Posts Tagged ‘internet’

The Daily Mail loves the Sisterhood

October 2, 2011

A few weeks ago the Daily Mail website ran an article titled “Self-critical, can’t take compliments, always focus on your own failings? Why ARE we women so hard on ourselves?”  It also ran the following:

As Katie Holmes shocks navel-gazers… the ins and outs of a beautiful belly button.
This piece starts by suggesting that anyone on Earth gives a single solitary shit about Katie Holmes having an ‘outie’.  It then goes on to describe a procedure you can have to ‘fix’ your protruding belly button called an umbilicoplasty, and presents the findings of a survey on belly button preferences in which “nobody expressed a preference for an outie”.  But hey: love the skin you’re in!  You’re perfect just the way you are!  Except that tiny little thing on your stomach which, you know, kept you alive until you got out of the womb.  That thing is an eyesore and you need to sort it out.

Don’t make a boob on the beach! Bikinis for the fuller figure
This article suggests that “before you even think about hitting the High Street” you get a tan.  Fat and orange, apparently, is fine.  Fat and pale is not allowed.  The bikinis themselves are pretty nice but the model demonstrating bikinis for fatties is no bigger than a size 10.  You will quickly notice, when you read the Daily Mail website regularly, that there are two very distinct types of plus size: the models they use when they’re trying to sell something to ‘plus size’ women are size 10 but with boobs over a D cup, and the women they use in articles about how bad it is to be plus size, who barely have necks.  The Daily Mail thinks Kerry Katona is a fatass after a week on the takeaways, but it thinks Christina Hendricks is the epitomy of female beauty.  I know; I don’t get it either.  (In all fairness, it has to be said, Christina Hendricks looks like the Greek goddess of tits and I love her.)

Fashion mismatch: unwashed hair, gum, tattoos – is this Wimbledon or Glastonbury?
Ladies: nobody gives a shit if you are an incredibly fit, ambitious woman excelling in the male-dominated arena of competitive sport.  GET A BLOW DRY.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed but all that running around whacking a racket at things is rather undignified.  You’ll never attract a husband like that, darling.

Nancy with no obvious means of support: Dell’Olio arrives at summer ball seemingly without a bra
Your underwear is not your decision to make.  You owe it to the public to have those babies hoisted as far up on your ribcage as they can go – even though it would have looked fucking ridiculous in that dress.  Nobody cares that you’re like 50 years old: the Daily Mail are VERY upset that you denied them the opportunity to crow over your wrinkled, leathery cleavage.  Very upset indeed.  How do you even sleep at night?

Little bit Close to the mark, Glenn? Damages actress wears thigh-skimming dress
Glenn Close wore a dress on the red carpet.  ‘Thigh-skimming’ is an accurate term only if you understand that it was skimming the knee-end of her thigh.  But of course, the second your hair goes grey you have to put your legs away.  Nobody wants to see that shit any more, grandma.

‘I can’t get a man!’: Charlize Theron bewails being single.
Because being a beautiful, talented, successful millionaire is pointless unless some dude is putting his wang in you on a regular basis.  I can’t believe you thought your glittering career and offensively massive bank account was enough without a man to validate it!  Go and cry over your Oscar, Charlize.  You are worthless.

Women feel invisible to men once they hit 46 and confidence plummets
This one sort of speaks for itself.  YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED, LADIES.  ENJOY PEOPLE GIVING A SHIT ABOUT YOU WHILE IT LASTS.  Your children hate you and you will die alone.

What I am getting at here is that I really can’t believe the balls it must take to be this openly duplicitous.  On the one hand it’s “Why can’t we all just get along and realise that everyone is fabulous no matter how fat or old they are!  Yay sisterhood!” and on the other it’s “Oh my god will you look at that disgusting slag. She’s put on a good five pounds since she won that Oscar and started dating that gorgeous millionaire.  Bitch.”  The Daily Mail particularly has it in for Jennifer Aniston who, it seems, is still crying into her pillow over Brad Pitt, burns effigies of Angelina Jolie, and is generally a joyless figure of public humiliation and widespread pity.  Or could it be that women are jealous of her beautiful hair, amazing figure, vast wealth, astounding property portfolio, and frequent flings with attractive men who she doesn’t have to depend on for anything?  Hmm.

While obviously it’s too much to expect the media to be without bias, the Daily Mail has something of an obsession with certain celebrities – mainly Lindsay Lohan, who has done nothing of note apart from act like a spoiled little bitch and get increasingly skanky-looking for like the last five years, and the Kardashians, a family of women with gigantic backsides who seem to be famous mainly for shopping a lot and being engaged to American athletes.  It’s not the bias I mind though; it’s the double standard.

Mischa Barton puts on a couple of pounds (or just wears a particularly unflattering pair of slacks; whatever) and she is ‘out of control’.  The blonde one from Steps packs on yet another three stone and is ‘curvy’.  Lady Gaga has a ‘worryingly thin frame’ but Lara Stone is ‘full-figured’.  It’s fair to say that it’s all getting a little bit fucking ridiculous.  How do we decide which famous women are allowed to put on weight and which aren’t?  It seems to be completely arbitrary.

What bothers me is that this sort of thinking – “It’s ok for YOU to be a size 16 but holy fuck doesn’t Kerry Katona look fat in that size 10 bikini” – is everywhere.  And no matter what anyone says, it is damaging.

The Daily Mail itself has the gall to run a story along the lines of ‘how dare the Topshop website use pictures of a skinny model thereby causing an epidemic of anorexia on the same day as it runs a story about how chunky Kim Kardashian’s taller sister has been looking recently, and this really doesn’t help anyone.  It can’t decide whether it’s more concerned about anorexia or the ‘obesity epidemic’ but at the same time, anyone who dares to be average-sized and in the public eye is slated for some aspect of their appearance.

If I ever get famous I’m going to get some tshirts printed up that say “Hey, Daily Mail!  Look how fat my ass is today!” and make sure I get papped entering and leaving a gym, visiting a lipo clinic, and spending 10 hours in a Krispy Kreme all on the same day.  Because I wouldn’t want those poor journalists to have to do any actual WORK, or anything.



February 1, 2010

… well, if nothing else, that title should garner me a couple of thousand hits.

What I’m here to bitch about today is the relationship between dieting and the internet.  Everywhere I go online at the moment, all I see is this advert about “lose a billion pounds of your belly fat in three hours by following this one weird old tip” or whatever.  I’ve got a few problems with this, and of course, I am now going to explain them to you in long and probably fairly boring detail.

First, and this is very important: it’s not WEIGHT you need to lose – it’s FAT.  Fat is the flabby disgusting stuff that is clogging your arteries and increasing your chances of heart disease and cancer and all that other stuff.  Fat is a substance which you can rid your body of.  Weight is not.  Weight is a measurement of how much everything in your body weighs – the good as well as the bad.  This is absolutely critical. 

Second: YOU CAN’T TARGET YOUR FAT LOSS.  Sorry, but it’s true.  You can’t deliberately lose fat from your belly or your thighs or your upper arms or whatever.  If you have more fat stored there then yes, it might be the place where you first notice the fat disappearing, but there’s no magic food that will remove your stomach flab, or special pill that will vanquish your bingo wings. 

Third: crash diets do not work.  Most of the weight you lose on week-long fad diets is water weight.  You stop dieting; it goes straight back on.  Short term, drastic diets are not only quite dangerous for your health but they simply do not work in the long term.  If two of your three meals a day, for two weeks, consists only of a bowl of cereal (which itself consists pretty much completely of refined white sugar – and you might want to look that shit up for yourself) then yes, after those two weeks, you’ll have shed a few pounds.  But once you go back to whatever you were normally eating for those two meals a day, the fat will pile right back on, and it will have brought a few little fat friends. 

To digress for a moment, I want to explain how this works.  When I asked my mum – who is far, far more educated about this stuff than I could ever hope to be – for advice on improving my diet, she said this:   “Get your first diet right, because it will be the most successful diet you ever go on.”  That’s because in very basic terms, the first time you drastically change what you’re eating, your body notices and it panics.  Your metabolism slows down, which is very bad for any diet, and as soon as you come off the diet your body starts stockpiling fat in case you decide to starve it of its normal intake again. That’s why the more diets you go on, the more weight you put back on when you eventually come off the diet.

And just to quickly explain the metabolism, because even I had never had this properly explained to me until I started taking an active interest in my own health: you need to eat regularly and exercise regularly to keep your metabolism up.  If you find that you don’t really get hungry between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner, or you can skip breakfast and not feel hungry until lunch, don’t be mistaken and think that’s a good thing; it means you’re not processing your energy intake fast enough.  You should eat at least a small (and obviously healthy) snack roughly every 3 hours, and exercise for around 45 minutes a day, to bring your metabolism up to the right level.  I know this from experience; when I first started cutting the crap out of my diet and going to the gym three times a week, it took literally two weeks for me to start feeling genuinely ill if I didn’t eat every three hours.  That’s because the regular eating and exercise had boosted my metabolism to a healthy level.  Not feeling hungry might seem like a blessing when you’re on a diet, but it’s actually not a great sign.

My main point is that there is no quick fix, and this is what the internet is guilty of; offering everyone that magic pill or secret solution that will melt their fat away with no effort on their part.  If you just type the words “how to” into Google, the second result is “how to lose weight fast”.  If you type in the full phrase “how to lose weight”, the phrases offered to finish the sentence are “fast”, “in a week”, “on your face”, “fast and easy”, “on your stomach” and “in a day”.  This is because PEOPLE ARE LAZY.  Everyone knows, deep down, the only way to lose weight is really much simpler than a special type of berry or a pill that makes you poop pure gooey orange fat: eat right, and exercise regularly… but they just don’t want to do it.

There is a lot of misinformation and a lot of just plain lying about weight loss out there on the big bad internet, and a lot of it is designed exclusively to get you to part with your money.  It’s a sad fact that if you pay for a lot of the weight loss ‘programs’ or ebooks or pills available out there, the only thing getting any slimmer will be your wallet.  The saddest thing is that all the real, true, honest information is out there too, but people just won’t look for it because they know they won’t like the answers they find.  And that’s a shame because there are people out there who are totally miserable with their bodies who think that the next fad diet, the next pill, the next superfood will be their magic cure and it just won’t, and in reality all they need to do is pay attention when they’re doing the weekly shop, and think whether they’re really hungry, and change a few habits and just join a fucking gym… and they’ll ignore that advice even though in the long run, even though it might take months or a couple of years to get the effect that they want, there is some bullshit out there being advertised to take a fraction of that time. 

So do me a favour: if you found this site because you were genuinely looking for weight loss advice, I want you to answer this question to yourself, and I want you to answer it honestly.  How long have you spent scouring the world for a quick, easy way to lose weight where you can eat all the shit you like and sit on your arse constantly?  A few months?  A year?  Two years?  Do you realise that if, when you first started looking for the miracle diet, you had just started eating healthily and exercising regularly instead, you could already be your target weight by now – and you wouldn’t have had to suffer through weeks of cabbage soup or choking down Kelloggs Special Shit twice a day or shitting yourself in public!

If you came here looking for a quick fix to buy, I’m not offering that.  What I am offering you is the hard, simple, but ultimately unavoidable truth:  eat better.  Exercise more.  Be healthy, live longer, and enjoy your life.  Love yourself!  It’s that simple.  Give your body what it needs; don’t starve it of the substandard stuff you’re already giving it. 

I mean, taking a pill that makes you poop out some of the fat you’re eating – often involuntarily and in public?  You really need to think about how desperate you are, and how much simpler it would be if you could just muster some goddamn fucking willpower.

Blog blog blog blog blog

January 18, 2010

I recently found out that Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the internet, is a professor at the University of Southampton. (For those who may have missed the significance of this – I live in Southampton, and I love the internet. Ok, it wasn’t hugely significant.)

The above fact doesn’t have much bearing on anything except that now when I am drunk or bored in Southampton my urge to look him up and try to convince him that I actually believe he wrote the entire contents of the internet is going to be overwhelming. However, it did provide a nice segue into some boring shit I wanted to write about the internet and its many uses, advantages and disadvantages.

(Just to warn you: if you’re here hoping for a list of my Top Ten Porn Sites, you’re shit out of luck. Sorry, but this is going to be a lot more boring than that. Maybe another time, though…)

First of all, appropriately enough, I want to talk about blogging. For those who don’t know what blogging is: look around. This is a blog. The word “blog” is a contraction of “web log” and it is basically a public online diary. Blogs can be personal or corporate, shit or not shit; generally speaking the majority are personal, and generally speaking the majority are shit.  But there are some gems to be found, if blog-reading is your thing – my favourite right now is

Blogs are probably the best way to illustrate the idea that the internet is what you make it.  The internet can be a way to entertain and educate a huge and devoted fan base, or it can be a way to chatter into a disinterested void about what you had for dinner and how miserable you are about not having a girlfriend/boyfriend/decent job/anything better to do than sit on your arse and write a blog.  I’ve had a blog on and off since I was around 14, and it’s safe to say that they started off flailing around in the deep end of the Lake of Self-Absorbed Teenage Shit.  Hopefully I’ve gotten a little better at the whole thing since then, but that’s ultimately not for me to judge, I suppose.

Blogs interest me because they are at the same time very private and very public.  On the one hand you’re willingly showing your life to the world on a billboard, but on the other hand you’re writing (usually) about your own personal views, opinions and experiences.  It’s strange to have such a level of conversational intimacy with a whole internet full of anonymous strangers – or as many of them as are inclined to read your blog, anyway – and I find that while I feel confident writing a blog with a target audience of pretty much the entire English-speaking world, I am usually remarkably shy and guarded about revealing my blog to people I actually know.  I suspect this feeling is actually quite common; after all, the criticism of people we don’t know and will probably never meet is easily shaken off, but if someone whose opinion you actually value thinks that the views you’re expressing are wrong, or that your writing is bad, or that blogs are lame, that will of course affect your attitude towards the whole thing at least a little.  A lot of bloggers say that they ‘write for themselves’ but I have trouble believing this.  I write as if I was writing for myself, but of course I’m hoping that readers will flock to it in their thousands and I will become internet-famous and eventually someone will actually PAY me to write this crap.  If I was writing for myself, I’d write in a journal with a padlock and keep it under my bed.  I wouldn’t deliberately sign up to post it online for all the world to see.  I think a lot of blogs would benefit greatly from admitting to themselves that they want to be read and approved of by other people, no matter how much the idea scares them.

So in conclusion to that, I am in favour of blogging.  I am not, however, a fan of ‘microblogging’ and by ‘microblogging’ I of course mean the blue menace: Twitter.  In fact, the only thing David Cameron has ever said that I agree with was in regards to Twitter, and I believe the phrase he used was “too many Twits might make a Twat”.  Having said this, when Twitter was new, I did sign up… but it took me all of two days to come to my current conclusion about it.  I posted three ‘tweets’ and I’m pretty sure all three of them were about how pointless Twitter is.

Now if you are an avid Twitterer, I mean no offence – it’s just not for me, at least, not in the form most people use it in.  There is one Twitter page I will occasionally visit, belonging to a poet I discovered online and consisting exclusively of the most beautiful poetic one-liners.  What I can’t stand is the constant stream-of-consciousness stuff, and the way most Twitter pages are full of one-sided conversations that you wouldn’t care about even if you could read the other side.  It might kill some time and yes, you’re keeping in touch with your friends, but it just seems so trivial… there is so much stuff to pay attention to and appreciate in life that I’m just not sure I have the extra resources to waste on concerning myself with what my friends had for breakfast or what they’re in town shopping for or what they’re drinking or what film they just watched.  A friend once asked me why I don’t use Twitter and I replied that I just don’t care that much about everyone else’s mundane day-to-day activities, and I’m fairly sure he was at least mildly offended by this.  But why should he be?  If I had cared about that sort of thing, surely before Twitter came along I would have spent all day frantically phoning or texting my friends with “So what are you doing right now?  I just HAVE to know!”  My own life is interesting enough, and not knowing what my friends are doing when I’m not with them gives us something to discuss the next time I actually see them.  Why would I want to outsource my friendship skills to a website? 

(My opinions on Twitter are probably going to offend a few people, so I’ll say it again; if you use it and enjoy it and find that it enriches your life – good for you!  It’s just not my style.)

What I really wanted to get to was a bit of a debate about how much the internet has improved our lives, and how much it has overcomplicated them.  All the information we could ever want is now at our very fingertips 24/7, and of course that is wonderful and fantastic and enables us to keep ourselves up to date and educated in a way which was just not possible on such a scale before.  We can keep in touch with friends on the other side of the world, for free, at just the click of a button.  We can share our news instantaneously with all the people we love, we can keep our records of our lives in a central location and come back to them whenever we need to.  We can buy and sell, we can organise and arrange, we can store and search, we can find new interests and cultivate old ones.

But the internet has also opened our lives up to things we might not want to keep so close.  If you’re not careful you risk having your computer damaged and your data compromised by viruses, of coure, but you’re also at risk of fraud, theft, and personal attacks.  The internet has made a lot of improvements to the way we arrange and conduct our social lives but it has also introduced new situations in which we don’t really know how to act.

I read an article recently which pointed out, quite rightly, that the internet has the potential to cause a lot of trouble in relationships.  Before the internet, relationships had very clear boundaries (or at least they should have done).  You’re with one person, you don’t involve yourself with another.  But on the internet, a lot of people simply don’t know where the line should be drawn.  Is meeting and chatting to new ‘friends’ of the opposite sex online breaking some sort of boundary?  Is watching internet pornography ‘cheating’?  I don’t think so.  So is watching someone perform on a webcam for you cheating?  You’re still watching the same images… but they’re solicited by and aimed at you.   As far as I’m concerned, at least, this is definitely cheating, as is any form of interactive cybersex.  Porn is just images; you’re not interacting with another person.  The internet has also increased the opportunity for ’emotional infidelity’ – you can be in constant contact with someone other than your partner, especially considering how most mobile phones now have internet and email capability, and this is being mentioned as a factor in more and more divorces.  People think it is ok because they haven’t met or even touched this other person, but does that make it ok?  You’re cultivating an intimacy with someone other than the person you have chosen – and I don’t think distance and method of communication make that any less of a betrayal.  The real clue is, if it’s something you wouldn’t share with your partner, then you know (deep down, perhaps, but you know) that you are in some way cheating on them.

I think this is what really troubles me about the internet: it blurs the line between human interactions and simple transactions.  Just because you CAN buy anything on the internet, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

My final point is about cyber bullying, something I’ve read a lot of bullshit BBC News articles about recently.  Now, I’ve got a whole lot to say about bullying, but I won’t get into it right here.  The main issue with cyber bullying is that now, kids seem to have no escape.  You go to school, you get yelled at and called names on the bus, someone smooshes pizza into your hair in Home Ec, you have to become a Student Librarian just so you have somewhere to hide out during break times, stuff gets thrown at you while you walk home from the bus stop on a route you have carefully worked out to avoid the other kids’ houses (not making any of this up, by the way – this was my life for a good four or five years).  But back when I was being bullied, social networking in its current form just did not exist.  Incidentally that sentence makes me feel really, REALLY old, but this was only around ten years ago.  Actually, that sentence was just as bad.  Anyway, what I’m getting at is, when I got home from school, it was over and I could try to relax around people who did not hate me.  At the weekends, I could choose to socialise with the three or so kids who didn’t spend their entire lives thinking up new ways to make me miserable.  My bullying experience was neatly confined to between the hours of 8.30am and 4pm, Monday to Friday, and if I was lucky I got an hour’s rest from it at lunchtime too.  Kids who are being bullied now that we are well and truly living in the cyber age simply do not have this luxury.  Not only are they bullied by comments and messages on sites like Facebook, Bebo and Myspace (does anyone still use Myspace?!), but the bullies can now create groups celebrating the lameness of their victims!  Nothing does more wonders for a kid’s self esteem than watching all their classmates join the “Janey is a loser” group.  Bullying is now essentially more organised and less localised.  It’s not one kid you have to avoid in the hallways, it’s a constant torrent of abuse aimed directly at you, and it hits you right where you think you’re safest – in your own home.  Kids have killed themselves because they’ve received Facebook death threats – and yes I know there’s always someone of authority to turn to, and yes I know Facebook have a whole range of very effective security options now, but some of these kids are just too young and inexperienced to know how to use them.  A lot of people put the responsibility for this on the parents, which I understand, but it is just not as simple as deleting your kid’s Facebook account.  Isn’t that giving the bullies what they want?  Doesn’t that just isolate the child more?  Once again, we no longer know where to draw the line at letting the internet bring the outside world into our private lives.

I’m not one of these people who thinks internet service providers should be held accountable, because their function is desribed perfectly by their name – service provider.  All they are there to do is help you get access to the internet, and it is entirely your own responsibility to ensure that you and those you are responsible for are using it appropriately. 

The internet is our latest Brave New World, and we haven’t quite settled on a system of government yet.  Hell, most of the internet couldn’t even be described as a civilised society.  But hopefully, one day, we’ll learn to take some responsibility for our virtual actions, and maybe sooner or later we’ll get there.

Or on the other hand, maybe not, in which case: is my favourite porn site, knock yourselves out.