Weigh-in Wednesday 10: The Thin Ideal

In honor of NEDAwareness Week, I am not weighing in with a number. Instead I am weighing in with my thoughts on the scale: it’s power, the thin ideal and why you shouldn’t let a number determine a worth.

(source)

You know the rules of the scale: first thing in the morning, after your first, ahem, bowel movement, no clothes, and tada! The lowest number should appear. But wait, why do we think we need to follow a certain pattern to weigh ourselves? And why does the scale at the doctor’s office always result in a higher number?

Simple. Our weight fluxuates daily. Sometimes two to four pounds, sometimes up to eight or ten. You know how I had food poisoning last week? I lost six pounds in six hours. Six measly hours. Of course it all came back after I guzzled enough gatorade, rehydrating my body. The old me would have jumped for joy, riding the quick weight loss happy train until I weighed in again, only to discover I had “gained the weight back,” and I would have spiraled downward into a depressed funk until the scale revealed that magic number again.

You would think I could be more logical. I’m a fairly intelligent person, I promise. But for some reason this small piece of equipment with batteries for a brain held control over me for many years. And I’m not alone. Americans, in particular, have a strange obsession with the scale. A simple google search of “fluxuate weight” results in 19,500,000 results. The majority of the first few pages were from diet and weight-loss chat boards, where women and men were freaking out because they’re weight changed from day to day, or even mere hours apart.

(source)

So why is a number so important to us? It represents happiness, after all, thin is in, right? Advertising execs would sure like you to think so. My least favorite quote is one Oprah promotes, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” As Oprah is pretty much the most influential person in American society, it is no wonder she parrots the same sentiment the rest of the media throws in our faces.

Some researchers believe that advertisers purposely normalize unrealistically thin bodies, in order to create an unattainable desire that can drive product consumption.(1998,Hamburg, P.) The media markets desire. And by reproducing ideals that are absurdly out of line with what real bodies really do look like…the media perpetuates a market for frustration and disappointment.

Body Image and Advertising

What you see is not what you get with the media. Not even the models are safe.

(source)

Sorry Kelly.

(source)

Apparently Faith is too big now?!

(source)

And when a model, weighing 120, is airbrushed to freakishly tiny proportions and then gets fired for being too fat,

(source)

what are we, the normal people, supposed to think about our weight? No wonder we obsess over an insignificant number that pops up after one to five seconds.

What we desperately need is more of this.

(source)

And this.

(source)

And this.

(source)

Because real women don’t live in an airbrushed world. We have jobs, children, money issues, car issues, bad hair days, stress, etc. And what the media presents to us isn’t normal. It isn’t even close.

So the scale, which gets more prayer than a parish on Sunday, is taking our sanity. Sure it can be a good gauge for weight loss and weight management when used correctly, but the way your clothes fit can do the same thing.

Yes, I’ll admit, I weigh in once a week. But I have mentioned that I am thinking of taking a break from the scale, and focusing more on how my clothes fit instead. As a former slave to the scale, I know how difficult it can be to step away and see yourself as more than a number. It can so easily consume every thought of every day.

Only you can change the way you relate to yourself. And only you can determine your self worth. Why let the media, with all of its unrealistic representations of the female role in our society, tell you how you should think, feel and act?

A few years ago I was weighing myself, on average, eight times a day. Now I am down to once a week. As of today I am giving up the scale for one month.

I challenge you to step away from the scale for one week/month/year. You are MORE than just a number.

Want to read more? clickity-click below!

Women ‘suffer poor self-esteem due to airbrushing in advertising’

Airbrushed adverts of “thin ideal” models pose a “significant risk” to the health of young women.

On the CL: The Picture You Can’t Stop Talking About

Love your body campaign

About-Face

Advertisements

So, tell me how you really feel.

The phrase above has been uttered to me many, many times. Apparently I have difficulty keeping my (very strong) feelings at bay.

(ahem, let me get on my soapbox for a minute, I promise I will step off soon)

This week the seventh and eighth graders started a media and advertising unit. The unit focuses on how we receive messages and why we make the choices we do. Simple enough, right? But the curriculum was lacking a little something, something. So I decided to take matters into my own hands.

In my former life I worked in various marketing and public relations positions. It all started with an internship my senior year of college with The Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media (NW-ARM). While working there I spoke to student groups about the messages advertisements send us, and how to dissect them with a critical eye.

This week I let my fingers walk over to The NW-ARM’s website to see what they had in store these days. And boy did I find a lot! I was happy to provide my growing list of resources to the language arts department, and hope to be able to bring one of the speakers to our school.

One of the main reasons I decided to go into teaching was to help children gain self-esteem. If children are told no, or your wrong, or you can’t, too often or too young they will have big obstacles to face throughout their educational and personal lives. Low self-esteem is built from many negative messages, some driven by friends or family and some via the media. With our society so bombarded by media messages at every turn it is no wonder why kids often have a hard time determining what is right, wrong and how to make intelligent decisions.

I spent a great amount of time in my undergrad* years researching the effects of media message and the role they play in our society. I figured the best way to re-direct my negative energy (toward myself, my eating habits, my body and my weight) was to educated myself. The more I learned about the harmful side-effects, (in all areas of my life), the more I wanted to push those negative feelings away. Naturally I dove into this project with excited eyes and ears.

*I majored in Applied Communications and minored in Sociology, needless to say I was VERY interested in the subject matter. In fact my Senior Thesis focused on popular female magazines and the negative impact they have on women, (a very abbreviated version of the actual title).

Here are a few (very, very short list) of my findings…

About Face: the truth behind advertising

Best and worst offenders

Media Awareness

Media Education Foundation

Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood

How to write a complaint letter about an ad           

Finding Advertisements Game (geared at 4-6th grade students, and is very introductory)

Interested in promoting National Eating Disorders Awareness Week? (Feb 6-12 or 20-26, depending on your area) click here!

 Articles of interest:

In a World of Ads, Teaching the Young How to Read Them

Unraveling new media’s effects on children

Media and Girls

Consumerism – Protecting Children from Advertising

There are many, many more articles citing the negative impact media and advertising have on children and our culture as a whole, and while I know all of this to be true, why do I still buy into it? I try not to, yet I get sucked into asinine shows like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, (true story), and find myself poring over swimsuit pictures in US Weekly getting upset that I don’t have the perfect stomach/thighs/arms.

Why do you think this is? Why do we do this to ourselves? Comparing ourselves to models/celebrities/what we think the norm is even though we know it really isn’t?

(source)

(source)

Click it, you know you want to
Forgive me, I can’t embed youtube clips into my post unless I do them as just a youtube post, sigh.

(Thanks for the vent, stepping off soap box now and resuming normal ramblings…)

So do you want to know how my day went aside from that?

Brekkie was pretty normal: oats with almond milk/water, chia seeds and dried apricots.

Lunch was a bland salad (literally just spring greens, spinach and dressing) with some leftover Bob’s Red Mill Vegi Soup + mozz.

Snackies consisted of a nanner,

some peanut butter topped crackers w/theraflu, (yum…),

and lots and lots of Hall’s cough drops, with inspirational messages!

Thanks Hall’s, I can conquer the world now.

The hubs decided he was so over soup, (we have Bob’s Red Mill Vegi, Homemade Chicken Noodle and Pacific Organics Roasted Red Pepper/Tomato in the fridge at the moment).  Clearly we needed to spend a little of this months restaurant budget on some pizza, courtesy of Pizza Rita, our favorite local delivery place.

Honestly, I really just want to eat everyone’s crust. Their crust is buttery & crispy deliciousness….ahhh

Now we’re all gathered in the basement watching a little movie action, Rilo included.

Love yourself today. And tomorrow.