Tag Archive for fattitude

The Dreaded Scale

By Katy M.

Why do we ask ourselves so many questions on what we should weigh and what size we should be?

So many people step on the scale daily to see if they’ve lost or gained any weight, asking questions like: What does the scale say? Am I the right weight for my height?

If you think about it logically, the scale doesn’t tell us anything of real value.

It's a number. 

A figure that means nothing when it comes to our own worth.

My favourite quote is:

The number on this scale will not tell you what a great person you are, how much your friends and family love you, that you are kind, smart, funny and amazing in ways numbers cannot define. That you have the power to choose your happiness, your own self-worth.

This quote is more accurate than any scale you’ll step on. When I believed in the dreaded scale, I was still unhappy at my lowest number. I was hungry and miserable. Eventually I understood that if you are happy and comfortable in your skin, you do not need to be a certain size because there is NO such thing as “the correct size”.

If you read celebrity magazines, you’ll see they are constantly criticising someone’s figure. This is not how life should be. Life is so much more than what you weigh; it is you as a person!

We are all beautiful with or without that number on a scale. It’s time we all start believing it.

 

scale

Barbie Makes a Comeback, Or Does She?

By: Kristine Strangis

Barbie, a doll that most of us grew up with and one that continues to be popular today. As the article claims, Barbie is the world’s best selling doll, and therefore greatly impacts the children who play with her. Therefore, Mattel set out to answer the question: “If you could design Barbie today, how would you make her a reflection of the times?”

Given our current times, where acceptance of multicultural and body diversity is becoming more mainstream, it seems fitting that Barbie should adapt to this as well.

Barbie quote-1Mattel, the company who created Barbie, just released three new body shapes—petite, tall, and curvy—and seven skin tones, with 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles. Overall, there is going to be 33 new dolls coming out.

On the surface, it seems like we are one step closer to improving body image and helping young girls see that beauty comes in all shapes, colors, and sizes. What could possibly go wrong?

Is this a step in the right direction? Mattel claims that their aim is to create a more real and accurate representation of the diverse world that young girls are living in. “We have to let girls know it doesn’t matter what shape you come in, that anything is possible,” Tania Missad, director of consumer insights for the doll line, said. This sounds like a good thing altogether, the fact that Mattel is trying to stand up against the dangerous thin ideal and send a more real and empowering message that diversity is what makes us all beautiful. But, given Mattel’s history, there is bound to be backlash.

Mattel created Barbie and, for decades, Barbie was an oppressive symbol of the thin ideal with her unrealistic proportions and lack of any real character. As the article claims, the Elsa doll from the hit Disney movie Frozen has been outselling Barbie because, although she is still thin, blonde, and overall representative of this oppressive image, at least she represents empowerment through her character. “Therein lies Barbie’s problem. As much as Mattel has tried to market her as a feminist, Barbie’s famous figure has always overshadowed her business outfits. At her core, she’s just a body, not a character, a canvas upon which society can project its anxieties about body image.”

So, is it really right for Mattel to be putting out this empowering message when they were the ones who were part of the whole thin ideal movement in the first place?

Sadly, “Mattel has also long claimed that Barbie has no influence on girls’ body image, pointing to whisper-thin models and even moms as the source of the dissatisfaction that too many young girls feel about their bodies.” If you are going to promote body diversity, at least own up to the fact that you may have contributed to young girls low self-esteem.  Research finds that “a handful of studies suggest that Barbie does have at least some influence on what girls see as the ideal body. The most compelling, a 2006 study published in the journal Developmental Psychology, found that girls exposed to Barbie at a young age expressed greater concern with being thin, compared with those exposed to other dolls.”

Overall, I think that it is great that Mattel is recreating the image of Barbie to be more representative of the world that we live in. This is a change that needs to happen. But, I just do not know if it will be enough to rewrite their history of contribution to young girls low self-esteem.

I was once a young girl who played with Barbie dolls, and I developed an eating disorder. I suffered and nearly died from anorexia nervosa for six years desperate to achieve this impossible thin and perfectionistic ideal. Now, I am not saying that playing with Barbie dolls as a kid caused my eating disorder, eating disorders are biological, psychological, social, cultural, and overall complex illnesses with many factors, but Barbie definitely was a factor. So, overall, I guess I am glad that Barbie is changing. This is a step in the right direction and, although we cannot change the past, we can try to create a better world for the next generation.

“Ultimately, haters are going to hate,” Dickson of Mattel says. “We want to make sure the Barbie lovers love us more—and perhaps changing the people who are negative to neutral. That would be nice.”

Discussion Questions:

How do you feel about the changes Mattel is making with Barbie?

Do you think these changes are harmful or helpful?

Do you think that Barbie contributed to the development of your eating disorder?

How do you think these changes to Barbie are going to help young girls today?

How the normalization of fat hate can prevent Eating Disorder recovery

Weight Stigma and Eating Disorder Recovery – How the normalization of fat hate can prevent Eating Disorder recovery

By Ragen Chastain
blog: www.danceswithfat.org
professional site: www.sizedforsuccess.com

“Every woman wants to be thinner!” So stated the opening sentence of an article (supposedly) about body positivity in a woman’s magazine in my dentist’s office.  The next sentence was “But that doesn’t mean you can’t love the body you have.”  Except for many of us, and especially for people dealing with eating disorders, that’s exactly what it means.

We live in a culture that undeniably values thin bodies over fat bodies.  The message that thin=pretty/healthy/morally good etc. is ubiquitous on magazines, billboards, television, and radio, in school hallways and corporate wellness programs. It can be seen in the way that we choose our actors, dancers, and singers based on their looks first and their talent second – so much so that we are shocked when someone who isn’t young, thin, and stereo-typically beautiful is talented.

Fat people who are happy with their lives, and achieving their goals, are often purposefully kept out of the limelight under the ridiculous claim that happy, successful fat people “promote obesity” (in much the same way, I suppose, that Mary Lou Retton “promotes shortness.”) This, in turn, creates a society with very little representation of fat people as anything other than miserable, unsuccessful, lonely, and self-loathing.

All of this adds up to a crushing pressure to be thin, and a normalization of fat hate.  We all know that these social issues can contribute to the development of eating disorders.  What we don’t always realize is that they can make it impossible to fully recover.

First, because it forces those in recovery to try to overcome body dysmorphia and a fear of being fat in a world where their belief that fat is a bad thing is reinforced almost everywhere they look, including healthcare professionals. At the same time that I was receiving treatment for an eating disorder, I was told by other doctors that I needed to lose weight.  One said “I mean, don’t go crazy like before, but you have a tendency to be bigger so watching your weight is something you’ll need to do for the rest of your life.” Yikes.

It’s difficult to believe that your recovery is the most important thing when the world is telling you that the most important thing, by far, is being thin by any means necessary. It’s difficult to let go of your fear of being fat if you can plainly see that you live in a culture where your fear is justified. It’s difficult to focus on your health and let your weight settle where it will, when billion dollar industries use every marketing trick in the book to convince you that manipulating your body size is an obligation. It’s difficult to build self-esteem when so many facets of society are trying to steal it, cheapen it, and sell it back to us at a profit.   When hating your body and being terrified of becoming fat is considered normal (“Every woman wants to be thinner!”) full eating disorder recovery can be impossible.

One stop-gap solution to this is to show people, including and especially those in eating disorder recovery, the errors and dangers of this way of thinking.  When we can help people opt-out of a culture of body hate and fat phobia, and appreciate the diversity of body sizes that exist, we can give them a chance at a complete recovery.  I often give a talk called “The World is Messed Up, You Are Fine” and it’s amazing to watch people’s faces show discovery and then anger as they realize that body hate is manufactured and sold aggressively to them for enormous profit, and then relief and hope as they begin to realize that they have other options besides hating their bodies.

The long-term solution to this is to create a world that celebrates body diversity and abhors body shaming of any kind.  We have to create a world where people are given the support and access they need to choose how to prioritize their health, and the path they choose to get there – where people focus on actual health goals instead of on trying to make themselves smaller, hoping that health will come along for the ride. We must create a world where attempting to manipulate our body size for “beauty,” health, or any other reason is recognized as the complete folly that it is.

If we truly want to help those affected by eating disorders, if we really want to offer people the chance of a full recovery, if we really want to eradicate eating disorders in the future, we must do more than work with eating disorders – we must become body positive activists. We must learn to identify and reject messages that contain weight-based stigma and fat shaming, we must stop confusing body size with health and beauty, and we must educate others to do the same. We live in a body negative world, a world that pulls people into eating disorders and traps them there for life. If we want better we must do better – we must not just be against eating disorders, but for a body positive world for people of all sizes.


Ragen Chastain is a Speaker, Writer, Dancer, Choreographer, Marathoner, Soon to be IRONMAN, Fat Person, Activist. She believes that basic respect and the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not size dependent. She believes that it is impossible to tell somebody’s health based on their size.

 

 

 

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Wearing ED Glasses

Excerpt from Almost Anorexic:
Is My (or My Loved One’s) Relationship with Food a Problem?
by Jennifer J. Thomas, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, and Jenni Schaefer

 

Almost Anorexic Book Cover
Basing much of your self-esteem on shape and weight causes you to view the world through Ed glasses. Eye-tracking research suggests that when individuals with almost anorexia and other officially recognized eating disorders look at photos of themselves, they tend to spend more time looking at body parts that they think are “ugly” than parts they think are “beautiful.” Hyperfocusing on perceived flaws, they tend to formulate an overall judgment of themselves that is both harsh and critical, and they later recall and ruminate about these imperfections. Once they have developed this critical view of their bodies, it can be difficult to change.

To illustrate this concept, take a look at the ambiguous picture created for this book by artist Emily Wierenga. (You can also download this figure at www.almostanorexic.com.) Do you see a thin or a large woman? The figure is designed to be either one. If at first you see the larger woman whose body is positioneLarge or small woman almost anorexicd sideways facing to the right, it may be difficult for you to change your perspective and to see the thin woman whose body is facing forward with her head tilted up toward the left. To help you distinguish between the two, note that the thin woman’s nose is raised higher, more smugly, and is actually the ear of the larger woman, who appears melancholy with her arms folded across her chest. The feather hat on the upper left belongs to the thin woman and also serves as a ponytail for the large woman. Wierenga, who herself recovered from anorexia nervosa and coauthored the body image book Mom in the Mirror, designed the thin woman’s regal robe to represent the large woman’s layers of flesh. She told us, “In a society that equates thin with beauty and beauty with love, we long to be thin, and so we hide. Beneath layers of guilt and shame, not seeing ourselves for the royalty that we are.”

Just like the thin/large woman, our own bodies can be ambiguous figures—one day looking slim and svelte, the next day covered in rolls of fat. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to let this image dictate whether we should feel pride (like the thin woman) or shame (like the large woman). You may have found that, once you started seeing the ambiguous picture one way (that is, as either thin or fat), it was difficult for you to change perspectives. Just as you can get locked in to viewing the ambiguous figure one way, individuals with almost anorexia get locked in to viewing themselves as “fat.” Their perception can be difficult to change, mainly because they begin to engage in behaviors that serve to maintain their negative self-view. As in a game of hide-and-seek, those with almost anorexia often alternate between avoidance, which is a desperate attempt to hide perceived flaws, and body checking, which is near-constant vigilance for any weight and shape changes.

Are You Hiding Your Body?
A negative relationship with your body can be like living in a prison whose rules dictate what you can and cannot do. Don’t let anyone take your photo until you lose weight. Don’t go to that party, because you look horrible in dress clothes. Those with almost anorexia and other officially recognized eating disorders are significantly more likely than healthy individuals to engage in avoidance behaviors, such as refusing to be weighed, averting their eyes as they walk past reflective surfaces, and wearing baggy clothes to disguise their shape. Avoidance behaviors can be subtle, such as making yourself sit or stand in a certain way that you think will make you appear thinner—whether in photos or in real life. These behaviors can be incredibly impairing too. Dr. Thomas has worked with patients who dress in the dark, rarely shower, or won’t even get out of bed on “fat” days.
Read Almost Anorexic to learn more about avoidance and body checking
as well as to discover specific tips to overcome these behaviors.
You can read more Almost Anorexic excerpts here.
Jennifer J. Thomas, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Eating Disorders Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Visit JenniferJThomasPhD.com. Connect with her at Twitter.com/DrJennyThomas.
Jenni Schaefer is a singer/songwriter, speaker, and author of Goodbye Ed, Hello Me. Her first book, Life Without Ed, has recently been released as a Tenth Anniversary Edition as well as audiobook. For more information, please visit JenniSchaefer.com. Connect with her at Facebook.com/LifeWithoutEd and Twitter.com/JenniSchaefer

5 Ways to Shut Down Body Bashing This Holiday Season

Posted by: Pooja Patel, Proud2Bme Contributor, at Proud2Bme

The holidays can be tough! Attempting to juggle the stresses of constantly being surrounded by food and people is A LOT, especially if you struggle with an eating disorder or weight-related issues.

Everything from your mom slyly (in her opinion!) eyeing you from the corner in hopes of seeing your food intake to your grandparents asking why you’re not eating can create an uncomfortable environment. Here at Proud2Bme, we know that the holidays and their subsequent interactions can be stressful! So to help you out, here are some uncomfortable questions and statements you might hear and responses to help you combat them!

All responses are broken up into two parts: a scenario in which the people around you already know about your ED struggle and you don’t mind divulging (Do Divulge), and a scenario in which many people around you may not know your struggle and you don’t necessarily feel comfortable sharing (Don’t Divulge).

1. Is that all you are going to eat?
Do Divulge: Person X, I know that you may be trying to encourage me to eat more and challenge myself to make progress in my recovery, but when you ask a question like that I cannot help but feel targeted and self-conscious about my food intake. Thank you so much for your support and concern, but let’s try to use better, more encouraging lingo!
Don’t Divulge: Person X, thanks for your concern! Yet, this is what I feel comfortable eating right now. Let’s focus on the holiday cheer instead. What’s your favorite holiday movie?

2. Goodness—you have so much self-control, don’t you? I wish I had that!
Do Divulge: Unfortunately, it is not really self-control, but actually a disorder. I know that media is often centered around dieting so my struggle may just seem like a part of that; however, it is important to understand that it is not something to be praised, but something to be worked on.
Don’t Divulge: I don’t think it’s necessarily an issue of self-control. Let’s just enjoy the company, and enjoy being with each other! How is work going?

3. Are you eating more?
Do Divulge: Person X, I know that you may be trying to make a joke or keep an eye on my recovery, but when you ask a question like that I cannot help but feel targeted and self-conscious about my food intake. Thank you so much for your support and concern, but let’s try to use better, more encouraging lingo! [Yes, this is the same as the response to question one—when someone uses negative language to question you about eating too much or too little, you don’t need to engage with their judgments; let them know you’ll only respond to responsible, empathetic language.]
Don’t Divulge: The more the merrier is what I always say! I hear you got into graduate school. How is that going?

4. Make sure to watch the holiday weight gain!
Do Divulge: I actually try to avoid talking about triggering things like weight gain in order to focus on my overall health and happiness! I find those things in reading and listening to holiday music. What about you?
Don’t Divulge: Oh, perhaps we shouldn’t worry about that, but rather enjoy the company and focus on our health and happiness!

5. Why don’t you just eat?
Do Divulge: Actually, my struggle with ED doesn’t just revolve around food. It also revolves around control, body image, habit and compulsions, among other things. So just eating doesn’t really solve the problem. I understand it can be hard to understand for those not experiencing it, but it’s important to realize that eating disorders aren’t just about food, much like gambling addiction isn’t just about money, or alcoholism isn’t just about being drunk.
Don’t Divulge: Person X, I realize that you are simply trying to fix a problem that you see, but it is not as easy as that. Thank you for your concern though! I was meaning to ask Person Y about something so I’m going to go and try and find them. See you later!

– See more at: http://proud2bme.org/