Eating disorders don't care if you're male or female, under 10 years old or over 50 years old. They'll destroy anyone who's ripe for the picking. When I speak at school or to parents about body image, the issue of media manipulation always comes up and for good reason. We are definitely influenced by what we see and hear in our magazines and TV screens, but does the media CAUSE eating disorders? I say no.
I remember the day my agent told me to lose 2 inches off my hips and that my thighs were getting too big. She suggested that I try yoga to tone down. I was devastated. She didn't see how hard I was trying to be thin. I was dieting and hardly eating just to keep my stick-thin frame. It was then that I decided to give up on modeling because I was ruining my body.
By helping their children recognize their inner qualities and focusing on their accomplishments, parents help to teach kids that what is really important about them has nothing to do with their size, shape, or weight. This creates an environment that promotes self-acceptance and positive self-esteem.
You're following some supermodels, celebrities, fitness models, personal trainers and other women with slammin' bodies on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Do you find the images motivate you to eat better and work out harder, or do they make you less happy with your body and want to go on a crash diet?
I have a beautiful network of girlfriends, each unique in her shape, size and sex appeal. Some of them are naturally thin. Some of them are incredibly fit. Some of them even struggle to put weight on. Does that mean they deserve a little public jeering because they don't struggle to maintain a certain dress size?
We have made body image more important than body function. You can be healthy, beautiful and happy at any size. You can be unhealthy and unhappy at any size as well. If our children hear us say all that matters is health, but see us with fitness magazines on our coffee tables and weight-loss products in our cupboards, what message do they really get?
When I was a teenager and well into my twenties, women encountered similar pressures both on television and in print. The difference is that now we can't just blame corporate advertisers for showing unrealistic body proportions. This time, it's real people teaching other real girls how to strive for and achieve these (at times) unhealthy body sizes.
How an individual perceives him/herself is either a real or distorted view of who they believe they really are, not always who they actually are, or how others see them for that matter. People either develop a positive or a negative self-image based upon their perception of a past experience or event. Therefore, an individual's strengths and weaknesses are a direct manifestation of how a person evaluates themselves.
We set a dangerous precedent when we give tens of millions of views to videos so obviously phony as that one. We make it worse when we then invite the people who make them to go on TV and pretend they're somehow authentic. We wind up telling people that simply being a jerk is a viable talent to be paraded around.
Last week, a self-proclaimed 'comedian' from Canada posted a video rant to YouTube titled "Dear Fat People." I had the dubious pleasure of seeing it in its entirety, and it was really really hard to watch -- not only because of the sheer cruelty spewing from this woman's mouth, but also because I felt embarrassed for her thinking she was being 'helpful' to overweight people.