Tag Archive for media

Boys To Men

By: Emily Adrian

How often do you hear stories of how women and girls are affected by messages in our media? Probably more frequently than we would like to admit as a society. However, what isn’t mentioned as often is how our male counterparts react to the subliminal messages being sent to them.

For females the message is often times subtracting, losing weight, dieting, etc. We see airbrushed, photo-shopped images of women. These images show women with elongated necks, widened eyes, and trimmed thighs and hips. The message to men, on the other hand, is adding. Take action figures and super heroes for example, which have become the male version of Barbie. 8e4beff5-cf52-4a79-9f0d-63410e8db263-jpgThese figurines are setting unrealistic body dimensions for young boys and set their expectations at an unattainable level. Have you ever watched the beginning of Captain America? The movie starts with Steve Rogers (Captain America) as a “runt” signing up for the military. He shortly after gets chosen to undergo an experiment and is made into what they portray as this macho, muscled, extraordinary man. Obviously, this is fiction, but the instant success Steve Rogers has, and the new found fame under the name Captain America following the transformation still makes an impact on the stigma surrounding male body image. They fail to set a positive role model and hinder the positive development of young males exposed to them. Then when they get older it doesn’t stop.

Magazines, billboards, commercials, and more all show “ripped” men. Men whose abs are practically painted on, muscles that are continuously growing inch by inch in diameter, and a rise in emphasis on manscaping. Some even feel the need to cut out the males faces adding extra emphasis on body appearance. 10641306-abercrombie-and-fitchThis image, being sent out for all to see and women to drool over, negatively affects men’s body image too. This ideal of having “bulk” or “being built” is an unrealistic ideal that has been created by our society. No matter what the age or gender, the constant subliminal messages are inescapable.Both men and women are vulnerable to these messages. Each and every day something new in the media has a hidden message teaching young and old alike that we are not good enough. It is something that everyone feels, and it is hard to fight back. It is no secret that society adds pressure to appearance, just be aware of the fiction that lies within it, and learn from it.


“Plus-Size” Women Inspire in JCPenney’s #HereIAm Campaign

By Angie Michel

Society often tells “plus-size” women to shrink and hide—to slim down, to cover up, to occupy less space, and to make less noise. Five of these women talk back in JCPenney’s latest advertising campaign, each unapologetically proclaiming, “Here I am.”

JCP HereIAm Campaign


The clothing retailer’s #HereIAm campaign features influential “plus-size” women promoting body positivity and fat empowerment. Author Jes Baker, singer Mary Lambert, blogger Gabi Fresh, designer Ashley Nell Tipton, and yogi Valerie Sagun speak candidly about their experiences with body image issues and fat shaming, and then respond to society’s superficial standards.

Among the most poignant quotes from the now-viral video is Baker’s.

The bodies don’t need to change. The attitude does.

Despite what the media suggests, our bodies—muffin tops and belly rolls included—don’t need fixing. Our thoughts about them do.

As the media continues to sell us quick fixes, pills, and potions that will supposedly better our bodies (and lives!), let’s follow JCPenney’s example and cultivate radical self-compassion and revolutionary self-love instead. Let’s stop our minds from bullying our bodies and realize we don’t have to earn our place here. Let’s take up space and speak our truth.

Let’s say—just as we are—“Here I am.”

JCPenney. (2016). #HereIAm.

A Fashion Rule Worth Breaking

By Angie Michel

Fashion imposes on us a long list of rules: No white after Labor Day. No mixing prints and patterns. No silver with gold, no black with brown, no socks with sandals, and so on.

While these rules seem made to be broken, another seems all-important and unbreakable: Wear clothes that “flatter” your silhouette. Dress for your body shape. Accentuate your figure and mask your “problem” areas.

In other words, dress to look thinner.

An example of this styling commandment is found on People Magazine’s  website in their article star-tested ways to dress yourself thinner. The article uses images of celebrities to show how wardrobe changes can slim a body. Among the fashion choices it celebrates are Julianne Hough’s waist-cinching belt, Jennifer Lopez’s leg-lengthening hemline, and Salma Hayek’s hourglass-highlighting V-neck.Flattering Clothes

Like so many other media messages, these fashion tips promote a thin body ideal. They glorify slimness and place value on achieving a “perfect” figure.

It’s time we break these rules. It’s time we redefine “flattering”—define it not as slenderizing or elongating, but rather as confident and body-positive. It’s time we own our bodies for what they are, in clothes that make us feel comfortable and content.

Despite what media suggests, our stomachs are not too round for crop tops. Our shoulders aren’t too broad for halternecks, and our legs aren’t too stocky for shorts. Horizontal stripes make you look wider? So what. A tunic camouflages your waistline? Big deal. Wear what you want, regardless of what media tells you.

You have the body for it.

#foodforthought: Disordered Eating Disguised as Healthy

By an anonymous Foundation volunteer

Eating disorders and disordered eating come in all shapes, sizes, and guises. Individuals who say they’ve never known an individual with an eating disorder may not realize that they actually have. For example, bulimia goes undetected quite often because many who suffer from this disorder tend to have a normal weight. In addition, many individuals (in my experience) do not even realize that the behaviors of binge eating, may also be a full-blown eating disorder.

One type of disordered eating — not yet categorized as an eating disorder — that was coined by Dr. Steven Bratman in 1997 — and has recently become more prevalent — is orthorexia nervosa: “a fixation with healthy eating, to the point where it becomes a crippling compulsion, described as ‘a disease disguised as a virtue’¹.”

This disorder — like other eating disorders — is also greatly impacted by the media. Not only are we constantly bombarded by images of thin women and men — we are also bombarded by ads and marketing for “clean” eating. I just googled clean eating and the webpages and blogs seem to go on forever. Not only that, but “Instagram has 26 million posts with a clean eating hashtag.”

While there is nothing wrong with eating the types of foods that eating ‘clean’ promotes, it can become unhealthy when an individual starts to cut out food groups entirely. Heavily restricting and only eating a few types of foods, actually can create malnourishment- even though the misconception is they are eating healthy or ‘clean.’

For example, individuals who decide to completely cut out animal products may become iron deficient or anemic. There is nothing wrong with that lifestyle choice, but one has to be extremely mindful of their diet (and possibly take an iron supplement). Also, individuals who decide to cut out all grains may be missing out on insoluble fiber and a variety of B vitamins, and may need to find the nutrients in something else.

“One of the problems with orthorexia is that in some ways it is more socially acceptable than other disorders. Stand in any gym locker room and you can overhear a woman admit she allowed herself a piece of fruit that day, or a man bemoan messing up his macros.”

Another danger of orthorexia is the obsessing that happens in the mind when we say this food is “good” and this food is “bad”. It starts to distort thinking and can end up leading to other disordered eating or eating disorders.

Carrie Armstrong, a London-based author and TV personality said she became orthorexic that “left her unable to walk.” She became obsessed with what she put in her mouth, cutting out most foods. In the end before seeking help, her hair was falling out and her teeth were crumbling because of the lack of nutrients her body was getting.

What does healthy eating really mean?
How about a hashtag of #eatwell or #foodvariety


¹Bratman, Steven.  Health Food Junkie.  Yoga Journal 1997; 


The Complexity of Health

By Lorrie Bouley.

Recently in the media, buzzwords have been thrown around calling the new stomach-draining device, AspireAssist “medical bulimia,” and “automatic bulimia machine.” This demonstrates a huge misunderstanding of both the psychiatric illness Bulimia Nervosa and the challenges that come from losing complexity-is-worrisome-casey-kotasweight when one lives with morbid obesity.

Bulimia has specific behaviors and traits: self-induced vomiting, a feeling of being out of control, guilt and shame. The illness has detrimental effects from compensatory behaviors. Frequent episodes of forceful vomiting can damage the digestive system due to electrolyte and chemical imbalances caused by dehydration and loss of potassium and sodium from the body. While the concept of this new obesity treatment seems like it is similar to compensating the calories one takes, it prevents several health consequences that can be extremely harmful to the body.

First, the FDA requires a screening to be done on patients to determine whether or not the patient has struggled with bulimia or eating disorders in the past because the device could enable their eating disorder or encourage disordered eating habits. ApsireAssist is not intended to be used for those who are moderately overweight. It is designed for those who live with morbid obesity, with a BMI of 35-55 and in patients who have not been successful losing weight from non-surgical therapies. The device is placed near the top of the stomach, meaning very little stomach acid will be removed during draining. Also, it is impossible to completely empty the stomach from the tube, it only allows the patient to drain up to 30% of the calories from a meal.

In addition to using the device, the patient receives lifestyle therapy at the same time, including nutrition and exercise counseling. There is value in not only learning what to eat, but how to eat. Clinical trials show that most participants demonstrated a decrease in their average portion sizes, perhaps because they must chew more carefully, as food could possibly become lodged in the tube.

There are risks to all actions we take. A person living with morbid obesity and who has attempted countless times to lose weight, is at risk to possibly be diagnosed with or worsen other issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure and other major health concerns. Allowing patients with morbid obesity the option to choose an approach that may come with side effects is their choice, and it shows to be effective and less invasive than gastric bypass surgery, the only other technical solution that has been effective.

Gastric bypass surgery is an inpatient procedure and can take up to 3 weeks in recovery, whereas AspireAssist is done through an outpatient visit in about 15-20 minutes and does not permanently alter your anatomy like bypass surgeries thus far. There are benefits to keeping the stomach intact – it aids absorption of vital nutrients, which the tube can provide. Though the device aims to be used long-term, patients may choose to remove the tube anytime, which is similar to the 15-20-minute placement procedure. Patients are typically told of these risks to determine if this is the right approach — there is no one way to treat obesity, just like there is no one way to treat an eating disorder.

Before jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst of new medical advances to treat obesity, we need to inform ourselves about the outcomes. There are still questions that need to be asked, and we need to focus on the patient’s overall health after completing the therapy. How often did they feel shame or guilt in using this device? Was there any? Did they receive the appropriate support they needed from health care providers? Nevertheless, both obesity and eating disorders have their challenges when recovering. It’s not as simple as eat more or eat less, and as a society we need to learn how to understand both illnesses and support both fights, in a healthy way.