Health & Beauty

Eating Disorders Week

thefitpost050

It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week and I’m passionate about supporting this one as a woman and as a mother. We’re surrounded by unrealistic images of “perfection” – in the media, in advertising, in movies, even in shops – it seems there’s no escape.  And our children are exposed to it young.  I was horrified at the cinema recently to be sat there with Kaya and Akira waiting for a movie when a WeightWatchers advert came on, and because we were in the cinema it was HUGE and LOUD.  Like being in a nightmare, there was no escaping the “I knew she wasn’t happy with her weight” message.  I just wanted to cover there ears and hide their eyes.  I realise it was aimed at the parents in the audience but really?!

And it doesn’t end there.

As an adult, seeing super skinny mannequins in shops, often with bulldog clips cinching ridiculously tiny clothes even smaller is just something I’ve come to accept. But worryingly I’ve discovered these distorted body images start young, without us even clocking it.

I was shopping with 4 year old Akira and spotted a super cool jacket on a mannequin in a shop window. Like Charlie Bucket searching for the golden ticket I rushed instore but the object of desire in the window was the only one left. Of course! Golden ticket DENIED!  But all was not lost as the assistant assured me I could have THAT one when they changed the windows. Result! Resisting the urge to kiss her, I duly gave my details confident the sizing would be cool since the mannequin towered over Akira.  As we left the store I thought I should just check the size and wow.  Just wow.  Age 2/3.  On a mannequin the height of a 7 year old?  ARE YOU ACTUALLY SERIOUS?

It’s SO subtle.  But I shouldn’t have been surprised.  We see unrealistic images all the time.  I guess it’s just starting younger than I’d realised and I’m passionate about equipping my kids to cope with it.

I came across this info-graphic, put out this week by the amazing website A Mighty Girl.

Infographic4_Final

And there are some scary facts on there:

  • Ten years ago, plus-size models averaged between size 12 and 18. The majority of plus-size models on agency boards today are between size 6 and 14 (UK Size 10 and 18 but are you serious?  I’m a UK 12 so does that make me plus-size?)
  • Average hip measurement is 37” but 31 on mannequins
  • Most catwalk models fit the BMI criteria for anorexia
  • 69% of girls said girls in magazines influenced their idea of the perfect body shape
  • Each year the average adolescent sees over 5,260 adverts mentioning attractiveness

We’re inundated with visions of “beauty” in ads and other media that are unattainable and often photoshopped.  But photoshopping isn’t about to stop anytime soon.  I guess it’s an exaggerated equivalent of wearing a padded bra, wearing Spanx or putting make-up on – it’s trickery to improve how someone looks.  Everyone does it – it’s prolific.

The flip-side of photoshopping is that, when it’s done to you, it’s actually a harsh reminder of what needs to be changed to make you more “attractive”!  Which is a weird one! I remember once being photoshopped to such a degree that they removed the mole from my cheek ( I actually LOVE my mole! ) and they made my green eyes brown.  BIZARRE!  But rather than wish it would go away, it’s good to be aware of the extent to which it happens – for adults AND kids.  A brilliant book to check out, showing the effects of photoshopping and other techniques used in the media is: All Made Up: A Girl’s Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype to Celebrate Real Beauty    http://www.amightygirl.com/all-made-up

Although these issues don’t only affect women and I feel equally as protective over my son as my daughter, it has to be said the majority of images are aimed at the female audience. The study found that 50% of commercials aimed at teenage girls mentioned physical attractiveness. while not many of those aimed at boys did.  That said, 25% of those with anorexia or bulimia are male.  So ALL of our children need to be equipped to cope with the pressures.

I guess the awareness week is helpful as an excellent opportunity to talk about these types of media messages and body image issues.  In an ideal world we wouldn’t need to.  But because society isn’t about to change anytime soon, we need to equip our kids to cope with what’s around them.

I have rules in our house.  I don’t even own weighing scales, I have no idea what I weigh and I truly don’t care.  For me it’s all about being healthy.  Also, the word “diet” is never mentioned in a weight loss way, purely in an “it’s important to have a healthy diet” way.  Although Kaya once came home with a reading book called “Mummy’s on a Diet” #fail.   I guess there’s only so much you can do!

IMG_2253

Here are some other great titles:

101 Ways to Help Your Daughter Love Her Body  http://www.amightygirl.com/parenting/body-image-self-esteem

Talking with Tweens and Teens About Eating Disorders   http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=1597

So thanks to A Mighty Girl for putting out that image to get us all talking about such an important issue. And no – this post isn’t in connection with them in any way. I just love what they’re trying to do.  For all of us.

Huge love and hugs

 

K x

12 Comments

  • Reply Stephs Two Girls March 10, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Of all the worries that I may have as my two girls grow up, anorexia and self-harm are the two that scare me the most. Mental illnesses are just so hard to understand and get help for. That’s why it’s so important to raise awareness and let people know the help is out there. At the same time, it is crazy that they are pushed to think like this in the first place. Most shocking to hear that a 6 is a plus size – even if that is US sizing. That’s still average, and healthy! Any time I’ve been in London and seen the posters in tube stations for H&M/New Look, I know they are trying to advertise value for money, but all I see is that they use super skinny models who are not representative of the majority. Market leaders need to change their attitudes to this.

    • Reply Katy March 10, 2014 at 11:33 pm

      Totally agree! Thanks so much for commenting. We need to change things for our girls x

  • Reply Lou Sims March 10, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    WOW, this really struck a cord with me. Working in primary education we are continually combarded with how big children are becoming etc and how they need to change. If people took the time to know the child they would find that 8 times out of 10, their diet is superb. We have children as young as 8 starting to doubt their own image and wish they were like someone else. It is frightening that self-esteem issues can strike someone so young, but it does. There is not enough done in the media to promote being content with yourself regardless of what shape or size that may be. “Big” (as certain aspects of the popular press describe anything bigger than a stick) doesn’t mean you are unfit or you have a poor diet.

    • Reply Katy March 10, 2014 at 9:40 pm

      Totally agree. Someone commented on my Facebook page. She’s a dinner lady & see’s girls as young as 8 trying to take tiny portions or none at all. Too sad.

  • Reply Nickie March 10, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    The dresses I dislike very much are the “body con” ones that have a black panel down the size to give the illusion of a slimmer or hourglass figure. What’s wrong with being the shape that you are?

    I’m learning to love my “larger” body – I’m not happy about it and could do with losing a bit of weight – but that’s to make ME happy and not anyone else. My body is this shape because of everything it’s taken in and everything it’s given out (including three amazing children). There’s only me in charge of that!

    • Reply Katy March 10, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      I can’t bear those dresses either. And I refuse to wear Spanx anymore. They make me feel like a squashed, cross sausage! Ridiculous that tiny people wear them too. It’s a warped world. Thanks for commenting x

  • Reply Eliza_Do_Lots March 10, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    I’m going to assume that those sizes are US sizes – which makes it size 10 rather than 6 as a plus size for models – but that’s still frigging insane.

    I am 5’8″ and a size 16 and there are shops I just cannot shop in because they don’t have clothes big enough in stock – and those that do often class me as an XL; it upsets me so much that at a size that isn’t even big – not for someone my height, I have a BMI of 26 so just a little overweight – a few pounds, according to the ideal weight I’ve been told to aim for. At just a few pounds overweight I’m classed as ‘XL’ and can’t shop in fashionable shops, can’t buy clothes online from a lot of places, and when I do order online or even pick up that ‘XL’ in shops often it’s more like a size 12 than a 16 and I can’t force myself into it.

    I don’t think I’m fat. I don’t think I’m over sized. I don’t think I’m revolting. But when I try to buy new clothes, when I have to buy things that scream XXL at me, when I have to shop around in specialist stores for big people I can’t help but believe it. I can’t help but believe that I am a GIANT FAT PERSON and it makes me ache inside, it hurts, it hurts not only because my view of myself is being so skewed but because my children and their friends will grow up in a world where someone my shape and size is pushed to the sidelines, hidden in the shadows, lumbering around specialist stores to buy my giant fat woman clothes and being punished for my 35 inch hips. Thirty five whole inches. For which I am made to feel shame.

    • Reply Katy March 10, 2014 at 9:53 pm

      It’s all wrong sweet lady. SO wrong. And NEVER feel like that, or you’ll have me to answer to! Xx

  • Reply helloitsgemma March 10, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    how did we get so unrealistic? plus size 6 and 14! madness. the fashion/magzine industry seems to want smaller and smaller models, it’s a misrepresentation of how clothes look on normal women. then flying from panning celebs for being too thin or too big. just wrong.
    something badly needs to change.
    excellent post.

    • Reply Katy March 10, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      Totally agree – makes me SO cross. And you’re right – something HAS got to change x

  • Reply Anonymous March 4, 2014 at 11:59 am

    I am completely with you on this one. So many girls at the same sex school I attended had problems with eating disorders. Like you I never weigh myself, simply focussing on healthy eating and feeling a comfy size for me.
    I am so shocked the kids mannequins are feeding into this brainwashing too. Much love Katy. H x

    • Reply Katy March 4, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing xx

    Leave a Reply