It wasn’t long ago that Special K was selling us on the idea that we could “drop a jean size in two weeks” by replacing meals with cereal, shakes and their other food-ish products…But now they are singing a different tune. Sort of. Here’s my new one for The Frisky.
The Wolf in the Cereal Bowl: How Special K And Other Companies Co-Opt Body Acceptance To Sell Body Shame
September 7th, 2013 · No Comments
August 17th, 2013 · No Comments
I’ve been doing some very entertaining research on diet and fitness advertising. Behold the madness:
July 26th, 2013 · No Comments
If we all do our part, we might be able to save the dying weight loss industry! (How much sarcasm can I pack into one piece? Heaps, apparently.) Here’s my latest for The Independent.
July 5th, 2013 · No Comments
I was a full-blown feminist by the time I started college. I also had a full-blown eating disorder.
May 18th, 2013 · No Comments
May 2nd, 2013 · No Comments
Here’s another place where you can find me posting things irregularly and impulsively.
April 27th, 2013 · No Comments
So I wrote a couple pieces for The Frisky this month:
In honor of the late, great E.L. Konigsburg, author of one of my all-time favorites: 10 Life Lessons From the Book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
And a very personal essay about eating disorder recovery, fat acceptance and thin privilege (Plus zines! And Nomy Lamm!): Confessions of Thin-Privileged Fat Activist
January 25th, 2013 · No Comments
More than 86,000 people signed Julia Bluhm’s petition asking Seventeen to include an un-retouched photo spread each month. And she’s not the only activist stepping up. It’s time for a revolution. Here’s why.
We’re Losing a Generation of Leaders
“By the time we’re old enough to seriously consider becoming leaders, the majority of us are crippled by insecurities about the way we look, which we internalize and equate with our sense of worth on all levels,” writes 18-year-old author Julie Zeilinger in a Forbes article titled “Why Millennial Women Do Not Want to Lead.” This self-doubt is amplified to the nth degree by the way our culture treats women who are at the top of their professions. The public eye is critical. It counts pounds and zeroes in on every freaking “flaw.” It makes us utterly fearful of landing in its line of sight.
“I’ve been spending a year and a half meeting teenage girls who just hate themselves,” singer Kate Nash recently revealed in an interview. “They’re really insecure about the way they look, and at the age of 14, dismiss the idea of becoming a musician because of the worry about how the media would treat them.”
Young women are shying away from all kinds of stages, including political ones. The relentless appearance-focused jabs at women in public office–from Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann to German chancellor Angela Merkel–do not fall on deaf ears. “The glass ceiling is hard enough to break through and when a powerful woman is thrown into the spotlight, she is bound to be criticized for being either too feminine or not feminine enough.” writes blogger Brittany Cullen. “This double standard is perhaps another barrier that prevents women from seeking public office.”
A recent Proud2Bme poll asked, “Has your body image ever prevented you from participating in an activity you enjoy or would like to try?” An overwhelming 90% answered “yes.” Body insecurities aren’t simply holding girls and women back from wearing bathing suits and having fun at pool parties, (which is bad enough); they’re stopping us from taking on leadership roles. And when women are still maxing out at 16% of the top positions across every sector, it’s clear that we need to nix the vanity talk once and for all. This is not a battle with the mirror. It’s a battle for equality.
Girls Are Being Being Erased
When 14-year-old Julia Bluhm petitioned Seventeen magazine, her request was far from outrageous: “I want to see regular girls that look like me in a magazine that’s supposed to be for me.” That. Right there. That is the issue. The thin, white models are not the problem. The problem is that we ONLY see thin, white models (except for those rare cases when we might see a few thin, light-skinned models). It’s not that Photoshop is inherently bad. It’s that the overuse of and overdependence on Photoshop ends up making us feel bad–really bad. When magazines brighten and lighten, when they erase every little pimple and curve, they’re erasing us too. As a teen activist from Sisters Action Media points out in this video, “The only diversity I see is brunettes, blondes, and redheads.”
Following the huge outcry of support for Julia’s Seventeen petition and Seventeen editor-in-chief’s public response, Carina Cruz, 16, and Emma Stydahar, 17, created a petition to Teen Vogue. “It’s time for an end to the digitally enhanced, unrealistic ‘beauty’ we see in the pages of magazines,” they wrote. “We are demanding that teen magazines stop altering natural bodies and faces so that real girls can be the new standard of beauty.”
This is what body image activism is all about–and why it’s important that we seize this moment and this momentum. We need to talk back. We need to make our own media with our own messages. We need to speak up when we feel invisible. We need to keep reminding media makers that real girls are here. Watching. Listening. Ready to change the game.
Girls Are Getting Sick
Fifty-three percent of 13-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies. The number increases to 78% by the time they reach age 17. Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting and taking laxatives. Disordered eating and poor body image are complex issues and we can’t blame the media–entirely. But no way, no how should we let them off the hook. Seriously, is it such a coincidence that we have an epidemic of body hatred in a culture that is constantly telling us that life would be better if we were thinner, more fit, had straighter hair, lighter skin, if we could somehow fix our “problem areas”? Of course those are all empty promises. There is no beauty prescription that will really lead us to happiness. But the message is that we’ve got to keep trying—and keep buying (products, “plans,” “solutions”). So what happens when an entire generation is plagued by bad body image? We get preoccupied with all the wrong things. We get sick. We lose our power.
Young women–and an increasing number of guys–face intense pressure to conform to an ideal that blatantly rejects the diversity of who we really are. On top of the constant noise about what we should look like, we’re exposed to a steady stream of toxic media snark that targets women’s bodies, cruelly reminding us of what we should never allow ourselves to be: imperfect, different, human. Yes, each of us needs to work on our own self-acceptance. But we also need to step up and advocate for social change. Because this is not just your problem or my problem–it’s a full-on crisis. And the stakes are high.
January 25th, 2012 · No Comments
Because who doesn’t need pro-pixel intensifying fauxtanical hydro-jargon microbead extract? Hilarious spoof, and a great teaching tool to boot.
October 20th, 2011 · No Comments
Proud2Bme is a new online community for teens that aims to promote positive body image and healthy attitudes about food and weight. I am overseeing the site’s content as a consultant for the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) and I’m collaborating with a growing list of amazing contributors including the unstoppable Emily-Anne Rigal of WeStopHate, teen activists from the Boulder Youth Body Alliance, Melanie Klein of Feminist Fatale, girls from Girls Inc., Stephanie Covington Armstrong (author of Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat), and many, many others. It’s a veritable body acceptance love fest, people.
The Proud2Bme movement was started in the Netherlands by a young woman named Scarlet, who was horrified to discover the unsettling universe of pro-ana websites in her research of online communities. In recovery from eating disorders herself, Scarlet set out to create a positive, non-toxic space for those who needed support for their disordered eating, poor body image, and low self-esteem. Proud2Bme.nl has grown to be the top help website in the Netherlands. NEDA is now launching the English language version. And lucky me–I get to be a part of it.
So here are three simple things you can do to help make Proud2Bme a success:
1. Spread the word to the teens in your life and to anyone you know who works with teens. If you are a teen? Sign up as a member and contribute blog posts, videos, or artwork.
2. Follow Proud2Bme on Twitter.
3. Like Proud2Bme on Facebook.