The Girlchild is fourteen and in year 9. She’s just taken part in the new Bodythink program, which
is a collaboration between the State Government, the Butterfly Foundation — which supports sufferers of eating disorders — and beauty brand Dove.
(Ironic, much?! The Girlchild was onto that immediately.)
The scheme comes after the Government’s parliamentary inquiry last year into body image recommended the development of a national media code of conduct.
…Footscray City College students, among the first to take part in BodyThink, said it was a good way to build confidence. “People think there’s only one shape — that’s too skinny,” year 9 student Kristie Westlow said.
I don’t object to these programs, although sponsorship by cosmetics companies doesn’t do much for their credibility. It’s all good that they address the media and “support sufferers”. But I think there’s too much of a push for those who might be on the receiving end of toxic messages about body image. And although the media play a big part in the problem, there’s something missing. To quote a woman with an eating disorder:
“It was a time of huge change and transition, from school to university,” she said.
“This was compounded by a ranking system that the older guys had at the college where they rated the younger females in the top 10. I was never on the top 10 and at that stage it had a profound impact on the way that I saw myself.”
And of course we were treated recently to the opinions of Letterio Silvestri, drink spiker, sexual opportunist and waste of space extraordinaire:
Letterio Silvestri thought Dianne Brimble had “f—ed up his holiday” by dying in his cabin. He was a man of pride who did not talk to “anything that’s over 60 kilos”.
I don’t think we can blame Vogue magazine for that one.
How incredibly depressing. Of course I’ve crossed swords with MRAs/RWDBs galore, but I don’t talk much to the peaked-cap-and-commodore set, except in a professional setting, where they keep their pussy-hatred in check. I suppose we have the example of various footballers over the years, so my surprise was misplaced. How many men and boys out there are still being taught to think that way (the men in both examples are younger than I am)? Do people who run programs like Bodythink care? It seems to me they’re concerned with “treating” the “victims” rather than attacking the problem at its source. As Twisty would say, they need to do a bit of patriarchy blamin’.
Let’s take some of the focus from how women and girls respond to the female-body-hatred in our society, and pay some attention to the boys. Who is teaching them attitudes like these? Why do they still think it’s normal to abuse women and girls to the point where they need psychiatric treatment? Fixing the problem of anorexia and other eating disorders in our society isn’t just the responsibility of schoolgirls. Let’s put some of the responsibility on the men.
(Illustration from Art Frahm, whose “art” explored the mysterious effect of celery on underpant elastic – as elucidated by James Lileks.)