Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Truth About Size Zero

The other night we watched a documentary called The Truth About Size Zero. It followed a UK celeb for one month as she extreme dieted to squeeze from size US 6 (or size 4) to a size US 0. Louise Redknapp, a former member of the all-girls band Eternal (never heard of it) and a current TV presenter, underwent this crazy diet to showcase the ridiculous obsessions to be stick-thin.

She kick-started the diet in LA, the city known as the "Land of Size Zero" throughout the show. They also showed some photos of various Hollywood celebs like Terry Hatcher (pictured left) and various models and it was almost sickening to see how boney they were. It is one thing to be thin or in shape, it is quite another to be pure bone. This obsession with being emaciated is getting way out of hand. Two models from the died from anorexia this year.

Anyway, the documentary was interesting and highlighted how un-glam Hollywood dieting truly is. First of all, Louise could not eat ANY pasta. None. For 30 days she only ate vegetables and she worked out twice a day (at least). They weren't fun workouts either, they were hardcore. She lost her patience with her husband and son, became overly emotional and cranky, was continually struggling with tiredness, lost weight in her boobs first, and her hair was extremely dry. A doctor monitored her throughout the month and pleaded with her to stop the diet, but she was trying to make a point and in doing so, hoping to reach out to young girls who have eating disorders.

She did get into the size zero by the 30th day. Then she had to be monitored as she put the weight back on gradually.

One of the saddest parts of the documentary was when she met with girls suffering from anorexia and bulimia. They were all staying at a England's first eating disorder help center and one of the girls was 12. TWELVE YEARS OLD and suffering from an eating disorder. It was so sad.

So on the one hand we have this pressure for young girls to be emaciated and on the other both America and England have the highest rates of obesity. It's like two extremes and they are both equally disheartening and I would guess, equally damaging.

It saddens me to think what it will be like when our children are old enough to understand body image. I just want my little girl to be healthy and active and to ENJOY life (which to me means enjoying food too). I don't know what it's like for you guys, but pre-pregnancy I thought about my weight a lot. I DO remember being a size 6 in Utah and being surrounded by size 0s. Could so many girls be that genetically small? Maybe, but I definitely think this weight-obsession thing is increasing and I noticed it's normalcy among females in college especially.

Eating disorders are just more prevalent than ever before - both obesity and anorexia/bulimia. To think it effects a 12-year-old to the point that she is in a recovery hospital is just too sad. How do we save our children from this? First thoughts...Instilling confidence, teaching what is beautiful, allowing her (or him) to BE HERSELF. Remember when Missy posted this ad? Love it. And I also like this one.



  1. I find this very interesting and far too prevalent in our society. I am a junior high teacher and see it occuring way too often and younger and younger. I have yet to see a severe case but I have girls that I think are on their way to having an eating disorder. Earlier this year I had a couple of girls who told me that only ice tastes good to them. When I started to tell them that only eating ice was not healthy and that they needed nutrients they got mad at me. I told them that I was concerned they weren't eating enough and might develop an eating disorder. They told me they weren't throwing up so it was okay. I was shocked.
    I would love to know the answer to this problem for my students and for my daughter. I do think that as mothers and adult role models one thing we can do is not obsess about our own weight. If young girls see us worrying so much, then I believe it becomes engrained in their heads that weight is a major issue and they start to obsess about it at a young age. We have to teach healthy living without it being all about weight.

  2. Did you really think BYU was that skinny? I am a size 8 but never felt out of place or pressure to lose weight. Utah for that matter, considering I grew up there.

    That is beside the point though.

    You are completely right on the eating disorder thing(both anorexia and obesity). It is so sad and I worry too about what the societal pressures might be once I have children who are that age. I hope I can just help them to feel confident in who they are and to be active and enjoy food. I do think my own perception of myself will be a large factor in how they might see themselves. I hope to show confidence with my body and my lifestyle of exercising and eating right.

  3. Mandy, I agree about mothers being role models for their kids. I think that is huge. The whole ice thing is really sad. Eating disorders don't just include anorexia or bulimia, but also the over-analysis or obsessive thinking of food. I think the latter two are becoming so mainstream. Yes, healthy eating without the emphasis on weight, but on what's good for your body...good point.

    Heidi, I most definitely think BYU and the Provo scene (at least the people I was around and often at Gold's Gym) had a pre-occupation with weight and being tiny. I don't think I'd ever be swayed from that belief, but I think it probably differs immensely from your upbringing.

  4. This is important. Great thoughts!

    I think that what we teach (our daughters, children, etc.) is actually pretty simple.
    1. That they have an amazing amount of value that isn't based on what they look like or what size of jeans they wear. [This sounds too simple and cliche but I don't think that it is. I want to know that I'm unique and valuable because I'm creative, because I love learning, because I love others, because I take care of myself, etc.] This will instill confidence that will be long lasting. If they gain weight or get a bad haircut, they have something else to hold on to.
    2. I think that you HAVE to teach a child how to live healthy: healthy eating and a desire to be active! (If you don't teach this, I feel that you're neglecting #1. Feeling healthy is a huge builder of confidence..)
    3. hit it right on. You have to live it yourself. I think mothers/women going around complaining about their self image might be the most destructive thing a child could hear.
    4. I need to feel physically beautiful, too. But, I need to know that I can be beautiful even if I'm a brunette, even if I have freckles, even if I have bigger feet or no hips or a flat chest. (which I do. All of those.) And I don't think we can always teach that thin is bad if they are naturally thin. Or that bigger is bad if they are naturally bigger. If my child is sincerely healthy, then I should be happy! (My point, we can't always focus on "inner beauty" and neglect "outer beauty" because our appearance is an un-ditch-able part of us.)

    I have had a LOT of experience with poor self image. I'm finally over it but the worst of it started my senior year. I just moved from England to Houston, I wasn't happy, I gained a bit of weight on our "around the world" trip and I remember asking my mom if I looked too large and she, feeling that honesty was important, told me that I did. (And this is tough: I was unhealthy at the time. I didn't eat well. I ate bigger portions. I don't necessarily think she was "wrong" to tell me this, but I took it the wrong way.) I didn't know how to be particularly "healthy," so I took it upon myself to eat NO fat. (This was during America's fat free craze.) I wouldn't eat wheat bread (fat), I wouldn't use normal oil to cook with (fat)--instead I substituted with the fat-free butter spray, etc. I was so uneducated and consequently so unhealthy. My freshman year of college, I took a hardcore kickboxing class, I ran 3 miles a day, and I was constantly doing situps and pushups and I still felt FAT! (I couldn't believe that I was a size 6.) I am convinced that this is what caused me to gain more weight. I am just over 5'4" and my highest weight was 135 I think. I felt SO ugly. It took years to recover. (At one point, I took laxatives when I felt bloated--with ABSOLUTELY no intention to help me loose weight or to be self-destructive--but it completely screwed up by body.) I finally learned that you need fat, that if you eat fresh foods, if you learn to love a healthy lifestyle, if you enjoy being active but exercise doesn't consume you...then you are HAPPY. I finally was happy with my life and even years after that- I am okay with the way I look. experience taught me to EDUCATE. Teach what healthy is. Life what healthy is. Encourage activity. Cook healthy. Learn to love fruits and vegetables. Make food enjoyable. And value every type of beauty.

  5. What if you teach all of this and you still have a daughter, for example, that doesn't take all of it to heart- does gain weight, feels ugly, and comes to you with: I need to loose weight (knowing that in the meantime, her self image is horrible, and she is depressed). This is tough. I think there's a thin line between saying, "Okay, let's fix this together. I want you to be healthy and I want you to be happy. I'll exercise with you, let's buy some clothes that flatter your body, etc." and teaching her that she should place too much importance on self image. Does that make since?

  6. Thanks for your honesty, Kelli. If we asked my mom questions like that she was frank and honest with us too. And, yea, I had a similar conversation.

    I don't know if I ever had a crowd, I think of myself as a floater, but I do think it existed and still exists in the Valley. That said, I think it probably exists anywhere there are groups of people. I just really noticed it more in Provo after coming from a small community that wasn't like that in the slightest (well every community is to some degree, but it was a less). For me, as an outsider it was the first time I saw several girls on crash diets, not-eating, picking at crumbs, getting surgeries to remove fat, etc.

    Also, it was the first time I ever thought about my weight, and I think my sisters experienced similar things. I don't know. That was my experience at least.

  7. I really like a talk Elder Holland gave on this...I'll have to find it.

  8. what a great blog lindsey! thank you! I agree with everyone's comments, so I won't be redundant. But what I will say, is that this need to educate girls starts NOW!!! Just this month, Addie has been seeing certain disney princesses, and she thinks that they are 'beautiful' (She just Barely turned two!) I hate all the barbie, disney princess stuff, but she loves the songs, and we have the cinderalla movie. well, ADdie got her hands on a Disney Piano Song book that had Jasmine and Ariel on the cover. Addie was mesmorized. She just stared at it! I didn't think anything of it at the time. Then, a few days later, I was doing Tae Bo in my bedroom with just a sports bra on and Addie said "Mommy's a pretty girl". Could it be the two peice look I was sporting? I hoped not. Then, the other day, I was getting ready for the gym, and just had a sports bra on for just a few seconds, and she said it again "mommy's pretty". well, I guess I could be flattered by her comment, but I am actually really upset! First, no, I am NOT pretty in a two peice, and second, the ONLY other time she has seen any one dressed that way, is from disney princesses. AHHHH!!! She is TWO, and she is already under the impression that you are pretty if you dress that way. Wow, It starts a lot earlier than I thought! so, I am already keeping her modest, helping her know that she is loved not for how "cute" she looks, but because of who she is, etc. I am being really careful of what she gets her hands on, what I am wearing around her, what she is wearing, and what I say to her. (Telling a little girl that she looks pretty all the time can lead to her thinking that compliments only come when she tries to pump up her body image) Anyways, having a girl in this world sometimes terrifies me. But, My husband is great...he is a JR Highschool teacher, and a certified councelor and has dealt SO much with teenage girls to know what kind of emotional support they need. Having positive and supportive men in a girl's life is HUGE!!! anyways, that's my two cents. Lots to think about!!

  9. I love this post! When I moved to Provo it was the first time I ever even thought about my weight. In high school I didn't worry about working out or eating healthy I just had fun. Don't get me wrong i loved going to school in Provo but it seemed that everywhere I went people, girls, were consumed with how they looked and guys naturally were only looking at girls who were a size 0 or 2. I remember hearing guys say that they wouldn't date a girl who had fat potential. Well looking back at pictures of those days, I was one of those girls.

    The hard part about all of this is how to teach girls that being a little bigger or not being stick skinny is beautiful? Because when I was bigger I definitely didn't feel beautiful. How do we change that? Even being pregnant gets hard at times even though I know that I will eventually be back to my regular size.

    Now that I am thinner than I have ever been I feel almost ashamed of it when I am around those who haven't lost their pregnancy weight or are bigger than they have ever been. Most of this guilt comes because I didn't do anything to lose the weight. I am just blessed with good genetics. But I feel weird and awkward when someone will make a comment, "your so lucky that you get skinny after you have your babies" or "well you can eat whatever you want because you don't gain weight." I just don't know how to reply to these comments. It's just awkward for me. So I think we can feel uncomfortable with our bodies at ANY size. So sad!

    I too agree about mothers being role models for their kids. Both boys and girls. We have to show that we have a positive image about ourselves so that they will about themselves.

    Tyra Banks has been catching a lot of slack in the media lately for being bigger than she was as a runway model. I am impressed with the way she has handled it. She has been doing all kinds of shows on body image. Though I find her slightly annoying most of the time I am impressed with her stance on this issue. She has started a campaign called "So What?" She has based this off the fact that she isn't as skinny as she used to be but "so what?"

    Thanks for this post. We all had a lot to say about this issue! And I think because most of us are through those dating/college days we can take a healthier approach to it all. Being aware is so important for us as mothers.

  10. This is a topic that HAS to be discussed. We have to come up with a way to best combat what is constantly thrown at us through commercials, billboards, magazine covers, Internet, models, celebrity images etc. Thanks for bringing it up Lindsey.

    Thanks for being honest Kelli. I have to admit that my mom told me something similar and I've hated that she told me that. I was once considered one of her "overweight" children with my brother Ryan while my sister and brother Juice were "too skinny." Somehow there was never a middle ground. Honestly, I wouldn't say the same thing to my daughter. Maybe it was the way it came across to me and maybe your mom said it differently too. I'm not sure. But, I do think it begins with things all the commenters addressed:

    1)The mother feeling comfortable in her own body and not belittling her own image
    2)Healthy eating instead of no eating or low fat
    3)Making healthy food fun and interesting
    4)Offering a variety of foods to your children. I had a friend growing up that had never eaten an artichoke and she was in high school...
    5)Complimenting in a way that it is not all about beauty
    6)Being ACTIVE, getting outside

    At the same time, I agree with whoever said that you still have to "feel pretty." One doesn't have to look homely, but rather feeling pretty and gaining a confidence in yourself.

    Not to ridicule Kelly's comment, but I thought it was interesting that she said she was just "blessed with good genetics" for being skinny after she had children. I think somehow we need to feel that even if one isn't skinny, BUT still healthy, they are their perfect size.

    It's hard though. We are barraged with images of thin women everywhere we go. I coached cross country for a while and one of the girls on my team was rarely allowed to watch tv. Her mom's rule was to play outside or read a book after homework was done. It was interesting and while she seemed very innocent, she became the valedictorian of the high school and our #2 runner. However, there were a few other girls on our team that had major eating issues because thinner runners equated to faster times.

    I don't have the answers except making food and activity enjoyable and somehow making your home open to talk about these things. That if my daughter (or son!) is ever feeling uncomfortable with how s/he looks, that we could talk about it and try to make her feel better about oneself without letting an eating disorder take over.

    At the same time, you can't blame the parents. I'm sure there are plenty of homes and parents that are wondering what THEY did wrong, when maybe there was nothing they could have done better.

    Was this comment totally useless? I feel like I waffled throughout the whole thing. I guess I don't have many answers for this topic AT ALL.

  11. Kelly, I've heard about Tyra Banks and while she can be ultra-annoying, I think she is doing a good thing too! She's trying to educate people, which is precisely what Kelli mentioned as a remedy for the problem.


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