Thursday, August 30, 2012

I have a problem

It's been exactly a year since I last posted on here, which is sad. The past year has had ups and downs (more ups than downs), but it's been consistently stressful. I've gained about 25 pounds since my last update.

Trigger warning:  body image and eating disorders. Please don't read below if you're recovering from or suffering with these issues.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

TLC's Big Sexy

sexy: sexually attractive or exciting

A show that uplifts big, sexy women? A show that declares that women can be big, beautiful, and healthy? Is it too good to be true?

It's real! Maybe. I saw the premiere of Big Sexy tonight, and I loved it. The show has five incredible women who work in fashion in Manhattan. The first episode showcases a plus size fashion show that they managed to arrange within two weeks, and it was fabulous.

The only problem I had (which could change if I watch the episode a second time with a more critical eye) was that it opened with one of the women squeezing herself into a body shaper. The rest of the episode more than made up for it, but that part still sticks with me. It sent me the message "Hey, these women are great, but look how they try to hide the bodies they purport to love!"

If you look up the show, I'd advise checking TLC's site. Already I found several positive articles and blogs about the show, but some of the comments are disheartening at best. I encourage you to watch this show. I know I'm going to keep my eye on it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kirstie Alley Calls Out Letterman For Telling Fat Jokes About Her

Bold: Showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous.

This article is about a month old, I think it deserves highlighting: Kirstie Alley Calls Out Letterman For Telling Fat Jokes About Her. The gist of the short article is that Kirstie Alley boldly went on Letterman and humorously criticized him for writing jokes about her. It always irks me when talk show hosts mock a person one night and pander to them the next--when the celebrity is on the show.

How incredibly brazen! I can't imagine doing something like that on national television, even if it were pre-approved (as some commenters suggest). I would love to see more celebrities do something like this: use a talk show host's popularity to highlight how unreasonable the host was before. Kirstie managed to point out that David Letterman was unreasonable and rude, and even he commented that they "probably" wouldn't have made fun of her if she weren't overweight.

Kudos, Kirstie! That was brilliant, and I appreciated it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Reference List

Over the next several days, I'm going to post sections of my thesis. I had a request to see it, and I figured I might as well post it here. It's about negative body images in the media and the programs that work to combat the negativity. Because the paper was long, each post will be one major section of the paper. This is the final post of my thesis.

About-Face. 2010. “Don’t fall for the media circus!” Retrieved April 20, 2010 (

Ahern, Amy L., Kate M. Bennett, and Marion M. Hetherington. 2008. “Internalization of the Ultra-Thin Ideal: Positive Implicit Associations with Underweight Fashion Models are Associated with Drive for Thinness in Young Women.” Eating Disorders 16 (4): 294-307.

Anderson, Daniel R., Aletha C. Huston, Kelly L. Schmitt, Deborah L. Linebarger, and John C. Wright. 2001. “IX. Self-Image: Role Model Preference And Body Image.” Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development 66 (1): 108-118.

Clark, Levina and Marika Tiggemann. 2007. “Sociocultural Influences and Body Image in 9- to 12-Year-Old Girls: The Role of Appearance Schemas.” Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology 36 (1): 76-86.

Clay, Daniel, Vivian L. Vignoles, and Helga Dittmar. 2005. “Body Image and Self-Esteem Among Adolescent Girls: Testing the Influence of Sociocultural Factors.” Journal of Research on Adolescence 15 (4): 451-477.

Cusumano, Dale L. and J. Kevin Thompson. 2001. “Media Influence and Body Image in 8-11-Year-Old Boys and Girls: A Preliminary Report on the Multidimensional Media Influence Scale.” International Journal of Eating Disorders 29 (1): 37-44.

Dohnt, Hayley and Marika Tiggemann. 2006. “The Contribution of Peer and Media Influences to the Development of Body Satisfaction and Self-Esteem in Young Girls: A Prospective Study.” Developmental Psychology 42 (5): 929-936.

Dohnt, Hayley K. and Marika Tiggemann. 2008. “Promoting positive body image in young girls: an evaluation of ‘Shapesville.’” European Eating Disorders Review 16 (3): 222-233.

Dove. 2010. “Campaign for Real Beauty.” Retrieved April 15, 2010 (

Fruit of the Loom. 2006. “Fruit Guy Fans.” Retrieved April 23, 2010 (

Herbozo, Sylvia, Stacey Tantleff-Dunn, Jessica Gokee-Larose, and J. Kevin Thompson. 2004. “Beauty and Thinness Messages in Children's Media: A Content Analysis.” Eating Disorders 12 (1): 21-34.

Kaiser Family Foundation. 2006. “Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds.” Menlo Park, CA: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved April 14, 2010 (

Lam, T.H, Stephanie Lee, Samantha Fund, S.Y. Ho, Peter W. H. Lee, and Sunita Stewart. 2009. “Sociocultural influences on body dissatisfaction and dieting in Hong Kong girls.” European Eating Disorders Review 17 (2): 152-160.

Maltby, John, David Giles, Louise Barber, and Lynn E. McCutcheon. 2005. “Intense-personal celebrity worship and body image: Evidence of a link among female adolescents.” British Journal of Health Psychology 10 (1): 17-32.

McCabe, Marita P., Lina A. Ricciardelli, Jacqueline Stanford, Kate Holt, Salley Keegan, Louise Miller. 2007. “Where is all the pressure coming from? Messages from mothers and teachers about preschool children's appearance, diet and exercise.” European Eating Disorders Review 15 (3): 221-230.

McNicholas, Fiona, Alma Lydon, Ruth Lennon, and Barbara Dooley. 2009. “Eating concerns and media influences in an Irish adolescent context.” European Eating Disorders Review 17 (3): 208-213.

National Eating Disorders Association. 2010. “National Eating Disorders Association.” Retrieved April 20, 2010 (

Smeesters, Dirk and Naomi Mandel. 2006. “Positive and Negative Media Image Effects on the Self.” Journal of Consumer Research 32 (4): 576-582.

Thompson, J. Kevin and Leslie Heinberg. 1999. “The Media’s Influence on Body Image Disturbance and Eating Disorders: We’ve Reviled Them, Now Can We Rehabilitate Them?” Journal of Social Issues 55 (2): 339-353.

Tiggermann, Marika and Amanda S. Pickering. 1996. “Role of television in adolescent women's body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness.” International Journal of Eating Disorders 20 (2): 199-203.

Redefining Beauty: Conclusion

Over the next several days, I'm going to post sections of my thesis. I had a request to see it, and I figured I might as well post it here. It's about negative body images in the media and the programs that work to combat the negativity. Because the paper was long, each post will be one major section of the paper. I apologize for the delay; I've been out of town but have returned finally. This is the final section of my thesis. References will be posted tomorrow, and normal posting will resume later this week.

Continued Education
Therefore, it is important not only to educate girls at a young age, but also to continue the education at length. Programs such as Shapesville have shown that it is possible to raise self-esteem and to convey positive body messages. As Dohnt and Tiggemann (2008) agree, “programs that target media internalisation [sic] at a young age are warranted, and the results of the present study indicate that Shapesville successfully achieve this aim” (231). However, one brief session is unlikely to last for a lifetime of positive body images. Just as a person cannot take one foreign language course and expect to become fluent, a girl cannot take one self-esteem enrichment course and expect to accept her body and change her perspective.

Long-Term Goals
As aforementioned, if a female adolescent perceives thinness to be beauty and to lead to happiness, she will go to great lengths. This is unfortunate because some girls will develop eating disorders to achieve this goal. Female adolescents who are unable to attain the unrealistic definition of beauty will be likely to yield to low self-esteem. Conversely, if the definition of beauty is redefined so as to include a broader base of women—hopefully women of all types of beauty—female adolescents will be able to accept themselves, to have higher self-esteem, and to have higher body satisfaction to avoid drastic measures, such as eating disorders or body alterations. If programs like the Real Campaign for Beauty and educational tools like Shapesville become more prominent, the definition of beauty within our culture has the ability to change. Although the change would not likely happen over night or even within a few years, the next generation of female adolescents has the potential to live in a world without bias toward thinness, to consider themselves as beautiful as anyone else, and to achieve the high self-esteem that they need to be happy, healthy, and confident.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Positive Programs to Enhance Self-Esteem: Part 3

Over the next several days, I'm going to post sections of my thesis. I had a request to see it, and I figured I might as well post it here. It's about negative body images in the media and the programs that work to combat the negativity. Because the paper was long, each post will be one major section of the paper. I apologize for the delay; I've been out of town and still am.

About-Face, an organization whose mission is “to imbue girls and women with the power to free themselves from the burden of body-image problems so they will be capable of fulfilling their varied and wondrous potentials,” goes a step beyond the NEDA’s Media Watchdog program: this organization provides a “gallery of offenders” and “gallery of winners” and encourage viewers to contact the people, programs, or companies in question (About-Face 2010). On the website’s blog, the organization writes articles regarding the latest offender or winner. Although the group may seem radical in its approach to changing the media, they do also advocate media literacy and provide a wealth of resources to enhance viewers’ media literacy, ranging in topic from articles about body image and obesity to cosmetic surgery and eating disorders (About-Face 2010).

Shapesville, written by Andy Mills and Becky Osborn and illustrated by Erica Neitz, “is a children’s picture book that has simple, rhyming sentences and bright illustrations to engage the children in the story and make the program developmentally appropriate” and that “celebrates positive body image by encouraging self-acceptance and diversity” (Dohnt and Tiggemann 2008:224). The short book teaches girls how to care for their bodies and minds. Readers learn about the five food groups to build strong bodies and about special talents to build self-esteem. One study in Australian private schools showed that girls who were read Shapesville could list the food groups and were more willing and able to list special skills or talents they possessed (Dohnt and Tiggemann 2008). This newfound ability to recognize what set them apart from the crowd is important for their self-esteem.

Unfortunately, due at least in part to the aforementioned proponents of negative body image, at the six week follow-up, most girls were no longer internalizing the positive body image lessons for appearance satisfaction as they had reported after the end of the reading session, but they did retain knowledge of accepting others regardless of appearance and of remembering five food groups, which previously none of the girls could recite entirely (Dohnt and Tiggemann 2008). While each could recall at minimum a vague understanding of what she learned, most regressed to the same low self-esteem she had shown before. Moreover at followup, the girls reported that they no longer wanted to look like television or pop stars as they had before reading Shapesville, an important factor in determining a female adolescent’s willingness to internalize media image and to succumb to low self-esteem or poor body image (Dohnt and Tiggemann 2008:229; Maltby, Giles, and Barber 2005:28). Assuming that a girls’ environment plays an important part in maintaining her negative body image, it would follow that replacing her into such an environment without continual education and support would minimize the effects of a one-time program.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Positive Programs to Enhance Self-Esteem: Part 2

Over the next several days, I'm going to post sections of my thesis. I had a request to see it, and I figured I might as well post it here. It's about negative body images in the media and the programs that work to combat the negativity. Because the paper was long, each post will be one major section of the paper.

Dove is conducting the most pervasive program to promote positive body images. In September 2004, Dove launched the Campaign for Real Beauty (Dove 2010). Dove discontinued using ultrathin models to opt for more realistic, healthy-looking women for their commercials. Although it has been nearly ten years from inception, the Campaign for Real Beauty continues to display healthy women in commercials featuring products such as deodorant and body lotion. The Dove website explains that every purchase of a Dove product goes toward the Dove Self-Esteem Fund that supports programs for the Campaign for Real Beauty. Using the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, Dove is able to produce television advertisements that educate the public on how marketing companies use air-brushing and computer-enhancing programs to create unrealistic ideals that bombard female adolescents (Dove 2010).

After the introduction of the Campaign for Real Beauty, Dove delved into a more active role in helping young women to realize their own beauty. Dove achieves this is by partnering with the Girl Scouts of the USA to spread the positive body message. The program targets girls between the ages of eight and seventeen and consists of self-esteem boosting workshops, culminating in a ceremony in which the girls promise to love themselves and their bodies (Dove 2010). Dove’s program, Uniquely ME!, shows girls the difference between reality and the Hollywood perception of beauty. The girls are able to see how computers can alter images so that the images no longer contain real women; workshop participants have the opportunity to see unaltered photographs of models beside the computer-enhanced images and to discern the differences between the two (Dove 2010). On the website, parents can download free self-esteem tools to continue building the self-esteem of their daughters.

National Eating Disorders Association
Girl Scouts of the USA also offered to collaborate with another group: the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). The Girl Scouts of the USA authored a piece of federal legislation, HR 4925, the Healthy Media for Youth Act, and requested that the NEDA become a partner in this initiative:
NEDA partnered with Girl Scouts of the USA, the bill author, on the initiative, which states that the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, shall review, synthesize, and conduct or support research on the role and impact that media has on diet, nutrition, exercise, body image, and eating. If passed, the bill will also authorize research on how food marketing and obesity campaigns affect girls' and boys' image, nutrition, and exercise, especially among eating-disordered youth populations. (National Eating Disorders Association 2010)
On March 24, 2010, HR 4925 has been referred to the Subcommittee on House Energy and Commerce, where it has remained for the last month. Recently passed legislation, HR 35902, should assist in furthering the efforts of the Girl Scouts and the NEDA by providing more information to the public on the nutritional contents of their meals.

Furthermore, the NEDA works hard to combat negative body images in the media in hopes of preventing young women from turning to eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia nervosa. Uniquely, the NEDA asks the public to take an active role in contacting the media to let stations, networks, and corporations know that no longer with the American public accept the use of unhealthy models in commercials and shows. The NEDA’s Media Watchdog Program, created in 1997, provides helpful links for readers, such as “What to Look for in the Media,” to assist United States citizens in making the media aware of their concerns in an educated, informed manner (National Eating Disorders Association 2010). The website boasts that “over half of the protested advertisements have been discontinued” (National Eating Disorders Association 2010).

In addition, the NEDA website contains an impressive array of educational tools for children, parents, teachers, and concerned viewers who want to make a difference in what the media portrays to young girls. The resources pages include information to target demographic groups by gender, age, and profession so that viewers may streamline their experience on the website and find information quickly and easily. Aside from general educational information, viewers may watch videos regarding eating disorders or attend webinars, interactive seminars provided through a combination of webcam usage and chat rooms (National Eating Disorders Association 2010). The NEDA is committed to providing accurate information so that people of all ages and occupations can become media literate (to understand the unrealistic images projected through the media) and improve the body image concepts presented in the media by voicing concern.

2HR 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, includes a section entitled “Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items at Chain Restaurants” that will force restaurants with over twenty chain establishments to provide nutritional information to patrons in an easy to understand and readily accessible format.