Archive for March 25, 2013

Media Monday: Pinning Health at Every Size

Submitted by TEPF Volunteer

There are so many social networking programs that exist today, and Pinterest is certainly one of the most popular. Just like any other social networking program in which people would get hooked on to, the purpose of Pinterest is to share ideas with other people and these ideas are easily accessible to anyone. Everyone that uses Pinterest uses it for different purposes. The most common uses are wedding ideas, crafts, recipes and health. But when you look at the “Health & Fitness” and “Food & Drink” boards, are they encouraging eating disorders?
The majority of the images and information provided on these boards, you see phrases like, “Pool workout that burns mega calories and tones every Trouble spot”, “11 Easy Lunches to Lose Weight”, “25 meals that allow you to eat your feelings, the healthy way”. These pins certainly reinforce the idea that it is “normal” to be burning “mega-calories” per day, or eat certain foods to lose 10 pounds in a week. But, it is clear that these behaviors can often be destructive to one’s health. For example if someone starts diet X and then after a couple days, they are not satisfied with the results, they will continue other dieting methods to achieve the desired results. These dieting methods will required your body to undergo extreme measures.  Pinterest does have policies in place to ensure that pins are not promoting behaviors that are clearly harmful, but what about the pins that are inadvertently so?
In general, society has misinterpreted their views on what is “normal.” It is important for us to redefine the definition of “normal” living.  Pinterest wants people to network with others and share common ideas, so it’s time to start sharing the idea of health at every size with others.  It is time to start sharing the idea that health means many different things, not just a number on a scale. The messages behind those pins are powerful.  So, what are you going to pin today?

Action Alert!

Action Needed Now!
(posted on behalf of NAMI and the entire mental health community)
The Minnesota house and senate have set their budget “targets.” What does this mean?  It means that they give a certain amount of money to each committee to spend in their area (transportation, education, etc.) thus creating the state budget. 
The Emily Program Foundation and the entire mental health community are extremely upset that the target for health and human services is lower than the Governor’s proposed budget and will require CUTS in health and human services of around $150 Million. This means that not only will we not be able to have new spending for things such as school-linked mental health, family psycho-education, crisis services, supportive housing or rate increases to providers –  but we will see cuts to programs.
We believe that if we act now we can change this scenario. If you believe that our mental health system is underfunded and fragile, you need to act. If you believe that it is very difficult to obtain the treatment and supports needed for children or adults with mental illnesses, you need to act.
Here is what we need every advocate to do:
  1. Call the leadership of the house and senate and say “ I (live with a mental illness, have a family member/child with a mental illness, work in the mental health field) and I strongly urge you to increase the target for the health and human services budget. The mental health system has been cut over $60 million the past four years and it cannot take any more cuts. Do not balance the budget on the backs of children and adults with mental illnesses.”  Make the calls NOW and TOMORROW.  The phone numbers are: Senator Bakk, 651-296-8881;Senator Sieben, 651-297-8060;Representative Thissen, 651-296-5375;Representative Murphy, 651-296-8799


  • Call your own state senator and representative and leave that same message. If your legislator is holding a town hall meeting next week, attend it and give them that same message. One thing to remember is that there are “internal” politics and so our friends who want to change this need to say “I am hearing from my constituents.” 



  • Write a letter to the editor. Remember, the legislature is taking a break next week. We would like to see letters to the editor in every paper, particularly the ones in greater Minnesota. Trust us when we say that this will have a huge impact. Since many papers are weekly – please send it now. Here is the basic outline for your letter, please put it in your own words:


During the last three to four years major cuts were made to the health and human services budget. There were over $60 million in cuts made to the mental health system – a system that everyone knows is fragile and underfunded. I can’t understand why the Democrats in the legislature would propose cutting over $150 million from health and human services. This funding takes care of children and adults with mental illnesses, people with disabilities and older adults. It funds mental health centers and providers, hospitals, and nursing homes. I urge our legislators to revisit this decision – it will have a negative impact on our community.


Please take action today. We cannot wait. Our mental health system cannot withstand further cuts.

Media Monday: Body objectification gone too far

Submitted by TEPF Volunteer

Most are probably familiar with the murder charges against South African Oscar Pistorius, who previously wowed the world by being the first double-legged amputee to participate in the Olympics. Unfortunately, his recent claim to fame is much less glorious. Regardless of it being premeditated or accidental, his murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp is a great tragedy.  Another tragedy is the media’s coverage of the incident.  Magazines like the Sun, the Mail and even The New York Post all covered the story by choosing to use photos of Reeva posing sexily in a bikini. The Huffington Post joined in by posting an online slideshow of bikini shots.  Yes, she was a swimwear model. However, she also had a law degree, campaigned against violence towards women, and modeled cosmetics for Avon. Reeva was a very intelligent, successful women and advocate. It is a shame that the media disproportionately praised her physical attributes. 


To be clear, I am not saying there is anything wrong with modeling swimwear. However, I do find it distasteful (and frankly creepy) to objectify the body of a murder victim. It demonstrates how far the media will go to sell magazines, which brings up a bigger issue: why does the sexualisation of women’s (and men’s) bodies sell magazines? Why has the coverage of this tragedy caused seemingly little uproar in the US, while hundreds of people in the UK posted their disgust on Twitter and Facebook?


Perhaps we are becoming so accustomed to the way the media objectifies us, that we hardly notice when they run stories like Reeva’s.  Or perhaps we are too busy self-evaluating and feeling bad about ourselves to do anything about it.  A recent study published in Psychological Science, found that women who often evaluated themselves based on their appearance and sexual desirability had a decreased motivation to challenge gender-based inequalities and injustices.
So, the media promotes this status quo that makes us feel bad about ourselves which in turn decreases our motivation to stand up against it. This is great for magazine sales, but bad for us.  We must find a way to break this vicious cycle and it starts with acknowledging these issues and standing up against them. Challenge the status quo, view the media critically, and use your voice to advocate for yourself and others.

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Media Monday: Response to Advertising

Submitted by TEPF Volunteer

The ad in question is that of Ketel One Vodka as presented on the back cover of Lavender Magazine’s 458th issue (December 13-26, 2012). The ad presents two thin well-dressed, clean-cut, men in a bar setting. Both men are holding small glasses of clear liquid over ice while smiling in an almost flirtatious manner. The bottom also says “a proud supporter of glaad”; glaad is an organization that supports the GLBT community (
The audience this ad is aimed towards is men, gay or otherwise; the effects of this ad however, affect more than just the company’s target audience. The hope of this ad is to influence men to believe that if they go to a bar, are fit, well-dressed and bought some Ketel One Vodka, then that will impart a sort of sex appeal that they may otherwise not have. This message is not appealing. Because whether a person is thin or well-dressed it does not add to sexual appeal. There are plenty of suave people who wear sweats and t shirts who have many suitors and are very appealing. Simply because a person is slender and dresses up does not mean they are sexually appealing.
This ad has the potential to cause harm. In short term, if men are not as lanky as the two men they see in the ad, they are likely to feel sad and unattractive. This can lead to these same viewers to try and lose weight, spend money on frivolous items that they probably do not need, and worry about their own ability to attract mates. In the long term, if these same male viewers cannot mold themselves to look more similar to the men in these ads, it can lead to depression and anxiety in social situations. Overall, the long term effects of this ad are likely both men and women thinking about beauty and attractiveness in terms of slenderness instead of personality attributes and ability.
If someone were to change this ad, the best place to start is the models. They should not be models. They should look more like normal people. If this were the case, then it would allow the general public to see beauty and attractiveness in a more broad view.

Media Monday: A refreshing image

Submitted by TEPF Volunteer
Advertising has such a deep and profound effect on its viewers, despite their level of awareness. It can convince us not only to buy products, but to believe the philosophy, principle, or idea. It can tell you that you are too fat, too ugly, too slow, too smelly, etc., and that you need this product to be beautiful, desirable, intelligent, athletic, etc. Our society often focuses on negative ads and will use extreme examples from fashion labels that show women being objectified, dissected, ridiculed, or spoken down to, let alone racist, ageist, and ethnocentric. Sadly, those examples are plentiful, as explored in the film and follow-ups, Killing Me Softly by Jean Kilbourne. Luckily, there are some ad agencies with more positive messages.
My ad was found in the Time Magazine December 31st issue. It is for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and features four women standing with arms crossed in front of a dark backdrop. The camera slightly angled up, giving the women a sense of power. The women are dressed professionally, but plain clothes. The body language of crossed arms and smiling faces expresses confidence. The women are between the ages of 30 – 40, which is also the target audience of the ad. The print on the ad suggests the women are support systems for each other during cancer treatment. The ad is selling the idea of the foundation doing positive things and suggesting the audience to donate to them. The ad has a positive message of hope and strength. The women pictured are not stick thin, but are all of a healthy, average weight. Although their wrinkles and imperfections are all photoshopped out, the ad displays a picture perfect version of a successful cancer survivor.