Rachael Ray Talks Cellulite

26 Mar

Yesterday’s post was a warning that Cellulite Season is approaching and you’re likely to see an influx of regurgitated cellulite segments in the media. While these types of stories can be a good way to get women talking about the dreaded blight, they are bound to be less than satisfying for serious cellulite-investigators like ourselves.

To illustrate, let’s talk about the cellulite segment on Rachael Ray last week.

(This show originally aired last October but the producers brought it back for cellulite season.)

The Expert

Every cellulite segment needs an expert.  Rachael Ray chose Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, a “board certified dermatologist” with 30 years of private practice.  Rachael repeatedly addresses her as “Doctor” throughout the segment.

But how much does she know about cellulite?  A quick look at the bio on her website shows that she specializes in facial skincare. Her book is titled 6 Weeks to Sensational Skin: Dr. Loretta’s Beauty Camp Handbook for Your Freshest Face.  She even has her own line of skincare products, but not a cellulite cream in sight.

To my surprise, Rachael jumps into the interview by clearing up one of the most widespread myths about cellulite.  “It’s not a problem that’s necessarily anything to do with one’s weight,” she asks the doc.  “Absolutely,” Dr. Loretta confirms.  Unfortunately, the segment goes downhill from there.

Dr. Loretta goes on to explain that cellulite is something we all have because cellulite is fat under the skin. By equating cellulite with subcutaneous fat, she conveniently skirts the question of what causes cellulite and transitions the conversation to how women have more body fat than men.

The Products

As I mentioned yesterday, the media is under pressure to be useful and entertaining, so it’s not surprising that the Rachael Ray producers chose to test three inexpensive cellulite products for the segment. A viewer was selected to use each product for several weeks and report the results live on the show. The products were your typical at-home cellulite treatments:  a seaweed wrap, a pair of textured panties, and a cream with an infrared massage device.

Even though the women reported few results with any of the products, they seemed to feel under some kind of pressure to paint the products in a positive light. After Maria described the results she saw as “minimal” (she claims to have gone from “cottage cheese” to “swiss cheese”  –is that an improvement???), the music suddenly switches to an upbeat tempo and she is talking about how she recommends the product as a self-esteem booster.

Keisha gave her magic panties “a big thumbs down” because she saw “absolutely no results.” And yet, she also gets the musical transition and proudly vows to continue wearing them so they have more time to… do what magic panties do, I guess.

The Doc points out that in clinical trials for Keiaha’s product, 88 percent of women reported seeing a reduction in their cellulite after 8 weeks of continuous use. That means 12 percent of women “might not in the very beginning see as much of a result.” 

Yeah, that’s it.

No Time for Complexities

The Rachael Ray segment was fun. It got women talking about cellulite and even showing it on tv.  It gave me something juicy to write about two days in a row.

But we can’t expect much more from pieces like this because they don’t have time to approach cellulite as the complex issue it is. No one proposed following up with the viewers in another 8 weeks to see if they had seen any more progress from the products.  Rachael had to cut Sarah off when she started talking about how spending time in her seaweed wrap encouraged her to start paying more attention to herself and kick-started a more holistic program for tackling the blight.

Instead, they ended the segment with Dr. Loretta’s ultimate cellulite advice:

I think the first rule is remembering that it is somewhat related to weight so try to keep yourself to a healthy weight. Do exercise. And then, if you really feel that you’re just not happy enough and that you’re seeing cellulite, I think it’s super important that you try one of these [products].  Because I think we found in all three of our volunteers that there was such a positive feedback. They all really stated that they felt a lot better about themselves.

Am I the only one who thinks it’s fitting that the doctor ended the interview by contradicting the first question she answered?  I open the floor to your comments (c’mon, I know you’ve got opinions on this one!).

A Cellulite Investigator Update

Thanks for stopping by The Cellulite Investigation.  Things are a little quite around here at the moment.  I’m taking an extended break as I get married and settle into married life and a new home.  Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon!

Comments

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Debbie says:
3/26/2010

I do believe that to be true regarding weight and cellulite. My Mom and sis are both very petite…however have cellulite…if they happen to find your blog and read this, I am certain I will not offend their cheese butts, they know it:) Have a great weekend!

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That's been a pretty consistent finding here at the Cellulite Investigation. I won't tell your mom and sis you said anything. We'll keep that bit of info between us girls :)

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Amaryllis says:
3/26/2010

Very odd: 'nothing to do with weight' – 'somewhat related to weight'. Which is it? And the fact that one of the testers said there were absolutely no results, and then the Rent-an-Expert said 'we found in all three of our volunteers that there was such a positive feedback' seems to me to be a classic case of spin (and not clever spin, at that). As the manufacturers of the products were probably paying for this segement or advertising on the channel, that positive message had to be there. It's 'super important that you try' one of these products because trouble with an advertiser is the last thing they need. Cellulite may not be taken seriously by doctors, but it's a gold-mine for manufacturers.Too cynical? I can't help it.

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I don't think you are being too cynical in this situation. This is where we're supposed to be cynical, when people offer easy (consumer-based) answers to the problem of cellulite. My favorite part was the swiss cheese comment. The audience laughed when she said it. But then later, they portrayed that same woman as a cellulite success story. I don't get it.

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Muslfetish says:
3/27/2010

Yep, I just left a comment in your last post about it definitely having nothing to do with weight. And those cellulite panties are ridiculous and have you seen the price?!…robbery.

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I know. Another funny line from the doc was when she said infrared is "the poor man's heat." What about hot water… a heating pad… saran wrap?

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Melissa B. says:
3/27/2010

Interesting! She cooks so much food, it's a wonder she doesn't have thunder thighs. But someone told me that these TV foodies don't consume what they prepare…

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Ann On and On… says:
3/28/2010

All I have to say is that I looked into the mirror today (not totally clothed…sorry for the visual) and I would like to change this sad state of affairs. Your post was insightful.

I'm part of the "Welcome Wagon" for SITS. We want you to know how happy we are that you joined! I'm hosting a couple fabulous giveaways and want to personally invite you over to check them out! :D

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sheila says:
3/29/2010

*gasp* I saw this one! I thought of you immediately!

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Anonymous says:
4/13/2010

The only thing that will cure cellulite is a stick of dynamite. I have had cellulite sine I was 11 years old and weighed only 82 lbs at the time. I am now 47, weigh 130 and haven't been in a bathing sut in over 30 years due to the disfiguring effects on the back of my thighs and horror on my butt (which without spanx would be obvious under pants, bathing suit or any clingy material). It is not fair but it is what it is….wish there was a cure; maybe they will get to it after they cure cancer.

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Anon –I'm surprised how many women I've heard from who have a similar experience with cellulite to the one you've described. It's quite clear now that cellulite doesn't have anything to do with weight, but it's more about hormonal imbalances or exposure to harmful substances your body can't efficiently process. For me, I was exposed to toxic levels of fluoride as a child but for other women the cause could be something completely different.

The fact that you somehow made your way to the Cellulite Investigation tells me there might be a shimmer of hope in your perspective on the dreaded blight. I hope you'll check back from time to time to help us crack the case!

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Anonymous says:
7/22/2010

Okay ladies, looks like we have all it the cellulite that is and the sad part is I am not like those women who would wear shorts and say the heck with it. I cover mine up! I even jumped in the pool with my rap!!!!!!!!!
The other day I saw this girl she was really big and her legs were covered in cellulite but she had these really hot shorts on and didn't really care. I looked bad to others but not her.

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I identify with wanting to jump in the pool fully clothed! Why wear a bikini when a full-body wetsuit will do, right? But really there's no reason we should be ashamed of having cellulite. Such an overwhelming percentage of women have cellulite these days –there's obviously something going on here that is messing with the female body. It's easy to blame ourselves, saying things like "I don't exercise enough" or "I eat too much junk." But even professional dancers and athletes have it. There's something else going on here. It's not our fault!

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