Eating disorders are becoming increasingly common in Western society. This has become a culture which places a high value on being thin, regardless of whether or not thinness is achieved in a physically and mentally healthy manner. I have chosen to focus on eating disorders in this project because I myself am affected with an eating disorder and I have an appreciation of the devastating effects they have on sufferers and their friends and families…
The activity I chose to carry out was to send a letter to the Calvin Klein clothing company. The letter includes some points about the relationship between advertising and eating disorders, and how the Calvin Klein image is one of those which causes young people to hold themselves up to impossible standards. I feel that they are a company who really exemplifies the trend towards "thin at all costs" - the idea that thin is an ideal which should be pursued regardless of the consequences. I think that pursuit of this ideal is very unhealthy, particularly for young people. Because I have an eating disorder, carrying out this activity was quite empowering for me. I enjoyed it because advertising is such a powerful tool, and I firmly believe that if advertising were to change and start portraying real bodies wearing real-sized clothing, Western society's image of the ideal body would change. I am not really under the illusion that my letter will be the impetus for change but I am glad that I got the chance to express my opinions, and writing out exactly how I feel about these issues has felt really positive.
Anorexia and Bulimia are increasingly in the public eye, particularly because the profile of these diseases is raised by celebrities who have battled these eating disorders. This is unfortunate in one sense because these diseases are legitimized by their association with the rich and famous. This is reinforced by the point that compulsive overeating and the morbid obesity which often results is far less socially acceptable than anorexia or bulimia. The community is far less inclined to accept compulsive overeating as an eating disorder, instead labeling sufferers as lazy and lacking in willpower.
There are many organizations dedicated to promoting awareness of eating disorders. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders is an example of an organization which operates at the national level. This association raises awareness of eating disorders with support groups, message boards and chat rooms, education packs for schools, and publicity drives with local and national media. (ANAD 2006) According to an article that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle early this year, Bay Area residents don't have many options when it comes to finding support for eating disorders at the local level. (Harlick 2006) However support groups do exist. One such example is the Ohlhoff Eating Disorders Program, which provides a wide array of services to aid people in recovering from all types of eating disorders. (Ohlhoff 2006)
Overall I think I have learned the most from completing the activity portion of this assignment. Even though I have read about and known how advertising and fashion companies have played an influential role in the increasing trend of eating disorders, actually writing to a company to express my views has really crystallized my views on the subject.
Harlick, J. People suffering eating disorders have precious few outpatient resources in the Bay Area. San Francisco Chronicle. January 6 2006.
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders Retrieved May 23, 2006 from .
Ohlhoff Eating Dis ...
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