I should have known better, but I forgot my book and had a 40-minute train ride ahead of me... I bought an issue of In Touch last week. I expected to look at some pictures of pretty people and read some gossip, some of which of course would be about so-and-so's diet or bikini body or whatever, but what I got was a new level of obnoxious I didn't know existed.
Sections entitled "Weight Update," "Body News," "Body Report" (more in-depth journalism than "Body News"?) and "Fit and Fab" are a Goldilocks story of who's too fat, who's too skinny and who's just right - this week at least.
An article entitled "Gaga gains some LOVE POUNDS" features then and now photos of the pop star and declares her "workout obsessed" in the former and "fleshier" in the latter. Although the article speculates that the extra pounds might signify "happiness weight," the conclusion is that Gaga will thankfully be back in shape soon: "... surely, it's just a matter of time before the lovebirds hit the treadmills together and Gaga gets her washboard abs back - all in the name of love!"
But another article, "Has Lea lost TOO MUCH WEIGHT?" (their capitalization... gripping), expresses concern that the Glee star's "extreme diet and workouts" are unhealthy. The article discusses the detrimental idea of perfection in "Hollywood," but conveniently leaves out the role tabloids play... A sidebar on co-star Jenna Ushkowitz mentions that she has dropped 10 pounds and now weighs 108. Good to know so readers can obsessively compare themselves - thanks In Touch!
Carrie Underwood, however, is applauded for her workouts in "The secret to her amazing legs." Not sure why amazing isn't in all caps, but the subhead makes up for it: "It's not just that post-wedding glow that has Carrie Underwood looking hotter than ever!" Her trainer tells the magazine Carrie "trains like a pro athlete." Apparently the singer has managed to balance on the fine between obsessed and fabulous.
And finally, "What's their bikini age?" scrutinizes six side-by-side celeb photos, calling those whose routines entail just the right mix of exercise, plastic surgery and splash of anorexia "hot mama" and "electrifying," and the losers "bloated and saggy" and "boyish."
What a clever editorial calendar: Publish some unflattering cellulite photos, then document the transformation in a feel-good feature, then write up a news alert when the diet and exercise go too far. This utter ridiculousness will either encourage us to give up the chase for "perfection"... or there's really no hope left.