In Lab Notes, Newsweek’s Sharon Begley has posted Hourglass Figures: We Take it All Back, a look at some of the flawed assumptions about body-shape, fertility and health that have been bandied about for years as scientific truth.

Can we please stop telling young women that if they don’t meet the hourglass ideal there is something wrong with them, that they are doomed to infertility and will never form a relationship? NEWSWEEK was complicit in that message a dozen years ago; it’s long past time to realize that it is wrong both empirically and in terms of evolutionary theory.

Interesting that the comments about posts like this always leap immediately to the conclusion that if women are not very thin they are automatically obese.

In my opinion, Weight Watchers is an institutionalized eating disorder. The members talk about nothing but the food they can’t eat all day long. Food is the enemy and must be demonized. Weight Watchers may claim to be about the positives, but having lived among Them for the last year I can tell you that members think of food in nothing but terms of reward and punishment. That is bad. But what’s worse is that they fixate on and analyze every morsal that goes into everyone’s mouths. They inject food, points, and value judgements into every conversation possible.

Consequently, those around the True Weight Watchers Believers must eat only in secret or risk being lectured about what we’re eating. I have some friends who’ve seen the light. I just tried to eat a Luna Bar.* in a public place. Big big mistake. Huge mistake. Mistake I will never make again.

Suddenly, I was surrounded. “How many points does that have?” They demanded. Something in my brain misfired, and I very evenly replied “Eleven million.” This, my friends, was the wrong answer. I expected retaliation for my deadpan sarcasm, but instead of getting angry, they confiscated my snack and started analyzing the ingredients!

Luna bars failed the test. They couldn’t tell me why exactly. They didn’t seem to understand why, exactly. I guess it’s because a) they’re nutritious and b) they don’t earn the almighty Weight Watchers a kick-back, as they are neither a branded product nor a product with the Weight Watchers seal and points value emblazened on the side.

They bray about how they can eat ‘anything they want” but for lunch they seem to stick to Weight Watchers brand frozen foods and bags of Weight Watchers brand unflavored microwave popcorn (washed down with 6 gallons of water).

Thankfully, they seem to be afraid to try and recruit me into their cult, but they’ve offended plenty of others around me with their insinuations that Weight Watchers could improve their lives. That seems like harrassment to me, but what do I know?

I do know that failure rates for money-sucking weight-loss programs are incredibly high (between 90 and 95 percent), and that these programs prey on people with self-esteem issues. The “support” meetings (which cost you roughly 14 bucks a pop) are apparently not great for your mental health either, as this epinion Humiliation, Plain and Simple illustrates. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from real, live people too so please don’t write to me and tell me that this woman’s experience is unique.

The Federal Trade Commission held a conference about consumers, health and the weight loss industry not long after they busted weight watchers for deceptive advertising. That’s why they have all that teeny-tiny fine print at the bottom of their ads now, but it doesn’t stop them. Not one bit. The report makes very interesting reading.

If you ever go to an office building and find that most of the workers are avoiding the lunchroom and eating in secret at their desks, you can bet money that there’s a Weight Watchers at Work group in existence and they can’t wait to find out exactly what you’re going to eat next so they can passive-aggressively demonstrate their own will-power by explaining to you exactly why they would never eat such a thing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

*as a sidenote, I prefer Odwalla Bars, but I was out and too lazy to go out and get one and I had Luna Bars in my desk. I like them both, I just prefer Odwalla’s.

In the latest bit of Miss Universe pageant news, Miss France was accused of having once been a man. (Accused. As though this was, in itself, a horrible crime).

Miss France of course denies the whole thing. I personally don’t understand why everyone is in a swivet. I think that the pageants would be better served if the contestants were men, either transgendered or transvestite.

We’re never going to change the attitudes toward the female body that are propogated by these pageants. So why not let the entrants be the individuals who naturally fit the standard: slim boyish hips, above average height, artificial (but still small) breasts, fake eye-lashes, plastinated hair. That’s not your average woman, but it sounds like a number of men I know. (That’s not a derogatory statement, they’re all quite fabulous and I adore them and think they’re great).

Runway fashion shows featuring women’s fashions use cross-dressing men. Remember the shock a few years back when designers discussed how much better their (women’s) fashions looked on men? Anyone with hips understands the perversity of this, but not the designers who design the clothes that women must starve themselves to look “good” in. I’m not sure how to fight the designers, but I do believe that the best way to defang the pageant industry a bit is just to give up on it.

Ironically, the drag queens would have an unfair advantage at the Miss America pageant since they better represent the “womanly” ideal than most women. Let’s face it, this idea won’t solve the problems inherent in a beauty pageant culture, but it would make it all a hell of a lot more interesting.