Archive for September 30, 2013

Media Monday: Toothpick and Matchstick

Submitted by Elizabeth Mishler

I first came across J. Crew’s Toothpick and Matchstick denim lines when I was out shopping earlier this week. Their names and the implications they made about body shape quickly caught my attention and I went home and looked them up online, only to find that that both were sported by extraordinarily thin models.

The target audience for these J. Crew denim lines is young women in their late 20’s early 30’s. It is difficult to find either denim line appealing due to the implied body shape that is associated by the names of the jeans and due to the tall, frighteningly thin models used in their online promotion. While there is individual variation, biologically speaking, women were not and are not constructed to have rail-thin bodies. However, popular culture, in particular the media, has deemed that “thin is in” regardless of whether it is healthy or not. This standard is the fuel for a wide array of fad diets and misleading nutrition advice.  Consumers are always looking for the best new diet that will get them looking like a supermodel in less than three weeks.

J. Crew is trying to convey the message that thin, be it toothpick-thin or matchstick-thin, is beautiful. When I saw the jeans in store, I was initially put off by the names only to become further repulsed once I saw how they were modeled online. In no way does this convince me that I need to purchase a pair of these pants or that I should strive to obtain “beautiful” toothpick-thin hips and legs. I do not regularly shop at J. Crew, and after seeing how these denim lines were named, I turned around and walked out the door. I do not care to support a company that reinforces the “thin” standard in both name and picture. We, as a culture, are highly influenced by media and advertising. This is especially true with impressionable adolescents and teenagers. They see these models and are lead to believe that in order to be popular, have friends, and look good, they should look just like these models. Advertising, such as that used by J. Crew, is not socially responsible because it not only leaves the initial impression that beauty necessitates thinness, it also perpetuates the desire to achieve an unrealistic appearance out of fear of being seen as fat or unstylish. We should be encouraging women and young girls (and for that matter, men) that they should love their bodies, for whatever shape or size they are, because everyone is unique. I would encourage J. Crew along with other companies to reconsider not only how they name their product lines to avoid insinuating the necessity for a particular body shape but also to use models with a wide variety of body shapes and sizes, because we are beautiful for who we are.

From: J. Crew


Unpacking ‘Perfect’

Submitted by Mel Ness


Lately I have been struck by my obsession with being perfect.  At first that doesn’t sound so bad. We should strive to be perfect, right?

Perfect people have perfect lives with perfect problems, like choosing what shoes to wear with the dress you just bought or figuring out where to vacation in the fall. Those are actually choices, not problems, but you get it.


I’m a young, recent college grad. And there is pressure. There is pressure put upon my shoulders to be perfect.


Let’s unpack that word: Perfect.


Being perfect means having a set plan for the rest of my life.

Perfect people have lots of money to blow and are somehow rich by age 25.

It means never making any mistakes or asking for help, and always figuring things out on the first try.

Being perfect means having the energy to put in a 40+ hour week, regularly workout, participate in the right amount of extra-curricular activities, all while still having an active social life [during the work week].

Oh, and being a perfect daughter, sister, and friend. All of this must be done without getting tired or crabby and looking like a supermodel.

Being perfect means knowing exactly what I want out of my career and already being well on my way to reaching my goals as a professional.

It means knowing exactly where I will be in my career 5 years from now [my personal favorite].

Being perfect is me knowing who I’m going to marry and how we’ll meet.

The year and month I will get married. The exact age I will start having children [based upon how old I’ll be when I marry, of course].

The company I plan to stay with long-term.

And, finally, being sure of where I plan on living for the next 40 years of my life. [Because heaven forbid you pick the wrong place and have to move twice.]


When you’re perfect, people admire you because you are flawless; put together, the epitome of the American dream.

Well, guess what. Everything I just said isn’t true.


Here’s where I am right now:

I’m not sure what the plan is for the rest of my life.

I don’t have a lot of money.

I make mistakes daily, hourly, minute-ly [not a real word].

I am usually the last to join the party and the last to figure things out. [I didn’t figure out that Harry Potter was cool until I was in college.]

I am tired after working over 40 hours a week and find it hard to juggle working out, family, friends, and a social life. I applaud myself if I’m able to stay up past 10:30 PM on weeknights.

I’m not sure what I want out of my career and have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life, let alone where I will be working.

I’m single and have no idea when, how, or where I will meet That Guy.

I couldn’t tell you where I’ll be living for the next 40 years. I don’t even know where I’ll live next year when my lease is up.


The funny thing about all of this pressure is that the person stacking pressure upon my shoulders…is me. Sure, people ask me what I want to do, where I want to be, who I plan on marrying. But if we’re being honest, my biggest enemy is me.


Now I’m going to share with you what I’ve been learning. None of the things I listed above actually matter.

You’re probably thinking, “Duh.” But be real, you know you think these things, too.


What makes you perfect?

a)        Having your life’s plan solidified, hard copied, and bound

b)        Making lots of money

c)        Knowing exactly which career you want and getting it in less than 5 years

d)        Never making mistakes

e)        The company you work for

f)         Where you live

g)        The amount of extra-curricular activities you participate in

h)        None of the above

The answer is H.


Such freedom is so few words: There is no such thing as being perfect.


When I think of the people I admire most in life, it has nothing to with any of the things I’ve mentioned.

I don’t admire people and desire to be like them because they have it all together or because they’re rich and have a successful career, or because they’re without flaws, work for an awesome company, and can somehow manage to juggle their professional and social lives like modern-day superheroes that look like Cindy Crawford.


I admire them because they are real, raw, and relatable.

I admire them because they have real bodies that have seen struggle and sickness, heartache and loss.

I admire these people because they have been through the pit of hell and the palaces of heaven.

I admire them because they got a late start in life, didn’t do so hot with their first two careers choices, and had to start over at square one.

I admire them for their strength, courage, sense of humor, character, integrity, attitude, and heart.

I admire them for the words of encouragement and affirmation that they pour out on others.

I admire them not for their perfect figures, but because of their health and vitality, their strong minds and ability to see the truth in every situation.

I admire them because of the courage they exhibit by admitting when they’ve done something wrong and getting back up after making terrible mistakes.

I admire them because they live for others.

None of these people are perfect.


I’d rather be imperfect.


-Mel Ness

Media Monday: Not Just a Woman’s Disease

Submitted by: Christine Hanwick

Recently, I had a friend tell me that she suspects her boyfriend might have an eating disorder. Ever since, I’ve been thinking a lot about how this is a huge misconception: “men don’t have eating disorders.” But they do. And according to an article titled, Let’s Talk About Male Eating Disorders, on, 10% to 15% of those who struggle with bulimia or anorexia are men. 

Brian Cuban — who recently wrote a book about his struggle with bulimia titled, “Shattered Image” — divulges in this article that his struggle with bulimia went on for 27 years before he asked for help. Part of the reason he waited so long was the stigma and shame he felt went along with being a man with an eating disorder. He says, “the sad part is that the stigma and shame that once prevented me from seeking help in 1980 have not improved much over the last few decades. Many men still feel the need to stay silent about eating disorders…we still think it is a women’s disease.” Cuban waited another 3 years after seeking help through a 12-step program to tell the world his “secret.” But he said that his biggest surprise has been that he found acceptance — “people wanted to help.”

By speaking up, Cuban and other courageous men like him prove it’s OK to be a man with an eating disorder — and that it’s OK to be a man who asks for help. Cuban believes that when more people (both men and women) open up about their eating disorders, “we will see an expansion of treatment options, which will lead to more funding and research for both male and female eating disorder sufferers.”

According NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) men who suffer from eating disorders:

-are less likely to seek professional help than women.

-have higher levels of gender role conflict associated with seeking psychological help.

-are not included in eating disorder studies as often as women.

-do not receive treatment as often as women.

Image credit: The Atlantic/Dirk Ercken/Shutterstock

An Athlete’s Body Love

Submitted by Zach M.

I love my body because it has made me the person that I am today. It has allowed me to become an athlete. More importantly a baseball pitcher, giving me confidence and uniqueness. I love my body because it has led me to meet some incredible lifelong friends, those who keep me mentally stable and positive. My mind has allowed me to grow educationally and will continue to guide my learning to make for a successful future. Every inch of my body makes me unique and different from everyone else, which is something that I truly love and cherish. I also love my body because it has proven to be internally strong, preventing serious injuries and/or pain, not only physically, but emotionally as well.

Media Monday: Your words matter

Submitted by Emily Monson

The language we use to speak to children is extremely important, children act as ‘sponges’ that soak up and interpret the information we give to them and can perceive our words in multitudes of ways. The article sited below, generated towards parents, highlights the importance of the types of conversations we have with children and how to direct conversations away from focusing on their appearance and more on their intellect.

The article mentions how adults are socialized to greet children by commenting on their looks as a means of ‘boosting their self-esteem’. This might sound like telling a young girl how beautiful her new dress looks on her and asking her to twirl around to show you how it spins. The message behind this type of communication instantly tells this young girl that looks are a priority. Rather than beginning a conversation with a young person about the clothes he or she is wearing or how nice their new haircut looks, the article stresses asking them about what they are interested in. This might mean asking them about their favorite books or asking them what they like to learn about. Starting conversations in this way lets children understand that their unique interests are important and encourages them to be excited about things that positively stimulate their minds.

What this article is missing in my opinion is the importance of messages that we send to young boys in similar ways. However much our society might make body image and dieting a ‘female issue’ it is a concern with men as well as women. Young boys can still interpret and receive messages from adults that lead them to prioritizing how their body should look. I would also mention that this article sends a prevalent message that people should completely steer away from having conversations with children about their looks and their body. I feel that it is important to have conversations with children about their bodies and should be done in a way that teaches children about how to love their bodies and themselves.



‘How to talk to little girls’ – Latina Fatale, Viva la Mujer on 7/21/2011

Accessed – August, 22, 2013 via Facebook