Hey Kelly Clarkson: Your Real Self isn’t Good Enough For SELF Magazine

kelly-clarkson_untouched and photoshopped

SELF Magazine Warning Needed?

Subject on Cover is Bigger Than  She Actually Appears

Dr. Robyn Silverman

When I was sitting in my Sassy Sisterhood Girl Circle showing how magazine editors photo-shop the hell out of every photo that comes their way, something clicked.  Meaghan, age 13, looked right at me and said.  “So what you’re saying is…the girl on the cover doesn’t even look like the girl on the cover?”


Case and point: The Kelly Clarkson cover of SELF Magazine.

I can’t say whether magazine editors are incredibly stupid or off the charts brilliant.  Placing a very slimmed down photo-shopped version of Kelly Clarkson next to the words “Total Body Confidence” is definitely a great way to get our attention.

And  after the buzz of the Kelly Clarkson cover of Self has been scrutinized, dissected, and discussed on many forums in cyber-space, Self’s Editor-in-Chief, Lucy Danzinger, admitted with a shrug, that “Yes, of course we do post-production corrections on our images…SELF magazine inspires and informs our 6 million readers each month to reach their all around personal best.”  Translation: Of course we shave off pieces of someone’s body.  It’s what sells magazines and products advertised in our magazines! Airbrushing  makes people feel that their personal best is not good enough—that’s why they need us!”

Look. There’s no question that the Kelly Clarkson photos were retouched. Everyone admits to it. Other magazines do it– heck– nearly all media does it! I think what troubles me is the “ho-hum” attitude that taken place in media.  We saw it with Miley Cyrus recently and the controversy over whether she did or did not do a stripper pole dance at the Teen Choice Awards—again, it wasn’t about the pole but about how jaded we’ve become about seeing teens push the limits on stage so that they can sell more.  The SELF magazine cover of course wants to sell more magazines—we get that—but their message is so convoluted now.

Case in point: SELF as the title.  Figures that SOMEONE should look like “SELF,” right? Perhaps “SELF…not” or “SELF…photoshopped” would be more appropriate.  In the magazine itself, Kelly Clarkson talks about her weight.

“My happy weight changes… Sometimes I eat more; sometimes I play more. I’ll be different sizes all the time. When people talk about my weight, I’m like, ‘You seem to have a problem with it; I don’t. I’m fine!’ I’ve never felt uncomfortable on the red carpet or anything.” (Kelly Clarkson)

Thus the words in the magazine say one thing—but the images say another.  It’s very smart…and very hurtful to girls and women.  It says “This is Kelly  Clarkson…she is happy with her weight…but look how thin we can make her look!” Sad.

The editor in chief talks about how proud she is of Kelly Clarkson and her confidence–

“Kelly Clarkson exudes confidence, and is a great role model for women of all sizes and stages of their life. She works out and is strong and healthy, and our picture shows her confidence and beauty. She literally glows from within. That is the feeling we’d all want to have. We love this cover and we love Kelly Clarkson.”

Translation: She glows from within—we just needed to fix this yucky outside she has.  Ya know…fat doesn’t sell.

But the thing I hated the most was the nonchalant way they explained themselves. SELF editors actually felt that they were right to  give Kelly Clarkson a thinner body on their September issue—not because they want to sell magazines—not because they thought there was a bad angle– but because they don’t think that covers should reflect reality (i.e. people are actually normal and human), but “inspire women to want to be their best”.

Their best? By providing something that doesn’t actually exist?  By degrading the woman on the cover by putting a version of herself on there that isn’t actually her?

I think our friends over at Jezebel.com said it well:

Danziger was right: the point is that magazine covers “inspire women to want to be their best.” And the best way to keep women reading Self‘s workout recommendations and buying the useless beauty products advertised on its pages is to inspire them to keep chasing after a version of themselves that Doesn’t. Really. Exist.

Unfortunately—Kelly Clarkson doesn’t seem very bothered by the cover shot.

She says makes that clear so her blog:

“we decided the cover of the album and just in case you haven’t seen it i’ll post it! it’s very colorful and they have definitely photo-shopped the crap out of me but i don’t care haha! whoever she is, she looks great ha!”

Whoever she is?  Is this SELF or The National Inquirer? Next stop: Aliens. Especially if they’re thin.

And how might this affect our girls? Because we can’t forget– there are millions reading this magazine and looking at the pictures for “inspiration.” According to one grieving mother over on Self.com where she commented about this topic she wrote:

I was appalled at seeing Lucy on the Today show trying to rationalize the drastic photoshopping Kelly Clarkson. People cannot be photoshopped. My beloved daughter died in May of consequences of Bulimia. Her 8 year struggle with body image was not helped by the constant barrage of “the right look”. Of all publications, Self should be promoting health and acceptance of ones self, not some fake Hollywood ideal. The cover of Self is a sad spectacle of our society. You should be ashamed of YOUR self! Signed Grieving Mother

There ARE repercussions to our actions.  Girls and women actually look at this stuff and think “I should look like this.” But even Kelly Clarkson doesn’t look like this! Can you say “false advertising?”

Oh well. See? Nobody seems to care about this stuff anymore at all.  We’ve just gotten complacent. Of course, more and more teens are suffering from body image issues—but please, keep going folks.  Provide us with our best version of ourselves.  Even if they don’t exist.

So…perhaps magazines need to come with a warning label like on cigarettes—or like on the side mirror of a car.  “Object on cover is bigger than she actually appears.” What do you think?

Dr. Robyn Silverman signature


Too Fat? Discrimination Against Surgeon General Nominee Dr. Regina Benjamin

Too fat to be Surgeon General?

Too fat to be Surgeon General?

Too Fat to Be Surgeon General?

Discriminatory Claims Circulating Against Dr. Regina Benjamin’s “Fitness” to Be Surgeon General

Dr. Robyn Silverman

There have been some unfortunate derogatory groans about Dr. Regina Benjamin’s Fitness to be President Obama’s pick for Surgeon General.  Her weight is throwing opinions of her fitness for the job off kilter.

Case and point from one angry blogger:  “Rather than select a fat Black woman Obama should have chose a Black woman with a body mass index of 25 or less.”

Someone else asked: “How can Dr. Benjamin promote healthy eating if she herself is obese?”


“One of the greatest health threats in our population is obesity. Now we have an obese Surgeon General as a role model. How is she to impact the nation’s health if she can’t even take care of herself?”

Of course, her qualifications speak for themselves:

  • Bachelor’s degree in 1979 from Xavier University of Louisiana
  • Attended Morehouse School of Medicine from 1980 to 1982
  • Received a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1984.
  • Completed her residency in family practice at the Medical Center of Central Georgia in 1987
  • Founded the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic in 1990 in Alabama
  • Serving as Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic its CEO since.

Today, the National Organization for Women (NOW) is speaking out saying that Dr. Benjamin “personifies the message of NOW’s Love Your Body Day (LYBD) campaign, which promotes equality for all people regardless of physical appearance.”

My friend and body image book contributor, Chenese Lewis is also an actress, plus-sized model, and chair of the LYBD committee for Hollywood NOW. She had something to say on the topic:

“Discrimination based on appearance is wrong in any form, period,” Lewis said. “It’s unfortunate that this is even an issue when Dr. Benjamin is more than qualified and capable of handling the position of Surgeon General. This is yet another example of how society puts more value on outer appearance over ability, integrity, and character.”

Zoe Ann Nicholson, President of Pacific Shore NOW, was also outraged about the discriminatory slaps Dr. Benjamin was receiving due to her weight:

“When I see Dr. Benjamin, I see a woman I can trust,” Nicholson said. “If I have chest pains, it might not be a heart attack or something related to weight. She might understand that just because I am big, a doctor should not give me double doses. Both of these things have happened to me. Since most American women are size 14 or more, I am really encouraged to have a Surgeon General who can see us as people, not as number on a body fat scale chart.”

So…what do you think?  Should the Surgeon General pick be thinner? Does weight negate her stellar qualifications? Give us your opinion.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signature

One Girl’s Reaction to Teen Celeb OverExposure

Gossip Girl age 15What’s a parent to do with all these overexposed teen celebrity images?

Celebrities are wearing skimpier outfits everyday. Of course, there is less of them to cover these days too, having lost so much weight.  After all, that’s the “new normal” isn’t it? What are parents supposed to do with all these images? Hide away our girls forever? It’s no wonder some parents have contemplated it.

My opinion has always been that we need to open up communication with the teens themselves with regard to these images.  What do they think?  Sharing your values but also listening to their concerns and opinions are vital if we are to make any progress in this area.

Miley_VanityFairThat’s why it shouldn’t surprise you when I post teen responses to these questions. I always love it when teens write in with their perspective.  Perhaps they can teach us a thing or two?  Here is one teen perspective from a 15 year old girl– still stinging from the Miley Cyrus debacle (radio interview here) last year along with other overexposed celebs.

Ok Miley Cyrus and all those celebs maybe a little too young to understand this but being a celebrity is not all about money, fame, fashion and getting your hair done whenever you want. If  you want to be a  celebrity you should try to be perfect, i know it sounds crazy but that’s the cost of being a celeb. She KNOWS that young girls look up to her and i still consider those pics a little too provocative (even i’m 15 and make sure that i’m all covered up in public). Therefore posing for them is a BIG MISTAKE.  Someone said parents should control what their kids should see and hear but that would seem impossible with the media at every inch of this world. It really is time parents start paying more attention to whom they consider their role model. I mean my parents don’t even know who miley is and if they did they’ll ban me from the net.

I look up to girls that are ‘tough’ and not too girly and not afraid to be themselves like the old avril lavigne. Yes she has changed and i used to loathe her for being a party animal but her music esp. complicated, when you’re gone, slipped away and innocence had a big impact on my musical interests. She has real talent and her lyrics are just amazing with the exception of girlfriend of course!

It’s important for parents (of girls esp) to start acting when they’re young and innocent. First of all parents are a child’s primary influence and i personally think that controlling the type of toys would really help.  Though crazy it might seem girls shouldn’t be adorned with so many teddy bears, dolls, pink stuffed animals. This makes their personality ‘too girly’ and this is what makes them think it’s ok to look up to   britney, miley(hate her!), Lindsay lohan and you name it……..

As a  baby my parents never adorned me with more than about 20 toys. They bought me very few dolls (only about 4) and more towards animals. As a result today at 15, I hate pink, i don’t like the conventional boyfriend gossip, i don’t act like dadda’s lil princess. Instead i’ve taught myself to look more towards reality….like world issues (my dad encouraged me at a very young age to watch news) and no this doesn’t mean forcing cnn down kids’ throats, i mean let them step outside of confinement and look at what they’re surrounded with………..let them sympathize with the poor, needy . This will automatically have a big impact on their personality and in no time their taste of music will change from pussy cat dolls to u2.

I know this may sound nerdy but nerdy is better than…….you-know-what…….

So…is it? What’s your take? How should parents deal with these young celebrity images anyway?

Dr. Robyn Silverman signature

What is the “new normal” for body image and girls?

shenae grimes and jessica stroup

Reflecting on the New Normal: Today’s ultra thin standards for the ideal body

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Ahh, it’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? New actresses- new entertainers– more ultra thin body ideals saluted.

We all know standards of beauty change. Model and actress Marilyn Monroe, who reigned supreme in the fifties as the symbol of a beautiful woman, was undeniably curvaceous. We look at her now and think: well, she could pull off the extra weight because she had such a pretty face…or hair.  But who’d have guessed  that Marilyn Monroe, along with the fashion models of her time, weighed  eight percent less than the average woman.

Today, most fashion models weigh about 23 percent less than the average woman and represent only five percent of women who can actually attain such a figure. Supermodels are often so they thin they meet the Body Mass Index physical criteria for anorexia.  Tabloids and blogs feed the misconceptions. Gisele Bundchen was once named Vogue’s model of the year, in part, the magazine stated, because she is not rail-thin. Really? Gisele at the time was 5’11” and weighed only 115 pounds —25 percent below what is considered an ideal body weight.

Earlier this year the world seemed to stop when Jessica Simpson put on a few extra pounds. Magazines shamed the singer/actress for deviating from the thin ideal. Simpson, at 5’3,” weighed in at 130-135 pounds, which would actually put her right in the middle of a medically healthy weight range.  Most of the stars on hit shows viewed by teens look like they haven’t eaten a hamburger or even the side of pickles since the third grade. When the remake of Beverly Hills 90210 came out in the Fall of 2008, US Weekly reported that the only sizes available in the show’s wardrobe range from 00 to 2.   One of the actresses, Jessica Stroup, weighed a whopping 100-105 pounds at 5’8” tall.  A young woman who is 5’8” tall and 100 pounds has a BMI of 15.3, categorized as “severely underweight” and certainly raises red flags when it comes to possible eating disorders. Yet these are the women that star in one of the most-watched shows aimed at adolescent girls.]

We’ve seen impossibly thin television actresses and entertainers before [(think Calista Flockhart, Victoria Beckham, Mary Kate Olson or Lara Flynn Boyle), but the trend has gained ground. A  study done  by three scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Michigan found that the effects of media exposure were stronger in the 2000s than in the 1990s, suggesting that the thin-ideal has become both thinner, more prevalent, and more widely accepted as the standard. The study also found that there is a direct relationship between the media’s endorsement of a thin-ideal and increased levels of body dissatisfaction among adolescent girls.

Think these actresses have no pull?  Just look at what’s on the blogosphere.  Girls are so excited about them– and for many, the thinner the better.  They serve as thinspiration. For example:

“If you want to be thin, you have to have control. I  LOVE Jessica Stroup! She is my new thinspiration! Can’t wait to be that skinny… Started at 155 last week…down to 146 now….my ultimate is 95…. Haven’t hit a wall yet, hope i can just stay strong. Lets do this! xx”

There are a lot more just like these. Good grief. I think the new normal is making me sick.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signature

Kim Kardashian Body Image Message: Hypocritical or Genuine?


Kim Kardashian, curvaceous reality star, is featured in Life and Style Magazine this month.  She’s talking about her body (not surprising– everyone else does!) and what she really thinks of her curves.  It’s amazing how controversial these reality stars and celebs can be– even if they seem to be doing something good for women. On the one hand, she’s got some great quotes that relay a “say what you want” attitude and an “I love my body the way it is” message.  Yes, of course we like that! or example, she says;

“I love my body the way it is,” the 28-year-old tells Life & Style magazine. “I’m not perfect. I have cellulite, so what.”

And “If there’s a picture that’s not perfect, where I have cellulite, then people say I’m big. I’m built a certain way, and you just can’t change the way you’re built,” the reality star says of her body. “In Hollywood, people are used to stick-skinny women, and that’s never going to be me.” Again, good stuff.

What’s more, the magazine says that the pictures of Kim Kardashian in her swimsuit have not been retouched and are therefore au natural…for all to see. Again, good.  Reality for the reality star.

On the other hand– and here’s the possible hypocritical part– you tell me… Kim happens to be promoting her new fitness DVD series called…get this… ‘Fit in Your Jeans by Friday.’  If she’s so “OK” with her body and wants others to be as well, why not just get jeans that fit instead of the other way around? Anyone?

Dr. Robyn Silverman signature

Weigh In: Is this Woman too Thin to be Miss Universe?

Stephanie Naumoska anorexic for miss universeDr. Robyn Silverman

What are we saying to our young people, when one of the selected finalists for Miss Universe is so underweight, she looks like she needs a hamburger more than a crown? What are we teaching our girls about what is beautiful, celebrated, and rewarded? What does the media tell them, show them, and cram down their throats?

Who? Stephanie Naumoska, a 19-year-old Australian model, was selected from more than 7,000 hopefuls to make it into the finals of the Miss Universe pageant.

What now? The finalist is now being criticized and showered with concern from the public who is not quite won over by the body image she represents. Dietitians and doctors are concerned for her welfare and are frustrated that someone who looks like “skin and bones” is given such accolades as a slot in the Miss Universe contest.

Something really to be worried about? You tell me.  She’s 5’11” and 108 pounds.  Yes, you heard me right. That’s a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 15.1 which puts her firmly in the anorexic slot of the BMI chart.

Weigh in: Is this just one more body type we need represented or do we want this gaunt body type presented to our youth, as a symbol of world beauty, on the stage at all?  Has this whole weight thing gotten out of hand or are we just getting started? You tell me.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signature

Why is being called “plus-sized” so offensive???

Why is being called “plus-sized” so offensive?

So here’s my issue with the whole Meghan McCain “Body Bullying” issue. Yes, “conservative” radio host Laura Ingraham was in the wrong when she mocked Senator McCain’s daughter about her weight. Yes, very high school. As we all know, that’s most women’s hot button. But why is being called “plus-sized” so offensive?

Yes, Meghan McCain is only a size 8. But what if she wasn’t? What is she was *gasp* PLUS-SIZED! I mean, is that really an insult? Perhaps because so many studies equate being plus-sized with being *gasp* FAT and being FAT with being lazy, blameworthy, ugly, stupid, and slovenly?

I find the entire exchange strange. If being “plus-sized” is an insult, then over half of the women in America must be offended every time they shop for plus-sized clothes or look at plus-sized models like the beautiful Emme or Mia Tyler.

I think we all need to get a grip. While Laura Ingraham should have kept her yap closed with regard to this issue, I wish Meghan McCain said “So, what?” to the insult or “Is that all ya got?” Or better yet, “there are many beautiful girls and women in this country who are plus-sized and perhaps it’s time that they are recognized for the talented, unique, amazing women that they are. Instead of insulting them, which perpetuates a myth that plus-sized girls and women are ‘less than,’ perhaps it’s time to take a better look. Open your heart and your mind or shut your yap.”

The fact that we’re arguing that being “plus-sized” is an insult at all is actually a big part of the problem.

That’s what I’ve got to say about that.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signature