Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Documentary tackles unhealthy body image

A new documentary titled 'America the Beautiful', explores why Americans are unhappy with their bodies and scrutinizes why that is. Filmmaker Darryl Roberts critizes America's unhealthy obsession with beauty and perpetual quest for physical perfection.

During the early stages of making his film, Roberts asked 200 women from all walks of life if they felt attractive or possessed a healthy attitude about their bodies. Only 2 said yes.

In the US, as many as 10 million females struggle with anorexia or bulimia.

At the core of this documentary lies a simple message, according to Roberts. "Everyone living has something unique and beautiful about them. We have to learn to tap into this personal beauty. We have to learn to love ourselves."

Recent studies conducted by the University of California, Santa Barbara's Health Education Department show that among its students, students with eating disorders have increased from 18.5 percent in 1995 to 21.3 percent in 2002 and 30 percent in 2008. This means that at least one in four UCSB students is battling this problem.

From February 23-27, UCSB is hosting National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDAW). This annual event is tailored to raise awareness about the different kinds of eating disorders and to educate those who are affected. Darryl Roberts will share his world-renowned film as part of NEDAW.

Kudos to Darryl Roberts for bringing this topic into the spotlight. If there were more documentaries that explored society's unhealthy obsession with weight and shape, it would help curtail dangerous dieting behaviour and promote positive body image.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

And that is the question...

Why can't I look the way I want? I have heard this uttered many a time, in school corridors, cafes, bus stops, at sleepovers, in movie theatres over buckets of popcorn, before the trailers conclude and the lights dim. It's a universal theme.

I have come to the conclusion that we as a society, are confronted with so many images of beautiful bods, celebrity make-overs with titles that scream 'half their size' and congratulatory-style articles when a celeb sheds weight post-pregnancy, that body image is part of our conditioning.

But at what point is it okay to intervene in someone's eating behaviours? Do we wait until it becomes dangerous, to the point where they are rail thin, or have gained three dress sizes? Is it okay to say "you're gonna get fat if you eat that". Or will threatening someone with the ugliness of weight gain create eating issues that could potentially become life threatening?

I fear the latter prevails. And I know, because I've been there.

This story about a 20 year old girl who died of anorexia over the weekend, saddened me.

We have a responsibility to our friends, siblings and loved ones, to help and support each other. Threatening someone that they will "get fat" is no way to help them overcome eating issues. There is something deeper going on that needs to be brought to the surface and if this can be can be done with love, the issue can be addressed and a potentially life threatening situation avoided.