Tag Archives: media

Striving For Perfection: Boys & Body Image

I had another great opportunity to take part in a segment on body image and males. This segment was especially interesting to me because it had a broader focus, particularly due to the contributions of Alan Aragon. Alan is a nutrition and fitness expert, getting his start in the gym as a personal trainer. Nowadays he finds himself writing, blogging, and fairly well-known online on the fitness forums he helps moderate. I’m so detached from body-building and gym culture that I forget how many men are wrapped up in that stuff, so I got a lot out of the discussion too.

Here’s the full list of panelists:

Claire Mysko @ClaireMysko
Author, “Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat?”
clairemysko.com

Niobe Way @youthresistance
Professor of Applied Psychology, New York University
niobeway.com

Ryan Salonen
Actor
IMDB credits

Alan Aragon
Nutrition guru
alanaragon.com

Simon Metin @smetin92
Medical Student, King’s College, Cambridge
Simon Metin on YouTube

I want to thank everyone at The Stream for covering this topic, asking good questions, and staying away from shock value media like lowest weights or the like. Also, it was great to be on Claire, whom I’ve had a few Twitter exchanges with but never anything like this.

Alright, I’m off to prepare for next week with the Eating Disorders Coalition. Maybe I’ll see you on Capitol Hill?

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April 10, 2013 · 12:13 pm

A Little Tact Goes a Long Way

Writing has always been important to me. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but I started keeping a journal when I started college, the same time anorexia took over my life. College, unfortunately, created an environment that had zero accountability and a whole lot more triggers and stress. I ended up journaling a lot about my struggles and have about two years worth of writing about the hell I went through.

I think writing was my way to attempt to make sense of the chaos and despair the eating disorder created. Writing was also something I did when I was isolated, and was an excellent alternative to engaging in disordered eating behavior. As I got back in touch with myself and started living my life again, I found I had less to write and was spending less time on the computer. In a way, it’s come full circle, because here I am keeping a blog, but it’s much different. I’ve said the journal was therapeutic, but writing these days is something I do for the sake of doing it.

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The State of Male Eating Disorders

We in the eating disorder activist world have grown guarded over media coverage of eating disorders. Pictures of emaciated models, “shocking” statistics over how much weight someone lost or how much food they weren’t eating, and what are referred to as “war stories” – descriptive accounts of eating disorder behaviors at their worst. This type of coverage is problematic because it focuses on the same things that the person with the eating disorder focuses on. Idolizing thinness and obsessing over weight – that’s part of what anorexia makes you do. When news articles do that very thing, all they do is reinforce the disease and its assault on our bodies and minds.

Therefore, I’m always happy to do interviews because I see it as an opportunity to speak about eating disorders in a realistic, serious way, from a perspective of health and recovery. I know friends in the ED world who have had interviews canceled when they repeatedly wouldn’t disclose what their “lowest weight” was, including for a national morning show (much to the disbelief of the show’s producers, who couldn’t believe someone would turn down that kind of publicity). Continue reading

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Filed under Activism, Interview

America the Beautiful

I’m excited to point out that America the Beautiful is streaming on Hulu! Last I checked it was also available for streaming on Netflix. Though it came out in 2008,  many people had never heard of it at the Eating Disorder Awareness event in February this year, so I’m excited that it’s now streaming online for free!

I think everyone needs to see this documentary. Though it isn’t perfect, it draws attention to the multi-faceted attack on body image and self-perception that runs rampant in American culture. Reminiscent of Body Wars by Margo Maine (another well-produced work I highly recommend, and hope to discuss in a future entry), America the Beautiful is well-researched and plainly presented to draw attention to this issue in a way that few films have before.

Many of us are largely unaware of the size and scope of the advertising industry, and how subtle messages about beautification play off of society’s already skewed and hyper-sexualized view of women. I’ve always known it’s out there. I cringe every time I see teen magazines while checking out at the grocery store, advertising articles on their covers about how their teenage reader base can lose weight, get more attention from guys, or have a “bikini body” in just two months. In the past I’ve seen these things in passing and shaken my head, but never really gave it much thought. But the truth is that there is a large segment of our population, mostly young women, absorbing these messages and feeling as though they must devote a significant amount of time, money, and effort to be attractive enough.

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Filed under Video

Buy and Cellulite

It’s no secret – I’m quite fond of Stephen Colbert. Though his satire can cross a line once in awhile, he does an excellent job providing commentary that points out just how absurd or insulting politicians/the media/everyone can be. I saw this clip a few weeks ago and wanted to make sure other people saw it.

People often sing the praises of Dove (a Unilever brand) for their occasional positive body image marketing. I’ll admit I was quite pleased to see their ads featuring women of all sizes, and they’ve done a small part to draw attention to how the fashion/beauty industry creates unrealistic and even completely fictional representations of women. Remember this video?

That’s another old clip that most people have already seen, but I think it’s a nice juxtaposition to this new product of theirs. That body-acceptance attitude clearly has not permeated every aspect of their company – namely, Research & Development. In a study conducted and financed by Unilever, researched that a whopping 93% of women find their underarms unattractive. Colbert breaks down the business model for us:

One of the secrets of sales is fulfilling the public’s need. The other secret is inventing the public’s need. Now with Unilver’s help, women have now learned that their armpits are hideous. If you take the time to create a new thing for women to feel insecure about, then sell them the solution, then you’ve cornered the market!

Colbert does such a good job explaining it (along with an awkward moment where he attempts to use Unilever-brand ice cream as deodorant) that I’ll just let you watch it for yourself. WordPress is picky on what kind of videos can be embedded, but you can watch the clip on the Huffington Post’s own write-up or directly on Comedy Central. The Wall Street Journal article that Colbert references in the clip can be read in full here.

Unattractive armpits? Really? But on the flip side, 5 days sure is a short amount of time to make them more attractive.

Ugh.

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