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Marci Warhaft-Nadler

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Breaking Free of a Body-Hating Society

Posted: 06/07/2013 12:14 pm

We live in an image-obsessed, fat-phobic, thin is in, skinny jean-wearing, thigh gap-measuring, binging and purging, forever dieting, body-hating society where kids barely out of preschool are begging their mothers to keep them home from school because they feel like they're too fat to fit in.

And that pisses me off.

I'm offended by the magazines that use Photoshop and other tools of destruction to completely erase every wrinkle, line or crease on their models' faces in an effort to create an unrealistic expectation of beauty that we'll spend our entire lives trying to attain but never will.

I'm angry at casting directors who cast 30-year-old women to play the wives of 60 year old men, because nobody would believe that a woman his own age could ever be attractive.

I feel sad for actresses with faces full of Botox and bellies never full, who spend more time with their trainers than their toddlers and who when asked, "How do you stay so young looking?" respond with the lie, "I drink lots of water and do yoga twice a week."

I'm irritated by the entertainment industry that tells them it's what they have to do in order to stay relevant and employable.

I'm disgusted by the media outlets who criticize pregnant celebrities for getting "fat" while growing actual human beings in their bodies.

I'm worried about moms who let years of negative messages telling them they're not good enough affect the way they treat themselves and then inadvertently pass those same messages on to their kids.

I'm heartsick for parents visiting their children in eating disorder clinics because despite how many times they told them they needed to eat to be healthy, all they heard was society telling them they needed to stop eating to be beautiful.

I'm frustrated with men's health magazines that perpetuate the myth that a real man is judged on the strength of his muscles instead of his character.

I'm outraged by a government that releases study after study telling us our kids are FAT and that they're fat because WE'RE lazy and then cancels their gym classes and keeps them seated in their chairs all friggin' day.

I'm confused by toy companies that say pink is for girls and blue is for boys and that boys don't like art and girls don't like trains, making any kids who have to cross the gender aisle to get to the toy THEY want, feel like they're doing something wrong, and are therefore wrong themselves.

I'm offended by fitness professionals who sell one-size-fits-all fitness programs that promote weight loss over health gain while encouraging us to listen to what our scales say and ignore what our bodies need and think the best trainers are the ones who yell the loudest and get us skinnier the fastest.

I'm insulted by diet companies who tell me I can eat whatever I want as long as it's made, packaged and sold by them and that the minute I try to make my own choices will immediately gain back every pound they've had me counting.

I'm appalled at the way "Reality TV" has turned losing weight into a spectator sport by giving strangers permission to judge the contestants almost as harshly as the contestants already judge themselves.

And I'm sickened by seeing toddlers in tiaras, fake teeth and tans being told to "Sparkle, Baby, Sparkle!" by misguided mothers who think their daughters are better off winning prizes for their ability to flirt with the judges than playing outside or reading a book.

But, I'm grateful to actress Kate Winslet for forming the British Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League and promising to appreciate the process of getting older instead of wasting her energy trying to reverse it.

I'm thrilled that fellow thespians Rachel Weisz and Emma Thompson have signed on as well.

I'm excited that people have begun to stand up and speak out about the damage being done to our children by a society that idolizes the prettiest faces but ignores the most brilliant minds.

I feel hopeful when I'm speaking at schools and hear the anger in the voices of the students as they learn how they're being manipulated by marketers trying to profit from their low self-esteem but know that they have the power to reject the nonsense and the right to ask for something better.

I'm optimistic that the day is coming when our daughters would rather be elected President than crowned America's Next Top Model and our sons understand that muscles don't mean manly and being sensitive isn't for "sissies."

Self-worth isn't measured in pounds.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Lady Gaga

    After the media focused on her <a href="http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-body/news/lady-gaga-shows-off-25-pound-weight-gain-in-tight-outfit-2012229">alleged weight gain</a> in September 2012, Gaga hit back at critics by baring her body in photographs, sharing her struggles with an eating disorder, and inviting her fans to join her in a <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/melaniehaiken/2012/09/26/lady-gaga-puts-bulimia-and-body-image-on-the-table-in-a-big-way/">"body revolution."</a>

  • Adele

    Adele says she <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504803_162-57376080-10391709/adele-talks-about-her-body-image-and-weight/">tries not to worry</a> about her body image and doesn't want to be a "skinny minnie." "The first thing to do is be happy with yourself and appreciate your body -- only then should you try to change things about yourself."

  • Rebel Wilson

    The actress <a href="https://twitter.com/RebelWilson/status/253324823005118465">took to Twitter</a> to say, "I'm not trying to be hot. I'm just trying to be a good actress and entertain people."

  • Ashley Judd

    After the March 2012 frenzy around Judd's "puffy face," the actress fought back in <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/09/ashley-judd-slaps-media-in-the-face-for-speculation-over-her-puffy-appearance.html">The Daily Beast</a>, calling the media out for making women's bodies "a source of speculation, ridicule, and invalidation, as if they belong to others."

  • Allison Tate

    Tate's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/allison-tate/mom-pictures-with-kids_b_1926073.html">essay</a> about body image and motherhood not only broke the Internet; it has sparked a movement of "moms who stay in the picture."

  • Autumn Whitefield Madrano

    On her informed, thoughtful blog <a href="http://www.the-beheld.com/">"The Beheld,"</a> Autumn writes about beauty, body image, appearance and her two -- that's right, <em>two </em>-- mirror fasts.

  • Kjerstin Gruys

    Gruys went on a year-long<a href="http://www.ayearwithoutmirrors.com/"> mirror fast</a> during which she did not study her reflection in mirrors or other reflective surfaces, or look at photographs of herself.

  • Christina Aguilera

    "I am always in support of someone who is willing and comfortable in their own skin enough to embrace it," the singer said in a<a href="http://www.ianslive.in/index.php?param=news/Aguilera_wants_to_empower_women-389922/ENTERTAINMENT/15"> recent interview</a>.

  • Lena Dunham

    At the 2012 New Yorker Festival, the magazine's TV critic, Emily Nussbaum, asked Lena Dunham, producer, creator and star of the hit HBO show "Girls," why <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/08/lena-dunham-new-yorker-festival-emily-nussbaum_n_1948596.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women">Dunham is naked in so many scenes</a>. Dunham responded, "I realized that what was missing in movies for me was the presence of bodies I understood." She said she plans to live until she is 105 and show her thighs every day.

  • Alexa Chung

    Chung <a href="http://fashionista.com/2012/10/alexa-chung-on-her-upcoming-line-and-struggling-with-body-image/2/">responded to critics</a> who suggested that her slight frame made her a bad role model for young women, saying: "Just because I exist in this shape doesn't mean that I'm, like, advocating it."

  • Stella Boonshoft

    The NYU student started the amazing <a href="http://thebodyloveblog.tumblr.com/">Body Love Blog</a>, where she posted this picture of herself and wrote an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stella-boonshoft/self-portrait-ask-me-why-_b_1987406.html" target="_hplink">open letter to those who feel entitled to shame others</a> for the size or look of their bodies.

  • Beth Ditto

    This 5-foot-tall, 200-pound singer spoke openly about her weight to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/01/beth-ditto-talks-skinny-privilege-fiancee-body-image_n_2057290.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women">The Advocate</a>, saying, "I feel sorry ... for people who've had skinny privilege and then have it taken away from them. I have had a lifetime to adjust to seeing how people treat women who aren't their idea of beautiful and therefore aren't their idea of useful, and I had to find ways to become useful to myself."

 

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