The Danger of Thinspiration

Hello my loves!

As I might have mentioned before (in this article, or this one, it basically keeps me up at night), I have a hatred for thinspiration that cannot be appeased.

But how would you feel if you found out that your best friend, your daughter or your classmate spends hours pouring over what you thought were "harmless fashion blogs" but are in actuality thinsporation blogs?

Last month, Seventeen Magazine published an article that shined a well-needed light on what many are calling the dark side of Tumblr. Indeed, the thinspo epidemic (thinspiration i.e.: blogs that promote, encourage, and inspire thinness) can no longer be ignored, for its health and societal hazards are just too significant to overlook. Here is my detailed, researched account of this nasty Internet bug.

Bad, Bad Ideas

Think looking at a bunch of unreasonably thin women can't affect you or your peers? Think again.
In this study by Stanford Medical School ^2, a staggering 96.0% of the patients reported learning new weight loss or purging techniques. When it comes to their patients who were diagnosed with an eating disorder, pro–eating disorder site users did not differ from nonusers in health outcomes but reported spending less time on school or schoolwork and had a longer duration of illness. Similarly, a NCBI survey demonstrated that in girls, visiting pro-anorexia websites was associated with a higher drive for thinness, worse perception of appearance and more perfectionism ^3. 

It's Growing- Fast

The Internet is wonderful, but the ability to reach millions of people across the globe can be just as dangerous as it is helpful. A survey by Internet security firm Optenet found a 470% increase in pro-ana and pro-mia sites from 2006 to 2007, back in the day that the Myspace and Xanga platforms were at the peak of their popularity. However, Xanga, at the top of its game, in 2006, had 27 millions users; with the explosions of internet accessibility, that number seems minuscule, especially considering that Tumblr, as of August 8th 2013, has over 130.5 million blogs. There is a reason these blogs are becoming more and more menacing; they are spreading like a body negative wildfire. 

Dirty Little Secret

But you know your friends and family; they would never do that...or would they? In the same Stanford study, 52.8% of the 106 parents of patients diagnosed with an eating disorder did not know whether their child visited these sites, yet we know at least 35.5% of patients did. "Home" computers are becoming scarce, and smart phones, laptops and tablets are what most young adults use on a day to day basis to scour the internet. With no access to their browser history, the presence of wifi virtually everywhere and the easy,simple access to these potentially fatal websites, how can we keep tabs on those we love? Oh, and if you think the boys and men in your life are spared, I'd reconsider that thought. In the same NCBI survey, 5.9% of the 13, 15 and 17 year old boys had visited such websites. 

Several social media giants such as Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest claim to seek out and regularly delete pro-ana related groups, blogs and pictures, but for various reasons, especially in Tumblr's case, this crackdown has been unsuccessful. 

What can these social media platforms do? 
What can we, as civilians, do to protect and inform the younger computer-using generation?

Until next time, my loves<3



1. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro-ana) 
2. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/118/6/e1635
3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19142974


Men and Eating Disorders: A Hidden Truth

Hello my beautiful fudgies!

I wrote an article for ANEB Quebec in french about men and eating disorders, which you can find here: http://www.anebquebec.com/blogue/2013/09/25/le-sexe-cache-des-troubles-alimentaires/ 
It's a very important social issue to me, so I translated it for you all to read. Enjoy:)

When the media addresses the topic of eating disorders, they tend to insinuate that it is a problem for young girls or women, reinforcing the societal myth that only females can suffer from an eating disorder, when in fact this psychological disorder excludes no race, gender, or age.

Indeed, studies estimate that 10 to 15 % of people who suffer from anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, and close to 50% of those who suffer from binge eating disorder, are men.
But where does this lie come from, and what are its impacts? 

"A Real Man?" 

For centuries, and even millenniums, men "worked", whether that be hunting or farming, while women bore and took care of children; that was just the way it was, no questions asked. This rather sexist mentality considered women to be beauty objects and proprieties, it was therefor normal for them to worry about their appearance, whereas her husband did not.
The 1960s brought the feminist movement to the forefront, which reconstructed many aspects of the expected societal gender roles, but regarding male looks and grooming, very little has changed. We are still being taught that men do not worry about their weight or physical appearance, it is therefor impossible for them to suffer from an eating disorder. 

Beauty Ideals? 

Although there is a stigma surrounding men and eating disorders, they are pressured into a standard of male "beauty" that is just as unrealistic and destructive as its female counterpart. Young men sporting enormous defined muscles star in countless Hollywood movies and TV shows, or cover billboards and magazines in popular ads for brands such as Axe.
Ken is just as perfect as Barbie, so why wouldn't men be influenced by the unhealthy representations around them? 

Fear, Shame, and a Dirty Little Secret

But why is it so important that this myth be debunked? First of all, because eating disorders are considered by much of the population to be a feminine problem, men usually feel ashamed of their difficulties, and rarely or never seek help. Eating disorders are the mental illness with the highest mortality rate, therefor this issue shouldn't be taken lightly. Moreover, this erroneous belief makes identifying and diagnosing EDs in men that much more difficult, since medical health professionals aren't looking our for the signs and symptoms.

Luckily, more and more courageous men are opening up about their straddles, but many more suffer in silence, and it is for them that we must continue to educate as many people as possible on the subject. 

sources: http://www.nedic.ca/resources/documents/MaleBodyImageandEatingDisorder-IncreasingConcern.pdf

Have a lovely day, my loves



This Voice Inside My Head

Hello my loves!

I wrote a piece for the lovely blog Derriere Le Mirroir, which you can find here: http://www.derrierelemiroir.ca/on-blogue/cette-voix-dans-ma-tte-par-gabrielle-vachon/ , so I translated it for you:) Obviously it varies in little ways, typical bilingual problems, but I hope you enjoy the english version just the same.

This voice inside my head

There is a voice inside my head
Mine is different from yours, but we all have it just as well.

She points out all the wrongs on your body
Like the lack of space between your thighs
Or the enormous space between your eyes.
She asks why your clavicle isn’t prominent
Or why your stomach is so prominent

She builds a fort with your fixations
to keep you prisoner of your nonsense.
She fuels the fire of your obsessions with a dash of gasoline
So that when you look at your reflection, it’s all smoke and mirrors.
It feeds you your daily dose of humility,
so that you never recover from your poisonous lies.

There is a voice inside my head,
Stronger or weaker than yours, she speaks without end.

She fills your brain with images of pure fiction,
they deform your vision of your own body.
She whispers you insults from the time you get up in the morning to the time you go back to sleep,
They make your ears bleed and your heart weep.
And when someone compliments you, you don’t believe it for a second
This voice inside your head has become your reason.

But don’t forget that this voice is just in your head.
And it’s not a mountain of pills that will make her go quiet again.

You have to take down her prison, one fixation at a time,
So that you can finally be free of her shackles.
You have to put out your obsessions’ fire with a waterfall of truth,
So that your reflection can be clear of its smoky illusions.
You have to accept a dose of humility, but in moderation,
so that your brain can empty itself of her toxicity.

Close your eyes to what she wants you to see,
And open them to see beauty that transcends perfection.
Block your ears, shut out that tiring voice
And accept the kind words of your loved ones instead.

There was a voice inside my head,
But I made mine go quiet; will you let yours spread? 




What is Wrong with Disney Villains?

I view the child’s mind as an empty slate, one that is both easily writtenupon but not as easily washed.
"I view the child's mind as an empty slate, one that is easily written upon but not as easily washed"
      -Nicholas Salmond, Babes in Tomorrowland: Walt Disney and the Making of the American Child

Good morning my beautiful fugdies:)

I wrote an article for a website called Adios Barbie, Ill link it when its published, analyzing the weight fluctuation of different Disney starlets from different generations (spoiler alert: the new gen is much thinner than the previous, how shocked am I!).

But for some reason, picking the Disney Channel apart made my brain wander, and I started thinking about the animated movies that marked my childhood, and what their body image impacts might have been. We all know how perfectly beautiful the princesses were, it's in their job description, but what about the villains? What physical and psychological characteristics do we associate with evil, and how does that play out in our lives?

Where our insecurities lie

Yes, we know, our insecurities are the product of years and years of brainwashing, marketing, image manipulation, down with the media! and all of that fun revolutionary finger pointing.
But before we were reading magazines, or scrolling down pages and pages of Tumblr thinspo, we were watching animated movies. We all had our favourite, we knew every line from every song, we had the lunch boxes and the pyjamas, oh how harmless it all seemed!

But we know that what we see when we are not taught to question is how we think. So what did bad look like to us?
    The pointed chin, thin lips, overarched eyebrows, sharp features, and large nose play key part in most of these characters, and certainly none of them can be found in their good heroine counterparts. Isn't it odd that many of these features are some of the most common female complaints? Nose jobs, lip injections and (I am guilty of this!) eyebrow waxings, tweezings or pluckings are high in demand cosmetic surgeries and alterations, but what is inherently "wrong"about those things? Do these insecurities stem from our childhood, where a prominent chin meant bad news? 

    Agism and Sexism 

    Another recurrence I was sad to discover was mature age. While the pretty, pretty princesses are fountains of youth, the villains are often much older, leading the viewer to associate unattractiveness with old age, as though once you cross the 40 year old threshold, you are not only ugly, but a bad person?
    Nicky, good friend of mine, brought up the fact that the young Disney girls' happy endings involved being saved by a man, and riding off into the sunset, because clearly there is no such thing as being a happy strong, single, independent woman. No, those are called villains. Yes indeed, the female antihero  cannot be bothered by men, she is much too busy focusing on her own aspirations. DISCLAIMER, I'M NOT PROMOTING MALICIOUS AND DESTRUCTIVE DREAMS, but I do think those sexist messages teach us something about the way we envision our happiness as women.

    Weight Game

    There is one thing though that really made me think twice about my theories.
    The grand majority of the female evil doers are scarily, unrealistically thin, so wouldn't that disprove my theories? If skinny is wicked, why is it one of our society's most prized commodities?

    Well first off, the princesses aren't exactly heavy either, so their isn't as big a contrast, and therefor an association, between good and evil.

    But further than that, I only have shots in the dark:

    • perhaps their ridiculous thinness was indeed promoting a healthier body,

    • or maybe the sharp, "cutting" angles and shapes of their bodies are just ecstatically more menacing.

    • it could also be a sign of destitution; most of the classic Disney tales are set in historical contexts where many people struggled to eat on a daily basis, therefor being plump and well fed was a sign of wealth.

    I would put my money down on the 2nd, but feel free to enlighten me with other hypotheses!

    So who was your favorite villain, and what do you think their impact was on your body image?




    The False Doll: by Najmah Bint Nasr

    Hello my darlings!

    This week's creative writing find is my Najmah Bint Nasr (themuslimbricks.wordpress.com)
    Check her out, send her some love, and enjoy this piece entitled "The False Doll" 

    Looking at my reflection
    Surrounded by a sizzling fume
    Suddenly, I see an image of you
    Questioning who?
    Cosmetic paint scattered on your face
    Tears bursting down from your eyes
    I feel your presence cold as ice
    Why are you crying, oh young lass?
    You are pretty but are you well?
    You look good in pink but why frail?
    Did someone tell a bully tale?
    Did someone bid farewell?
    Then, I hear what your heart beats
    Everything what your mind thinks
    It’s in your eyes showing disgrace
    Visible in your actions fueled by hate
    You want to gain a confidence within
    And that reflection of thin
    You don’t eat anything at lunch
    You do an hour of cardio crunch
    You are healthy and full of intellect
    Even everyone say you have a short neck
    Do not look at anyone’s body as perfect
    To your body’s needs do not restrict
    Do not let starving take your personality
    Nor Barbie to distort the image of beauty
    Do not feel awful when you fill your belly
    And isolate yourself with insanity
    Save yourself from that miserable state
    Everyone has her own fate
    Create your happiness now- do not wait
    For the scale to drop down its trace

    Have a wonderful rest of the week:)


    ANEB Fundraising & My Anxiety

    Hello my lovely fudgies! :)
    (if you just want to read about the ANEB fundraising, skip to the bold text at the bottom of the page)

    My name is Gabby, I suffer from anxiety, and that's okay.
    I know it's okay because we all have things about ourselves that make us feel weak.
    But I also know it's okay because it doesn't have to limit me or my goals, au contraire. 

    In fact, one of the many reasons I started the blog was because I wanted to get my thoughts, my feelings and my story out into the world, but I wasn't always able to do so when talking to someone face to face, because of said anxiety. This might sound funny to some, since I can be quite a sassy, sarcastic b**tch writer, but trust me, that's just what the voice in my head sounds like, not the one that comes out of my mouth.  So I wrote. I wrote about my life, my victories and my struggles. I wrote about all the things I couldn't tell the people around me.

    And because I started writing, and more and more people started reading, all these amazing things started to come my way. I started writing for some of my favourite blogs and magazines, I interned at various mental health non-profits, and, to be completely honest with you all,  I never would have gotten into the school I now attend had it not been for the FP.

    So all these wonderful opportunities opened up to me in some way due to my anxiety ridden brain.
    But the FP hasn't taught me to use my vulnerability as a crutch or a shield, to play the victim and let it run my life.
    OH, NO. TRUST.
    The FP has also pushed me way, like lightyears away, out of my comfort zone.

    When I heard that ANEB, an eating disorder non profit that has always treated me kindly was going through some difficult financial struggles, I felt personally compelled, as I know many of their employees and volunteers, to help out as best as lil' ole me could.

    So as mentioned in my Help ANEB Help Others article, linked right here, I set up a few bracelet displays around my area at independently-owned salons.
    What I didn't mention was what I had to go through to get my little booty into those stores.

    Now I have a terrible fear of counters, sale's counters (basically the cash, IDK what it's fancy name is) and receptionist's desks, because I am prone to having panic attacks when I go up to these aforementioned satanic spots (kidding).

    So i think you, especially those who also suffer from anxiety, can imagine how nervous I was to go up to a counter, on my own, and ask if I could sell my bracelets there. Unreal. I considered spiking my orange juice with some strong liquor to calm myself down, but I figured drunk Gabby wasn't a great rep for ANEB's cause.

    So as I got to the strip mall where my first stop is situated, running my speech over and over again in my head, I headed towards the salon. I was walking, I was getting closer, but then the receptionist looked at me and I thought NOPE, completely chickened out and headed towards the drugstore.
    I then collected myself, put on a bright albeit ridiculously fake confident smile and set my sights on the salon, but again, panicked, pulled a 180 and hid behind the magazine counter.

    I repeated this cycle at least 3 times, I KID YOU NOT MY LOVES, until I finally got to the counter. The lady behind the desk looked up from her magazine and I quickly, inarticulately blurted out my prepared sales pitch, and for some reason, THEY SAID YES!

    I couldn't believe it, I practically rode home on a cloud of excitement fairy dust.

    So because I buckled down and pushed past my irrational phobias, in 2 months, with the help of local salons, we raised 103 $ for ANEB and I cannot tell you all how amazing that feels. It's obviously not enough to fill their entire budget deficit, but the little things can always make a difference.

    So that's my challenge to you. Find something you really want, but you never thought you could do. Here's the truth; mind over body. Your body is capable of saying, performing and doing so many incredible things, you can't let your brain crush who you have the potential to become.

    I  hope my silliness has been entertaining for you all,
    Have a fantastic week my babies <3



    3 Body Positive Things You Should Do With A Child

    Hello my beautiful fudgies!

    Oh, kids! (i love talking about children like i am an elder with my 17 and 11 months of life experience)

    The values they are taught and the people they grow up to be will not only affect their own futur, but the ones of those around them. 

    So we know how important it is to set a good example and bla bla bla. Nevertheless, we also know that we are not perfect beings, and sometimes we are not conscious of the messages we are sending the younger generation. How do you raise, mentor, teach, tutor, or babysit a child in a body positive environment? 

      I have worked with kids a lot, both for the FP and on my own time, so I have learned a few concrete steps that you can take to properly educate your young friend on the right and wrong ways to treat their body, both physically and psychologically. 

    1. Food is a friend, not a foe

    It is probably no shock for you to hear that environments where diets, food guilt and fat shaming are present on a regular basis have been proven to be the building blocks of an unhealthy relationship with food. Instead of treating meals and snacks like the enemy you have to suppress, hide, and feel ashamed of, speak of their nutritious value as the charger that keeps your energy battery up and running. Food makes you grow strong and tall and healthy, and that's all it should be. So instead of constantly hammering on about the amount of calories certain items contain, focus on their source of protein, vitamin and calcium. And don't forget to mention that not all fats or carbs should be avoided like the plague, because like all things in life, it's about moderation. 

    2. Coping Strategies

It's a very common, yet unhealthy stereotype for women to drown their tears in a pit of Ben n Jerrys. 
And while I am definitively pro-ice cream, these aren't the coping mechanisms we want to instil in young kids. By teaching kids that food can be a healer, you change to way they visualize food, and often that healer will turn into a self harm weapon, by restriction, binging or purging. It it therefor vital to redirect feelings of overwhelming stress, sadness, anger, etc. towards a releasing activity. For quiet, more focused kids, visual arts, writing and music are some key examples, or for the more active child, accessible physical activity of any kind, like running, kick boxing, karate or other self-defense classes, the list goes on.  Kids pick up habits and reflexes quicker than adults, and if the pattern sticks, they can stay with them for the entirety of their lives. By teaching them that food is not the answer to their problems, you also teach them to respect their bodies, because the relationship between emotional eating behaviours and eating disorders in a Venn diagram is often a circle. 

    3. The Talk 

    One of our greatest shortcomings, in my opinion, regarding kids, is how frequently we assume. We assume that they know about the media, unrepresentative and manipulated images and the psychology behind marketing. We assume that because we tell them they are beautiful they automatically believe it. We assume that they understand that bodies come in all different shapes and sizes, and that one size does not fit all. But the reality of the situation is that we often assume wrong. Sure, they hear snippets of wisdom from their older sister or their soccer coach, but how many adults actually sit them down with a magazine and explain why those people look that way? How many adults explain what really makes someone beautiful, and with the help of a mirror point out all the wonderfully imperfect things about the  child that make him or her beautiful? How many adults explain bone structure, the relationship between weight, height, and muscle mass, and the reasons why everyone's body should be respected? My guess is very few. And it's a shame, because if the ones who see the world in its complexity cannot open the innocent eyes of today's youth, who will? 


    I hope you all have a wonderful week:)




    Honesty or Overkill: Opening Up About an ED

    I recently wrote an article for ANEB, which you can find here http://www.anebquebec.com/blogue/2013/08/12/honnetete-ou-exces/ and decided to translate it for all my non-francophones. Enjoy:)

    Phew! The heavy burden of secrecy that I carried is gone. No more lies, the whole truth, so no worries...right?

    Revealing to your loved ones that you are suffering or have suffered from an eating disorder sounds tempting. And in most circumstances, this confession may be useful or even essential to obtain professional help and treatment for this disease. But are there boundaries not to be trespassed when speaking of specific and explicit details of your struggle that could result in harmful consequences? 

    I argue that yes, details of compensating behaviours, lies or tricks used to perpetuate eating disorder behaviors should be limited when addressing friends and family, or even an individual present in an ANEB chat session, who is not a health care professional. Here are my 3 reasons defending why these subjects should be omitted: 

    Giving bad ideas

    Most of what we know as been taught to us by someone or something else, and it's no different for our bad habits and coping mechanisms. Specific details about your methods of compensatory behaviors, for example, may seem harmless to you, but they are still bad seeds you are planting in the brain of the other. We can not foresee what the consequences of these ideas might be on one another, short or long term, so it is always best to prevent any adverse reactions. 

    They are only consequences to a bigger problem 

    Your habits and actions to control your weight are only the consequences of a psychological distress lead by an obsession with body image and fear of weight gain. If you want to find the cause of the disorder and treat it effectively,  analyze the emotions behind your behaviours, therefor leaving out details of physical actions would be best. 

    They cannot help your family and friends help you 

    What is the point of telling your family and friends that you have or have had an eating disorder if they can not help you properly? They can not always be with us to ensure that we are eating enough or whatnot, so giving graphic details of these unhealthy behaviours, over which people those who support us have very little power, proves itself to be futile. If the people around us can help us, it is mainly through their moral support, psychological and emotional.

    It is certainly healthy to be honest and open with the ones we love, but we have to be conscious of the thin line between pertinent and overkill.

    Have a lovely week!


    Is "Fat" an Insult?

    Hello my beautiful fudgies:)

    I recently watched a Laci Green video, link on your right or click right here, in which she discusses fat shame. One of the ideas she proposed to diminish or eradicate fat shaming is to simply call fat by its name: FAT. Not fluff, or pudge, or any other childish name to "soften" the blow of what society has made its most devious insult. Yes indeed, the way we avoid mentioning the word "fat" is oh-so telling about the way it is portrayed in the 21st century. So is fat an insult, but most importantly, SHOULD it be?
    I dish out my personal opinion on the topic.

    The Times, They Are A-Changing

    As Laci mentions, the way we view fat as a society has not always been so negative. While it is true that throughout the Middle Ages the dominant Catholic church in Occident shunned gluttony, one of the 7 deadly sins, which can be associated with overeating, it's important to point out that finding enough to eat was still a daily struggle for most of the population. Appearing opulent was something only the privileged could afford, and it was regarded as noble, attractive, and, contrary to where we stand nowadays, healthy!

    When crop growing and agriculture technology boomed during the Renaissance, the disparity in food supply between rich and poor slowly decreased, creating a shift in the "fat"mentality. It was no longer a sign of wealth, but of lack of self control. Of course, different societies, such as the Chinese Dynasties, have had a different evolution, but most share a fat-loving era in their history.

    With the continuous transformation of "fat" and its implications throughout the ages, in the occidental society, as well as its various meanings across the globe , how can we collectively label the word as an insult? 

    Warped Images

    Ever since Antiquity, painters, sculptors, and artists alike have been slaving over the accuracy of their portrayal of the human body. The exact, realistic proportions were all the rage. So when did we get so accustomed to untruthful representations?
    Well, many art historians would claim that many representations of power figures, such as royalty and political leaders, dating back many centuries ago, were embellished by the artist to please their boss.

    However, the main perpetrators and arguably the most influential originators of the warped image era we currently live in are clothing brands.

    Fuelled by the arrival of fashion magazines and catalogues in the late 19th century such as Vogue, these brands now had a platform for their ads, in which their models could look as beautiful and thin/curvy/flat/wide hipped as the period's beauty expectation required. Whether it was a specific instruction to their campaign artist who sketched the clothes by hand or a lengthy Photoshop transformation on the computer, their eye was and still is on the money, no matter what kind of societal consequences their ads may lead to.

    We live in a time that fat just doesn't sell the way thin does. So if we choose to use "fat" as an insult, aren't we just perpetrating an idea we are being sold?


    Most importantly (again, as Laci said, but she's amazing i cannot HELP but paraphrase her every word!), fat shouldn't be an insult, because it isn't a trait that denotes any negative characteristics. 
    It doesn't imply in its pure, unadulterated  mean, or stupid, or even lazy. It's just a loose connective tissue composed mostly of adipocytes (wikipedia knows what's up). 

    Therefor no, my answer is it should not be an insult. So don't let it be one. 

    have a fantastic week my loves!