Thursday, February 28, 2013

Eating Disorder Laws

What better way to spread awareness about eating disorders than through laws? I looked online and found a few recent laws that relate to EDs. The first is from Virginia, where the local government enacted a law that will allow schools to do ED screening and will require them to tell parents the results. I think this is a good idea, assuming students don’t lie.
In practice, I’m pretty sure students with eating disorders will just lie if they don’t want to be found out. And I’m wondering if this will inhibit students from coming forward to counselors about their issues if they will be reported to their parents. I didn’t go to a counselor in high school, but I doubly wouldn’t have gone if I knew they were just going to tell my parents about my problems.
In New York, the same kind of law is being debated.
And Israel has recently banned underweight models. I guess this is good, since it means models won’t be under so much pressure to be thin, and it might cut down on the number of their eating disorders. I don’t think it will cut down on the number of regular citizens who develop EDs though, because as you saw in my previous post, I don’t think the media plays much of a role in the development.

What do you think? Are these laws helpful or hindering? (ha, alliteration. Love it)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Big Bad Media

How many of you have heard that the media “influences young girls to have thinner bodies?” That it “creates undue pressure to be thin” or that it “supports unrealistic stereotypes of women.”
Yeah yeah, we know. There are a lot of sources that talk about media being a huge influence on the development of eating disorders.
I don’t doubt that the media doesn’t help, but does it really cause problems? Personally, my ED has nothing to do with media. I developed anorexia when I was 13, when my family didn’t have a big TV and didn’t let me watch it until after dinner. And then in tenth grade I didn’t read any fashion magazines, I didn’t watch diet shows, and again I didn’t really watch TV until after dinner. Seeing thin actresses don’t make me think I’m too fat, and they certainly don’t make me think EDs are the route to go to lose weight.
Of course, I’m not everyone, but I would hazard a guess and say that it’s the people around us, not media, that actually have the influence. For instance, there are claims that the media promotes unrealistic standards for women. Well, I see thin women around me every day at my school. In fact, usually I don’t see much of a difference between their body shapes and the ones I see on TV. When I developed my ED, it was from looking around me and thinking “crap, I’m fatter than everyone else here” rather than swooning over some actress’s body.
As a side note, why do people say that actress’s and model’s bodies aren’t “real bodies?” I get that they’re airbrushed and made up to look good, but if you watch them live there’s not really any way they can change their body shape all that much. Isn’t it mean to tell them their bodies, which they probably work hard on to please everyone, aren’t real? Plus, I don’t understand why people can say that about women in the media when there are women we see every day in normal life with bodies like these. Are their bodies fake too?
I do think that excessively watching diet shows like Secret Eaters or Biggest Loser could have an influence on how you think about what you eat. Shows like these paint food as if it were an enemy, and they’re often triggering for me. However, I doubt that people would excessively watch them if they didn’t already have skewed values about food, in which case the media again didn’t really do much damage, it just didn’t help anything.
The exception to this is if a parent watches the shows a lot and her child accompanies her on the couch.
What do you think? Does the media influence the development of eating disorders? 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Why Eating Disorder Awareness Week is Important

According to Post Secret, this week is Eating Disorder Week! Or Eating Disorder Awareness week? The second one makes more sense. I’m not really a big fan of “awareness” weeks like rape awareness week or coming out week or things like that. Everyone has their own cause, and proclaiming that yours should have a week dedicated to it just seems to make you pompous, so it not only annoys everyone but also it means they associate your cause with annoyance.
At the same time, weeks like these are important. They highlight a problem and remind everyone that people are still suffering that something needs to be done. I think EDs in particular benefit from this, as they’re kind of invisible in this society. Everyone knows someone that’s gay, or they would if they looked hard enough. Rape discussions are becoming more and more integral to our culture. These problems get lots and lots of media attention, and EDs just don’t. At least not in terms of causes, how to spot one, and treatment options.
We are not alone. We’re not a tiny population of mutants. People with eating disorders can be found anywhere and everywhere, and they can be anyone. This week is the time when ED people can come out of the cracks and poke their heads around a little to find each other. And even if they don’t see anyone, a little media attention is a good reminder there are others who can understand us out there.