Thursday, February 12, 2009

Our Screwed Up Society

Every time I'm at the grocery store, waiting in line at the check-out counter to pay for the food that nourishes my family, I am offended by the images on the covers of those fashion magazines and Hollywood star publications. Especially the ones that urge you to buy the magazine to discover the star's secrets to achieving their pre-pregnancy weight in an incredibly short period of time. We're talking a few short weeks post-pardom. I haven't actually read what "secrets" these stars are giving up, revealing how they achieved the impossible. I'm quite certain it would include more than a modicum of offhand, cavalier explanations that only serve to make real women feel like worthless lazy slobs that we can't achieve the same results with as little effort. I would guess that, in actuality, a great deal of medical and/or surgical intervention is employed to achieve these unbelievable results, utilizing financial resources that very few of the magazine's readers have at their disposal.

My problem with these magazines is that they are a major contributing factor to the unrealistic standards our society sets for women to achieve the "perfect" body. Women are sent the message that body fat is not to be tolerated and if you have curves you are FAT! This is causing girls and young women to do dangerous and damaging things to their bodies in a desperate attempt to fit into this unrealistic, unhealthy mold. Anorexia and bulimia have been around for some time now. This is not a new problem. So why have we put up with this shit for so long?! Why aren't women everywhere raging against this horrible, unfair pressure?!

Not long after my daughter's diagnosis I stumbled upon a Facebook group for diabulimics. I had never heard of this disorder before. But when I read about what it is and the personal stories of these young, misguided women with diabetes, struggling with very distorted body images and knowingly causing irreversible damage to their bodies to achieve the "perfect" body, I wept. In fact I sobbed uncontrollably, fearing for my little two year old baby girl with type 1 diabetes and her future as a young woman in this society with it's twisted standards and unrealistic expectations.

I made up my mind quickly that I had a big responsibility to set a healthy example for my girls. I need to be conscious of the way I view my own body and how much emphasis I put on my weight. With my girl's healthy self image as my motivation, I expect this won't be too much of a challenge.

The bigger issue to tackle would be how to bring about change in our society. I thought of the way the whole anti-smoking campaign was handled a few years back and I think that a similar approach might be effective. Cigarettes were removed from view in stores and, of course, advertising for smoking has been banned everywhere, at least in Canada. Why not do the same with these magazines that are potentially just as damaging to women's health, both physically and mentally?

My proposal is that we all start petitioning to have these magazines relocated to another area in the grocery store- behind a counter where you have to ask a clerk to get a specific magazine for you. In addition to this, I feel these magazines should have a large warning on the front cover, much like a pack of smokes has, stating that the images within have been modified via surgery or computer enhancement. Images appear smaller and closer to perfection than they actually are. Viewing this magazine could be damaging to your self-image.

Taking these magazines out of view might stop young, impressionable girls from being bombarded with these unhealthy images. And the warning might help those who choose to purchase and read them view the images with a healthier perspective. In the meantime, I plan to keep an open dialogue with my girls, informing them of the ridiculous lengths these stars go to to look the way they do... as well as the role airbrushing and computer technology plays in making them look unbelievably flawless. I have an obligation to my girls to expose these publications and the doctored images they contain for the fraudulent fiction they are as well as to celebrate the natural beauty in our world in it's many wonderful shapes and sizes. Besides, the truest form of beauty emanates from within and never, ever fades.

1 comment:

Lee Ann Thill said...

Thank you so much for pointing me in the direction of this post! Families have such a tremendous affect on young girls' sense of self, body image and relationship with food. I don't rub elbows with too many moms so I don't know how often this topic comes up or how conscious of it moms are, generally speaking of course, but knowing how children take the most subtle cues from parents, I wish more parents made a conscious effort to role model the type of behaviors that will minimize the risk of developing unhealthy attitudes and beliefs about food and body. I hope all the moms who read your blog have caught this post and really consider the message. Diabetes already messes with one's relationship with their body, so it's especially important for moms to make sure that doesn't become their D kid's prevailing sentiment.

On another note, I think it's time for me to set up google reader or something like that because catching reminders and links in scattered places means I keep missing all kinds of good stuff like this!