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Anorexia is not a necessary part of growing up


AnyBody member Elise Slater's diary excerpt; written while stuck in a hotel room in Rome with only a copy of Marie-Claire as entertainment.  Please excuse the profanities; sometimes there aren’t words strong enough to describe the fashion industry.

...I put down the copy of Marie-Claire and find myself in utter dismay that while I have grown up women’s magazines haven’t. They are still regurgitating the same body fascist, mind numbing & even more worrying; mind-fucking garbage that provided me with enough fuel to develop anorexia in my teens.  So horrifying, the possibility of a girl being able to grow up in modern days into a well-adjusted confident woman seems a slim impossibility.

And that Marie-Claire is supposed to be a thinking woman’s magazine!!! It makes it all the more distressing. Is weight all the thinking woman thinks about these days? I hate to imagine what is in the trashier women’s magazines; my imagination cannot stretch that far.

All three feature articles in the magazine, one on Sandra Dee, one on Terry Schiavo, and one on a girl who went to re-hab in Thailand called Milly, all three have one thing in common – they either suffered from sever anorexia or bulimia at some point in their life. It scares me that it has become a normal rite of growing up to have an eating disorder.  The glamorization of anorexia and self-harming has a lot to answer for. Where are the positive role models? I mean it’s surely not the interview with Elizabeth Hurley, who states: ‘I have to be a little hungry all the time (or) I’d be two dress sizes bigger.’ Get real Liz.

I definitely think like other industries the magazine industry should take responsibility for this crap they are pumping out. I mean who are these people writing these articles and publishing pictures of celebrity cellulite? Do they have any idea of the ramifications they are having on young (and scarily even older) minds?

Cigarette advertising is monitored and has to meet strict guidelines. Why can people write what they like and make insane claims about firming creams and diets and breast enlarging jackets? To the extent of selling diet pills, that were originally developed to treat asthma in horses – Insane! Aren’t these things just as poisonous to our minds as cigarettes to our lungs? And yet we have to ingest this crap involuntarily. We can’t avoid these ads.  These skinny models in overpriced clothing.  Even as strong minded individuals; after the 600th ad telling you that a size  14 girl couldn’t possibly be happy you start to believe it. You can find non-smoking areas, but an ad-free zone in our consumer society = completely unprofitable.

These magazines and the individuals behind putting underweight models on catwalks need to be taken to court.  They need to be made responsible and there needs to be official regulations monitoring the content of magazines and monitoring the catwalks. Prior to anorexia I had a scrapbook of these images, skinny models I wanted to emmulate and articles on anorexia that I got tips from.  And if one girl is doing that you can be sure there are many more doing exactly the same.  These images have an impact. And it is time that was recognised. Having anorexia should not be a standard passage of growing up.

Reader Comments (25)

this will seem very random - but i think i was in an eating disorder unit with milly. i have no idea how to check this as it was back in 97. (huntercombe manor) frankly, above and beyond the point of the initial article and this response, (which i agree with completely, but would also point the finger of blame at the wider media/popular culture, as i'm a guy and didn't read womens mags yet still have anorexia!) i'm just very very glad to hear shes still alive and well. if anyone knows her, please pass on a hello and much love from sam.x
July 3, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersamuel moss
i`d just like to say if there`s in anyway i could help i would. Not just because i new milly but what i saw her go through. She changed me in many ways. I was one of those buy lads mag`s just for the girls and saw nothing wrong but that soon changed when i met milly. There is not much been done to show these lads what these girls go through to make the change there minds.Unless there friends, brothers or sister`s go through this soon change. More needs to be done in school. And more need to be done to help there girls. All i wish and hope Millys well.
January 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterakhtar
I read with interest "Anorexia is not a necesary passage of growing up". My family was devasted by my daughter's Anorexia it began at age 12, and reading the article reminded me of the anger that I felt with these irresponsible Editors. I banned all such magazines from my home in a bid to stop my daughter pouring over them reading about the "fashionablely" anorexic,the most "famous" anorexic", "the "coming out the closet, to promote something anorexic".

If she came across any of these maagazines she would read them closely and would glean any dietary tips that she could. Weight loss/promoting diets being the most helpful to an Anorexic child.

Imagine my horror, despite my sad attempts to protect my child, to find at each visit to our then Eating Disorder Clinic, literally piles of such magazines increasing in size, stacks and stacks of past magazines available in the clinic waiting room. On one occasion in desperation I collected them up and insisted they banned them, I complained bitterly, I brought it up at counselling sessions.

The magazines remained, I was fighting a tiny battle, I was so worn out from fighting our private Anorexia nightmare, otherwise I wished that I could have chanelled my anger towards the fight for the regulation of the "fashion, dieting and fitness indistries".

It's ironic that magazines cannot advertise or promote cigarettes, but so called journalists can sit in their offices making up diets, or suggesting that such and such celebrity got their perfect body in six minutes by eating carrot peelings and give advice to impressionable young people with no regulation what so ever.

I have since left the UK.
January 10, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteranorexia suffers mum
I am the 'anorexic daughter' of the commenter above.
My mum has recently introduced me to this website to help me in my recovery and I doubt that she realises that I found her comment.
I just wanted to say that all of the above is true and that although the media doesn't cause anorexia it definately encourages it.

I am now fourteen and successfully recovering from my eating disorder. I must say that it has robbed me of my childhood and ruined some of the "best years of my life". It makes me shudder when other girls say that they wish they were "a bit anorexic" or when they quote on how Nicole Richie looks better now that she's emaciated. Teen magazines reluctantly say how 'curves are cool' but plaster their pages with images of stick-thin models.

I wish that no one endures this illness as part of growing up. We should not be made to feel insecure at such a young age. Adolescence should be enjoyed, not spent worrying over every morsel of food that eat(or don't eat).
Although that I'm on the path of rehabilitation and eat all of my meals, it still pains me when i sit with my friends and still reject their offers of chocolate or chips.

I would like to thank your organisation for being the first to speak sense about this issue. And i would also like to thank my mum for saving me from an early grave.
I'm always amazed at the difference between the "fashion" magazines & the "men's" magazine's models. If you look at a typical men's mag, you will see healthy, gorgeous women whose ribs aren't sticking through their skin, who's knees aren't knobby and who's cheeks have a healthy glow rather than a pale, washed out blah!

Obviously MEN prefer to look at healthy women rather than skinny sticks - why can't women see themselves as the beautiful creatures that they are. Conversely, they are falling prey to the clutches of a few, very wealthy designers that couldn't care less about the effects that their "runway models" have on kids growing up (and already grown women) today. I notice that the designers don't mind their WALLETS getting fatter every day. *sigh*

Just a thought.
February 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan
Hi, seem like you've got lots to say. interested in talking to the creative team who did the "evolution" spot and other work for dove's self esteem fund?
April 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMike Kirkland
posted yesterday with a request to see if anyone was interested in talking to the creative team that worked on Dove "Evolution" spot and the other films for the self esteem fund about bullshit affecting body image... e-mail me at
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMike Kirkland
to recovering anorexia sufferer-

I'm 17, from the US, and I generally consider myself strong and healthy, but I (like you) am extremely bothered by all the teen mags. Seventeen has articles all about how to love your body and how to dress for your size, and the models in all their fashion shoots are probably my weight and 8 inches taller. And it drives me insane. Because no matter how many articles they publish about being ok with who you are, until they put "normal" sized models in their shoots, the articles are worthless to me. god I hate the industry.
June 4, 2008 | Unregistered Commentergret maria
From a man's perspective, I love skinny girls. But I don't think people should pressure others to be skinny. And I don't think it's just a created ideal, I think most girls look way better skinny. Just because models have hot skinny bodies it shouldn't make women feel bad about themselves anymore then when they see a girl with a hot beautiful face. Should we ban all beautiful faced models too because the average women’s face is not as beautiful? Magazines use skinny models because skinny girls bodies are hot, it's as simply as that. Skinny girls have more shape to them with hot tight curves and small round butts. And that turns men on. All that fat does is add layer of shapeless flesh. "Full figured" women have arms and legs that look like shapeless sausages and their butts are wide and flat. Just because women gain weight around their hips does not make it in any way attractive, just as men gaining weight easily around their stomach does not make a beer belly attractive.

There is nothing wrong with "fuller figured" women, they just shouldn't pretend that they are as attractive as skinny beautiful women. It's like if someone is not athletic they should not pretend that they are a good athlete just because they want to be. Average women need to stop convincing themselves that they are attractive and start either exercising or just accept that they are not as attractive as skinny models. Skinny models are hot and guys lust for them, except it and don't starve your selves to look like them. If you want a hot body then exercise and have a healthy disciplined diet.
June 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMark
I love this site, this photo really made me think about how fashion has gone totally off limits!

Hope to hear from you, take care! Monika xo
July 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMonika
Mark, diet and exercise are better than starvation. I agree with that, but some of what you've said is vaguely misogynistic and narcissistic also. You can't speak for "what guys like" anymore than I can speak for what women like. Some guys like the fuller figure...Some guys actively like really large ladies... and yes, those women are as likely to have beautiful faces as skinny women

Sophie Dahl was (in my opinion) as beautiful when with a fuller figure as skinny...

It's a pity she felt the need to change to make herself "acceptable" to mainstream ideals of thinness.

I'll be blunt now... to look like those "hot models" exercise and sensible eating is not enough. The only way to be THAT thin is to starve or to eat very low fat food all the time and exercise TOO MUCH.

I'd not be too bothered if a hot looking guy had a bit of a tum... If he's a beautiful person inside apart from any physical attractiveness it would show through regardless of his waist size.

I know... post a pic of yourself on here and we'll rate you next to some sort of platonic ideal of manly good looks. You're entitled to your taste but don't think you're godlike in your assessment of what all other males on the planet think. That's arrogance gone insane.
September 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVic
when i typed in anorexia on the internet i was shocked to see some of the pictures i saw!!!
...this girl is reallly skinny, but considering some of the other stuff she isnt so bad, her ribs are showing which is still a bad sign but she has a little bit of flesh, so she isnt the worse case.

lets be honest here that aint exactly attractive...
December 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkatie
Milly if you see this we are sorry for everything we said and did. None of what happened on here above Akhtar or anything else said was down to us his family and friends not Aki. He tock the blame so nothing would happen to you and your family. If you could help us find him in anyway we would be gratefull. John Alford
February 14, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjohn and family
I am TOTALLY against those kinds of ads, or at least against all ads being that way, but I sure as hell don't think we should start censoring magazines. Government censorship is just as unhealthy.
May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlicia
Anorexic girls are soooo hot. I'll never even touch a girl over 130 pounds. I can't stand fat *vomits*

That girl in the picture has the perfect body!
July 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJosh
I just wanted to add that it's men like Mark who assume that all men want the same thing who have the capability to break a strong, beautiful woman down into a weak, emotionally damaged woman. I love myself and I know I'm attractive, and I try hard every day to convince myself that I'm worth love even though I'm not skinny, but whenever I read a comment from a man saying that "point blank, thin women are more attractive", it breaks me down a little bit more.
October 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterC
C, you're still strong and beautiful. Just remember that not all men are like that - my husband isn't, for one, and there are plenty like him.

There's nothing more personal than sexual and romantic attraction, and anyone who claims to speak on behalf of an entire gender on something so individual doesn't know what they're talking about.
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August 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertagiwc
September 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

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