Tuesday, 15 July 2014


Questions & Answers, and Case Studies taken from B-eat information sheets, taken from their Media Centre as noted on my previous blog post. I found these answers honest and true to current illnesses happening around the country. As well as commenting on the medias influence, they also collectively talk about a wide range of issues and problems which did, or may of helped, lead to the situation at the time/presently. 

Body Image and the Media

What do you think was the trigger for your eating disorder?

I think the main trigger for me was social problems at school. I was a bit of a social misfit, and that as well as being suddenly rejected by my one friend that led me to believe that there was something wrong with me. One of the easy things to change was my weight. My parents also got divorced around the same time. Also my parents were both very thin and are very obsessive about it.

Would you say you were influenced by magazines, and if so what images in particular?

I don't think magazines really influenced the onset of my eating disorder, other than a general belief that being thin was extremely important. However, they definitely made the weight gain process harder, as there came a point when I knew that I was bigger than many of the catwalk models in magazines. 

Do you believe that magazines glamorise images of the female in a negative way?

I think some do, especially catwalk models, and the men's magazines where the girls have abnormally large and fake boobs. I think these examples are of glamorising bodies which rarely even exist. Even now I feel really inadequate when I see such pictures.

What images in particular do you think can be most harmful to women who are worried about their body image?

I think the images of really thin, underweight models are harmful to people who might be very vulnerable if they are worried about their body image, because they provide something to aspire to. If someone is quite disturbed and is taking it out on their own body image, they are more likely to go to dangerous extremes to attain something 'perfect'. But even images of curvier celebrities can be damaging because they are always curvy in all the right places, whereas that just isn't the case in real life.

Why do you think people try to compare themselves to images they have seen in magazines of celebrities or models?

I think it is inevitable when we are bombarded with images all the time. But I think the point at which it starts to make people feel bad about themselves is often a result of people feeling generally unhappy about their lives, or themselves in general.

A study in The Biologist, oct 2010 by Dr Aric Sigman stated that there is a strong link between eating disorders and visual media.

Pro-Anorexia/Bulimia Sites

Doctors can be unaware of these sites and their specific, damaging content choices.

Pro-ana websites often advise sufferers on how to conceal their illness. If we increased the public awareness of pro-ana sites it might help friends and families to identify behaviours associated with anorexia but it could also increase the use of these sites. How can we do this responsibly?

We have spoken to people who use pro-anorexia sites to ask them to help us understand the purpose these sites play in their lives. They told us it was about having somewhere to go where you are understood, not judged and not made to feel like a freak for the way you are. We believe the answer lies in providing that some sense of acceptance and support throughout society, so that a pro-ana site is no longer the only refuge a person feels they can seek. We would therefore not try to promote awareness of the pro-anorexia sites, but rather promote compassionate understanding on eating disorders in general.
- support/acceptance of society

Sites can portray the disorder as a lifestyle choice, opposed to a mental illness.

Body Confidence Campaign - taking action on a number of fronts; in education where we believe media literacy should be taught; in the advertising industry where we would like airbrushing to be regulated; and in the fashion industry where we are calling for more diversity in size and shape to be portrayed.


Taken from Anti Bullying Week, Nov 2011. 
Report showed bullying played a part in the development of an eating disorder in more than 75% of people surveyed - an increase of 67% on a similar survey 2 years previous.

Kayleigh - 

At school I was bullied out of three groups of friends to the point where I sat by myself in and out of class. I never went out and now I still don't. Bully has destroyed my self-esteem - I have one friend - my flatmate - and I find socialising exceptionally difficult. I have no interest in relationships. Anorexia became my friend - it gave me comfort and separated me from the scary world of socialising - I didn't have anything else on my mind. I am now recovering but am still exceptionally controlled and rigid around mealtimes.  The habits I developed from inpatient care as well as those from the illness are engraved within me and I fear they always will be. Bullying was the cause of low-self-esteem which was the cause of anorexia.

The Fashion World

Opinions on the fashion industry and the use of size 0 models -

Eva - 

When I first became ill I frequently watched the television programme America's Next Top Model, which centre's around a group of girls aiming to become supermodels. In the earlier series of the programme all of the girls were very slim and it was clear that some of the participants had a form of eating disorder. However, it appeared that after supermodels Luisa Ramos and Ana Carolina Reston died from eating disorders there were some changes made to the fashion industry, such as the organisers of Madrid Fashion Week banning super-skinny models from walking the catwalk and the Mayor of Milan requesting that designers first calculate the BMIs of their models before sending them out on the catwalk. Despite this, I do not believe that the changes made have been enough. If I was a member of the British Fashion Council, I would want to celebrate a variety of body shapes and so choose people of all different sizes (within a healthy range), focusing instead on them being more 'eye-catching' so to speak due to things such as natural eye or hair colour. This is to promote the idea that weight is not central to beauty.

If this were too much of a request due to designers wishing for models to be similarly shaped so that they could all fit the same clothing sample, I would set the minimum BMI as 18.5, as this is the minimum BMI in the medical world that is considered healthy for an adult. This s because I believe that fashion should celebrate all body shapes and types that are within a healthy range. Promoting a body size that is seriously underweight is not not healthy for worshippers of the fashion industry, nor is promoting a body size that is seriously underweight.

When I was admitted to hospital for my eating disorder I continued to watch America's Next Top Model. After conversations with my parents during family therapy, I realised that I had been subconsciously criticising myself for not looking more like girls on the television programme, who were often praised as being beautiful due to their height or slim body shape. I think that media industries should be more conscious of the fact that vulnerable people, particularly those developing eating disorders, can be quite impressionable to things promoted by the media. I was desperate to be liked by my peers, as although watching the television programme and reading magazines that glamorised skeletal frames were not the cause of my eating disorder, this undoubtedly contributed to some distorted beliefs I already had, such as 'My friends will only like me if I'm thin".

Becky -

Whilst the media does not  cause eating disorders, it definitely has a  negative impact on the people who are fighting them. The fashion designers who say that the clothes hang better on 'skinny models' should just hang them on a clothes hanger.

Lucie -

I think it's important to stress that the issue of 'size 0' models does not just affect people in various states of anorexia, but people with all types of eating disorders (it can just be as stressing, even more so, for some with binge disorder, compulsive overeating, or bulimia) and indeed the population as a whole.