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The Skinny on … skinny?
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Author:  Spender [ Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:52 am ]
Post subject:  The Skinny on … skinny?

I think it is very true that as people fighting our eating disorders we often get carried away in the fervour to embrace curvy bodies, by default perhaps decrying those skinny bodies we so long(ed) to "enjoy"; while at the same time we cringe at words like "fat", "obese" and "overweight", secretly hoping they never apply to us. Is this emotional split personality contributing to impeding and prolonging our recovery efforts, caught somewhere in the void between trying to let "skinny" go while living in dread of the alternatives?

What about a world where we just accept bodies as...bodies? Not as judgments, personality assessments, imperfections, but just the vessels that allow us to live, love, enjoy? Interesting and thought provoking article:

the HAES® files: The Skinny on … skinny?

by Jenny Copeland, PsyD

Who gets to decide what is desirable? Who defines the standards for beauty? At what point did it become acceptable – the norm even – for bodies to be judged? In modern society weight often takes center stage – whether it is berating ‘obesity’ for its supposed role in economic woes or criticizing ‘skinny’ for idealizing unrealistic beauty standards. The rates of weight stigma have increased to the point that it is one of the most prevalent forms of bias in the United States. [1] [2]

This bias invades our daily lives in many obvious ways, but our language has covertly become an accomplice. Abakoui and Simmons[3] suggested the terms ‘overweight’ and ‘obese’ and their variations play an important role in the perpetuation of weight bias through an implication of a “problem” with one’s size or the potential for one ‘right’ weight for everyone. Research tells us many adults consider ‘fat’ and ‘obese’ the most stigmatizing labels to describe one’s size.[4] Let’s direct our attention to the other end of the weight spectrum. What kinds of terms are used to describe it? Thin…slender…skinny?

I’m thin and I hate being called skinny. I’m not sure I ever really realized how much that bothered me until the past few years. The comments come in many contexts, all seemingly innocuous. Once diet and weight loss come up in conversation, I become the metaphorical elephant in the room. People won’t meet my eyes and may give me dirty looks when I speak up. And then the comments start: You’re so skinny, you don’t need to worry about what you eat. How do you do it? I bet you work out all the time.

By far the worst comments came when colleagues tried to move past me in a small space at work with a large cart of files. “Don’t worry,” they said as I tried to get out of their way, “You’re so skinny, you don’t take up any space.” I’d like to believe they meant well, but the problem is that many well-meaning people are devaluing the bodies of thin people in their efforts to make themselves or others feel better.

Judging ANY body is wrongTake the popular internet meme “real women have curves” for example. At first glance this is seen as an attempt to celebrate the bodies of curvy women who are so often neglected by mainstream media. Photographs of Marilyn Monroe are circulated on social media, proclaiming her more attractive than a differently built counterpart. I am often struck by these comments. Does this mean that women who do not fit this ‘curvy’ definition are less real or less legitimate? If I’m not curvy, what does this mean for me?

Heather Cromarty at The Shameless Blog said it best:

F**k society, sure, because society tells you that if you’re not extremely thin, you’re worthless. However, extremely thin women? They’re still people. Further, bodies are just bodies. They have no intrinsic worth, no moral value, other than what we assign them. The thought behind this comparison photo is to turn the dominant paradigm on its head, but what it really does is reinforce that for one woman to be good, another must be bad. And that kind of thinking isn’t going to get us anywhere.

In 2012 this phenomenon was again highlighted when humanitarian and actress Ashley Judd was much maligned for having a “puffy face.” Her reaction described these efforts to devalue the bodies of others as

...subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.

This “skinny shaming” was extended to the Duchess of Cambridge recently as the media declared her “too thin to be pregnant,” depicting her small stature as making her a less caring and capable parent-to-be.

Thinness carries a certain amount of conventional privilege in our society, this we know is true. Research has documented the many areas in which fat people are subject to bias including political candidacy[5], relationships[6], healthcare, and employment[7]. And yet, thinness also carries its own stigma which often goes unacknowledged.

Skinny bitch. Feather. Bean pole. “Flatter than two raisins on a bread board.” Skinny mini. Toothpick. Sickly. How many of us have used these words – out of hurt, out of compassion, out of jealousy, out of pain? Who has told a thinner person to eat more? That they should go back for another helping to put some more meat on their bones? Who has given a dirty look to the skinny girl going into a plus-size clothing store with her family or friends?

Some may not view such comments and experiences as negative. But the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘skinny’ as “lacking usual or desirable bulk, quantity, qualities, or significance.” While fat people are told they take up too much space, I am told that as a thin person, I do not take up enough space to matter. That I am lacking. That I am insignificant. I reject this understanding of weight’s dominance – for myself and for people of all sizes. My body does not preclude me from being an effective advocate, therapist, or person.

Words carry weight – often communicating more than we intend. Using terms such as ‘skinny’ and ‘obese’ may illustrate covert perceptions of one’s body size or shape. While someone may explicitly speak what they see as a compliment by saying “you’re so skinny,” the underlying message may be experienced as being broken or that there is something wrong with one’s body. It’s time to challenge our perceptions of all bodies. Size acceptance should not be limited to those who are fat – those who are thin may have privileges due to their size but should also be encouraged to be accepting of their own body size.

Living as a thin person in a world warring against ‘obesity,’ or as a part of a family who has struggled with weight, does not make my life inherently easier or better. I experience pain as a result of weight stigma: not just my own, but also against my loved ones, my patients, and greater society. My experiences are neither better or worse, nor easier or harder, than others who are differently sized or shaped than me. Pain is pain. It cannot be compared – it is simply different.

[1] Andreyeva T, Puhl RM, Brownell KD. Changes in perceived weight discrimination among Americans, 1995-1996 through 2004-2006. Obesity. 2008 Feb;16(5):1129-1134.

[2] Puhl RM, Andreyeva T, Brownell KD. Perceptions of weight discrimination: Prevalence and comparison to race and gender discrimination in America. International Journal of Obesity. 2008 Mar;32:992-1000.

[3] Abakoui, R., & Simmons, R. E. (2010). Sizeism: An unrecognized prejudice. In J. A. Erickson Cornish, B. A. Schreier, L. I. Nadkarni, L. H. Metzger, & E. R. Rodolfa (Eds.), Handbook of multicultural counseling competencies (pp. 317-349). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

[4] Puhl RM, Peterson JL, Luedicke J. Weight-based victimization: Bullying experiences of weight loss treatment–seeking youth. Pediatrics. 2013 Jan;1:e1-e9.

[5] Miller, B. J., & Lundgren, J. D. (2010). An experimental study of the role of weight bias in candidate evaluation. Obesity, 18(4), 712-718. doi:10.1038/oby.2009.492

[6] Chen, E. Y., & Brown, M. (2005). Obesity stigma in sexual relationships. Obesity Research, 13, 1393-1397. doi:10.1038/oby.2005.168

[7] Puhl, R. M., & Heuer, C. A. (2009). The stigma of obesity: A review and update. Obesity, 17(5), 941-964.

Health at Every Size

Author:  Persephone [ Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Skinny on … skinny?

I have a blog and have been meaning to write a post on HAES, weight bias etc for the last few months. Seems it's already been written, and in almost the exact words I would have chosen.

Author:  Kayla [ Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Skinny on … skinny?

Very well written. And she brings up so many points in such a short period of time.
And, she's right.
I've heard everything from "bet you can't lose 10% of your body weight" to eat a sandwich, no make that pizza, to "oh you're just trying to get attention."
And then I've heard the opposite said to loved ones. To my father years ago "when is the baby due?" "Are you growing a tire there?" And to friends and relatives equally derisive comments.

No matter what weight one is these days even if they are healthy, it is somehow wrong. To someone it will be not good enough, too much, not enough, etc at nauseum.


Author:  lou [ Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Skinny on … skinny?

This is such a good article. ..so true

Author:  Spender [ Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Skinny on … skinny?

Another reminder. "Healthy" is not about size, it's about personhood:

Researcher advocates Health at Every Size program
Tue, 03/26/2013

A proposal that health can be attained at any body size by taking a more holistic approach to wellness is gaining popularity, and a University of Kansas professor is studying its professional use to see how effective it is.

Sonya Satinsky, assistant professor of health, sport and exercise sciences, is studying the Health at Every Size paradigm by surveying professionals who use the approach in various fields of health. The paradigm is a model that shifts focus from weight loss as the way to improve health to improved nutrition and physical activity regardless of weight change. She is asking how people such as mental health providers, dietitians, health promotion specialists, nutritionists and even college professors use the principles in their work.

“A lot of people who use this paradigm are constantly having to fight for it,” Satinsky said. “Given the amount of weight-based prejudice out there, I think it makes sense to view health this way.”

Satinsky is surveying nearly 100 members of the Association for Size Diversity and Health who adhere to the Health at Every Size tenets. She’s looking to find out how they use the principles, what challenges they face, what sort of health professionals are using them and how effective they are. If the paradigm proves efficacious, the goal is to develop advocacy tools for practitioners and an intervention to promote its use in helping people improve their health.

Health at Every Size has five principles.

* Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes
* Recognizing that health and well-being are multidimensional and include physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional and intellectual aspects
* Promoting all aspects of health and well-being for people of all sizes
* Promoting eating in a manner that balances individual nutritional needs, hunger, satiety, appetite and pleasure
* Promoting individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather than exercise that is focused on weight loss

The paradigm does not argue that weight has no place in health, rather that it should not be the primary focus.

“A lot of the behaviors that people engage in to lose weight are very unhealthy,” Satinsky said. “We know the mechanisms people can use to lose weight, but we do not know the mechanism by which to keep it off for five years or more.”

There is also evidence that weight cycling, or continually losing and regaining weight, is more unhealthy than maintaining a consistent body weight. Satinsky’s research into Health at Every Size has also found examples of people whose doctors have misdiagnosed or altogether missed health problems because they insist the first thing a person needs to do is lose weight. There is also an enormous amount of money in the weight-loss industry that can drive conflicts of interest and ethical problems with its connections to the field of public health.

“There is a lot of pushback when you discuss these principles,” Satinsky said. “And there are a lot of people who are convinced that fat equals unhealthy and they won’t be swayed.”

Evidence is showing that despite claims that this generation will die younger than the previous, people are living longer now than they ever have. Again, Health at Every Size doesn’t dispute that there are persistent health problems in society, but that focusing solely on weight loss as the way to resolve them is both incomplete and can lead to further problems such as eating disorders. The paradigm advocates using a number of health measurements such as blood pressure, nutrient intake, regular physical activity, cholesterol and mental health outcomes.

“If weight loss happens, it happens, but that shouldn’t be the only goal,” Satinsky said. “If that’s the only goal, that’s not being healthy, and body-based shame does not help people get healthy.”

Satinsky has made presentations on Health at Every Size at meetings of the American Public Health Association, and when finished analyzing the data from her current study she will use the findings with the goal of standardizing the paradigm so its efficacy can be studied further. She is also co-editing a textbook on Health at Every Size for use in public health, health education and community health classes.

The University of Kansas

Author:  Spender [ Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Skinny on … skinny?

Another one, well put. Let's remember that every healthy body and happy mind is a good combination: some of us are skinny, some heavy, some tall, some short, some white, brown, black, whatever, some women, some men, people of all genders and sexualities. What matters is that we feed our bodies and souls, and love the vessel that carries us around, lets us jump for joy, lay on the grass soaking up the warm sun, hold our loved ones close, and basically, be our best friend for life.

Saying No To The Say No To Size Zero Campaign
By Laurie Sanders

There has been a lot of media attention recently on a campaign called “Say No To Size Zero”.

Isn’t that great?!

If you’re a “curvy girl” (like me, for example) you might be thinking that this campaign sounds fantastic. I, on the other hand happen to think it’s misguided. This may be an unpopular opinion, but the fact is: If we “Say NO to Size Zero” aren’t we discriminating against skinny chicks? And, if we are, why is that okay?

The image above (not shown here) came alongside the caption:

“CURVY Katie Green shows off the body that crazy model agencies criticised for being ‘too fat’ as she launches a “Say No to Size Zero” campaign outside parliament today. The size 12 Wonderbra girl lost her contract after a bust-up with her agency over her weight. But days after refusing to lose two stone the 30F lingerie model was snapped up by undies giant Ultimo. Today she looks fabulous posing in their skimpies as she urges other companies to ditch the super skinnies.”

“Ditch the super skinnies”? That seems ironic to me. If encouraging the modeling industry to use curvier models is about giving a more unbiased representation of what women look like, then why would we need to “ditch” anyone? Why can’t all women’s bodies be appreciated?

An aspiring model was told she needed to lose weight (not cool)…however, she then landed an awesome job with Ultimo! Fantastic! So, why is she fronting a campaign against skinny girls? In my opinion, it has a lot to do with power. There are models of every body size and shape and it’s a truly wonderful thing, but there is still a lot of Weight Discrimination going on. For some reason a lot of girls think that there has to be a ‘winner’ in the beauty stakes, but I believe beauty is far more than that.

Why on Earth do people think it’s ok to say things like “Curvy Girls Do It Better”? Better than who? What is it we do better exactly? I have friends who are naturally size zero. They don’t like hearing “real women have curves” they are real women. We are all ‘real women’.

Why, when people see the A-listers walking the red carpet at the Oscars, do they feel it’s appropriate to take to twitter and announce:

“Someone give her a sandwich!”

What is that? It certainly isn’t dietary advice. It’s actually none of your business to discuss any other woman’s body in a mocking, unsupportive way and these are often women who champion the rights of curvier women…yet when it comes to criticising a woman for being too thin equality seems to go out of the window.

Another branch of this crazy faux-motivation is ‘Fitspriration’. To me, it’s completely uninspiring and yet another way for the media to capitalize on dividing women based on their body shape. I like exercise, but do I look like the bodies I see in those images? No. I’m guessing that unless you’re a fitness model it’s highly unlikely that you look like that either and the caption “Strong Is The New Skinny” does nothing for me. It appears to be another way of telling women that if you haven’t got a washboard stomach you’re a failure. I don’t buy it.

So, I can assure you, curvy girls don’t do anything ‘better’ but let me also say this: skinny girls don’t do anything better than you, either. Not because of their body shape. There might be girls who can swim better than you, sing better than you, or do math better than you- but I can almost guarantee that it has nothing to do with how much they weigh.

I would be described as a ‘curvy girl’ but campaigns like “Say No To Size Zero” just make me feel plain awkward. That’s still sizeist. Still nasty. And still discrimination- no matter how cutely you package it.

Can we look beyond weight and shape? Love each other, applaud each other and stop judging each other? It creates such division when we hate on each other. Most people I know either hate their own bodies and wish they were skinnier/more toned/more curvy, or spend time judging other people for being a certain way. When someone is happy with their own body, they usually don’t feel the need to belittle someone else’s. It’s usually insecurity that leads people to point out the supposed ‘flaws’ in another person.

We are all unique, one body shape is not better than another. All bodies are beautiful. Yes, there are a lot of size zero models, but there are positive ways to encourage the media to use a more diverse range of women, if that is what you want to see.

Rather than saying “No to Size Zero”, I’m just going to say “Yes To Body Confidence” and “Yes To Health”.

Trashing other women for looking a certain way is useless. It really says more about you than it says about them.

Hello Giggles

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