film Premiere of America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments, directed by Darryl Roberts, a look at our unhealthy obsession with dieting and other weighty matters. Debbie reviewed the previous America the Beautiful film here.

Full memberships and Saturday-only memberships are sold out, which says to me that our movement is gaining strength and popularity.

Plastic Surgery: Life Choice, Fine Art, and More

Debbie says:

From the BBC, we have this story of a mother who decided to look like her daughter. Twelve thousand British pounds and at least four surgeries later, she achieved her goal.

This isn’t the world’s newest story. When I was 16, I met a mother and daughter who had had hers-and-hers nose jobs to “look like each other.” (The real goal was to “look less Jewish,” but they would never have said that.) Full body mods aren’t new; we just have more and more sophisticated techniques for them.

In this story, Janet Cunliffe had a bad relationship breakup in her late 40s and was feeling bad about herself. Looking at her daughter made her feel better, so she set out to make herself feel better from top to bottom.

I can’t fault an individual for making a choice that gives her self-esteem and satisfaction. At the same time, I’m also aware that whatever she did to keep herself from looking 50, she didn’t change the fact that her body is aging. Unless something much worse happens first, the day is coming when Jane Cunliffe (the daughter) will have to watch her mother get old and eventually die, and no amount of plastic surgery postpones that experience. (Janet Cunliffe is fortunate that her surgery doesn’t appear to have hastened it.)

More and more, we live in a world where, if you have money, you can decide how you want to look. The simple nose job is a thing of the past, and has been replaced by “fine art” plastic surgery, as evidenced by this (videotape and photography only, thank goodness!) gallery exhibit in New York City’s fashionable Tribeca district.

The curator is a plastic surgeon who has training as an architect, experience as a medical illustrator and a busy practice in northern New Jersey. Along with his own work he has selected that of three colleagues: an Italian specialist in pediatric plastic surgery; a partner in the Cosmetic Surgery Center of Maryland and a breast surgery specialist who also paints, sculptures and collects art; and another New Jerseyite, with a particular interest in body contouring, a sideline in painting and drawing, and a membership in the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Not caring to advertise these surgeons, I’ve taken their names out of that paragraph.

How is their art, which is also their surgery, best described? The human body is their medium, the operating room their studio. The tools of their craft include multifarious cutting, clamping, probing and sewing devices, as well as digital and laser technologies. Most of the work that results is a living art.

For purposes of a gallery display, however, we get photographs and videos of those bodies, often seen before, during and after surgery, in the process of being patched and stitched, augmented or reduced, subtly adjusted or utterly transformed.

Holland Cotter, New York Times art critic, sums up the exhibit:

Personally, I have no problem with accepting the work in “I Am Art” as art. A thing of beauty is a joy, whether forever or for a day, and if a doctor-artist can turn you into one, that’s art to me. And if he can rescue a body from serious ruin and a soul from despair, God bless him; he’s as good as Michelangelo. Does he cater to the rich and charge too much? Check out all the drecky Picassos still selling for huge prices at auction. Do all those nose jobs look pretty much alike? Check out paintings in Chelsea galleries these days.

The big problem with the Apexart show, as least for certain sensitive types, is looking at some of it. Dr. Cohen’s pictures of breast enhancement are as agreeable as lingerie advertisements, but his colleagues deliver some pretty strong stuff. Many artists do their work in private and give you only a final, polished product, leaving the scraps, scrapings and splots on the studio floor. Here you get the whole schmeer — the blood, the guts, the slice, the equivalent of Counter-Reformation paintings of martyrdoms, but with real bodies.

These two stories feel like the same story to me: they’re about wanting the results without confronting the underlying truths. Leaving aside the standard rants about culturally simplified definitions of beauty, prejudice against aging, class divisions in who can have this, and so forth, I’m left pondering two questions:

First is how much does changing our looks, fundamentally changing our looks, really change who we are and what’s in store for us? And second is what does it mean to look at perfectly sculpted bodies without looking at what it takes to get them there? When I saw America the Beautiful I was struck by the clip showing a woman whose simple facelift left her in permanent nerve pain; that story doesn’t get told often enough.

There’s an old dictum that laws and sausages are better if you don’t see how they’re made. Maybe “conventionally beautiful faces and bodies” are being added to that list. In this context, I’m actually rather grateful to the plastic surgeons for including the disquieting bits in their exhibit.

Thanks to Kerry Ellis for the Cunliffe pointer.