It’s marketed as wellness, but should children really be counting calories?. Last September Weight Watchers changed its name. It had already rebranded, having dropped 600,000 subscribers and shifted its focus to “wellness” rather than diets, so a name change was not a huge surprise. But what was a surprise was its insistence that the new name, WW, doesn’t stand for anything, not even its new tagline: Wellness that Works. It stands for nothing. The company is back in the news this week with the launch of a new diet app for children. Which, well. There are small cultural touchpoints that when pressed today cause a sort of shudder, as if you’ve found an existential bruise. Certain handbags, for example, or prime ministers. Pete Doherty. Reading Candace Bushnell’s new book I felt one such shudder. Even though the first time round few of us identified with either the Sex and the City archetypes of womanhood or their ambitions of love (distinguished through huge wealth or big dicks) and friendship (distinguished through aspirational brunch items), we understood their mainstream appeal. Today Is There Still Sex in the City? with its reductive acronyms and designer vaginas arrives with embarrassment and the smell of burning. Like “WW” and its continued rebranding of what health looks like, seeing its flaws from this distance is shocking in its simplicity. We stand aghast beside a bonfire of vanities. You see patterns form in how businesses like this scrabble in muck to stay relevant. Like the characters in Bushnell’s new book, WW is shrouding outdated body obsessions in modern, muddled ideas of wellness. But in daylight the money shows through, and their latest launch, Kurbo, a calorie-counting app for kids, is not just old-fashioned but distinctly icky. Kurbo ranks food choices using a “traffic-light” system: green items can be eaten freely; yellow foods should be consumed in moderate portions; and red foods should make kids “stop and think”. The idea of my five-year-old “stopping” before accepting a KitKat, and “thinking” before quietly inputting it into an app, fills me with ancient dread. After “healthy eating week” at her school, I saw indignant confusion before a plate of biscuits. Food had become moralised – sweets tasted good, but were bad, and broccoli vice versa. Though the lessons were well-meaning, they proved confusing for shallow-fried brains, and she lectured me at length and wrongly about fat and sugar, talking over my quiet argument for a balanced plate. I was reminded, wearily, that eating is about so much more than food. In 2018, Weight Watchers announced it was taking the emphasis off before and after pictures, but on the Kurbo site, their “success stories” are cheerily illustrated with just that, including photos of Sophie, aged eight, drinking a milkshake, then… not (“I feel like I have more energy!”) – the small print below reads: “Results not typical”. For a weight-loss company struggling to place itself in a culture that’s turning away from diets, this is a clear attempt to soak up customers concerned about childhood obesity, with the app presumably marketed directly to their database of long-term dieters. But encouraging kids to focus on weight loss has been proven to trigger increased body dissatisfaction. Phones have a place in this – a 2019 study of 100 young people using nutrition apps found that almost half reported negative feelings, like guilt and obsession. WW’s app has launched in the US despite recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, whose guidelines explicitly warn parents and healthcare providers about the risks of focusing on weight loss with children and adolescents, in part because dieting increases the risk of eating disorders exponentially. American teenagers who diet are up to 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder, compared to those who don’t. And eating disorders in children are increasing: in 2018 the number of children and young people entering treatment for an eating disorder was 30% higher than two years earlier. But the thing that makes me roll my eyes (rather, perhaps, than stick them with a fork) is the fact that diets don’t work. The majority of dieters end up weighing more than they did before. The whole concept is a scam the size of the Fyre festival, an idea built on sand. In order to sort out kids’ health, there are things we can do at home, like improve our own relationships with food and appearance, and there are things we can do in society, like contribute to political change that helps the most deprived families, those more affected by childhood obesity. This app is a throwback to those days when we bent to fit the lies we were told, rather than questioned their motives. And if we lived in a different kind of world, where bellies were not judged like garden vegetables, the value of a person based on more than appearance, perhaps a health app like this would work. But we live here, among the chips and pain, and in this world, a child should not be told to change their body. Email Eva at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @EvaWiseman
When a bad internet connection means socialising offline, I find myself ranting at a chap in the pub. I’d just made an offhand comment in the pub, when I saw it. Nigel did an actual eye roll. And it was a good one. I’d barely met Nigel, a friend of a friend, so don’t know what he does for a living, but the guy could be at the Emoji Academy of Facial Acting. If they ever made a film about, say, a CGI panda who reads The Spectator – and Andy Serkis wasn’t available – they’d hire Nigel to do the motion capture. The 4G in the pub was bad, so in the absence of Twitter I’d made the mistake of being too vocal about something with a real-life stranger. I’d just noted that my son has many clothes featuring cars, trucks and dinosaurs and my nieces’ options were all flowers and fairies. I wasn’t being judgmental about it, but Nigel – a friendly, chatty dad, but the type you could imagine attending a taping of Top Gear – knew I wrote a column for the Observer and probably presumed I’d come straight to the pub from a dolphin séance. His anti-PC alarms all started ringing. ‘Surnames,’ I said to Nigel. ‘If I said to you: “Just last week, Doherty and McLaughlin went to the funfair,” you’d imagine two blokes, wouldn’t you?’ ‘Not sure.’ ‘You would – because unless otherwise indicated, surnames denote men, even though last time I checked all women have a surname. And it’s not like going to the funfair is gendered. Even if you change it to “Doherty and McLaughlin went for mojitos,” I still think of two blokes. Because we’re the default, Nigel. You have to add a qualifier for a woman to even be connected to the surname she lives her whole life with.’ ‘You’ve thought about this a lot.’ ‘Well, yeah, because, putting aside the rights and wrongs, I’m just confused. I mean, what are the rules? With toddler clothes, I kinda get fairies and princesses being for girls because fairies and princesses are girls. But why are so many neutral things for boys? I mean, all sexes drive cars, and they’re a boy thing, too. More men throughout history have caught butterflies and studied flowers than women, so why are those girly? Is it because they’re colourful? Then why are rainbows unisex? Why are dogs and cats unisex, while dinosaurs, big or small, carnivores or herbivores, always coded as boyish? I just don’t get it.’ Nigel sipped his drink then said, ‘What about Cher and Madonna?’ ‘Excuse me?’ ‘You said all women have surnames. What about Cher and Madonna?’ He had me there. Since it’s best to quit while you’re ahead in the offline world, we shook on the fact that gendered clothing was weird, and some women don’t have surnames. Just then our mutual friend returned to ask why I’d been ranting at Nigel for five minutes. ‘Well, you know,’ I said, as if it was obvious. ‘Twitter was down.’ Follow Séamas on Twitter @shockproofbeats
‘After two days of intense emotions, we fell for each other.’ Composite: Sarah Habershon/Getty. Posed by modelsI was a 26-year-old American travelling with my little sister to enjoy a week-long Greek island-hopping cruise. You were a 24-year-old Canadian on holiday, before your second year of medical school.We both had way too many mojitos as we headed towards Mykonos on the first day of the cruise. About 30 of us got off the ship as a group to meander around the crescent-shaped island, while soaking up the late-afternoon sun. We downed more beers and danced away the remaining sunlight hours. I blacked out but came to at the dock, waiting to load back on to our cruise ship… but the dock was quiet and empty.You and I sobered up, suddenly realising that we had been waiting at the wrong dock. Immediately, we ran across the island.When we got to the right dock, breathless, we were met with a big iron gate, closed and locked with a massive chain. Beyond the gate was a dark void where the ship had been, only minutes beforehand.You and I were stranded on Mykonos, without cellphones or passports.We were strangers then. But after two days of intense emotions and the stress of trying to catch up with our cruise ship, we fell for each other.You imprinted yourself on my soul. You changed my path for ever. You changed me for ever.I was married when I arrived in Greece, and I came home knowing that I needed to get divorced if I had any chance of being the type of person I wanted to be. I think you felt an immense guilt for our affair, and so you chose to let me go from your life.I want you to know that every significant decision I’ve made from that point forward has been conscious and filled with peace. I got divorced, wrote a book about what happened on Mykonos, quit my job and travelled for a year and a half. I dived into Buddhism, moved to Seattle (the place I always thought I wanted to live), found a life partner, and had a child.You are a thread through all of these elements, because none of them would have been possible without the intersection of our fates some seven years ago. I am and always will be eternally grateful to you, and I hope you know that. I know you were an upstanding person and will still be, so please, have no regrets.
‘I miss my hobbies.’ Photograph: Getty ImagesRecently I dropped by a friend’s flat unannounced – a gesture intended to be sweet but which was probably annoying. As she rushed around attempting to make the living room Pinterest-presentable, I noticed a collection of tiny paint jars and thin delicate brushes on the table. “They’re Michael’s,” she said, swooping them into a box and into a cupboard. “He paints little figurines.”Michael is my friend’s fiance. I like to think I know him well, but he’s never mentioned being a figurine painter. If painting figurines is something he loves, it hasn’t defined him. He does not describe himself as a “conceptual figurine artist” or an “artisanal miniaturist”, and he does not have a shop on Etsy.What he does have is a hobby. Remember those? It’s what people had before side-hustles, before we became personal brands primed to earn above all else.I miss my hobbies. I miss doing things for fun, rather than because I feel I should. Even my passion for reading has lost its shimmer; no longer an escape from working life but instead a dialogue with it. I used to bake – my lunch-hour indulgence while freelancing from home – but that was the first to go when a new job came in.Do I really have no hobbies? What a sad, small life if so. Perhaps my weekly three hours at the gym could count (though I suspect a hobby should be born of enjoyment, not fear of early death). Podcasts, Netflix – are these my hobbies? I cannot improve at them; there is no eventual mastery to aim for. Isn’t this just rest with entertainment? Though if hobbies existed to counter the monotony of working life, perhaps ones which enforce respite to counter the exhaustion in our lives are exactly what we need.Better get the oven on.
SINGAPORE — Folklore, folktales and storytelling - most of us grew up with tales told by family members, teachers and friends. But have you wondered about a story and its purpose, and most of all, the storyteller who aims to preserve the act of storytelling?
‘There’s a physical element to techno that is lacking in other genres.’ Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphotoI am often asked what sort of things help me with my mental health. I think people expect me to say walking, nature, swimming. And all of those things do help, all of those things I need, but also: techno music. People never expect techno.I actually used to hate techno; would rather die than listen to it, until I was sober for a year. It seems somewhat paradoxical to give up booze and suddenly start hanging out on vodka-sticky dancefloors. But, just like an SSRI, mix a high BPM into my bloodstream and my mood will lift.There’s a physical element to techno that is lacking in other genres. There is, of course, joy to be found in sliding across one’s kitchen floor in socks, bellowing out pop lyrics into the handle of a broom; but just as the physicality of exercise takes one out of the mind, so does the bodily response to the thud, thud, thud of techno. The rattling of the ribcage; the beat of the music in your chest – as if you had the world’s most muscular, obnoxious heart. There’s no space for bad thoughts, doubt or worry when the senses are assailed.Last weekend I felt awful. I spent the entirety of Saturday in a duvet-cave. The banality of life, the relentlessness. Boris Johnson. On Sunday, I dragged myself from bed, threw some stuff in a bag and set off to Wilderness festival.A couple of years before I had been revived, Lazarus by way of lasers, dancing at 2am in the festival’s Valley – a literal valley – green beams scanning the night sky, pushing through trees in the black. Again, this is not something I envisioned a few years ago: I’m a huge Girls Aloud fan. But from that valley full of noise, I progressed to the thump of industrial techno at the infamous Berghain in Berlin. The sweaty basements of east London or repurposed gasholders. Wilderness worked again this year. (I did the wild swimming, too.)They say routine is good for mental health, and techno is nothing if not routine. A 10-minute techno track is the embodiment of keeping going. And there are barely any lyrics to drag the mind to places it isn’t helpful to go.A bonus is that techno often takes place in the kind of Brutalist spaces or decrepit warehouses that also sing to my soul, but it can be equally helpful throwing my hood up, earpods in, and walking around at night listening to a playlist that smacks as my heels hit the pavement. Try it.
The long-running series in which readers answer other readers’ questions on subjects ranging from trivial flights of fancy to profound scientific and philosophical concepts. A Russian passenger plane made an emergency landing in a cornfield near Moscow last week. How will it be moved to fly again or will it be scrapped? What has happened to planes in similar accidents? Robin Benson, Southampton Post your answers – and new questions – below or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Sex is not a competition. There is no scoreboard.’ (Posed by models.) Composite: GettyDuring intercourse, my wife and I will be going well and I will lose my erection. I am aroused and I love her, but I get inside my head and think too hard. At the beginning of our relationship, she would orgasm about five times to my one; it was always that I took too long. I sometimes feel as if I am not letting myself go. Is it a confidence thing?Sex is not a competition. There is no scoreboard. If you approach love-making as though there is a goal to achieve – or even with the main intention of being good at it – you will fail to enjoy it fully. During lovemaking, try to make your principal aim simply giving and receiving pleasure. Approach sex in the knowledge that it is common and normative to lose your erection from time to time – and that erectile failure is more likely to happen if you are nervous and goal-oriented. Instead of trying to even the score, simply allow yourself to receive pleasure as well as give it. You are married to someone you love and she seems to be sexually fulfilled; all you have to do is to relax and enjoy being with her ... without counting climaxes.•Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.•If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to email@example.com (please don’t send attachments). Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms•Comments on this piece are premoderated to ensure discussion remains on topics raised by the writer. Please be aware there may be a short delay in comments appearing on the site.
(Below you’ll find some pretty massive spoilers for “Avengers: Endgame”)As is fitting for a movie that sold itself as the culmination of the first eleven years of an unprecedented style of mega-franchise, “Avengers: Endgame” is astonishing for the ridiculously huge and star-studded cast it assembled for its grand finale. Pretty much everybody showed up, and it’s probably got the biggest collection of stars of any movie ever.But “Avengers: Endgame” didn’t just bring back the big stars. A bunch of minor characters also got to return in some surprising ways. But maybe none were more surprising than this one character who appeared for only a brief moment at the very end of the movie.Also Read: Here's Why Black Widow Didn't Get a Memorial At the End of 'Avengers: Endgame'The character in question is a teenage boy who appears with all the other mourners at the funeral of Tony Stark. In this shot the camera pans across a bunch of people after Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) sent the original mini arc reactor that Tony crafted back in “Iron Man” into the lake. For the most part all the people we see are major characters who have shown up in the MCU recently, except for this one kid who’s standing there alone looking at the ground.You’ll be forgiven if you don’t recognize this guy, because he looked a lot different the last time he appeared in the MCU. That character is Harley Keener, played by Ty Simpkins, who you’ll remember from “Iron Man 3” as the kid from Tennessee who helps Tony (Robert Downey Jr) recharge his suit while he investigates a mysterious death. “Iron Man 3” came out way back in 2013, and Simpkins was just a kid at the time, and he’s grown up a bunch since then.Here’s what the character Harley Keener looked like in “Iron Man 3”:So, yeah, no shame in not being sure about that one — Simpkins looks completely different now than he did back then.Also Read: 'Avengers: Endgame' - What Happened With Loki and the Tesseract?It’s very interesting also that they would bring him back at all — a character that has not been mentioned at all since that movie six years ago. Is Harley Keener coming back to the MCU? I guess we’ll find out.Read original story ‘Avengers: Endgame’ – Who Is That Random Kid at the End of the Movie? At TheWrap
A middle school science teacher handed out a gender-identity worksheet to help explain why they preferred the gender-neutral title Mx. or Mr. or Ms.
NB mayonnaise, garlic and hair straighteners are not effective treatments for head lice.
Try to get a mix of impact and non-impact cardio – but make sure your technique is correct. Photograph: PeopleImages/Getty Images Maintain a healthy weightEssentially, the heavier you are, the greater the impact on the joints and the stronger the muscles have to be to control movements, explains Laura Jamieson, a chartered physiotherapist. Ensuring that muscle-mass percentage is higher than body-fat percentage is crucial to maintaining muscle strength, which helps to ensure you move well. Registered dietitian Sue Baic, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, breaks it down: “For every 0.5kg (1lb) lost, we reduce the weight going through the knee joint at each step by 2kg (4.5lb).” Excess body fat, especially around the abdomen, is also inflammatory, making any osteoarthritis symptoms worse. ExerciseBody-weight exercises such as squats can strengthen the muscles around hip joints. Photograph: Milkos/Getty Images/iStockphoto“A common misconception is that people think exercise will aggravate joint pain,” says Giles Stafford, a consultant orthopaedic hip surgeon at the Wellington Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK. But strengthening the muscles around joints is important, says Stafford, especially if you have any issues with them, as it will minimise the pressure on them. Hip problems, for example, can be improved or even prevented by maintaining a good functional range of motion and muscle strength. Stafford recommends body weight exercises such as squats and lunges, and light dumbbell exercises such as bicep curls. Vary your routineWhen it comes to exercise, variety is key. Jamieson recommends a mixture of impact and non-impact cardio for good bone density and strength training (ensuring guidance is sought for correct technique). Yoga can help maintain good mobility but Jamieson says to combine it with other forms of exercise.Stafford warns against over-stretching: “It can take the joint past its natural physiological range, which can cause damage to the joint and surrounding structures.” Eat a Mediterranean dietA diet high in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and nuts can help protect your joints. Photograph: kaanates/Getty Images“Some recent research has suggested that diets high in saturated fat – found in fatty meats and meat products, full-fat dairy, cakes, biscuits, butter and coconut oil – can weaken the cartilage in the knee and hip so that it is more prone to damage and loss of cushioning,” says Baic. She recommends a Mediterranean-style diet, higher in monounsaturated fats such as olive or rapeseed oil, with plenty of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds. As omega-3 fat is anti-inflammatory, Baic suggests one to two servings of oily fish each week (or in the recommended dose if taken in oil form). Also pay attention to your vitamin D levels, which are crucial for bone development: it is believed one in five people in the UK have low levels. Practise good postureMaintaining good posture is key to preventing joint issues, says Jamieson. “You want to be very careful of your back particularly: there is no surgery that will replace your discs or spine yet.” The NHS publishes an online guide tackling common posture mistakes. It is also important to wear the correct, supportive footwear for exercises and activity.