Archive for December 31, 2012

Media Monday: You Are an Individual

Submitted by TEPF Volunteer




The media is something with which we are constantly confronted, whether realizing its company consciously or subconsciously. By design, this ever-looming presence automatically becomes a part of our lives the instant we are welcomed onto planet Earth.
So, from the first day, we are provoked by images that command a specific, one-dimensional physical appearance; inability to conform threatens non-acceptance and the belief that we are less than whole. The vulnerability of naivety is the ripest of blank canvases on which to impose a senseless devotion to these unrealistic bodily standards, for as youth, we do not necessarily recognize the power this influence has, as it leads us to develop opinions about how we should look, feel, and act.
For these reasons, I have come to believe that fashion magazines are nothing more than distorted depictions of the human form. I harbor a steady, boiling anger, when I flip through the pages, seeing models that appear alien, looking like overgrown 8-year olds, or adults that completely skipped the hormonal dawn of puberty. Their spindly extremeties and gaunt faces sharply contrast with their large heads, making it sadly obvious that the present state of their bodies is forced, unnatural, and most of all, unhealthy.
I am angry because I know that countless people have looked, and will look, at these pictures, and start comparing themselves to these alien creatures, forming sizable mental notes of all the ways in which their own bodies are unacceptable. No one is immune to this. In doing so, we choose to blanket ourselves in anguish, as we magically forget all of the wonderful, amazing qualities that make us unique and beautiful, all of our talents and inherent capabilities. All of this instantly becomes worthless, because we don’t look like that.
What kind of world what it be if we were all carbon-copies of one another? Pretty boring.  And impossible. Everybody is different. Every body is different. Celebrating our differences gives life meaning, verve, and, most of all, identity. The greatest gift of all is that you are inimitably you. Matchless, outstanding, distinctive. You are an individual. The only way to honor this incredible gift is to allow yourself to be yourself. Nourish your physical, emotional, and mental bodies with a balance of food, love, and meaningful experiences and you will thrive in health.
Only you have the authority to choose this path of self-love, nurturing, and acceptance. You have the power to confront negative messages, and recognize that they do not serve your highest, truest purposes. By no means is this easy, but it is entirely possible.

Media Monday: The Impact of Weight Stigma on Our Youth

Submitted by a TEPF Volunteer




This fall, Biggest Loser star Jillian Michaels announced she would be back on the show this January. But this time her contestants won’t just be adults – each team will also include three children between the ages of 13-17.
On the Today show, Michaels explained the show’s intent to bring awareness to childhood obesity and promote healthy living. She also notes that they plan to be more sensitive in their coaching methods, given the controversial issue. Yet, while the effort may be well intended, it still has the potential to send harmful messages to young people about body image and acceptance. In addition, it could reinforce the stigmas about heavier individuals.
According to research on anti-fat prejudice in children, weight stigma and prejudice begins as early as five years of age1. This trend has become present in younger age groups over recent years, yet the prevalence of childhood obesity has risen. An article by the American Psychological Association analyzed existing research on weight stigma in children and adolescents and concludes with the thought, “[W]e have often been asked the question, ‘Isn’t stigma helpful in motivating weight loss?’ If it were, then the increase in stigmatization of obese children over the past 40 years should have been accompanied by a decrease in childhood obesity rather than by the recent alarming increase.”2 University of Minnesota researcher Dianne Neumark-Sztainer also asks, “Can we foster the development of physical and social environments that promote healthy eating and physical activity and promote the acceptance of diverse body shapes and sizes? This is a crucial question because we clearly need to modify our environment to make it easier to engage in healthier lifestyle behaviors. Yet, we certainly do not want to create a situation that further stigmatizes overweight persons.”3
Is this a situation that could further stigmatize overweight youth, or will it genuinely promote their long-term health? I fully agree that it is essential we address the health of our youth and work to come up with real solutions. Yet, I’m not convinced that putting them on the national weight loss stage will provide them positive motivation for health and lasting feelings of well-being for the future.
What do you think about this new series development and its impact on childhood obesity?
To read more:

1. Penny H, Haddock J. Anti-fat prejudice among children: The “mere proximity” effect in 5–10 year olds. J Exper Soc Psych 2007; 43:4, 678-683.

2. Puhl R, Latner J. Stigma, Obesity, and the Health of the Nation’s Children. Psychological Bulletin, American Psychological Association.

2007, Vol. 133, No. 4, 557–580


3. Neumark Sztainer, D. Can we Simultaneously Work toward the Prevention of Obesity and Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents? Int J Eat Disord 2005; 38:220–227

Media Monday: Body Image: Not just a Woman’s Issue

Submitted by TEPF Volunteer

            When looking over recent topics dealing with body image, most of the search results only relate to women. Although women count for the majority of body image issues, the effects on men are all the same. I was recently looking at a male fitness magazine and could not get over what I saw. The men in these magazines were far from realistic with muscles the size of watermelons and every muscle was chiseled to “perfection”. What is the message that the men reading this magazine are receiving? In order to be fit I must have extremely large muscles and a perfect set of abs? When it comes down to it, men and women have a similar experience when reading these magazine. They may not feel good enough or in order to be considered pretty they have to be stick thin or work out 24/7. I can see how men would have negative body image about themselves after reading the magazine.
            All in all, mens body image has been unrepresented and they can feel the same negativity that a woman would. It would be nice to see fitness magazines with regular people who have an active and healthy lifestyle in them. The muscle men pictured give regular men an unrealistic image of what they “should” be like. Body image is not just a woman’s issue. Positive body image should be spread through all kinds of people.

Media Monday: Healthy Surgery

Submitted by TEPF Volunteer
At the age of 24 years old, Miss America contestant Allyn Rose has decided to have a double mastectomy after the pageant. She has a mutation in her genes that leave her more susceptible to developing breast cancer. When she was 16, she lost her mother to breast cancer.
Allyn Rose is a great role model for positive body image by showing that health is more important than image. In an interview with Good Morning America she says, “A lot of people are confused when I say I’m choosing life over beauty, but it’s beauty as a stereotype, the Hollywood idea of beauty, the physical attributes. I’m not going to let my desire to achieve those goals distract me from my own health.”
While most “beauty queens” are quick to enhance their body, it is reassuring to see another point of view. Being so young and in the prime of her life, it is very impressive that Allyn has the knowledge and sense to prevent this life threatening disease.
She is a great advocate for women because she proves that a woman’s identity and beauty is not defined by her physical attributes.  There is no doubt that she is a beautiful person on the inside and out.
To read more click here.