Tag Archives: society

Colleen Clark’s Body Image Comic Reminds Us That Our Bodies Don’t Define Us

Colleen Clark’s Body Image Comic Reminds Us That Our Bodies Don’t Define Us
Click the link above to see the comic.

Following on from my previous post about obesity in the media (on my wellbeing blog- http://chloewellbeing.wordpress.com/) and why it is causing such body image issues.
This wonderful comic strip reminds us that what you are on the inside is what counts. Society should not be the one judging you.

“We struggle with it every day: the conflict between our belief that women should celebrate their bodies and the constant public criticism of women’s appearances that communicates the exact opposite message.

So when we came across this incredible comic drawn by Colleen Clark that deals with that ongoing battle, we had to share it.

Clark, a 20-year-old Illustration student at Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio, completed the comic over a 16-week semester. “I love the phrase ‘write what you know,’ so I chose to write about what I know best: feeling ashamed, embarrassed, and hateful of my body,” Clark told the Huffington Post in an email.

Clark found the second page of the comic particularly hard to draw. “That giant naked woman is a representation of my own body and how I see it,” she said. “I knew people would be disgusted by that drawing, but I look a lot more like that woman than the women in the thousands of ads I see every day. I needed to draw it for me and for the majority of women in the world who look more like her than supermodels.”

Weight stigma is currently very common in the U.S. Fat-shaming is practiced publicly, and overweight and obese Americans are often treated like second-class citizens, subjected to prejudice from employers and healthcare professionals. A 2011 study found that women feel vulnerable to weight stigma in their everyday interactions and relationships, and in 2012, 46 percent of participants in a fat-bias study said they would rather give up one year of life than be obese. Thirty percent said they would rather be divorced than obese.

“[I]t has been difficult to draw and to talk about, because of how close this topic is to my heart,” Clark wrote on her Tumblr. “I really hope people can relate to it at the very least, and that it can help someone think of their bodies a little differently at the most.”

Letting go of the ‘diet rules’

Nobody should be following a ‘weight loss diet’ (this excludes diets made for medical reasons).

Im talking about the ones you see everyday in advertising, media and magazines. They do NOT work. How do you think they all thrive and do so well? – Because they don’t work; people come off them abd gain weight and then have to come back for more.

My advice – LET GO. Let go of the voice of society that tells you what to do. Admittedly you will gain a few pounds at first but i promise it will settle after 6 months or so. And you will never have tp ‘diet’ again! Think of the mental energy spent of diet programmes you could save, and the time and money!

When breaking free from a diet it can be overwhelming with the amount of food you are now ‘allowed’ to eat.
You now have to trust the wisdom of your body.

Years of dieting and listening to someone else’s voice – ie the media- means we naturally believe someone else always knows better. If we listen we will get the body they tell us we want.

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The picture of that (airbrushed) model in the magazine/diet book/poster – if we follow ‘this diet’ we will look like that. You eat unpalatable food because it will give you a body that the media tells you is ‘correct/right’ – slender and trim.

We loose touch with our own voice, what WE want to eat, when WE are actually hungry, full and satisfied.

When you give up dieting you are taking back YOUR VOICE.
Scary thought isnt it?!

Here are some helpful tips when learning to listen to you again…

Make sure you eat when you are hungry! – sounds obvious right?
– but honestly think about when you eat – is it because its a meal time so you are expected to eat? or maybe it’s one of the following…
You are upset so you have a treat – something to eat
You are celebreating – so have something to eat
You are happy – so have something to eat
You are in love and so you share – something to eat
You are frusted and need confort – so you eat (think of that supposedly comforting chocolate that you ‘deserve’ after a bad day at work?!)

The list goes on….

I know it’s hard at first- you have been following the ‘Rules’ for years, the ‘Advice’ of society, the lists of ‘legal foods’ – but give it a go! I promise you it is nice!!

Stupid things in magazines , on the TV and internet like this…

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Why are you following their voice? what about yours? Not to sound boring but ‘back in the olden times’ (!) there weren’t as many weight problems yet they did not follow rules like that. They simply listened to their bodies and exercised in a healthy way (you don’t have to go to a gym) and didn’t become addicted to the ‘junk’ and fast food diet.

When breaking free from a diet you must make sure you stop when you are full.
I know this is easier said than done – You are eating your delicious chocolate bar/cake/ice cream/ pizza etc and you feel full (satisfied and not uncomfortably full) – but ‘it tastes sooo good’! you want to keep eating the cake becuase its delicious, but you are full!

What i would advise here is put away your food – NOT in the bin – and tell yourself ‘I can eat this whenever i like – but when i am hungry again‘. This means you are not following a ‘diet’ – you are simply listening to YOUR BODY – YOUR VOICE.
It is telling you it has had enough, but because the food is delicious and the taste makes you want more by allowing yourself to have it again whenever you are hungry is not following a ‘diet’ – you don’t feel restricted or controlled by what someone (ie society) has told you must not eat.

Also have a think – does your favourite food taste better when you are actually hungry or when you are full? Have a test and notice the difference in taste.

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Is the ‘obesity epidemic’ backfiring?

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I believe our obsession with the obesity epidemic is backfiring on us.

We think about food too much. We think about our body image too much.

Don’t believe me? Think of when you’re watching tv…the adverts…programmes…
In between programmes such as embarrassing fat bodies, supersize v superskinny, embarrassing bodies, the latest diet or exercise documentary there are promotional adverts for McDonald’s, subway or another food store! And then you’re watching yet another food programme- come dine with me, master-chef, the great British bake off etc- and there are more promotional adverts including the Jenny Craig weight loss programme, special k, or weight watchers, which are in between the adverts for the pizza that can be delivered to your doorstep or the ¬£1 whopper burger.

Not to mention social media; Instagram is now being dubbed as a food diary as people mainly use it to share their pictures they have taken of their food online.

I believe that virtually all of us have eating disorders. There is too much significance on the moral, psychological and sociological issues about the way people eat and what they weigh.

Men included here. Yes, men you can’t lie about worrying about your body image or how healthy you are and comparing yourself to your mates or magazines etc. Or even the older men and their beer bell’s! It’s a fact, male eating disorders (and these are the recorded and diagnosed ones – many go un-recorded) are on the rise. This includes bulimia and anorexia. Furthermore, there has been a notable rise in teenage boys and the abuse of steroids and laxatives. Men say its nonsense!- it’s a female issue. But I’ve witnessed, being a model and going to the gym a lot, it is not. Men suffer from body image issues as well.

And what about our perception of fat and thin people?

The general view is fat= a sloth, lazy, gluttony, no self respect, no self worth, no self esteem, stupidity….where has this come from!? I know very clever fat people and ones who actually have high self esteem!
We assume fat people are miserable. And to make matters worse we moan about the space they take up on trains, buses, aeroplanes, the cost of the NHS for them. That’s a hell of a lot to assume and judge about someone who carries some extra weight! A lot of negative.
And its just as bad for thin people. Thin= weak, feeble, joyless, we associate them with vanity, even bitterness, those poor skeletal creatures, “they think they look great but look awful”.

Society makes assumptions that size is equal to virtue. A trim, fit physique = healthy and attractive and Admirable.
These moral qualities are dimensions which we associate with a trim figure. Qualities that are enviable – self esteem, drive, power, self possession, determination- even career success!

Meeting up with a friend who you haven’t seen for a long time and you notice they have put on a considerable amount of weight: the majority of us would assume they are unhappy- have they lost their job? Or their marriage broken down? – or something else significant which has caused them to gain weight – but we assume that it would be something bad – not good – and that they are unhappy.

But who are the biggest victims? OURSELVES. We believe this, we follow this, follow the diets, the media, the cheap fast and junk food available. The ridiculous amount of mental energy we use debating whether we should have another slice of pizza, another biscuit, berating ourselves for it and vowing to start the ‘liquid’ diet tomorrow!

I find it heartbreaking how many people hate themselves over gaining a few pounds. It destroys our relationship with food, eating- anything in life as we are constantly thinking about it. But in the end fretting about it makes us consume more as food and weight is always on our minds.

This is why i think the obsession with obesity and diet is backfiring. If we were more oblivious about our relationship with food and how much we weigh we would not think about it as much- and we would keep us slim!

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I hope you enjoy reading about my opinion on this topic. Please feel free to comment, however i have more entries to come where i will discuss more about what we can do to help the crisis we are in with health and obesity in the UK.