I noticed Jillian Michaels, my nemesis, staring at me from the cover of Ladies Home Journal this month (no, of course I don’t subscribe, I was at the library). The caption:
Lose Weight Faster: The Biggest Loser Tips and Tricks.
Doesn’t anyone remember what “You’re the biggest loser” used to mean? It was not something you would want to brag about on national tv. But never mind, mission accomplished LHJ, you got my attention.
Reading further, the next teaser on the magazine cover was:
Raise a Girl with Body Confidence.
(Rule #1: Don’t let her catch you reading diet tips from Jillian Michaels?)
Amazed by the incredibly twisted placement but nevertheless hooked, I turned to the purported body confidence article. Only to find, not an article, but a useless excerpt from Peggy Orenstein’s latest book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter.
I say useless because Peggy’s main advice (?) was this: Hope that your daughter is genetically blessed with society’s ideal size and shape. That’s her only hope.
I know you think I’m joking, exaggerating, or making this up. But I’m not. Peggy writes that she’s glad that her daughter isn’t heavy, because life sure is harder for people who are bigger than society’s ideal. Unlike Peggy’s friend’s daughter who is slightly larger than society’s ideal, for whom Peggy predicts a sad life of dieting, disappointment, and self-hate.
I have a prediction to make, too: Peggy Orenstein’s daughter is going to struggle with her self-esteem. Why wouldn’t she? Her mom has no reason to help her daughter form a good body image, because apparently that comes naturally when you’re pretty. (Somehow I missed that memo.) She’s not willing to challenge society’s unrealistic expectations in her own head, how could she possibly teach her daughter to do so? And knowing that your mom judges and pities people who do not meet her limited standards of acceptability and weight is not going to help matters.
Peggy, you are part of the problem. You look with sadness at your friend’s daughter, worried that she won’t have a good self esteem, but that lucky girl has a mother who teaches her to accept herself as is and that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. I wish she was the one who had written a book.