Picture Perfect premiere issue
More Fad Diets! Healthy Changes You Can Live With
The Season’s Hottest Hues!
�e House that “An” Built A Weightloss Journey
Self-improvement, healthy living and well-being can seem impossible in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Add Hollywood measurements to the picture, and the line begins to blur between attaining individual health goals and impractical ambitions of perfection. Picture Perfect Magazine goes beyond the Hollywood ideals of perfection and celebrates who we are, where we are, while acknowledging that it takes hard work and dedication to become our best selves. Building on the foundation that true beauty comes from inner strength and continuous growth, we take a sensible approach to the journey to health and co-mingle with popular culture to motivate and share knowledge to reach one's full potential.
Through engaging dialogue and diverse perspectives, we aim to equip our diverse audience with knowledge, enthusiasm, and a reflection that exudes happiness and confidence in who they are individually. With stories ranging from a look into a professional athlete's mindset to indepth coverage of how your favorite actor balances 16-hour days on a set; from that motivating playlist for your workout to success stories of health attainment, Picture Perfect Magazine covers Hollywood from a personal perspective and shares the tools that help you live the life you want in the body you love.
Welcome, - Katasha Nelson - Khalilah Joi Dubose - Heather Hillstrom
Whatever you are looking for, if you look hard enough you will ﬁnd it. Whether it is love or pain, joy or sorrow, inspiration or depression, what you focus on becomes a part of who and what you are. Sure, life has its up and downs. Each of us has our own unique set of issues, but what may be a life-altering event to one person is a simple detour to another. You see, some people pay attention at every turn; they learn from every right and wrong move they make. They build an internal GPS that helps them navigate around the gridlock. I use this analogy because so many of us are hell-bent on taking the same route every day because it is familiar. Even if this route makes us late, angry, frazzled or confused, we rationalize it for the sake of our own comfort because we do not want to change. In the simplest of terms, everything changes every day whether we like it or not. Even if we refuse to use our internal GPS to help us navigate our lives, to help us learn new routes and to help us grow, we still change. It is in our refusal to grow that we ﬁnd ourselves in situations seeking either inspiration to change or conﬁrmation that it is okay to stay the way we are. Either way it goes, whatever you are seeking you will ﬁnd. Fortunately, you have
come to the PERFECT place to grow and we welcome you! The only rule here is to accept who you are, right where you are because perfection is not ﬂawless, it is becoming the best you. That takes time, a lifetime! Living healthily is not about being a certain size. It is about establishing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and in turn achieving the beneﬁts that come with making better choices. The theme of our launch issue is “Finding Balance.” At Picture Perfect Magazine we love ﬁlm, television, music, theater, and fashion just as much as we love eating right, working out, and taking care of ourselves. But the truth of the matter is that we have to ﬁnd the balance between admiring our favorite celebrity and maintaining our own well-being. Picture Perfect Magazine keeps you up-to-date on Hollywood happenings, while providing inspiration to love yourself enough to be the best you can be. Here’s to dreaming big dreams, achieving big goals, and creating great memories. Take a picture on your road to the best you...that’s what we call the picture of perfection!!!
a h s a t a K
Karen Cohen, CN Certified Nutritionist Certified Lifestyle Educator/Coach
FOR BETTER HEALTH NOW, AND FOR A LIFETIME
On the Road to Well-Being - Rachel Zeskind After a serious spine injury, I discovered a huge opportunity in the midst of what seemed like a life-changing disaster. Determined to overcome this injury without surgery, I dove deep into fitness, wellness, and nutrition to seek answers and solutions. I found in that journey not only healing for my own body, but also a passion for helping others heal their bodies.
*Toxins and chemicals like preservatives and hormones in foods are not only dangerous to your health, they also affect your body's ability to effectively utilize nutrients. Eat organic whenever possible. *Make sure to take digestive enzymes and probiotics to help the body process highprotein diets.
I am now a I reinvented my entire National-level life...body, mind, spirit, NPC competitor, fitness and and career! wellness coach, personal trainer, yoga instructor and founder of Yoga Church, creator of the X-Factor Total Transformation Program, writer and fitness model who is committed to living the best life in the best version of myself, while inspiring and helping others to achieve the same. Create your best self now and know that your transformation begins within!
WHAT TO DO AND WHAT TO AVOID *No gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, soda, artificial sweeteners or fried foods (except for rare cheat meals). *Drink plenty of water, approximately one-half to one full gallon (8-16 eight-ounce glasses) per day! *Eat every two to three hours to stimulate metabolism and provide proper nutrients to the body. *Avoid beer and wine; if you drink alcohol, a clear pure alcohol like vodka is easier for the liver and kidneys to process. Do not mix with fruit juices or mixes, squeeze in half a lemon only! Try to limit alcohol intake.
*Incorporate a cheat meal into your week; however, make sure you decide ahead of time what, when and how much you are going to eat. Limit your cheat meal to a smaller portion and earlier in the day if possible. If you can do a session of cardio in the evening following your cheat meal, this will help to expel the toxins and store less. All things in balance! *Be kind to yourself; this is a process, not an event. If it feels like it's too much for you all at once, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Simply do your very best and set weekly goals to help you move forward. Doing 50% is better than doing none!
RACHEL'S BUILD-A-BOOTY WORKOUT Start with ten minutes of cardio as a warm-up. If you have access to a gym, I recommend warming up on the treadmill at a 15% incline, walking at a fast pace. If you are modifying this workout to do at home, try a mini cardio circuit with high knees, jumping jacks, and burpees! Balance Ball Squats - Press the ball against the wall with your back, feet slightly wider than hips distance. Slowly squat, lowering yourself, then while pushing through the heels, press yourself back up...repeat 12-15 reps for three sets. You can add weight by holding dumbbells in each hand. Pop Squats - Begin in a wide stance with your toes straight forward. Squat and then jump, and as you launch yourself up, point the toes. As you land, bend your knees and come into a squat again...repeat 12-15 reps for three sets. You can add weight by holding dumbbells in each hand. Walking Lunges - Step forward one to two feet and bend the front and back knee into a lunge. Make sure that your toes are not beyond the
knee. Pushing up through the heel, step your back foot forward, tipping your pelvis up and forward and contracting your butt, then repeat on the other leg...repeat each leg ten times (total of 20) for three sets. You can add weight by holding dumbbells in each hand.
COOKING RECOMMENDATIONS AND TIPS How do I prepare and store foods to avoid losing nutrients? *Meats, poultry, breads, and legumes cooked slowly at low temperatures retain the highest level of nutrients. I recommend purchasing a large crock-pot or slow cooker. This will enable you to make large batches of each once or twice a week. *Do not allow oils to smoke when cooking. Try to cook on medium heat instead of high heat. *Store pre-made foods in non-carcinogenic plastic or glass containers. *Avoid the microwave; it is death to all food nutrients! Instead, warm foods in the oven at 200 degrees. *Eat vegetables raw whenever possible. For cooking vegetables, I recommend purchasing a steamer and LIGHTLY steaming veggies (they should remain a bit firm). Do not pre-cook large batches of veggies for the week, the live nutrients deplete quickly after preparation. How do I aid digestion? *Drink six to eight ounces of water 20-30 minutes prior to each meal to help create balanced alkaline/pH levels in the stomach to aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients. Continue to drink another eight ounces of water with meals as well.
In Red & Pink
Fashionista Blogger Trish Lindo
Ah amore, it is that time of the year again when the intoxicating elixir of love fills the air. Valentine’s Day can enrapture your heart, mind, and I think even your sense of style. Lush with its hues of red and pink, the day of love is everyone’s chance to show the object of your affection just how much they mean to you. There is just something about a woman wearing the perfect red dress for the perfect day with the perfect guy. Who could forget Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman wearing that vibrant red strapless gown to the opera? Or “The Lady In Red” hit song from back in the day? Even celebrities wear red to mesmerize everyone on and off the red carpet. The color rouge is often associated with love, energy, and yes, passion. Studies have shown that it can also fill you with positive energy and energize your spirit. You cannot go wrong in a spectacular dress that has everything: fit, style, and sex appeal. Every woman should have at least one sexy red dress. It is your chance to be fiery like Beyonce’ or molten hot like Chanel Iman. The key is to highlight your assets. There is no point in donning a sexy frock if it does not fit properly, so make sure you wear it well. If wowing your paramour in red does not summon your inner vixen, then think pink. It is another feminine option for that special date that makes a statement by being understated.
The subdued color comes in varying hues and tends to complement various skin tones. Pink is flirty yet demure and depending on how you wear it, you can be a knockout. The hue is a derivative of red that can conjure up feelings of tranquility, self worth, and unconditional love. No wonder it is one of the best Valentine colors, especially if you are in love or want to fall in love. If you want to wear pink, go ahead and show off your glamorous gams or your enviable figure, but not both. It is all about balance and adhering to one of the golden rules of fashion: If you are displaying cleavage, then the dress should be on the knee or just above. If you choose to show a little or a lot of leg, then try to keep the girls covered. Of course, there is always an exception to the rule, so if you must show all your assets at once there had better be a MTV red carpet involved. Your Valentineâ€™s just is not complete without the right accessories. If you decide to wear red or pink on your romantic date, the big question isâ€Śwhat shoes do you wear? You cannot go wrong with black sandals or platform pumps. Even if they have a sparkle, it will totally enhance your overall fabulousness. My favorite is a stunning pair of gold sandals or haute leopard-print pumps.
If pink is the choice for the night, the easiest option is a pair of nude pumps that can either be closed-- or peep toed. If you care to be a bit daring, try a fantastic snake print or a bold color like purple or orange. Any of these prints and colors would be on-trend with your chic pink dress.
Do not forget to add jewelry such as a necklace, bracelet, earrings, or an Elizabeth Taylor-style cocktail ring. The bigger, the better I say. I think gold or silver accessories would look amazing with either pink or red. You can even add an unexpected pop of color, like turquoise for example. However, it is definitely not a good idea to wear all of these baubles at the same time, less is still more. Depending on your dress you can opt to wear any variation of these accessories. I usually rock doorknocker earrings, a ring, and a simple cuff. You have to determine the right balance that will accentuate your ensemble.
I think the best accessory is confidence; without it your night of bliss could be missed. You have to know that even on your big night out, your inner beauty shines brighter than any piece of jewelry you own. So before you walk out the door, check the mirror of your soul to make sure you have accessorized with confidence. Every woman has the ability to light up a room, you just have to believe it is possible and it is.
(Credits: asos.com, piperlime.com, lulus.com)
Just because you are trying to eat healthy does not mean you cannot have dessert! Here is the perfect treat to satisfy your sweet tooth without sabotaging your efforts to eat healthy. They will not even know itâ€™s a third of the calories! Erin Holloway The Skinny Valentine (Red Velvet Cupcake) Servings: 26 Serving Size: 1 cupcake Calories: 141
1 1/2 cups cake flour 1 cup white whole wheat flour 1 cup sugar 1 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa 1 tsp salt 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp white vinegar 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce 1/4 cup butter, softened 1 egg 2 egg whites 2 tsp vanilla 1 1/3 cup light buttermilk 1 tbsp red food coloring
Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake pan with liners. In a large bowl, stir together flours, salt, cocoa, and baking powder. In another bowl, beat sugar, applesauce, and butter. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix baking soda and vinegar. Add half of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, mix well. Add buttermilk and red food coloring and mix well. Add the remaining dry ingredients and fold in vinegar and baking soda. Pour in liners 3/4 of the way. Bake 18-23 minutes or until toothpick come out clean. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting with low-fat cream cheese frosting. For an even lower calorie option, skip the frosting and decorate cupcakes by sifting powdered sugar over a creative stencil (as seen in picture). Low Fat Cream Cheese Frosting 8 oz 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese 1 cup powdered sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract Beat together ingredients until smooth.
The House That “An” Built By Katasha Nelson Catherine An is the driving conceptual force behind Tiato Market Garden Café & Event Venue. The youngest daughter of Chef Helene An, of Crustacean fame, Catherine is no stranger to the commitment and passion it takes to build a successful restaurant. From concept to menu creation to maintaining the principles that built the House of An, Catherine sticks to the traditions that have worked for her family for three generations. Standing firm on that foundation, Tiato is nestled in a unique area of Santa Monica in the company of a hub of corporate offices. Frequent diners include executives from EMI Music Publishing, Yahoo! And Lionsgate. Upon entering the hallway that leads to Tiato, you may feel as though you are trespassing on one of the most well maintained, manicured gardens in the city. As you continue on, though, you are sure to be met with a light, distinct smell sure to bring out some childhood memory of being surrounded by loved ones at the dinner table. It is as though you are transported into another realm and suddenly there you are, in the heart of the market’s immaculate cafe, which offers a self-serve salad bar and grab-and-go selections of 26
readymade sandwiches, soups and pastas. Dine-in patrons can choose from an extensive menu including starters like salt-and-pepper calamari, buffalo wings, spicy tuna rolls, and New Zealand mussels. And let’s not forget the mascarpone bruschetta with grape tomatoes and balsamic glaze. The combination explodes in your mouth, bursting with palate-pleasing flavors. The menu offers a balance of vegetarian options such as the tofu-and-eggplant dish, ideal for the virgin vegetarian or the life-long herbivore. Perfectly seasoned, the texture of the tofu mixed with succulent eggplant and flavorful brown sauce creates an excellent balance of bold and delicate flavor. Two of Tiato’s most popular dishes are the Vietnamese baguette and my personal favorite, the pho. You have a choice of chicken or beef with rice noodles, homemade chicken broth and a heap of fresh herbs to top it off. It is Tiato’s twist on chicken noodle soup, and it is done right. The simplicity of the American tradition combined with staples of Asian cuisine make the pho pure heaven. Be sure to leave room because you will have a bevy of delectable desserts to choose PicturePerfectMagazine.com
sure to tempt even the most disciplined eater. The good news, though, is that there are low-calorie, low-fat options as well, some with as little as 50 calories. Tiato serves up no-sugar-added, pint-sized cupcakes in several flavors, including pumpkin, red velvet and vanilla. Delightful and decadent, these sweet treats give you the pleasure without the guilt. Other dessert options include lemon cake and eight flavors of macaroons made with the namesake Tiato leaf, Chef An’s favorite herb, “known for its rich health benefits and bold, distinct flavor.”
fresh, natural ingredients. Personal suggestion: Pumpkin Cupcake – 5 stars
Though the food is of course the main story, Tiato offers its patrons more…much more. More space, more garden, more dining options. The wide-open space beyond the market provides a contemporary, rustic feel. Reclaimed wood panels integrate effortlessly with concrete floors and honeycomb ceilings. Even the materials used for the booths and bar stools are recycled. The design is both creative and deliberate. Tiato is a green space by choice, perfectly mastered in conception all the way to its current reality. The ecofriendly theme does not stop in its ambiance; it carries over into a carefully created menu that fuses American favorites with traditional Asian cooking.
The cupcakes, while not an invention of Executive Chef An’s, are a deliberate conception from the businessminded Catherine. Resolute in her desire to provide healthy alternatives without sacrificing taste, she has partnered with a health-conscious pastry chef to create desserts that follow the same philosophy as does all of the food created in the Tiato kitchen: great-tasting with PicturePerfectMagazine.com
Against the grain of what the average American eater may be used to, Tiato stands firm on its desire for delicious food rich in antioxidants and other health benefits with the occasional splurge and no guilt trips. Tiato has created a place that gives you every excuse to get there. Whether it be a quick trip to the juice bar after your morning workout, a bite before a long meeting, an afternoon lunch with a co-worker, happy hour, a birthday party, a bar mitzvah or your wedding, Tiato has the ability to meet and hopefully surpass your expectations. Tiato seats 200 inside the 2414-squarefoot café and 300 in the 4300-square-foot patio garden. The venue has a total standing capacity of 500, and the bar fits 17. There is also a 240-square foot private dining room for more intimate events. The uniqueness of Tiato goes beyond its garden decorations and serene ambiance. It solidifies its place on the top of a fairly short list. Sure, the menu has its moments of indulgence, but all in all, Tiato is more than just a place 27
to stop in for a meal. It is a part of a movement that encourages patronizing local farmers markets and utilizes the benefits of the earth as intendedâ€”with unprocessed ingredients, no artificial sweeteners and
right-sized portions. No matter what your tastes or preferences, Tiato provides a wide array of delicious menu options and dining experience, you will not soon forget.
Sunday Brunch coming in Spring! 2700 Colorado Ave Santa Monica, CA 90404 (p) 310-866-5228 Gourmet Market/Take-Out Monday – Friday: 8am – 5:30pm Dine In Hours: Breakfast: 8am-10:30am Lunch: 11:30am – 3pm Dinner: Thursday: 4:30-8:30 Friday: 4:30 – 9pm Happy Hour: Thursday & Friday 4:30pm – 7pm
REEL TAKE! Mona at the Movies quite sure who is cat and who’s mouse since everyone plays both at some point. I would guess that no Steadicams were used in this film. Cinematographer Oliver Wood brought all his Bourne trilogy goodness to the film and had me bobbing and weaving right along with the action. And oh my...was there ever action!!
Imagine you are a CIA newbie assigned to keep watch over a safe house in South Africa. You have been at it for a year with absolutely no activity. You are chomping at the bit for the chance to move on to bigger and better assignments, but you keep getting the runaround from your mentor. And then, out of the gorgeous, blue, Cape Town sky, you get a house guest who happens to be the CIA's most wanted rogue agent.
Do not make a snack run or take a potty break on this one, kiddies; you'll miss something good. Swedish director and newcomer to American films Daniel Espinosa gave me everything I needed in an action adventure/thriller. I was invested from frame one. I heard the unmistakable sounds of a onetwo combo and thought, Oh, okay...he's literally coming out swinging. I'm in for a good fight, I see. Daniel did not disappoint. The action was nonstop: hand-to-hand combat, gunfights, car chases, foot chases, you name it. Even when I thought I was expecting it, I did not quite see it coming. I love when that happens! I am a fan of this Daniel Espinosa dude already...Let's talk about the screen players.
Now...what do you do when your house is infiltrated by an unknown assault team who is after your new guest and murders everyone in their path, practically in front of you?? Well, if you are Ryan Reynolds in the new movie Safe House, you whip out every trick you have ever learned “on the farm”, pair that with pure instinct, and do your job.
Executive Producer Denzel Washington crafts a thrill ride that holds you in place from beginning to end. This is cat and mouse done really well--old school vs. new school. Writer David Guggenheim ensures that you are never
Denzel is...well, Denzel. His turn as Tobin Frost is a yummy mix of Training Day's Alonzo Harris and X's Malcolm X, suave and deadly, yet principled. His character, Frost, is a master manipulator, schemer, and charmer, and Washington brought every trait and nuance to life in his spot-on portrayal. Washington is cool, calm, and collected, harnessing an “old school” charisma that harkens back to vintage Eastwood or Roundtree. Ryan Reynolds’ Matt Weston represents the “new school” who follow protocol and fight the good fight. The play of seasoned wisdom against rookie instinct provides a great balance between the two and appeals to a wide range of moviegoers. Washington and Reynolds mesh surprisingly well. Reynolds’ portrayal of Weston’s naïveté and inexperience are honest without weakening the character. As the film progresses, we see the old school’ and the ‘new school start to simmer, marinating just long enough to ensure that it’s all going to come out just right. The supporting cast is fine but not particularly memorable. They give solid performances and do their job of moving the story along, setting up the twists and turns. Speaking to script faults, it is never clear exactly why the bad guys are the bad guys. Perhaps Guggenheim thinks we will just take for granted that politicians and government officials are inherently greedy, dishonest and destructive. And while I can totally accept that, it would have been nice to understand why this all took place. Bottom line: unless you are the type who just hates an action-packed, edge-ofyour seat, ebb-and-flow thriller, Safe House is a safe bet for a good time. Rating Scale: 1. Leave early 2. Throw popcorn at the screen 3. Turn off your phone and pay attention 4. Stay and watch the credits 5. Grab the DVD on release day! 4 out of 5 stars
Red Tails, a cinematic depiction of the
significant role the Tuskegee Airmen played in the success of World War II, is a highly anticipated film for both moviegoers and power players in Hollywood, albeit for very different reasons. While some are waiting to see how fast and how far this movie will fall on its face, with its primarily black cast, black director, and black screenwriter, others are waiting to see if the mighty George Lucas can finally prove to Hollywood that Madea Goes to Jail and Big Momma’s House are not the only viable, moneymaking “black” films. I am not exactly sure who won this one... Yes, uber producer George Lucas’ reported final blockbuster--“This is as close as you'll ever get to Episode Seven,” he told Jon Stewart--did come in number two at the box office its opening weekend, and is holding strong in the top ten coming into its fourth weekend of release. But I'm not sure Red Tails is having the desired effect on Hollywood. I mean, it has not even made half its budget yet, and it is not exactly Oscar material. Lucas said he made this movie for teenage boys--clearly. The poster looks like a still from a video game, and the film itself kind of moves like one, with its lengthy combat scenes full of explosions and firepower. It is all about the flight sequences here. Gorgeous vintage
aircraft and exciting aerial combat are the stars. I felt like I was in an updated, Wii-esque Atari game. There were not any teen boys in the theater when I saw the movie, but I imagine they would dig it. What this film has is heart, and teenage boys do like that. What it does not have is depth, and adults like that. Though Red Tails gives screen time to a beautiful group of up-and-coming black male actors (and I am all for that!), it is vastly deprived of character development. In the 23 years it took to make this film, I find it hard to believe that Aaron McGruder (of all people) and John Ridley couldn't find a way to tell me why main characters Easy and Lightning are such good friends. Or why they remain friends despite their varying opinions on just about everything. How Easy came to lead this platoon in the first place. Nor do they provide any background on any of the characters so that I, as an audience member, would care about them. There is clearly a story behind the flashy names and archetypes, but we just do not get to see it. Lucas said the film he created is epic, and that Red Tails is the middle of the story. Apparently, there is a prequel and a sequel. Perhaps he's saving some of this stuff for later?? Had this been a character-driven film, perhaps the story would not have lacked so much. But since it wasn’t, every aspect of the story is pretty obvious. There are no surprises. Because all the characters are two-dimensional at best, I could anticipate everything that happened. It is based on history, yes, so we all know how it ends, but still...where are the plot twists? The struggle? The suspense??? The cinema? It is a movie after all. Seriously... 125 minutes of predictability from the guy who stunned the world with the four words no one saw coming: I am your father.
like the Airmen themselves), juxtaposed against the destruction of war when the pilots finally get a piece of the action. All of it is aesthetically pleasing (to me). Overall, the movie is fine. It is great to see black men be the undisputed heroes for a change, but the bottom line is, it was a bit anticlimactic. There's some ass kicking from the air, a potentially tragic love story thrown in for subplot, and a rescue that comes from nowhere and remains unexplained, but I was largely unmoved by any of it. I just did not feel what I should have. And I don't think it's because I'm not a teenage boy. At the end of the day, I am happy the movie was made and that the unsung Tuskegee Airmen have been given some props. But given the powerhouses behind this film, Red Tails could have been (and should have been) a lot better. Not exactly a slam dunk for either side. There is something to be said, Mr. Lucas, for giving it your all the first time. Who are you saving it for? What Larenz Tate said in Love Jones applies perfectly here: “You don't have to save nothing for me; I want mine now.” Rating Scale: 1. Leave Early 2. Throw popcorn at the screen 3. Turn off your phone and pay attention 4. Stay and watch the credits 5. Grab the DVD on release day! 3 out of 5 stars
I did appreciate the cinematography, though I know several cinematographers who did not. Vintage-looking, beautiful Italian towns, isolated and serene, cut off from the war (just
PHOTOS BY JASON MITCHELL OF CONSCIOUS LENS PHOTOGRAPHY
There are just certain individuals in this world who seem to radiate from within--radiate light, love, enthusiasm, kindness, and peace. Marisa Quinn is one of those delightful individuals. As a working actress, singer, and co-founder of her own production company, one would think that Quinn might be more tightly wound, caught up in the dizzying spin of set locations, red carpets, interviews, and production meetings. One could easily imagine the toll such a hectic schedule might take. But as I walk into her beautifully decorated home, nestled deep in the Hollywood Hills, I detect no sign of such turmoil. An eclectic mix of hipster chic and yogi zen, her home is a reflection of her
personality. As we sit down with a glass of Shiraz, she exudes a calmness and peace that fills the space, a stark contrast, I learned, from some of her earlier life experiences, including her birth. “I was born in a hurricane. It was in a small town called Brownsville in Texas,” she tells me. “My mom was at a hospital, but the lights were flickering and the windows were shaking. That has kind of been the barometer for my life--a storm. But what I’ve learned is that even if your life is a hurricane, there’s always a safe place to be, the eye. As long as you find that, you’re okay.” Hearing her poetic analogy seems apropos for a Brown University graduate with a liberal arts degree. But the former pre-med student describes PicturePerfectMagazine.com
a different beginning to her entertainment career than some might expect. Raised in McAllen, Texas, Quinn’s performance career did not start on a stage, but on the football field. As a cheerleader in a highly competitive community, there was little time to explore other forms of creative expression. “Cheerleading was all you could do. We were competing on the national level. We were practicing every day, even weekends. There was no time for anything else, but I wanted to be in the school play. So in my senior year, I quit cheerleading just so I could audition. Not that I would actually get a part, but I just wanted to try it. It was my first big leap of faith.” The leap paid off, and she landed the lead in her senior play. Quinn describes herself in her earliest stage experiences as “a duck to water.” And after much soul searching, she decided to change her major at Brown from pre-med to theater, speech and dance. “It was hard because I was the first in my family to attend an Ivy League school and had all of these expectations on me. But being at Brown helped me find a responsible path to the arts. I was not just running off to get famous. I wanted to make a difference, and I realized that acting gave me a global medium for that.” After finishing Brown, Quinn moved to New York with the hopes of starting her own theater company and then making the foray into film and television. Those hopes, however, were quickly dashed. “It was fun and good for the soul, but not good for the pocketbook. I was totally broke, barely making it. I always wanted to do film and television, but they were like, ‘we don’t like you.’ I was not what they wanted a Latina to be. My agents and managers would ask me if I PicturePerfectMagazine.com
had more urban clothes or if I could change my hair or try an accent. That was my first inkling of wanting to create for myself and write for myself.” The Ivy League grad from small-town Texas wasn’t interested in playing stereotypes or limiting her potential as a performer. Hearing that Hollywood was seeking a broader range of Latina actresses, she packed up once again and headed west. After a stint in Austin, where she booked one of her first major features, Roadhouse 2, (worth seeing just to see Quinn’s kick-ass fight scene), she took another leap of faith and headed to Tinseltown. “I had been smashed so acutely into the ground that I decided I had nothing to lose, but it was really difficult,” she says of her transition to Los Angeles. “It was so hard to get my first agent, my first gig. I was just pounding the pavement.” Like most actors, Quinn spent years performing the Hollywood balancing act: working survival jobs to pay the bills and auditioning whenever she could. But it wasn’t until she made the tough decision to forgo a steady paycheck for the chance to 39
live out her dreams that her career really began to flourish. “I would never have had the opportunity to audition for Twilight had I not taken a leap of faith. I was scared. I was in a job that was creating a good living for me, but it was taking me out of town a lot. Every year, I always missed a great opportunity. “I was not able to audition because I was out of town. But that year, I made a decision.” In August of 2010, Marisa decided not to take a month-long gig out of town so she could stay in L.A. and audition. That same month, the call came in for Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. “At first I thought, ‘oh, please. There is no chance. I was always my worst enemy with that. But then I stopped and realized there was a chance. Someone was going to get that part. Why not me?” she says. When asked about the actual experience of filming the final installment of the mega-franchise, Quinn practically glows recalling her time on set. “It was surreal. It was like a dreamland. There were all these famous faces floating around, and everyone was so nice and so kind. It was such an ideal working environment. I mean, when Bill Condon walks up to you and says, ‘Hi, Marisa. I’m Bill. Welcome to set,’ you’re just like, ‘What, you know my name?’” Surrounded by a gaggle of Hollywood “it girls” like Kristen Stewart, Ashley Greene, and Nikki Reed, anyone would feel the pressures of fitting into Hollywood’s ultra-thin mold. “You always feel the pressure. Even when you walk into an audition you see everyone around you and think “oh, she’s so skinny, she’s got great legs. But you can’t sabotage yourself like that. And what’s beautiful about the way Hollywood is changing is that they really are trending toward the more realistic versions of people. The stick-thin image is not going to be eradicated, but they are making strides in what is [considered] beautiful.” As her film and television career blooms, Quinn has decided to continue in the mission to break down barriers for those whose stories have yet to be told, to create material based less in stereotype and more on the beauty of the human experience. In 2011, she started her own production company, Monarch Media, and is creating and producing original content. 40
“It’s about creating positive role models for people--innovative content that presents people in a positive way: minorities, people with alternative lifestyles, the elderly, people with disabilities. There are so many that are underrepresented in Hollywood. Things have gotten better, but there is room for improvement and I want to be part of that crusade.” So how does a woman with so much on her plate maintain her focus and stay healthy and balanced in the whirlwind of it all? In a word…perspective. That, and consistent yoga practice, of course.
“Yoga changed my life. [It] became my church in a way.” Quinn’s gazes off as she speaks about her sacred practice. “Every pose is a manifestation of a spiritual principle. You experience the [principle] through your body. Honor your body with rest, exercise and nutrition. And wherever you are--be there. Be present and give it your all.” PicturePerfectMagazine.com
“It’s about stopping to breathe, giving yourself room for error. One thing that really held me back was the need to be perfect all the time and get it done right the first time. That is a tremendous amount of stress to put on yourself. Sometimes you need to let go. No human is perfect, but if you are doing your best then that is okay. Your best will differ on different days, but if you are always doing your best, you are not going to judge yourself and be regretful.” There is sincerity in her words as she speaks. Rather than feeling like you have gotten some canned response that was drafted by a publicist, there is life and energy behind Quinn’s refreshing take on her life.
She is genuine and passionate about her work as an actor and producer and about her crusade to continue changing the landscape of Hollywood. When I asked Marisa Quinn if there was anything else she would like our readers to know about her, her answer was indicative of her generous spirit. “There is nothing that I’d want them to know about me, just to know more about themselves. Know that you are worthy. You are worthy enough to take the chance on yourself. You only have one life. Live it well.” -Khalilah Joi Dubose
SPOTLIGHT ON FILM by Matthew Lingo
FIVE FILMS TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2012: 1. THE MASTER - Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson; Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Laura Dern This one would probably be on the list just by virtue of being the new film by Paul Thomas Anderson, who just might be the most exciting living filmmaker. But the element of mystery surrounding the production takes it from must-see to number one most anticipated of the year status. It is supposedly about the inner workings of a cult like religion in the 1950s, but rumors persist that the film is a thinly veiled attack on Scientology. Some have even suggested that the film’s various production delays are due to a Scientologist attempt to sabotage the film. Will this just be a very good film, or a scathing takedown of the world’s most controversial belief system? There is only one way to find out. 2. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES - Directed by Christopher Nolan; Starring Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman In the history of comic book films, there has never been any franchise that managed to make it to three films without taking a serious dip in quality. Nolans’ Batman films stand the best chance to reverse the trend, and I will be rooting for him to do the impossible and finish what he started with style and originality. The film’s opening sequence, which screened with the last Mission: Impossible film, was criticized by many for being too confusing, but I kind of liked how disorienting it was. Not knowing exactly what I was seeing just made me even more excited to see how everything fits together. 3. GRAVITY - Directed by Alfonso Cuaron; Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men, released 5 years ago, remains one of the most dazzling movies I 42
have ever seen in a theater, and the wait for a new movie from him has been quite a long one. And from all reports, Gravity will be an even more daring film than his last. The story of an astronaut (Sandra Bullock) trying to make it home to her daughter after a mishap on a space station, the film is said to open with a single 20-minute shot, and have little to no dialogue. This puts even more pressure on Bullock to draw people into the story, but she seems well matched to a role like this. 4. THE DICTATOR - Directed by Larry Charles; Starring Sacha Baron Cohen Sacha Baron Cohen is one of the most divisive figures out there, and this movie, a comedy about a foreign dictator visiting American soil, is sure to stir up a lot of debate. It is Cohen’s first film as writer that is not a mockumentary, and his first project that moves away from the characters he created on Da Ali G Show. Is he a one-hit wonder, or will it be third time’s the charm? The trailer did not wow me, but the stunt Cohen pulled on the Oscars red carpet was inspired, so I am hopeful about The Dictator’s prospects. 5. LINCOLN - Directed by Steven Spielberg; Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones and David Strathairn This is the movie where Daniel-Day Lewis plays Abraham Lincoln, which should be enough to get you to the theaters this winter. But this film promises to be more than just a performance piece It has been a passion project of Steven Spielberg’s for years now (Liam Neeson was once attached), so it is clear that he has something special planned for this project. At its best, it could be the definitive screen portrait of America’s greatest president. That is, unless Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer gets there first.
THE BEST OF 2011: 10. HUGO (Martin Scorsese) - I am generally more willing to forgive a movie for its flaws if I believe in what it’s trying to do, and Hugo is a perfect example of that. The story of a young clock winder in a Parisian train station and his adventures with an old man who turns out to be the legendary filmmaker Georges Méliès, Scorsese’s children's film stumbles the most when it tries to be, well, a children’s film (do we really need another plucky orphan?). Marty’s heart lies with Méliès, and everything in those parts of the movie are the most invigorating work for him since Bringing Out the Dead in 1999. It is Scorsese’s earnest love of film that shines through and makes this movie such a joy to watch. The scene in which a young Chloë Moretz sees a movie for the first time is one of my favorite of the year, a reminder to film lovers everywhere of how improbable and awesome this whole enterprise is. 9. THIS IS NOT A FILM (Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Jafar Panahi) - Like Hugo, this semidocumentary/movie-or-not movie almost works more as a lesson about how important filmmaking is than it does as an actual movie itself. The Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi was arrested in 2009 for creating propaganda. Part of his punishment was house arrest and a ban from filmmaking, and this film, a documentary shot by his friend Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, is a day in his life of apartment-bound malaise. It’s a story that’s inherently fascinating, depicting Panahi as he blocks out scenes from a screenplay he might never film, talks with his lawyer on the phone, and plays with his daughter’s lizard. But it edges toward greatness in its final minutes, as real life and Panahi’s indomitable will collide to create a devastating expose of the social and spiritual cost of Iran’s suppressive regime. 8. BEGINNERS (Mike Mills) - What a fleet-footed delight this movie is. In telling the story of his father’s decision to come out of the closet in the twilight of his life, director Mike Mills made a movie that’s optimistic without being cloying, which is kind of like walking a tightrope while
juggling chainsaws. It is admittedly very twee, but the story of Christopher Plummer’s gay father and his eventual battle with cancer has more than enough gravity to balance all the talking dogs and winsome mutes you could throw at it. Ewan McGregor (as the son/Mills surrogate) and Plummer are predictably awesome, but I was particularly moved by Goran Visnjic, a million miles away from ER as Plummer’s bighearted and gregarious lover. 7. ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA (Nuri Bilge Ceylan) - First and foremost, this is a film steeped in the specificity of its locale. It mostly takes place in the steppes of Anatolia on one very long night, and after a while you begin to smell the air, to feel the grass of those hills between your toes. The film tells the story of a group of policemen searching for a dead body on the aforementioned very long night, as exhaustion and doubt begin to take their toll and compromise the investigation. It sounds simple but this film reminds me of A Separation (see below) in the way it shows an idea of objective truth being spun away from by a combination of human nature and bureaucracy. It’s also one of the most visually dazzling films of the year. Ceylan’s work as a photographer is well known, and those instincts have produced one of the most distinctive-looking films of a year that includes such fantasias as The Tree of Life, so, you know, that’s saying a lot. 6. JANE EYRE (Cary Fukunaga) - This is pretty handily the most underrated film of 2011, and I have no idea why. I think people expected something a little more immediately distinctive from Cary Fukunaga, but to me he was just wise enough to know when to step out of the way of an inherently compelling story (Jane Eyre hasn’t been adapted 19 times for nothing). The most important thing he brings to the proceedings is the good sense to put Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska in the lead roles, the kind of ace casting that takes care of everything by itself. For my money, this was the best acting Fassbender did in a busy year for him, all flinty intelligence, with a deep reservoir of emotion just peeking through. 43
5. DRIVE (Nicolas Winding Refn) - I have a special appreciation for movies like this, because it is rare that a legit art film also fulfills my desire to see lots of ass being kicked. This movie played to a surprisingly wide audience, but it was particularly special to those who have seen and loved films like Thief and To Live and Die in L.A., for whom this movie was like a secret being whispered by a particularly excitable Dane. Special credit also has to go to Albert Brooks, who found a way to be Albert Brooks and also be completely terrifying, which is some sort of weird achievement I didn’t even think was possible. Also, Bryan Cranston is in this movie. 4. THE LONELIEST PLANET (Julia Loktev) - A young couple, go hiking, and something happens on that hike, and then something happens. I know that that sounds incredibly vague, but when you see the thing, you will know why I was so evasive. And anyway, this film is all about what happens after that thing. Still with me? It’s pretty churlish, I think, to elusively describe a movie that most people won’t even see until next year, so let me just put it this way: few things I saw in 2011 utterly wrecked me as much as this film. So take this one on faith. I am sure we will be talking about it all through 2012. 3. THE TREE OF LIFE (Terrence Malick) - I tend to think this might be higher on the list if I hadn’t seen it four times in theaters and discussed it pretty much nonstop since its release in May, but hey, being overexposed to a new Terrence Malick movie that actually exists isn’t really a bad problem to have. The thing about it that really stands out to me right now is how graceful its sprawl is. It flows like a good piece of music, intuitively moving from one fugue to the next. This film also has more openmouthed, gasp-out-loud moments than any film this year. And that isn’t limited to the big sections like the (admittedly astounding) creation of the universe sequence. Even small moments like Jessica Chastain’s character recalling riding in an airplane when she was 18 were improbably moving. And lastly, I’m thrilled to see a genuinely spiritual film that doesn’t limit its notion of God to simple ideas of right and wrong, like so many films do. Malick does not know the answers, but he is 44
thrilled and humbled to even have the questions. Me too. 2. A SEPARATION (Asghar Farhadi) - Simin wants to leave Iran with her husband Nader, to give their daughter a chance at a better life. But Nader refuses to leave; he must stay to take care of his father, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Simin then seeks to take to the courts of Iran to petition for a divorce. The consequences of this decision become as exciting as any thriller, and to describe what happens from there would rob you of one of the most elegantly unfolding plots of the year. Suffice it to say that A Separation is the rare movie that’s as specific as it is universal, both an indictment of the imperfect country it’s set in and an engrossing human drama. Between this and This Is Not a Film (see above), Iranian cinema is one of the most exciting things going right now. This film especially is a captivating dissection of the country, and its different social classes and the way they relate to each other. 1. MARGARET (Kenneth Lonergan) - I love this movie so much. It is a film that is nominally about a young woman witnessing a bus accident in New York City, but it is so much more than that. It is also about the boy who loves her. It is about the best friend of the woman who got hit by the bus, and her lawyer friend, and the bus driver who did it, and the teenage girl’s mother, and her suitor, and, more obliquely, an entire city of people grappling with things they can’t understand. While the movie focuses on Anna Paquin’s Lisa (one of the most vibrantly performed roles of this or any year), its fascination lies equally with all of these stories, and this results in a movie of uncommon richness, a Great American Novel of a film that overflows with ideas and people and anger and love and a deep sadness. This is the kind of film that offers up a recognizable, perfectly observed human truth every couple of minutes, and when you consider that there are 150 of them, that’s quite substantial. Lots of people thought that the film’s messiness was sloppiness, evidence of the movie’s protracted, tortured post-production. But Lonergan is just acutely aware of the incomprehensibility of modern life itself, and gracious enough to find moments of bracing humanity in all of that chaos. PicturePerfectMagazine.com
And the Award Goes To...? With less than a week to go before the 84th Annual Academy Awards, the editors sat down to discuss this year’s nominations. What started out as a discussion on how to cover the most prestigious award show in Hollywood turned into a lively dialogue about the probable winners and the overall expectations of an industry that, in some eyes, has a long way to go in recognizing talent beyond performances that perpetuate stereotypes. We easily came to an agreement on the films best poised to win the coveted Best Picture category:
The Help The Artist
As the conversation progressed, we analyzed performances, writing, cinematography, and character development, but eventually, the dialogue evolved into a discourse on how and why certain films are chosen, with particular regard to minority actors and stereotyping. Each film has strengths and weaknesses. Hugo stands out for its cinematography, but requires commitment and patience from its audience. The Artist is fearless in its innovation and thoughtful irony, but lacks originality in terms of narrative story. The Descendants is perfectly cast, offering up truthful performances from all its stars, but weighs heavily on the audience and does not lend itself to a second or third viewing; one time is quite enough. Then, there is The Help-while some of us thought it was a moving tribute to a few of history’s unsung heroines, others found it grossly unoriginal and frustrating in its one-note depiction of African-American women during the sixties. With our top four in mind, three highly opinionated editors with a passion for film sat down for a lively discussion. We pressed “record” and expressed our thoughts and opinions honestly, without regard for the politics of the industry. In the end, the conversation was about more than just film. It was about what these films meant to us, to society, and how this extraordinary platform shapes our world and our views. See how our simple movie discussion turned into a full-on social debate in this edition of “Around the Table with the Editors”.
Khalilah Joi Dubose: Executive Editor The Help - Granted, I had my preconceived ideas before I even watched the movie. Still, I waited. I waited for the moment when I would be so moved that I would have to admit that I was wrong. I waited to feel uplifted or empowered. I waited to laugh in spite of myself or feel tears stinging my eyes—to finally understand why the world was so in love with this movie. I waited and waited and waited. But all I ended up feeling was frustrated boredom. I even found myself texting several times during the movie because I was so disinterested in what was on the screen. There was some beautiful cinematography, good acting, and believable set design. Viola Davis did a great job, as I expected her to. Octavia Spencer portrayed Minnie exactly as she was written, a notable performance as well. Bryce Dallas Howard and Emma Stone’s performances were forgettable at best. The most pleasant surprise was Jessica Chastain’s endearing portrayal of the naïve but lovable Celia Foote. You couldn’t help but to like her, to root for her, to despise those that treated her so poorly. Chastain found the perfect balance of Hollywood sex appeal and sweet Southern charm. Well done. Now I continue waiting—waiting for Hollywood to see black women 46
as something more than slaves, maids, caricatures, sex objects, or ghetto girls. In 1940, Hattie McDaniel won the Academy Award for Gone with the Wind, making her the first black American to do so. She played “Mammy”, a house slave. Seventy-two years later, Viola Davis is nominated for playing the 1966 equivalent to a house slave, the help. In seventy-two years, Hollywood has rarely acknowledged black actors for playing anything other than a stereotype. (Yes, there have been instances, but few and far between.) So I continue to wait for the day when black actors will be recognized and honored for films that highlight the human experience, without having to speak in broken English, show their private parts, or use the “n” word. Hopefully, I won’t be waiting too long. The Descendants - A beautiful depiction of the human experience—in all its beautiful and horrifying splendor. Clooney does a brilliant job of giving us an honest, pure portrayal of a grieving, betrayed husband without playing the obvious or overdoing it with melodrama. The young players, too, do a good job in the film. While you may not love them or their behavior, you believe them. And that is the job of any actor worth his salt, regardless of age. While I enjoyed the film, it is not one I would see again. The subject matter is heartbreaking at the end of the day, and not one that lends itself too well to repetition. Thankfully,
though, the film does its job the first time. No need to go back for seconds. The Artist - This is one of the few films that I was surprised to see get such critical acclaim, let alone an Oscar nod. It’s quirky, fun, and upbeat. While the story is not terribly original or creative, it really becomes irrelevant. You enjoy the film: for its reintroduction of a lost medium, for its life and zeal, for the smile it leaves on your face. Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo do a wonderful job “mugging” for the camera and drawing the audience in. You root for each of them in different ways and hope that the story has a happy ending—unlike so many high-profile films these days. Fortunately for us, it does.
Heather Hillstrom: Managing Editor The Descendants is a well-made movie, with good direction and exceptional performances, but not worthy of Best Picture. I found it difficult to subscribe to certain aspects of the movie, for example, Shailene Woodley's character spends a lot of time telling her father Matt (George Clooney) what to do. While this is an understandable consequence of his relaxed parenting and her mother's illness, he never asserts himself or even seems angered by it–an unfortunate decision by the screenwriter, as it's made early on and my respect for Matt is lost for the remainder of the movie. Matt PicturePerfectMagazine.com
is also forced by his daughter to bring her friend Sid along on their efforts to find his wife's lover, a premise that starts funny and ends, after Sid's repeated appearances, just plain hard to believe. The whole of The Descendants is not greater than the sum of its parts; I didn't really enjoy myself, and I probably won't watch it again. As a big fan of the novel, I found The Help to be a profound disappointment. The characters that kept me up reading well past my bedtime are reduced to onedimensional stereotypes in the film. In fact, I'm surprised at the ability of viewers who haven't read the book to enjoy it all, since the filmmakers' rush to fit everything into 146 minutes causes them to skip character development entirely. I've enjoyed Bryce Dallas Howard's work in the past and was looking forward to her against-type turn as Hilly Holbrook, but she plays the villain with a kind of cartoony evilness that I tend to refer to as “mustache twirling”. The filmmakers also miss a cue from novelist Kathryn Stockett and with it a great opportunity: Aibileen's secret stories to Mae Mobley were a poignant thematic reminder in the book, but without that through-line, the film feels like an episodic, jumbled mess. I wonder how I'd feel about The Help if I hadn't read the novel, but as it is, the story feels oversimplified, and I won't be recommending it to anyone. Of the Best Picture nominees, Hugo is among those that deserve PicturePerfectMagazine.com
highest praise for cinematography. The film is shot in 3D, and more than any other 3D movie I've seen since the craze returned, director Martin Scorsese uses that tool to its full potential in his sweeping, immersive moves through the train station and the snow above Paris. The acting is acceptable, but only that (with the exception of the ever-wonderful Ben Kingsley). The movie also lost me a little in the third act with a sequence that, while charming and beautifully productiondesigned, derailed the film into a somewhat tedious lesson in early film history. Finally, I felt the overall tone was a little too precious; attempts at wonder seem to forget that our main character is orphaned and homeless, and that Kingsley's character's broken spirit affects all who love him. We know that Scorsese is capable of the kind of gravitas that might be appropriate to these subjects; I'm just not sure why he didn't use it in Hugo. At this stage of the game, I have to declare The Artist my pick for Best Picture. The movie is charming and engrossing, funny and romantic; I was completely captivated and had a blast watching it. The performances are wonderful across the board. And the film theory nerd in me can't help pointing out the movie's successes as a postmodernist piece–the comments on sound as a filmmaking technique, the references to film classics like Singin' in the Rain, A Star is Born, and The Public Enemy–the likes of which we haven't seen since
2007's Grindhouse. The Artist is that rare combination of an enjoyable movie-watching experience and a filmmaking achievement, and I know I'll be rooting for it on Sunday night.
Katasha Nelson: Editor-In-Chief The Descendants – I found it hard to overcome my dislike of the choice of words for the children cast in this film. My dislike of such disrespectful youth and young adults never allowed me to quite enjoy what I think the message was. The name of the film implies family film, the setting in the strong cultural backdrop of Hawaii further supports that belief, however, this is not a film I would want my child to go see. The tragedy in that statement is that this film is perfectly cast. Chemistry between the characters is obvious in each relationship, the acting is phenomenal even when there is silence. But I just could not get over the flaws in George Clooney’s character. I wanted to rationalize his strength in doing what he could to keep his family together in the midst of the crisis of losing his wife and his whole world being turned upside down. But I was deeply disturbed by the indifference shown to children speaking in a manner that was just so obviously inexcusable, no matter what the circumstance. I just found myself questioning, what was the point of the film, what was the message? Whatever 47
it was, despite being well acted, I just did not get it. The Help – The problem I find with complaining about The Help is that as African Americans, we want to be fairly and equally nominated and recognized without regard to color. I certainly understand the argument that in the Best Actress category we are recognized for only certain types of characters, e.g. the maid, or the sex-crazed or drug-fueled angry black woman. But I find it hard to complain about an exceptional actress being nominated for an Academy Award regardless of the role. After all, the actor's job is not to judge the character but to bring life to it. I find myself rationalizing that there are numerous Caucasian actresses who are recognized for portrayals that are stereotypical. The difference is that when these portrayals come into play, the portrayal is publicized as against type, case in point, Charlize Theron in Monster. On the flip side, Halle Berry playing the downtrodden wife of a convicted felon, while against type, strikes a chord due to the nature of this image being one that is often expected in the African-American community. To me, I find peace in the fact that in the case of Viola Davis, her body of work is deserving of the Best Actress award. And so if she wins for The Help, I am certainly okay with that.
There is a catch-22 going on here: Black actresses could turn down roles that are in films being green lit, come with big paychecks, and have the best chances for recognition from the Academy, but another black actress WILL do it. The films will get made regardless, so do we want the best and brightest or do we want the fresh-faced and newly discovered? And isn’t there a “lack” of good roles for blacks? Bottom line, I understand Khalilah’s point, I get it. It is hard to ignore the fact that in a year that Viola Davis has one of the strongest chances for taking the trophy home, it is for the same role as 72 years ago: the help! Hugo – In the simplest of terms, Hugo combined my two loves, history and film. This was a fascinating and endearing ride that managed masterful cinematography that could have easily overwhelmed the storyline with its intense beauty. However, the stunning visuals were well complemented by the cast. Not one for slapstick comedy at all, I have to say Sacha Baron Cohen’s slapstick routine was quite annoying and my main criticism of the film. The message of dreams, friendship, love, loss, and redemption can never be done too much, but it is not often done this well. Loved it!
The Artist – This quirky film was a pleasant surprise. Not exactly one I could talk anybody into seeing with me, but I have to admit I loved it. I loved it for its simplicity and feeling. I understood why it was nominated for the Academy Award, but only in terms of it being so obviously different from the others in the bunch. As much as I love this film, would see it again, and understand its nomination, I am not rooting for it to win. As a film lover, that era has passed and it is quite simple to bring it back for nostalgia's sake. It was entertaining, wellperformed and had a simple, yet meaningful storyline. Worthy of an Academy Award? Absolutely— 90 years ago! Ironically, my pick for Best Picture goes to The Help. After all, as much as I want African Americans to be recognized beyond these stereotypical portrayals, I believed the characters. The film made me laugh, cry, and it certainly made me angry at times. And that is what film is about: transporting you to a place where you can believe what you are seeing right before your eyes. You believe the words and you can walk away without judging the characters, despite your feelings for a studio system that just does not seem to care to get it right.
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Weight of the World is an international multimedia initiative that empowers individuals and families to be active participants in creating healthier environments where they live, work, and play, while addressing how the habitual and conflicting messages of a Hollywood-centered society can hinder the success of a healthy mind and body. Picture Perfect Magazineâ€™s very own editor-in-chief has agreed to share her personal story as she embarks on a journey to achieve a healthy weight, break bad habits, and establish a healthy lifestyle. Each issue Katasha will share where she is on her journey. is
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also being documented for a feature-length documentary, and we encourage others to share their journeys to health.
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The big setback! By
Katasha Nelson The past few months have been filled with triumphs. With all the new opportunities, there have been countless celebrations and frankly, overindulgences. I certainly have not been the best role model for the lifestyle change movement. In fact, I have gained almost 30 pounds of the 40 I lost last year. As I sit back and wonder how I ended up at this place again, I realize more than ever: old habits die hard! I am so disappointed in myself and yet I refuse to lose this war. I know what it takes and I know what I have to do, but I have lost so many battles that sometimes I tell myself to just give up and accept the fat-kid fate. I am not a kid anymore, but I am still fat, and that seems to be my fate. The truth of the matter is that I will never give up, 50
because even though my bad habits are hard to change, it is even harder to remain the same. Simply put, I am not happy being this size, I am not happy being unhealthy. There is not and never will be a day that goes by that I get used to being obese. Sure, it would be great to have the “perfect” body, that body that airbrushed dreams are made of. But I accept that I will never look like Jennifer Lopez or Zoe Saldana, and I am sincerely okay with that. Despite what I have been told concerning my weight as an actress and my leading lady aspirations, I still believe my talent can overshadow the Hollywood standard of beauty and size. Maybe this crazy assertion comes from that desire to have balance in the world, a desire to see more than the typical waifish starlet on the screen. Isn’t that the way it should be? Why should I be marginalized for being healthy? What is wrong with being healthy, and more importantly, what is wrong with making healthy sizes and lifestyles the standard? Instead, we are inundated with images that perpetuate unrealistic expectations and at the same time promote unhealthy products, which certainly will not lead us to the airbrushed Promised Land. If weight loss were as simple as “eat less, exercise more,” then there would be no need for low-fat anything, lap band or gastric bypass or any other commoditized product or service that promises “this” if you do “that.” All these so-called solutions put emphasis on the individual alone, but the answer really is bigger than just overweight me, the individual.
When I think about it this way, it is probably the only time I am the smallest thing in the room, and maybe for this reason, it has been so easy to ignore the elephant standing in the middle…on the dance floor…hanging from the chandelier…and sitting on the buffet table. Sure, blame my personal choices and disregard the social structures that are the most influential factors in the choices I make. Go figure! I often feel invisible too, so to all the elephants I say, you have my attention…I see you. I am trying with all my might to get the world to see you, too. As weak as I feel for gaining the weight back, I am stronger now than ever before. Sure, I still get uncomfortable walking into a room, going on auditions, shopping for clothes, working out, or fastening my seatbelt on a plane. I still will not dance in public, and I am ashamed of my muffin top, rolls on my back, jiggly thighs, batwing arms and six-month pregnancy belly. Yet I still love me! I love understanding more about myself and knowing that I deserve to be healthy. I know it is wishful thinking to believe little ol me can change a multi-billion dollar industry but why not build a movement that supports a new solution: an
MY THREE-MONTH GOALS: Work out a minimum of four times a week for at least an hour. Track all food & activities Keep a daily journal of emotions Try at least one new exercise class Do something that scares me at least once a month (The consensus on this right now is taking a dance class…I have NO rhythm…shh!) Train for and walk/run a 5k Drink eight to ten glasses of water daily Take my vitamins daily
Lose 20 pounds 51
achievable answer to the obesity epidemic? This is where the balance comes in. You see, for so long I thought it vain to want to be more than healthy, to want to wear the latest fads. I would consider myself a sellout for striving to be a part of a world that has ostracized me because of my weight.
with some support could certainly lead to a “real” film and television industry, and a prevention-based society that does not promote unrealistic standards of beauty and individual responsibility alone, but instead puts money into solutions that lead to sustainable lifestyle choices, regardless of socioeconomic class.
The truth is I am a part of this world, and it is just as unfair for me to expect an airline to make a standard seat bigger to accommodate my unhealthy weight as it is for Hollywood to demand that I be a size 0 to be a leading lady.
Do not get me wrong, I still want to see beautiful and healthy people on television, and I unquestionably want to look nice wearing sexy clothing without something hanging over the side. So do not fear. There is still some vanity in this alternative, but there is also an expectation of corporate citizenship, policy and legislation that demands safe space, access, and nutrition education, as well as positive reinforcement from those in the entertainment industry who receive a paycheck to create or promote unhealthy lifestyle choices. All these factors together have the muscle to create a paradigm shift and a global society of healthy people, instead of one that celebrates thinness by any means!
Equating thinness with health is another article for another day, but worthy of a mention here because of the problematic cultural pressures that this belief places on our society. Okay, so maybe the camera adds ten pounds, but that is simply not my biggest concern. My weight matters, but my health matters more. This solution does not instantly translate into a billion-dollar industry, but
For more information on the Weight of the World Project: www.wotwproject.com A FEW ESSENTIALS THAT HAVE COME IN HANDY SO FAR:
The reward for meeting my goals (besides better health, of course is a day of pampering at a select spa! Wish me luck and share your journey with me. Let’s do this together! TheraPearl Hot and Cold therapy packs come in handy right after those workouts!
I have fallen in love with the Motorola MOTOACTV. It is a fitness tracker, heart rate monitor, GPS AND an MP3 player all in one. Definitely MOTO-VATION on those days I really need it! It is the perfect companion on my long bike rides in Santa Monica!
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Drive Past, Not Thru Examining how access to healthy food requires individual effort and political change by Kellye Nelson
Each new year, we see a plethora of advertising geared towards healthy New Year's resolutions. Whether we make the vow verbally or keep it to ourselves, it is never an easy promise to keep. Most say that by March the motivation has waned and they are back to old, unhealthy habits. Time constraints in our fast-paced lives leave little time for exercise and activity, let alone the extra effort it takes to seek out food not readily available. Adding to this dilemma is the hot fast food on every corner with flashy neon signs, or the touted processed, prepackaged, to-be-cooked-in-thirtyminutes-or-less choices that take up most of the space in our grocery stores. Our yummy “comfort foods” like the fare presented to us by Food Network personality Paula Deen (who, ironically, is now taking criticism for hawking diabetes medicine with her unhealthy Southern cuisine) are more available, more affordable, and most marketed to the public. While our senses are inundated with the marketing of unhealthy food choices, the worst culprit preventing us from keeping that resolution for the long haul is access to healthy food. There are a lot of “what if’s” to consider here: What if we just had the means to get healthy food? What if healthy food was more affordable? What if healthy options were on every corner like McDonald’s? The thinking is that more of us could and would make healthier choices. The truth of the matter is that more often than not, access to healthy food is determined by income level and location. Even though who you are and where you live should never restrict access to nutrition, in today’s society – it does. In urban and low-income neighborhoods, there is a severe lack of grocery stores to provide access to fresh foods.
In these same areas, there is an overabundance of fast food restaurants and convenience stores that sell processed foods with little nutritional value. According to a study conducted in 2009, 23.5 million people who live in low-income communities have no access to a supermarket or a large grocery store within a mile of their home. 1 And even if we happen to live in a community that has local, accessible grocery stores, our eating and food preparation habits have changed as a society. Busy soccer moms look for chicken nuggets and fish sticks with french fries to feed their kids quick meals, and many young singles boldly convey sentiments similar to Carrie Bradshaw's of Sex and the City: that they use their stove for storage. Fresh foods in the grocery stores are outnumbered by the aisles of microwavable and prepackaged options that are high in fat, high in trans fats, and/or loaded with sodium, sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial additives. Lack of exercise and changes in our diet as a society has led to debilitating health consequences. We now find ourselves in the middle of an obesity epidemic. Obesity rates have nearly doubled among adults in the last thirty years. The obesity rates have tripled among children, a fact which compelled First Lady Michelle Obama to make battling childhood obesity her focus and campaign. 2 1
USDA Economic Research Service. Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences. Report to Congress. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2009. Available from www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/AP/AP036.pdf South Central Diet: http://youtu.be/hw0ZLqJij5s 2 J. Levi, S. Vinter, R. St. Laurent, and L. M. Segal “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are failing in America, Trust for America’s Health, August 2008 57
Today, more than two out of three states, 38 total, have obesity rates over 25 percent, and just one has a rate lower than 20 percent. Since 1995, when data was available for every state, obesity rates have doubled in seven states and increased by at least 90 percent in 10 others. 3 This has got to change…
of dollars on subsidizing grains and, indirectly, highfructose corn syrup, while providing almost no support for fruits and vegetables. The lopsided support has contributed to a 40% increase in prices on fruits and vegetables and a decrease in prices for fats and sugars from 1985 to 2000. 5 The Farm Bill in the House of Representatives includes $5.6 billion in additional funding for programs promoting healthy diets, nutrition, and increased access to fresh food: The Farmers Market Promotion Program—which supports the creation of farmers markets in new areas—receives only $1 million per year. The Community Food Projects Program is funded at just $5 million per year. The Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program reaches only a few hundred schools nationwide with its $9 million-per-year funding.
The epidemic of obesity in this country, along with the unsustainable rise of healthcare costs due to chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure associated with obesity, has propelled the issue to the forefront of policy discussions. Grassroots community advocacy on a local level has made significant strides by promoting and funding non-profit community gardens, as well as programs to give greater access to fresh foods for those who need it most. A prime example is the group of five city-run farmers markets in Chicago that began accepting food stamp debit cards. 4 The program was made possible thanks to a $35,000 grant to fund EBT machines that process food stamp transactions, and a change in thinking and policy. The changes do not stop there. The policy solutions include expanding initiatives to promote more local farmers markets with community growers and investment in more fruits and vegetables from nonlocal farmers with legislation like the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill seeks to change the thinking in Washington from spending billions
The Farm to Cafeteria Program—created to help incorporate locally grown foods into school lunches, install school gardens, and expand school nutrition education—receives no funding. The Senior and WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Programs receive just $15 million and $20 million per year respectively.5 These are the types of programs we need to fund and the types of policy changes that need to be made. The individual effort must be made by each of us committing to that yearly resolution of improved health not by dragging ourselves to the gym, but by shopping on the outer perimeter of our local grocery store, where the fresh fruits and veggies lie, or supporting local farmers markets or community gardens. We must doubly commit to preparing and eating healthy fresh food and avoiding the lure of fast food and the ease of prepackaged and processed items. Most important, we must commit ourselves to getting involved locally in helping to change the thinking and policies that affect our health and our lives.
F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011. See http://healthyamericans.org/report/88/ 4 Low Income Shoppers Get Access to Healthy Food 58
Why the Farm Bill Is Important PicturePerfectMagazine.com
Celebrity Trainer Joy DiPalma
TIPS FOR RUNNING YOUR FIRST MARATHON Marathon season is upon us. Have you ever thought about doing one? It is the ultimate personal challenge, not to mention one of the best lard-burners of all. Before you tell me I am crazy and count yourself out, you should know that I, too, was once dead set against ever doing a marathon. I have done 600-mile bike races, triathlons, swimming with sharks…you name the challenge and I have probably done it. But I had an inexplicable fear of running a marathon. Running is not exactly my favorite workout, but I do run half marathons and five and 10ks regularly. A full marathon, though, seemed like a boring hell. Long story short, after seeing a very motivating documentary in 2009 on the popular New York City Marathon, I registered for the lottery to run in the 2010 event. I figured the chances that I would actually be chosen were low enough that I did not have to worry. But if it was meant to be, then I would grin and bear it. Lo and behold, through some crazy luck and perhaps divine intervention from my grandmother, my name was chosen in the lottery. I had a spot in the 2010 NYC Marathon. “Oh crap!” was my initial reaction. “What have I gotten myself into?” Now, I can proudly say that running in and completing that marathon was one of the most amazing, surreal experiences of my life. It is one of my proudest accomplishments. I display that medal in my office and look at it often. So have I become a marathon convert? Not really. I did one of the best marathons in the world; I am happy with that. My next challenge: the Kona Ironman in 2013. Now, if I have convinced you that a marathon could be as life-changing for you as it was for me, our next step is to get you prepared. You will be joining an elite group of like-minded PicturePerfectMagazine.com
people who want to challenge themselves mentally and physically. Marathon training will be challenging, but should be fun and enjoyable. Finishing a marathon is an accomplishment that less than one percent of people in the world can say they have achieved. You are about to be one of them! Whether you are a new runner, a seasoned runner, or just need to dust off the old running shoes, you can and will finish a marathon. And here are a few important things to keep in mind as you begin this incredible journey...motivation is important. Building mental stamina is essential. The saying “mind over matter” is very true. It is one thing to be motivated to begin training. It is another to stay motivated every day. Naturally, we think running a marathon will not be easy and we try to psyche ourselves out. Sometimes our own self-doubt is our worst enemy. Staying motivated and developing the proper mindset is key to enjoying training and crossing the finish line. Goals are important; they help us keep our motivation throughout the long training process. What are your goals? You had something in mind when you hit “submit” on your registration form. Whether it be raising money for a cause near and dear to you, the personal challenge, a check on the bucket list, or just to lose weight, whatever your goal is, keep it in mind as you run, train, and run into those times when you just want to quit. Keep your intentions at the forefront at all times. Since you will be taxing your body in the training process, you need to treat yourself to a few things. Treat your feet to a few good pairs of running shoes and socks. Running shoes will be the most important piece of gear. Make sure you get the right fit and train in different kinds 59
of shoes. You want to strengthen your foot and ankle muscles, so wearing one pair of shoes all the time is not challenging your feet. Also remember, lightweight shoes make things easier. You do not want shoes that are not flexible enough, light enough or supportive enough. Visit a local running store to find the best shoes for your feet and replace your shoes roughly every three months. And don’t forget to break in everything before the big day to make sure it all fits comfortably and that there is no friction or irritation. This means everything from head to toe--sunglasses to shoes and everything in-between. Eat a few more carb calories when training, but not a ton. Many people actually gain weight when training because they think they can overindulge since they are working out so hard. Not the case. Eat smart, not a lot. Remember, the lighter you are, the easier it will be on your joints, etc. As I mentioned, carbohydrates provide the fuel runners need. During marathon training, 65% of your total calories should come from carbohydrates, particularly complex carbs. Ten percent should come from protein (you need 0.5 to 0.7 grams per pound of your body weight each day). Twenty to twenty-five percent of your total calories should come from unsaturated fats. Be sure to get the nutrition you need to keep you strong and allow for adequate recovery. Speaking of recovery, it’s key to sustaining your regimen. It is important to keep to your training schedule, but recovery is equally important. You should not run every day. Your body needs to rest between runs so it can recover from one run to the next, getting stronger between each. Nutrition and eating the right foods at the right time also play a vital role in recovery. Take recovery days just as 60
seriously as your running days. Ice down any soreness, particularly in knees or shins, (you should actually do this after every run if you are sore), four times per day for 15-20 minutes. Injuries often sneak up on you without warning. Doing all the right things will minimize your chances of injury. Also, do not forget to stretch everyday while in training mode. Epsom salt baths also do a body good and are inexpensive. Part of key nourishment for the body during training is to keep it hydrated. On runs of an hour or more, carry fluids with you and consume six to eight ounces every 20 minutes. The day before the marathon, flood yourself with liquids and electrolytes. You do not want to get dehydrated on the road. If you are wondering how long you should run on running days, there are various training programs online or in books. Just remember, your mileage should gradually increase each week with your longest run being 18-20 miles. You should then taper off in the final weeks leading up to the marathon to allow your body to recover from training, and so you will be strong on marathon day. Having a 20-mile run under your belt will give you a major psychological advantage on marathon day. Tapering in the final weeks before the marathon will help your body recover from marathon training and be strong for your big day. You will also want to carbo-load the week leading up to the race, roughly an extra 200-500 calories per day. Given the atmosphere at most marathons, you will likely feel full of adrenaline after leaving the starting line. Remember though, marathons are about endurance and pace is critical. Maintain your pace and conserve your energy to get you across the finish line. And one last thing – one of the most important: when you cross that finish line, have your pose prepared and ready. You will want to flaunt that photo and display it proudly for years to come!
Joy Di Palma PicturePerfectMagazine.com
-Dr. Lisa Hollingsworth Upshaw
February is Healthy Heart Month, literally and figuratively. For the hopeless romantics and Cupid watchers, Valentine’s Day provides the backdrop for a red and pink, Hallmark cheese fest. For those who have wellness as a top priority, it is time to bring awareness to a healthy cardiovascular system. Regardless of what moves your heart, health and balance are the cornerstone for embracing and enjoying your heart’s desires.
To attract, one should have a clear vision of the desire and an already-established balanced life to know how to properly receive the blessing. If you want your heart’s desire, no more holding on to the past, to that which does not serve you, to that which is unhealthy, or to excuses. It is time to work on creating the stage to see clearly, so that when you come in contact with something that speaks to your heart, you know what to do with it. A few tips for managing the balancing act include:
Balance helps to ensure that vitality is sustained. Isn’t life about living it to the fullest and optimizing your potential? Well if you do not concur, I will claim it for you! Know that you can attract your heart’s desires, but it helps to do so from a healthy place. So what of attraction? It’s a common primal practice that we want to look our best when attracting a potential suitor. But attraction takes on an even greater tone when we speak about attracting our heart’s desires. Whether it be Prince Charming or your dream girl, the perfect career opportunity or a new residence, allowing our desires to manifest requires a healthy mind and body. When something we have dreamt of comes to fruition, it makes us feel alive and causes our beating heart to go pitter-patter with excitement. PicturePerfectMagazine.com
Create a daily practice of ritual, scheduling and goal-setting--great tools to use in bringing in your targeted flame. Spell out exactly what it is that makes your senses tingle, that would have you high on life. Give yourself time in the day, at breakfast and at bedtime, to reflect on what is working and what’s not in your current dayto-day. Reduce stress and anxiety by separating short- and long-term goals. Make contracts with yourself to remember your worth and set boundaries. Schedule time to pray, meditate and exercise. Connect with those who make you feel light and happy rather than those who bring gray to your day.
It may take a bit of tweaking to your current routine, but before you know it, violá! Balance will be yours. Concerning matters of the heart, cardiovascular health is our life force and is at the center of total body wellness. A healthy heart is necessary for feeling our best when we embark on our passion quest, and it is important to be well versed concerning all matters of the heart. Normal blood pressure and heart rate are the most commonly monitored indicators for cardiovascular wellness. 71
Blood pressure should be 120/80 with a resting heart rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Anything higher indicates a need for cardiovascular attention. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with risk factors that include a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes. These are aspects of life which are completely changeable. That is the good news! The more challenging part derives from your commitment to make permanent lifestyle changes. If you do fall into any of the risk categories, can you commit to stop smoking, improve your diet, and/or exercise? I sure hope so; it’s your life, for goodness' sake. Here are a few tips to help you along your way: Look into acupuncture and other programs to help you stop smoking Find a healthier oral fixation, such as gum chewing to replace cigarettes Find new ways to relieve tension such as invigorating walks, meditation, hitting golf balls, visiting the beach, massage, or finding a funny clip on YouTube Commit to starting some form of exercise if you are sedentary (e.g., walking around the block at lunch or after dinner, going for a swim, or taking the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator) Make sure you are exercising in your target heart range Aim for 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise six days a week Enjoy a heart-healthy recipe swap with friends and try a new recipe each week Look for heart-healthy menu selections when visiting a restaurant
Get familiar with foods that benefit your heart (all in moderation): Dark chocolate and wine—both high in flavonoids, which protect blood vessels and help to lower blood pressure (perfect for February’s love day) Salmon, almonds, walnuts, and flax seeds-rich in Omega 3s, beneficial in reducing blood clots, decreasing inflammation, protecting against artery plaques, and reducing triglycerides Blueberries, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and red bell peppers--offer a great dose of carotenoids, which are heart-protective antioxidants
Whether it is the love of your life or the love of your heart, improve your quality of life for health and happiness. Jump in and increase your cardiovascular exercise, stop smoking and adopt a heart-healthy diet. Furthermore, ignite your passion. Know you can attract your heart’s desire and feel the exciting flames from your fiery passion. Find balance and know that health and vitality are not far behind. It is from this point that you can be clear about what really sets your soul on fire (in a good and pleasing way of course). You deserve the life you have been dreaming of. Let your heart be moved and you will be surprised by what appears in your life.
~Dr. Lisa Hollingsworth Upshaw is a Holistic Healer trained in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, Chiropractic, Functional Nutrition and Mind Body Healing. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about her practice at www.beingwellbody.com. 72
Sellin g t h e H ea lth y LI F E By Garrett M. Broad Over seven million people tuned in for the 2011 season finale of The Biggest Loser, NBC's dramatic reality game show in which overweight contestants competed to see who could lose the highest percentage of their body weight. Coached by celebrity trainers, participants were placed on a diet that severely limited their caloric intake, and viewers watched as the contestants struggled through a strenuous exercise program that could last for up to six hours per day. The winner in 2011 was John, a 40-year-old man from Arizona who started the program weighing 445 pounds and went on to lose 225 of those pounds – just under 50 % of his body weight. As presented on The Biggest Loser and other similar shows, it sure seems like a simple formula, doesn't it? Eat less, exercise more, and you too can be thin and healthy. The choice is yours.
But is it really that simple? If you watch a show like The Biggest Loser a bit closer, the picture ultimately gets more complicated. In between segments of the show, commercials for highly processed and fast foods, sugary and so-called ”diet” soft drinks abound. Sponsors for the show include Subway, 74
purveyor of mystery meats and processed cheeses, as well as Progresso Soups, a can of which can send someone who suffers from hypertension off the blood pressure charts. If you watch the broadcast in full, the message can be more muddled than it would appear at first glance. Don't get me wrong, for many of the folks who appear on shows like The Biggest Loser, it is clear that losing weight and adopting more healthy lifestyle habits – including eating better food and staying active – are important if they hope to improve their overall health and well-being. Yet, I am suggesting that the dominant narratives that emerge from mainstream, commercial media sources do not necessarily point us in the right direction for exactly how health can best be achieved. Much of the advice we see on television, in magazines and elsewhere makes it clear that, if you want to lead a healthy life, it is simply a personal choice. Conveniently, they suggest that their sponsors – like processed food companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and fitness clubs – are just the right choices you need to make in order to attain those goals! What we lack in mainstream media accounts of health and nutrition is something like a true food systems approach. A food systems approach is one that takes into account all
aspects of the growing, processing, selling and consuming of food. When you think about the food system as a whole, you realize that, well before you make any decision about what to buy at a grocery store or eat at a restaurant, countless decisions have already been made by others that influence the quality of the food you eventually eat. There are decisions made about the way food is grown (with or without fertilizers, pesticides and genetic modification?), how animals are raised (humanely and without antibiotics or the opposite?), how the food is processed (does it include lots of chemical preservatives, high levels of sodium and sugar?), where the food is sold (is there equal access for people of all races and income levels?), and how much it costs (does it fit into everyone's price range?), among many other topics. So, for example, for millions of Americans who live in low-income urban and rural areas across the nation, access to fresh, healthy, minimally processed fruits and vegetables at an affordable price is severely lacking. Instead, inexpensive processed and fast foods – the same ones that make up the vast majority of food advertising – stock the shelves at local markets, as well as on the trays of schoolchildren across the country. PicturePerfectMagazine.com
Is it the choice of all of these folks to live in communities that lack access to healthy foods? Taking a food systems approach also requires us to think critically about the conventional wisdom of nutritional health. Most of the messages that we see in the media suggest that what is most important is watching our calories – if we burn off through exercise as many calories as we consume through eating, they suggest, then we can all have that beach body ready for the summer! Once again, however, this conversation is missing some key ingredients. Are all calories really made equal? Do 200 calories of carrots really have the same impact as 200 calories of potato chips? Do all people digest and process calories in the same way, or are there important variations based on gender, ethnicity, age, and other genetic factors that are not taken into account? Is the science that connects calories to body weight as sound as it seems when we hear it from nutritionists in the media? I am not so sure it is. Perhaps the holy grail of conventional wisdom goes even deeper – does being thin mean that you are actually healthy? The main metric that we use to discuss being overweight and obesity in America (as well as being underweight and what is referred to as a “normal” weight) is the Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is derived by dividing an individual's body PicturePerfectMagazine.com
weight by the square of his or her height. The measure was invented in the mid-19th century by a Belgian statistician named Adolphe Quetelet, but it was not until the mid-to-late 20th century that it was used as a primary measurement in medicine and social statistics. BMI does not take into account things like muscle mass, bone structure, or ethnic variations in the way a body is shaped. It takes a quantitative statistic out of any social context and makes an argument that anyone above or below a certain “normal” number – in this case, below 18.5 or above 25 (whatever that means) – is not healthy. It is a wholly unfit and invalid measure to make a decision about how healthy or unhealthy a person is. And yet, this fairly illogical metric remains the dominant way we talk about nutritional health in America. Who made that choice? Working as both an academic scholar and a volunteer activist on issues of food and health, I know I am one of many people who thinks that we can do a better job promoting health in this nation than we currently do today. Personal choices related to diet and physical activity do matter, most certainly, but we need to do more to promote a physical, social and cultural environment that is healthier for all people, not just those who can most easily afford to buy the finest organic foods and pay for personal trainers. I think that we can do more to make sure
the food that we eat is grown in a way that reduces toxic chemical use that is dangerous to farm workers and consumers. We can do more to promote the availability and affordability of healthy, minimally processed foods in all communities. And we can do more to investigate how diet, physical activity, genetics, and other environmental factors contribute to healthy lifestyles. What, exactly, should we do to take action on these vast and complicated topic areas? That is a question that would require much more space than this column allows. One important place to start, though, is in a magazine like this, and in all of the other media sources that we read, listen to, and watch. If we promote a broader, more substantive conversation about food systems and health in our media, if we question some of the conventional wisdom that lacks strong evidence to support it, then we can open up a space for debate about the best courses of action at the individual, community and policy levels to promote our collective well-being.
And that's a choice worth making!
SPOTLIGHT: HEALTH INITIATIVES AROUND THE GLOBE By Matthew Lingo While Picture Perfect Magazine might focus on health and fitness, there are a large number of health issues facing our communities, cities, and nations. Below is a brief roundup of some prominent health initiative campaigns, which are aimed at making the world a little healthier and happier. Some are global in scale, and some are completely local, and they cover issues as varied as health among the elderly and health education for schoolchildren. What is the one thing they share in common? The desire to create a better tomorrow for all of us.
1. Health Initiatives for Youth
Website: www.hify.org What Is It: The aim of Health Initiatives for Youth is to help young people through the use of youth leadership, education, and the pursuit of social change. One of the program’s emphases is on gay rights and health. Its programs include FABULOUS, which is aimed at LGBTQ youth, and its logo, a purple hand, was created as an act of protest against anti-gay sentiment in the San Francisco Examiner.
2. Women’s Health Initiative
Website: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/whi/ What Is It: Established in 1991, the Women’s Health Initiative was created to investigate leading causes of death in postmenopausal women, in the hopes of someday preventing them. They determined that the leading causes of death are osteoporosis, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. The initiative relies upon a combination of clinical trials, observational study, and prevention study.
3. Health Initiatives of the Americas
Website: hia.berkeley.edu What Is It: The HIA focuses on health issues in regard to the Latino population working and residing in the United States. A work of 76
collaboration between the UC Office of the President and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, this initiative aims to bring together strains of academia, government, and community organizations to try to meet the needs of the Latino populace and improve health care and wellness within this community.
4. Global School Health Initiative:
Website: http://www.who.int/school_youth_health/gshi/en/ What Is It: Launched by the World Health Organization, the Global School Health Initiative was designed to focus extensively on improving the health of communities through school, an effort that reaches out to faculty, students, and families. The GSHI’s goal is to encourage schools to promote healthy habits and provide the necessary information to students in regard to living a healthy and happy lifestyle. One notable GHSI strategy is the Global School-Based Student Health Survey, a survey which is designed to identify health behavior and risk factors in students aged 13-15.
5. Obesity Education Initiative
Website: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/oei/ What Is It: Created by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the Obesity Education Initiative aims to fight both obesity and the preponderance of physical inactivity in our culture, in an effort to cut down on such afflictions as coronary disease and sleep apnea. They achieve their goals through such programs as Hearts N' Parks, which works to encourage parks & recreation departments to include heart-healthy activities in their towns.
6. The Children’s Health Initiative of Greater Los Angeles
Website: http://www.chigla.org/ What Is It: The Children’s Health Initiative of Greater LA was formed to keep kids healthy and PicturePerfectMagazine.com
ensure their access to health care coverage. They offer cheap health care to children who are not eligible for public programs, and work to look for policy solutions to bring health care to the children who need it. To date, the initiative has raised over $170 million.
7. Let’s Move!
expedite both medical research and public health policy, with equal focus on both human and animal health. This initiative is endorsed by scientists and doctors worldwide, and is truly global in ambition and scale.
11. The United States President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
Website: http://www.letsmove.gov/ What Is It: This initiative has received a major leg up due to its association with First Lady Michelle Obama. Their goal is to prevent childhood obesity through the dissemination of information and the promotion of healthy eating habits, both at home and in schools. The First Lady has gone on prominent tours around the country, something that has brought national attention to this initiative and the movement it represents.
Website: http://www.pepfar.gov/ What Is It: PEPFAR, which was created by President Bush in 2003, is the largest global response to AIDS yet conceived. Through the coordination of several branches of the U.S. government, the initiative has been able to provide care for those afflicted with the disease, as well as research possible cures and vaccines. It is one of the largest and most integral parts of the Global Health Initiative.
8. Aging Initiative
Website: http://www.chcf.org What Is It: As you might have guessed, California HealthCare Foundation is focused on health care for residents of this very state. Each year, the foundation issues $40 million in grants to worthy and related organizations, from a $700 million endowment. The foundation focuses specifically on issues related to chronic diseases, the providing of health care for the needy, health care accountability, and health care reform.
Website: http://www.epa.gov/aging/ What Is It: This initiative is targeted toward ensuring the environmental health of the elderly. Created by the EPA, it focuses on such hazards as carbon monoxide poisoning and ultraviolet radiation, and provides facts and figures on how to deal with these easily avoidable problems. (RETURN?) - what?
9. Shape Up America!
Website: http://www.shapeup.org/ What Is It: Shape Up America! is focused on raising awareness of obesity and promoting healthy dieting and lifestyle habits. Founded in 1994, it has been a part of the overall health movement for nearly 20 years, and focuses both on adult and childhood obesity. Somewhat uniquely among obesity-related initiatives, it devotes some focus to the ways that alcohol can affect weight and health, an important concept that is sometimes overlooked. 10. One Health Initiative Website: http://www.onehealthinitiative.com/ What Is It: One Health Initiative is a national coalition whose aim is to forge a connection between animal, human, and environmental health initiatives. Through this synergy, they aim to PicturePerfectMagazine.com
12. California HealthCare Foundation
13. The Global Health Initiative
Website: www.ghi.gov What Is It: The Global Health Initiative is a collaboration between various agencies of the U.S. government, all in the service of solving global health problems, problems which affect both the United States and the entire world. One of the Initiative’s most important causes is fighting AIDS. In fact, the number of people receiving AIDS treatment has risen 84% since Obama became president. Its greatest asset, perhaps, is its ability to coordinate between a large number of agencies and initiatives across the country, something that allows it to have a larger and more definitive reach than most other health initiatives.
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