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Old 2nd February 2012   #1
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Default UK govt. panel on body image

All indications are that the U.K. is finally beginning to take curve-o-phobia and thin-supremacism seriously.

First, there was the amazing "Ditching Dieting" protest, which was discussed on this forum last week.

Now, in a new article, a journalist rightly slams the media for being "ludicrously slow to ridicule and attack the skinny-model fashion houses and the snake-oil diet sellers."

The entire piece is a must-read, but here are a few significant passages:

We've been far too polite to these snake-oil diet sellers

Yes, body confidence is politicians' business. It's time to address the commercial drive behind making people feel bad

Sunday 29 January 2012

Monday sees a Commons hearing...the all-party group on body confidence, and it will be interviewing witnesses from the media and advertising industries.

The campaign for body confidence was kicked off by the Central YMCA, which was surprised and disturbed by how much the issue affects young people. Its chief executive, Rosi Prescott, says "we can start to see this taking young people over" as ever thinner celebrities are featured in magazines while digitally enhanced images of bodies are all over the internet.

Now MPs are starting to take an interest and are listening to the horrifying facts and figures. At the sharp end, there are more than a million people, mainly teenagers or young people in their early 20s, with an eating disorder. And let's not forget the thousands of women who are victims of the cosmetic surgery boom, which includes the current breast implant scandal. If you think this isn't "political" or the job of MPs, you must have a very narrow idea of politics.

As Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem MP who chairs the MPs' committee says, dissatisfaction with one's body has never been higher: the pressure from the fashion industry and advertising means "low self-esteem, depression and eating disorders are all increasing". Half of all girls aged 14 have dieted. Isn't this weird? Creepy?

It's a quiet epidemic of girls committing themselves to dangerous restrictions in food. The lifelong effects are becoming clearer; they include wrecked careers and permanent ill-health.

At the base of this industry are the drug companies that are pushing "wonder" cures and diets, tanning firms and heavily advertised cosmetic surgery specialists, as well as mainstream cosmetic firms. They all depend on the advertising and fashion firms that are selling a cult that is far beyond the reach of most real humans; and they in turn squirt glossy profits into the media spreading the cult.

Against all this, what chance does an impressionable, insecure 14-year-old have?

The death at 28 just over a year ago of the anorexic French model Isabelle Caro, who had bared herself to shock the fashion industry, ought to have produced a dramatic rethinking. Go and look at the images, if you can bear it, on the web. Isabelle said: "It is everything but beauty… I have psoriasis, a pigeon chest, the body of an elderly person."

There have been some advances, notably the ban on digitally altered body images in advertising, but battle has hardly been joined so far. How we feel about our bodies, comparing them with waif-children in magazines, the adolescent gamines of the runways, is also about our general happiness and self-confidence.

[The government] can certainly do more to help support people who are being made miserable merely by being ordinarily shaped. It could regulate the advertising and the practice of cosmetic surgery more closely.

Perhaps because it provides such lucrative advertising, the mainstream media has been ludicrously slow to ridicule and attack the skinny-model fashion houses and the snake-oil diet sellers. We have been far too polite, and po-faced; and as a result we have done our children a terrible disservice.

It's encouraging to see this journalist excoriating her own profession -- the media -- for its inexcusable negligence in this field. The press is always ready to fight the so-called "power" and to attack corporations...except when those corporations provide ad revenue, as the fashion/diet profiteers do. The media sells out every time it takes a penny from these anorexia-pushers and turns a blind eye to their abuses.

Well, no more. Now, at last, the government is holding inquiries into the diet-starvation and exercise-torture industries, and the media is beginning to act responsibly and condemning anti-plus, androgyny-pushing propaganda.

It may be only a step, but it's a significant one, and hopefully will lead to strict regulation that will end the promotion of emaciation and the dispensing of body hatred., once and for all.
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Old 2nd February 2012   #2
M. Lopez
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Default Re: UK govt. panel on body image

There's another reason why the media blatantly fails to condemn the fashion and diet-starvation industries besides the media's addiction to the shekels that these thin-supremacist industries pump into media advertising. Much of the media outside the fashion sector is comprised of the same types of personalities who populate the fashion world. Journalists in general silently agree with the fashion industry's degenerate, anti-feminine aesthetic. The modern media self-selects similar personality types in both sectors - after all, the fashion media is just another branch of journalism - so these people share the same political and aesthetic values. Journalists both inside and outside fashion largely have the same biases against traditional values of every kind, including traditional aesthetic values favouring full-figured femininity. For the media to censure the abuses of the fashion industry properly, it would need to be comprised of very different individuals than it (largely) is today.

Incidentally, the Guardian article that Meredith posted links to the official Web page of the U.K. government hearings on body image:

The panel has heard from a number of industries, including the "diet and cosmetic surgery industry" and "media and advertisers," but the one that matters most of all is still coming up:

Monday 20 February
Room S, Portcullis House
Witnesses: Fitness and fashion sector

Finally, some representatives from the anti-plus, curve-o-phobic, anorexia-pushing fashion industry will have to sit down in front of the people's representatives and be held to account for the misery that they inflict on society.

I just hope that these hearings aren't merely an attempt by the government to make it appear as if it's doing something, but lead to zero change. I hope they result in concrete legislation that has real teeth, and which mandates, once and for all, that underweight models cannot be used in fashion advertising and that the diet-starvation/exercise-torture industries must stop promoting body hatred.
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Old 24th April 2012   #3
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Join Date: June 2011
Posts: 105
Default Re: UK govt. panel on body image

Last week, the British government panel that held hearings on body image and the fashion industry earlier this year organized its first annual Body Confidence Awards.

Designer Mark Fast won one such award for featuring plus-size models in his shows, as discussed in this New York Magazine story with an unnecessarily snarky title.

It quotes Mr. Fast saying:

As a designer I care about the women that wear my clothes ... it is very important to deliver the technical aspects a look and a quality of make — I don't really understand this? — but I also want to make each wearer of my clothes feel empowered and affirmed. I want to celebrate women and make them feel good in my clothes.

The Guardian has a somewhat worthwhile article about the awards, noting their potential for good, if they have any substance to them.

The background:

The all-party parliamentary group on body image, formed last year, will report in June and held its inaugural body confidence awards at the Palace of Westminster on Thursday night.

Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat MP, is the chair. She promises to attack the fashion and beauty industries with a mixture "of carrot and stick. It's easy to be critical. We must promote best practice."

The writer makes this important observation about how significant these awards are, in their oppositional nature to the rewards that are usually lavished on the anti-plus bigots of the fashion industry:

The body confidence awards are really anti-awards, because the sort of people who usually win awards are ambassadors for plastic surgery, starvation, and Botox. Even so, they challenge a culture producing consumers addicted to beauty products and despair, and reward those companies, charities and individuals who do not incite self-hatred in innocent consumers.

The lobbyists and charities have woeful tales to tell. "They [the fashion and beauty industries] have historically marketed to produce feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt," says Susie Orbach.

The writer closes, however, on an important caveat:

The room seethed with an enthusiasm for self-acceptance, which is rare, particularly in these painted halls. I merely hope the report on body image is more stick than carrot. If so, it may have legs. Normal legs.

Exactly. Simply rewarding pro-curvy efforts with a government award will not be enough. Underweight models must be banned; airbrushing eliminated or labelled; and those who persist in promoting curve-o-phobia must be sanctioned and prevented from doing so.

The Body Confidence Awards are a blessing, but they must be part of a stricter effort to eliminate the emaciated, androgynous standard from fashion, once and for all.
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