Saturday, September 17, 2011

Skinny genes?

In a move sure to enrage Teabaggers everywhere, Blue Cross of California has just been ordered by an appeals court to pay for treatment of anorexia, adding yet another disease to the list of ailments that health insurers have to pay for. (It's shocking - shocking, I tell you! Why should health insurance companies be expected to spend money making people healthy?)

Anorexia is actually not given the respect it deserves, probably because fat people are already ridiculed, and anorexia is thought of as just an extreme extension of somebody trying to get thin. But, really, since studies show that 1 in 5 women (.doc file) suffer from some form of eating disorder, which have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness (the death rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for girls 15-24 years old), perhaps more attention should be paid to it. (More fun facts here.)

After all, it was just last November that Isabelle Caro died, after becoming famous as the face of an Italian ad campaign for fashion label Nolita trying to combat anorexia. She died at age 28, at 5'4" and around 60 pounds.

The problem, of course, is the modern fixation on body image. A normal, healthy body is never skinny enough; more than just fat-shaming, people are constantly mocked for every point of Body Mass Index. This is not to say that we don't have an obesity issue in America; but we have a body-image issue that dwarfs it.

Nobody, for example, would accuse actress and comedienne Aisha Tyler (right) of being overweight. But try to get one of her pictures into a magazine, and a horde of airbrush-wielding Photoshop geeks go to work.

(That last image stolen from here, if you're curious)

And they're proud of it. As one editor put it, without a trace of irony:
"Yes, of course we do post-production corrections on our images," SELF editor in chief Lucy Danziger told "Entertainment Tonight." "Kelly Clarkson exudes confidence, and is a great role model for women of all sizes and stages of their life. She works out and is strong and healthy, and our picture shows her confidence and beauty. She literally glows from within..."
That same story goes on to quote one of many experts who are seeing the dangers of this practice.
"The more and more we use this editing, the higher and higher the bar goes. They're creating things that are physically impossible," said Hany Farid, a Dartmouth College professor of computer science who specializes in digital forensics and photo manipulation. "We're seeing really radical digital plastic surgery. It's moving towards the Barbie doll model of what a woman should look like -- big breasts, tiny waist, ridiculously long legs, elongated neck."
Perhaps the problem is that health and fashion magazines are in an unhealthy universe of their own. But if they're the problem, somebody needs to find a solution.


Nance said...

I am proud of you for this post. That sounds patronizing; let me try that again. Thank you for this post! It isn't often enough that men beat this drum and, until they join women to do so in some numbers, this horrid direction won't change.

Now, would you take on the stiletto issue?

Nameless Cynic said...

Stiletto heels? Stupid things - the physics is entirely wrong on those things. Take all your body mass, place the force on a 1/2" circle. Idiotic. I've been annoying the Trophy Wife (and the women at work) with that for years.

I like to keep stuff reasonably timely, though. So unless something else comes up, maybe I'll wait until our next "A Mile In Her Shoes" event. (Yeah, there's something I never bothered to learn how to do... Wonder if it would be Worker's Comp if I broke an ankle?)