Tag Archives: argue

Playing with Wordle 1

Made at wordle.net, the words are taken from a blog post of mine. I adjusted all the colors and fonts to get the feeling I wanted.

The funny things were that the biggest words were Oprah, bodies, life, and world. Interesting.

By clicking the image, you can get full size.




Heavy Makeup

Part 3 of Chapter 10 of the book Looks

106376261_ukhTN-S-3Consider those addicted to plastic surgery. These are the people who risk their lives and spend millions to chase after what Dr. Patzer calls artificial perfection. They are the people who appear “abnormal” but look forward to their next procedures.

There’s the case of the 34 year old porn actress “Jen X.” She had Botox multiple times, a chin implant, and breast augmentation. She reported to Hustler magazine that she was afraid that she was getting addicted to plastic surgery. She still pays monthly for silicone injections to her lips, a highly illegal procedure which is fraught with danger. She knows, but is driven by the need to compete. Jen X said, “The more surgery everyone else gets, the more I have to get to keep up.”

Only in your mind, sadly.

There’s also Rhiannon, a woman in quest for bigger boobs. Her breasts now weigh 10 pounds each. That’s 20 pounds total! Talk about back pain. Their size is 48MMM. This began in 1991. She has had 30 surgeries on her right breast alone. 

There’s something about my personality that big is never big enough. If I’m going to do it, I’m going all the way.

She added that she wants still-larger implants.

Another good example is the Beverly Hills realtor Elaine Young. In 1979, she saw a silicone injection in the face of a friend and wanted it. She went to her friend’s doctor, who told her that he’d make her beautiful. That was all she had to hear.

At first, Young was pleased with the results. However, the silicone migrated and interfered with her facial nerves. When the doctor tried to remove the silicone, the surgery left the left side of her face paralyzed for two years. Young blames her silicone injection for the downfall of three of her six marriages. The doctor who injected her committed suicide.

brokenwindowYoung said,

It’s typical insecurity that leads women to [cosmetic surgery]. I don’t care what they say; most of the women who do it are either aging, and they want to look younger, or they’re very insecure.

Read the entire, original Hustler article here.

Many people addicted to plastic surgery suffer from BDD (as written in an earlier post). They often look for ways to deal with an imaginary or trivial defect in their appearance. They can spend lots of time and energy picking at their skin or looking into a mirror. Or wearing a hat or heavy makeup. An article in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology reports that as many as 3 million Americans may have this disorder. Among them are those with the money and resources to pay for countless surgeries.

A spokesman for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons said that there are some well-balanced people who have many surgeries. But at the same time, another group is not happy with whatever you do.


Katharine Hepburn went to see him after her bout with skin cancer

Dr. Z. Paul Lorenc sees these addicts frequently. His practice has attracted notables like CEOs and even Katharine Hepburn. Most of his patients are the ultrarich who live in opulent homes near his offices. His book describes the reality of dealing with a society that more and more wants to be perfect in appearance. Some patients lie about their medical histories. Some lie about the  medicines they’re taking.

One male patient was taking steroids but wouldn’t tell me. He wanted a facelift and nothing would stop him. I’ve never seen a patient’s face bleed so much in my life.

Scalpel_smallIn cases like this, says Lorenc, the plastic surgeon is to refuse to do surgery. He gives another example, this time of a guy who thought he had an awful acne scar. Dr. Lorenc saw nothing. The worst thing he could have done would have been to operate, because then the poor guy would have had a real scar.

Maybe we are growing into a culture that is endlessly fixated on appearance. Seeing media images refuels and reinforces the notion that physical attractiveness must be had at all costs.

A Beautiful Disaster

Chapter 9 of the book Looks

File0444Have you ever seen the billboards by the side of the road glorifying a sculpted male body? Or the covers of Men’s Health magazine… or the washboard abs perfume by Abercrombie and Fitch… or the steroid pumping body builders…

Men have their own set of problems. These are termed the Adonis Complex. Due to the slew of idealized male physiques everywhere they look, many men are insecure about their appearance.

Harrison J. Pople, Jr. and Roberto Olivardia of Harvard Medical and Katherine A. Phillips of Brown studied anything from action figure toys to Playgirl spreads to body builders and concluded that the U.S. media presentation of the male ideal is a very very muscular body.

Our very own GI Joe

Our very own GI Joe

It started with our familiar G. I. Joe. These researchers noted that the action figure in 1964 was unremarkable. Sure, he was trim and athletic, but rather ordinary in that respect. By 1991, he became pumped up like a body builder. Sadly, this also happened with the Star Wars action figures of Han and Luke. In 1978, they appeared unexceptional but trim. In 1995, they appeared to have been drinking a morning cup of steroids with their breakfast cereal. As a Star Wars fan, I was horrified to hear about this development. What’s next, bulked up Wicket?

15-20 years back, if you wanted a current issue of a fitness or body building magazine, you would have to live in the big city. Even so, you were limited to two or three publications. Now, just run down to the nearest convenience store and you’re bound to find at least five. As any freelance writer for magazines will tell you, fitness and health are big topics nowadays. People want to read about how to get healthy, but they also want to read about how to gain muscle. As a result, this is the holy grail of freelance writers. 

abercrombie-billboardWhat about the billboards? This Abercrombie and Fitch billboard is an excellent example of what you might find.

Dr Patzer says,

Buy a copy of almost any general-interest magazine and you are treated to bare male chests, rippling muscles, and tanned, chiseled, hairless forms.

Don’t forget the romance novel covers! Some time ago I published something mocking this trend. You may find it here. You’ll see that shaved pits really are the way to go.




Rich Herrerra, a male model for Cosmo

Rich Herrera, a male model for Cosmo



Cosmopolitan magazine is one of those magazines that seem to be mainly about sex from their front covers. They offer tips on how to do it right, how to get good results, and how to get a good man. They also illustrate their articles with pictures. All the male models are happy,  hairless, and naked.

They are also buff. Pope and his colleagues found that the number of naked males in Glamour and Cosmo had tripled from less than 10% in the 60s.

dumbbellsAlong with these findings, Pope and his researchers interviewed men suffering from what they call “muscle dysmorphia,” which is sort of like “reverse anorexia.” While an anorexic girl looks at herself in the mirror and sees fat even though she is shrinking, a male with this disorder looks at himself  and says, “Not buff enough,” even though he may have muscles where no man should have muscles. A fellow whom they called “Kevin” believed his own arms were sticks even though his body bulged with muscles in strange places. He became a near recluse because of this disorder.

These three researchers concluded that American men are being manipulated. They are exposed to more supermuscular images, all in service to diet aids, fitness programs, hair-growth remedies, and anything in between. These industries prey on men’s insecurities, and can be compared to how women are being preyed upon by the media.

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an intense preoccupation with an imagined or slight defect in one’s appearance. It seems to arrive during adolescence or young adulthood. It may also coexist with other conditions, like social anxiety or OCD. The only effective course is psychiatric or psychological counseling, along with anxiety medications.

Those with this disorder are only a small fraction of the population, but millions more devote an inordinate slice of their time to worrying about appearance, notes Dr. Patzer.

LS015824Barbara L. Frederickson of the University of Michigan did two experiments to document the psychological costs of raising girls in a culture lik eours.

One study revealed that what a woman wears can heighten her preoccupation with how her body looks. This is at the expense of her mental performance skills. It’s not just low-cut dresses or bikinis that may cause this preoccupation. Any clothes or circumstances that make her feel self-conscious have this power. It reduces the mental energy that she could use to solve calculus.

evening-20dressAccording to this researcher and social psychologist Tomi-Ann Roberts, the tendency to value physical appeal and sex appeal as body identity rather than their health, strength, energy, etc leads to more than an eating disorder or diminished mental performance. It could be linked to high prevalence of depression and sexual dysfunction among American women.

As we have seen, the mass media has had a huge effect on fostering attitudes about physical appeal. They’re enormously influential in governing what we say and feel about ourselves and our appearance.

From Kurt and Gladys Lang’s essay “The Mass Media and Voting”:

The mass media forces attention to certain issues. They build up public images of political figures. They are constantly presenting objects suggesting what individuals in the masses should think about, know about, have feelings about.

So my theory that we also listen to what the media tells us to do wasn’t so far off after all.

Dr. Patzer concludes that ill health offsets beauty benefits. However, people would be willing to sacrifice their health or money to improve their physical appearance.

As an anorexic acquaintance wrote on her blog, “I don’t care if this kills me. At least I’ll be beautiful.”

A Tragic Case

In the realm of the “right-to-life” movement, the case of one woman made headlines and sparked debates all over the country and even overseas. 

The Terri Schiavo case was one that caused a great deal of controversy. I know I remember it vividly. Her life and death stirred an uproar about issues like “right-to-life” and whether it was okay to take out the feeding tube of a person in a vegetative state and let the person die. Was it more humane to let the person continue living in such a state, with no hope of recovery? Or not? These issues led a lot of people think about what they would want if they were ever in such a condition, and to mark their choice in their will.

Terri Schiavo before it happened

Terri Schiavo before it happened

What I didn’t know at the time was that Terri Schiavo had had an eating disorder. She was anorexic. Terri had been severely overweight in her teens, but lost 65 pounds by the time she graduated from high school.

Sadly, her condition became so serious to the point where fitness and fasting were obsessions. Some time later, Schiavo limited herself to mostly liquids. Whatever food she ate, she forced herself to vomit.

Her family later said that while they worried, they didn’t know how quickly Schiavo’s health could deteriorate… or how dangerous it was for humans to starve themselves. As a result, they neither challenged her nor sought medical help for her condition.

Terri after

Terri after

In 1990, Terri went into a coma. Her doctors said that this was likely caused by an imbalance in blood potassium levels. Her liquid diet was flushing this mineral out of her body – a condition that eating would have remedied.

Eating wasn’t something she wanted to do.

Schiavo never recovered. Soon she was found to be brain dead. A lengthy court  battle came about, and it became a national tragedy, states Dr. Patzer. 15 years later, Terri Schiavo died on March 31, 2005. She was 41.

164177_f260The debate that ensued made it clear that eating disorders were poorly understood by the public. After this case, science made progress in understanding them.

Following Schiavo’s death, the Daytona Beach News Journal published an editorial that pointed out that the state and the federal had failed to educate the public about eating disorders. They continued by saying that teenage girls should be informed about this trend, and suggested that parents and teachers learn to recognize the warning signs. Insurance companies and public health agencies should broaden their medical coverage to include treatments for eating disorders.

The Dove Campaign

Part 3 of Chapter 8 of the book Looks

Gisele Bundchen, a popular model of today

Gisele Bundchen, a popular model of today

I’m sure that a lot of you are familiar with Dove’s ad campaigns. Their ads speak of broadening the definition of beauty. Their ads have caused quite a sensation because of this. The pretty, underwear clad women have appeared on billboards across the county– and they’re much heavier than Gisele Bundchen. Their naked older ladies have appeared in magazines. How did this come about?

Dove wanted to explore empirically what beauty means to women to today, and why. They also wanted to look at the more authentic, satisfying, and empowering ways to think and talk about feminine beauty. 

Dove’s study, “The Real Truth about Beauty: A Global Report,” was published in September 2004. 3200 women, ages 18-64, from 10 countries, were interviewed. The study, which you can read by clicking the link, concluded that while most women are not lost in despair and self-hatred because of their looks, few women feel the “power and  pride of beauty.” Only 2% claimed to be beautiful. That’s only 64 out of 3200 women.

A popular ad for Dove

A popular ad for Dove

This study showed that women are less satisfied with their beauty than with almost every other dimension of life (social skills, honesty, kindness). The study calls the women of today to reject the images of manufactured femininity as too narrow, inauthentic, and not enough. Manufactured femininity being the ideal: tall, thin, with blonde haire, fair skin, and blue eyes. (Sort of like Gisele Bundchen?) Three-fourths of those surveyed revealed that they wanted to see women with different shapes, sizes, and a varying range of ages. More variety, in short.

Dr. Susie Orbach stated that while these women believed that physical appeal was important (or even crucial), conforming to the media’s definition of real beauty should make them resort to extremities like cosmetic surgery. 

Dr. Patzer agrees that the media could broaden their definition of beauty. However, he reminds us that beauty’s less visual qualities are rather difficult to portray on a magazine spread, or a TV ad.

While these models are not ideal, they still have beautiful hair, features, and clear skin. That old lady up there has clearer skin than my grandmother. And nicer hair, too.

Regular Exercise is Good

Magnetic Dumbells

Magnetic Dumbells

This was written in my composition class. The outline was supplied by the instructor, but we had to come up with the arguing methods ourselves. I did a pretty good job. There was one correction: where I say that you can get toned abs. The instructor said that he didn’t like that as much because for most the goal of exercise may be to get a little less fat-looking.

I think he’s right.

A few days ago, I read in O magazine that many health experts are concerned about the lack of regular exercise in many people’s lives. The article mentioned that regular exercise to many people consists of lifting themselves off the couch and changing the channel manually instead of with the remote. Regular exercise should be a strict exercise plan that consists of both aerobic exercise (like bike riding) and anaerobic exercise (like weight lifting). Regular does not mean once a week, but at least three or four times per week. Maybe you should consider the benefits of regular exercise. This essay will address some of those benefits that are associated with regular exercise like your health, your quality of life, and your appearance. Maybe after you read this, you’ll think about what you can gain from regular exercise.

Regular exercise may benefit your health. Researchers from Yale University have talked to the editors of Prevention magazine. Their breakthrough research has found that exercise benefits the heart, lungs, and skin. Along with that, these researchers have found that exercise may equip your body to resist both viral and bacterial infection. As a result, you’ll get sick less and be able to spend more time with your family. You can even use the money you spend on doctor’s bills to see Miley Cyrus. Not only that, the study found that regular exercise is proven to lower blood pressure so that you can live a longer life and maybe see your great-grandchildren.

Your quality of life may be improved greatly. Dr. Oz is one of the most notable experts in Oprah’s series titled “Live Your Best Life.” In the series, he regularly talks about how exercise can vastly improve your life. He states that while you can have more energy to do the things you love to do, you will also require less sleep. You will be more alert and have a better memory so that you can finally remember your children’s birthdays when people ask you. Along with that, Dr. Oz found that you may have the desire to travel more and do more physical recreation. With better mental health, you will get depressed less often.

Your appearance may also be affected positively. The website Health and Study has documented the psychological benefits as well as the physical benefits of exercise. As well as lowering weight, exercise, especially lifting weights, leads to more muscularity. Ever wanted those toned abs? You can have them! My overweight friends tell me their frustrations in finding good clothes that fit. As well as giving you a better posture, your clothes will fit better on you. The site says that your complexion will be radiant. Your hair will be healthier and shinier. Most importantly, the confidence that exercising regularly brings will turn heads everywhere you go. 

In conclusion, regular exercise is extremely important. Regular exercise is proven to bring impressive health benefits. It gives you a better resistance to infection, as well as a longer life. On top of this reason, regular exercise improves the quality of your life in many ways. One of these includes giving you more energy and alertness so that you can do the things you love. Finally, why not turn some heads while you’re at it? Exercise can do that by dramatically improving your physical appearance. Imagine what the boost in confidence can do for you!