Hashtag Body Image

In an effort to engage more customers Victoria’s Secret began a “Perfect Body” campaign. The slogan was, Perfect Fit. Perfect Comfort. Perfectly Soft. The problem arose with the image they chose to use featuring what they believed to be a mixture of female body types. What upset people was that the models Victoria’s Secret chose to use were not exactly a correct representation of body size. Individuals dissatisfied with the campaign began tagging themselves as having a “perfect” body. Their message? Every body is perfect; Suggesting Victoria’s Secret should display and sell a larger variety of sizes. The media backlash caused the campaign to stop prematurely. It’s yet to be determined if they learned a lesson. Whether of not their sales suffered is unclear. Though their campaign did not include those either very small or very large, the primary negative publicity was about the latter, who are also those whose sizes are not hanging on the racks in stores.

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Similar to the negative feedback received by the Victoria’s Secret campaign was a UK supplement company, Protein World, who for weeks had a subway campaign promoting their energy drinks with large signs featuring a fit blonde woman in a bikini standing next to the lettering, “Are You Beach Body Ready?” (featured image)
The result was the same, people took to social media posting themselves in their bikinis with hashtag beachbody.

It’s certainly not out of character for companies to prey on individuals insecurities or capitalizing on diet culture by shaming those who don’t have the Protein World described “beach body” into buying product to have a different body, but these two campaigns are good examples of how society can push back.

The community reaction to these campaign means people are beginning to get tired of a culture that tells them what they should be. They are using social media to reply to the companies and say, We’re not buying it.We are happy with who we are. These hashtag activists are doing a service for the next generation who may grow up in a more body image inclusive commercial culture.

Smart Media

August marked a significant moment for me.

I purchased a smartphone.

That is not to say the phone I had before this one was not smart (featured image). I could take pictures and videos and send them to friends and family or to my email to be archived. I could listen to music I had uploaded to my phone and have a pop song as a ringtone, not just a series of beeps similar to a song. It was a smart phone.

However, over the last month I have become increasingly aware it was not a smartphone. What I use now is truly a marvel of science and engineering. On the same device I can read a story the The Economist magazine, share that story on social media, write a critique of it on another platform and discus it’s merit on yet another. I can interact with individual throughout the world struggling with eating disorders, assist them to seek professional help, and share pictures of myself attending professional eating disorder research events. All of these item can be cataloged an indexed with an easy symbol.
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Now for my last year of classes I’m able to use this technology to be a better student, advocate, and husband. It’s been essential to keep a shared calendar between my wife and I. I’ve made closer connections to professional contacts through social media only because of the easy access my smartphone has provided. In class, I’m learning to make the most of what social media can do. I’m hopeful this blog will take a more active form. A more professional focus.

I encourage readers to come back and check-in.

Does my friend have an Eating Disorder?

You cannot be certain an individual has an eating disorder solely by appearance. In fact, several signs of disordered eating may be viewed by some as normal behavior. It is not one or several habits that make an eating disorder diagnosis, but the severity and frequency. Even then, the only person qualified to diagnose an individual with an eating disorder is a qualified medical professional.

It is through this lens advise should be given to family and friends whose loved ones may be struggling with an eating disorder.

I had been working with a woman for several months, she talked frequently about what new fad diet she was on or how much she wanted to lose in a week. We’d take a break around 5.00pm and she’d say, I’m so hungry I haven’t eaten all day.

This went on for a few weeks, one day early in the afternoon we were visiting and I noticed she looked very fatigued and her hands were trembling.

Are you feeling OK? I asked, you’re hands are shaking.

Just fine, she replied. Maybe I’m just a little dehydrated.

Nothing more was said, as a friend I had made my concerns noted, and that’s all I could do. About a week later the same coworker told me in confidence she had been struggling with disordered eating and when I asked how she was feeling that day it brought her recovery back on track.

Other times I’m off the mark when I check in with a friend about their. Sure the individual may eat and exercise at specific times, they may even display other habits of those with eating disorders like refusing to eat certain foods and excessive comments of feeling fat or needing to loose weight, but that doesn’t ensure an eating disorder. However, as an individual in recovery from an eating disorder I have never been offended by a friend or family member asking how I am feeling. It’s comforting. Although, my opinion does not represent everyone in recovery.

When you decide to bring it up be sure the person knows you are coming from a place of love and understanding, not accusing her, but worried about her health. tell her you are concerned and explain what habits you’ve noticed and how you feel they may have a negative impact on their wellness and relationship with you. I would avoid the terms eating disorder. They may not even have an eating disorder, but it could be a start. What’s important is that they sees you as someone who will be supportive and non-judgmental.

 

Born In Nineteen Eighty-Four

You are in a large box. You’re stuck. The only company you keep is your own. The walls cannot be pressured open. There is no help within earshot. You sit anxiously looking forward to the wall, waiting for someone to help.

You wait.

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Let me explain, the first time I was in treatment I fought hard. I told myself I was serious about getting well, gaining weight and staying healthy. More specifically, I fought and complained about the administration, managers, nurses and aides. About anything really.

I complained about how much food I was given, visiting hours were too short, I never got a day pass, I couldn’t use my phone whenever I wanted, they only had ice cream not sorbet, I couldn’t have regular caffeinated coffee and the list goes on. I was in the box, pushing uselessly against the sides. One of the worst things about beginning treatment was spending time with myself. So it was with great lament, when I became exhausted trying to escape, I chose to dig in and get comfortable. Naturally, I brought a book. When I began to see my body in its true form I was reminded of Winston Smith the main character 1984 by George Orwell, my favorite book. (OK, spoiler warning, but it’s worth it, so read on.) Continue reading Born In Nineteen Eighty-Four

Scrabble For Lovers

It began organically during conversation. I honestly forget who started it, but neither of us intend to end it. In fact, we often take turns purchasing pieces and surprising the other with games.

Cheez-It probably doesn’t even know the goldmine of a couples’ communication game it has with its Scrabble Junior snack. Every Cheez-It is printed with a letter. Sure, there’s a little game board on back, but it’s not the same as telling your partner H is for Hugs, because I love your arms wrapped around me after I’ve had a long day at work.

Then it’s my turn to grab a letter. Oh! A, Hmmm …A is for Adorable, because even when I’m not feeling my best you still think I’m adorable. Recovery from an eating disorder can be a long process, and the most difficult part for me has been keeping an appropriate body/self image. This exercise is perfect for the days I’m having a tough time.

We don’t always have them around, but if we’re trying to reconnect after working opposite schedules for several days it’s nice to play while we watch cartoons in the afternoon.

Sure you could just use actual Scrabble tiles, although eating though will be quite unpleasant.

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A Letter on Father’s Day

Dad,

It’s been more than 7 years since you hugged me last. I still miss you often, but I take comfort in knowing you set me on the good path. You taught me to have respect for myself and, no matter how large or small a task, take pride in the work that I do.
“If you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
You taught me how to love by the way he loved mom. You respected her immensely and showed it through affection, random cute gifts and action. When I was being disrespectful, you were quick to defend her. Continue reading A Letter on Father’s Day

Ohhh … Alright …

Roy Lichtenstein was a pop artist prominent in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, along side other notables such as Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns, they pioneered what he called “art through parody”. Lichtenstein’s material of choice were romantic comic book, similar to soap operas on TV, these stories focused on masculine men and feminine women in distinct gender roles. The patriarchal tones to which the plots conformed were natural for the time.

aa82Interestingly, Alcoholics Anonymous tried to capitalize on the popularity of these comics by distributing their own versions (pictured above) with messages about the perils of drunkeness and it’s harm on families. Continue reading Ohhh … Alright …

Life with an eating disorder