2003 Revisited

We fretted over SARS and Isabel, feasted on Atkins and the Fab Five and, somehow, made it through one more year.

December 28, 2003|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,SUN STAFF

Call them 2003's lifestyle newsmakers. Not President Bush, but Dr. Atkins. Not Wall Street, but wet basements. Not aquaporins, but picture phones. These are the people, places and things that -- for better or worse -- caught our attention this past year. They were emblematic of the widely differing subjects that fall under the catch-all "lifestyle": fashion, interior design, relationships, health, fitness, food and nutrition. We don't pretend this is the year-ending list to end all year-enders. Forgive us if we've left out your favorite newsmaker, but all we can say is: Wait until next year.

The People

Dr. Robert Atkins. The diet guru and best-selling author died this April from a fall at age 72, having finally gained respectability for his radical weight-loss plan. His diet can be summed up simply: protein and fats are good, carbohydrates are bad -- at least as far as shedding pounds goes.

Martha Stewart. In spite of her legal woes, her furniture line for Bernhardt, in retail showrooms this spring, was a phenomenal success. She still symbolizes a gracious lifestyle for millions of Americans, and Barbara Walters named her one of 2003's ten most fascinating people.

Trista and Ryan. Love in America, 2003-style. The Bachelorette couple -- Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter -- got to know each other in six weeks in front of cameras. ABC paid for their million-dollar wedding -- and broadcast it, of course.

Arnold Schwarzenegger. The first former chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness to be elected governor of a state. He couldn't have done it without wife and Kennedy family member Maria.

Fat kids. Because 20 to 30 percent of American children are now obese or likely to become so, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued its first recommendation on the problem, that doctors should check their young patients' body-mass index annually. Two weeks ago the first prescription pill was approved to help teens fight obesity.

Dr. Benjamin Carson. The renowned Baltimore neurosurgeon was in the international news this year when he assisted doctors in Singapore separate adult conjoined twins, a ground-breaking operation even though it failed. In an unlikely sequel Carson was back in the news this month, playing a neurosurgeon to conjoined twins in a Hollywood hit comedy starring Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear.

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy cast. The Fab Five's makeovers in fashion, interior design, food, grooming and culture made the term "metrosexual" part of mainstream America's vocabulary. Critics dubbed Bravo's surprise hit the most watchable of this season's reality shows.

Narciso Rodriguez. The Hispanic designer, who became famous for creating the late Carolyn Bessette Kennedy's wedding gown, is a favorite of celebs, but his designs are known for their quiet elegance. This year he won his second consecutive Womenswear Designer of the Year award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Oprah. She became a billionaire and this year made Forbes magazine's list of the world's richest people by discussing lifestyle issues on her popular talk show. Her campaign to help orphans of South Africa's AIDS epidemic and her feud with Dave Letterman also made news this year.

Jamie Oliver. TV's Naked Chef has a new Food Network show, a new cookbook and a new line of T-Fal gourmet cookware. He even has a new baby. Some think the American public's fascination with Oliver and other celebrity chefs has to do with the fact that our mothers aren't teaching us to cook anymore.

Michael Jackson. The year began with ABC's documentary about the King of Pop, which fascinated and repelled the American public, and is ending with what may turn out to be the most sensational celebrity court case ever. What kind of parent lets his child spend the night at Neverland, the home of a very strange 44-year-old man?

The Places

Belvedere Square. Mayor O'Malley called the reopening of the shopping center symbolic of the rebirth of Baltimore city. It hasn't done as well as he hoped, but things should improve when the complex is fully occupied.

Friendster.com. The hot new online community where you link only with people who are friends or friends of friends. With more than 4 million members, it's the ultimate in social networking. At a time when online dating services are losing steam, Friendster is growing by leaps and bounds.

Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. The trend toward more healthful foods continues unabated. Of course we're still enjoying our Krispy Kremes and quarter pounders, but Baltimoreans are also crowding the aisles of stores that sell organic produce and free-range chicken.

Male-Only Spas. A quarter of all spa clients are men, according to People magazine. Now men are starting to have their very own retreats. Baltimore doesn't have one yet, but they're as close as Washington. Local day spas offer services for men that include massage, manicures, pedicures and back waxing.

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