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  #41  
Old 02 February 2007, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Tarquin Farquart View Post
I don't deny that there is a link in fact I'm sure it is a factor, just not the biggest. For example, and I know this is in no way a cite, but most young women I see on the underground or the bus are not reading high fashion magazines, but magazines like Heat, which tend to be full of "skinny celebs", "miracle diets" and the like. These are far more damaging to self-esteem, IMO, then models.
The celebs are seen as role models even more than the supermodels (they are often referred to as "clothes horses"). When shrinking celebs get rewarded with more roles, it reinforces the "thin is better" message. Watching TV a few weeks ago, there is some woman in the US who has been responsible for many of the shrinking up-and-coming actresses. from being normal looking young women, they end up as clones of this woman (who may be one of the naturally thin people and therefore an unrealistic goal).

When previously curvaceous actresses succumb to Hollywood pressure to reduce to an unaturally bony, boobless shape with a fleshless, skull-like face and this is seen as an ideal, I get very worried about the message this is giving to both men and women. Among older actresses, it seems to be a way of competing against the younger up-and-coming set (accroding to the documentary).

Some of my medical anomalies books cite cases of men and women that would now be classed as anorexic. Some were religious (fasting and then hallucinating, then fasting some more), some were in freak shows (the terminology used at the time) and some sounded psychologically disturbed. Control of diet seemed to play a part in religious communities and may have contributed to a sort of religious euphoria. Fasting as a way of expressing religious devotion may have been held up as an example to the less devout.
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  #42  
Old 02 February 2007, 06:33 AM
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The celeb and real life stories magazines are the fastest growing sector of our magazine market right now. A new comes out every few months and public appetite seems to be insatiable. For decades we had "Titbits" and later on the glossy "Hello". Now we seem to have dozens of them; off the top of my head I'm aware of Chat, More, Closer, Pick Me Up, OK! and the glossy sections of sunday newspapers.

While the style seems to condemn or ridicule the shrinking celebs, it simultaneously holds them up as ideals (how Posh got back in shape after birth of baby, how Posh lost 2 dress sizes, Keira's stunning new figure etc) The front cover is often a parade of super-thin women. At the same time as they print a parade of "look at the way their bones stick out" unflattering images, they also print the latest lose-weight-fast-and-forever-just-like (celebrity name) diet sheets.
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  #43  
Old 02 February 2007, 08:08 AM
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I think the celeb and gossip tabloids (in the UK at least) are a bit more complicated than that. They are responsible for a much more generally critical attitude to (primarily) women's bodies. For all the stories about how great X looks after her size-0 diet, there are also paparazzi picture features mocking "too-skinny" celebs. The following week could see a similar feature mocking "baby fat" or "pot bellies".

The overall effect is that it is impossible for your body shape to be "right", whatever it is. One week you will see "real women" applauded at the expense of "sexless" skinny women. The next you will see Britney Spears berated for her chunky thighs, while Posh gets the hurrahs for her "elegance".

I don't think the problem is in catwalk models becoming ever skinnier. I think it rests far more in the very public obsession with women's bodies, that attaches a critique to every body shape and size.

In almost complete ignorance of anorexia, how much of the disorder is a reaction to feelings of powerlessness? The only family member I know of who suffered from the disorder did so in circumstances that seemed designed to exert power over her family and in a situation where she was otherwise powerless. In which case, is anorexia only one avenue of control that a person might adopt? (i.e. might they turn to other ways of controlling their environment, like self-harm?) I ask because this suggests to me that thin models are a bit like violent films: people cite specific films as being the "cause" of copycat acts, whereas I wonder whether the films simply suggest the style in which someone will carry out a particular act. Great. Now people will think I equate anorexia with slasher films. Oh well...
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  #44  
Old 02 February 2007, 08:15 AM
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In almost complete ignorance of anorexia, how much of the disorder is a reaction to feelings of powerlessness? The only family member I know of who suffered from the disorder did so in circumstances that seemed designed to exert power over her family and in a situation where she was otherwise powerless. In which case, is anorexia only one avenue of control that a person might adopt? (i.e. might they turn to other ways of controlling their environment, like self-harm?) I ask because this suggests to me that thin models are a bit like violent films: people cite specific films as being the "cause" of copycat acts, whereas I wonder whether the films simply suggest the style in which someone will carry out a particular act. Great. Now people will think I equate anorexia with slasher films. Oh well...
I think anorexia is a form of self-harm, at least when it's done "delibrately", as in the pro-ana sites Ryda mentioned earlier on.

Last edited by Tarquin Farquart; 02 February 2007 at 08:15 AM. Reason: spelling
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  #45  
Old 02 February 2007, 10:04 AM
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In almost complete ignorance of anorexia, how much of the disorder is a reaction to feelings of powerlessness? The only family member I know of who suffered from the disorder did so in circumstances that seemed designed to exert power over her family and in a situation where she was otherwise powerless. In which case, is anorexia only one avenue of control that a person might adopt? (i.e. might they turn to other ways of controlling their environment, like self-harm?) I ask because this suggests to me that thin models are a bit like violent films: people cite specific films as being the "cause" of copycat acts, whereas I wonder whether the films simply suggest the style in which someone will carry out a particular act. Great. Now people will think I equate anorexia with slasher films. Oh well...
People with eating disorders often feel they control nothing in their lives, except for they are the only ones that can put food into their mouths. There is a sense of power with being able to not eat for days at a time. They feel they are strong enough to conquer their natural need to eat. That feels good and encourages the illness to continue past the point of skinny to gaunt.
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  #46  
Old 02 February 2007, 10:34 AM
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People with eating disorders often feel they control nothing in their lives, except for they are the only ones that can put food into their mouths. There is a sense of power with being able to not eat for days at a time. They feel they are strong enough to conquer their natural need to eat. That feels good and encourages the illness to continue past the point of skinny to gaunt.
I got anorexic because "fat girls don't get dates".

Some anorexics genuinely don't have hunger signals due to a fault in the leptin receptors. For some, intentional anorexia may have rewired their brain making them immune to hunger pangs. Others have a genetic fault in their leptin chain and only eat when prompted to eat e.g. when the family sits down to a meal. The latter don't intend to starve, but their bodies just don't tell them to eat (some autistic individuals show similar behaviour and only eat if told to eat, but I don't know if that is due to genuine lack of hunger or because they are engrossed in something that blocks out the hunger signal). It's the opposite of Prader-Willi where the "i'm full" signal doesn't register.
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  #47  
Old 02 February 2007, 10:52 AM
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Going back to the OP, let me point out also that today's size 12 (American, naturally, since I is one) is yesterday's 16 (yesterday being in the 1950s). Women like low numbers (for whatever reason). Clothing makers accommodate this. Especially high-end clothing makers.
Seaboe
This is accurate. My wife who is the size 12 of today says 12 was at least a 14 in the 80's. She was a 10 in 1980, which on today's european numbers would be a 6 or 8.
It is also true of mens clothes. If I buy in a chain store the waist is 34. But if I buy in a boutique a 32 will often fit me. I took out some pairs recently and used my tape measure. Surprise, surprise, the 32 was indistinguishable in width from the 34.
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  #48  
Old 02 February 2007, 10:58 AM
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I got anorexic because "fat girls don't get dates".

Some anorexics genuinely don't have hunger signals due to a fault in the leptin receptors. For some, intentional anorexia may have rewired their brain making them immune to hunger pangs. Others have a genetic fault in their leptin chain and only eat when prompted to eat e.g. when the family sits down to a meal. The latter don't intend to starve, but their bodies just don't tell them to eat (some autistic individuals show similar behaviour and only eat if told to eat, but I don't know if that is due to genuine lack of hunger or because they are engrossed in something that blocks out the hunger signal). It's the opposite of Prader-Willi where the "i'm full" signal doesn't register.
From my understanding and experience, people that have other issues do not have anorexia. If they don't get hunger signals, it has nothing to do with "I won't eat because I am fat."

Our experiences with eating disorders are quite different, and I won't try to fill in the blanks, so I hope I am not prying. Most anorexics (once again, this is my understanding/experience), while it may start out "I'm fat," there are still underlying control issues which become more and more apparent as the illness progresses. Things are not going their way, and this is something they can control, and there is some comfort in it.
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  #49  
Old 02 February 2007, 11:15 AM
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From my understanding and experience, people that have other issues do not have anorexia. If they don't get hunger signals, it has nothing to do with "I won't eat because I am fat."

Our experiences with eating disorders are quite different, and I won't try to fill in the blanks, so I hope I am not prying. Most anorexics (once again, this is my understanding/experience), while it may start out "I'm fat," there are still underlying control issues which become more and more apparent as the illness progresses. Things are not going their way, and this is something they can control, and there is some comfort in it.
Mine was entirely due to the perception that overweight girls do not get dates. And it continued because boys paid more attention to thinner girls. there were no underlying control issues. My female friends and I dieted competitively against each other. And all because we wanted to get dates.

In some cases it really is as a simple as the perception that to be attractive a girl has to be thin. Once into that mindset, you get into the the "thinner is better" spiral.

Too late, I found out that many men like curves and I ended up with one that wanted me to stay thin. Unfortunately when I developed a more normal shape (had a partner, no longer in the mindset of trying to attract mates), my former partner insisted I was "letting myself go" and getting bloated.
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  #50  
Old 02 February 2007, 12:13 PM
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I got anorexic because "fat girls don't get dates".
My (size 4) mother tried to raise me to believe "you can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many silk blouses." It didn't take, at least not the "too thin" part. Thank goodness I didn't know I wasn't supposed to be able to get dates. Either that, or my rather colorful high schooll and college years are manufactured memories....

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Too late, I found out that many men like curves and I ended up with one that wanted me to stay thin. Unfortunately when I developed a more normal shape (had a partner, no longer in the mindset of trying to attract mates), my former partner insisted I was "letting myself go" and getting bloated.
It's a control issue, all right -- but on his part, not yours.

I lost weight during the first half of my pregnancy, but things shifted. I was also accused of "letting myself go." One more reason on the long list of why I'm no longer married to him.

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  #51  
Old 02 February 2007, 01:34 PM
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My roommate and I actually talked about it a lot. She was very open with me (as much as she could be) about the hows and whys of her disease. With her, a HUGE part of it was about control. She told me that her dad would call her "chunky" and stuff, and that was a big part of the reason why she started dieting. I think there may have been other stuff going on too, but her behavior certainly exhibited a need to control everything about her life. She was unbelievably organized, always on top of her school work, and completely together in every way. Except for the whole killing herself thing.

When she'd have to eat (like with her parents or something), we'd go out and take walks around Tacoma. I always preferred her walking than in the bathroom throwing up. I hoped she might at least have time to absorb more nutrients that way. After we went our separate ways (transferred to different universities), she because really and truly self-destructive with binge-drinking, sleeping around without protection, and doing drugs. I think she just lost that semblance of control and couldn't handle things anymore. We lost touch after that, and I think about her a lot and wonder if she ever did manage to accept that she needed treatment.

Llewtrah, I think you mentioned euphoria associated with religious anorexia. My roommate used to mention that. She would hit a certain point of not eating and she'd start to feel high. I asked the school counselor about it and he said that (and I don't remember exactly) that the starvation triggered the release of endorphins or something that caused the euphoria. He said that anorexics like my roomie would actually get physically addicted to that. He said it was very similar to a drug addiction.

Regarding the OP, clothing sizes are arbitrary. I wear a 4 in some stores and a 10 in others. Shopping for jeans is misery.
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  #52  
Old 02 February 2007, 02:14 PM
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I got anorexic because "fat girls don't get dates".
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Originally Posted by Four Kitties View Post
My (size 4) mother tried to raise me to believe "you can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many silk blouses." It didn't take, at least not the "too thin" part. Thank goodness I didn't know I wasn't supposed to be able to get dates. Either that, or my rather colorful high schooll and college years are manufactured memories....
The stereotype of the fat girl who can't get dates always annoys me. I don't know where it comes from. I'm fat now but used to be thin. One of my closest friends has always been fat (and that's the word she'd use to describe herself, BTW). When I was thin, she dated at least as much as I did. Now she dates more.
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  #53  
Old 02 February 2007, 02:25 PM
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In some cases it really is as a simple as the perception that to be attractive a girl has to be thin. Once into that mindset, you get into the the "thinner is better" spiral.

Too late, I found out that many men like curves and I ended up with one that wanted me to stay thin. Unfortunately when I developed a more normal shape (had a partner, no longer in the mindset of trying to attract mates), my former partner insisted I was "letting myself go" and getting bloated.
It can go the opposite way, too. An already naturally-thin girl can receive mixed messages in the form of "compliments" like "You're skinny enough to be a model!" but then consistently read that skinny girls and models are considered unattractive. Growing up, I was told that being skinny = attractive and being skinny = unattractive. I was told by other girls that they were envious of me, that they "hated" me for being able to eat anything I wanted, that they wished they had a body like mine, etc. At the same time my parents and teachers were concerned that I was anorexic or unhealthy, while my doctors told me I was the perfect example of a healthy young girl. Girls told me being skinny was a good thing; boys told me they hated skinny girls.

Amazingly, none of this affected my self-esteem, body image, or diet. I went through high school believing I was ugly, but that was more due to being called Horse-Face than my actual body size.

But naturally thin or skinny people can be affected by these cultural attitudes, too.
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  #54  
Old 02 February 2007, 02:35 PM
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I am just curious, but what exactly is the point of bringing up the size of your breasts? And how does wearing a man's button up shirt remove the tenting? Men's shirts have no waist shaping.
Because the rest of me is a medium, meaning that anything that isn't a sack won't cover my chest.

Mens shirts, I've found, look better when they are loose (which makes sense, due to the fact that most men's shirts aren't made to conform to the figure. They look less sloppy than wearing a women's shirt that's three sizes too big, and they have more room in the chest area.
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  #55  
Old 02 February 2007, 02:47 PM
Ryda Wong, EBfCo. Ryda Wong, EBfCo. is offline
 
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And, FWIW, all of the things that have been mentioned on the last page or so play a part in anorexia. I think we come to it and stick with it for all sorts of reasons, even a combination of several different factors.

For example, the feeling of lack of control was pretty common with the girls in my middle and high school (sometimes as a result of abuse/rape, sometimes as a general reaction to the culture). However, what was also common was an intense desire to fit in AND stand out (which seems contradictory, but, hey, we're talking about psychology here). Put all of those things together with the nearly obsessive focus on female appearance and form, and you have a perfect receipe for eating disorders and all sorts of appearance related maladaptive behaviors (which can't even properly be called maladaptive, since they work). It is euphoric. It is self-affirming. It is an internal practice which seems to bleed into all areas of life (grades, job, etc.)

Every time I start to step away from anorexia, it seems like everything else goes out of control. Now, that feeling improves a bit with time, but, when the sh*t hits the fan, guess which behavior pattern I'm going to go back to first.



It isn't as simple as models/celebs. But they are a part of it. And, at the very least, we're starting to pay some sort of attention to the issue.
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  #56  
Old 02 February 2007, 03:05 PM
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It can go the opposite way, too. An already naturally-thin girl can receive mixed messages in the form of "compliments" like "You're skinny enough to be a model!" but then consistently read that skinny girls and models are considered unattractive. Growing up, I was told that being skinny = attractive and being skinny = unattractive. I was told by other girls that they were envious of me, that they "hated" me for being able to eat anything I wanted, that they wished they had a body like mine, etc. At the same time my parents and teachers were concerned that I was anorexic or unhealthy, while my doctors told me I was the perfect example of a healthy young girl. Girls told me being skinny was a good thing; boys told me they hated skinny girls.
Did we go to the same schools? Seriously, I got the same thing when I was a kid. It sucked.

Rhetorical Question: Why can't we just teach kids to love who they are and not try to force them to conform to some sort of alternate body image?
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  #57  
Old 02 February 2007, 03:17 PM
Ryda Wong, EBfCo. Ryda Wong, EBfCo. is offline
 
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Rhetorical Question: Why can't we just teach kids to love who they are and not try to force them to conform to some sort of alternate body image?


I don't think it is rhetorical. I think it's realted to two things: Dominance structures and the economy.
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  #58  
Old 02 February 2007, 03:23 PM
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I don't think it is rhetorical. I think it's realted to two things: Dominance structures and the economy.
Yeah, maybe rhetorical wasn't the right thing to call it, but it's one of those pull-your-hair-out-why-can't-we-all-get-along questions.

I think as long as the media continues to send mixed messages to people, parents will consciously and unconsciously communicate those to each other and their kids. The kids will, in turn, internalize those and communicate those messages to their kids. It's one of those problems where the solution is simple, but getting there seems next to impossible. For society in general at least. Hopefully I will be able to raise my kids to have healthy ideas about their bodies, but we can't raise children in a vacuum. They'll be subject to this junk at some point.

BTW, I'm lumping the dress-size thing in with that junk. It seems that it would have been conceived to give younger women a sense of panic about their future bodies. I find that distasteful.
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  #59  
Old 02 February 2007, 03:53 PM
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Ryda, we had a big scare with my granddaughter, a perfectly lovely young lady, who was/is in no way too "fat." She got to the point that her hair was starting to fall out. Fortunately, her doctor and her mother somehow managed to convince her to stop. I think with her it was a matter of control (read horrible stepfather), but apparently it didn't consume her whole life. Thank God. It breaks my heart to see young girls or women in general trying to fit some damned ideal, which is not ideal, at all.
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Rhetorical Question: Why can't we just teach kids to love who they are and not try to force them to conform to some sort of alternate body image?
I wish there were an answer to that one. Even when you try to make children understand that they are wonderful just as they are, the words usually fall on deaf ears.

Another thing that's always bugged me. Why do women lie about how much they weigh and what size clothes they wear? I've fought my weight all of my life, and believe me, I can tell by looking that certain women who claim to be a size 8, 10, 12, or whatever could never squeeze themselves into the size they're claiming to be, even given that sizes vary from style to style and from brand to brand. You can also tell when a woman cuts about twenty pounds off of what she actually weighs. What possible difference can it make? If a person is rude enough to ask for such information, just say something like "I'll forgive you for asking that if you'll forgive me for not answering." or "Why do you need to know?" Or just tell him/her right out that it's none of his/her business and that he/she is rude.

By the way, when I say I've fought my weight all of my life, I'm not talking about trying to stay thin. I weighed almost 200 pounds as a young teen and finally lost down to 140 when I was sixteen. I have weighed less but felt awful, so I try to stay around 140-145. Usually, I stay at that weight by just not stuffing - I don't actually diet. Don't always succeed, like right now, I weigh 150. But, I have learned to not let it get out of hand because five or ten pounds is easier to lose than twenty. Okay, time to cut out the late-night huge bowl of sherbet for a few weeks!

The funny thing is that I wear almost the same size now that I did in my heavier days. Maybe this is because I was not as flabby back then, I'm thicker through the middle and an inch shorter, which sometimes happens as you age, and/or because the clothing industry is now sticking a size 12 label on what used to be a 14 or a 16.

Boy, did I get wound up, or what? Anyway, ladies, please stop lying about your weight and your clothes size. It's a little embarrassing. Kind of makes one wonder what else you lie about.
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Old 02 February 2007, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Signora Del Drago View Post
Anyway, ladies, please stop lying about your weight and your clothes size. It's a little embarrassing. Kind of makes one wonder what else you lie about.
And on a related note, ladies, please wear clothes that actually fit you. Don't shove yourself into too-small clothes because you're too proud to buy a larger size. Clothes that are too small make you look bigger, and nobody but you sees the size tag.
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