Archive for April 29, 2013

Media Monday: You Can Make a Difference

Submitted by EPF Volunteer Britt Ahlstrom


Sweden’s largest eating disorder clinic has an appalling problem, but it has nothing to do with the treatment – it’s the talent scouts looking to recruit models right outside. No, this is not a tasteless joke. The clinic recently told reporters at The Local that agents had given business cards to patients who were out for walks. Many of the patients were emaciated and in their teens. One was in a wheelchair.


The clinic changed their procedures for patient walks, and thankfully there hasn’t been a scouting incident for a year. But these instances speak to a much larger problem: Our culture’s idealization of extreme thinness. This problem isn’t isolated to Sweden. If you drove past a billboard this morning, or passed by the magazine rack at the grocery store, you know what I mean.


“It’s disgusting,” some of us might say as we toss Vogue onto the checkout counter. “But I can’t do anything about it.”


Yes, you can.


Societies change when citizens make change. You can take action today. Here are some steps you can take to make a difference:


  1. Don’t buy fashion magazines that idealize thinness
  • Magazines influence what we view as the norm; Of elementary school kids who regularly read magazines, 69% say the images affect their idea of an ideal body shape (Field et al., 1999).
  1. Listen to your body
  • If you’ve ignored your internal cues for a while, it can take work to learn what your body wants. But you can do it.
  1. Don’t participate in “Fat Talk”
  • Saying “I’m so fat” hurts your self-esteem, but it also hurts those around you. If you’re “so fat,” what are they? Let your words set an example.
  1. Volunteer for an eating disorder awareness nonprofit
  1. Participate online

Media Monday: You Are More Beautiful Than You Think

Submitted by TEPF Volunteer

Sometimes when I am being critical of myself, my boyfriend says, “I wish you could see yourself through my eyes—then you’d relax.” Pause for an, “Awe, how sweet.” And it is sweet, and this is literally what the new Dove marketing campaign went out to do.

“You are more beautiful than you think” is the most recent marketing slogan put out by Dove in their real beauty sketches campaign. The campaign brought together a group of women of varied ages and backgrounds and a forensic artist. The forensic artist created 2 drawings of each woman—one from her own description and the other from a complete stranger. Then these two images were hung side-by-side.

Dove's new Real Beauty Campaing

Dove’s new Real Beauty Campaign

What is interesting is that the two images reflected the tone of the verbal descriptions. For example, the woman whose portrait is being done describes herself as having “a pretty big forehead” while a stranger describes the woman with positive imagery, “She had blue eyes, very nice blue eyes.” The portraits completed using the strangers descriptions were “lighter” and “happy” in comparison to the self-described portraits.

At the end, each woman was confronted with both images and they were able to physically see how they viewed themselves in comparison to how other people viewed them. For many, it seemed to have a very positive impact—they realized how harsh they were with themselves—and it offered an opening to seeing oneself through the positive lens of another and to the possibility of self-love.

There are individuals who have made negative comments about this campaign. Some feel that it is too focused on outward appearance; others feel that it’s just a marketing ploy.

But whatever your take on it, I’d like to stay with the theme and see the beauty of this campaign—like those strangers seeing the beauty in the women they were describing. What I like most about this campaign is that it asks us to see the same beauty in ourselves that others see. And in this way it asks us to be gentler with ourselves. And when we can be more gentle with ourselves, then we see others with a softer lens too. And perhaps in turn, they will see themselves with a softer lens, and in turn another, and another. Be gentle with yourself—and pass it on.


Watch the video and see what you think!

Article about Dove Real Beauty Sketches in the Huffington Post:

Media Monday: Anti-obesity campaigns

Submitted by TEPF Volunteer
In today’s world when we talk about health issues, we focus our attention on cancer and obesity and what are the causes for these conditions. We know that we can help alleviate the obesity epidemic by educating children, adolescents and young adults about the health conditions that obesity causes e.g. heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. Part of this education also informs children how certain foods can contribute to these health conditions. Now that children are aware about the health issue, have they completely avoided certain foods like potato chips, soda, ice cream, desserts because they are afraid that they will get a heart attack, diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol? This article is about how Anti-Obesity Programs in public schools may contribute to children displaying unhealthy eating habits that could lead to eating disorders.
Along with the nutrition education, the anti-obesity program is also informing the audience about height and weight measurements, increasing physical activity, and BMI. The students are learning about which measurements fall into the “danger” zone of obesity. The students may take the information and overanalyze everything they do or eat throughout the day and may develop some patterns of eating disorders.
I think it is important to find a balance in nutrition education in public schools. Yes, we want students to be aware of the consequences of obesity but also be aware the consequences of eating disorders. The language used in these anti-obesity programs should be used careful and not promote unhealthy eating habits that could develop into eating disorders. It is important to inform students about normal eating and healthy coping skills. Students should learn how to understand and listen to their bodies under certain conditions e.g. stress, anxiety, sadness, happiness. Students should learn how to balance their lives and know what is normal. Also the definition of healthy should be used carefully because a healthy lifestyle is different for every.


Media Monday: Michelle Obama Doesn’t Discuss Weight With Her Daughters

Submitted by TEPF Volunteer

At the age of 8, I remember critically examining the size of my legs in comparison to my friend Lisa’s as we sat in the grass cross-legged and bare foot. I remember noticing my legs were bigger than hers. And I remember that this bothered me. I even remember the sensation of bodily anxiety that this brought on.Michelle Obama

How does a little girl at the age of 8 feel shame about the size of her legs—or even get the idea to compare them?

I can’t give you a definitive answer for every girl or boy, but for me I know it came from growing up with a constant background sound about weight. In my family thinness got you praise, and being overweight carried shame along with it.

I don’t believe that individuals in my family knew that their commentaries about weight would be hurtful. In fact, I’m sure it was simply part of the way they were brought up themselves. But whether people have good intentions or not, these types of remarks about weight can be harmful.

Because of my own experience, and because it is obvious that there has been a dramatic rise in incidences of eating disorders in young children, I think it is so fantastic that Michelle Obama has stepped up to the plate to discuss how to talk to—or perhaps better said, how not to talk to kids about weight.

As reported in an article by the Huffington Post, Michelle Obama took part in a Google + “Fireside Hangout” hosted by Kelly Ripa. She told Ripa that she doesn’t discuss weight with her daughters:

“I have two young daughters. We never talk about weight. I make it a point. I don’t want our children to be weight-obsessed. I want them to be focused on: What do I have to do, in this body — because everybody is different, every person’s body is different — what do I have to do to be the healthiest that I can be.”

What we say to children about their weight, our weight or just weight in general makes an impact. Bravo to the First Lady for being an excellent role model and for discussing an important topic. Pass on the link below. Post it on Facebook. Tweet it. Talk about it. Let’s set the stage early for children to love their bodies just the way they are.


Link to the Huffington Post article:

Fireside Hangout video with Kelly Ripa:

Other sites that do justice to this topic:

Media Monday: Slim Peace

Submitted by Britt Ahlstrom, TEPF Volunteer

Could a healthy living support group bring Israeli and Palestinian woman together? Fat chance, you say? Tell that to Slim Peace, a support group for women of various religions who want to improve their eating habits and self-esteem. The group was founded in the Middle East, but as reported in The New York Times, the group has now made its way to Boston, Massachusetts. I’d like to see it spread.


Some eating disorder awareness advocates might be opposed to the propagation of weight loss support groups, and I’ll admit it could use a less weight-focused name. But we shouldn’t be so quick to scrape this group off our plates. For one thing, it promotes the sensible Mediterranean Diet, not one of the numerous “lose weight fast” fad diets. The group also teaches attendees to tap into their spiritual sides, guiding them through mindful eating and connecting with their “inner power.” The 10-week group even culminates with a shared meal.


But the most central reason I love this group? Christian groups bring together Christians. Liberal groups bring together liberals. But eating groups can bring together everyone. Regardless of your gender, race, religion, political stance, or sexual orientation, if you live in the United States (or the Middle East, or Asia, or on the planet Earth), you probably struggle with food, even if just sometimes.


Many people struggle with food. With having too little or with eating too much. With feeling hungry or with “feeling fat.” Food has power around the globe. It can instigate riots, spur legislation, and enrich or deplete lives.


But food can also bring together families. It can help us cross boundaries of culture and ideology. That’s exactly what I think Slim Peace is about, and it’s something we all could use a little more of.