I no longer buy mainstream magazines, & it is now a very rare occasion that i would even pay a glance to their covers as i wait in line at the supermarket checkout. But, yesterday, this cover (on display in a newsagent’s window) caught my eye – ‘The Body Issue’. And i was suddenly filled with an all too familiar frustration.
While i have not read the feature, i feel it safe to make a few assumptions about it’s contents. Perhaps it will contain tips on dressing to suit your shape. Perhaps it will contain exercise “tips” (or according to the cover itself, tips to “exercise without trying”.) No doubt it will contain “tips” on how to diet. In fact, it was the words “7 successful women share their diet secrets”, right there under the words “The Body Issue”, that caught my attention in the first place. Right there, first up on the cover of the magazine, they are already linking their body issue to weight loss.
It seems that every “Body Issue” i have ever come across is some varying combination of fat-shaming, celebrated thinness, congratulatory weight loss, myth perpetuation (especially those linking health & attractiveness to weight), interspersed with “diet secrets”, exercise “tips”, etc… Where are the “Body Issues” with tips on eating for health AND enjoyment, rather than weightloss? Where are the tips on how to find a enjoyable way to move your body, while helping it to feel strong & healthy? Where are the tips on self-acceptance, self-love, & how to truly honour & nourish our bodies? Where are the links to support, for those struggling with negative body image? Why do these “Body Issues”, reflect less of the solution & more of the problem? Why do the words “Body Issues” seems so appropriate to describe these features? Perhaps it’s just more clever marketing.
Earlier this year, Who also published a”Body Issue”:
Here are some comments i made after Beautiful You alerted me to this issue of Who earlier in the year.
I found the quotes beneath each of these images (I viewed the gallery online), to be a bigger problem than the selection of images themselves (I don’t have a problem with the images themselves – these people have “real” bodies & they should be accepted – but I do have a problem with their seeming lack of diversity).
“The ideal shape for men is someone who has bigger arms than me,” says Lisa Curry (with Tom Williams).
Could this quote lead men to believe that they need to “bulk up” to attract a woman?
IAN “DICKO” DICKSON
ON LOSING 18KG AND COUNTING: “When I look back at pictures of when I was fat, I feel ashamed.”
So Dicko only made it into the body issue after losing weight? Would they have featured him at his previous size? By publishing his comment linking being overweight with shame, is WHO suggesting that this is an appropriate link for us to make?
ON GROWING INTO HIMSELF: “At school and growing up as a young lad I didn’t look like the other boys. They had muscle. I was just lanky and lean. I’m lucky now. I’m about to turn 40 and I still don’t carry much fat.”
Was there something wrong with not looking like the other boys? Is there something wrong with being “lanky & lean”? This quote does seem to suggest that, as well as suggesting that the reason Tom is “lucky now” is because her “still (doesn’t) carry much fat.”
ON GETTING BETTER WITH AGE: “When I was running [swimwear label] Tigerlily, it was so intense, I didn’t have the time to exercise. Now it’s a priority for me. I probably exercise for about three hours a day during the week.”
So becoming obsessed with exercise (which it seems Jodhi is if she is turning down lunch with friends in order to exercise), equates with “getting better with age”?
I don’t mind the quote they chose from Jodi Gordon, or the first quote from Lisa Curry…..
ON BUILDING A BUFF BODY: “It’s not for everybody, but I think strong women look fantastic. It’s a great feeling to continue training, eating well and looking after yourself.”
While I don’t think they needed to label it as “building a buff body”, I like Lisa’s description of her approach to health.
These quotes are simply that – quotes. WHO didn’t write them.
But they did choose which quotes to publish, & I think if they could not choose to publish any other quotes, they could in the very least have offered some alternative views about the links these people were making to their weight & their feelings of shame.
They could have acknowledged (in some way) that while some people might link their feelings of self worth to their weight, weight is not a true indicator of health or attractiveness, & they could have offered some supportive guidance on how to create a feeling of acceptance towards our bodies, & how to nourish them through healthy food & fun movement of our bodies.
I’m not sure if WHO included these tips in their article (as I haven’t bought the magazine & I don’t intend to), but I think it is something they may have neglected to do.
After all, it seems they might have lost their perspective on what good health really means, & I fear they have taken on board the links that were made in these quotes – if you are thin, you will not feel ashamed, you will be “better”, & you will be more attractive.
What do you think about “Body Issues”? What would YOU like to see in Woman’s Day or Who’s next “Body Issue”?