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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ads, diets, bikinis and Italian women

No recipes today, just a little bla bla bla, it is meant to be ironic, absolutely not offense to those who are sincerely in need of a diet...just an observation from someone who has returned for a few months and she is now looking around, a little surprised really.

And then I wanted a break from showing only beautiful landscapes and cities. There are many problems in this country, and how women see themselves (or are represented in the media) is a real tragedy.




How lovely summer is approaching, soon school will be ending and the Nation is dreaming of beaches and holidays.

I look at an ‘intelligent’ women magazine which should be a good mixture of interesting current affairs articles, some intellectual and artistic stimuli, no gossip… and just a little fashion. Ads of bikini are everywhere, beautiful bikinis of course, worn by even more beautiful (and sometime a bit too unrealistic) models. Most women on Italian beaches seem to wear bikinis, no matter what their age, a sight that shocked an Australian friend of mine who was convinced that Italian women were stylish until she saw them at the beach. I remain of the opinion that you can wear what you like at the beach, but at the same time I find it really really really negative that so many women are actually desperate and depressed because they do not look like the models of the bikini they bought.

The worst thing is that it is contagious! Usually I arrive in summer, wear what I have and be done with it. Now I have seen the slow work of advertising and brain washing (and I very rarely watch TV!) that sets in, starting slowly from January 1st for the more 'serious', and escalating in spring for the late starters with one every two ad pages dedicated to stomach, hips, legs, and secret fat tissues. The other half is bikinis.

And then I see that also half of the Italian bloggers seem to be on a diet.

Good on you to diet if you are fat, a must if you are obese, and ethically correct if you are eating like a pig while so many people in the world go hungry. But I could not believe that so many Italian bloggers can be on a diet all at the same time. This is not normal!!! Maybe it is because I don’t know what they look like (I only read their blogs or comments to other blogs) and maybe they are really fat, or could it be some sort of Italian tradition for May? Or some kind of blog solidarity (you diet - I should too, sort of thing)?

…or maybe they are just comparing themselves with those models whose bikini they would like to wear. Please someone tell me that I am wrong!

Because if these Italian bloggers are anything like the women I meet on the street and in the shops everyday (i.e. normal women) They cannot be possibly be all that fat!!!

And here comes my second discovery: in Italy the not-fat are told that they have many other PROBLEMS!

I have ‘learned’ here that often your tummy is not fat, just ‘bloated’! Of course that you can cure, the ads say, just by taking some fermented milky/yogurty mini drinks, or by buying some ‘stronger’ versions of miracle bacteria in the chemist shop or health food shop. I have been looking at my own reflection on the shop windows where these ‘cures’ are advertised, wandering if I am also ‘bloated’, since this aliment doesn’t exist in New Zealand (unless you drink a lot of beer). Maybe I got it here!?! Mmmmh, I feel a bit soft...possibly I could do some abdominals to shape up a bit, those seem to work well for everyone in every country, and they are free…

But it doesn’t stop here: I have ‘learned’ from an ad in one of the major newspapers that cellulite in Italy is actually an illness and can be cured with a medicine. Funny, In New Zealand it is not an illness. It is something that 80-90% of women get, to different degrees, because they are women. Oh dear, I thought that I was normal, and now I read that I am sick!!! And no abdominals will work for cellulite!

I could go on: in fact there are problems, illnesses, aliments, unevenness and scary fat tissue everywhere in this country. But never fear: there are remedies for everything, from creams to lotions to pills to cures to cosmetic surgery. Fancy that! Some even work at night while you sleep, some will give you instant results, and some will be long lasting. Obviously none of them is free...

I’ll go for the abdominals for a bit more tone; I won’t diet because I believe in eating well, eating little and eating ethically everyday (and this includes the occasional ‘treat’, which for me is delicatessen food, never junk food). I won’t take a medicine for cellulite because a good scrub and some massages (self made) when putting on moisturizers do miracles anyway, and I am sure that with what I eat and drink I cannot possibly be ‘bloated’: normal adult women do not have an 'ironing board' stomach (or worse, a concave stomach) when standing up!

Now, I just hope that this summer I won’t break into tears if the bikini will make me look like an healthy and normally shaped 40 years old mother of two rather than a photographically enhanced 17 years old lingerie model.

25 comments:

  1. Are Italian women really so obsessed? They look so much slimmer!

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  2. Non so perchè ma credo sia un caso.
    è vero che durante l'inverno si accumulano quei due tre chili d'ordinanza, vuoi la vita sedentaria, vuoi il fatto che comunque si mangia più calorico sperando che il freddo bruci...
    non trovo esagerato o ossessivo toglierseli di dosso se poi psicologicamente ti pesano.
    nel mio caso, lo sai, siamo ad un altro livello le gravidanze sono abbastanza deleterie e un programma di remise en form mi sembra obbligatorio.
    e poi c'è da dire una cosa: il nord e il sud d'italia si distinguono (e quando mai?).
    i comportamenti deviati del nord spingono verso l'essere fashion e stilish a tutti i costi e allora via con integratori, bibitoni, sedute interminabili di palestra, ma anche lampade che fanno delle quarantenni delle vecchie rugose e chi più ne ha più ne metta.
    al sud la situazione cambia completamente, ti impressioneresti a vedere quanti obesi ci sono.
    impressionante.
    l'anno scorso, lo sai, aspettavo irene ed ero al quinto mese di gravidanza su una quarta gravidanza insomma la pancia c'era ed ero davvero molto più magra di tante altre coetanee come me ch stavano lì con i biambini obesi sotto l'ombrellone, le avrei prese a schiaffi ad una ad una.
    ho delle figlie magre e non le ossessiono in un senso e nell'altro mangiano se hanno fame ma non le forzo comunque a mangiare se vado però in sicilia mi guardano con compassione perchè le mie figlie secondo il loro punto di vista non sono "salutive" chissà dove sta la verità...
    scusa se non l'ho scritto in inglese ma di prima mattina dopo giorni come questi non mi regge la pompa. :)
    concordo sul fatto che certe sessantenni sono ridicole...

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  3. Probabilmente hai ragione Enza perche' ho visto una grande differenza al sud. L'anno scorso mio marito, per la prima volta a Napoli e' rimasto scioccato, ed in particolare dal fatto che c'e' una grande distinzione socio-economica della popolazione e quelli che i ceti alti chiamano 'la gente del popolo' sembrano essere molto ma molto piu' grassi. Come negli USA.

    Anche in Sicilia ho visto obesita', lo ammetto, e vederla nei bambini mi ha fatto male.

    Ed e' vero, sono al nord. Ma quello che vedo qui e' l'estremo contrario. Donne magre, e tirate, ed ancora non contente! Anch'io sono andata in palestra dopo le gravidanze. con la prima ero salita di 23 chili, e con il secondo di 25 chili (io che ne pesavo 50, puoi immaginarti il cambiamento!) E c'e' voluto molto tempo, un po' per via dei cesari, un po' perche' il secondo non voleva stare nel nido della palestra (ed io non avevo nessuno a cui lasciarlo) fino ad un anno. Ma piano piano si perde, anzi, meglio piano, e poi fino che allattavo avevo bisogno di energia :-)

    La mia domanda e':
    il costume di una ventenne per me e' bello sul corpo di una ventenne.
    Sono stata ventenne e bella e l'ho messo anch'io quel bikini.
    In Italia lo trovi sul corpo di una dodicenne (mi sembra un po' troppo...)
    sul corpo di una trentenne (Ancora OK, se e' in forma, altrimenti mettiti un costume che ti faccia risaltare i pregi e nasconda i difetti)
    sul corpo di una quarantenne (Come per la trentenne, e poi magari pensa ad avere piu' 'classe'?)
    Sul corpo di una cinquantenne (Mmmh, forse dovresti essere piu' signora???)
    Sul corpo di una sessantenne (Coco Chanel si rivolta nella tomba, dai, impara a fare la signora!)
    Continuo....?

    Come ho detto, uno puo' vestirsi come si pare, ma vedere donne e ragazze di tutte le eta' che che seguono gli stili sbagliati per le ragioni sbagliate...non so.

    Ho acceso la tv per caso ieri, e ho rivisto la pubblicita' che dice che la cellulite e' una malattia.
    Tu che sei un dottore, ma ti pare lecito???
    te lo chiedo anche di la'.

    XX
    A.

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  4. APprezzo molto questo post Alessandra, credo sia un ottimo spunto di riflessione per tutti.Verissimo ceh in Italia ci siano differenze abissali ed ossessioni su un fronte o sull'altro.La virtù è sempre nel mezzo come al solito:una donna dev'essere donna ed essere gradevole ad ogni età, senza rincorrere ridicoli modelli.
    Grazie per questo confronto!

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  5. It was the same in France and I didn't even understand half of what was being said...Not to mention Japan! 50kgs is fat. Seriously.

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  6. Yes, Japan was pretty extreme too when I was living there, those were the years when you could not get your hands on a bottle of Dior Svelte (they were all sold out!).

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  7. Americans are nuts-o when it comes to dieting, Alessandra, certainly not only Italian women. And you are right, the advertising media will have you believing you need a pill for everything and you are not normal unless you look like a waif. Real food and everything in moderation is my credo.

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  8. I have never been affected by diet programs whatsoever and have been watching what I eat since I got breast tumor at my 20s. But, mostly, what we eat usually is what we get. I love vegies and fruits more than meat or sweets (although I love custard). Indonesian women usually are quite slim in average and petite, but many of us will grow quite 'big and plump' after given births. Perhaps the diets changed, or it is the hormonal situation that make us have to be on pills for family planning or some sort (which I do not follow), or perhaps it is just the lifestyle. More and more drive thru outlets and take away foods offered at every corner of the nation. More people eat junk food than fruits. I think, taking a balance diet is proportional to keep our body in shape and healthy. Tai Chi helps me maintaining my health and balance as well. So, healthy diet and good exercise perhaps will be the balance of what we need.

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  9. Interesting post Alessandra. I'm struggling with my weight at the moment. I've put on 15kg since being diagnosed with cancer, partly caused by the drugs, and partly not having the energy to excercise daily. I'd like to lose some of it but am finding it rather difficult. But I know the cellulite is there to stay ;)

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  10. Hai toccato un argomento nevralgico: il mondo è davvero impazzito e implode in se stesso. Arrivano in clinica bambine di 11 anni affette da disturbi alimentari che si vedono grasse, brutte e sono già infelici.
    "Il sonno della ragione produce mostri" e la ragione, nei giornali come nella tivvù, latita davvero...

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  11. Grazie Giuseppina, mia figlia ha 11 anni, per fortuna la TV non la guardiamo quasi mai, preferisce leggersi un bel libro...quello che mi dici mi fa rabbrividire!!!

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  12. I entered this site by chance, but I found very interesting. A greeting to all the people who visit this page.

    http://www.baresytapas.es

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  13. a very intereseting article Alessandra. If we women realize that each one of us is beautiful and healthy at a different weight and a differnt shape we would be so much more happier. AS long as we eat well to maintain our health and be happy about waht we eat I think the battle would be won...

    Not all of us are goign to look waifish and it would be really boring if we all did, plus even the waifs in the pictures themselves are altered

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  14. You are right B :-), Thank you for your comment.

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  15. A post with interesting thoughts and observations. Body image is a serious problem for many women. When it becomes an obsession it becomes uninteresting. Life was meant to lived and enjoyed. Bodies age and expand as we get older no matter what we do anyway. So enjoy with moderation :-). You asked about the egg yolk. It was used in the original recipe to give a yellow hue to the frosting. I used egg white for the birthday cake because I wanted it to be white. Blessings...Mary

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  16. eccomi, scusa se ci ho messo così tanto tempo.
    si è patologico catalogare la cellulite come una patologia, è un messaggio sbagliato e deviato.
    ed è vero quel che notava anche tuo marito che l'appartenenza socio economica fa la differenza e che più si scende e più si sale di peso probabilmente perchè si mangia peggio.
    insomma se nelle classi più abbienti non si mangia affatto nelle classi meno abbienti non si cucina affatto e il junk dilaga.
    sul discorso stile adeguato all'età e alla forma devo dire che proprio ieri ho indossato il mio bikini nuovo.
    ho una pancia disastrata sono ancora cicciottella ma non mettere il costume intero psicologicamente mi aiuta a perseverare nella dieta e tra l'altro ho perso 5 chili in due settimane e ancora me ne mancano ben 16 da perdere ;D

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  17. Just my two cents... It's just so common to see all these ads here in Italy, that I had never thought of this before. Yes, you are right, women here are somehow compelled to look like skinny teenage models, and the most of them believe they can get in shape through miracolous pills, beverages and creams, while it would be much simpler to adopt a lifelong healthy diet based on fresh vegetables, whole cereals, beans and nuts, with little or no animal proteins. The fact is that most doctors are not so trained on nutrition, and deliver unhealthy regimens based on animal proteins, which ensure fast weight reductions, but are a big threat to general physical health and cancer prevention.
    As far as bikinis are concerned, I'm not against them since everyone is free to wear what they wish, but I generally prefer seeing them on beautiful, young ladies ;-)

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  18. Thank you for your comments Yari, good to have a man commenting :-).
    The fact that these ads are everywhere to the point that they are not even noticed really worries me. This is so common in Italy that it has become the norm, the same messages (and images) that would be considered bad taste, unethical and dangerous in some countries in Italy pass as normality.

    The diet, of course I agree with you, but doctors know what they are though and it may be a while before the establishment changes it's course in some countries. Our family doctor is Indian, so he is cool with us being vegetarians. But here people do question my diet, and ask many questions about the diet of my children. I find it a bit rude sometimes because there is not real concern there, only criticism.

    But generally I think that although it is getting better in Italy for vegetarians and vegan, it is getting worse for women self-esteem, to the point that ladies cannot be classy if the keep following the sweet bird of youth.

    And in regard to your last comment, I think many women too would prefer to have Robert Pattison under the umbrella next to them, rather than Fantozzi. Maybe we should be more like some men: happy with just looking rather over concerned on how we ourselves look like! ;-),

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  19. There are unfortunately so many things to worry about now in Italy :-(
    Definitely, you women should ne happy with just looking rather over concerned on how you look like. And remember that men are not so critical as you are of your look ;-)

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  20. Arrivo in ritardo, grazie per il post! La pressione mediatica sul corpo delle donne in Italia è veramente agghiacciante... tanto più che - come dici tu - la maggior parte sono assolutamente normali. Ciao!

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  21. Grazie per il tuo commento Giulia, e non e' mai tropo tardi per commentare :-)

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  22. I loved reading your opinion on this topic Alessandra! American women are the same--I guess women all over the world can get lost in advertising. You have the right idea; eating well for life! It is so hard to convince people that eating well will help them more than popping pills for every ailment. Cellulite is not "illness" in the USA either;)

    Rainie@eatdrinkbewell.blogspot.com

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  23. Ciao Alessandra, scusa l'intrusione...sono capitata in questo blog per caso e non so se ho il diritto di intromettermi tra te e chi ti segue ma voglio dirti la mia:il tuo post mi è sembrato esagerato, hai dato un'idea dell'italia davvero strana, che non condivido. E' vero, la virtù sta nel mezzo, non è giusto rincorrere le immagini delle modelle, per lo più se hai 40 anni, siamo tutte donne normali! Non è giusto essere obese ed ingozzarsi di patatine, aumenta solo il rischio cardiovascolare e quant'altro. Non è giusto però neanche demonizzare il junk food se preso alla giusta dose, o mettere in ridicolo tutte le "donne normali" che hanno voglia, magari anche poco seriamente come me! di perdere 2 chiletti per sentirsi più belle!è normale come i rotolini, è divertente ridersela con le amiche della polenta col gorgonzola a luglio invece della gamba di sedano perchè bisogna ridersela ogni tanto...invece di puntare il dito! l'importante è non eccedere da un estremo all altro...e sono medico anch'io e di sicuro la cellulite non è una malattia grave ma non è neanche una condizione che non definirei patologica solo perchè non altera la tua omeostasi.Si chiama stasi linfatica ed è un fenomeno molto comune ma non si tratta del giusto funzionamento dell'organismo...E poi permettimi di scagliarmi contro chi crede che i medici siano poco preparati in nutrizione e si mettono loro dall'alto della loro scarsa preparazione a dare consigli pericolosi alla gente credulona! Chi ha detto che le proteine animali fanno male?? guarda, mi dispiace solo per le tante persone infelici che sentono il bisogno di credere a questi individui togliendosi i nutrimenti essenziali ed ammalandosi, e ancora di più-quelle dovrebbero andare in galera-coloro che somministrano queste regole a i loro poveri bambini, compromettendone la crescita e lo sviluppo. Scusa dello sfogo, magari volevamo dire le stesse cose ma solo in modo diverso.
    valentina

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  24. Ciao Valentina, non ti preoccupare, puoi 'intrometterti' quanto vuoi e dire la tua, il blog e' aperto :-).

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