A constant stream of digitally “perfected” ads are taking their toll on our health and self-esteem. The Truth in Advertising Act asks the FTC to investigate and take action. Here’s how you can support it.

What is the Truth in Advertising Act? It’s a bipartisan act that would require the Federal Trade Commission to develop a “regulatory framework for ads that materially change the faces and bodies of the people in them, in order to reduce the damage this type of advertising does to our children.” In other words, we want our government to look seriously at the harmful effects of Photoshop and to put some reasonable guidelines in place to minimize those effects. And you can voice your support by signing this change.org petition, started by dad, activist, and former advertising executive Seth Matlins. As he writes in the petition:
"These ads are weapons of mass perfection and their casualties are stark. 53% of 13 year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies; by the time they are 17, 78% will be. In fact, the 3 most common mental health issues amongst girls — eating disorders, depression, and low self-esteem — can be linked to the images they see of themselves in the media. And boys are impacted also, with 16% HS boys suffering from disordered eating.
"When a prescription drug is making people sick, we ask for an investigation. When false, deceptive and ‘photoshopped’ advertising — creates anatomically impossible, fake, and unhealthy images of human bodies — is making our children sick, in the absence of industry self-regulation, the body responsible for investigating deceptive advertising and protecting consumers, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), has a duty to step in and investigate what’s making our kids (and adults too) sick."
Why do WE care so much about this legislation? For starters, young people are particularly vulnerable to these “weapons of mass perfection.” Our community is passionate about transforming our media and advertising culture that promotes such narrow and unrealistic standards of beauty. That’s why we launched the Truth in Advertising blog series, personal posts from writers who share their perspectives on how the overuse and abuse of Photoshop has affected them. Here are a few excerpts:
"Every day we view thousands of images, absorbing so much information that we can often forget to filter it in our minds. And what happens with repetition? Acceptance. We have accepted these images to be true. We have accepted these standards of beauty as fact, and unfortunately these standards are impossible to reach." —Diana Rodriguez, “It’s Time to Stop Poisoning Ourselves”
"Being caught up with all of this nonsense back in high school affected me mentally. I still excelled in my grades, but I felt I wasn’t enough because my collarbone wasn’t showing enough, I wasn’t skinny enough. It can get physically exhausting. The media has a part in women developing eating disorders. Harsh to say, but it’s true." —Jaclyn H., “What’s Behind the Lens?”
"We need truth in advertising because it will help women feel less insecure, less ashamed and less self-conscious. It will help with self-esteem and let us feel like, “Hey, even the model is being adjusted and she’s tall and thin. Even she’s not perfect, even she’s not enough, so why even try to be something that in reality is a false advertisement?” This has been a part of the culture now for so long, that this bringing down of the self is almost an instinct."—Marelyne Mendoza, “I Own the Ugly In Me”
"As a young girl, my voice was lost to the sea of low self-esteem and some pretty un-ambitious expectations in regards to my full potential as an individual. Despite all this I found my voice, but not without some help. I want women and girls of all ages to find their voices, too and to understand these unrealistic images are damaging. Because really, who ISN’T affected by them?"—Mary Ruben, “The Consequences of Distortion”
What next? Read the whole Truth in Advertising series and sign the petition to voice your support of the the Truth in Advertising Act (HR 4341).

A constant stream of digitally “perfected” ads are taking their toll on our health and self-esteem. The Truth in Advertising Act asks the FTC to investigate and take action. Here’s how you can support it.

What is the Truth in Advertising Act? It’s a bipartisan act that would require the Federal Trade Commission to develop a “regulatory framework for ads that materially change the faces and bodies of the people in them, in order to reduce the damage this type of advertising does to our children.” In other words, we want our government to look seriously at the harmful effects of Photoshop and to put some reasonable guidelines in place to minimize those effects. And you can voice your support by signing this change.org petition, started by dad, activist, and former advertising executive Seth Matlins. As he writes in the petition:

"These ads are weapons of mass perfection and their casualties are stark. 53% of 13 year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies; by the time they are 17, 78% will be. In fact, the 3 most common mental health issues amongst girls — eating disorders, depression, and low self-esteem — can be linked to the images they see of themselves in the media. And boys are impacted also, with 16% HS boys suffering from disordered eating.

"When a prescription drug is making people sick, we ask for an investigation. When false, deceptive and ‘photoshopped’ advertising — creates anatomically impossible, fake, and unhealthy images of human bodies — is making our children sick, in the absence of industry self-regulation, the body responsible for investigating deceptive advertising and protecting consumers, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), has a duty to step in and investigate what’s making our kids (and adults too) sick."

Why do WE care so much about this legislation? For starters, young people are particularly vulnerable to these “weapons of mass perfection.” Our community is passionate about transforming our media and advertising culture that promotes such narrow and unrealistic standards of beauty. That’s why we launched the Truth in Advertising blog series, personal posts from writers who share their perspectives on how the overuse and abuse of Photoshop has affected them. Here are a few excerpts:

"Every day we view thousands of images, absorbing so much information that we can often forget to filter it in our minds. And what happens with repetition? Acceptance. We have accepted these images to be true. We have accepted these standards of beauty as fact, and unfortunately these standards are impossible to reach." —Diana Rodriguez, “It’s Time to Stop Poisoning Ourselves”

"Being caught up with all of this nonsense back in high school affected me mentally. I still excelled in my grades, but I felt I wasn’t enough because my collarbone wasn’t showing enough, I wasn’t skinny enough. It can get physically exhausting. The media has a part in women developing eating disorders. Harsh to say, but it’s true." —Jaclyn H., “What’s Behind the Lens?”

"We need truth in advertising because it will help women feel less insecure, less ashamed and less self-conscious. It will help with self-esteem and let us feel like, “Hey, even the model is being adjusted and she’s tall and thin. Even she’s not perfect, even she’s not enough, so why even try to be something that in reality is a false advertisement?” This has been a part of the culture now for so long, that this bringing down of the self is almost an instinct."—Marelyne Mendoza, “I Own the Ugly In Me”

"As a young girl, my voice was lost to the sea of low self-esteem and some pretty un-ambitious expectations in regards to my full potential as an individual. Despite all this I found my voice, but not without some help. I want women and girls of all ages to find their voices, too and to understand these unrealistic images are damaging. Because really, who ISN’T affected by them?"—Mary Ruben, “The Consequences of Distortion”

What next? Read the whole Truth in Advertising series and sign the petition to voice your support of the the Truth in Advertising Act (HR 4341).

Size zero won’t make you a hero.

"At first I didn’t really notice what a bad effect my double chin shame was having on me because, after all there has never been a point in my life I can remember where I have not been embarrassed of or hated a part of my body so it was not new or surprising." This post from Lilinaz Evans is pretty excellent.
image via Fat Babe Designs

"At first I didn’t really notice what a bad effect my double chin shame was having on me because, after all there has never been a point in my life I can remember where I have not been embarrassed of or hated a part of my body so it was not new or surprising." This post from Lilinaz Evans is pretty excellent.

image via Fat Babe Designs

The International Conference on Eating Disorders: Day 1 

By Shirley Wang—As some readers of Proud2Bme know, I am a huge advocate for eating disorder research, treatment, and recovery.

I last wrote for NEDA in 2013, during my senior year of high school. So much has happened in just one year! I am now a psychology major at The College of New Jersey and almost done with my freshman year.

A few months ago, I found out that the 2014 International Conference for Eating Disorders was in New York City – just an hour away from my home in New Jersey! After registering for the conference, I became more and more excited as I read through the schedule and speakers.

When I arrived in the Sheraton Times Square Hotel, I was immediately overwhelmed by the amount of professional-looking men and women in suits and carrying briefcases. I checked in and put on my official badge for ICED, but I still felt out of place. As an undergraduate student, my dreams of being accepted into a clinical Ph.D program, interning with eating disorder treatment centers, and eventually working as a clinical psychologist specializing in eating disorders still seem just like that – a faraway dream. And here I was, standing in the same room, wearing the same badge, and drinking the same coffee as hundreds of medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, dietitians, and other professionals!

The first event of my day was a plenary session focused on refeeding approaches in treatment. Several professionals including Dr. Sloan Madden, Dr. Graham Redgrave, and Dr. Janet Treasure examined the current recommended refeeding strategies for the treatment of eating disorders. They all discussed evidence that unlike previously held beliefs, the rate of refeeding has little impact on hypophosphatemia and refeeding syndrome. In fact, many patients are underfed during the beginning stages of treatment, increasing the risk of cardiac complications and significantly prolonging the length of hospitalization.

The last speaker during this session was Jenna Tregarthen, CEO of the popular smartphone app Recovery Record. I’ve never personally used Recovery Record, but it sounded like an amazing way to help patients engage in treatment and therapy homework. In fact, clinical outcomes of a sample of 607 Recovery Record users showed that 27% moved into a statistically normal range on an eating disorder assessment.

After the plenary session, I enjoyed an exciting brownie-marshmallow creation while browsing various exhibits from treatment centers. I then attended the next workshop session, discussing fidelity in the treatment of children and adolescents, with an acquaintance of mine. As a professional with years of experience in treating childhood and adolescent eating disorders, I was very interested to hear his various comments and remarks about the presentation.

The last event of the day was a Special Interest Group (SIG) Panel. I chose to attend the panel on various challenges for clinicians providing evidence-based treatment (i.e., family-based treatment or the Maudsley Method). A dietitian, psychiatrist, pediatrician, and psychologist (who all practice FBT) discussed their hypothetical approaches to complicated case studies involving a child or adolescent with anorexia nervosa. The room was freezing, and although the discussion was interesting, I found myself wishing I still had my hot tea from before.

When the panel discussion concluded, I made my way to the exhibition room for a welcome reception and poster presentation. While sampling various fancy cheeses (I confess, they all tasted the same to me), I met and talked with two clinicians from Chile, a researcher and professor from New Zealand, and a clinical psychologist from Oregon. I was so excited to talk to people all over the world about eating disorders, and really learned a lot about similarities and differences in research and treatment in different countries.

By now, my feet were killing me – there seemed to be no actual tables with chairs to sit down in – and after browsing the poster exhibit, I went up to my hotel room, took off my shoes, and leaped onto the bed. Day one was an incredible experience and my head was buzzing with all the powerpoint slides, conversations, posters, exhibits, and tweets (follow me @shirleytwirlyy for live updates!) I’d encountered that day. I can’t wait for the next two days, and am so excited to continue learning about eating disorders and representing Proud2Bme!

We drop the “media literacy” term a lot around these parts. But what exactly do we mean? Our pal Melissa Fabello breaks it down nicely. P.S. check out her super cool shirt.

Also, we’re working working with Melissa to curate recovery stories that break the mold. It’s called the Marginalized Voices Project. Read more about it…and submit YOUR story!

Photobooth of Change: Body Image Edition!

"I Have a Voice and I Intend to Use It."

By Eric Ceballos—I have had insecurities and body image issues for as long as I can remember. Throughout elementary school, junior high and high school, I was the funny, chunky kid.

I grew up in a predominately upper-middle class environment where everyone I went to school with was tall, rich, tanned and in shape. I used to envy my classmates who were able to walk around the locker room with their shirts off and had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. It seems so simple to some people, but I was scared to do that out of shame and embarrassment.

Men are just as pressured to fit society’s unrealistic expectations. I mean, who doesn’t want the 6 foot 4, blond-haired, blue-eyed, dream boy with a killer smile and rock hard abs? Boys and girls alike are pressured to look “airbrushed” and as fit, thin, and toned/bulked up as the models we see in popular campaigns.

For a big portion of my life, I was afraid to really be myself, which led to intense self-confidence issues. I always hid in the background. Growing up, I stayed below the radar and because of that, I wasn’t able to share my dreams of one day becoming an actor & entertainer because all I’d ever hear is that no one would hire the “fat kid.”

After a string of unfortunate events in high school, including my parents divorcing and just being in that awkward teenage phase that I think we all go through, I felt like I had no control of anything. I soon felt that the only thing I had any control over was my weight; it was something that I could actually change.

Losing weight started out harmlessly. I started eating better and working out, but the more compliments I received, the more I went to any lengths to keep the momentum going, which included skipping meals, purging & working out excessively. For the first time, I was receiving attention & for once it wasn’t people ridiculing me or taking blows to my self-esteem.

I was looking for attention, praise and self-fulfillment through other people, through compliments. That led to my disorder. I suffered from bulimia for two years before I spoke up. But by the time I did, everyone already knew. I had lost an incredible amount of weight, at a steady pace for two years. People always questioned whether I was doing drugs or had an eating disorder. I led people to think it was drugs—I was THAT embarrassed of my eating disorder and truthfully, I didn’t want anyone to intervene. I was enjoying being “skinny” for the first time ever. But soon enough, calorie consumption and working out endlessly soon became my entire life. It was all I thought about from morning till night and it took its toll on me.

Speaking up was what saved my life. I think people still feel it’s taboo to talk about something as serious as an eating disorder. It shouldn’t be.

I have a voice and I intend to use it. You don’t have to be super famous or incredibly beautiful to get people to listen. It doesn’t matter if you’re educating a stadium of people or you’re educating kids at your lunch table at school. The bottom line is that your voice is being heard and you’re getting your message across. You never know who’s listening or who you will inspire.

I was afraid to speak up because all the research I had done led me to “female support groups & female chat rooms” and I had always read of female celebrities suffering from eating disorders. It was kind of unheard of to read about young men who have suffered from body image issues. I didn’t want be known as the boy with a “girls disease” but I’m so thankful that I found the courage to come clean and get help.

Being able to look in the mirror and not cringe, to be able to walk out in to the world every day with my head held high is the most amazing feeling! I have my days, I think I always will. Recovery isn’t easy; I’d be lying if I said it was. You have to want it. It takes strength and it takes practice but life after an eating disorder IS achievable.

When I do have those days, I practice healthy, effective ways of dealing with it. I really practice peace and positivity. If you have a positive outlook, it shows. And positvity is what you effortlessly start to exude and you start to attract all things positive.

I have hit rock bottom, been ashamed of myself and my actions. I was tired, lonely and afraid, but now I’m here, on the other side of all that pain and I am stronger and better than ever. I have the confidence to share my story and let you all know that you’re not alone. I want you to know that what you are going through or have been through isn’t a “girl, boy or weak people problem.” It is a HUMAN problem. We live in a society where we get the message that healthy is not good enough—we are told have to be “perfect.”  I’m from a generation and am in an industry that has a free pass to dissect you…to pick you apart, to point out your every flaw. I am proud to be one of the first male public figures to shed light on this subject. 

I can’t effectively educate our youth if I sugarcoat the truth, so I choose to share my story in the hopes of opening people’s eyes and helping people who are suffering. I want everyone to know that it is okay, that there is nothing to be embarrassed about and you are a lot stronger than you possibly know. I do what I do for every little boy or girl, man or woman, who has been told that they are not beautiful, smart or good enough to be who they want to be, who has been led to believe that their dreams are not attainable. I’m living proof that they are.

Related:

Read more Proud2Bme personal stories.

clairemysko:

There’s new research attempting to tackle this question. I wrote about it for CNN…