It’s normal to indulge every now and again, and I’m not averse to that. I might decide to eat a sugary doughnut, or a slice of cheesy pizza – but the problem is that one is never enough. Or at least at that moment it isn’t. Ah, that magical moment when I am transported to a world of ecstasy. Salt! Sugar! Grease! Uncontrollably I stuff myself, because only when the food has disappeared will the terrible temptation stop. Only when it’s all gone will I fall back down to earth and the horror of what I have just done will dawn on me. I will be shocked at my lack of self-control, baffled by my single-minded behavior which I know I will have to punish myself for. But as I said, it’s not rational. I’m addicted. This I know because after the high of eating has worn off, the feeling will be replaced by a crushing sense of guilt. Why am I so greedy? Why can’t I stop myself? I'm making myself fat.
If I told you I recently came across a boutique where none of its dresses fit over my head would you believe me? If you’re a woman who wears a US size 8/10 or higher and who’s lived in Argentina for any length of time, you certainly would. In fact, you’d probably share a story or two of your own. After residing for more than a decade in Buenos Aires, I should know better than to even consider buying clothes in the country, especially considering I’m fortunate enough to be able to keep my wardrobe topped up on my regular Toronto trips to visit family and friends. However, every once in a while I succumb to the temptation of a pretty piece displayed in a store window, knowing full well I’ll need to shore up my self-esteem before reaching the changeroom. If it doesn’t fit me—and more often than not it doesn’t—I remind myself that my body isn’t defective, it’s the Argentine fashion industry that needs reform. And that’s something my team, AnyBody Argentina—the Argentine chapter of Endangered Bodies, an international organization that challenges the culture that teaches us to hate our own bodies—also understands.
I´m launching my book: “And Were They Thin and Happy Ever After? The Ways Out of Compulsive Eating”.
Everything started in 1988. I was on vacation, at the beach, with another diet going wrong, when I found a book with a weird name: “Fat is a Feminist Issue”. When I read it, important issues of my life got new meaning as I´ve always struggled with food and body issues.
Nutrition did not make much sense to me during my graduation until I did an internship at the eating disorders outpatient treatment in Sao Paulo, and started to be interested in the emotional and social aspects of eating. I was especially interested in body image and its influence on eating behavior. I joined endangered bodies in 2011 to have contact with other people involved with body issues and diet mentality concepts, as described by Susie Orbach in the book "Fat is a feminist issue."
Our global campaign #FatIsNotAFeeling in which we asked Facebook to remove the ‘I feel fat’ emoticon has raised many interesting questions and issues among our followers and critics. One of these issues is the effect of negative body talk – or, as in many cases: fat talk – in society in general and in social media specifically.
By Deirdre Cowman, Director of Endangered Bodies Ireland
In January 2014, body image activists ran a successful campaign to remove plastic surgery games aimed at young girls from iTunes. When campaigners flooded twitter with anger over the damaging messages these games promoted, Apple quietly removed the games in question from their app store. However, it appears that the problem hasn’t gone away.
Screengrab of a Cinderella surgery game available on Mafa.com
Just a few days ago, a blog post on Collective Shout drew our attention to a whole host of equally problematic games that are freely available online from games site Mafa.com. The author of the post, Melinda Liszewski has points out several disturbing features of the site including:
- a "game" in which you have to make Britney’s legs prettier
- a "game" where pregnant women come to the hospital with clear signs of having suffered domestic violence, like black eyes, cuts etc.
- a "game" in which a girl wants to look as pretty as a Disney character and you can help her in achieving this dream with plastic surgery (of course)
- a "game" where you can choose the avatar of a nurse, police officer or teacher and learn how to strip
The word spread quickly yesterday morning: From Germany to the UK and Ireland, across the Atlantic to the USA, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico and further across the Pacific to Australia. What had happened? The activists from the German chapter of Endangered Bodies proceeded their usual morning routine: preparing some fruit and muesli for breakfast, putting the tea kettle on the stove, turning on the computer and logging on to Facebook. But something was different.
When we routinely and still a little tired checked the 'feeling emoticons' in the status update on Facebook, the emoticon for 'I feel fat' was gone. Excited, but still not sure if we had actually reached the goal of our campaign #FatIsNotAFeeling in less than two weeks, we asked our international colleagues to double check. And while the word spread around the globe, having one EB-chapter after the other waking up to the news, it became clear: Facebook had listened to us, to the nine young women who had become our petition starters, to the almost 17,000 voices of the people who had signed our petition.
The eight chapters of Endangered Bodies (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, England, Germany, Ireland, Mexico and the United States) and a local group in Colombia have come together for a global campaign: We ask Facebook to remove its body-shaming ‘I feel fat’ and ‘I feel ugly’ emoticons and status options.
JOIN US AND SIGN THE PETITION IN YOUR COUNTRY! (We declared our petition a success on March 10, 2015 - see below)
Fat is a substance that every body has and needs. Fat is also an adjective - a descriptive word about a physical attribute. Just like tall, short, black or white, it should not be misused to shame oneself or others. However, the fashion, beauty and diet industries have an interest in making us feel insecure about our own bodies and over time "fat" has become a negative word, not a simple statement of size. There is nothing neutral about it. The stigma and criticism of fat and the elevation of thin make them stand-ins for other kinds of words, feelings and moods.
Endangered Bodies sees this fear of fat and idealisation of thinness throughout society as a form of weight stigma, which can have a serious impact on the millions of people dealing with negative body image. Body-shaming and weight stigma are associated with lower self-esteem and disordered eating, an issue that Facebook – being a social platform – needs to take seriously.
If only I looked like her. If only I had bigger boobs, skinnier thighs, and a flatter stomach, I would be…what? Happier, more successful, less insecure?
If only I was prettier, a bit sexier, or looked like a pin-up girl…then I might have a life partner, be promoted at work, and own the life of my dreams.
We could talk about eating disorders and cosmetic surgery or mainstream media and how damaging its images of women are to our self-esteem. We could criticize the “thigh gap” and “flabdomen” debates and blame magazines that slam the bodies of female celebrities. But I would rather do something different. I want to widen the discussion to get at the core of what it’s really all about.
Everywhere, all over the globe, women don't feel "enough."
"If only I looked like her" is the biggest epidemic facing women, and it’s not just in the U.S. It’s everywhere. Women spend thousands of dollars trying to achieve a beauty ideal that keeps changing and is different in every country and culture. While women in the U.S. get breast implants and tummy tucks, in Asia, women opt for eyelid procedures – all in an effort to look beautiful – whatever that means.
We chase a moving target, trying to convince ourselves we will eventually track down that elusive beauty ideal. Unfortunately, in trying to look beautiful, we end up rejecting ourselves. We seek to become something different from what we naturally are.
According to the survey of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Brazil is the champion of plastic surgery for cosmetic purposes in the world.
Precisely, 1,491.721 surgeries were performed here in 2013 (see the Brazilian newspaper's story bellow). Note that this occurs in an unfavorable economic situation context, also considering that these procedures are not covered neither by the government health system, nor by private health plans.
Another aggravating factor that is worth analising in this classification of first in the ranking of aesthetical plastic surgery is the HDI (Human Development Index), which includes three variables: long and healthy life; access to education and an acceptable standard of living. At this world ranking, Brazil is classified into 79th place. Among the 10 leading countries in the ranking of cosmetic surgeries, Brazil is at 9th position, followed by Iran, in the last one.
There is an intimate relationship between being champions in aesthetic plastic surgery and the low position in HDI terms, because Brazil still neither values education, culture and health, nor prioritizes the importance of the quality of life for its citizens. Unfortunately, we are immersed in an ideology that turns the body in to a merchandise.
(Written by: Luciana Saddi, from Endangered Bodies São Paulo - Brazil, collaborated and Miriam Tawil, from Endangered Bodies São Paulo - Brazil, translated)
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