Sunday, April 26, 2009

The skinny controversy

When photos of an emaciated looking Miss Universe Australia contestant hit the press last week, it caused a shit storm of outrage and shock. Stephanie Naumoska was called "skin and bones," "anorexic," and a "bad role model." One reporter said this about her: "As I’ve seen more meat on a chicken wing I can only assume she’s been gorging on double portions of fresh air."

Yes, the photos are "shocking." Naumoska is 5'11 and weighs about 105 pounds. But I find it a bit distasteful the way the press is going after her as if she's a thing and not a person with real feelings. No one has really bothered to get her side of the story and no one in the press is standing up for her, recognizing that probably has a serious disorder and needs help, not ridicule. It's hypocritical of the media to rip this girl apart for the way she looks when at the same time they obsess over women's bodies. I find it kind of sad that they are discovering just now that women have body issues and eating disorders and they are making it worse by tearing women down with their "shocked" comments.

Women (and men) with eating disorders shouldn't be mocked, shouldn't be called names and they certainly shouldnt be made examples of "this is not what your body should look like" in the press; when the media tells us everyday what we "should" look like.

Eating disorders should be taken seriously, not be made fun of.

Maybe one day Naumoska will tell her side of the story but until then, the press should be reporting on how to help people with eating disorders, not rail on them.

I also think that figuring out who or what is to blame for models and beauty contestants being too skinny is complex. You can't just point a finger at the modeling industry and say that they are forcing all models to be super skinny. Yes, the modeling industry does have a part in it; it's a model's job to be thin and so of course there is a lot of pressure to be a certain weight. But there is more to it than that. It's not just models who have the pressure to be thin. Women in most Westernized countries are constantly being scrutanized over their bodies. The media has a huge influence over that; making fun of celebrities and their "cellulite" and then showing their "outrage" when they lose weight. We live in a very hypocritical society.

But eating disorders aren't to be made light of and models certainly aren't the only people who have them. The disorder affects all kinds of women who aren't in the fashion and entertainment industry.

For more information on eating disorders and support check out these links:

National Eating Disorder Information Centre

Sheena's Place

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