The Women's Union believes that negative body image and unhealthy body habits and disorders are major problems for women throughout their lives- from a shockingly early age to older age.
These problems are often perpetuated by things that many of us never consider to be unhealthy: a constant barrage of adverts featuring models who are not representative of average, healthy women, ubiquitous marketing of products which are meant to address invented "shortcomings" and "imperfections", a society which disparages diversity in shape/size/looks and is disproportionately focussed on appearance.
Because the problems are so vast, it is not enough to simply remind women to love their bodies, one day a year. The Women's Union's support of campaigns like No Diet Day and Love Your Body Day is part of a longer push towards encouraging women to have healthier relationships with their bodies. This includes reminding friends that they are beautiful, asserting that disparaging comments (often coming from loved ones, such as family or partners) about appearance are unacceptable, living a healthy lifestyle (being active and eating enough and healthily) and speaking out against negative/unreal representations of women.
Encouraging women to have healthy relationships with their bodies can only ever go part of the way in redressing the body-negativity endemic in, and perpetuated by, our society. Many individuals will experience an eating disorder, and the Women's Union is committed to ensuring that the proper support is available to them.
Eating disorders stem from many sources; for some individuals, body image is a major factor. For others, eating disorders have less to do with body image, and come from feelings of stress or lack of control. A common myth is that eating disorders are about superficial concerns with appearance. This is not the case: eating disorders are a serious mental illness with many causes and a difficult recovery process.
If you or someone you know might have an eating disorder, the first thing to do is seek help. There is a wealth of resources to support you.
beat, the primary eating disorders support organisation in the UK, runs a helpline:
Monday to Friday 10:30am - 8:30pm
Saturdays 1:00pm - 4:30pm
Sunday ~ Closed
Bank Holidays 11:30am - 2:30pm
Does someone you know have an eating disorder? Seeing your loved ones struggling with an eating disorder can be a very difficult experience. Information for people caring for, living with or supporting individuals with eating disorders can be found here. If you need someone to talk to, get in touch with the Women's Officer or the CUSU Welfare Officer.
The facts on diets
Between 90% and 99% of reducing diets fail to produce permanent weight loss.
Two-thirds of dieters regain the weight within one year. Virtually all regain it within five years.
The diet industry (diet foods, diet programs, diet drugs, etc.) takes in over $40 billion each year, and is still growing.
The average British woman is a size 14 but Barbie is 5'7", weighs 100 lbs, and wears a size 8.
Some research suggests that young women are more frightened of gaining weight than losing their parents or nuclear war.
15 October 2008
The event is part of the global campaign for healthy eating and positive body image, and brings together women from around the world to celebrate our diversity and campaign against the harmful effects of dieting culture and beauty stereotypes.
Women around the world are celebrating the day in a variety of different ways. Some will have Indulgence Parties, some will send e-cards - whilst others might go in for demonstrations and public scale smashing!
Why not mark Love Your Body yourself and invite friends around for dinner or an indulgence party? Why not send them an invite with an e-card, telling them that you love them, and want them to love themselves? Spread the word about positive body image and send an e-card to friends and family in Cambridge and beyond.
Design and send your Love Your Body Day e-cards!
6 May 2009
In May we'll celebrate International No Diet Day, which was started in 1992 by Mary Evans Young, the director of anti-diet campaign Diet Breakers. The following year, and every year since, NDD has been celebrated internationally and is now run by the International No Diet Coalition, an organisation which represents over 500 groups working in various fields related to size acceptance, health at any size, anti-dieting, eating disorders awareness, self-esteem and body image.
Events are planned and carried out locally, and groups around the world have sponsored everything from candlelight vigils to educational workshops and speeches. In Cambridge we celebrate NDD with our annual No Diet Day picnic in the lovely surroundings of Newnham Gardens. The event is open to all, and everyone is encouraged to enjoy an atmosphere of positivity and promoting a healthy alternative to dieting culture.
The objectives of NDD are based around the campaign's goals:
- To protest our culture's obsession with dieting and weight loss
- To combat the influence of the mesia and of the diet and fashion industries which promotethose obsessions
- To educate individuals and health care practitioners that their goal should be overall health and well-being, rather than weight loss for its own sake.
- To proclaim our independence from society's narrow standards of attractiveness
- To celebrate the diversity of body shapes and sizes
Six Week Love Yourself Plan
Magazines often advertise 'six week plans' on their front covers, but these almost always revolve around dieting. Here is one alternative:
Remind yourself you are beautiful every day.
If someone makes a disparaging comment about someone's weight, call them out on it!
Do a nice thing for yourself every day.
Have all your friends round for a summer FEAST.
Check out this article on why the images of women we see day in and day out are problematic: http://www.channel4.com/4beauty/wellbeing/body-confidence/why-its-time-to-stop-the-airbrushing
Check out this video by Emma Thompson, and spread the word: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zDDkzeP4OM
Love Your Body Day with the Now Foundation
National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance
Internation No Diet Day
Love Yourself Now