the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

A Little Anorexia is Hot


I’m beginning to think that magazines intentionally choose articles to make their readers feel insecure, buy their magazine, and eat up the products advertised in the current issue. (I’m sure some blogs do the same thing)

A few days ago, I mentioned the Details magazine article which theorized that man’s happiness is directly related to the size of his member.  Of course, since most of us never reach that nine inch status, we need to compensate by buying Axe cologne or a sports car.

It’s all pretty ridiculous.  First of all, most men keep their private parts hidden in their pants until the third date, so no women really knows what’s up (other than in the Middle Ages – Renaissance when men tried to fool everyone with codpieces).  In modern times, men use this “dating” process for their own purposes, suckering the always emotional woman into overlooking any other issues with the male body, as they “fall” for you.

Joking, uh… ha ha.

Women have it tougher than men.  Men do judge women by how they look.  But — I’m not sure they do as much as you think.  Different men like all different types of women.   Some like all women!  Despite what men talk about when they are drinking beer in Hooters, a woman with a good sense of humor is much sexier than a pair of fake boobs.  Not that men don’t like boobs.  That is a given.  I just think that women’s magazines go overboard in setting up a feminine “ideal” that is not essential to being attractive to men.   Perhaps women are forced into all this more from peer pressure of other women!  And unlike men’s magazines, women’s magazines don’t give a woman an out– our culture doesn’t say that a woman owning a sportscar can ever compensate for a woman’s physical “faults.”    Instead women have to buy, buy, buy beauty supplies and diet, diet, diet. 

I’m pretty insecure about myself, but I’m surprised how confident I sound when I IM with some of my female blogging friends!  I’m about as dorky as they come, but even I don’t think it impossible for me to be with any woman I wanted to — if the situation was right.  When I was watching the Grammy Awards last week, I was thinking about this exact thing when Beyonce was singing.  Now that is one beautiful, talented successful woman!  And I was sitting there thinking — “You know what.  If circumstances were different, and we were in the same social circle, and I had a little more money, and if we had something to talk about, I bet you I could woo Beyonce.”  Do you find that crazy?  I think most men wouldn’t.  This is why some men come off as cocky — because even I — the most insecure person you’ll meet — have this insane, unrealistic male ego.  Do I think I will ever date Beyonce?  Of course not.  But in my mind… it is possible.

Do women think they could be dating Brad Pitt if things were different?  I think it is harder for women to have these crazy thoughts, because the media is harder on your psyche.  Our culture makes you feel that you aren’t worthy of being considered attractive if your body shape isn’t a certain type.  This is not a new discussion, either on blogs or on Citizen of the Month. 

I can hear the thoughts already.  “Brad Pitt would never want me because I’m a size 12!  Maybe if I lost weight.  I really should go to the gym… today.” 

You would think that women’s magazines would be “with the times,” advocating the sexiness of real women, like in those Dove ads.   You can be sexy being thin and athletic.  You can be sexy being full-figured with a squeezeable ass.  So, I was surprised to hear about this article in March’s Elle magazine, written by Amanda Fortini, which touts the idea that “men prefer anorexic women.”  Huh?  Is that really true?  Is this the same research company that came up with the results that Hung = Happiness?  Or is this written in the magazine solely to make women feel insecure and renew their subscription to Elle?

From the article (via Jezebel):

“Many men, I quickly learned, really do like frighteningly lean women, whatever they may claim to the controversy. As an average, medium-size young woman, I was unremarkable, innocuous. As a skinny slip of a thing, I was something of a sensation. In restaurants and at parties, men flirted at me extravagantly.” Men in media and literary circles hit on her frequently and audaciously, (one of them with the awesome line, “You remind me of a heroine from a Joan Didion novel.” (You know, “all bones and big eyes.”) “As a male friend once put it to me, semifacetiously,” she writes, ‘A little anorexia is hot.'” 

P.S. — Let’s keep an anorexia count on for tonight’s Oscars!  At least it will make the always boring show interesting…


  1. suburbancorrespondent

    Are the editors at Elle so starved by their anorexic tendencies that they can’t do their jobs properly? “…whatever they may claim to the contrary…” is the phrase the writer was looking for. Sheesh.

    And women who follow the recommendations of these types of magazines deserve what they get. Stupidity has its price.

  2. blackbird

    Have you seen that new show How To Look Good Naked? (could be Feel Good Naked)
    It’s with Carson from Queer Eye and it’s pretty good – and totally about women embracing their beauty at any size.
    I think that Elle piece is crap. I know very few men who are drawn to super skinny. The guys I know seem to like boobs and tushes. And I live with a few.

  3. Kathy

    Skinny does not equal happy. I hope most women (and men) know that. I’m a size four, and I’m pretty sure Brad wouldn’t want me. (Nor do I really find Brad Pitt attractive, but that’s blog fodder for another day.)

  4. Neil

    By the way, does anyone know Beyonce’s phone number?

  5. Annie

    I get upset by things like this and have
    for years avoided fashion magazines because they depress me. Mind you I am a
    normal size 8. I have always believed that
    it was women that judged other women more
    than men do. Now this. Thank God for men like you 🙂

  6. Not Fainthearted

    One of The Most amazing things I found in my return to the single life after a 20+ year marriage was the number of men who actually DID like women “with curves.” (which actually means a butt, boobs and the little jiggly belly that comes with it.)

    I think the main problem with the Elle piece were the men she was hanging out with. I’d say the men in the “media” circles, at least, would have been brain-washed enough to actually prefer skin covered bones. The “literary” men I know like it more real.

    So are you going to twitter through the Oscars?

  7. lfar

    Definitely some interesting ideas here. I’d say my immediate way to judge a man’s body is height and size of biceps. In the same way I judge a women by thinness and size of boobs.

    In answer to your question, I TOTALLY think that given the chance I could woo anybody I wanted to. Brad Pitt? Even.

  8. Stacey

    I’m a size 8, much smaller than most women I know, and yet I’m impressed by how fat and unattractive magazines and TV make me feel.

    As for men, I recommend Tag body spray. The Captain occasionally uses the stuff and it never fails to make me rip his clothes off.

  9. Neil

    LFAR — Size of biceps! Oy, another thing to worry about. I sometimes have trouble lifting my coffee cup in the morning. If I promise you to massage your feet every morning week> month, would that compensate for my weak arms?

    Stacey — TAG body spray? I have never used cologne once in my life. (maybe aftershave) Maybe I should change that.

    NFH — Probably not. I think we all know who the anorexic actresses are…

  10. Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

    I think the media is trying to make me neurotic and it is working.

  11. Neil

    For all those who went for the trend — aren’t those “skinny jeans” uncomfortable to sit in?

  12. Think Jacob

    That’s why I just spray Axe all over my Ferrari. That way women won’t know that I have a small penis. Also, I drive fast and treat waiters and other retail service people like crap to show what a man I am.

    Really, I have no ego. I’m married. That’s the first thing they go after…

  13. Think Jacob

    Oh, and for the record, I love Old Spice body spray. It smells good and people always ask what I’m wearing. I don’t tell them it’s Old Spice. I just love their new slogan, “Old Spice, if your grandfather didn’t wear it, you wouldn’t be here…”

  14. Leesa

    Honestly, I’ve never met a man that preferred the anorexic look. Good thing though, because I’m the very curvy kind.

    And you know, I’ll take dorky anyday 🙂

  15. HeyJoe

    I agree that women have been sold a bill of goods with re: to appearence.

    I also agree that men seem to have more…confidence in the impossible? That being said, I’ve HAD Beyonce and let me tell you, she’s no Aretha Franklin.

  16. dan-E

    living in south beach, i see plenty of women who actually do look like those jean models in the photos and i admit it might look good if done right.

    however, i speak for a lot of guys when i say i prefer a shapely, curvy girl with a round ass. (or maybe that’s just me.)

  17. Jill - GlossyVeneer

    “A little anorexic” isn’t hot. It’s scary and dangerous. And I’m speaking from personal experience. And while the end result was from internal struggles far beyond the media influence, the downhill slip did start with wanting to “lose 5 pounds this weekend” and “look better in jeans” and all the other nonsense that women’s magazines scream at us. We’re never good enough, and the majority of the time it’s always encouraging us to get smaller.

  18. natalie

    i know some of those women who are just tiny and they have issues with their bodies as well. some even think they are too skinny, but they can’t gain weight no matter how hard they try! i think about eating something fattening and i can gain weight! right now i am thinking about eating celery sticks. that seems like a safe bet! and i like the dorky kind of guy as well. no matter what size! and i’m not talking about length or girth of his man parts…

  19. Eileen Dover

    I’m pretty sure even men with small penises are pretty damn proud of their penis. I mean, they’re kind of anxious to show it, and I assure you, if I had a small penis, I’d be extremely self-conscious about it.

    I think it comes down to the amount of self-esteem. Too much and you’re an immediate narcissist, too little and you’re viable to get free therapy from public mental health clinics and the subject of dinner party conversations where all your friends tell you what’s wrong with you and how to fix it.

    And as much as I really want to believe the Dove commercials, honestly, I know of a handful of men right off the bat who have dim-sighted, stupid, unfunny, miserable girlfriends… all of which are only average in looks, but are twiggy little sticks in the body.

  20. Dagny

    Blackbird is right. That show is great. And yes, the article is completely wrong. I have many married friends whose husbands are in fear of them losing too much weight.

    Oh, and my stepmother claims to be a distant relative of Beyonce’s. I’ll see if I can track down that number for you…

  21. Neil

    Think Jacob — My father wore Old Spice, too. I remember those cool commercials with the sailor! I think it was my father who turned me off of cologne.

    Eileen Dover — I don’t want to talk for all men, but most men stop obsessing over their body at a much earlier age. I remember feeling insecure about being skinny and getting kicked with sand in my face by Mr. Muscle in those comic books.


    So far, no one has ever kicked sand in my face at Redondo Beach. I don’t really walk around envying other men with broad shoulders or think they are better or more manly. I do envy and feel insecure about men with more MONEY and POWER! Now that is what bothers a man after college, not his penis size or biceps.

  22. miguelina

    One of the great things about men is their self-esteem.

    Back in my dating days I turned down a date from a guy who lived down the hall. He looked upset for like a minute, and then something clicked in his head.

    “Oooooh,” he said. “So you’re a lesbian! That’s cool.” And off he went, his ego intact. (Mind you, we were neighbors. He knew I dated men.)

    My friends and I got a good laugh out of that one for years.

    I wish more women thought like that. Having that much confidence is pretty impressive, if a it delusional.

  23. wendy

    The skinny woman is this years model..The IT thing..So when men are looking for something to dangle from their wrist..of course it would be the current “thing”.

    Perhaps men who are less about appearing to have the “name brand” girl,
    would be more in touch with wht they individuals..are into.

    perhaps its the…perhaps its curves..perhaps it’s legs or butts or eyes or feet for god sake…

    I just find it VERY suspect..that an article would espouse that ALL men like one type of women..

    I think sadly it a timex vs rolex for some of them..

    Real men, just like the watch that keeps good time…..

  24. ingrid

    I saw that article on Jezebel.

    I have been comforting myself that men prefer curvy women, so this lean revelation distressed me a bit.

    But then I remembered that I also seem to attract men when I am newly in a relationship with that “glow” of confidence. When I can just talk to them as people, no longer scoping out the crowd.

    So I think this all has something to do with confidence too. With the openness that lets you look at someone and meet their eyes, touch their arm, and be genuinely engaged. This is, at least, what I tell myself when I ponder my curves and lack of rib-cage on display and am envious of the thin.

    And since men who like the waifs will never notice me, I don’t worry about them. I just want to be healthy.

  25. sassy

    Is teeth-falling-out vomit-breath bulimia hot as well?

    Let’s ask Elle…

  26. JChevais

    I have a friend that won a years subscription to Elle magazine… She used to read it dutifully every month. She told me that she vividly remembers the month she no longer received it. All of a sudden she felt better about herself rather than fat, homely and stupid.

    She said that she didn’t realise that the magazine was affecting her self image until she no longer recieved it.

  27. V-Grrrl

    I’ve always had men express interest in me, but it’s not because I’m beautiful. I’m distinctly average–there’s always women who look better than me and always some who look worse.

    Sadly, even though I have first hand evidence that Beauty and Boobs don’t equal Attraction and Love, I still struggle with my self image. Not as much as I did when I was younger, but still…

  28. Lauren

    In my opinion, central to the issue, is that women are valued for their physical appearance above and beyond anything else. Most counter arguments to the push of super skinny is that big is beautiful. What about saying, YOU are valued not because you are big or small or curvy or flat but because you are smart and interesting and funny. It is naive to say that a persons appearance doesn’t matter, but it seems to matter a whole lot more in regard to women than men, and it is not women or men who perpetuate this, it is all society.

  29. e

    I’ve found that while there are some been who prefer super skinny child-like women, most men are actually more attracted to women who are soft and curving or muscular and toned. But, it’s still easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to loose weight. It would be awful if this was written in a men’s magazine, but having it written in a magazine FOR women is even more disgusting. Girls/women should not waste their money on something that makes them feel so bad about themselves.

  30. Finn

    Reason 1,237 that I don’t get these magazines.

    Come my read my post today… it’s on a similiar subject!

  31. bookfraud

    looks like you really stirred up the shit here.

    a little anorexia is like you can be a little pregnant. it’s not something one can turn on and off.

    i don’t know who these dudes are who love super-skinny gals. i mean, does anyone find calista flockhart, laura flynn-boyle, etc. really sexy? i guess there must be, since they’ve got boyfriends (harrison ford one of them).

    the dudes who like this stuff have this penthouse magazine image of a toned young woman with perfect skin and enormous barzongas.

    models and ballerinas are having very public deaths because of anorexia. nothing hot about that.

    renee zellweger looked unnaturally skinny. i didn’t notice anyone else, though.

  32. Roadchick

    When it comes down to brains vs. beauty, brains (and a sense of humor)wins every time.

    Beauty is fleeting – ever see a “hot” 80 year old?

    Didn’t think so.

  33. nancypearlwannabe

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure I judge myself (and other women) far more harshly than men judge us. Alas, the cunning sales and marketing people in the fashion industry understand that insecurity equals spending more money on products and so I end up cursing in a dressing room trying to make myself think skinny jeans are okay.

    Also, please vote no on the Axe body sprays. Walking through these middle school hallways I pass through at least three clouds of Axe spray daily and I can tell you unequivocally: it is gross.

  34. abigail road

    Great post Neil. I’ve gotta say though, as someone who is definitly NOT skinny, if i’m feeling confident and just being myself, I KNOW i could have any guy I wanted. In my single days, I snagged quite a few guys that at first I thought were talking to me, to get closer to my skinny beautiful friends, until I realized they liked me for me. Does that mean I think like a man?

  35. sarah g

    Embracing the you that you are, and its often magazines like that which cause women who already struggle with weight, to have more of a problem. And anorexia is a problem too! Apparently though, most men are instinctively drawn to curvy women, because that signifies fertility. So says Time magazine, and they use real scientific terms 🙂

  36. Kles

    I find is really odd that Elle would have that article… I understand that the majority of men don’t like morbidly obese women, but just the same, I am very, very certain the majority do not like “frighteningly lean women.” I do have one male friend that seems to go for short, tiny women, and everyone in my mixed-gender group of friends makes fun of him relentlessly, saying he likes anorexic twelve-year-olds or gerbil-women (we get pretty vicious with our taunting). Real anorexia is not hot to anyone, Elle… unless you have psychological problems.

  37. Non-Highlighted Heather

    To echo what’s already been said, I haven’t any doubt there are men that dig “Ethiopian Chic.” But if I was single, that’d easily eliminate the type of men I’d want in my life. I’m a curvy girl and I think I’m pretty easy on the eyes, but even more, I dig WHO I am. I don’t want a man to love me for my tits, I want him to love me because I make him laugh. I want him to want to fuck me because I turn his brain on. I want him to fall in love with my heart.

    Sure, there are physical characteristics that I’m more attracted to than others. But you really want to turn me on? Make me laugh out loud. Or make me think. Challenge me. Stimulating my brain is the surest way to stimulate my….ahem.

  38. Karl

    I think that article is full of shit. I HATE bone-thin women. Give me some meat on their bones, please. I don’t really have a “type” and often date larger women. Doesn’t bother me in the least, since I’m going for women with personalities, rather than going by mere looks.

  39. Atomic Bombshell

    I like what comedian Dane Cook had to say about overly skinny girls… I think it had something to do with Skeletor and Castle Greyskull. HAHAHAHA!

  40. ali

    most men i know don’t like their women to be rail thin. they like a woman with a little meat on her bones (and a woman who’s not afraid to eat meat off a bone. keep it clean, folks, i’m talking about chicken wings and steak…)

    women get uberskinny for other women. not for men. it’s a competition we have with other women.

  41. churlita

    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times…I’m glad I live in Iowa where men seem to appreciate women with junk.

  42. Bec

    I think ijust fell in love with you all over again.

  43. laurie

    You’re so right on about the entitlement men feel and how it’s more than what women feel (at least in my opinion, your Beyonce reference was brilliant and also, you should be writing this for a magazine because you’re far more introspective on the subject than that Elle piece!)

    Personally, I can definitely see the difference between men in L.A. and men in other places (out here I find they like ’em anorexic indeed.) Weird.

    But you’re a really great writer, this was one of your best I think 🙂

  44. teahouseblossom

    I could never be anorexic. There is too much good food in New York City that’s waiting for me to eat it.

  45. better safe than sorry

    i say keep that dream alive, look at what janet jackson is dating! who’d have thunk that?

  46. Julie

    I have to say that now that I’ve made peace with the fact that I’ve gained some weight in the past year I feel MUCH happier. When I realized my size 6s were no longer fitting I freaked out, thinking my husband was going to have a problem with it. Know what? He didn’t and I did. Now that I have a bit of “junk in my trunk” I actually feel sexier and more like a real woman. I still get on the scale and I don’t know why, as the only really important thing is if my clothes fit well, and now that I’m in the right size they do.

    And Brad Pitt…Feh.

  47. plain jane

    Have you seen Leonard Nimoy’s “Full Body Project” photograpy.

    On John Stewart Nimoy said he had read that some teenagers are having oral sex rather than intercourse because they don’t want to show their bodies.

  48. Erin Cooper

    Well, as someone who has been obsessed with her weight her entire adult life, I can tell you that it disgusts me how much my size and body issues rule my life. I’ve never been anorexic, but when I was a teen, I was very thin, naturally, and as a late bloomer I put on a significant amount of weight around 19. Meaning, I went from 110 to 142 in a matter of 6 months. I immediately panicked and started working out and trying to eat healthy to lose that weight and have been in that struggle ever since. My friends tell me that I have warped body issues now, that a size 6 is a small size and I should be happy where I am… But I think it’s harder remembering how small I used to be. And yeah, my self esteem, no matter how much I think I should know better, is completely hinged on unrealistic self image goals. Feh…we’re all screwed up in some way, and this is mine. In constant search of the old me. The strange thing is, the old me that weighed 110, was unpopular and had no boyfriend. I’m already married, and my husband tells me I’m beautiful all the time. Go figure. Sure, I blame the media. All those, “Who looks worst in a bikini?” articles are terrifying…

    Oh, and as for skinny jeans…They aren’t too uncomfortable. The biggest complaint I have is that when I sit down, they tend to give me a little bit of plumbers crack. I think that’s why that fad for extra long shirts is so hot right now. 🙂

  49. Catheroo

    Neil, please speak at BlogHer on this topic. You will get a standing ovation and lots of bras and panties tossed to you to take home.
    I was anorexic once, and at my lowest weight ever, the guy I was dating told me that I looked really good. That before, I used to be wide in the hips and carry a lot of weight in my butt, but now (then) my ass looked awesome.
    I will never forget those words.

  50. savia

    I gained ten pounds before my jaw surgery because I was worried about losing too much weight while my jaw was wired shut. (And I also wanted to eat everything in sight and it was a good excuse!)

    Superstar couldn’t keep his hands off me. He loved it. I think he’ll be a bit disappointed when I drop the weight again.

    Who am I kidding? He’ll still be all over me.

  51. Gen

    It doesn’t matter if you’re thin, if your face is ugly. I’m sorry if that sounds mean. Men are more turned on by a pretty face than a certain body type.
    Some women should skip the implants and work on getting a nose or chin job, if all they care about is being maximally attractive to men (and there is much more to life than that).
    I’ve fluctuated between 100 and 180 pounds in the past 10 years, and I actually get more looks and flirts at the higher range of the scale. At the lower end I mainly got looks of concern.
    But I’m also tall with a large frame. Quite a few times I’ve been told I look “fit”.
    I’m hourglass shaped and somewhat busty. And I think it helps that I’m 33. I’ve gotten much more interesting in the past 10 years.
    153 pounds now, and I’m more popular with random men than ever. It’s kind of annoying, actually. A few of the guys who come up to me have no chance in hell with me based on looks alone. So it really proves your point about male entitlement.
    However, whenever I did get hit on when I was super thin (which was rare), the guys looked even worse, were usually really old, but were more charming. Kind of like your stereotypical pedophile. Creepy.

  52. Taryn

    It’s true. Or, at least, it was in my youth. I was the popular anorexic. The living embodiment of THAT thinspo picture. You know, the one of the ridiculously skinny, yet still super hot, perfectly tanned girl. I fought long and hard to get that way, then even harder to maintain it. It was torture on my mind and my body. People didn’t care about that part though, even those who knew about my diseases. Men and women alike were drawn to me. I could have had whatever I wanted back then. There were many professions of “love” and several marriage proposals. I’m not gonna lie, it was a blast. Even now, knowing the severe damage I caused, I don’t regret that period in my life.

    That said, I’m certain those same men would have loved me more if I could have drank pitchers of beer and scarfed pizza with them. I doubt they would’ve minded if I gained a little weight even, as long as it only went to my boobs.

    There’s a reason why celebrities look and act in outrageous ways. Would Lady Gaga have succeeded without her persona? Would Kim Kardashian or Kylie Jenner be so rich if not for their unrealistic cosmetic enhancements? Would anyone even know who Emily Ratajkowski is? Love it or hate it, fantasy sells.

    I will add this, to all the women who just can’t, won’t, or don’t want to alter yourself for society. Don’t worry. MOST of the men chasing perfection will outgrow it. They’ll seek out a smart, sweet, funny woman to settle down with. Someone who doesn’t spend hours in front of the mirror. Someone who can let their body change to grow babies. Someone who won’t make them feel inadequate when they develop a gut or start losing their hair. A partner to grow old with. Yesterday’s model daters are tomorrows soccer mom husbands. Be patient.

    To the men out there struggling with body image… don’t. Women are far more accepting and understanding creatures. Have a good personality, a sense of humor, intelligence, confidence, fame, money, or an attractive ex-girlfriend? Any of those things can override your appearance for women. Seriously, look at how many beauties are with ugly men.

  53. Mary

    My sister started becoming anorexic at age 10 and died at age 40. When she was about 14 she looked like a concentration camp victim. She never developed breasts or hips because she starved herself throughout puberty. But men loved how she looked. Everywhere she went, they whistled and cat called, telling her how “hot” she looked. It was truly sick. She was very ill and had the body of an emaciated child. Why are men sexually attracted to that? I have noticed a trend these days of men telling women that if they have breasts and hips (i.e. normal female curves), they’re “fat”. What’s going on?

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