Friday May 10, 2013
Professor Alexandra Corning and her team in the Department of Psychology at The University of Notre Dame recently presented their research findings at the Midwest Psychological Association on the likability of women who engage in fat talk.
Fat talk is a type self-disparaging speech about weight, food, and/or dieting. It is often characterized by conversations about what one should or shouldn't be eating, how much someone should or shouldn't be exercising and how they feel about their current size, shape, and/or weight. Research has shown that this type of talk has negative consequences including placing people at a higher risk for the development and/or maintenance of eating disorders.
This study utilized 139 undergraduate participants who were of 'normal' or 'average' size. The participants were shown photographs and quoted statements by women who were noticeably thin and noticeably overweight. Some of the statements were clearly fat talk, while others contained body affirmations.
The study found that people found the women (both thin and overweight) making positive statements about their bodies to be more likeable than those who were engaging in fat talk.
This research backs up what I have heard from clients who discuss the negative effects of being around people who are negative about their bodies and the positive and supportive relationships they are able to build with people who are body-affirming.
How do you talk about your body? Even if you don't have an eating disorder, the way you talk may affect those around you and your relationships. Do you need to work on excluding fat talk from your life?
Friday May 10, 2013
You may have heard or read about Abercrombie & Fitch's CEO Mike Jeffries and his comments regarding larger women and his store's target audience this week.
It has been known for sometime that A&F does not offer women's clothing in sizes XL or larger, while they do offer XL and XXL for men. However, Mike Jeffries has recently been quoted by Robin Lewis, the author of The New Rules of Retail, as saying A&F is purposefully excluding larger women - that the store only wants the 'cool kids,' or the young, beautiful and thin people to shop at his store.
This isn't really new news though. In a 2006 interview with Salon, Jeffries admitted that the store is openly exclusionary in their marketing.
I've heard a few people brush this off as simple marketing tactics that all companies use. Whether you're selling food, clothing or cars, you want to portray the image that the people who buy your product are successful, beautiful, and happy. I get that. But, A&F has crossed a line. They are not only marketing themselves to portray an image (which on another topic is overly sexualized), but are purposefully excluding people from purchasing their products based solely on size.
It's important to take this seriously, as the research has shown that weight stigma in our society is increasingly problematic and harmful. The Yale Rudd Center released a report detailing these consequences including that people who are subjected to weight bias are at a higher risk of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, poor body image, and suicidal thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, it doesn't stop there. This type of stigma also increases the likelihood of binge eating and obesity.
Perpetuating society's over-valuation of thinness also puts people at an increased risk of unhealthy weight control behaviors which can place people at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder.
Please consider speaking out against weight bias and stigma when you see it or hear it. It's also important to be mindful about where you spend your money and what types of messages you are supporting.
Tuesday April 30, 2013
Last week, I posted about the new video from Dove detailing their 'social experiment' with having women describe themselves to a forensic artist and then being described by a stranger. Initially, I really liked the video and the message that Dove was attempting to get across - essentially that in general women see themselves more critically than others do. I still think there are a lot of positive things about this video and it's message and have heard from several therapists that it has made great fodder for both individual and group sessions.
However, I've also been hearing some really valid points criticizing the video. In general, those criticisms have to do with the way beauty is portrayed in the video - i.e. the word 'thin' is used as a positive term while the word 'round' is used in a negative way. There is also an issue with what the video doesn't show. The vast majority of the women are Caucasian with very little representation from other ethnicities. There are also no women depicted who are overweight.
Did you notice this portrayal of beauty when you watched the video? Does having it pointed out make a difference as to how you feel about the video? I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Please feel free to comment below, or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday April 16, 2013
Body image is the way we, as individuals, see ourselves or the way we believe that we look to others. Interestingly, the newest addition to the Dove Real Beauty campaign is underscoring the idea that we are our harshest critics. And, that we actually see ourselves less accurately (and as less beautiful) than total strangers.
In a small, social experiment, FBI-trained forensic artist Gil Zamora sketches women based solely on their own descriptions of themselves. Then, the women meet with a stranger who again describes the original woman to Zamora. The drawings are strikingly different and the women become obviously emotional when they see how differently they view themselves vs. how others view them.
It is a wonderful video and I'd recommend it to anyone, especially women who may be struggling with accepting themselves as they are.
You can view the video and see the sketches side-by-side from Dove here.
Do you think that your own perception of yourself is accurate? In what ways do you think you are overly critical of your looks?