Wednesday, 3 June 2009

If You Ain't Got It, You Can't Shake It

I went to buy a magazine this morning- no big deal, right? I don't buy them often because there are only a couple I enjoy reading but start of the month means new issues so I wanted to check out the latest editions. Every single magazine had articles on the cover with titles such as, "Get Your Perfect Body in 12 weeks" (or something similar). Who exactly ARE these people who decide what a 'perfect' body is? Is there a degree in designing ideal body shapes that I don't know about?

This stuff doesn't 'trigger' me, but it irritates me. My eating disorder has never been about achieving a 'perfect body' or aspiring to look like a celebrity (and I have never met anyone whose disorder HAS been about that, despite the hype in the media about fashion/models contributing to the rising rates in eating disorders). I think it's very easy to want to blame something concrete/tangible for the rampancy of eating disorders but I think it's a rather simplistic view to take and a bit of a cop-out to point fingers at the media. I've never paid any attention to celebrity's weights ("X has lost Ylbs"/"X has gained YYlbs- oh the horror!") because it is of no interest to me. I don't know these people and I have no interest on reading 'shock factor' stories about a footballers wife I've never heard of who was spotted eating *gasp* a piece of pizza. In public nonetheless. I don't consider this 'newsworthy' material, let alone something I want to spend money on purchasing.

I have sat through countless group therapy sessions talking about the impact the media has on body image. I've also sat through countless therapy sessions talking about the importance of self-acceptance being something to strive for. THIS I agree with, but what has been drummed into my head as "normal" doesn't seem to be that normal after all. The majority of the woman I know (not with eating disorders) share the same desire to lose Xlbs, the same mentality that certain foods are good/bad/should be avoided at all costs. I kind of feel like the more I work towards being "normal", the more "abnormal" I become. It's a little discouraging to think that disliking your body is the 'norm'.

I am really interested in fitness, health and nutrition because I can relate to lots of it from my own experiences, and it's a language I 'understand'. (Politics? Religion? Current affairs? RIGHT over my head!). But when health/nutrition/fitness crosses into the territory of "let's all eat cardboard for the next 3 months so we can look fab in a bikini" my brain switches off. Promoting healthy and balanced diets is one thing- promoting the idea that huge sacrifices are necessary because everyone needs to look a certain way is another. All kinds of factors come into play when it comes to body size/shape, and diet/exercise is only part of it. What is healthy for one person is NOT healthy for another. Some people's natural body weight is higher than others, some people need more/less food than others. There is no one weight/size that everyone should strive for. Strive for your OWN optimum health, and rock it out. Life's too short to waste chasing what some editor in a high-rise office building in Chicago has randomly decided is THE body to have. If weight loss is a health goal, I am ALL for supporting that in a realistic/balanced/healthy way, but to promote acheiving a "dream body in JUST 3 weeks" is just ridiculous.

Rock what you have, guys! Individuality and confidence is where true beauty is.

I never did get my magazine- though all is not lost. I saved $5 and killed my magazine reading time by writing a long ramble post instead :D

Any thoughts on this? I love hearing what you guys have to say, especially since everyone has different experiences- what are your thoughts on the media's influence on body image?


Munchables! (which contributed to my 'awesomeness scale rating' jumping from a 3 to the much hoped for 8.5...oh yes!)

I HAD to open some of the amazing goodies that arrived yesterday. I have never tried almond butter before but have seen it all over blog world and have yet to be disappointed by any of your suggestions.

Pumpkin banana oatmeal topped with almond butter. I do believe there were angels singing. This stuff is INCREDIBLE! I love the taste of almonds but I don't like the texture (CRUNCH!) and now...ah...expect to see this again. Soon.

Next up was the cherry almond Eat Natural bar, also from Aisha-

Chewy, little crunch, yoghurt coating, HUGE chunks of dried word: YUM! (UK guys- you can get a free sample of this bar from their website!)

Part of my lunch included this sandwich:

Sandwich thin with Quorn fillets, BBQ sauce, pineapple and a little grated cheese. I LOVE fruit combined with savoury foods and pineapple + cheese go so well together.

What are some of your favourite sweet/savoury combinations?

That's all I've got for you guys right now- have a great Hump Day!

Oh, and go check out the fabulous Megan's giveaway!


dietlexy said...

When I used to eat pizza I rly liked pizza on it! or feta cheese is so gud! its so unexpected tho I tink haha!
popcorn + malteasers is gud!
kidney beans sweetcorn + beetroot!
peanut butter with banana!
mmm reminising is gud!

Olga said...

I subscribe to a couple of "women's fitness" magazines and I have also been annoyed by the same cover headlines. Most of them say "Get your bikini body in 3 weeks!" What the hell is MY bikini body? Why should I STRIVE to wear a bikini and lose weight to get into it? It also drives me crazy and I think that it does play a role in determining what our society values in terms of beauty and attraction. It drives me nuts and I've canceled my subscription to the biggest offenders.

Cacti Don't Cry said...

These types of headlines always make me laugh, because inevitably they promise that if you do THIS plan, you'll never have to worry about your weight / food again. Which would be fine, except that the covers shout that every month! If it really worked, wouldn't once be enough?!

I don't know if the media contributes towards someone DEVELOPING an eating disorder; but it certainly does add some complicated aspects to recovery, because, like you said, it's "normal" to hate your body / want to lose "those last five pounds." It's kind of like, if you are indulging your eating disorder, you're a freak; but if you're trying to do the right thing for your health, you're also a freak, because who in this society eats to gain weight, ON PURPOSE??

I have some packets of Justin's almond butter and I had no idea what to do with them... but mixing them in oatmeal is a thought. Mental note to try that.

<3 <3

Anonymous said...

The only magazine I'll read are the ones that promote healthy living and don't talk about being "skinny". I love Women's Health because they talk about being fit and healthy, not starving and healthy.

And AB = love! That bar looks delicious too!! Thanks for the shoutout about my giveaway!

Anonymous said...

I seriously despise such claims on magazines...ugh! So frustrating! When will it stop being about the "perfect body" and start being about health!?!?

I agree. I don't think the media had anything to do with my eating disorder - that was a way for me to cope - but it certainly didn't HELP it. I guess it did feed in to it though - you know, the whole idea that weight loss is GOOD.

Anonymous said...

Those advertisements bug me as well! It's crazy to make everyone think that they can be a size 0! It's just not true! I completely agree with you that we all have our healthy weights and sizes and we then just have to accept them and love ourselves and our bodies as they are! They will last so much longer and perform so much better if we will just take care of them as they should be.

Hmmm, savory and sweet: Popcorn and sour skittles? Is that a savory and sweet combo?

K from ksgoodeats said...

I hate those kind of titles on magazines! Most of the time their suggestions are SO unhealthy and unrealistic! I feel so bad for the people who give into that propeganda and follow those "tricks."

That sandwich sounds awesome!! I used to love pizza with pineapple and ham :)

Syd said...

I sometimes scan the pubs in the grocery check out lane. Who cares what the celebrities do? I don't for sure. And the obsession with Kersti Alley (sp?)--I don't get it. Everyone is going to get old, unless they die young. And with aging comes changes to the body and mind. Now I can do what I can do to keep my body and mind healthy to a point. But beyond that, gravity and dead neurons rule.

Anonymous said...

I love reading fashion magazines, I notice the celeb magazines like Heat and Closer always go on about skinny celebs and that annoys me. Like you my eating disorder had nothing to do with seeing skinny models etc.

Thanks for the link for the Eat Natural bar.

Anonymous said...

I don't feel that the media influenced the development of my eating disorder - it was purely a way to cope. However, I do feel that the emphasis on weight/diet/skinny celebrities makes recovery more difficult. I have often thought that if (sorry, WHEN :p) I fully recover from this I am going to be more well balanced about food and body image than the majority of women who have never had an eating disorder! Luckily I do know a few who have the right attitude towards food and weight. My sister is one of them, and despite being younger than me she's my role model in that respect. Not everyone is obsessed - it's just that the people who are get all the air time.

I'm really glad you liked the AB, I would have felt silly going on about it for so long if you'd hated it :p and yes, oatmeal is definitely the best use for it! Yum. Happy Hump day!

Anonymous said...

I just LOVE this post. I struggled with anorexia for 4 years, and I can honestly say that those magazines never influences me, but always bugged me. Who honestly wants to see Lindsay Lohan, Angelina Jolie, and Tori Spelling looking like skeletons. And who actually buys into the "2 weeks to a PERFECT body" claims? Most of these diets are horrible for your body. Although some magazines such as Self provide great tips and advice, others just promote terrible eating and lifestyles.

Guess what? I just saved $5 as well by reading your post that I actually enjoyed and agreed with, rather than buying a degrading magazine filled with ideas that no healthy person should follow! ;)

Sheena said...

I do find multiple points you made in this post very interesting. I agree that usually eating disorders are not about achieving the perfect body, but for many it started with that idea. For me, I wanted to lose the weight I put on my freshman year of college and started eating 200 cal/day ad exercising 4 hours/day. It's the idea of perfection that some fo us strive for, or the idea of keeping busy ad having a goal. Society does tell us we should be thin, and anyone not living under a rock has internalized that messge. So when looking for something to do, something to strive for, a new challenge, or a way to just find control -- losing weight to an extreme works.

Also, I have noticed that my eating seems to be more and more abnormal. When my therapist sugguested eating butter, I was thinking besides a little on bread, who cooks with butter these days. And buying regular cheese instead of fat free or reduced fat -- who does that? So i can definately identify that.

I hope your week is going well. Take care!

Pammy said...

I totally agree with you! Magazines irritate me so much rather than trigger me. I have never really payed any attention to celebrity weights either. I think maybe the media has some effect on me but I definitely don't blame the media for my eating disorder- because it is really so much more than that.

Hope your day went well!

Much love,


Gina said...

great post. I used to have an eating disorder and unlike what most people think, I never thought I was fat, and I never wanted to look "like a model" as you said. For me it was more about control and not eating was my way of dealing with other situations...Like you, I think it's crazy what people say about "theories" of anorexia, they just aren't true!

Anonymous said...

wow. lots to say on this post, so excuse me if I write an epic essay.
Okay. Media's influence on body image. I am SICK and DISGUSTED of magazines like Vogue trying to defend themselves, saying there is no way their stickskinny models don't encourage EDs and body dysmorphia. what the hell? and also, those "fitness" magazines that advertise, "10 secrets to the perfect abs!" or some crap like if there is such thing as an "ideal" and "perfect" body! everybody's shapes are different and the way they are saying there is a "perfect" body is just wrong and causes ppl to criticize themselves for having a different body from that "perfect" body they portray. And I hate those magazines that advertise all these new diet products and stuff...Hungry Girl? with all the fake fat-free products and fake noodles she eats, no wonder she's still hungry!
ok. end of rant.
guess what. I'm having a giant bowl of kabocha/pumpkin oats right now with a big scoop of AB. high five, girl!
fav sweet/savory combo: Gosh...a lot!!! lets say...cranberry, turkey, and brie? eggs with jam and marmalade? pancakes and syrup? pumpkin soup with apples? Elvis sandwich! smoked salmon and mango chutney! and a lot! I'm obsessed with sweet/savory combos if you haven't already guessed!!
btw, I wrote a post with similar topic as yours today! freaky!
love ya!

curlytop said...


Hey darling! Glad I was able to catch up with my reader... finally!

First of all. I have to applaud you big time for this post. Amen! My ED had NOTHING to do with looking like a celebrity. I was in a constant competitition with MYSELF not anyone else.

That sandwich looks awesome. I can't wait to try it out. Just have to get to the store first. :P

Happy June BTW!

With Love,


brookesballbuster said...

Your post was really thought provoking. Thank you for that. A few years back when I was having ED issues I was definitely triggered by the media. I would buy all the trashy gossip magazines and compare myself to the celebrities. I feel silly admitting that now, but it was real and it was very harmful...also remember that these publishing companies are marketing these crazy tips for $$$$. Quick weight loss tips/info=easy cash. That is the only reason they claim to have these profound new secrets about losing weight. It's all about the benjamins!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more. Seriously, you're brilliant and I love coming over to read your posts because you always have something intellectual and important to say. :) I mean these magazines and headlines and articles and claims are all so rediculous sometimes. They just continue to force people to believe that it's all SO important when it's not. If people just realized that health is so much more valuable then I think the whole world would be in a different place. I'm sick of reading "OMG Jessica Simpson fat!" or "How to Lose 10 pounds this month". Funny thing is, there is no happy medium. As soon as someone starts to look "too" skinny then its all about headlines that read "anorexic! bones! skeleton! lifeless!". When will this obsession just cease?!

The Novice Berker said...

Ugh, I feel you. Magazine covers like that bother me not only because they further the idea of a "perfect" body, but also because they promise it in like, 14 days. It's horrendously unreasonable, and it's darn sad that I can't buy any fitness magazines anymore because I don't want to fall back into that mentality again.

On a happier note, my favorite sweet/salty combo is probablyyy... chocolate covered pretzels! :) But I dig anything sweet/salty. So darn good!

Anonymous said...

Ugh - I don't care what celebrities eat and how much they exercise. I'm not interested in seeing them in a 'fat' photo, reading about how they might be pregnant or seeing images of the particularly skinny ones showing off their bones. That whole 'culture' is so demoralising and I hate how society supports these images as ideals - the message is always the same. Skinny = good, fat = bad. There's no grey area and certainly no consideration of what is a body's HEALTHY weight and how to best NOURISH it. It's all about vanity. Such crap.

I love the sandwich thin - and am a fan of sweet/savoury too. Pineapple on a ham pizza, for example, is bliss!