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Weekly Wrap Up… Last week of July, 2011

August 2, 2011

Lead story – So Photoshopped that it is against the law!:

A story broke out of Great Britain yesterday that is disturbing on such a level that it deserves serious consideration from everyone!  I mean everyone, consumers who are getting lied to, parents with children who are suffering from culturally created self esteem issues, women who are being held to insane ideals of aging without aging and literally impossible standards of CGI generated beauty, men who are being given false images of what real beauty is… Literally, everyone!

To quote WWTDD (a not entirely safe for work website), Lancome has create a make up campaign for an anti aging serum whose images are so Photoshopped as to be illegal!!

This is startling on so many fronts…  First and foremost, the UK actually has a body that reviews advertising images…  This is amazing.  Of course, I have never heard of any images being rejected by whatever the body in the United States that would have the authority to reject them.  In fact, as the last sentence makes clear, I am not even aware of what body has that authority… the FTC?  They spend years trying to get companies that are out and out lying, sometimes so bold as to claim that they cure diseases with products that don’t exist, and in the end the FTC ends up with a lawsuit against them…

How is this possible you ask, how is the UK so proactive on digital retouching, when nothing has been done in North America to even look at this serious problem?  Well, it is because there is tremendous political pressure to ban airbrushing of photos:

Jo Swinson, chair of the policy working group and MP for East Dunbartonshire, is spearheading a campaign to encourage people to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority and the Committee of Advertising Practice about adverts which portray unrealistic and unhealthy body images, which is backed by a range of organisations, including the National Centre for Eating Disorders, Girlguiding UK and leading academics.

In fact, according to Ettie Spencer, a delegate of the Liberal Demacrat party from East Lothian:

“What is wrong with requiring advertisers to state that images have been manipulated in the  same way that cigarette packet must carry a health warning?”

“Surely regulation of this sort would contribute proactively to raising the debate in order to urgently begin a cultural change regarding body image and to at as a platform for debate and education without inconveniencing the advertising industry duly. We would merely be requiring transparency and for them to tell the truth.”

Truth doesn’t sound so bad to me.  In any case, the real startling things aren’t what I have already pointed out but the following:

L’Oréal UK admitted that Turlington’s image had been “digitally retouched to lighten the skin, clean up makeup, reduce dark shadows and shading around the eyes, smooth the lips and darken the eyebrows”. However, it claimed there were still signs of ageing, such as crow’s feet, and that the image “accurately illustrated” the achieveable results.

The company, which provided the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) with pictures of both women “on the red carpet” to show that they were naturally beautiful, admitted that digital post-production techniques had been used on Roberts but maintained that the changes were not “directly relevant” and that the ad was an “aspirational picture”.

It might take a reading or two to figure this out, but notice, L’Oréal never supplied the ASA with the original photos from the shoot, the untouched ones.  They instead sent them photos of the women from a Red Carpet event, and from those it was clear that the images had been so massively manipulated.  Why didn’t L’Oréal deliver the pre-altered photos to the Government Body?

According to Swinson:

It was “shocking” that the ASA was not allowed to see the pre-production pictures of Roberts due to contractual agreements with the actor. “It shows just how ridiculous things have become when there is such fear over an unairbrushed photo that even the advertising regulator isn’t permitted to see it,” she added.

Yep, it isn’t only in America that celebrities have protection above the law.  The government can’t even require the original photos to be seen because of a privacy agreement signed by the celebrities…  Seriously…  Think about this for a second.  The ads were for 2 products, both were for foundations that claimed to make you look younger.  They digitally altered the photos, including all of the changes listed earlier, but that the images still showed some signs of aging, so the changes weren’t ‘directly relevant’.

I think it is about time we developed a law over here so we can stop this absurdity before it goes any further, and whoever writes this law had better do a good enough job to prevent this ‘privacy agreement’ end around…

New Feature?

So, recently I have been going into thrift stores all over town.  If I ever have a meeting in a new area, I hit their thrift stores as well.  Recently I was talking to the coaches of my kids field hockey team and they were saying that you can get field hockey sticks at these stores for a couple of dollars each.  On our way to a tournament in Richmond my kids and I went in to a thrift store and found a stick for $1.99.  Even at used sports stores these sticks cost $40 to $50.  The hard part though is finding them.  Field hockey sticks look a little odd and they are quite often placed in the location they sell canes, or housewares or toys, so you have to do a lot of looking around.  Long story short, being in these thrift shops has given me a good idea of what people are throwing away (the thrift stores I have been going to are those Salvation Army ones, etc and they accept people’s junk and resell it).  Needless to say, cups are always popular, so are everyday appliances, kids toys and old exercise crap.  Yep, it seems that every thrift store has the piece of crap ab device that was recently selling for $400 on TV.  Now the thrift store is trying to unload it for $10, to no avail.

Think about this for a second though… how low will you have had to sink to unload your crappy exercise device at the Salvation Army.  Not that long ago you had to have this thing, it was the one barrier to your future fit self, your six-pack abs, the adoration of the opposite sex.  You scraped up the cash and ordered it, waiting for it to be delivered.  You can probably remember the excitement on the day it arrived and the 2 hours it took to put the piece of crap together, but you didn’t mind, because now the fitness began.  I am guessing it was used for a few days in the beginning, probably in some awkward series of motions that make even less sense when you are doing them then when you are watching them on TV.  Without the buzz words and claims it appears immediately that this piece of junk is as useless as it seemed, but you figure, hey, I have it and it may not be the best device, but if I still use it, I will get fit.  And then… it just sits there.  You fail to use it for a few days, but that is okay, you can start again on Monday, after the weekend.  Your friends come over and you endure hours of ridicule, but again, that is okay, you will show them.  After awhile you give up even the slightest belief that you will use it and now you start hanging your clothes on it, but it is always in the way.  You put it in the storage room and try to forget about how you got taken for so much money and that your friends still call you the ‘Ab Man’, but every time you go down to the storage room you are reminded.  The chair/circular device is there mocking you and you have to get rid of it.

So ends the saga of the fad home exercise device, and begins the new feature:  Fad Home Exercise Devices and Where they End Up!

Caught this Ab Rocket in a Thrift Store in Pitt Meadows…  Welcome to your last stop before the dump Ab Rocket…

Updating the Worst Magazine Cover

This is a feature I don’t update enough because I feel I can’t just put a new picture in the sidebar without an explanation.  I should probably start a poll, and maybe I will, but in the meantime, here are this weeks contestants:

It seems that no week would be complete without an entrant from Women’s Health or Men’s Health Magazine.  How in the world are they still churning out these nearly identical covers?  The men’s and the women’s versions are even nearly identical.  They could have the least creative cover team on earth, it has been reported about on the internet by numerous individuals, not the least of which includes myself, and yet, they just keep at it…  I don’t get it.  This week though, they get special mention for their ‘Eat Up Slim Down’ article and the fact that they are offering ‘Instant Willpower’.  I had no idea it was so easy…  Woman’s Day is making an inaugural showing in the nominations for their genius placement of vegetable looking cupcakes (yes those are cupcakes, see the arrow) with the massive caption, ’15 Minutes to a Trimmer Tummy’ right there on the same plate….  Is the irony lost on these people?  I will grant, those cupcakes are absolutely brilliant… but come on, don’t put your weightloss advice on the same plate as your candy coated cupcakes…

And to bring the Woman’s trifecta home, Woman’s World Magazine makes another appearance in this list, which is truly shocking after their apologies for the Kimkins diet fiasco.  This time they are suggesting that Ice Tea Melts Fat!!  Where the hell are the regulators!?!?  Ice Tea does not Melt Fat!!  That is a lie!  Again, they love the stats… 24% increase in metabolism… Seriously??!  Why did you pick 24%?  it is so precise, after all if it was an estimate you could have gone with about 25%, but no, it is so exact and works every time to exactly the tune of 24%.  You can lose 1o pounds a week!  Do you know how hard it is to lose 10 pounds in a week?  They don’t say fat, but it does melt fat…  The implication is that you are losing fat, because that is what you want to lose.  Fater all, losing 10 pounds of water is useless…. Have you ever thought of how hard you would have to work to lose 10 pounds of fat in a week?

There are 3500 calories in one pound of body fat.  1o pounds of fat would contain 35000 calories.  If we divide that by 7 we get 5000 calories a day.  The average person (male) eats about 2000 calories a day to maintain about 180 pounds of body weight (give or take).  To lose 10 pounds of fat, you would have to eat nothing for an entire week and run approximately 26 miles-a full marathon-per day!!!

For sheer ballsiness in claims, Woman’s World does it again.  I seriously don’t think that Women’s Health will be able to keep up with the crap that Woman’s World is spewing…

On a more positive note,

Way to go McDonalds.  They reduced the size of their kids meal.  You can read about it here.  It is amazingly good.  Not to be upstaged, Jack in the Box went a huge leap further and dropped their toy from their kids meal!!!  Seriously….  I am not kidding.  According to the LA Times:

Jack in the Box confirmed the story, saying that the company pulled the toys when they added the apple bits to their menu. The point, said spokesman Brian Luscomb, is to offer kids meals as a convenience to parents, but the chain does not market to children.

“Rather than promote a toy we’ve focused on the quality of products in our Kid’s Meals, like a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough, grilled or crispy chicken strips, or a hamburger,” Luscomb said. “We believe that providing these kinds of options is more appealing to a parent than packaging a toy with lower-quality fare.”

I hate to say this, but I think Jack in the Box gets it.  I will have to check out the calories of their meals, but this is a huge step in the right direction.  I love the grilled chicken strips as well.  On a side note, Jack in the Box has some of the most unhealthy food choices.  I once ordered a burger from them that came in some massive custom made box.  I felt like I had bought a large appliance carrying it out of the store it was so big.  The point is, I have no problem with huge, unhealthy, greasy offerings, as long as those aren’t the only offerings.  Fast Food restaurants have become such a part of our food landscape that our diets as a culture depend on them, and to hear that they understand this and they are going to help make the convenience they offer us healthy… well, to them I doff my cap!

Finally, Some Vegetables to Get Rush Limbaugh Upset:

Michelle Obama continues to address the very serious problem with Food Desserts and she has received some commitments from retailers to start selling vegetables and fruits into these low-income urban areas.  Bravo First Lady.  With respect to people who have a problem with this, I don’t give a rats ass what your politics are, but if you are going to let political ideology colour your beliefs on whether or not access to healthy foods is a good idea, then you really need help.  I am excited to see if some food cooking co-ops or Jamie Oliver like teaching kitchens pop up to take this one step further and get us back to cooking food at home or within our community.  I support the initiative and the intent by the First Lady, but a lot needs to be done if this is going to have the desired results.  Low income families truly lack the time required to achieve healthy cooking at home.  I can’t wait to see some of the ideas to address this seemingly insurmountable part of the problem.

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