Ask the Registered Dietitian; Feb 2nd - Have a food or nutrition related question? The dietitian will be happy to answer them for you. You will also have an opportunity to tell the world which part of your body you love!
Media & Body Image; Feb 3rd - Come see what Barbie would look like if she were a real person. We will also be playing short videos to show the manipulation by advertising.
If you are human, and if you are an American, you have probably stared at yourself in the mirror and critiqued different parts of your body. Though the idea of body image can seem abstract, it is simply how you perceive yourself in your body. Body image is cultivated from our culture, the media, family and peers. It may seem difficult to fight these external influences, but ultimately, you decide if you love or hate your body. You're better off loving it, because its the only one you've got, respect it and fuel it!
Negative vs. Positive Body Image
You may have a negative body image if you...
- Have a distorted perception of shape and perceive parts of your body different than they really are.
- Only consider others to be attractive and view your own body as a sign of personal failure.
- Are ashamed or self conscious about your body.
- Feel uncomfortable and awkward in your body.
You have a positive body image if you...
- Have a clear perception of your shape, you see parts of your body how they really are.
- Celebrate and appreciate your natural body shape.
- Believe your body says little about your character or value as a person.
- You are comfortable and confident in your body.
- Refuse to spend an unreasonable amount of time worrying about calories, weight, size, etc.
Information taken from National Eating Disorders Association (www.edap.org)
Women & Men
Did you know that 50-70% of normal weight girls believe they are overweight? Both men and women can experience negative body image, but women are more likely to take extreme measures to change their bodies. Dieting, exercising and weight-loss supplements are examples of how women try to lose weight. Some women take these to the extreme and develop an eating disorder.
Our culture has prescribed a recipe for what is beautiful. Unfortunately this ideal is very unrepresentative of the female population. Because women cant turn around without hearing how to be thinner or more beautiful, its no mystery why they have internalized these messages. The ideal transcends into many areas of women's lives. Take shopping for jeans, for example. Women place a great emphasis on what size of jeans they wear, typically the smaller the better. Instead of asking for a size 8 because a size 6 doesn't fit, they will instead ask for a different style! What if we introduced size-less jeans? Imagine women searching for a pair of jeans that feel comfortable instead of a size they believe will make them attractive.
Healthy Self Talk
Aside from thinking negatively about body image, women also talk negatively about themselves and others. You have likely heard your friends, sisters or mothers say things like my butt is too big! or my arms jiggle! Have you ever noticed this rhetoric is contagious? Women stand together in front of mirrors and take turns bashing their bodies. When asking friends, do I look fat? what is really on our mind? Contrary to popular belief, fat is not a feeling, it is an avoidance of feelings. Angry, sad, bored, happy-these are feelings. Try to limit talking negatively about your body, and challenge others to do the same. More than likely there is something else they are grappling with and it just so happened to manifest itself in their cottage cheese thighs. Combating a negative body image is important for your sanity and life-long happiness. You cant live your life hoping to start a diet on Monday, or believing that when you are skinny then you will be happy. Your life doesn't start 5 pounds from now!
Until recently, researchers overlooked the complexities of men and body image. In fact, men receive the same pressures to be attractive as women, thus making them uncomfortable in their own bodies. Distorted body image in men is closely linked to societys expectations of masculinity. Being masculine is equated with big muscles, strong thighs and washboard stomachs. It is unfortunate that mens motivation to exercise has shifted from a desire to be healthy and fit to the desire to be muscular and attractive. This leads to an interesting dichotomy in our society: men strive to bigger while women strive to be smaller. Wouldnt we all be happier if we met in the middle?
Americans are exposed to 400-600 advertisements each day. In case you haven't noticed, our bodies are used to sell everything! Cigarettes, jeans, cars, jewelry, cell phones the list goes on and on. Often we don't even know WHAT is being sold. The images portrayed through the media make most women feel inadequate and unattractive. Research has proven that exposure to thin, young, airbrushed models is linked to loss of self-esteem. The average American woman is 54 and 140 pounds. This statistic is shocking to most people because women in the media do not look like the average woman. In fact, models weigh 23% less than the average American woman. Advertising is a $400 billion industry. The discrepancy between the average person and the model is so you buy their product. Don't fall for it!
How to critically interpret the media
What can you do? There are many ways you can reject the messages the media sends you. You can write letters to offensive advertisers, educate your friends, stop buying brands who produce offensive ads or simply critically analyze what it is the ad is selling (aside from the product!)
Here are some offensive advertisements we found to get you started:
Always: Maxi pads? Muscles? Masculinity?
Message: bigger is better, more attractive and more masculine (note "scrawny, unhappy guy").
Do you think the "super" guy is attainable for majority of males? Which one do you think the average guy can identify with?
Moschino: Clothes? Barbie? Bondage?
Message: Women should look like her (with unrealistic dimensions); women should be restrained, polished and plastic; submissive (she is not looking at you); looking like a skeleton is sexy.
How does this message make you feel? Are there others ways this woman is objectified? If it wasn't for the word "jeans" in small print, would you know what advertisement is selling?
Speaking of Barbie
A computer generated model found proportions in Barbie's back would be too weak to support weight of her upper body, and that her body would be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and a few centimeters of bowel.
Start looking at the women around you every day. The grocery store clerk, your teacher, your mother, the woman who passes you on the sidewalk. These are REAL women. Stop using the medias standards to judge yourself and others.
Want to learn more about being a media-advocate? Check out the website About-Face.org to see more offensive and positive advertisements. About-face provides the addresses of many companies, and also provides instructions on how to write a letter expressing your concern.
Love Your Body
Stand up to yourself!
How can you work towards a positive body image? Getting rid of your negative body image requires you to accept your body as it is, and learning to love it, too. You are more than your body. What about your intelligence, personality, wisdom and compassion? These are qualities that cannot be portrayed through any picture, but are the attributes most valued by others. Think about your heroes and others whom you admire. Now think about how important their appearance is to you. Negative attitudes and energy are contagious. Try to promote positive body image to yourself and others around you.
5 ways to love your body from AdiosBarbie.com
- Think Inside out. When you picture your body, do you think about your heart, your brain, your kidneys? Probably not. More than likely, you think about your thighs, your hair, your stomach.
- Give your mind a workout. Imagine what would happen if women decided that building mental strength was as important as pumping our biceps.
- Tell your critics to shut up. Well-intentioned or not, families and friends can be a major source of body stress. Theyre often the first to criticize your appearance, or to let you know how pretty you'd be "if you just lost 20 pounds."
- Stop dogging on other women. Sadly we women can be our own worst critics. But consider the toll this has on sisterhood and on you.
- Healthy comes in all sizes. Although many people argue that being fat is unhealthy, this is not necessarily true. Focus on being healthy, not on your size.
- Our Bodies Ourselves, Boston Womens Health Book Collective
- Deadly Persuasion: why women and girls must fight addictive power of advertising, Jean Kilbourne
- When Women Stop Hating their Bodies, Jane R. Hirschmann
- Binge No More, Joyce D. Nash
- Eating by the Light of the Moon, Anita A. Johnston PhD
- Appetite Awareness Workbook , Linda W. Craighead
- Transforming Body Image, Marcia Germaine
- Do I Look Fat in this?, Jessica Weiner
- Life Doesn't Begin 5 Pounds from Now, Jessica Weiner
- The Obesity Myth, Paul Campos