Yes, yes, I know. I've said it once, and I've said it again: fashion magazines do NOT cause anorexia.
So. Got that one out of the way.
I will, however, have you know that "out of the way" is NOT the same as "off the hook." They provide an unrealistic ideal, the provide plenty of triggers to start an eating disorder, as well as a guise under which it may flourish. Not only that, but they make dieting and anorexia and bulimia seem almost normal. Doesn't every girl diet? And want flat abs?
Courtney Martin addresses this in her new book Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters. And while she doesn't specifically take on magazines, she does take on the popular culture.
There's the debate of life imitating art or art imitating life. Frankly, it's a bit of both. The whole psychology of it (or at least my take on it) is rather long and involved for right now, so I'll save it. Every time a stick-thin model is featured on a cover, or a story about a model with an eating disorder is published, the publishing magnates are always quick to crow, "But look at the research! Anorexia is, like, totally genetic!"
True. Don't point so hard, there, honey- you might break a nail.
But because people with EDs don't pop out of the womb not eating and scared of food, there's got to be something in the environment as well.
And the really really messed up part is that I didn't realize how messed up everyone was about food until I dared to recover from anorexia.
I see it all over, every day, in almost every person I meet. The vet told me my cat had been gaining too much weight. I wanted to say, "Put her on a diet? I'll put her on a frigging diet! Don't tell me about diets!" This woman was very nice. She really was, and did seem concerned about my cat's health. Don't get me wrong. But my cat has very cute 'tocks and I'm not going to starve the poor thing because she's not on the proper weight chart.*
Which brings me to my point. You know those Google newsfeeds on the side of my blog I've referred to before? I found this gem in amongst them today: Fashion Magazines Don't Encourage Anorexia. Seeing that it was by the gossip magazine, Jossip, I braced myself.
I didn't brace myself enough. Because this, my friends, was the subhead:
If they did, why would they use chunkers like Jessica Biel?
Merciful God in heaven.
I'm not completely up to date on my celebrity gossip, but I looked at the picture of the Elle Magazine cover to which they were referring.
So...let me get this straight. The above image is "chunky"? What does that make me? The freaking Himalayas?
I don't think so. Curvy, yes. Chunky? Nope.
And, for the record, Jessica Biel isn't either.
Maybe the gossip columnist meant it tongue-in-cheek. If it did, it was quite distasteful. Disgusting, really. The headline of the article, though says it all: that magazines don't encourage anorexia. Ah, but they do. Sometimes under the outright blatant images that Thou shalt look like her or under the subtler aspects of "this is perfection" and "this is healthy." They then give you ideas for how to get healthy (check out any teen or woman's magazine/website. If there's not a diet on there, I'll pay you.) And so the cycle begins. Magazines don't cause anorexia, but they DO encourage it. They encourage the environment and the triggers, and all that goes along with it.
*If they develop those for cats, I'll scream. And then leave tuna scraps at the door.