Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mixed Messages and Making Moves..

This morning, I read a really thought provoking blog entry on True/Slant (which is a blogazine--kind of like a magazine, but a blog... umm, i might have made up that word!!). The author, Katie Drummond, was discussing Katherine McPhee's recent bikini cover on Shape magazine. McPhee, who gained fame after appearing on American Idol, has publicly discussed her past struggles with bulimia, and her experience of being admitted to treatment for three months prior to going on the show in order to focus on getting healthy. Ms. Drummond takes aim at Shape Magazine for putting a recovered eating disorder patient clad in a bikini (and airbrushed!) on its cover, as well as at McPhee for posing in a bikini and perpetuating unrealistic images of beauty after struggling herself with feeling pressure as a result of viewing similar unrealistic images in the media. Ms. Drummond's article is entitled A Lesson in Health Hypocrisy and she explores the hypocrisy that exists in this scenario. Her blog entry is a little angsty, but I appreciate the passion with which she writes because I think that by posing in a bikini for a magazine which happens to advertise 'drop a pound by Friday' on its cover, McPhee- and Shape- are sending some pretty mixed messages.

I wonder if McPhee, or Shape, or the media in general realize the impact that they are having on women by sending such mixed messages. I am not pointing the finger at McPhee (well, maybe I am a little), but she says in the article that doing six different 'moves' changed her body. This sets an alarm off to me. It's not that exercising is wrong, or trying to be healthy or fit is wrong, but it concerns me that her happiness and acceptance of her body are a result of the changes she has made to her body. It just sends the wrong message to women about where our happiness comes from. Again, the point is not to bash McPhee. I just think it is important to raise awareness and discuss some of these things that we become numb to, because whether we know it or not, these images impact us! While there is not one single cause of eating disorders, and while seeing unrealistic images of women's bodies do not cause eating disorders, these images can be a precipitating factor, when combined with a genetic predisposition and certain environmental factors.

A month from now, NEDA (the National Eating Disorder Association) is sponsoring National Eating Disorders Awareness Week--- February 21-27. I will be posting more information as this week draws nearer, but I wanted to mention it in light of what I read this morning on True/Slant. Rather than just venting about the media and that magazine cover, or discussing how things could or should be different, it is helpful to think forwardly and focus on what we can do to make some changes! One simple thing that I have mentioned before is using GoodSearch! This is a search engine, just like google, that donates money to nonprofits of your choice before you perform each search. You can donate to eating disorder nonprofits, as well as a bunch of other great organizations. Follow this link to find out more. The second thing that I wanted to mention is something that I read on NEDA's website the other day. Marilyn Wann, author of Fat? So!, developed an art activity for people to participate in that deals with transforming the numbers on scales to adjectives! Confused? The Boulder Youth Body Alliance (BYBA), a nonprofit that seeks to encourage teens to change the world, rather than their bodies, has encouraged teens to participate in this activity by turning scales into art. I love this idea and think it must be really empowering for women of all ages to take part in something like this! Follow this link to view pictures/examples of scales as art, and to read more about what BYBA is doing!

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