You look good; did you lose weight?
You lost weight; are you happy?
We hear the first question often, but is the second more appropriate? Leslie Goldman, freelancer and “Locker Room Diaries” author thinks so.
Tonight I attended Goldman’s presentation, “Body Image: The Naked Truth,” the first event of Love Your Body Week. LYBW is an MU event devoted to positive body image and eating disorder awareness.
Goldman, who’s made numerous TV appearances regarding women’s health, shared stories from her battles with anorexia in college, starting with her first fraternity party at the University of Wisconsin. She remembers noticing how the skinny, spaghetti-strap wearing girls caught more male attention than she did in her Gap jeans and purple T-shirt. She decided to lose weight and quickly developed an exercise obsession and eating disorder.
“An eating disorder is a psychiatric illness,” she said, adding that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any such illness.
With support from her friends and family, Goldman recovered and adopted a healthier lifestyle.
“For the first time, it felt like I was looking into a real mirror and not one of those crazy funhouse mirrors,” she said.
Goldman said people often develop eating disorders in times of transition and stress, making college the ideal time for such conditions to start. When people feel overwhelmed, they look for things they can control, like weight or eating habits.
She said airbrushed media images negatively effect how women perceive their bodies. We see these celebrities looking perfectly beautiful thanks to crafty airbrushing techniques, but they’re really no different from anyone else. Check out these examples:
Fake images like these create unrealistic expectations and lead to negative body perceptions. These perceptions are the subject of Goldman’s book, “Locker Room Diaries,” for which she interviewed hundreds of women from different generations, races and body types.
Love Your Body Week runs Feb. 8 to 11 on campus with resources for discussing, identifying, treating and preventing eating disorders. Go to the LYBW Web site for more information and an event schedule. Check out Leslie Goldman’s blog, NeverSayDiet, for more discussion on the media’s role in body image.