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Archive for Health at Every Size

Evolution of the Dove “Real Beauty” Campaign

By Awazi, a Foundation volunteer

The Dove “Real Beauty” Campaign launched in 2004, and started as a “global conversation” to find the definition of beauty and what it means to people who identify as women. The original mission was to find The Real Truth about Beauty as a widespread Global Report.

Only 2% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful.   Dove went on a mission to change and “challenge the beauty stereotypes.” Dove wanted to create an atmosphere where people who identify as women could talk about their own beauty and be confident about it.

During the first campaign Dove decided to use “real women whose appearance were outside stereotypical norms” that were traditionally shown in advertising to make a point that beauty can come in different shapes, shades and sizes. Dove’s Campaign even inspired others, for example in September 2006 Spain banned overly thin models from its fashion runways.  This truly spoke to the campaign and added on to the debate. Dove responded in a short film called Evolution which they explain “depict[s] the transformation of a real woman into a model and promot[es] awareness of how unrealistic perceptions of beauty are created.”

In 2007 Dove Beauty Campaign took an interesting turn as they narrowed in to the identities of woman and age. This campaign explained women aging and how that is not seen as pleasing for people who identify as women or society. The global study, Beauty Comes of Age viewed that 91% of women identified folks ages 50–64 believe that society needs to change their opinion on aging people. As a result of this, Dove held a celebration to acknowledge women of older age with wrinkles, age spots, and grey hair. This was made possible and created with internationally renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz. The campaign focused on people who identify as girls and women who feel capsized by the fact that people they see in magazines are unrealistic and altered. This increased awareness of the fact that beauty images impact self-esteem.

In 2010 Dove paired up with the Girls scouts of the U.S.A, and Girls and Boys clubs of American to encourage a boost of self-esteem for the youth. They also included educational programs to motivate young girls.  Dove has reached over 7 million girls so far with these programs, and set a global goal of reaching 15 million girls by 2015. 

For 2011 Dove has pushed the ball even further by conducting a much larger study of women identified folks’ relationship with beauty, this was called The Real Truth About Beauty: Revisited. The study revealed that only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful, and that anxiety about looks begins at an early age.  Over 1,200 10-to-17-year-olds, a majority of those who identified as girls, 72%, said they felt tremendous pressure to be beautiful. Very few girls and women use the word beautiful to describe themselves. Although the self-esteem levels of people who identify as women are very low, Dove is trying to make a difference to change that in a positive way! This Campaign is continuing to promote and spread awareness today.

I think dove is doing a great job of going to the source, real people, and asking them what they think beauty is. Even better, they found a problem and addressed it. They found that people who identify as women were not happy with their bodies or how they look. They also found women identified folks were not happy with not seeing their types of unique bodies in ads and commercials. Most of them had low self-esteem about their appearance and wouldn’t even call themselves beautiful.

We are all beautiful in our own ways! People who identify as women have had to be strong, have had to fight for their rights, and to me that’s beautiful! Beauty is not always about looking good or having the cutest shoes, beauty is being your best and sharing that wherever you go! I feel like Dove’s campaign is trying to share that beautiful information with everyone- no matter if they identify as a woman or not.

What do you think? Feel free to rate this campaign review and comment below!


The Dove® Campaign for Real Beauty." The Dove® Campaign for Real Beauty.
UNILEVER , 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 12 June 2014. 

What Is With That New Weight Loss Thing?

As you might have heard, the FDA approved a new weight loss device called the AspireAssist. This brings up a multitude of complex issues that are not black at white and cannot be oversimplified. Today, we highlight one person’s response to the device while next week we will consider another perspective to the issue.

Written by Volunteer Elise Byron.

I have been guilty of joking with friends that “calories don’t count on Friday” or that “these chips actually have negative calories!” I have also wished I could go back and erase caloric intake after eating one-too-many pieces of birthday cake. Had I ever purged to complete these post-birthday party wishes, I can only imagine how easily I could have been lead down a road to disordered eating. The FDA recently approved an ‘obesity treatment’ called AspireAssist in which, a tube is inserted into the stomach to drain up to 30% of caloric consumption into the toilet following each meal. The announcement recommends that the device be used three times a day for optimal success by individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 35-55. The patients must be monitored closely by their doctor to shorten the tube as they continue to lose weight, as well as to the replace a portion of the drain tube which automatically stops working after 115 cycles of use.

Justifying their endorsement, the press announcement cites that, when compared with a control group who received only nutrition and exercise counseling, individuals who used AspireAssist in addition to such therapy lost 8.5% more of their body weight. However, the use of such an invasive technique comes at a cost: numerous side effects like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea can occur, not to mention a long list of complications, including death, that can occur from the surgical placement of the gastric tube and the abdominal opening for the port valve. While the financial burden of such frequent trips to the doctor mandated by the use of AspireAssist is not mentioned in the article, even more disturbing is the lack of consideration of its potential psychological effects. This is an article put forth by an organization which connotes a sure sense of health and safety; it implies to anyone overweight that the removal of food after it has been consumed will effectively make one more ‘heathy.’ AspireAssist, in other words, is a form of purging, and its message rings clear everyone, regardless of their size.

We are psychologically driven to trust authorities. We are also psychologically driven to justify our actions and twist facts to match up with what we want the truth to be. To someone who has already begun to convince themselves that their purging behavior is normal, healthy, or necessary, an article like this only confirms that belief: “Vomiting at home is way less invasive version of this, so it must be okay.” It disturbs me that this logic is correct; it is the premise – that AspireAssist is a beneficial and healthy option for someone struggling with their weight – which is flawed. The whole idea behind this tube is that overweight individuals who are trying to lose weight are universally eating 30% more calories than needed. Isn’t that assumption much too sweeping a generalization? Are they at all concerned about malnourishment?

These questions remain unaddressed by this press announcement, and I think it’s because lines get blurred when it comes to obesity and eating disorders. In the media and mainstream health education, we learn about all the health risks of obesity, and we see pictures of overweight people eating super-sized McDonald’s meals. We also learn about individuals who struggle with eating disorders, and see a portrayal of a stick-thin woman looking in the mirror at her distorted perception of herself as ‘fat.’ I think these polarized images implicate the assumption that the overly-thin simply need to eat, and the overweight simply need to not. This is an inaccurate portrayal of both health and disordered eating which leads us to a faulty prognosis of how these individuals should proceed, rooted in a sense that we know what is best for them. By so doing, we are robbed from a compassion for individuals struggling with healthy eating, as well as the humility to recognize the situation is far from black-and-white. None would recommend a purge of 30% of caloric consumption to an individual with a normal or underweight BMI, out of concern for their health and well-being. Obesity and eating disorders need to be understood and addressed head-on. Ironically, it seems the efforts to lower the prevalence of obesity and eating disorders are at odds with each other, when in reality, both fight for the same cause. Body positivity and fitness are not enemies and I think it’s time we prioritize the health of all shapes and sizes. We need to stop separating empowerment into opposing camps of “#RealWomenHaveCurves” and “#MyWeightLossJourney.” Real women are all shapes and sizes, and they are all equally deserving of our respect. Healthy looks different for everyone, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t involve a painful weight loss tube protruding from my abdomen.


The Words You Say * by guest blogger Martha Kate Stainsby

*Contributed by guest blogger Martha Kate StainsbyFacebook Icontwitter-bird-white-on-blue

I was two when I said I didn’t look pretty and meant it. I was three when I learned what a diet was and how to do it. I was five when I was called the word fat and it devastated me. I was nine when I noticed what the scale said and what those numbers really meant. I was ten when I was called skinny and it encouraged me that starving myself was okay. I was twelve when a boy commented on my physical appearance and it stayed with me. I was fifteen when I missed a state mandated fitness test because I was terrified to see the numbers on the scale and what the teacher would say. I was too young to learn and be impacted by those words, and yet it happened.

And the truth is it is happening to young girls and boys no matter how young they are and whether we want to admit it or not. We think they are too young to fully understand the impact of our words, too young to have these struggles, too young- they aren’t.

So today I want to take a moment to talk to those young girls and boys, the moms of young people, the teachers to these kids, and anyone who interacts with these growing children on a daily basis. Take notice of the youth, because they see the world in a manner that you can’t. They see the beauty and they see the pain. They are confused and trying to become the best individuals they can, so stop putting pressure on them to be the best. Encourage them, love them.

Today across the world, there are young girls and boys skipping lunch, running to the bathroom, literally running for miles, pouring over magazines, crying in the mirror, trying to fit into a certain perfect size jeans, writing in their diary because some boy told them they weren’t pretty. And it matters…they are not just simple words. Your words, their words, they matter and they hold more weight than you could ever realize. We have to start changing this and it starts with changing the conversation.

Stop telling them they are beautiful solely for their physical appearance. Tell them they are beautiful inside and out. Tell them they are important, their opinions matter, they are going to change the world. Their physical beauty is fleeting and could change in an instant, but their beautiful hearts are forever. Tell them they are loved for the unique individual they are. Tell them there is no one like them in the world, because it is true.

Moms, Dads, teachers, friends, family, mentors, young people, you have a chance to change the conversation and it starts today.

I hope today that you feel loved and tell others how loved they are for who they are on the inside, and not just on the outside because that is what matters. From a young lady who has fought harder than anyone should ever have to, to believe that deep down I matter- I promise changing the conversation is worth it.


martha kate stainsby

Martha Kate is an eating disorder survivor & advocate. She spends most of her time in Waco, Texas where she lives with her husband Brett and works with college students for the ministry RUF. MK loves people, diet coke, anything that sparkles, and a monogram on everything. Read her blog at leavingperfectionlearninggrace.com



Why I Won’t Call You Skinny * guest blogger Martha Kate Stainsby

*Contributed by guest blogger Martha Kate StainsbyFacebook Icontwitter-bird-white-on-blue

I remember the first time I heard the words that will stay with me forever. I remember the smile on the woman’s face as she looked at me with envy and I remember the pride that exuded from me that day thinking I had just won a gold medal.  No those words weren’t you are amazing. No they weren’t you are so smart or kind. They weren’t even you are beautiful. Those words which held me in a death trap for over a decade were, “You are so skinny!”

I was ten years old and standing in the school hallway before class. A former teacher looked at me and gushed as she told me how skinny I was, how much weight I had lost, and how incredible I looked. I learned on that day; skinny was to be praised, skinny was noteworthy, skinny made people stop and notice, and skinny was what I should strive to be. My heart breaks and I literally feel sick as I think of that young, innocent girl holding her princess backpack as her grasp of beauty begins to slip through her fingers.

I think if only the teacher had known I lost weight because of mental issues that were weighing me down; if she had only known each day at lunch I traded my home packed lunch for half of a subway sandwich (that a girl who’s mom was on the subway diet gave her each day). And if only she knew once I was given that six-inch sandwich, I never managed to eat half of it. If only she knew, ironically the same year, I learned about how important skinny was, I also learned what eating disorders were. However, I never even dreamed I could have an eating disorder, because I wasn’t an emaciated Ballerina and I didn’t throw up my food. So how in the world could I have a problem? That same year I would stand outside my Reading Class with a headache so terrible I could barely focus because I had eaten nearly nothing that day. The only thought which crossed my mind as I stood there, was “If this is what it takes to be skinny, it is worth it”.

For over a decade I would believe the lie, “skinny was the best thing possible”. Skinny fueled my Ed. I would try to brush off every compliment related to my size. I would deny it when someone said I was smaller than them. Shrug my shoulders when size “x” didn’t fit me. I would laugh when someone asked me for my diet and exercise tips. Inside, I would be thrilled. I was ecstatic of the praise and attention. Proud that my size had earned me this “privilege”.

Secretly though, I was dying, physically, mentally and emotionally. I thought in order to be loved, in order to be valued, in order to be praise worthy I needed to stay this skinny. It was a losing game because no matter what the number on the scale said, no matter how small the size got, no matter how many people complimented, it wasn’t enough. And even more, the skinnier I got, the more I lost MK. I had no idea what true beauty was and that it had nothing to do with the size you were.

Looking back I don’t blame the woman who stopped me in the hallway, she didn’t cause my eating disorder. My ED was about so much more than that. That woman merely played the part that society has taught us to play. We are taught from an extremely young age that beauty and (even more) size are important. We are taught to praise and take notice of size. We are taught that size defines our worth and who we are.

What if I told you it didn’t though? What if I told you striving for skinny, and even more perfection won’t get you anywhere but heartache. If you know me today you know, no matter how much weight you may have lost or gained, I will never comment on your size. I will never tell you how skinny you are. I will never say you look like you’ve put on weight. Because I don’t believe commenting on people’s sizes is appropriate in any way, shape, or form. I don’t believe your view of beautiful should be determined by a size, by a comment, by a magazine, or by comparison.

When we take time out to comment on something we are stating what we feel is important to say. When we comment, worth is put in our words. I never want someone to think they are valued for their size. Because size doesn’t define worth. Size doesn’t define beauty.

May you know you are beautiful for millions of things, but your size should never dictate your beauty. And may we work together to stop using words like skinny or fat or commenting on size in general.


martha kate stainsby



Martha Kate is an eating disorder survivor & advocate. She spends most of her time in Waco, Texas where she lives with her husband Brett and works with college students for the ministry RUF. MK loves people, diet coke, anything that sparkles, and a monogram on everything. Read her blog at leavingperfectionlearninggrace.com



New Year’s Resolution for Health and Wellbeing

*Submitted by an Anonymous Foundation Volunteer

Today is New Year’s Day and a well-known tradition around the world is to set ‘resolutions’, or goals for the upcoming year. Popular culture influences these goals, and the thin-ideal is ever-present. The two most common New Year’s resolutions are to get in shape, and to eat healthier. They are both goals to essentially lose weight and change the shape of the body.

Typing in ‘New Year’s Resolution ideas’ into Google, the first search page to come up is ‘50 New Year’s Resolutions and How to Achieve Each of Them.’ Number one on their list was ‘Get in Shape’, and two ‘Start eating healthier food, and less food overall.’ The third search result under the ‘New Year’s resolution’ Google search was ‘Top Ten Healthiest New Year’s Resolutions.’ ‘Lose Weight’ was number one.

Weight loss is not the epitome of health. Too often heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and other common diseases are correlated strictly with weight. That is not the reality. These goals are not conducive to overall wellbeing and are more harmful than helpful. These suggestions are a breeding ground for disordered eating and eating disorder behavior.

Setting a goal to become part of the thin-ideal can be unrelenting and dangerous. Ninety percent of people cannot achieve this, because it is unnatural for most bodies. Taking away the focus of the thin-ideal, and instead turning towards health and overall wellbeing iswellbeing invaluable. Soundness of mind and body can promote positive body image, and let us enjoy food- instead of disliking our bodies, or making food the enemy.

This year, rather than setting our New Year’s Resolutions to meet the thin-ideal- let’s set a goal for health and wellbeing.