Media and Culture




#thecumulativeeffectWhat’s in a Word?

24 comments | January 24th, 2012


(story by Mir, from WouldaCouldaShoulda)

So I'm currently in the middle of rehearsals for a local production of "The Vagina Monologues," and I can already tell you that this experience is invigorating in a dozen different ways. (Not the least of which being that I haven't been on stage in twenty years, and memorizing lines seems a lot more complicated now than it did back then.)

One of the things that's happening as a result of my involvement is that I find myself thinking about words a lot more often. (Warning! Profanity ahead!) If you've never seen the show, there's an entire monologue about the word "cunt." Now, I'm one of those people who believes in using proper words for learning about body parts, but that aside, I can honestly say that "cunt" probably tops the list of my least-favorite words for the female anatomy. (In can you're curious, "twat" comes in as a distant second.) Prior to "The Vagina Monologues" I've only ever heard cunt used as the basest of insults. Calling a woman a cunt is meant to reduce her to nothing but a receptacle ...

#lifestagesFans, Followers, Friends

5 comments | January 19th, 2012


(by OOC via

Some of you may recall that there was a time when life was less quantifiable.  But today, we can count how many friends, fans, followers, comments, replies, likes, links, and how much Klout we all have.  Talk about the pressure of keeping up with the Joneses.

From the original FastCompany article we quote..."While it’s human nature to be social and want to help others, we also have a natural tendency to be competitive, envious, and jealous of others. It is our nature to evaluate our own lives in relative terms. I’m happier when things improve for me relative to how they used to be, but I’m also happier when things seem better for me than for my neighbor. And social media platforms now allow me to make much more direct comparisons."

Not surprisingly, their article was business focused, but the truth of the comparative and relative nature of so much of our lives holds personally as well.  We've always compared ourselves to others - for good and ill.  But now, well, there's just so much more to compare ourselves and others too, and we wonder ...

#bodiesBody Image is Hating on Men’s Happy

5 comments | January 11th, 2012


(submitted by OOC via

Here's a bit of gender equality that can't make anyone happy - even if misery does love company.  Men are increasingly and rapidly becoming ever more dissatisfied with their own bodies and body image.  The original article points to this most recent data out of the U.K. based on a survey of 400 men:

80.7% of men use language that promotes anxiety about their body image (i.e. referring to physical flaws), compared with 75% of women. 38% of men would sacrifice at least a year of their life in exchange for a perfect body. 80.7% talked about their own or others’ appearance in ways that draw attention to weight, lack of hair or slim frame. 23% said concerns about their appearance had deterred them from going to the gym.

The author of the piece (read it here) offers the following thoughts: "the study is fairly narrow, so to be honest, I wouldn’t take most of those numbers at face value. But the study just confirms something we’ve known for awhile: That both men and women are increasingly unhappy with their bodies, in part because, well, everyone’s getting ...

#bodiesJennifer Hudson and The Self-Esteem Act

3 comments | January 10th, 2012


Jennifer Hudson helps make the case for why we need The Self-Esteem Act, full media disclosure, and truth-in-advertising.  Or maybe it's just an overzealous, photshopping record executive that does.  You be the judge.  (via @Jezebel):

Doing the rounds for her weight-loss memoir I Got This: How I Changed My Ways And Lost What Weighed Me Down, Jennifer Hudson says she's pissed that the Photoshop hobgoblins trimmed her down to within an inch of her life for the cover of her eponymous 2008 album.

"It's like, ‘Where's the rest of me?' They Photoshopped me probably to the size I am now on that cover, when we all know I was nowhere near that," she said. "To me, it did not send out a good message. And it did not represent me well. Did I not just prove that talent is enough if I made it this far? Being who I am, being the size that I am?"  [NYDN] Sign The Self-Esteem Act petition and Support Truth-In-Advertising here  

#chestismsWhat Movies Inspired You?

7 comments | January 2nd, 2012


First, we owe a big apology to whomever the original source of these specific quotes was, because when we first clipped it (months ago), we clipped carelessly and left out the original url.  We know, not cool. But whomever they are, they did such a nice job pulling a handful of inspirational lines and thoughts from the archives of film, that we hope they won't mind if we share them here even without proper attribution.  If it was you, please forgive us - and please let us know and we'll modify right away. Everything that follows, until our questions, is from the original piece:

"You get what you settle for." This inspirational quote was in the film "Thelma and Louise", starring Susan Sarandon. It's a pretty straight forward quote, with a lot of meaning behind it. What you get out of life is what you try for. If you settle for less, you will get less.

"Do or do not. There is no try." This quote comes from "The Empire Strikes Back", and the famous Yoda recites this inspirational message. ...

#bodiesSee More Fat People

5 comments | December 30th, 2011

50s chestist

(Story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

One reader writes us with this:

I'd love to see more fat people on TV. In most shows I've watched it seems like very few characters are fat.

Sometimes a TV show will basically have one token fat person, like Lost or Glee. It seems rare to have multiple fat characters unless the show is specifically about fat people.

Occasionally I'll be watching a TV show and when a person who is even a little bit fat does appear someone I'm watching with will comment that they're fat like it's some sort of novelty.

It would be nice to see enough fat people on TV that it wasn't remarkable. {end story}

We've talked about this before, but not in a while.  What would you like to see more of (or less of) reflected in popular culture?  DO you see you?  How's it make you feel?  

#thecumulativeeffectYou’ll Feel As Good As What You Buy?

5 comments | December 19th, 2011


(story by OOC via

At the height of the Holiday shopping season, we bring you this (no need to thank us).  Researchers at the University of Minnesota have determined we can make ourselves feel better by buying big-name brands.

The study in the Journal of Consumer Research (and reported at, showed that buying a "prestigious brand with an appealing personality such as Nike or Harley-Davidson, can improve your self-image, by rubbing off on the way you see yourself."  Here's how they conducted the research (and from the original article):

"They asked a group of women to carry a shopping bag --either a Victoria's Secret shopping bag or a plain one --for an hour while shopping at a mall. Then the women rated themselves on a list of personality traits.

The result? The shoppers who carried the Victoria's Secret bag perceived themselves as more feminine, glamorous and good-looking than those with the plain bag.

In a subsequent experiment, researchers found some people felt smarter when they carried a pen embossed with the logo from super-brainy MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). And this was true even after some of the ...

#bodiesThe Self-Esteem Act is Dumb

26 comments | December 2nd, 2011


(submitted by lailainthecity)

We're all about diversity of opinions here @ Camp OOC...even the ones we don't agree with.  Imagine!  That said, there's a lot in Laialinthecity's comments we do agree with.  The first paragraph pretty much entirely.  As for the rest, well, for us, not so much.  But you decide for you, and let us and Laila know what you think. Here's what she does:

The "Self-Esteem Act"? Why do we have to keep lowering the bar for everything, and making it law no less? When I see someone svelte walking down the street, I don't ask them if they're wearing Spanx. When I see someone with a smile that lights up the room, I don't ask them if they're caps. When I see someone with waist length full bodied curly hair, I don't ask if it's a lace-front wig. Because the truth about what they look like when they get up in the morning, doesn't belong to me, it belongs to them. There's plenty of artifice in world, it starts with lip gloss when you're a teenager. So what?

Nobody is perfect, that should be common sense, ...

An Homage to the Penn State Victims

6 comments | November 21st, 2011

chestist black scratch

(story submitted by Mama's Tantrum, a Chestist)

The tragedy that are the events we've all heard so much about these past weeks has inspired a lot of conversation, consideration and emotion.  Here's one chestists' thoughts, seen through 2 prisms...her role as mom, and her past as a victim of abuse.  Here's her story:

I’ll ‘fess up that when I see Nugget skillfully kick a soccer ball I think that she may be the next Mia Hamm. Or when she places the “tethescope” on my belly and provides the diagnosis that I have squirrels in my stomach I conclude that she will be a brilliant doctor. Or when she attempts to negotiate every term of her dinner it’s clear to me that she’ll be a damn good lawyer. Or when she jams on her guitar like Ani Difranco it’s just a matter of time before she’s a total rock star, but only after she gains a good sense of herself so that she doesn’t Lindsay Lohan her life.

Regardless, we’re one of the few lucky American families that have just enough disposable income to sock away a ...

#bodiesIs Fat a Disease?

7 comments | November 12th, 2011

dude, wtf

(story submitted anonymously, by a Chestist)

I'm so frustrated!

I hate that there are so many people, who like me, are overweight. And so many people, not like me but just like me, who are underweight. Obese. Fat. Underweight. Skinny. A disease. Imagine defining the way someone looks as a disease.

Imagine your respected doctor or health professional telling you your appearance is a disease. How is that legal? Why do we allow that?

My diet might be a problem. My activity might be a problem. Maybe I'm not doing healthy things, maybe I have an eating disorder, but the way I look is not the actual issue. The issue is that my body image is terrible because airbrushed magazines give other people and myself unreasonable goals and doctors like you validate them by telling me I look like a disease and that's the problem.  {end story.}

You ever had a doctor - or some professional - say something to you where you were all WTF?!  When?  What'd you do or say back? 

#bodies…A Stupid Waste of Time

17 comments | November 9th, 2011

stupid waste

(By OOC and via

So you might have heard about The Self-Esteem Act we've proposed, requiring "Truth in Advertising" labeling be attached to any ad or editorial that meaningfully changes the human form through digital manipulation, like photoshopping.  It's our hope that the Act might help contribute to stemming the epidemic cirsis of confidence affecting girls and women.  Not everyone agrees with us.

We bumped into the story below (reposted here with the author's permission) at  We love their site, their vision and mission, and everything they're trying to do.  We also love that they disagree with us so openly and productively and allowed us to disagree with them, equally. 

A large part of what we're hoping to accomplish with and through The Self-Esteem Act is to help mainstream a conversation about the aforementioned epidemic  - because no matter what the right answers are, they'll happen faster and with greater scale if the problems come to be understood and recognized at a mainstream level. Dissent (productive dissent) helps do this. 

And, we don't pretent to suggest that the act is the final answer or ...

#thecumulativeeffectGaga, Lisa Simpson and Self Esteem

8 comments | September 1st, 2011


(story by OOC via the NY Daily News)

Was it our annoucement of The Self Esteem Act?  Could it have been?  No?  It must be our self esteem runs amok.


Us aside, Lady Gaga's just finished a guest spot of "The Simpsons", where she hits Springfield after learning that it's teeming with low self-esteem.  In the episode our Ladyness works to cheer up a dejected and low self-esteeming Lisa.


Switch places with the yellow paragon of virtue that is Lisa.  Who would you pick to come to your town, your house, and sing, dance and push your blues away?  Or just make you happier than you are now?


BTW,  Gaga's episode will appear in the spring and "The Simpsons" premieres Sept. 25.  Set your DVRs.


#thecumulativeeffectThe Penis Problem

13 comments | August 30th, 2011

new chestist

(story submitted by  D H Leitner, a Chestist) D H wrote to us after seeing our announcement about The Self Esteem Act (we think).  Here's what she had to get off her chest: After reading the umpteenth story about how hollywood and society "bully's" women and girls, yet continues to dance around, dodge and avoid the reasons WHY such "bullying" even EXISTS in the first place, I find myself simply wanting to scream as clearly NOBODY is willing or brave enough to deal with the SOURCE of such rampant and esculating destructive behavior! The answer boils down to ONE thing...(excuse the pun) stroking the male penis!! From cramming our feet into tortorously devised shoes, to cutting our bodies surgically, to the unrealistic portrayals from hollywood, the male penis dictates our entire society and it is supported fully by it's counterpart testosterone! From the billions wasted on "sports" while our own people are starving, the mega billions wasted on the monstrous industry of war, to the very destruction of our planet from over population, until we recognize, ACCEPT and DEAL with the animalistic nature of man himself, we and any hope of a ...

#bodies50% of 11-16 year olds

13 comments | August 19th, 2011


(story by OOC via Huffington Post)

Frankly, we're not sure of internet standards re how much of an article you can/should reproduce.  Begging the forgiveness of Arianna, Tim and the author (Colleen Perry), we're printing this one in its' entirety.  Only 2 words to add: Effing Horrifying.  Here it is:

As early exposure to themes of sex becomes the norm, children of younger ages are expressing discontent with their physical appearance. Results from a recent survey suggest that children rank body image among the highest of their concerns, above both self-confidence and social life. Recent research also suggests that nearly 50 percent of females between ages 11 and 16 would consider cosmetic surgery to improve their appearance.

These findings have striking implications about the factors comprising young children's self-image and esteem. Eating disorders are now presenting in children as young as 6 years old, with dieting becoming more common among those under the age of 10.

Such ardent focus on physical appearance also comes in response to overly-sexualized messages from the media. Stars considered favorites among youth (i.e. Miley Cyrus and Vanessa Hudgens) have received much press for exploiting their bodies on stage ...

#thecumulativeeffectMexican Is Beautiful. But Missing.

17 comments | May 20th, 2011


(submitted anonymously by an OOC reader)

We first posted this piece sent in by a reader a few months ago.  We're putting it up again because we think it raises an important question about what we (that's all of us) don't see when we look out at the cultural landscape around us.  "I googled "Mexican is beautiful" and all that popped up was half naked pictures of mexican women and enchilada recipes. so i tried typing in "latina is beautiful" trying to see if the broader term would help me out. no luck."

Let's discuss this. Surely it's not for a lack of beautiful mexican women in the world, though it's def easier to list 5 blonde american women without even thinking. Who else don't we see images of in popular culture?