Opinion Blog: The Sexualization of Women in Magazines

May 18, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Posted by Meg Jones
mpjones@mail.smu.edu

I live in a sorority house at Southern Methodist University with weekly and monthly subscriptions to Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Us Weekly, and Glamour.

My sorority sisters and I flip through the pages of women’s fashion and gossip magazines, but how many of us are taking a closer look at the message that magazines are sending to their readers?

Magazine content responds to popular demand and is a reflection of American culture, but it also contributes to it.

The pages of women’s fashion and gossip magazines perpetuate a hyper sexualized ideal standard of beauty for women.

Through these messages women are taught to believe that if they work hard enough and spend enough money they can attain this culturally determined, hegemonic vision of beauty.

With a constant influx of images of the sex goddess, fashion and beauty magazines contribute to the sexualization of women by permeating sexualized representations of women and girls, suggesting that being thin and beautiful is the cultural norm.

According to the report by the American Psychological Association task force on the sexualization of girls, sexualization occurs when a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics.This leads to sexual objectification—that is, made into a thing for other’s sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making.

Media images of female beauty not only influence how women feel about themselves, but also how men feel about women. There is a distorted reality in what men see in the media as opposed to the real women in their lives.

The high-dollar and never-ending consumerism needed to pursue the “Barbie body” is a mindset instilled in young girls that remains with them when they become women.

Advertising in magazines sells women products by selling them the idea that they can and should achieve physical perfection to have value in our culture.

More often than not, images in magazines have been altered. Computer retouching has become a primary technique used by advertisers and before photographs are published, they are digitally retouched to make the models appear perfect.

Although magazine content does not directly cause or effect body image problems, someone who is predisposed to the behavior may be pushed toward unhealthy diet and exercise routines by reading fashion and beauty magazines.

‘My Fit Foods’ Tries to Replace Your Junk Food Eating Habits

November 18, 2010 by · Comments Off 

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By Rachael Borne
rborne@smu.edu

After seven straight days of only eating My Fit Foods meals, Marcy Margolis noticed a decrease in her weight and an increase in her positive attitude. However, after seven straight days of only eating My Fit Foods meals, Andi Scheinin was less than pleased with the results. As her waistline was growing, her bank account was shrinking.

My Fit Foods, often referred to as the healthy version of fast food, began in 2004 by Mario L. Mendias in Houston and is now opening stores in Dallas. These storefront operations have large refrigerators filled with packaged food for people to choose meals individually, or have them delivered right to their door. Stores have opened on Luther Lane, Lemmon Avenue, and Royal Lane and Preston Road, and a fourth location is coming soon near SMU’s campus.

Employees recommend their 21-day challenge, a plan of eating their packaged meals five times a day for 21 days and they say participants can lose an average of 8 to 15 pounds.

“The plan is successful due to the quality of the foods and the timing of the meals,” said employee Nate Prosser.

My Fit Foods prepares and packages over 45 different meals everyday except Saturday, averaging $7 to $9 per meal. They label all ingredients and nutritional information and take pride in their method of preparation. My Fit Foods omits all preservatives, so every meal is made fresh. For this reason, the meals are not recommended for the freezer.

Prosser, an employee at the Luther Lane location and the Royal Lane location, sees an increase in interest each month. He explained the difference in My Fit Foods from other competitors, stressing the importance of their use of fresh ingredients. Also, 90 percent of the menu is gluten-free. The plan also supports vegan, vegetarian and diabetic diets.

“The gluten-free aspect is one of our niches that other companies, like Jenny Craig do not do, we also take into consideration glycemic index, everything is low glycemic and I know a lot of other plans, one example Nutrisystem, are not,” Prosser said.

A Dallas area Jenny Craig representative, Denise Larmeu, was not very familiar with her new competitor. She said she has heard some people talk about My Fit Foods but only knew the company packaged portioned meals, a program similar to Jenny Craig’s.

“I don’t know what kind of packaging My Fit Foods uses but we have shelf stable and frozen foods and we do not eliminate all preservatives so that might be some difference,” Larmeu said.

An Arlignton registered and licensed dietician, Brittnay Gowland, approves of some factors My Fit Foods incorporates, like the promotion of eating five to six times a day and the preservation of nutrients.

“My Fit Foods does not eliminate any of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats), which is great because all three are needed in the diet regularly for optimum health,” Gowland said.

Prosser said the 21-day challenge could be successful for some people due to the quality of foods, lack of preservatives and the timing of the meals. As clients feed their bodies every two hours, they are keeping their metabolism going.

“You are training your body to speed up your metabolism so you are actually burning more calories a day and you are not hungry all day,” Prosser said.

Scheinin, a Houston resident, attempted the 21-day challenge and quit because the food all started to taste the same.

“As I got bored with the plan, the meals would sit in my refrigerator and expire, a total waste of money,” Scheinin said.

Not only was she bored with the meal choices and tastes, but she also realized it started to get more expensive than her normal grocery bill. She also said she experienced weight gain, not weight loss, like the brand advertised.

Gowland believes these diets do not deal with the underlying issues related to weight gain. Dieters do not learn how to trust their body and follow their hunger and fullness cues through these diets, which are key for long-term success.

“These diets initially work for the majority of people who try them, but 95 percent of those people are unsuccessful with keeping the weight off and may even gain more back than they actually lost,” she said.

Margolis, a Houston resident, completed the 21-day challenge and said she lost less than half of the average amount of weight My Fit Foods advertises.

“I noticed results in my stomach area and I only lost 4 to 6 pounds, but I felt great the whole time I was eating their food,” said Margolis.

Margolis’ favorite aspect of My Fit Foods was its similarity to take-out food. The convenience of picking up meals twice a week interested her more than the idea of actually cooking. She also enjoyed the portion sizes and the simplicity of preparing a healthy meal with only a few minutes of microwaving.

Margolis and Scheinin both agree the meals, although tasty at first, were not as exciting after a few weeks and eventually put a dent in their grocery budget.

At Cooper Aerobics Center, a health and wellness corporation in Dallas, nutritionist Meridan Zerner’s opinion of My Fit Foods is guardedly positive. She believes the plan embraces the reality of today’s busy professionals pressed for time, who are unable to cook much and rely on take-out food.

“Pre-packaged foods and food plans are great ‘jump starters’ in that it does the decision making and takes intuitive eating out of the picture,” said Zerner, a licensed and registered dietician.

But Zerner also believes that successful weight management is multifactorial. People need to manage their stress and deal with the psychological relationship with food or diet plans like My Fit Footds won’t work long term.

“People need to eat quality ‘real’ foods in reasonable portions to keep weight off for the long-run,” Zerner said.

While clients might be successful from the challenge now, Zerner knows those same clients, sooner or later, will have to learn how to diet and learn to manage portion sizes all on their own.

“If they don’t get the big picture and find ways to incorporate healthy change on a daily basis, they usually go right back to their old patterns,” she said.

My Fit Foods is absolutely better than drive thru fast food and it could help people establish portion awareness, according to Zerner.

“But My Fit Foods, unfortunately, is not the answer to long term weight loss success,” she said.

To check out the plan and meals, visit their website.

Global News Blog: My Big Fat Greek Diet

November 5, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Chandler Richards

Obesity may not appear to be an issue on our seemingly fit campus. Walk into Dedman at anytime and you’ll find Lululemon clad girls logging miles on the treadmill and muscular frat boys lifting weights, but that doesn’t mean obesity is not a problem. Currently, obesity is one of the biggest health risks facing our nation.

According to a Gallup poll, 63.1 percent of adults in the U.S. were either overweight or obese in 2009. Our country is taking baby steps towards conquering this disease with prevention strategies such as exercise and healthy eating. Trendy gyms are popping up all over, and fad diets like Atkins, South Beach, “detox cleanses,” and that weird Japanese banana diet are taking the country by storm.

Health experts have even recommended adopting the “Mediterranean Diet,” which has been long attributed to lower risks of cancer and heart disease, and, not surprisingly, longer life spans.

But what happens when one of the world’s leaders in healthy eating and living falls victim to the Western influence of fast food?

Recently, Greece, the birthplace of the famous “Mediterranean Diet” has become plagued with soda machines, fast-food joins and convenient packaged junk food. Nearly two thirds of Greek children are now overweight, and it’s not getting better.

A Greek man concerned about the growing epidemic told the New York Times, “If we continue like this, we’re going to become like Americans, and no one wants that.”

Clearly, the “American way” is not always the right way. If we want to continue being viewed as a world leader, we need to not only erase the “fat, arrogant American” stigma, but also start setting a better example by showing Greece that they shouldn’t be conforming to our culture, but rather we should be conforming to theirs.

So, put down that hamburger, embrace your inner Greek, head to your grocer’s produce aisle, and start cooking.

Big D Blog: Food Revolution

April 12, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Posted By Hanna Nelson

Pizza for breakfast? What 9-year-old wouldn’t want that? Luckily, there’s a chef trying to make a difference.

His concept of healthy eating is consuming the United States. I recently watched ABC’s new show “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.” The Naked Chef star is on a mission to change the food in America’s schools.

He’s starting in Huntington, West Virginia where he’s been met with some opposition.

For the first episode, Oliver dumped the food from the school’s kitchen in dumpsters to show the fat and amount of food that the children consume. The town was appalled to see what their children were eating, but upset to be told what to do.

On Oliver’s website you can sign a petition and campaign for the Food Revolution to come to your town. Hopefully this continues for a few more seasons to get all of America’s children eating well.

Big D Blog: There’s an App for That (Diet)

March 29, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted By Hanna Nelson

Diet help is everywhere, books, magazines, the internet, and now your phone. Both the Blackberry and iPhone have downloadable applications to help you with your next diet.

Blackberry’s top two are “Calorie Counter by Fat Secret” and “Calorie Tracker by Livestrong.” The free “Calorie Counter” allows users to get nutrition information about foods, an exercise tracker, a weight chart, and a journal to keep track of your day.

The “Calorie Tracker” is $2.99 and provides most of the same features as the “Calorie Counter.” However, the new edition of the “Calorie Tracker” provides meal support and ideas for healthy meals.

Not to be outdone, the iPhone has multiple apps for dieting. Their top rated apps, by Touch Reviews are “Healthy Super Foods” an app that tells you the best foods to eat to keep yourself healthy. Next is “Good Food Healthy Recipes” which gives a breakdown of meals and how to cook these foods.

So next time you need healthy eating inspiration, look no further than your cell phone!

More Fast Food Restaurants Catering to Vegans

March 4, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

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Campus News Blog: Eating Healthy on a Budget

February 16, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

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Student Health: Feel Fabulous with Fiber

August 31, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Marissa Adamany
madamany@smu.edu

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) recommends a minimum of 20-35 grams of fiber a day for a healthy adult. But why is fiber so important?

  • Fiber helps lower cholesterol and keeps the digestive system healthy.
  • High-fiber foods generally require more chewing time, giving your body time to register when you’re no longer hungry. This means you’re less likely to overeat, and you also stay full for a longer amount of time.
  • High-fiber diets tend to be less “energy dense,” meaning they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.
  • Fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can slow the absorption of sugar, which for people with diabetes can help improve blood sugar levels. A high-fiber diet may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • How can you get more fiber?

  • Focus on fruits and veggies– snack on apples, peaches, strawberries, carrots, broccoli, asparagus and eggplant.
  • Benefiber to-go packs – mix these easy, 30-calorie packets in water, juice, coffee, milk, and add 6 grams of fiber to your day.
  • Munchies – snack on sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds for an added fiber boost to keep you satisfied throughout the day.
  • Student Health: Feel Fabulous with Fiber

    April 27, 2009 by · Comments Off 

    By Marissa Adamany
    madamany@smu.edu

    The American Dietetic Association (ADA) recommends a minimum of 20-35 grams of fiber a day for a healthy adult. But why is fiber so important?

  • Fiber helps lower cholesterol and keeps the digestive system healthy.
  • High-fiber foods generally require more chewing time, giving your body time to register when you’re no longer hungry. This means you’re less likely to overeat, and you also stay full for a longer amount of time.
  • High-fiber diets tend to be less “energy dense,” meaning they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.
  • Fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can slow the absorption of sugar, which for people with diabetes can help improve blood sugar levels. A high-fiber diet may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • How can you get more fiber?

  • Focus on fruits and veggies– snack on apples, peaches, strawberries, carrots, broccoli, asparagus and eggplant.
  • Benefiber to-go packs – mix these easy, 30-calorie packets in water, juice, coffee, milk, and add 6 grams of fiber to your day.
  • Munchies – snack on sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds for an added fiber boost to keep you satisfied throughout the day.