Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Groupon is Medicalizing Beauty... and it's NOT "Good for Your Health"

On Monday morning I awoke to the usual smattering of 50+ new emails in my inbox. I weeded through a handful of "I love your book!" and "You're so fat and ugly and stupid I can't believe anyone let you out of your cage to write a book!" messages. (I'll discuss creepy jerks another day. For now, just know that I was not "let out" but escaped from my cage and it's been grande!) I soon came across an email from, titled "These Deals are Good for Your Health." 

Screenshot of THE email.

I've been a Groupon customer for years. I LOVE getting a great deal on the variety of services and products I consume. Thanks to Groupon, I've tried numerous new restaurants, snagged a few indulgent mani-pedis, spent a romantic weekend in wine country, and had my car immaculately detailed in an urgent post-puppy-puke situation. I usually love these folks. So when I saw the heading "These Deals are Good for Your Health" I was psyched. Bargains! Health! Yay!  

I opened the email ready to pounce on discounted dental cleanings, yummy yoga class passes, chub-rub-resistant workout gear, some therapeutic (aka, relaxing) massage, a new ergonomic keyboard, or maybe the latest 28-inch NASA-patented skittles-filled mattress pad. Instead I was offered the following deals, for my "health":

75% off of Laser Hair Removal
58% off of Brazillian Waxes
70% off of Microdermabrasion
56% off Laser Lipo Treatments
55% off Phytobiodermie Cellulite Reduction
69% off Fractional Laser Treatments

To be precise, the "Good for Your Health" promotion email contained all six of the above and two vague offers for discounted "Spa Services," (one turned out to be a fairly benign mani-ped + massage and the other offered a "deluxe oxygen facial" + "microdermabrasion; infrared sauna; herb enriched detoxifying wrap"). But that's it. No yoga passes, no dental cleanings, and the "herb enriched detoxifying wrap" didn't even include medical marijuana! (j/k. Grandmas Ruth and Rita, I would NEVER!) Instead it was just a bunch of beauty "treatments" in disguise.

That Groupon email was one of the finest most blatant examples of "medicalization" I'd seen in a while. In sociology-speak (quoting from this EverydaySociologyBlog essay), the term medicalization

"refers to the practice of redefining a behavior, concern, or practice as a problem to be 'solved' by doctors" 
Sociologists study the medicalization of all sorts of things, including childbirthing/delivery, misbehavior/ADHD, fatnes s/obesity, and sexual "dysfunction". (My all-time favorite example of medicalization is "hysteria," a catch-all diagnosis that Victorian era physicians treated through "fine gentle massage"... of the lady parts!) Medicalization isn't inherently bad. I, for one, I'm grateful that a lot of mental health issues are now therapy + doctor things instead of "bad mood" or "just eat" things. But "There's a lot of money to be made from telling healthy people they're sick." I love it when companies solve my problems, but not so happy when they invent them!

So I'm pissed off at Groupon. It's bad enough that these primarily aesthetic "treatments" are described as "Good for Your Health" despite the fact that none of the body bits (pubic hair, wrinkles, cellulite) pose any legitimate health risk in their natural state. But, to make matters worse, almost all of these "services" involve physical pain and/or impose health risks due to the treatment itself. Not such a great deal after all...

Now, I enjoy my own beauty routines as much as the next gal. I reward my "writing fingers" with weekly manicures, wear some makeup most days, and even had a brazilian or two back when I was still trying to impress my husband. I'm not angry at women who want to be beautiful. I get it. I want to be beautiful too. However, I am angry at bullshit beauty advertising. Hate the game, not the players, ya'll.

This cartoon = me + Michael when we first started dating. Ha!
Women deserve a world in which we are free to express individuality and authenticity through appearance, allowing us the pleasurable creativity of self-expression. In this world we would not be so harshly judged for our beauty or our beauty-related choices. We obviously aren't there yet (hence, the "you're too 'fat-n-fugly' to be allowed to speak" emails I've been getting), but in the meantime I'd really appreciate it if Groupon would stop trying to convince us that tearing out our public hair at the root is "good for our health." 

Enough of my rant. What do YOU think? 
Do any of your beauty routines make you healthier? 
Have any of them caused pain or - egads - a trip to the ER? I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Monday, May 6, 2013

How To Celebrate International No Diet Day! (And How NOT To)

It's International No Diet Day! Hurrah! This is something I try to celebrate EVERY day of the year, but on May 6th I get to really fly my foodie freak flag. You might be wondering exactly what INDD is about. Well, it obviously isn't about dieting, but it also isn't about scarfing down junk food in a binging free-for-all. Binging is NOT the opposite of dieting.

Binging on "bad" food is 1/2 of the yo-yo dieting cycle.  
It's bad for you, and is not anti-dieting. So don't do that.

Instead, do this: Imagine what your life would be like if you spent as much time, money, and emotional energy on your relationships, career, and/or favorite hobbies as you do on diets. Would your life be drastically different? Would the world be drastically different if this happened on a grand scale? I think so.

If you're uncomfortable with your answer to this question, I encourage you to talk with your friends, family, or even see your doctor or therapist, if you need to. Do some research on intuitive eating and mindful eating. Enjoy my favorite (chocolicious!) mindful eating exercise, Seven Steps to Mindful Eating. Finally, remind yourself of what "normal eating" looks and feels like. I've written on this topic in the past, and I'm copying my favorite "definition of normal eating," below. This is the definition I was given while in treatment for my eating disorder; once this definition "clicked" for me, I finally believed that I could recover (and I did!).

Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied.

 It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it -not just stop eating because you think you should. 

Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food. 

Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good. 
Normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. 
It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful. 
Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. 
And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more. 
Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. 
Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.
In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings.

Here is how I want you to celebrate International No Diet Day:

Finally do something you've been putting off "until you lose weight!" 

Need ideas?

Buy a bikini!   WEAR a bikini!   Go to the gym!   Wink at that cutie from the coffee shop!   Spend a shit-ton of money on clothes that fit you RIGHT NOW!   Have sex with the lights on!  

Most importantly: LOVE YOURSELF! :)

Q: Have YOU ever put off something because you wanted to lose weight? What did you put off? (FYI - I'm guilty of all of the above, but not anymore!)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

About-Face(ing) New York, New York!

That's me, Audra Lowe and JD Roberto, on the set of The Better Show. 
Hi everyone, I'm writing this what-I'm-up-to post as I sit in a lovely hotel room in New York City! My book, Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall, came out TODAY, and it's been a flurry of excitement and fun. I had several interviews today, so I wore my favorite color, green, for good luck and confidence. So far, so good, and I have ONE more interview left tonight: GOOD MORNING AMERICA! (Woooeeee!) Assuming all goes as planned, you can watch the GMA piece during the 8am hour, tomorrow (Friday) morning! I'll be the one in green.

In other news, Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall just jumped from an best-sellers ranking of #475,581 before the book came out, all the way up to #85,915 today! This cracks me up and is quite motivating: I want to be in the top #50,000 tomorrow! And so the journey continues...

Speaking of journeys, I NEVER make a journey out of California (or out of my house, for that matter) unless I have a set of About-Face #MindOverFashion stickers with me. What are these stickers, you ask? Well... they're basically my favorite way to slap an "I'm calling out your sexist media bullshit" message onto any media image that might teach girls to hate their perfectly wonderful bodies. 

If you're not yet familiar with About-Face, you should know that it's an amazing nonprofit organization that helps girls develop tools for understanding and challenging media messages that threaten their self-esteem and body image. I'm a longtime volunteer, serving both as a media literacy workshop leader and an evaluation consultant. 5% of my book proceeds will be donated to About-Face (So, seriously, buy the book!).  Just over a month ago, one of About-Face's amazing teen "action groups" spent an afternoon "Sticker-Bombing" San Francisco's Union Square, with awesome messages like "You were born to be real, not perfect!" and "Your mind will never go out of fashion!" I found it so inspiring and empowering that I began bringing these stickers along with me wherever I go, just in case.

Last night, when I finally arrived at my hotel room after a long day of travel, THIS is what I found waiting for me in a magazine. In case you couldn't tell.... it's an advertisement for.... LUGGAGE. Yeah, luggage. (That really makes me want to go buy some luggage... NOT!) Anyhoo, I think it looks better - and I feel better - now that it's been anointed with a pink About-Face #MindOverFashion sticker.

I hope my fun and excitement have been at least a bit contagious. Hopefully more good news tomorrow!

What do you think? Can stickers change the world?
Describe or send me the ads you'd like to to About-Face sticker-bomb!

*** EXCITING UPDATE: I'm now, at 4:11am PST, #25, 758 on Amazon's ranking! Incredible. I'm kind of sarcastic and kind of obsessed.***

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mirror Mirror Off the Wall Hits Bookshelves TOMORROW!

I can't believe it's almost May 2nd. Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall: How I learned to Love My Body by Not Looking at It for a Year hit's bookshelves THIS WEEK! You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, Indiebound, iTunes, and wherever books are sold. 

I have a few more announcements to come (hint: I'm packing up for a trip to NYC right now), but in the meantime please enjoy my just-released book trailer

I don't ask this very often, but THIS WEEK - like, right now, before you forget! - is a great time for YOU to help spread the word about my work and the book. Sooo.....

Please share this trailer with your social network. 
Here's the link: