Coverage of Slim Hopes first took place through the Institute of Empowerment (now Sage Girl empowering girls to live vibrant and authentic lives). Their film program and discussion series is designed to raise critical media awareness in teenagers.
There’s a French saying that goes: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Because if Slim Hopes narrated by Jean Kilbourne is certainly dated, it’s hard to argue that the main subject of the film—the national U.S. obsession with dieting (especially among women)—has not changed much at all.
In 2011, Money magazine reported that two-thirds of the American population were overweight or obese. In 2008, Business-Week found that each year Americans spent “40 billion dollars on weight-loss programs and products.” From Jenny Craig to Dr. Atkins products, that’s a lot of cold hard caloric abstinence and/or food substitution.
I have to admit that I actually enjoyed my low-tech (completely free) first-time diet around the age of 13 many many years ago. My weapon of choice was calorie counting and I guess you could call it a scaled back form of starvation. I lost weight quickly and in the beginning I kind of liked the self-imposed hunger I held inside (and heard inside my grumbling stomach) until I let myself devour the most amazing Chef’s Salad, ever, around dinner time. The food tasted more flavorful when I ate less—and the good news was I ate more vegetables. I felt so awake and aware for the first few days but the honeymoon didn’t last.
Soon, I got spacey, confused and started to drag. I couldn’t sleep. My mom got worried (though she was a dieter herself) when the scale dropped to 100 pounds and I communicated no plans to alter my new lifestyle. In my mind, the more weight I lost, the more I had a chance of having some pretty skinny girls’ legs rather than my own ridiculously muscular thighs and calves (that of course stayed muscular no matter what) that never seemed to fit into the right jeans. But that night, my mom and I talked and with her urging, we made dinner together—and I ate it all.
My mom used my favorite foods to sway me from my diet and perhaps not much else would have worked. Because had you warned me that severe caloric restriction in girls my age could result in osteoperosis and hormonal problems later in life, it probably wouldn’t even have even registered as a mild concern. I mean, that was later, right? My problem was right now: How was I ever going to look like a skinny girl in gym class?
Which is really what the philosophy of dieting is all about—immediate gratification with a hefty dash of all too human but nevertheless a media-inspired neurosis.
I completely agree with the documentary Slim Hopes in questioning a societal obsession that has girls as young as eight stressing about their diet (this age has actually gone down to age 7.) And the salacious nature of an advertising industry that “sells” an unrealistic body type over and over again—as though it were the only answer to every problem—and the greatest depiction of health.
But though Slim Hopes depicts an amoral advertising industry with a huge misogynist streak—I was a little skeptical of its wholesale castigation of “them”.
Because who is the advertising “industry” and did “they” alone invent using women only as sexual objects? Did our expectations simply become more photo-edited and/or homogenous? Is there a larger problem in a centuries old belief system that instructs women that their greatest hope for material security and the most important creative use of their time is to ensnare a man through the sole use of their looks? (And what does it mean that girls as young as seven are convinced their worth stems mainly from what they wear and how they look.) Are girls taught that what they think and say will be valued at all?
On the other hand, for adults, men and women, is wanting to be attractive a locked-in part of our biology? And can we honestly say that this is one-hundred-percent bad? Should we be honest and realistic with our children so as to guide them through some tricky navigation?
As for diets, I swore them off long ago, but my favorite non-dieting advice now comes from author of In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan:
“Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.”
In 2006, Kimberly Nagy founded Wild River Review with Joy E. Stocke; and in 2009, they founded Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC. With more than twenty years in the field of publishing, Nagy specializes in market outreach and digital media strategies as well as crafting timeless articles and interviews. She edits many of the writers who appear in the pages of Wild River Review, as well as clients from around the world.
Kimberly Nagy is a poet, professional writer, and dedicated reader who has interviewed a number of leading thinkers, including Academy-Award winning filmmaker, Pamela Tanner Boll, MacArthur Genius Award-winning Edwidge Danticat, historian James McPherson, playwright Emily Mann, biologist and novelist, Sunetra Gupta and philosopher Alain de Botton.
Nagy is an author, editor and professional storyteller. She received her BA in history at Rider University where she was influenced by professors who stressed works of literature alongside dates and historical facts–as well as the importance of including the perspectives of women and minorities in the historical record. During a period in which she fell in love with writing and research, Nagy wrote an award-winning paper about the suppression of free speech during World War I, and which featured early 20th century feminist and civil rights leader, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.
Nagy continued her graduate studies at University of Connecticut, Storrs, where she studied with Dr. Karen Kupperman, an expert in early contact between Native Americans and the first European settlers. Nagy wrote her Masters thesis, focusing on the work of the first woman to be accepted into the Connecticut Historical Society as well as literary descriptions of Native Americans in Connecticut during the 19th century. Nagy has extensive background and interest in anthropological, oral history and cultural research.
After graduate school, Nagy applied her academic expertise to a career in publishing, in which she worked for two of the world’s foremost publishers—Princeton University Press and W.W. Norton—as well as at Thomson, Institutional Investor Magazine, Routledge UK, and Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.
Kimberly Nagy in this Edition
AIRMAIL – LETTERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
AIRMAIL – VOICE FROM SYRIA
ARTS – ART
ARTS – FILM REVIEWS
ARTS – MUSIC
ARTS – PHOTOGRAPHY
The Triple Goddess Trials: Fire in the Head: Brigit’s Mysterious Spark
The Triple Goddess Trials: Introduction
The Triple Goddess Trials – Meeting Virginia Woolf at the Strand
The Triple Goddess Trials: Me and Medusa
The Triple Goddess Trials: Aphrodite and the Lightbulb Factory
The Triple Goddess Trials: Goddess of Milk and Honey
The Triple Goddess Trials: Kali’s Ancient Love Song
ASHLEY – Renee Ashley: A Voice Answering a Voice
BELLI – Giocanda Belli – The Page is My Home
BOLL – Pamela Tanner Boll: Dangerous Women: An Interview with Academy Award Winner Pamela Tanner Boll
DANTICAT – Create Dangerously- A Conversation with Edwidge Danticat
CHARBONNEAU – A Cruise Along the Inside Track: With Le Mobile’s Sound Recording Legend Guy Charbonneau
de BOTTON – The Art of Connection: A Conversation with Alain de Botton
GUPTA – Suneptra Gupta – The Elements of Style: The Novelist and Biologist Discusses Metaphor and Science
HANDAL – Nathalie Handal – Love and Strange Horses
KHWAJA – Waqas Khwaja: What a Difference a Word Makes
MAURO: New World Monkeys: An Interview with Nancy Mauro
MORGANSing, Live, & Love Like You Mean It: An Interview with Bertha Morgan
MOSS – Practical Mystic–Robert Moss: On Book Families, Jung and How Dreams Can Save Your Soul
OGLINE – BEN FRANKLIN.COM: Author & Illustrator Tim Ogline explains why Ben Franklin would be a technology evangelist today
OLSEN – Greg Olsen – Reaching for the Stars: Scientist, Entrepreneur and Space Traveler
PALYA – Beata Palya – The Secret World of Songs
SCHIMMEL – Moonlight Science: A Conversation with Molecular Biologist and Entrepreneur, Paul Schimmel
SHORS – Journey into the Male & Female Brain: An Interview with Tracey Shors
von MOLTKE and SIMMS – Dorothy von Moltke and Cliff Simms: Why Independent Bookstores Matter, Part I
WARD – On the Rocks: Global Warming and the Rock and Fossil Record – An Interview with Peter Ward, Part One, and
On the Rocks: Global Warming and the Rock and Fossil Record – An Interview with Peter Ward, Part Two
WILKES – Labor of Love: An Interview With Architect Kevin Wilkes
LITERATURE – MEMOIR
LITERATURE – POETRY
LIVE FROM THE NYPL
Fountain of Curiosity: Paul Holdengraber on Attention, Tension and Stretching the Limits of Conversation at the New York Public Library
The New York Public Library at 100: From the Stacks to the Streets
Paul Holdengraber: The Afterlife of Conversation
That Email Changed My Life: Rolex Arts Initiative. Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet Tracy K. Smith Celebrates Rolex Arts Initiative
First Editions / Second Thoughts — Defending Writers: PEN and Christie’s Raise One Million Dollars to Support Freedom of Expression
ON AFRICA: May 4 to May 10 — Behind the Scenes with Director Jakab Orsos: Co-curated by Award-Winning Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Page is My Home: Giaconda Belli – Nicaraguan Poet, Writer and Public Intellectual
Georgian Writer David Dephy’s Second Skin
The Power of Conversation: David Grossman and Nadine Gordimer – The Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture
NEW FROM WILD RIVER BOOKS – Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines
Daring Collaborations: Rolex and LIVE from the NYPL at the New York Public Library
Wild River Books Announces the Stoutsburg Cemetery Project: The Untold Stories of an African American Burial Ground in New Jersey
Wild River Books: Surprise Encounters by Scott McVay
Wild River Review and Minerva’s Bed & Breakfast Presents – “BITTER” Writing in a Weekend: How to Write About the Things We Can’t Change
ALLEN – Quarks, Parks, and Science in Everyday Life: Filmmaker Chris Allen’s Documentary Where Art Meets Science in a Vacant Lot
HOLT – Rush Holt: An Interview with Rush Holt
MANN – Boundless Theater: An Interview with Emily Mann
Keeping Time: A Conversation with Historian James McPherson