Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Librarians vs. Dietitians: Does This Profession Make Me Look Fat?

Oh, Superboy, don't you know Lana doesn't care what YOU look like? It's only Lana that needs to stay away from the Midwest casseroles.You can have super seconds!

I'd like to say this was the only "fat shaming" comic from that era, but they did use it quite a bit. Then again, they were the prototype of the typical sitcom situation of chubby hubby - hot wife. In fact, they went one better: chubby-hubby - multiple hot wives!

Which is why the most recent episode of FX's Louie, "So Did the Fat Lady" showed some amazing moments of true statements on how fat women are treated even when on date with a non-buff guy. You just need to read that monologue and see the clip here.

I've seen some backlash, but most of the comments on the internet are (surprise!) mostly positive.

We never get over the body image issue. Which brings us back to another chapter of:

Let's Compare Stereotyped Professions!

This month's Today's Dietitian has an article on body image among Registered Dietitians, or, more importantly, how RDs are perceived when they are not "thin." Because when people hear that someone is involved in nutrition, the assumption is that you cannot trust them to be "good" if they're "fat".

I can see how this can be a problem for RDs.  Never mind that thin doesn't mean healthy. But it can become way too time consuming to worry about your public perception when you should be worried if you're doing a good job.

Librarians don't fret about their weight. They do, however, fret about EVERY OTHER ISSUE OF THEIR IMAGE. And what's sad is that it's been going on for decades.

I'm not sure if the constant fear of appearing "cool" is better or easier than the fear of being "fat." In fact, it's pretty easy to slide into "creepily odd" from "attempted cool.".

But even though my Librarian peeps fret more, I think it's probably more of a burden to the Dietitians. 

I can speak from the both sides of being "uncool" and being "fat." Cool is really subjective; you'll always find someone who probably fits or relates on some level and will embrace the uncoolness. And for all their vintage clothes and snarky attitudes, Librarians have found more often that library users actually want to more older, nerdy types because they are perceived as knowing more. And I say this as a heavily tattooed librarian that can easily quote kitschy 60's comics. Most patrons treat me a lot different now that I've aged into suits and button down shirts.

But being fat...even your fellow fatties have issues with that. Body image is harder to escape. Especially as you relate it to perceptions of health. Studies show that our perception of health and weight are pretty skewed and it starts at a fairly young age.

So, I'm not sure who "wins" this round. It's bad enough we both have to deal with a lot of other stereotypes. But self-image is a very rancid icing on this unhealthy cake.

And yet we continue to see this in all media, even comics. 

Maybe this tiny segment on Louie might make a difference. But we can just keep on keepin' on in our two much-maligned, but truly awesome professions.

“Dietitians and Their Weight Struggles.” Accessed May 15, 2014.

Fonseca, Helena, and Margarida Gaspar de Matos. “Perception of Overweight and Obesity among Portuguese Adolescents: An Overview of Associated Factors.” The European Journal of Public Health 15, no. 3 (June 1, 2005): 323–28. doi:10.1093/eurpub/cki071.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Knowing and "No"ing

This was making the rounds recently, from Jimmy Kimmel:

Not too surprising. I'm a little more surprised by the comments on some sites that linked to this, somehow blaming the restaurants for not really handling gluten free food properly for those who have celiac disease and THAT'S why these answers are ignorant.


This video shows that people are denying themselves gluten WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING WHY! Why are you blaming restaurants for something you don't even know why you're avoiding?

I'm sure this was staged in some way, but I certainly hear this enough from folks when they approach me to ask my opinion of trying a diet, as the Streamlined Ska Librarian lifestyle is so successful ... for Streamlined Ska Librarians.

Yes, as I've said many times, what worked for me was portion control and an increase in exercise. For me. And having tried "specialized" diets in the past, I know that any sort of real restriction, especially for those of us with binge issues, does not work in the long run. But many people, like those in the video, want to hear that eating "special" is THE answer.

But I also notice in these all new gluten-free/paleo/artisinal-crafted diets that they forget one main thing: our portions have gotten a LOT bigger in the past several decades.

I'm not even going to reference one scholarly article. There have been so many written lately. Soooo many.

And basically they all show that increased portions increase our energy intake AND that portions have gotten bigger in general.

So it's not that you're eating no gluten. You're still increasing the amount of other food you are eating. And a lot of these "faux foods" actually have more sugar, so...

Let's take a look back at some vintage cookery. We often get unneeded/unwanted donations in the Library or we are looking to de-accession older, damaged copies. So when old cookbooks come in, they often are sent to me to covet, pick through and invoke Head Librarian privilege.

"Mine! Stay away! Hissss!"

And while there are some truly questionable recipes in some of them, I do love perusing them. Look at this lovely setting from the Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook section on salads:

I'm not sure what kind of salad they're making, but it certainly got Grandpa and Grandma all excited! Get a room, you two!

Now some of these salads, many of which include canned fruit, gelatin and/or mayonnaise, would not normally make it to my table, nor might they induce  friskiness as I approach AARP levels. But I can't help but notice that most of these salads say they "serve 6" even though they include a much smaller amount of ingredients than similar salads found on culinary websites today. So you can dress up your salad with Princess Mayonnaise (1/2 cup mayo, 1 tbsp maraschino syrup, 4 chopped maraschino cherries and 1/4 cup cream, which equals about 2.5 TEASPOONS per person) and not deny yourself a serving of Baked Prune Whip for dessert (I'll only share that recipe if asked).

One of the other books I took home was the Larousse Gastronomique, which is more than just recipes. It's an encyclopedia of historic food in France. It's filled with descriptions of ancient herbs, spices and cooking methods, as well as citations of various foods in French literature. (The Balzac marzipan story is fascinating.)

It also references foods, like otter, which "have a horrible taste." I like that sense of completion.

By including all sorts of foods, even those not considered edible, the book shows that you can extend your food choices to everything. It's the exact opposite of what we see today. The readers of this cookbook avoided foods in  that were considered poisonous or bad tasting. Otherwise, it was fair game to experiment. 

Nowadays should we look at the dozens of pages of garnish recipes and avoid them because they might contain gluten? Also, very few of the recipes give the amount of people they were meant to serve as it's assumed you wouldn't eat an entire plate of Double D'Agneau on your own. 

So if you really want to have a Streamlined Ska Librarian body ... tough, it's mine. But don't deny yourself soemthing unless you KNOW why you're doing it.

OK, I'm going to go try some Otter a la Princess.


Crocker, Betty. Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book. New York; London, 1950.

Montagné, Prosper, Charlotte Turgeon, and Nina Froud. Larousse Gastronomique: The Encyclopedia of Food, Wine & Cookery. New York: Crown Publishers, 1961.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Certified with issues

So, this happened ...

It's always nice to have a sense of completion. 

I admit that I tend to be a combination of the "needs to know everything" and "ooh, bright shiny object" sort of researcher. (I think those are prevalent in most good librarians, streamlined ska-loving or no). I tend to delve into new subjects and often find myself running off to the next one soon after. Because I like to know WHY and HOW.

But even though I've been hunkering down into nutrition and weight loss research for a few years, I have not tired of it yet. I think that's because of a few reasons. One is that there's always new material and research being published, both scholarly and "media-oriented." The other is that I'm living it. 

This weight loss/maintenance/lifestyle/whathaveyou cannot leave my head. Especially now that maintenance needs a tweak or two. Part of that is being vigilant, resourceful, positive, etc.

The other, more difficult part, is just accepting yourself in the mirror. 

I will admit, I think I look hot. I think (and people agree) that I look much better now at age (as of this coming Sunday) 49, than I did at 39 or even 29. But that doesn't stop me from having moments of body image issues. That moment of "oh crap, what the hell do I look like here?" even though in the next moment, I can think "nice guns!" or "check out the dude!"  But now that there's been some tight pants issues, the "oh crap" stuff gets magnified. It's ridiculous, I KNOW it's ridiculous, but that's how mindsets about weight and body image work. 

There have been quite a few studies on body image, but very, very few of them include men. Although there was a recent one with college men showing that they react to "fat talk" the same way women can make you have body issues. Is it all the same for us? Probably not.

So, it's interesting to see this recent post and video about one man's struggle with body issues. It hit a few chords for me. And it does drive home that it's really only recently that men have begun to talk about this at any level near where women do. 

But the big thing he mentions is that you can lose weight, but unless you're in the right mindset, it's not going to remain off. It's merely a diet that has a start and end and invariably it's not the band-aid you think it is. But men tend not to talk about those issues that make us reach for the extra cupcake.

And I can see this in me. This recent weight loss (now over 2 years on) is beginning to crack and that is what I'm addressing now. It's interesting to run through the regimen in my head and see where it needs .. sharpening, as it were. To see what issues need to be addressed now.

I know I will not let myself get back to total Retro Ska Librarian weight and body issue laden self. But I can see I need a little more "jumper cable" work on myself and to check myself when I think I see what I do when I run past a large window or when I get dressed for work in the morning. 

Sadly, there's no certificate for that. 


Engeln, Renee, Michael R. Sladek, and Heather Waldron. “Body Talk among College Men: Content, Correlates, and Effects.” Body Image 10, no. 3 (June 2013): 300–308. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2013.02.001.

Pagoto, Sherry L., Kristin L. Schneider, Jessica L. Oleski, Juliana M. Luciani, Jamie S. Bodenlos, and Matt C. Whited. “Male Inclusion in Randomized Controlled Trials of Lifestyle Weight Loss Interventions.” Obesity 20, no. 6 (June 1, 2012): 1234–39. doi:10.1038/oby.2011.140.

“Yes, Men Struggle With Body Image Issues, Too: Here’s My Story.” Huffington Post, April 29, 2014.