I like riding a racing bike. I love the feeling of the wind in my face, blowing away all annoying thoughts, while my legs are spinning away one kilometre after other. Sometimes I ride by myself, sometimes with friends, sometimes with larger groups.
This year I planned something special: For a big road bike race I applied for an all women’s team, sponsored by a big sporting goods producer, organized by the sponsoring brand’s ambassador that aims to empower female riders. 20 women planned to ride the 100 km track together as one train - meaning one group - with an average speed of 30 km/h. If one bikes regularly, that is doable - from time to time one can stroll along in the wind shade of the others, in addition there’s the adrenalin, which gives an extra push.
I transferred the racing fee to cover the organisation of mutual practice rides and the team clothes, and looked forward towards the upcoming weeks.
Image by Cltstyle (2012) under a Creative Commons license
A few days ago, news outlets reported on "WW" – formerly known as the diet industry giant Weight Watchers, now operating underneath the wellness sugar coating of "wellness that works", but still being a diet company – and its release of a diet app targeted at children as young as 8 years old. The app called "Kurbo" separates food into categories of "good" and "bad" and is supposed to help its users make healthy choices.
What the app and the whole idea it’s based on ignore, just like every other weight-loss diet, is the fact that your own body can tell you what nourishment it needs. It also feeds the assumption that only slim bodies are good bodies and that thin equals healthy, while fat equals unhealthy. This is a dangerous and erroneous message to promote to children.
Here at AnyBody Argentina, the Argentine chapter of Endangered Bodies, we often get asked about our values. Why does Argentina need a size law? Do other countries have one? What does “body positive” mean? For people who are unfamiliar with our type of activism—or just beginning their body-positive journey—some of the terms we use might be confusing. That’s why we’ve created this mini-dictionary of body-positive terms to help you understand our values here in Argentina and as part of the Endangered Bodies network worldwide.
All of our 154,500+ voices have been heard! YOU have been heard.
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.
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