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Together, we managed to put enough pressure on a giant company to make them take a hard look at their policy around cosmetic surgery apps for children and change it (or the enforcement of it) for the better.
Back in April, an Apple spokesperson made the following positive statement to the media about the company’s stance on cosmetic surgery apps targeting children: “‘We do not want nor allow these types of apps on the store. We have rules in place against these apps and do not offer them on the App Store.’”
Although we were pleased to see that these cosmetic surgery “games” in Apple’s app store were removed, we were reluctant to declare victory because, over the last four years, Apple would swiftly remove flagged apps but new ones would quickly take their place. As our petition was focused on companies creating an official policy, we wanted to be confident that the absence of cosmetic surgery apps for kids in Apple’s app store was a permanent change. After several months of monitoring Apple’s app store, we are now sure:
“Joy Bauer's cleanse: Cut out these 4 food groups for a healthier you” (www.today.com)
“Pizza Doesn't Give You Acne—But What About Sugar?” (www.theatlantic.com)
A 28-year-old woman presents with severe malnutrition, marked hypoproteinemia (abnormally low level of protein in the bloodstream), and vitamin B12 deficiency due to restrictive dieting. When she was 14, she was reportedly told by a nutritionist to eliminate fats from her diet to help control severe acne that didn’t respond to traditional treatments. By age 16, she had restricted her eating to an extreme “lacto-ovo-vegetarian” diet*. By age 24, she no longer ate eggs and milk products. With time, the diet became one of only raw vegetables and had resulted in extreme isolation from her friends and family. Despite severe weight loss, this woman did not have the common behaviours of anorexia nervosa: she did not care about being thin nor did she demonstrate body dysmorphia. Her severe malnutrition was a result of the strict belief that certain types of proteins and nutrients are toxic and should be avoided at all costs.
Look at the above headlines in juxtaposition with the case study: a socially-accepted narrative urging its readers to be healthy through the restriction of certain 'bad' food groups stands in sharp contrast with a case study of a woman who did just that. During my research about Instagram in another post, I came across a lot of literature that explored the dark side of 'fitspiration', as well as a somewhat new (as far as we can tell) obsession with being healthy. Many articles and research, such as Strong is the new skinny, have popped up trying to understand this almost ubiquitous obsession with fitness and health. What exactly are we dealing with? At what point does an obsession with health become unhealthy?
It's one in the morning, a Tuesday, and my face is stained with an angelic luminous blue - the reflection of my cell phone and its faithful companion - Instagram. My Instagram account is relatively chaotic in content. I follow friends and family, models, philosophy accounts, photography, feminists, accounts that teach exercise routines, how to cook, how to make desserts. . . If the only thing that remains when I die is my Instagram account, my death certificate will read 'death by hysteria'. Aside from the chaos of its content, Instagram is an application that I use quite often: before going to sleep, when I wake up, and in those 'dead' moments of the day. Honestly, I never saw it as a problem – in fact – Instagram is my voyeuristic friend: a window to the world.
One day, Google News showed me the dark side of my friend, with a heading that read:
I have no idea how much time I spend on Instagram, but this news led me to explore the application a little more closely. What effect can Instagram have on mental health, and specifically, what effect can it have on my relationship with my own body? Before I could answer those questions, I reviewed the basics:
Every year, millions of cosmetic surgeries are performed globally. According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, over 23 million procedures were performed in 2016. Some of the possible complications include hematomas, nerve damage, infections, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, scarring, organ damage, anesthesia complications, and in some cases, death. What’s more, the industry is sometimes under-regulated: In the UK (as of 2013), anyone can legally perform dermal filler procedures, without prior training or knowledge.
The stats aren’t pretty.
To be clear, these are risks that informed adults can and will take. Our goal is not to criticize adults who choose cosmetic surgery. But adults are not the only ones going under the knife.
Children and teenagers around the world are undergoing cosmetic surgery at younger and younger ages.
Technology is an amazing and sometime scary thing! It offers children opportunities for creativity, learning and fun but can also an impact on how they see themselves and their bodies. As parents, you want your children to enjoy all the exciting experiences that technology can offer and to grow up with a healthy relationship with their bodies. As today, February 5, is international safer internet day, you may hear and read a lot about various aspects of digital safety. One aspect of technology that doesn’t receive a lot of attention is the relationship between computer games and body image. Many parents are already aware of the need to make their home a body positive environment but struggle when it comes to staying on top of potential negative influences online and in games. More and more parents are concerned about how to help their children to feel comfortable in their skin in a digital world.
“A wonderful dream come true!” (Cinderella, Disney, 1950)
By Emma Jacobs, Endangered Bodies contributor
It’s the ultimate fairy-tale. Cinderella, the enslaved heroine — soot-stained, rag-ridden, oh-so-humble — holds her breath and makes a wish and with a shower of sparkles she is transformed, now a ball-gowned princess, at last lovely both outside and in. She’s worked hard, she’s suffered quietly, and so she is deserving of the Fairy Godmother’s greatest gift: beauty. “Why!” cries Disney’s Cinderella, “It’s like a dream! A wonderful dream come true!”
Cinderella stories have existed in countless variations throughout human history, from Ancient Greece to the Tang Dynasty to the Islamic Golden Age. We’ve always been fascinated by the “before” and “after” of the makeover. And like all good fairy-tales, the makeover is in essence a morality story. Beauty, it tells us, is something you earn; ugliness is for the lazy.
This moral lesson has been woven into TV makeover shows since they began in the 1940s and ’50s (incidentally, around the same time Disney’s Cinderella first came to the big screen). In US studio gameshows like Queen for a Dayand Glamour Girl, women competed for the viewers’ sympathies by confessing their stories of misery, hardship and marital trouble. Whoever got the most applause from the audience was rewarded for her suffering with a beauty-queen makeover, and the obligatory sense of self-worth that accompanied it. As the NBC brochure for Glamour Girl noted, “the girl is changed not only in appearance but also in her outlook on life. We see her poised, secure and smiling. This creation of a new personality has great human interest appeal.” 
Last week I saw the trailer for To The Bone, a movie just released by Netflix. It is supposed to be a sensitive and deep portrayal of the struggles of a young woman with anorexia and her journey through treatment. However, the almost two-and-a-half minute trailer couldn't be more upsetting: a cliché and somewhat sensationalized depiction of what anorexia supposedly looks like unravels with scene after scene violating almost every single National Eating Disorder Association's guideline for responsible media coverage of eating disorders. It features obsessive calorie counting, graphic depictions of symptomatic behaviors concerning eating and exercising, and images of the main character’s severely emaciated body.
Being an eating disorders researcher and activist since 2001, and a bulimia survivor, I’ve been concerned not only with the lack of substantiated knowledge about eating disorders both among health professionals and the wider public, but also with the media. Media content can be problematic when it promotes an excessively thin beauty standard for women, in addition to the usually sensationalist tone given to the subject of eating disorders.
BED affects thousands of people worldwide, but very few people outside of professional treatment circles know the illness even exists.
There are no lifetime movies about Binge Eating Disorder, or BED as it is commonly called. Unlike anorexia and bulimia, which have both been covered in the news, books, movies, and online first-hand accounts of recovery, Binge Eating Disorder flies way under the radar. And yet, according to the article Eating disorders as a public health emergency, written back in 2006, up to 5% of women worldwide engage in binge eating.
According to NEDA, the National Eating Disorder Association of the United States, BED is characterized by recurring episodes of binge eating, without the purging after the binge that accompanies bulimia. A binge is defined by two traits:
Eating a larger than normal amount in a set period of time
A sense of lack of control over the bingeing and being unable to stop.
In addition, the binge eating episodes are associated with several of other characteristics:
Eating more rapidly than normal
Eating until uncomfortably full
Eating large amounts of food despite not feeling hungry
Eating alone out of embarrassment
Feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty after a binge
This post was originally posted on OfficeMum.ie in Ireland and has been reposted here with permission from the author Andrea Mara. Thanks, Andrea!
To support our latest international campaign, see below for links to all eight unique linked petitions and spread the word using #SurgeryIsNotaGame
Like many parents today, what little I know about online games I’ve learned from my kids, and most of what mine have played so far have ranged from clever to educational to downright silly. But one game stopped me in my tracks when my nine-year-old showed it to me recently – it was a plastic surgery simulator game that had come up on her Kindle when she searched for ‘free games for kids’.
To show me how it works, she carried out cosmetic surgery on her (animated) patient’s nose. This involved marking where the incision should go, using a scalpel to cut into the skin, moving a bone inside the nose, then gluing and stitching up the wound. And once that game was over, some of the other suggestions included ‘Pregnant Mommy’s Surgery – Caesarean Simulator Game’ – I kid you not.
I was really surprised that the cosmetic surgery game existed at all – I mean, who wants to play a game that simulates cutting into skin and delving into someone’s nose – but I was particularly surprised to see it marketed to kids. Not only is it graphic and gross, it’s also sending a really negative message to little girls. Don’t like how you look? Just go under the knife – because you are nothing beyond your appearance.
People of all sizes, including fat people, should be able to exist and thrive in the world without shame, stigma, bullying, or oppression regardless of why they are the size they are, what being that size means, or if they could become a different size.
That statement should be so obvious that it never has to be said. Unfortunately, in a world where creating body hatred is incredibly profitable, and where anti-fat sentiment runs roughshod over the lives and happiness of so many fat people, it can’t be said enough.
The desire to have a better relationship with our bodies, and to support the diversity of body sizes, is an important first step, but there are many steps after that. They include steps that we may take to evolve in our relationships with our bodies, to unlearn the stigmatization of bodies that we have been taught by our culture, and to fight back against the messages that our bodies aren’t amazing and worthy at any size. Enter the Fat Activism Conference.
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