Beauty Redefined: You Are Capable of More Than Being Looked At

Recently I was delighted to learn of the excellent work that twin sisters Lindsay Kite and Lexie Kite are doing through their nonprofit, Beauty Redefined.

From their website:

“Beauty Redefined is all about rethinking our ideas of “beautiful” and “healthy” that we’ve likely learned from for-profit media that thrives off female insecurity. Girls and women who feel OK about their bodies – meaning they aren’t “disgusted” with them like more than half of women today* – take better care of themselves. With obesity and eating disorders both at epidemic levels, this point is crucial!”

Lexie and Lindsay are working on their Ph.D.s in communication, studying the representation of women in popular media. Their website is fascinating–exploring everything from Photoshop to Victoria’s Secret to racism in the pages of Vanity Fair to how “fat” isn’t really the point. And their passion for redefining beauty comes from personal experience.

Check out their website! You won’t be disappointed.

Have a great weekend!

Faith as Small as a Watercress Seed

It’s the time of year for starting seeds, some indoors and some out.

Tim has built these sweet raised beds all over the yard, which not only lengthen the growing season, but also make various gardening tasks easier and more comfortable. He’s even put little bench-like surfaces on some of the edges so I can sit and weed (or pick out the seemingly-endless supply of stones and pebbles in the soil.)

I’m really not much for pointless exercising, but I love physical exertion when it has a point, like hiking to a summit or a lake, or just  going grocery shopping with my little red cart, or walking to the pizza place a mile away (ha!) or hacking away at clods of dirt and grass in the garden. It feels good, and I love being in the sunshine and fresh air. Yesterday, I did lots of writing and almost no gardening, and I felt crabby and irritable for it; I feel much better when there’s a balance to my day–part contemplative and part breaking ground and clearing beds.

But I did get these seeds started. I was going to buy a soil-block maker, this nifty thing that makes little blocks for seed-starting out of nothing but soil, but we had loads of containers left, and I recalled that the greenest products are the ones you don’t buy, so I just used what we had.

And here’s where I’m going to confess something: I can’t really believe the mystery.

How does a seed so small you can barely see it explode with such radiant, fragrant, delicious life? In years past I’ve put too many seeds in one little pot because it didn’t seem possible that one would do the job.

{Don’t worry; I’ve learned my lesson. But I’m still doubting.}

Faith: believing that ratatouille, eggplant parmesan, and baba ganoush will come from these unlikely-looking specks, plus dirt, plus water, plus sun…

…and the First Gardener’s ever-sustaining hand.

Parent of an Overweight Child? *Sensible* advice, for a change

{As a follow up to yesterday’s dieting Tiger Mom, sensible advice from Ellyn Satter, registered dietician and counselor specializing in eating competency.}

Children come in all sizes – some are big, some are small, some are sturdy or even chubby, others are slender. If your child’s weight is relatively high, even if it plots above the 95th or even the 97th percentile, it is likely to be normal if it follows along a particular percentile curve on the growth chart.

On the other hand, if your child’s weight percentiles are going up, there could be a problem. Some children carry the genes for fatness, and those genes let them get too fat – they don’t make them too fat.

Errors in feeding can make vulnerable children too fat. What are those errors?

1) Too much interference

2) Too little structure

3) Both together

Instead of trying to get your child to eat less and slim him down, support his normal pattern of development by doing an excellent job of feeding, parenting reliably and well, and letting your child grow up to get the body that is right for him:

  • Get started with family meals, if you aren’t having them already. Give sit-down snacks between times, but don’t let him have free access to food or beverages, except for water.
  • To provide support without interfering with feeding, maintain a division of responsibility in feeding. You manage the what, when and where of feeding and trust your child to do the how much and whether of eating from what you put on the table.
  • Throughout your child’s growing-up years, feed in a developmentally appropriate fashion.
  • To provide structure without interfering with activity, maintain a division of responsibility in activity:
  • You provide structure, safety and opportunities. Your child chooses how much and whether to move and the manner of moving

For more about raising children who eat as much as they need and get bodies that are right for them (and for research backing up this advice), see Ellyn Satter’s Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming, Kelcy Press, 2005.

Also see to purchase books and to review other resources.

Copyright © 2012 by Ellyn Satter. Published at

A Seven Year Old On a Draconian Diet

A few of you have referred me to the story of Dara-Lynn Weiss and her 7 year old daughter, a frightening story that’s sort of the Tiger Mother of the thin-obsessed.

For those who haven’t read the piece, or some of the outraged responses it has provoked, Weiss’s piece in the April edition of Vogue magazine (not available online) tells how the writer, who admits to having her own lifelong “issues with food,” having tried many diets, used fear, shame, and ridicule to coax her seven year old daughter into losing weight, after a pediatrician appointment revealed that she was in the 99th percentile for weight.

Jezebel calls it the “worst Vogue article ever.” Here’s a taste of some of what Weiss did to her daughter:

I once reproachfully deprived Bea of her dinner after learning that her observation of French Heritage Day at school involved nearly 800 calories of Brie, filet mignon, baguette, and chocolate. I stopped letting her enjoy Pizza Fridays when she admitted to adding a corn salad as a side dish one week. I dressed down a Starbucks barista when he professed ignorance of the nutrition content of the kids’ hot chocolate whose calories are listed as “120-210” on the menu board: Well, which is it? When he couldn’t provide an answer, I dramatically grabbed the drink out of my daughter’s hands, poured it into the garbage, and stormed out.

Weiss says she has spent the past three decades “[hating] how my body looked and [devoting] an inordinate amount of time trying to change it,” so it’s really no surprise that she would pass this fear and loathing on to her daughter.

And of course, now Weiss is writing a book, cringe-worthily titled The Heavy, which will published by Random House.

I’ve got to say that I have few words for how sad and reprehensible I find this story.

Maybe it’s because I’ve read too many stories of life-long eating disorders and self-loathing that begin just like this.

Maybe it’s because the wisest eating advice I’ve encountered focuses on eradicating shame and guilt and instilling joy and confidence in yourself and your children.

Maybe it’s because this is such a distortion of what the feeding relationship between parent and child (yes, and between God and people!) is supposed to be.

I’ll let you know when and if I find more words. Meanwhile, what are YOUR thoughts?

The Hunger Games Film Left Me Hungry

I started reading The Hunger Games on Thursday night, finished it on Saturday afternoon, and then saw the movie on Sunday night: such fun!

Can’t remember the last time I read a book with such eagerness. I loved its blend of high-tech futuristic sci-fi with semi-old fashioned wilderness survival, its exploration of violence and resistance and redemption, creativity, culture, exploitation, and consumption.

And? It was just a very entertaining, engaging read.

The movie was not disappointing, either.

(Although I confess that, reading the book, I somehow assumed that everyone in Panem would be multiracial; these racist responses to the film are completely baffling.)

BUT–I do confess that I was a little surprised that food–which was almost a character in the book–was barely little more than a cameo in the film. Hunger (ahem!) is such an important part of what motivates and drives life in most of the districts, while the Capitol is marked by excess.

Yeah, I know that food/eating is kind of a preoccupation of mine, but to my mind, a strength of The Hunger Games is that Collins shows clearly that the highest cannot stand without the lowest: that technology, power, entertainment need raw materials and crops from the earth; that hungry people have energy for little else except finding food; that hunger and thirst lead all but inexorably to violence and murder but, occasionally, miraculously, to communion and love.

Source (and recipe!) here.

And so while I didn’t expect the film to be another great food movie, I’d kind of hoped that food would get more than a cameo.

I can only think it didn’t because it was made by well-fed people from the Capitol… ;)