Month: February 2014

Going on a Binge

“Going on a binge.” 

I hear that phrase getting tossed around quite a bit especially in the college world where it is usually accompanied by a lot of booze in a very short time frame. 

But Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a very real thing and it doesn’t get a lot of air time. It’s estimated that 1-5% of Americans suffer from BED, of those 60% are women, 40% are men. (NEDA)Image

BED is “type of eating disorder that is characterized by recurrent binge eating without the regular use of compensatory measures to counter the binge eating.” (National Eating Disorder Association) So in laymen’s terms, this is consuming a lot of calories in a very short amount of time, without self induced vomiting or laxative abuse (or some other weight control measure) directly following the binge. 

Symptoms of BED: 

  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amount of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain
  • A feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes.
  • Feelings of strong shame or guilt regarding the binge eating.
  • Indications that the binge eating is out of control, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone because of shame about the behavior. (NEDA)

To be clear, the key word in diagnosing BED is recurrent. The occasional Ben & Jerry’s pint, mountain of french fries, or pre-PMS food monster do not fall into this category. Especially us women have had the occasional food attack where we must consumer everything in our sights, but that doesn’t mean we all have BED. BED consists of frequent, recurring episodes of eating a very large amount of food. We’re talking 1,000s of calories in a sitting. According to DSM-V there are several behavioral and emotional signs the frequency must be at least once a week for 3 months, eating a larger amount of food than normal during a short time frame (any two-hour period), lack of control over eating during the binge episode (feeling you can’t stop eating or control what or how much you are eating). (Binge Eating Disorder Association)

Just like any eating disorder, treatment is almost always necessary for recovery. If you or someone you know suspects that they may be suffering from BED or any eating disorder, please seek treatment as soon as possible. Most treatment options are considered outpatient, meaning that they do not require overnight stays. Treatment can include: 

  • “Level of care” assessment and treatment planning
  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Support or therapy groups
  • Family/couples therapy
  • Family member support/education
  • Specialized nutrition counseling
  • Medical/psychiatric support and medication management as needed

The first step in receiving any care is to talk with someone you trust about it and then schedule an appointment with your family doctor where they will prescribe the route of treatment. 

As always, 

No matter what anyone says or thinks, 

Not your mom,

Your sister, 

Your grandma, 

Your dad, brothers, grandpa, 

Your friends,

Not even you,

Not matter what they think,

You are beautiful.

You are worth knowing it, believing it. 

So keep your chin up. 

Embrace you

Stay smiling beautiful. 

 

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Ethics in Photo Manipulation

There’s two sides to every story. I’m not sure who first said that statement but I firmly believe it to be a lie. There are dozens of sides to any story including the ethics of photo manipulation in the fashion and beauty industries. 

There are articles plastered all over the web slamming photo manipulation. Proclaiming it to be harmful to our self esteem and self image. Many articles make the case that it is “altering images and our minds.” And while the supporters of these views are screaming loud and proud against any and all photo manipulation, I would be willing to put money that those same authors have used an Instagram filter. 

This is an ethics debate. Where is the line in photo manipulation? When is it okay to remove a piece of spinach caught in someone’s teeth, to completely smooth an 80 year old woman’s skin? Is it ever acceptable to make minor changes? If so, what is the line between minor and major changes? 

As a general rule of thumb according to Glenn Halbrooks, simple photo manipulation is acceptable – removing red eye, adjusting color and lighting – as long as it’s fully disclosed. The areas that are fuzzier include overly fixing unflattering photos, deciding why you’re using (un)flattering photographs to begin with, and unfairly presenting an image of a person whether positive or negative. 

The fashion industry is strangely silent on the topic, even in the face of massive criticism from the media and other sources. There’s an old saying that goes “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” From my perspective, that is exactly where the fashion industry is coming from. There isn’t enough backlash to warrant change and they’re still selling plenty of magazines with highly modified images. 

Assuming we all agree that minor modifications (filters, removing spinach, etc.) are acceptable, why don’t we see more backlash about images that have been heavily modified? 

That answer lies in history. 

There is a fascinating article concerning the history of photo manipulation and it all started with an iconic photograph of Abraham Lincoln in the 1860s.

 Image This is Abe Lincoln meets John Calhoun, a Southern politician. Lincoln’s head was cropped onto Calhoun’s body in the 1860s. 

The first photograph was taken in 1814, so just within a few years of photography’s invention people were already attempting to distort reality. People want to put their best foot forward in life, so equivocating some simple alterations is an easy choice to make. But what people are facing now is the idea that perhaps people like their reality distorted; they like the unattainability of perfection. And that is scary stuff. 

This article isn’t about presenting my opinions. I simply want to get you to think about something difficult. Struggle with it. Discuss it. 

Do we condone photo manipulation because we are dissatisfied with ourselves or because we believe that we are capable of more than we are? 

 

You’re Worth More Than That | Disordered Eating

I was a chronic dieter. I honestly do not remember a time from 6th grade through sophomore year of college that I wasn’t dieting in some way shape or form. I would skip meals, restrict calories, exercise obsessively, and overall be dissatisfied with my body. It wasn’t until last year that I realized what I was doing to myself had a name, and that it wasn’t normal or healthy behavior.Image

I was a disordered eater.

The National Eating Disorder Collaboration (NEDC) defines disordered eating as “when a person regularly engages in destructive eating behaviours such as restrictive dieting, compulsive eating or skipping meals.” Examples of disordered eating behaviors include “fasting or chronic restrained eating” also known as chronic dieting, skipping meals, binge eating, self induced vomiting, unbalanced eating (restricting just one food group perceived to be ‘bad,’ and using diet pills/laxatives. 

According to a study by McCargar and McBurney published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, almost half of Americans suffer from Chronic Dieting Syndrome. Most of those who suffer from it started dieting at an early age (typically teenage years). A staggering 78% of participants reported extreme dissatisfaction with body size and shape. The kicker of this study is its age. It was published in 1999. And disordered eating habits have only gotten worse. 

In a US News Report in 2011, “nearly half of boys and girls in grades three to six want to be thinner, research suggests, and about 37 percent have already dieted.” And when students were surveyed again 5 years later after reporting they would continuing dieting, most weighed more than non-dieters. 

These habits are simply not healthy. They lead to psychological problems and complete body dissatisfaction. 

This article hurts my heart to write. It hits too close to home. Almost every woman I know has struggled with disordered eating. Including myself. And even though I’ve conquered my own self-loathing, it is not something I want my children to struggle with. 

I want my kids to know that they are beautiful and that they are loved. 

And I’m sure that what all of you want for your kids too…

So why don’t you want it for yourself? 

Why not tell yourself you’re beautiful? 

What kind of role model can you be for the kids in your life if you don’t believe what you’re telling them? 

This week, I want you to take 5 days off from counting, obsessing, exercising, all of it. Eat when your hungry. Eat what tastes good and what makes your body feel good. Take a walk. Rock climb. Play with your dog. Breathe in. Breathe out. Be free. 

You are more than the sum of the calories you take in; and you are more than the ones you burn off during your workout. 

You are a beautiful human being. You are the product of all your experiences and the ones of your ancestors. You are the culmination in a unique pattern of genes that combined in your mother’s womb to make you. No one else has your fingerprints. No one else has your exact eyes. No one else has the mole on the inside of your left pinky finger. You are the only you there is in the whole world. To quote Whitman: “O me, O life of the questions of these recurring. Of the endless trains of the faithless. Of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer: that you are here. That life exists and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

What will your verse be? 

Stay Smiling, Beautiful (:

Happy looks great on you!

You’re More than Photoshop.

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The main promotional image used for Victoria Secret’s 2010 “I Love My Body” campaign

Victoria’s Secret is one of the biggest sellers of “sexy” in the America. They know this; America knows this. Therefore, what Victoria’s Secret sells as sexy, America literally and subconsciously “buys” as sexy. The women in this photo are extraordinarily thin and tall. I’ve never seen a woman look like these women. They have perfect skin, breasts, legs, hair, and stomachs. They don’t even have pores. In the real world, these women do not even exist. They are created. They are created using photo editing techniques (commonly referred to as Photoshop) to shrink their already tiny waists, erase any moles or lines, and airbrush a smooth look over their entire bodies. Why does this photo manipulation work? It’s because it is just real enough. It teeters on the edge of imitation and genuine. Women want to think that they could look like these models even though it is an unreasonable, even unattainable standard of beauty. 

This week in class I was given the privilege of playing with Photoshop, so I took it upon myself to see if I could manipulate an image of myself and my family from my wedding over the summer. As a Photoshop noob, I figured the realm of cinching waists and airbrushing skin was beyond my abilities. I was wrong. Within 20 minutes I had smoothed my grandmothers’ wrinkles – taking off an easy 25 years from their appearance. I had also managed to shrink my waist, slightly accentuate my breasts and hips, smooth my complexion,and overall give me a celebrity worthy experience. 

But here’s the problem. 

It wasn’t me. 

It wasn’t my grandmothers. 

They were creations. Representations of who I made them. 

They weren’t real. 

My grandmothers’ wrinkles are signs of their wisdom and years of experience. They give them character. They make them unique. And Beautiful. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the average American woman is 5’4″ tall, weighs 166 pounds, and has a waist circumference of 37.5″. Alessandra Ambrosio (one of the women in the above photo) is 5’10”, 112 pounds, and has 24″ waist! How is it acceptable for the largest seller of lingerie in America to perpetuate this ridiculous fantasy? In September 2013, one VS model even exclaimed to Telegraph UK: “I don’t look like that picture.” 

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Love My Body vs. Real Beauty Campaigns

Women in America are suffering from “Photoshop Syndrome.” We are seduced by images of impossibly beautiful women with impossibly perfect features but that’s just it. They are impossible. Real women don’t look like that.

Some are slender, some are curvy, some lie in between…but all of them are beautiful.

And while Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign has met with some criticism, its overarching claim is that real women are beautiful and should always remember it. We should stop focusing on our “flaws” and focusing on the beautiful fact that , as Stella Boonshoft puts it, “Our bodies are all beautiful because they are vessels for our souls. They allow us to feel, express, hurt, love, laugh, cry, and most importantly create change in the world.”

So go out – women of America!

Go out and love your body. 

Go walk your dog, dance in your underwear, sing in the car, workout, binge on ice cream!

Do what makes you happy. 

Do what makes you feel beautiful. 

Be kind to your body. 

Love your body. 

It is the only one you get.

You’re beautiful. 

You’re more than Photoshop.

You’re you. 

Unique. Exclusive. Alluring. Dazzling. 

Beautiful.

You.

Stay smiling! Happy looks great on you