Body image is something that we truly dread dealing with at one point or another in our lives. We call ourselves fat, we point out our flaws and sometimes look for validation from others that we are in fact “beautiful”. When I saw the Real Beauty campaign by Dove, it made me stop and truly think, if we all just focused on things that we liked about ourselves each day that could make a difference in how we view ourselves. One thing could lead to two or three or four and then maybe those flaws that we saw before won’t be so noticeable anymore.
It is my sincere hope that everyone spent the last holiday ensconced in a cozy cocoon of familial adoration and delicious, well-savored meals. If, however, you found yourself trapped in your childhood bedroom, shoving fistfuls of mashed potatoes into your mouth just to make the crying stop, then friend, come sit by me.
Growing up as a first generation immigrant is complex. Your parents are adults who are relearning things they learned in childhood while simultaneously trying to keep you alive and teach you life lessons. On TV you see these perfect, straw-haired, pale-skinned kids, speaking English and eating mashed potatoes for dinner and you look down at your plate of rice and squid, while your mom is yelling at you in your mother tongue and you wonder why your life is so different.
“No, I would never want her body. She’s in shape but she is way too muscly.”
Almost a year has passed since I delivered my talk to NEDIC on the link between autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and eating disorders. In that time more research has come out to support this surprising overlap between these seemingly distinct disorders. In August 2013, Simon Baron-Cohen and his team at the Autism Research Centre published a study that examined the cognitive profile of 66 teenage women with anorexia. Compared to their peers, women with anorexia had elevated autistic traits, reduced empathy and high levels of systemizing thinking.
When I was in grade four it was mandatory to be in the choir. Although I was no "diva" I enjoyed the camaraderie of the choir and felt participation was what mattered most. However, moments before a special performance, the music teacher pulled me aside and directed me not to sing: “Sarah, why don’t you try to lip sing for this concert.” This experience greatly affected my ability to find my voice and to express myself.
Bullying is something that is happening all around us on a daily basis. It comes in various forms such as cyber, verbal, physical and emotional. To break things down even further, weight has become a leading cause for these forms of bullying to take place. Weight based victimization is happening more and more in today’s youth, with the picture of ‘ideal’ women and men stuck in their heads. It is important that we take a look at this pressing issue as it is not only affecting the emotional and mental health of the victims, but can also affect physical health (e.g., through binge eating).
As a personal trainer I spend a minimum of 30 hours in a gym every week. People of all different fitness levels, abilities, and body types surround me. Unfortunately, my industry is one that is often driven by a certain set of stereotypes around what fitness is. Magazines, posters, and commercials of fitness models drive a message that being fit and having a very certain look go hand in hand.
When someone dies as a result of bullying, as in the cases of Reetah Parsons, Amanda Todd and Jamie Hubley, there is an appropriate outcry in the media. At the same time, in the same media, there are many stories of how Kate Middleton hasn’t lost her ‘baby bump’ two minutes after giving birth; that Jennifer Lawrence has ‘cellulite’, and so on. It’s rare for us to see the connection between the frequent body-shaming in the media with the more overt bullying that happens in the schoolyard, social media and in the workplace.
In part 1 of this blog, the bad and ugly side of the Instagram-body image debate was explored, and the main issue addressed was the recent trend of pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia support groups emerging among Instagram users. This is a problem because these users are reinforcing each other’s harmful behaviors through “likes” and comments on “thinspiration” pictures and in doing this they are normalizing disordered eating.