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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Sports Illustrated and Orthorexia


These are two names you'd probably never hear together unless you troll blogs such as mine.

I'm going to start with Sports Illustrated, my disdain for which began some thirty years ago, when my husband and I were dating in high school. He has received a subscription to this publication for his birthday every year since I've known him. When we were teenagers, I recall his excitement upon getting the "swimsuit" issue every January. Back then, when I was much younger and WAY more insecure, seeing his eyes glaze over when looking at Kathy Ireland and Christy Brinkley hurt my feelings. I knew, even when I weighed much less and my skin was much tighter, that I didn't stand an ice cube's chance in Hell of EVER looking like those women. How could I compete? Even though Scott was excited to see me and told me I was beautiful, the arrival of the swimsuit issue always caused a rift when it arrived in his mailbox.

I've had to live with the swimsuit issue ever since, but as I've aged and matured, my revulsion for the thing has diminished. The feminist in me still shakes her head as SI primarily puts males and male-dominated sports on their cover every week BUT the one time in January or February (see? I can't even tell you when it comes out anymore) when they salaciously kowtow to the lecherous masses who want a little highbrow T&A. In all fairness to my husband, he does hide the magazine more so now that our daughters have reached their teen years. Last year, I found it already in our recycle bin, the cover turned over so as not to be seen by our girls. I did appreciate that effort. Usually I'm the one tossing it on to a fire, a ceremonial ritual I've come to relish over the years. I'm getting off topic...

This year, Sports Illustrated is showing in its glossy pages, a plus-sized model! I saw the pictures online yesterday, and saw a clip of her video shoot. She's very attractive and how wonderful to see someone who looks more like the rest of us than the super skinny, unattainable body types SI has touted for more than forty years!! Hooray for SI!!! (Boy...I never thought I'd EVER shout those words...) The model's name is Ashley Graham, and she's working hard to promote healthy and realistic body image and self-love and acceptance, no matter what your body size or type is. I hope SI continues this trend. I already feel my decades-old contempt beginning to wane.

Of course, here is this year's cover:
 
               REMOVED BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO PROMOTE THAT IMAGE :O)

The most impressive thing to me about the picture above is how little body hair this girl seems to have. Do you know how much time, effort and money I'd have to put in to attain such hairlessness?

And here's my new hero:


I just read that this is an ad. That Ashley Graham wasn't photographed like all the other models, but still...it's a baby step in the right direction.

Now, on to orthorexia. I've been introduced to this concept by my friend, Marty, who emailed me a link to a story on Salon.com. I'm having trouble linking to the exact article, but the title is "We're clean eating our way to new eating disorders" by Mary Elizabeth Williams. It was published on Jan. 30th of this year.

Orthorexia focuses on obsessing about the perceived value of particular foods. In other words, jumping on the bandwagon when it come to veganism, eating gluten-free, sticking to a purely raw foods, or Paleo diet, etc. It was interesting to me that my friend sent me this article at this particular time. I talked in my last blog post about working out more and "intermittent fasting" (which I'm not doing, BTW). This is where my head has been lately, so it's a good thing that I read this article. It's so like me--and others like me who have struggled with eating and food issues--to glom on to the latest food trends and fads. I've seen my ED therapist in the last few weeks and she (of course) knew right away what I was doing. It is so difficult to live with ED issues at this time in American  history. Food fads are everywhere--even "good" ones--and I have to be wary of what I see, hear and read. All. The. Time. It's constant, and being around people who talk about what they're eating, what diet they're on and how much they're working out doesn't help. I'm so sensitive to these things that even the smallest, most seemingly inconsequential comments can trigger me. Last weekend, I was at an all-day scrapbooking event with my sister. She pulled out some pictures to show me and she happened to mention that two of the people in her photos had lost a lot of weight recently. "See this woman here?" she said. "She looks nothing like this anymore. She has lost a ton of weight." Good for her, I thought. But again, my old ways of thinking jumped up. Why are you pointing this out to me? I know my sister wasn't making any point telling me about the woman, but I see it as her/society's way of talking about weight and food. It's GOOD that heavy people lose weight and "look better" than they did before. She then showed me another picture of a man who has since lost weight since his picture was taken. "He's lost a ton of weight, too." It's everywhere, this type of thinking. It's definitely in my own family. It's very hard to get away from and to keep my head straight. It's just the way the world is. I get it.

And now, orthorexia. We ED folks need to be aware and careful. The old adage, "Everything in moderation" has never been more true than it is today. Even too much of the good things can have negative effects.

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