Dear Chichi,Last week we laid out five resolutions for 2012 and this week we are following through on number one: Get healthy.
Often, when we think about health, we fall into conversations around weight and physical appearance (just browse the covers of so called “health” magazines). By focusing so heavily on our looks - especially in a media climate that celebrates such dangerous ideals of beauty - we risk neglecting our own true inner health and safety.
One of the first steps to addressing this is actually looking at the language we use to describe “being healthy.” Not just in our heads, but when talking with others. Something as innocent as a compliment - “you look skinny” or “you look great” - can contribute to this obsession with weight and looks.
This week’s action is simple: try avoiding complimenting anyone on their physical appearance for an entire week, including yourself. No conversations about losing weight or being pretty. Instead, tell the loved ones in your life how smart they are, how you admire their confidence or even just how happy they seem! Celebrate the talents and abilities of those around you without mentioning appearance.
By shifting the way we talk about this subject we can begin to shift the entire mindset around what it means to be healthy. This is the year we stop judging ourselves and others by what is in the mirror, and instead see in everyone the same potential for greatness.
This is the year we get healthy.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom and the MissRepresentation.org team
And I don’t blame her one bit.
If she was an overweight star being bullied for being too big, women everywhere would be livid.
Once again, a reminder: STOP commenting on other people’s bodies. Fight the right battles.
LeAnn brought up some good points in her interview with Ellen, including the fact that calling someone ‘anorexic’ takes away from the real disease, that’s killing millions of girls. It’s also irresponsible, and makes bullying behaviors towards regular people (not celebs) more acceptable, instead of not.
I know it’s difficult for some to feel sympathy for someone who’s “thin”, since we tend to relate more to the bullying of the overweight. But bullying is bullying, and it’s never okay. And if you’ve been following along here, I don’t think commenting on ANYONE’S body is okay or acceptable.
Also: those that may in fact be anorexic can be traumatized by those comments. So while it might seem fun to post comments about someone’s body, those who suffer from the real disease may end up worse off, triggered, or scarred by comments about a body that they already hate. Aside from that, it’s not helpful to anyone and reinforces the idea that looks matter. If they shouldn’t, then we shouldn’t comment.
So, while you might not care for LeAnn’s music, her acting, or her choices, back off the body, ok? I’m not her biggest fan, but even I don’t think the body hate that’s come her way has been nice, fair or just.
Glad I could help. I know my views on body image are different than most, but I choose to look at the root of the problem, and not engage in the blame game. I don’t find the blame game effective, and personally, I don’t think it helps anyone.
My bottom line: all women, all body types, all sizes can be beautiful, healthy and are ‘real’. Size zero exists. It does. So do sizes 1-44. Most models are chosen because of their specific body type and ability to maintain it (which sadly, for MANY, includes unhealthy behaviors). But there are models who are healthy, who are not anorexic, who are size zeros… and they were chosen for the industry because of it. Just like some gymnasts will excel because of their natural body types (taller isn’t ideal), some swimmers (longer arms), basketball players (again height) etc… they have a genetic (and I use the next term loosely) advantage.
There is a disparity in the industry though, I can’t deny it: there is a bias towards that teeny tiny body type. And tallness (I’m 5 foot 2, so modeling? Nope). It would be amazing and healthy for more body types to be represented: if you looked at fashion magazines, you’d assume that it was easy, normal and common for women to be able to attain those tiny sizes. The truth is, those women exist, but they represent less than 3% of the population. So yes, it would be nice if more body types were represented. But it would ALSO be nice if women started realizing that this was not an ideal that was attainable: it’s mostly genetics and/or unhealthy behaviors. Oh, and AFTER all that: photo-shopping. Even the thinnest of the thin in the fashion world (and sadly, even those who starve to be THINNER) are photoshopped for other purposes. They are not perfect. They have scars and birthmarks AND CELLULITE. And they also all have some genetic ADVANTAGE on their side. Literally, it’s INSANE to want to achieve the body types we see. Even the models aren’t achieving them, lol.
Please read on to see the post about the Emmy’s that inspired my rant today. Well, I hesistate to call it a rant. I’d prefer to call it a long thought. A really long thought.
I won’t beat around the bush.
We need to stop telling people they need to eat a sandwich every time we think they’re too thin. That’s one. But what we really need to do is emphasize that it’s not okay to comment on other people’s bodies. We need some body acceptance up in here, because valuing ONE type over another (no matter what) is detrimental to us all.
I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, but I find that it’s a subject that people have a hard time internalizing. I’ve seen girls like my posts on the topic, even reblogging them with a ‘hell yeah!’ and then a week later, start commenting on how someone looks. It is never helpful OR appropriate to comment on other people’s bodies. No matter what you’re intention is, valiant OR mean. The act in and of itself is detrimental.
Why you should keep your peep hole shut…
1. You don’t know if they’re healthy. Bottom line. You don’t KNOW. There’s no such thing as a healthy body type, only healthy bodies. And that’s between a girl and her doctor. You CAN be very thin and still be healthy (and you CAN have an eating disorder and not be thin). Many things affect weight, not just diet & exercise. Stress levels, physical & emotional states & more can cause weight loss: not just improper diet (depression, hormones etc…If people started commenting on how someone who’s depressed looked, believe me… DOESN’T MAKE THEM FEEL BETTER).
2. Sizes 0-3 DO exist. They do. It’s not average, but neither is being 6 foot 7, (and we know that exists). It’s common enough that one should never assume that someone is unhealthy based on general thinness (emaciation is entirely different, and characterized by other traits as well). Some people are perfectly healthy, as thin as they are, and shouldn’t be forced to gain weight to suit an ideal standard of beauty (same as how women who are larger shouldn’t lose to fit that standard).
3. Eating disorders are a matter of health & behavior. NOT LOOKS. Yes, one of the side effects of an eating disorder is being thinner. But many, MANY sufferers look normal, are overweight and range too widely in symptoms for thinness to be considered unhealthy in and of itself. Being thin does NOT an eating disorder make.
4. If they do have an eating disorder or body dysmorphia? Telling them they look gross (en mass, as witnessed at the Emmy’s) is NOT helping. In fact, telling someone with an eating disorder that they look disgusting is more likely to reinforce the disorder. It’s a bullying behavior, not helpful, to anyone. Way to go.
5. While it’s 100% true that eating disorders are a problem in Hollywood (and beyond), they have more to do with control, self-esteem & self-worth than we’re conditioned to think. Most girls with high self-esteem and a good sense of self-worth would not engage in such body destruction (seeking esteem, control and worth in doing so). While the magazines might IRK you, it’s what’s inside of YOU that will decide how you react to it.
6. Fight the right battle. Don’t use other people’s bodies as targets in your war on _______. What you’re fighting is what you’re fighting. If you want to promote healthy body images, eating & fitness… well promote it. Tearing someone down is NOT the way to do it. Like I said above, it’s social bullying. Picking on one person and using them as an example with ZERO factual basis discredits your cause. Don’t engage in it.
Some thoughtful takeaways…
When we put others down, we are generally trying to raise ourselves up. Whenever I hear comments putting women down for how they look, I almost ALWAYS wonder what’s happened to the person who’s making the comments. What’s going on in their head. Because truly secure individuals don’t need to tear other people down.
If it’s a matter of raising awareness about body image, body talking is REINFORCING the idea that looks matter, that judging someone is okay (anyone), and that there is an ideal standard of beauty. It’s counter productive and horrifying to tell one group that they’re accepted and another not. Fight the right battle: if you’re concerned about body image, you need to be focused on sending the message that ALL bodies are beautiful. Not just the ones you decide are beautiful. (Ummm… hello!!!). Promote positivity, go after unhealthy BEHAVIORS, single out theories and find ways to make the situation better.
How you feel about others is between YOU and YOUR self-esteem. - Fit Mama Training
Now, it’s pretty much almost completely socially unacceptable to call someone fat. It happens, but usually there’s OUTRAGE that follows. There’s an unspoken girl on girl solidarity when it comes to making sure that when someone’s called fat, we rise up on their behalf. But what happens when someone’s too ‘thin’? The solidarity is gone. We don’t want to question the fact that we know nothing about her health and we don’t want to defend her: she’s not as worthy of our solidarity. And she becomes a causality because of it.
When I recently(-ish) lost weight (the healthy way… had an unhealthy bout earlier on), I didn’t have the support of a few of my friends (granted, I was a little nuts the first time around, but this time I was even steven doing it right). Regardless, they started rumors about me, unable to accept that I had lost weight through diet & exercise. Rumors about eating disorders and starving myself (which weren’t true). I’d go out of my way to eat crap in front of people so the rumors would stop: I was playing into them instead of ignoring them like I should. Either way, it was hurtful. They had no right to comment on my body. But then I realized that it wasn’t about me. If they were really concerned, they wouldn’t have started rumors. It was about them. It had ZERO to do with me. So it became easier to ignore it.
Tips to those who are being pressured by others to look a certain way…
1. 99.99% of the time, their comments have NOTHING to do with you. How they feel about your body is between them and their self-esteem. Repeat this as often as possible and try to develop some compassion for them. This will help you deal with them better.
2. If possible, let them know that it’s hurtful. Sometimes people make comments without realizing that you’re a PERSON. They might not mean to, so without getting defensive (you have no reason to be), let them know that they’re comments hurt. This might help them become more aware of what they’re actually doing.
3. On some occasions, they might be confusing health and body type… but on some occasions they might be right. A sudden drop in weight can be a sign of a health PROBLEM. Sometimes we don’t know when we’re getting unhealthy, especially if it’s stress/hormone related. Ask yourself: am I eating enough? Have I been stressed out? Is it more than one person making comments (more than one from more than one group? Family, friends, teachers, co-workers etc). Is the person concerned about your BEHAVIOR (mentioning eating HABITS, not just your appearance). Sometimes this is a wake-up call. While I don’t think it’s okay to comment on bodies, I don’t think it’s okay to be unhealthy either. Open up, be self-aware and be willing to take a look at yourself if needed.
DISCLAIMER: This is a post for HEALTHY individuals who might not fit the mold of what’s considered ideal beauty. If people are concerned about your HEALTH, that’s one thing. Your body is another. The two shouldn’t be confused. Health is about disease & behavior. Only in extreme cases should how thin you are be a factor in someone else deciding you’re healthy.
Other Fit Villains posts on body image…
Please think before you speak! We need more body loving up in this bitch… No more hate. No one should be told what they should look like.
Loved this post today. It reflects everything I’ve mentioned above. Excerpt from: “Hey Emmy Viewers! Quit Telling Actresses To Eat A Sandwich”
During last night’s Emmy telecast, I was following the conversation on Twitter. I liked the real-time reactions of everyone from friends to professional entertainment reporters as awards were handed out and truly terrible music played. But there was one recurring theme that really started to bother me: people giving unsolicited eating/nutrition advice to actresses, specifically telling some thin women to “eat a sandwich.” While Julie Bowen was winning an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy for her work on Modern Family, Twitter lit up with jokes about how her breasts looked saggy (“Maybe she should have won for least-supported actress!”) or how thin she looked. Instead of celebrating Bowen for her achievement or her hard work, too many people chose to focus on her looks.
As a person who has always been on the thin side because of genetics, I know that many people have a hard time feeling sorry for people who have trouble putting weight on. In my late 20s, my permanently-bony look started to go away and I was able to reach a comfortable body weight that didn’t make me self-conscious all the time. But I’ve definitely been told to “eat a sandwich” or “eat a cheeseburger” by people who have no idea what my exercise and nutrition are like, and it’s hurtful. While it’s no secret that women in Hollywood feel enormous pressure to be thin and some develop eating disorders, it’s wrong to assume that every thin woman just needs to eat a sandwich in order to magically cure her body image issues or gain those last few pounds. Imagine if the tables were turned and someone snapped at Christina Hendricks or Melissa McCarthy (also a winner last night) to “eat a salad!” I think those people would be quickly called out and reprimanded for calling those actresses fat, as well they should be. But promoting positive body image means promoting positive body image for everyone, not just for people who look the way you think it’s acceptable to look. I have a hard time imagining a person struggling with body dysmorphia or an eating disorder hearing a stranger’s cry to eat a sandwich and suddenly having a life-changing revelation.
I often find that the same people shouting “eat a sandwich!” at women on TV are the same ones who bemoan the lack of women’s solidarity in the entertainment industry. Focusing on achievement and talent over looks, even if you think someone’s unhealthy, is a good way to reverse that trend.
It DOES get better.
Hoping you all feel this way sooner than later, but THIS is exactly what I wish for all of you. It takes time, but I promise: work on it and you’ll get there.
Read Brooke Castillo’s poem: It’s Been 10 Years Since I Hated My Body
If you follow my blog, you know that I do my best to try and promote healthier body-images (with a little self-love 101) & discourage negative & unrealistic self-talk that seems to be making so many of us miserable. It’s a freaking epidemic.
A short while ago, a study was conducted that showed that half of 3-6 year olds were worried about getting fat. The interview was unnerving, with many pointing fingers at the media, and of course at parents for the problems of these girls.
One of the things that bothers me most about this kind of finger pointing is that it doesn’t allow for any introspection. Having it be someone else’s fault & problem doesn’t allow us to think of ways that we can contribute to the solution. There are more than a few factors contributing to the body-image issues plaguing young girls & women, and it’s NOT just the media.
For one, we use physical appearance as a way to compliment each other and to lift someone’s spirits (You look great! Have you lost weight? New haircut? Love it!). We also criticize each other’s bodies at alarming levels (yes, even when you’re telling the skinny girl she’s too skinny). Little girls get messages from everything around them & we simultaneously tell them that looks shouldn’t matter, yet emphasize looks all the time. We try to tell little girls to love their bodies, yet criticize ours in the mirror while we dress for work (they’re watching & listening to every conversation you have with your girlfriends about which body parts you hate also. Not just mama’s guilty of this).
Every girl learns to hate her body by watching other women hate theirs or hate on each other’s.
We also tell little girls how pretty they are, over any other attribute they may have. It’s usually the first thing out of our mouths when we see a little girl, or get a chance to say howdy. Look how pretty you are...
In the article below, the author provides an example of how to take ‘looks’ out of the equation when speaking with little girls. It’s challenging (I mean, they really ARE cute sometimes), but if we truly want ‘looks’ not to matter, we need to stop emphasizing how important they are.
Ladies, I vent with love.
When you’re in a position to hear as many lady voices as I do, you start to see themes and patterns in how women talk about each other & themselves. There’s positivity yes, but more often I hear a lot of self-hate & body bashing going on. There’s also a weird tendency to connect happiness (or lack of happiness) to your weight. As if all the desires in the world rest upon an ability to fit into a size 2 or have a flat tummy.
It truly breaks my heart when I hear things like…
- When I’m thin I’ll __________ .
- When I’m thin he’ll ________ .
- When I’m thin they’ll _______ .
- When I’m thin she’ll ________ .
It’s heartbreaking, because it’s not true. Weight loss is not a magic pill that will solve all the issues that exist in your head. In fact, many people who go into weight loss assuming they’ll feel this way are MIGHTY disappointed when it’s not the case. Disappointed enough that they feel their efforts have been in vain and they end up back where they started.
It’s a cycle. You do have the power to stop it.
This is truly, truly interesting to see…
Excerpt from MyModernMet.com
Last summer, Sacha Goldberger decided he would take on a very interesting project. He assembled a team who helped him create an outdoor studio at Bois de Boulogne, a park located near Paris that’s 2 1/2 times the size of New York’s Central Park. He stopped joggers, asking them for a favor - would they sprint for him and then pose right after for his camera? Many obliged. Out of breath, these joggers showed an overwhelming amount of fatigue on their faces.
Goldberger then asked these same people to come into his professional studio exactly one week later. Using the same light, he asked them to pose the same way they had before.
“I wanted to show the difference between our natural and brute side versus how we represent ourselves to society,” Goldberger tells us. “The difference was very surprising.”
See full gallery here: http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/before-and-after-shots-of-jogg
Take a moment and read this as truth:
You look pretty today.
Stop, read it again. Imagine I’m standing in front of you, with every inflection of sincerity.
You look pretty today.
Only four words, but to a woman they hold an awful lot of power. They can add a bounce in your step that you may not otherwise be able to give yourself or can crush your self-esteem when you feel you don’t hear them often enough.
You look pretty today.
They are also the words we use to compliment each other, or boost a friend when we notice they’re feeling down. I love your hair! Great outfit. You’ve lost weight! Almost everyone has told a friend she looked pretty, even when we don’t really think so. We do this, because those words are the quickest way to generate a smile. You know that it’s something she wants to hear. Even if met with modesty, you know that she’s going to walk with her head a little higher that day.
You know this because you would too.