British “health” mag fattens up gaunt thin model

25th May 2010

British “health” mag fattens up gaunt thin model

by Rachel

In a strange twist to the usual Photoshopped models debate, a British magazine has ‘fessed up to digitally manipulating an image of a shockingly thin model to make her look… heavier.

Jane Druker, editor of the ironically titled publication Healthy, admitted to airbrushing model Kamilla Wladyka’s cover shot on the April edition of the mag, explaining that the model initially *appeared* to be in good health, but had lost so much weight in the week between casting and shoot that airbrushing became necessary.   As the Daily Mail UK reports, editors added 2-3 stone, or 28-42 pounds, to Kamilla’s photo to make the 5-foot-10-inch, British size-6 model look “a little bit bigger, to make her look like she was a size ten as opposed to a size four” out of concern for the magazine’s commitment to promoting “health and wellbeing.”

‘There were plenty of clothes that we couldn’t put on her because her bones stuck out too much,’ Druker said.  ‘She looked beautiful in the face, but really thin and unwell. That’s not a reflection of what we do in our magazine, which is about good health.’

Good health?  Really?

In its defense, the magazine acted transparently and stated that they do not normally airbrush images of models to give the false illusion of health.  Yet if this model appeared to be so unnaturally thin and unhealthy that digital airbrushing was required, why wasn’t she sent home immediately and another healthier model used instead?  Oh, silly me… I forgot.  Healthy magazine, like so many others, determines health and wellbeing on almost the sole basis of appearance. And as everyone knows, thin=healthy but too thin=unhealthy, so instead let’s just made the model LOOK like she doesn’t suffer from raging anorexia, actual health be damned.

Yes, it’s a good thing that magazines and advertisers are beginning to take heed of the tragic and dangerous social implications of showing images, altered or otherwise, of super-skinny models.  But the solution is not to simply airbrush the same radically thin models into some slightly higher, but more socially-acceptable vision of conformity, but rather to actually seek out and hire models whose body shapes and sizes require very little to no airbrushing in order to meet these standards.  As eating disorder activist Susan Ringwood, who has campaigned for the use of diversely-sized fashion models, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph:

There’s a fundamental difference between using camera work to make someone look polished, and changing the shape and size of someone’s body in order to portray them looking differently, to conform to whatever ideal.  It’s just not helpful and puts huge pressure on people to keep up a hyper-perfectionism that isn’t real. If you can’t trust the health industry to be healthy, how can you expect the fashion magazines to put their house in order?

But, then again, what do we really expect from a “health” magazine that also advertises weight-loss advice on the same cover as the same gaunt-thin model airbrushed to look heavier?

posted in Body Politic, Eating Disorders, Fashion, Health, Nutrition & Fitness, Pop Culture, Rachel | 14 Comments

20th May 2010

Guest post: Fasting for God or holy anorexia?

by Rachel

Speaking of women, food and god… Reader Jocelyn (who comments here by the name J.S.) contacted me a few weeks ago proposing a guest blog entry on the convergence of fasting for religious purposes and eating disorders among women of faith — and we’re not just talking here about pursuit of the Gospel of Thinness. As someone who subscribes to spiritual beliefs (Buddhism) in which followers promote many dictates around food (no meat or alcohol, eat only until you’re 80 percent full, etc…), I was intrigued to learn more about the fasting traditions held in other religions.* Many religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism, incorporate fasting into spiritual beliefs, believing it to give followers a heightened sense of self-awareness and more intimate connection with god or nature. Yet I was still a bit shocked to read in Jocelyn’s guest post of the extreme fasting lengths to which some people of faith will go — and how quickly those religious motivations can morph into something entirely more dangerous and insidious.

“You have to watch it with those religious girls,” my sister murmured to me under cover of the blender noise.

I looked away from my room-mate, who was shoving a concoction of blueberries, soy milk, and bananas into the blender’s pitcher across the kitchen. “What do you mean?”

“That’s going to be her only meal today? She’s ‘fasting’?” At my nod, she added, “Didn’t you tell me she’s anorexic?”

I shifted, uncomfortable. “Well, she was. I mean, obviously she’s not starving herself now, she looks healthy…”

“Maybe she’s still trying to starve herself,” my sister said softly, just before the motor cut out.

At the time I had recently moved to the area in order to become part of a large group of Christian people who believe in something called the “fasted lifestyle.” As preached, the fasted lifestyle means voluntary restraint, from spending to housing to food—in other words, one lives in a simple fashion in order to have greater resources to devote to the Kingdom of God. As practiced by many of the early twenty-something women who devoted themselves to the cause, it became practical, religious-sanctioned anorexia.

I didn’t know this when I moved there. I had friends from a previous year spent in the city; we had all belonged to a church that was now defunct. Many of them had joined the group before I returned. I liked their message of whole-hearted devotion. I still do, which is why I’m not naming it; the leaders practice what they preach. But. When I would hang out, outside the building, I would overhear snatches of conversation that should have given me pause.

“She’s only eating one meal a day for… forever. She’s, like, totally devoted.” (This was about a church leader who was in her early twenties at the time.)

“What are you fasting from this time?” “He said we’re not supposed to talk about it so we don’t compare… Okay. I’m doing liquids only.” “Oh man. Maybe I should make mine tougher. I was just going to go no meats, no sweets.”

“It was supposed to be a 21-day fast, but I lost ten pounds so I thought maybe I should go to forty days?”

I wasn’t self-aware enough to realize it, but this was a toxic scene for me. I had recently lost quite a bit of weight through extremely regimented means, although it was all physician-approved, and I lived with the daily fear that I would gain it all back. Every time I stepped on the scale, and it was often, I would suffer a shaft of icy panic if I had even gained one pound. When my room-mate moved into my apartment, we fed each others’ obsessions. We would go and eat monster servings of frozen custard, and then declare we were fasting for the next two weeks—or at least until we could fit into our skinny jeans again. But of course, the fasting was all for God, not for us… right?

Eventually I moved back to my home state. Once there, I found a church that I felt comfortable with. They were loosely connected with my previous spiritual leaders, and preached a similar message. I slowly regained some stability in my eating habits. I stopped obsessing over weight gain. All was well for a couple of years… And then I noticed that fasting was becoming more and more commonly preached from the pulpit as a means to connect with God. Church-wide fasts were declared. The teenaged and slightly older girls grew gaunt, or gained weight—almost none stayed the same. I lost a bunch of weight, and then yo-yoed back up again. I have to admit, though, that I didn’t comprehend how dire the situation had become until my best friend, who had started attending about six months after me, came to me with the news that she and her husband were strongly considering leaving.

“Do you realize, Chris (her husband) and I added up all the days we were supposed to be fasting—I mean, church-wide fasts that were called from the pulpit? And it added up to one hundred and fifty days,” she told me. “That’s ridiculous.”

I had by no means participated whole-heartedly in that many days of fasting, though I had tried, but—150? Faced with that number, I retreated to my computer. I looked up fasting to see if I could find anybody else who had experienced something similar. The first blog I read opened with an introduction in which the author pleaded for support and understanding for her lifestyle of fasting. I thought I must have found someone from the same church… And then, as I continued scrolling, I discovered that it was a pro-ana blog. Her fasted lifestyle was one of stylized starvation. A light bulb went off in my head—not the ultimate light bulb that I was eating disordered, that came later, but I did realize, “this is not healthy. And if I’m not caring for my body, which is a temple, then it can’t be holy either.”

It took another year, but I left that church. There were other reasons, of course, but the emphasis on fasting over practical expressions of love was the main factor. I had come to realize that my relationship with food simply wasn’t healthy enough for me to deny myself all of it for a period of time without serious consequences. Nor was I ready to hear it preached as a shortcut to God’s action without experiencing crippling guilt about my inability to participate.

I have friends who are Muslim who have told me about their conflicted relationship with faith-mandated fasting. I know (partly from Rachel) that other religions recommend denying oneself food as a gateway to accessing the divine. Have you ever experienced this sort of thing, or am I the only one? I’d love to hear from The F-Word’s readership, because I’ve felt like an oddity.

* For more on fasting and Buddhism, read the last half of the post here.

posted in Anorexia, Eating Disorders, Guest Blogger, Mental Health, Rachel, Religion | 31 Comments

17th May 2010

Announcing The-F-Word class of 2010: Charlynn and Greta!!!

by Rachel

Dummm … da da dum daaaa dum …. dummm … da da da dummm …

Congratulations to Charlynn and Greta on their college graduations! Charlynn, pictured right, graduated with her bachelor’s of arts degree in psychology, which pairs well with the degree in addictions she earned last summer. She plans to stay in Laramie while her husband finished his master’s degree in communication, where she will get “some sort of job so the bank account doesn’t die.” When hubby finishes his degree, he and Charlynn plan to move someplace warmer and with a decent job market. Charlynn says she’s not sure if she will go on to get her master’s degree, and is still seeking that perfect mix of a job that “requires more creativity, especially if that entails me being my own boss and/or creating my own vision in my work.” Greta, meanwhile, already has her post-graduate plans mapped out.  Now that she’s completed her master’s degree in social work, she plans to do a two-year specialization in eating disorders at a psychoanalytic/CBT psychotherapy institute.

Please congratulate both Charlynn and Greta on their amazing accomplishments!!

posted in Eating Disorders, Other, Rachel, Recovery | 4 Comments

14th May 2010

Free “Heal from Emotional Eating” teleclass on June 10

by Rachel

Friend of the blog and health counselor Golda Poretsky is offering a FREE 90-minute teleclass from 8 – 9:30 p.m. EST  June 10 on how to heal from emotional eating.  Oh, yeah… Did I mention the class is FREE?

In this 90-minute teleclass, Golda Poretsky, H.H.C. (founder of Body Love Wellness and leading authority on Health At Every Size) will share her top techniques for healing from emotional eating — the same ones she shares with her private coaching clients.

You’ll walk away from this call with surprisingly powerful, yet simple techniques for healing from emotional eating.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

* Easy ways to reconnect with your body’s innate wisdom.
* The one essential vitamin that you’re definitely missing.
* Why you can’t stick to diets (hint: it’s not about willpower).
* Why you find it hard to stop eating at night.
* How to heal from habits that no longer serve you.

Whether emotional eating is a new problem for you or you’ve been doing it as long as you can remember, you’ll get at least 3 BIG insights into how to heal from emotional eating that you’ll be able to use immediately to reconnect with your body and eat healthfully with ease.

Register HERE.

posted in Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, ED-NOS, Rachel, Recovery | 3 Comments

13th May 2010

Geneen Roth releases new book on women, food and god

by Rachel

I discovered the works of Geneen Roth early on into my eating disorder and I found them to be immensely insightful and helpful in helping me come to terms with the emotions driving my own disorder.  If you aren’t familiar with her, Roth is a writer, teacher and founder of the “Breaking Free” workshops, which she has conducted nationwide since 1979.  She is also the author of Feeding the Hungry Heart, Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating, and When Food Is Love.  Now Roth has released yet another book, which I’m sure will be a “godsend” for many struggling with food addictions and other related behaviors.  Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything is getting rave reviews, including from such luminaries as Anne Lamott.  Here’s a blurb from Amazon:

…after more than three decades of studying, teaching and writing about what drives our compul-sions with food, Geneen adds a profound new dimension to her work in Women, Food and God. She begins with her most basic concept: The way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive. Your relationship with food is an exact mirror of your feelings about love, fear, anger, meaning, transformation and, yes, even God. But it doesn’t stop there. Geneen shows how going beyond both the food and feelings takes you deeper into realms of spirit and soul to the bright center of your own life.

With penetrating insight and irreverent humor, Roth traces food compulsions from subtle beginnings to unexpected ends. She teaches personal examination, showing readers how to use their relationship with food to discover the fulfillment they long for.

Your relationship with food, no matter how conflicted, is the doorway to freedom, says Roth. What you most want to get rid of is itself the doorway to what you want most: the demystification of weight loss and the luminous presence that so many of us call “God.”

Packed with revelations on every page, this book is a knock-your-socks-off ride to a deeply fulfilling relationship with food, your body…and almost everything else. Women, Food and God is, quite simply, a guide for life.

This book isn’t for everyone, obviously — it seems geared towards people who follow the Christian faith* — but the emphasis on self-examination and understanding our food-related behaviors sounds promising.  If anyone has read it, let us know what you think.

* Thanks to readers who clarified that Roth’s concept of “God” is not necessarily Christian-defined.

posted in Book Reviews, Eating Disorders, Mental Health, Rachel, Recovery | 31 Comments

11th May 2010

What’s been eating away at my blogging time

by Rachel

I took in two orphan kittens at one of the worst times for one to ever take in two orphan kittens.  It was the summer of 2003 and my eating disorder madness would reach its pinnacle those sultry summer days.  I was barely able to take care of myself, let alone two one-week-old orange balls of fluff that had been abandoned by a feral cat my dad occasionally fed, but I read up on hand-feeding via an Internet primer, bought a bottle and some kitten replacement formula and became a surrogate mom to Teddy and Bug (named for his huge bug-shaped eyes).  I was working third-shift those days and always had trouble sleeping in the daytime, but the kittens didn’t care.  They needed fed every three to four hours and would let me know in loud, incessant mews when feeding time drew nigh.  Bug, the runt of the litter who lacked a suck reflex, unfortunately died a couple of weeks later from pneumonia that had traveled to his brain and caused encephalitis.  I had intended only to foster these kittens and then find them homes, but as I buried Bug in a sunny spot next to my daisies, I knew I could never give the other one up.

I sincerely believe that hand-feeding Teddy and his brother helped me begin to learn how to re-feed myself.  The kittens followed a schedule and required feedings several times a day, usually at around the same times.  It’s a funny thing with self-starvation… food becomes the one thing you think of constantly, but you begin to believe that such mundane details as breakfast, lunch, dinners and snacks are for other people.  The kittens provided me with a jolting reminder that normal, healthy people usually eat three meals a day plus a snack or two.  It also reminded me that food can do a lot to sooth both the body and soul.  I would cradle Teddy in one hand with the other holding the bottle, and watch his entire body relax, his eyes half-close and his little paws grasp the bottle as his white Buddha belly rounded out in contented bliss.  Seven years later, I still have a bond with my now big fat orange cat that I have never quite had with any other cat before or after.

And so now I find myself a surrogate mom to not one, but five two-and-a-half-week old kittens whose mother was killed by some outdoor animal.  Funnily enough, one of them looks almost like a dead ringer for my Teddy at that age… same coloring and markings and everything.  I’m only hand-feeding these babies and weaning them — the rescue I work with will then take them into their shelter at 8 weeks to find them homes.  I work out of my home office and it’s easier for me to hand-feed them than for other volunteers, but they still take an inordinate amount of time, so posting might be light from me for the next couple weeks until they can be weaned.  For your viewing pleasure, here are the adorable black nursing holes (from left): Davis, Ella, Lil (Lily), Louie and hidden in the back is the runt, Miles.  Anyone who can spot a naming theme here gets a virtual cookie :)

orphaned kittens

The little orange one looks just like my Teddy, pictured below:

posted in Personal | 12 Comments

10th May 2010

This is what ED recovery looks like

by Rachel

Health food company Quorn may need to revamp its marketing appeal (food made of fungi? ewww), but the products itself are simply fab.  I’m a big fan of Quorn’s line of soy-free vegetarian products that taste like real chicken breast and white meat turkey, and their veggie chik’n nuggets and patties are really good too.  I did some light grocery shopping this morning and noticed that my grocery store now carries a new brand of Quorn meatless turk’y burgers and picked up a box to try.  I arrived home around lunchtime and read the instructions on the back of the box briefly before popping two patties into the oven at the recommended cooking temp of 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  After the oven timer chimed, I ate them plain with yellow mustard mixed with just a touch of spicy brown mustard, along with a yummy side salad.  The turk’y burgers were a little dryer than Quorn’s line of meatless chicken breasts, but were still very tasty and made for a nice refreshing change to my vegetarian lunch repertoire.

That was some two hours ago.  It only just now occurred to me that in all the time I looked at the box in the grocery store and then read the back of the box for cooking instructions, I never once took notice of their nutritional content.  And by nutritional content, what I really mean here are calories.  Granted, Quorn is known as a health food company and a vegetarian one at that, so chances are that most, if not all, their products will be relatively healthy for you, but keep in mind that I am a recovering anorexic and bulimic who once wouldn’t eat anything that contained more than 100 calories and could rattle off the caloric content of most foods with ease.  I noticed the box on the shelf, thought the product looked tasty and I ate them.  All. Without.  Checking. Calories.

posted in Personal | 17 Comments

9th May 2010

Open post: Happy Mother’s Day!

by Rachel

A big fat happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there!  In honor of moms everywhere, feel free to use this as an open post to rave on your own mom or mom-like figure in your life.  What make your mom special?  Did she share any special words of wisdom by which you try to live?  Did your mom provide a role model for you on body image/self esteem?  Did your mom help in your eating disorder recovery?  Share your stories below.

posted in Other, Rachel | 3 Comments

5th May 2010

Skechers Shape-Ups: I’m gonna wear them for the “wrong” reasons

by charlynn

You’ve probably seen the commercials for Skechers Shape-Ups or Reebok Easytone shoes that promise to tone your calves and firm your butt, right? If not, here’s a quick refresher: Reebok’s ad features an attractive spokeslady who has obviously done more than walking to achieve her athletic figure, and the camera man is (apparently) so infatuated with her butt that he can’t take his eyes off it. Skechers debuted Shape-Ups during the Super Bowl, with Joe Montana talking about how these shoes have improved his strength. Really?? I’m not sure which is worse, Joe Montana endorsing a pair of shoes or Dan Marino talking about how great he feels after losing weight on NutriSystem. Seeing these otherwise respectable figures doing this kind of shit that makes me laugh and puke in disgust at the same time.

However, now that I’ve said that, I have a confession: I recently bought a pair of Skecher’s Shape-Ups. Yes, after months of making fun of Joe Montana for pimping these things, I just had to try them out. Damn those commercials for sticking in my brain. Sometime last week, I decided out of the blue that I wanted a new pair of shoes. Internet window shopping has been a guilty pleasure of mine for years, but somehow I took this low moment of impulsivity to its conclusion and actually bought a pair.

I typically want a shoe that is comfy and good for lots of walking, so for the last couple of years, I have bought Merrells. I put two pairs through hell and they kept on asking for more, but I retired them anyway when they started looking more like roadkill and less like shoes. On a side note, the Keen sandals I bought five years ago are still kicking and great as ever, and their sneakers lasted me a couple of years as well. The more rational side of me would have stayed with what has been tried and true, but those damn Skechers were featured on every site I was looking at as the “hottest new thing.” Why that didn’t scare me off, I don’t know. Usually, anything that’s trendy instantly turns me off, but noooo, not this time. This time I caved in and took a look at them. Advertising won this round.

Aside from all the yackety-yack about weight loss and a firmer butt – which experts claim isn’t true anyway – these shoes also boast better posture and blood circulation, which I’ll admit I could use if the claims are for real. These side effects come from the “kinetic wedge technology” which Skechers claims is like walking on sand. This changes the way you walk, and in effect, makes your legs work harder while you walk – hence the claim for weight loss, firmer muscles, better posture and circulation, etc. I likened the effect to the days in the early 2000s when I wore Street Flyers to and fro. After I found out I couldn’t roller skate for shit, I wore them anyway because they were heavy little boots. Walking around in them made me exert more energy while I was walking around and doing things I would have been doing anyway. Why not?

Why not indeed. I connected the dots between my Street Flyers and the Skechers Shape-Ups and thought to myself, “I’ll be walking around campus all summer, so this could be a convenient way to stay in shape. If I really hate them, I can return them and pretend it never happened.”


Less than two minutes later, I became the owner of a brand-new pair of Skechers Shape-Ups.

As I waited for my shoes to arrive in the mail, I frequently questioned why the hell I bought these damn things when I really shouldn’t have dropped that kind of money on something I didn’t need. Impulse buys are rarely smart decisions, so thoughts of how I would justify it tortured me throughout last week. “What a waste,” I thought. “Even if I return them, I still have to pay postage to send them back. What was I thinking?! What will my husband think when he sees them? He makes fun of them just as much as I do!”

Another voice in my head said, “Just try them. You might like them.”

Yes, I do have voices in my head and they argue with each other constantly. It’s maddening. And no, these aren’t the kind of voices that go away with medication. I’ve tried.


The shoes arrived yesterday. I took them out of their box, laced ‘em up and put them on carefully with all tags still attached; that way, if I did return them, they’d still look brand-new. I stood up. That’s when I discovered the “kinetic wedge technology, which is located near the middle of your foot. This causes you to exaggerate the heel-to-toe motion you make when walking. At first, it felt weird, like I was standing on little balance balls embedded in my shoes. It did not feel like walking on sand. I don’t know where Skechers got that crazy idea, but I’ve walked on sand before and this wasn’t it. The silver lining, however, was that since I wasn’t actually walking on sand, my feet weren’t filthy after a few steps. That was nice.

I walked around. Skechers does warn you that getting used to Shape-Ups might take some time, but I found that the learning curve wasn’t a huge deal. I liken it to walking around on a boat: at first, you’re a little unsteady, but you adjust quickly. Much to my surprise, I found them incredibly comfortable. I took a stroll around the house and decided that I would put them to the real test tomorrow while running around town.

That’s what I did today, and I’m actually pleased to say that the Shape-Ups passed the test. In fact, I love them. For as much walking as I do, comfort is the ultimate feature I want in a pair of shoes, and these are insanely comfortable. They really are easier on my joints as the ads claim, and I did notice that it was easier to stand up straight in them. Major brownie points if they alter my posture for the better. As for everything else, I really don’t give a damn if they give me an amazing butt. I doubt they’ll make me lose weight – for one thing, they aren’t much heavier than a regular pair of shoes, so there goes my Shape-Ups/Street Flyers connection. Second, after walking around in the Shape-Ups today, my muscles weren’t sore. It will take lots of walking – in these shoes or any other pair of shoes – to lose any weight, and since I won’t be trying, I doubt it will happen. I’m quite all right with that. I feel better knowing that I’m not wearing these shoes for the trendy reason and wearing them for the same reason I’d wear any other pair of shoes I like: They’re comfy!

Oh, and for those of you that were wondering, here’s how things went down with my husband:

“You bought Shape-Ups?”



“Don’t judge. I know I’m a hypocrite. You needn’t say anything.”

“I’m not judging,” he said with a smirk that said it all. And of course, he is right. :)

Cross-posted on Oh, the Profanity!

posted in Charlynn, Fitness/Exercise | 26 Comments

4th May 2010

No, I will not help you make money by spreading fat hate

by Rachel

Here’s an email I just received from some PR flack who’s obviously never been to The-F-Word.


Recent studies have shown that depression can actually lead to obesity in adolescent youth through raised stress hormones. With a very recent, hefty 6 million dollar donation from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, The Cornell Center for Behavior Intervention Development has begin its approach at striking down obesity in our youth, including minorities.

I’d like to take a moment to discuss the topic at hand with you and the readers of

Please, take a minute to consider this and get back to me at your earliest; it would be a pleasure to contribute!



And my reply:

Instead of “striking down obesity in our youth,” have you ever considered “promoting mental and physical health for ALL youth, regardless of weight”? Or, have you ever considered that fat kids develop “raised stress hormones” as the result of weight-based discrimination and harassment, including campaigns like this one that tells fat kids that their bodies are deviant and not acceptable? Have you considered at all that by specifically targeting fat kids, you are actually only contributing to the kind of hostile environment that lead many of them to develop depression and other mental health problems.?

No, thanks.

By the way, Rachelle’s signature identifies her as working in “Web Relations” for a large Chicago-based cosmetic surgery center.  No surprises there.

posted in Body Politic, Fat Bias, Rachel | 17 Comments

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