Friday, August 28, 2009



In the past few weeks, one of Google’s top searches has been “Kelly Clarkson SELF Magazine” or some variation thereof, as fans and readers seek the skinny on the singer’s recent dramatic weight loss.

Examining Clarkson from head to toe on SELF’s September cover, they marvel at her newly svelte figure, which she must’ve attained overnight, since photos from earlier this month show a more buxom, curvy lass.

How’d she do it? Walking and Weight Watchers? Pilates and prune juice? Jogging and Jenny? Did she have that surgery where they reroute your stomach like I-75, only the traffic flows more smoothly and exits faster? None of the above.

The secret to Clarkson’s slenderness is SUCH a secret that she wasn’t even in on it. You see, the folks at SELF decided, in their quest for “the photo (that) is the truest we have ever put out there on the newsstand” – quoth editor-in-chief Lucy Danziger – that Clarkson would look her “truest” minus at least 20 pounds. So they downsized Rubenesque hips, tapered sturdy thighs and streamlined what some call “junk in the trunk” – heck, they all but altered her DNA – to the point that many readers didn’t recognize her.

This is an entertainment column, so I don’t want to get too heavy, but I can’t overlook the hypocrisy and irony in SELF’s “retouching” (as Danziger calls it) the physical appearance of a celebrity who spends part of the interview discussing body confidence. “When people talk about my weight, I'm like, ‘You seem to have a problem with it; I don't. I'm fine!’” Clarkson said.

It’s the singer’s self-assuredness that Danziger claims led SELF to revamp the photo. (Yeah, I don’t get it, either.) On TV talk shows and on her blog,* the editor lamely attempts to explain away the decision, stating, “We correct color and other aspects of the digital pictures … then publish the best version we can.” Apparently, “color” is SELF-speak for “dress size.”

Showing a flair for double-talk, Danziger writes that Clarkson “is happy in her own skin … (w)hether she is up or down in pounds is irrelevant.” (Except on the cover of SELF, that is.) Danziger also trumpets her own body confidence, but contradicts herself in the same paragraph with a story about once “retouching” a photo of herself because her hips looked too big. “I was heavier then,” she notes, adding that today, she would let the aforementioned photo run unaltered. Hmm. Very telling, indeed.

Danziger might be fooling herself, but she hasn’t conned the numerous readers from whom she’s received a heft of responses tipping the scales in Clarkson’s favor. The words “cancel” and “subscription” appear frequently, as do “I hope” and “you lose your job.”

Through thick and thin, one thing remains constant about Clarkson: Girlfriend’s got pipes – and not just when she’s singing. I’ve read enough interviews to know she’s not shy about addressing what others think of her physique. I’d be very interested to hear her weigh in on this matter.

* Read Danzinger's followup to the reader backlash here.

Friday, August 14, 2009



The centuries-old nursery rhymes we continue to teach kids had little relevance in our own lives, so imagine how cuckoo-bananas these fantastical verses must sound to today’s more world-savvy youngsters.

In an age when Old McDonald’s farm is in foreclosure, Little Boy Blue is blowing his horn on YouTube, and tuffets have been replaced by ergonomically designed game chairs with head rest speakers and built-in subwoofers, Simon ain’t so simple anymore.

The dish isn’t just running away with the spoon; it’s eloping to Vegas with a TV camera crew in tow. Rock-a-bye your baby in the treetop and you can expect a visit from Child Protective Services. Jack and Jill? They’re not walking up the hill to fetch a pail of water; they’re footing it because gas is too expensive!

During more innocent times, we blithely accepted such notions as a cow jumping over the moon, four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie, and Peter Peter locking the missus away in a pumpkin shell. What else was a man who couldn’t keep a wife to do? But if the children in my life are any indication, modern-day munchkins don’t accept these concepts without question.

Mother Goose might have been spittin’ dope rhymes back in the day, but in 2009, her flow is tired – or as the whippersnappers say, “Weak sauce.”

It’s time for Mama G to kick some lyrics the shorties can understand. For instance, instead of asking Brother John if he’s sleeping, it’d be more timely to inquire: “What’s that beeping, what’s that beeping/John, my bro? John, my bro?/Is your iPhone ringing, is your iPhone ringing?/Let it go, let it go.” To voice mail, that is.

If nursery rhymes got with the times, children’s books might read something like this:

No raining, no pouring/Oh, no - it's global warming!

Mary had a little lamb/Till Daddy lost his job/Now Lambie's on the table with/Some nice corn on the cob.

Georgie Porgie, puddin' and pie/Kissed the girls and made them cry/Now to his great embarrassment/He's charged with sexual harassment.

Jack Sprat could eat no fat/No deep-fried foods at all/Because his wife's concerned about/His bad cholesterol.

Little Jack Horner/Sat in a corner/Playing his brand-new Wii/He's sprained both his thumbs/His brain has gone numb/And his weight’s multiplied by three.

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick/You've got no insurance, so don't get sick!

To market, to market, to buy me some bling/Home again wearing a gold chain and ring.

There was a young woman who lived in a condo/She had many kids and a husband named Jon, so/She signed a big contract and next thing you know/It's ‘Lights, camera, action!’ Their own TV show!