|Diana Fabre, 2005
Inspired by Blue Nude, by Henri Matisse
Love Your Body Day
By Regina Garson, Editor
Did you know that 80% of 4th grade girls have already been on some form of fad diet, most in an attempt to reach ridiculous beauty standards set by advertisers and the media? The relentless number of over glamorized images creates an unhealthy and unrealistic ideal that few of us can attain without an airbrush in our pocket. We spend billions every year to make it so, but it costs a whole lot more than the dollars we spend on cosmetics, diets, beauty aids, magazines, and cosmetic surgery. The aftermath can be deadly for women, men and children alike.
Today the average model weighs 23% less than the average woman, 20 years ago the difference was 8%. Our culture has spawned a tidal wave of eating disorders, including between five and ten million women and at least a million men. The death rate from eating disorders is right at 20%. But it doesn't stop there, over 25 million of us are compulsive over eaters, and over 80% of us feel like we need to loose some weight.
Indeed, many of us could use a little more exercise and it wouldn't hurt us to loose a few pounds. However, at the same time we are barraged with enticements for fast junky food that does nothing at all good for our bodies, we are also barraged with innuendos that quite possibly it is not within us to attain the ideal. Evoking images of Cinderella and life happily ever after, cosmetic surgeons are lined up to "help us look our best," and attain the level of "self esteem," that we could never attain from mere hard work and a healthy lifestyle. The very real and sometimes deadly surgical risks are minimized, if not completely buried underneath the "happily ever afters dispensed by the hands of the fairy god surgeons."
Loving your body is not just about beauty and size. It is about taking care of the body that you have. The advertising and media industry encourage us at every turn to lifestyles and activities that do our bodies more harm than good. Since the onslaught of tobacco advertising that links liberation and glamour with smoking, lung cancer now surpasses breast cancer as the number one cancer killer of women. Smoking is the number one most preventable cause of premature death in the US today.
Alcohol continues to be a problem as well, with 30% of high school seniors reporting at least one incident of binge drinking. The term "responsible drinking" becomes a joke instead of a norm, and that is just the start. Health problems from alcohol abuse go deeper, destroying lives with everything from alcoholism, to brain, heart and liver damage and all kinds of other social consequences. Alcohol is present in 50% of batterings and 75% of acquaintance rapes and that doesn't even touch on the impact of driving under the influence.
"Love Your Body Day," funded by the NOW Foundation, is set aside each year as a day of action to raise awareness and speak out against ads and images that are offensive, harmful, dangerous, and disrespectful to our bodies and our health. It is a day to celebrate the body healthy.
NOW provides a number of resources to make this campaign a success.
Love Your Body Site
Get the Facts -- Statistics on health and the media.
The poster is available free at their website for as long a supplies last. You can get several if you need them for a school or other organization.
Love Your Body: Activities for Elementary and Middle School Students
Tips for Talking to Students About Advertising
Death & Grief
Panic & Anxiety