Vocabulary Vixen

June 17, 2009

In pursuit of wellness Part 1: Teasing apart the problems, one by one.

Filed under: Health and Well-Being — VocabularyV @ 1:24 PM

I’ve tracked back to Rachel’s blog, The F Word (www.the-f-word.org), and for today’s discussion, I think that she raises some very valid points. Her question is an important one that merits some serious discussion.

Rachel asks: Who is actually to blame for super skinny models? My reply over at The F Word (plus or minus a few details):

Our culture has a huge issue with body image and it’s ridiculous. As one who is very intensely vulnerable to such images and fat-bashing by the mass media, I make a conscious decision to *NOT* buy Cosmo, Elle, etc. I do seriously wish that there were magazines out there for normal-size women that weren’t just a cheap token band-aid for a much larger issue.

For a long time, I blamed the models. I hated them. I thought that they were stupid for putting themselves through this, and I loathed them. I think I loathed and hated them because they were a reflection on my own diet and body failures. I no longer cast blame upon the models. They are a product of their environment. There are choices to be made in that world, and being the vulnerable and impressionable young people that they are, companies and agencies snap them up and break their souls in half before they can make those choices. That’s really a sad, harsh and brazen reality of the advertising “Biz”. It’s their job, and in order to keep their job in this highly competitive machine, extremes must be met.

So there’s a lot of controversy around what caused what for this huge problem. It really is a chicken vs. egg scenario. But one that lends close examination. Although the “Biz” can’t be solely to blame for this problem, it has played an enormous role in destroying us as a culture. Yes, go ahead and promote an impossibly attainable look that resembles prepubescent boys. While not the direct cause for an eating disorder, this sort of mentality is like loading the gun and waiting for the impressionable, insecure consumer to pull the trigger. Unfortunately, not even a breath of a damn is given about the consumer. The point is to buy things. And get people to buy them through jamming various pieces of social conditioning and brainwashing down their throats at every turn. Why care about the impressionable consumer anyway? Prey on the emotionally vulnerable and their insecurities to earn that buck.

Which leads to a bigger point that I’m addressing now. Yes, the self-image / disordered mind – eating thing is spinning out of control into oblivion. Yes, it’s awful. It’s a train wreck in progress. There are some serious things that need to be worked on AS A CULTURE. But there is an underlying cause for this BS that is not immediately apparent, that needs to be addressed in a huge way. The soft, white underbelly of it all is something that Rachel brought up in her post: It’s about the sales. “Skinny models sell clothes” That is the perception that is plaguing us and killing us slowly as we go about our daily lives.

Consumerism at a whole is that derailing train that has not only destroyed our culture, but the very fabric of women and well-being as a whole in the US. We’ve gone into a tailspin over the past 20 years because of this capitalistic, consumerist bullshit. “Buy things! Buy them now!” Mass consumerist garbage being shoveled down our collective throats is the cause of much insecurity and heartache. When having to deflect this bull from ALL angles (billboards, magazines, TV, internet ADs, etc), it’s difficult to tune it all out. It takes practice, and a conscious effort to IGNORE the ten tons of trash being shot in your direction on a daily basis. If caught unprepared, a young and impressionable girl (or boy) will get caught in the crosswinds of it all and can be easily destroyed.

The Point: Making people feel insecure about themselves generates sales.
The Resulting Problem: A live and vicious breeding ground for doubt, insecurity, and a multitude of doorways into mental illness and/or lifelong issues. An increase in eating disorders. Also an increase in mental illness as a whole.

On a personal note, I struggle with many things in many different ways. Fortunately, I seem to have dodged the bullet on the full-blown eating disorder. Sure, I’ve experienced disordered eating and exercise patterns, but as a result of several other underlying issues. I thank the gods that ED never became my “thing”. Incidentally, that’s where the ADD could have saved me. I simply don’t have the focus for it. Self mutilation and other things, yes, but fortunately, I spared myself the agony of the full-blown eating disorder.

In order to survive in this bloated and extreme culture hellbent on making me feel bad and buy things to make me feel better, I’ve literally had to cut myself off from the magazines, TV, and other unhealthy pieces of the mass media machine. I have done this to preserve my own sanity, and protect myself. I am still lost in the crossfire most days, but I am more grounded than I otherwise would be. I have to keep myself OFF of the ED web circuits because stepping in front of the gun doesn’t seem like a good idea. The one exception is The F Word. And that is because as a recovered individual, she can and does talk about many different issues concerning mind, body, soul, and food. Sometimes, though, I can’t stop myself and I act on the impulse to poke around on the ED/SI circuits to see what people have to say. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone as A Crazy. I usually regret this later because I then can’t stop thinking about it, but I’m distancing myself more and more these days.

It’s familiar territory, and sometimes it does help to know that I’m not alone. But, it’s playing with fire. And the mass media machine is giving people like me lighter fluid and matches to play with. I do my best to keep myself out of it and away from it, but when being assaulted on literally every angle of my life and every part of it, it’s hard to extinguish every single spark on this pile of explosives.

So who is to blame for the super skinny model phenomenon? There’s no easy answer, but I think that Rachel is on to something when she says that: We All Are. I agree, to a degree. I think it’s a huge problem with a lot of complex variables. But, the LARGER problem at hand is that the main motivator behind this is money – and playing on people’s insecurities and emotional vulnerabilities to get that money. That… is really sad that this is what we are reduced to as a culture. We have none, and our souls have been sucked out from our wallets.

On the bright side, there is a slow progression away from this. It’s too slow for my liking, but progress is progress.

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