Tuesday, March 2, 2010

If there was a contest that awarded a prize to the person with the most junk mail in their inbox, I might have a good shot at winning. I have no idea how I ended up on so many random listservs. I get emails announcing sales at stores that I have never heard of, announcements about travel deals (which if I'm honest, I kind of like!), stationary sales, opportunities to participate in paid surveys, home improvement tips from Home Depot and Lowe's... you name it, it's probably in my e-trash. As I was deleting all the useless emails in my junk mail account (hotmail, cough cough), I came across an email from Victoria's Secret. The subject read "New! I Love My Body Bras." I sort of laughed and wondered if perhaps Victoria's Secret was working to promote positive body image. I clicked on the email and there were three models in their bras and underwear looking a little hungry. My next move- I googled 'Victoria's Secret Love My Body' and this is what I found. Follow the link to read the article on their 'campaign.'

I don't mean to make fun of it or anything- promise! If you read my blog, you know that I am all about promoting positive body image and people loving their bodies. And for this, I think it's great that Victoria's Secret is trying to help women love their bodies. I just find it funny/ironic/unfortunate that their campaign slogan is "Body for Everybody, Love Your Body" and the picture attached to the campaign shows 7 women who all look the same. A more appropriate slogan might be "Body for Seven, Love Your Body." :) I think if the goal is to promote the idea that all bodies are beautiful, then showing women of all sizes and shapes might be more effective in communicating this message. I dislike being critical for the sake of being critical, but I think it's important to be critical about the media/images that we view and how we interpret them, as they have a significant impact on how we view ourselves and our bodies (whether we are aware of it or not). I think observing and thinking critically is important, and it's also important and okay to act and react appropriately to such things.

I don't often tell stories, but I've been thinking a lot lately (especially in honor of last week's National Eating Disorders Awareness Week) about doing 'just one thing'- and how doing one thing here or there can really make a difference. Well, when I was putting away some groceries I bought the other day, I noticed that as I was putting a particular item into my refrigerator, there was a picture of a girl's face (a cartoon) along with a website address on the outside of this item. In addition, this particular item had been 'approved' by this cartoon girl. I'm a curious person by nature and wanted to know who this girl was and why she was on my food, so I checked out her website. I refuse to share the alias of this cartoon girl or her website because when I went online to see what she was all about, all that I could found were tips on cutting calories, dieting tips, what to eat at certain restaurants, etc. This website also provides the option for people to sign up to receive daily emails sharing dieting tips, how to cut calories, and specific products to buy that help promote weight loss. I'm really not sure who created this site, but the girl behind the alias says that she is obsessed with food, counting calories, finding great diet tips.... and to me, that is one giant red flag!! If you are obsessed with numbers, weight, counting calories, dieting, etc.. it may be a good idea to talk to someone about this, especially if it is interfering with your ability to think rationally, maintain health and be yourself.

While I wouldn't necessarily call this person's site a pro-anorexia site, it is certainly not a healthy site. The information presented is likely triggering for anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder, food issues, body image struggles, etc. It made me upset to think that someone could do something as simple as buy something at the grocery store and be confronted with this little cartoon girl and her website. My reaction was so strong that I felt like I needed to take an action step. So, I sent this cartoon girl a little message on the 'contact me' section of her site. My message was not rude or judgmental, but I shared my thoughts and concerns with her. I haven't heard back from her, and I don't expect to. I didn't write to her expecting a response or even needing one. The simple act of putting that feedback out there was empowering and I think we need to be doing this kind of thing more often, myself included. It's not even about trying to change someone else, or to show someone that they are wrong about something- of course, it is helpful for people to be educated and knowledgeable and to have correct information. But I think when we take action steps, it actually frees us and empowers us in ways that help us to move one step closer to health and acceptance of ourselves. In doing that, we may actually end up facilitating change after all! Every little action helps, whether it helps us or helps others, or both! As we interact with people and media (print, TV, etc) this week, let's consider how we might take small action steps to promote positive body image in ourselves and in those around us.

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