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Editor of UK Vogue takes a stand against designers and their too-small sample size

Alexandra Shulman has been reported by the Times to have written to leading fashion houses complaining that the sample sizes that models are required to wear don't comfortably fit the established models and that she is having to retouch the photos to make the models appear larger. She is quoted to say "I am finsing that the feedback from my readers and the general feeling in the UK is that people don't really want to see such thin girls either in editorial or advertising." She invites their views. Anybody supports Ms Shulman in taking this step and hopes that this is a step towards change. and

Click to read more ...


An event to interest AnyBodies...


Book graffiti courtesy of Silas


A conference to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the publication of Susie

Orbach’s classic book Fat is a Feminist Issue, and to explore new ideas about

body-image and how we become embodied.



Freud’s Body: From Hysterical Paralysis to Relational Skin


Psychoanalysis and Cosmetic Surgery


“How Many Bodies Come into the Consulting Room in Cases of Severe Trauma?”


Is Fat Still a Feminist Issue?

In Conversation with Valerie Sinason and Brett Kahr

Click to read more ...


Why men can be ugly and talented and women only botoxed to behold

AnyBody just read this most fabulous article on The Guardian website - an insightful piece by Tanya Gold about the media's beauty fascism against women. Why is it that women who do not fit into the Britney Spears mould are not represented by the media, unless in a self-depreciating comedic role? Where are the 'real women' character actors? Where are the new generation Liza Minellis and Dame Judy Denchs? They have been replaced with female eye candy, nice to look at but empty calories to boot. Gold uses the media's reaction to Susan Boyle as an example of our prejudice - for here is a woman who dared to break the mould and was daring enough to stand on a stage and sing, unapologetic that she isn't a size zero plastic clone...

It wasn't singer Susan Boyle who was ugly on Britain's Got Talent so much as our reaction to her

By Tanya Gold, The Guardian, Thursday 16 April 2009

Is Susan Boyle ugly? Or are we? On Saturday night she stood on the stage in Britain's Got Talent; small and rather chubby, with a squashed face, unruly teeth and unkempt hair. She wore a gold lace dress, which made her look like a piece of pork sitting on a doily. Interviewed by Ant and Dec beforehand, she told them that she is unemployed, single, lives with a cat called Pebbles and has never been kissed. Susan then walked out to chatter, giggling, and a long and unpleasant wolf whistle.

Why are we so shocked when "ugly" women can do things, rather than sitting at home weeping and wishing they were somebody else? Men are allowed to be ugly and talented. Alan Sugar looks like a burst bag of flour. Gordon Ramsay has a dried-up riverbed for a face. Justin Lee Collins looks like Cousin It from The Addams Family. Graham Norton is a baboon in mascara. I could go on. But a woman has to have the bright, empty beauty of a toy - or get off the screen. We don't want to look at you. Except on the news, where you can weep because some awful personal tragedy has befallen you.

Simon Cowell, now buffed to the sheen of an ornamental pebble, asked this strange creature, this alien, how old she was. "I'm nearly 47," she said. Simon rolled his eyes until they threatened to roll out of his head, down the aisle and out into street. "But that's only one side of me," Susan added, and wiggled her hips. The camera cut to the other male judge, Piers Morgan, who winced. Didn't Susan know she was not supposed to be sexual? The audience's reaction was equally disgusting. They giggled with embarrassment, and when Susan said she wanted to be a professional singer, the camera spun to a young girl, who seemed to be at least half mascara.

Click to read more ...


Marketing reaches a new all-time low

A 'brainwave' from the Fitness First marketing team in the Netherlands - public shaming. As someone innocently sits to wait for a bus the billboard flashes the persons weight in red numerals for all to see. Wow - what next?!


Reality on the Runway

Some groundbreaking news from AnyBody member Ben Barry...

On Wednesday March 18th Canadian designer Cheri Milaney presented her Fall/Winter 2009 Collection at LG Toronto Fashion Week. She selected 22 real women from ages 20 to 68, sizes 4 to 16, and of all backgrounds to model. These women are teachers, mothers, lawyers, students, sales associates, and entrepreneurs and some have courageously overcome the challenges of cancer. Each women is role model for all of us. None of these women had previously walked a catwalk, and so they each took part in three rehearsals to learn how to walk the runway. One woman, a teacher, said that we used the hallways of her school as her practice catwalk. Each woman brought life onto the runway and into the clothes with her confidence and radiance. Cheri was the first designer to present her collection at any fashion week in the world on women of diverse ages, sizes, and backgrounds. The first step in changing the catwalk has happened

Here are some photos of the show...

Reality on the runway

Coached by Ottawa's Ben Barry, real women do the catwalk at Toronto Fashion Week

Article from: The Ottawa Citizen By Liza Herz, 21/3/2009

With a rolling easy gait, Tamara Morahan practised her runway walk last Monday in a west-end Toronto dance studio along with 21 other happy, laughing recruits. "Your hips should arrive before you do," proclaimed the plucky 36-year-old mother of four, who was chosen as one of 22 "real women" to present Vancouver designer Cheri Milaney's fall-winter 109 collection at Toronto's LG Fashion Week, which wraps up today.

When Milaney decided the models on her runway should better reflect the women who buy her clothes, she enlisted Ottawa's diversity-minded model scout Ben Barry to find the right candidates. Barry is best known to Canadian audiences for having cast Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004. Last fall he received a Governor General's Award for his leadership in advancing the equality of girls and women in Canada. "There are no limits and no restrictions as to who can be on the runway," Barry said in a recent interview, a muted rebuke to those who see modelling as the sole preserve of elegantly starved wraiths.

Click to read more ...


A good role model?

Text: Sharon Haywood, AnyBody contributor

 Perfect your child with digital enhancement compliments of an American re-touching company

What Is The Learning Channel Really Teaching Us?

You don’t need to sneak behind the scenes of a fashion magazine photo shoot to catch a glimpse of packaged perfection. Instead, just tune in to Toddlers and Tiaras: a weekly U.S. reality show on The Learning Channel (TLC) that documents the world of children’s beauty pageants. Its cameras reveal that kids apparently need a lot of help being beautiful. False lashes and penciled brows magnify eyes. Hairpieces add body and volume. Spray-on tans bronze lighter skin tones. French-manicured fingernails shine impeccably. Short ruffled skirts bare silky shaven legs. And ‘flippers’—retainer-like contraptions that give the appearance of a perfectly veneered Hollywood smile—camouflage unsightly gaps caused by lost baby teeth.

An estimated 250,000 babies, toddlers, and children participate each year in beauty pageants across the United States, never failing to generate controversy. It’s of no surprise. Contestants, some not even out of diapers, compete for the crown of The Prettiest Princess by sashaying for judges in formal attire and shimmying down the runway in the latest swimwear. When TLC’s latest series premiered in late January 2009 the online public reacted. Bloggers were disgusted. Mothers were appalled. Then, the strongest voices emerged and expressed their anger: two female high school students from the city of St. Catharines in Canada created a group on the networking site Facebook aimed at taking Toddlers and Tiaras off the air.

These students, Karrin Huynh and Lesley Cornelius, have spoken out against the exploitation and sexualization of these children. They have also drawn attention to the negative messages about body image and self-esteem the show sends young viewers. Their group members, over 5000 Canadians and Americans and still growing, continue to support the proposed ban via emails to Discovery, the show’s parent network. For the moment, shutting it down doesn’t seem forthcoming; however, somebody at the network appears to be listening. The Toddlers and Tiara’s website had previously given viewers the opportunity to vote on the appearance of child contestants, using a scale of one through ten. This feature, as well as before-and-after shots of participants, has thankfully been removed.

If TLC is truly interested in educating the viewing audience, the show’s producers should take a closer look at young women like Huynh and Cornelius. By putting a spotlight on the newest generation of role models and activists, TLC could really teach us something of value.


Defying the beauty myth

 Text: Dr Liz Conor, AnyBody contributor

It is never the done thing for a woman to extol any part of herself as

worthy. It is the done thing to be neurotic and thereby of especial

remunerative value to the beauty industry. But I must say, lately my

fingertips have been in very fine form.

Click to read more ...


A magazine finally breaking the barriers...

By Jo Clements in The Mail Online, 16th February 2009

As cover girls go, she hardly fits the stereotype.

But 15-stone Beth Ditto showed no shyness as she posed naked for Love magazine.

Holding up a pink ruffled skirt to protect her modesty, the Gossip frontwoman struck a sultry pose for the magazine’s launch issue.

Editor-in-Chief Katie Grand promised the publication would be ‘very curvy’ and that ‘no one is a sample size in the whole issue’, and with Miss Ditto on the cover she seems to have kept her word to the extreme.

With red hair and black lips, the openly gay singer closed her eyes and pouted for her glamorous photoshoot.

Her tattoos, one of which reads ‘Mama’, are also clearly visible on her pale skin.

‘She says the wrong things. She looks the wrong way,’ Grand writes in her first editor’s letter.

‘Isn’t it confounding and amazing to have an iconic figure…who doesn’t have a 25-inch waist?

‘She is happy with who she is and the way she is.’

It is not the first time Miss Ditto, 27, has stripped off for a magazine photoshoot.

In 2007 she posed naked, with hairy armpits, on the cover of music magazine NME.

That same year she is said to have turned down a design deal with high street giant Topshop after criticising their ‘limited’ sizing policy. The singer, who called herself a ‘fat, feminist lesbian from Arkansas’, has previously lashed out at size zero celebs and blamed gay men in the fashion industry for the size zero trend. ‘If there’s anyone to blame for size zero, it’s not women,’ she said. ‘Blame gay men who work in the fashion industry who want these women as dolls. ‘Men don’t know what it feels like to be a woman and be expected to look a particular way. The Beckhams are part of the machine; Paris Hilton is part of the machine.’ Miss Ditto has been seen partying with model Kate Moss and can also count Keira Knightley as one of her celebrity fans. The Pirates of the Caribbean star claimed in a magazine interview that Miss Ditto has an ‘amazing body’. ‘When she was performing she started taking all her clothes off,’ Miss Knightley said. ‘I stood there watching her strip, thinking, “Oh my God, that woman is so sexy. She has the most amazing body”.’ Love magazine, which is published by Conde Nast, hits newsstands on February 19.

Does fashion's new love for curves go beyond Beth Ditto?

Hannah Pool, The Guardian, Thursday 19 February 2009

The first thing that one thinks when looking at Beth Ditto on the cover of Condé Nast's new fashion magazine Love is not, "I wonder who made that pink coat she's holding?"

Inside Ditto wears a black elastic Gareth Pugh string dress, and an orange feather Louis Vuitton skirt, and, well, not an awful lot else. In a shoot that seems to be celebrating her flesh, rather than giving her fab clothes to wear, what Ditto is wearing is almost an aside.

But if you look closer, you will see that both the feather skirt and the elastic dress have been made specially for Love magazine. This small print highlights the fact that, while fashion may be embracing Ditto as a style icon, there is still some way to go before this appreciation of one woman turns into the provision of decent clothes for the many. Designers are notorious for claiming that only a size zero will make their clothes look good, so did Love editor Katie Grand have trouble persuading them to dress Ditto? "No one said they didn't want Beth in their clothes. Donatella Versace wanted to do it and so did Chanel, but there wasn't enough time," says Grand.

Ditto is not the only woman with curves that normally reticent designers are keen to clothe these days. Earlier this month singer Adele was styled for the Grammys by US Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who put her in a black 1950s-style dress by Barbara Tfank. But does the fashion pack's acceptance of Ditto and Adele into their clique, and on to the cover of their magazines, actually mean anything? Or are they merely fig leaves, allowing fashion to give the impression it has put its house in order, while in reality little changes? The shoot that follows Ditto's features a model whose chest looks almost concave, signifying that it's back to fashion's version of "normal" pretty quickly.

Were Ditto to walk into a Louis Vuitton store, or that of any other high-end label, she'd be lucky to find a size 14 (she's probably closer to size 20). The high street doesn't do much better, with Zara, Mango and Topshop all stopping at a size 16. That's 16, as in the average dress size of a British woman.

Perhaps things will improve this summer when Ditto herself teams up with Evans to launch her own range, Ditto for Evans. Evans has long been considered a frumpy fashion outpost, but hopefully Ditto will inject some of her own sense of glamour and style into the collection. Is it too much to hope that clothes for curves could knock Kate Moss off her perch at Topshop?


A politician who says it like it is!

Fashion week's thin end of the wedge

- Michael Gove MP From The Times February 23, 2009

This week is, of course, British Fashion Week. Or as I prefer to think of it, British Famine Week. Or British Body Fascism Week. Because what strikes me about fashion - whether it's London, Paris, New York or Milan, whether it's the spring/summer collection or the autumn/winter shows, whether its street or couture, a capsule collection or a diffusion line - is that all the people wearing it are far too thin. Far, far too thin. I've yet to see a model anything near the normal side of slender allowed anywhere near a catwalk. And that sends a clear, powerful and very ugly message.

Designers, style magazines and their allies fondly imagine that each fashion week communicates a new set of principles to guide us towards what looks good. One season it will be tartan, tweed and brown leather, another season will be all about long hem lines, mustard yellow and batwing sleeves. But these efforts to signal what is "on-trend" and "directional" are overshadowed by the central message that the fashion industry communicates - none of it is worth anything unless you're thinner than a slice of air-dried Parma ham.

I'm sure every model who takes part in fashion week is as healthy as a butcher's dog, but that's not the point. For all the women - and especially teenagers - who cannot squeeze into a size zero without either starvation or surgery, the images the fashion industry sell are invitations to self-loathing. I know that fashionistas everywhere will accuse me of narrow philistinism and missing the point of their gorgeous creations. But if they were genuinely talented they could make women of all shapes, sorts and sizes look properly gorgeous instead of just draping angular lady-boys in creations that are little more than drawings come to life.


Target on cosmetic surgery ads on London underground

Text: Joanna Harrison, Photos: Elise Slater, AnyBody members

Graffiti artists with a social comment on a London tube poster 2008

Adverts for cosmetic surgery on the London underground are being deliberately defaced by protesters who see the ads as offensive and sexist.  The Facebook group which calls itself Somewhat strident but who cares has a link to a website from which slogans can be printed. One member apparently uploaded a shot of a poster at a London station, featuring a different model, with the words 'Everyone is beautiful already' scrawled on it in red.

 link to metro piece


Susie Orbach in conversation about new book Bodies 

Text: Joanna Harrison, AnyBody member

Image: The ancient practice of foot binding in China - how far have we really come in 2009?

Susie Orbach spoke about her new book Bodies (see reviews below) at the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday 17th February, in conversation with psychoanalyst Darian Leader and chaired by Lisa Appignanesi, writer and editor.  I went along to listen and wanted to share with anybody my experiences of the event.

Susie is saying something to us with her book that is the beginning of new hope and understanding for us about our bodies.

There was a moment in the talk that symbolised this for me. Lisa Appignanesi, when introducing Susie, said something about the how the quest for perfection in our bodies is something that anyone in their fifties like her will know is a daily struggle. Susie picked her up on this poignantly . She said it breaks her heart that that kind of language, that harsh way of talking about ourselves, is so normal for us and so accepted by us. And that even if it's not going to change, let's have an extra beat to pause on to think about it.

You could feel a kind of joyous relief in the audience at the idea that there might be room to discuss and think about that way we talk about ourselves, that body distress we are all in. At the same time, the very fact of that relief, shows how it is a big thing for us to contemplate challenging what is so firmly culturally rooted in us.

The discussion between Darian and Susie centred around the key themes in her book.

Susie explained that for the last ten years she has had a growing concern that there is widespread body distress, and not just in her private psychotherapy practice, but all around her, and in particular in relation to what she saw of her daughter's experience as she grew up. She said that even in her consulting room, even when a presenting problem is not body related, she still sees signs of body distress which are almost taken as a norm, and that there is really no room for discussion about them. It's just accepted that body anguish is absolutely something you should live with, whether it's dieting or running or cosmetic surgery or whatever form it takes. And it is a contemporary imperative that we have to be masters of our bodies; that our body is a personal project that has to be worked on to bring it to as close as perfection.

The impact of Susie talking in this way and challenging our deep rooted cultural belief that we should make our bodies perfect was something that was powerfully conveyed in a conversation I heard at the end of the talk when we were walking out. There were two girls, maybe late teens or early twenties, and one of them said to the other - "that really made me question something, I mean, it never occurred to me that to try and be skinny wasn't what you should do, you just don't question it do you?" "I know", the other girl said, "that was amazing." That conversation, to me, encapsulates the beginning of hope, the fact that there is room for us to change what has become so second nature to us.

Another key theme had particular relevance for Susie and Darian as clinicians. Darian explained how in the consulting room there is the idea that problems in tbe body are an expression of emotional anxiety. Susie gave the example of how something like ezcema is discussed and thought about in terms of someone who can't weep, who is not happy, whose body is weeping for them. However, she then went on to explain how in her book she is making a plea for a theoretical shift, which has implications for clinicians, to ask that we don't just translate body issues in terms of the mind but that the very distress we have around our bodies and corporeality is creating distress in our minds. And therefore the way clinicians think about bodies in their room, including the feelings they have in their own bodies and how they use them as indicators, is something that needs to be thought about in this context.

Before it went to questions Darian and Susie discussed whether there is a period when a body can be acquired or not. Susie said she thinks there is a critical period in our early development where the level of security in our bodies is set up and that she would love someone to do a PHD on when that period is!

The questions that were asked seem just the kind of questions that any-body is interested to explore and let's hope any-body can be a place to explore these questions even further

for example

Q- what does Susie's book mean for people who work in advertising; how might it be possible to increase diversity

Susie talked about how interested she was to make her arguments to the advertiser; and how, having failed to get the government interested, she had turned to the private sector. She mentioned the example of Rankin, who had made photographs that were so captivating even though with not the usual kind of models

Q- how can we build a society that does let us find our bodies

Susie talked about the possibility of new initiatives with the fashion business (watch this space!!) and taking to the government and the diet industry about notions of health

Q -I don't not care about my body; are you saying that I should not?

Susie said that she was not saying that we should not care about our bodies. We have to make a relationship with our bodies. But what is different is the intensity; the commercial pressure is relentless

Q- I want to aspire to beauty and have it around me. Is that so bad, to buy Vogue, even though I know it is not something I can aspire to?

Susie said that she did not think that the experience of magazines was quite so benign. That there was something about an experience of a magazine that made one feel the need to update oneself, a felt inadequacy.

Q - how do we buffer our children from these issues?

Susie said she had thought about it so much when she had a child and had taken great care to protect her from negative ideas about body image. She had also had made it a mantra that food is there for when you are hungry. Which is something that is quite an unusual thought in our culture!

Q - A lot of what we have talked about is to do with children and young people, is this part of the fact that we are not allowed to get old?

Susie and Darian agreed with this - Susie said there is a cult of not growing up and mentioned the craze for labioplasty.

And any-body got a mention at the talk! Lisa Appignanesi said it's an absolutely terrific site which the audience should all visit. Susie reminded the audience how any-body had started after a talk she had given about a previous book of hers (On Eating) and how she hoped that this talk could be a new starting point for debate.

For me, an any-body contributor, this book gives me a new language for talking about our bodies and this gives me a sense of hope. Susie has articulated something about our bodies that up until now has been hard to feel in any other way than in our physical body distress. That is such a relief. It was poignant to me that on my tube ride home from the talk I read an article about a group of people who are defacing cosmetic surgery posters with slogans like "everyone is beautiful already." I know that there is room for change and Susie's book is that extra beat we can pause on to think about how we can do this.


This is how mad things have become...

Image: Heidi Klum in a Victoria's Secret parade

AnyBody was outraged to hear that Heidi Klum has been deemed too heavy to model on the catwalk by the leading German fashion designer Wolfgang Joop. "No way," Joop told German News website BILD.COM. "She is no runway model. Heidi Klum is simply too heavy and has too big a bust. And she always grins so stupidly. That is not avant-garde - that is commercial."


Susie Orbach on Bodies

AnyBody member Susie Orbach has a new book out - Bodies - read the reviews of Susie's  'timely and powerful polemic...on the western obsession with achieving physical perfection' - William Leith in The Guardian

Laura Tennant in the New Statesman :

' the 30-odd years since Orbach wrote FIFI (Fat is a Feminist Issue), as fans of the book call it, our body fascism has intensified in ways that would have seemed unimaginably bizarre in the 1970s. Orbach is our household-name psychotherapist, the woman who famously treated Lady Di for bulimia. Thanks in part to her books, campaigning and clinical practice, our society's dysfunctional relationship with food has become the subject of nationwide debate. And yet, despite her best efforts, we are if anything even more messed up, in more different ways, than we were when she started. There is something poignant, therefore, in the passionate polemic that Orbach, now in her sixties, presents in Bodies. It is a summing-up of issues first presciently explored in FIFI and an exploration of new problems unique to the 21st century. It is also a plea for "bodies sufficiently stable to allow us moments of bliss and adventure when, sure that they exist, we can take leave of them".

...Orbach's book is the product of a lifetime's reflection on the way in which our bodies, once serviceable and taken for granted but also capable of moments of intense, unselfconscious joy, have become something somehow separate from us - and their inevitable imperfectibility, decay and eventual end are eternally tormenting. The human condition, in other words, has been made hellish by our contemporary refusal to accept it. Mature, nuanced and suggestive, Bodies is no self-help book, but its message is potentially liberating.'

William Leith in The Guardian:

'As a psychotherapist, Orbach had asked women what their fat was actually doing for them. It was giving them a certain relief, they said. It "took them out of the category of woman and put them in the androgynous state of 'big girl'". It gave them something concrete to worry about, so they wouldn't have to think about all their other troubles. "Above all," Orbach wrote, "the fat woman wants to hide."

In this new book, Orbach tells us what has happened to our bodies in the intervening three decades. These days, we live in an even more twisted world. Or, as Orbach puts it, "the problems I sought to describe have mushroomed". Now that we no longer use our bodies to make things, she says, we make our bodies instead. Our bodies are the product.'

Min Jin Lee in The Times :

'Bodies, Orbach's latest book, is a smart and rich compendium of what is going on within and without our bodies today, its pages informed by Orbach's decades of clinical practice and research. The 144-page volume is comprised of six chapters and in each one Orbach uses a multidisciplinary approach to explain the struggle with our physical selves. As a clinical therapist, she invites us into her office and through case studies we watch her work: a man wants to remove his healthy legs; a boy refuses to grow; one man has erectile dysfunction; and another prefers nudity. Why?

...Orbach pulls no punches with food conglomerates such as Nestlé, which owns Lean Cuisine, or Heinz, which makes WeightWatchers products, as they play fast and loose with the fashion of food and diet to ensure that you don't know what, how or when to eat. The weight-loss industry relies “on a 95 per cent recidivism rate”. In our digital world, if Photoshop and airbrushing furnish only impossible visual goals, no matter. Join Second Life and choose the avatar of your visually altered dreams. She addresses the democratisation of plastic surgery, fashion designers who send clothes hanger-like bodies down their runways, the deceptive cosmetics business and the granddaddy of them all, capitalism - for surely, we fret ourselves witless in our discontent then turn to “the merchants of body hatred” for help.'

Click here to purchase 'Bodies' on Amazon



Why Reflect Reality?

Here's AnyBody member Ben Barry's original research

Image from Dove pro age campaign

While extensive research has demonstrated the harmful impact of using models that reflect a singular notion of beauty on women's wellbeing, few studies have investigated how women evaluate models that reflect a realistic notion of beauty. Through qualitative research of seventy-five participants between the ages of 14-65 in three countries, I explored how women evaluate traditionally attractive models (TAMS) and realistically attractive models (RAMS) in beauty advertising and how their evaluations influence brand attitudes. I found that viewer-source similarity, promotional copy, disposition toward the model, and visual codes affect endorser and brand assessments and that, overall, RAMS received the most positive evaluations. While using TAMS may currently be a profitable strategy for fashion and beauty brands, my study reveals that unrealized potential may exist for brands that feature RAMS in their adverts. Brand managers are advised to select models that reflect the sizes, ages, and ethnic backgrounds of their target market to reap the benefits from women's positive evaluations.

As featured in the Guardian "Young, white and super skinny? We don't buy it, women tell advertisers."

Read the full paper online:


Tackle child obesity: teach mums to eat

Text: Susie orbach, AnyBody member

December 18, 2008

A leading campaigner on food and fat has a simple solution for the Chief Medical Officer

Dear Sir Liam Donaldson,

You've been alerting us to the obesity time-bomb for nearly a decade.

And quite rightly. Obesity is the manifestation of a food- and size-obsessed society that most shows us we are in trouble where eating is concerned. The latest information from the EarlyBird Diabetes study of 233 children from birth to puberty, published in the journal Paediatrics, shows that one in four children aged 4 to 5 in England is overweight despite normal birth weights. But, says Terry Wilkin, the study's lead researcher, it is difficult to know what is causing the upsurge.

Difficult? Well perhaps. But not that difficult. You don't have to be a psychoanalyst to know that childhood is formative and that one's earliest eating experiences - entwined as they are with our fundamental feelings of security, love, attachment and caring - form the basis of how we approach food and succour throughout our lives.

Mothers strive to and want to give their children all that is best and most reassuring. But in many cases, this doesn't happen because mothers themselves are troubled by erratic eating, fear of food, preoccupation with body size, frequent dieting, and its sister - bingeing.

Babies and children mimic. That is a crucial part of how they learn. So it is surely no wonder that if babies or toddlers pick up on a fraught atmosphere around feeding and eating, they will take that as the norm. And it shouldn't surprise us that when the children become more independent eaters they will reflect what they have learnt not only in their eating choices, but in the emotional feelings of safety, anxiety, fear, pleasure or satisfaction that go with food.

People don't eat compulsively because they are hungry. People don't eat excessively because they forgot to exercise or balance their calorie output against their calorie input. People don't eat more than they need because they are just plain ignorant or bolshie.

People eat when they aren't hungry because they are bored, anxious, angry, conflicted, nervous, sad or overexcited. They reach out for something cheap and tasty that feels momentarily like a treat; something that takes their mind off what hurts. The upset feelings don't get dealt with; they sit there and the next time they emerge, the person will again turn to food for soothing.

This behaviour is learnt when we are little - whether it is by being rewarded with food, by being given food to cheer us up after falling down or by observing a mother who is constantly dieting but then eats off a child's own plate. Food becomes not food but something imbued with magically comforting properties.

Sir Liam, you are calling for early interventions. Thank goodness. But is anyone in the Department of Health listening? Will they now? For at least ten years, I have been pestering the department (as, I imagine, have others) with economical, nay cheap, plans to provide support to help new mothers not pass their eating problems on to their babies. Helping mothers to come to grips with their own eating difficulties is surely the sanest and most effective way to help two generations in one go.

It's not difficult to see how to train midwives and health visitors to take a more nuanced and psychobiological approach to expectant and new mothers so that their eating attitudes, habits and psychological issues are addressed rather than their being told to feed on the right breast for ten minutes and then the left.

No disrespect to health visitors; I know that they want to help new mothers and their babies but at present they are undertrained and too rushed to take the time really to address what mothers and babies need.

But it needn't be so. Compared with the cost of treatments for obesity-related diseases later in life and what will inevitably become, in time, a lucrative pill for the pharmaceutical companies, it makes sense to spend some money now by employing more health visitors and extending their training so that they can underpin the crucial parenting job of introducing a child to food and eating in a relaxed manner.

Sir Liam, these are messages that the Government must take on board and work with alongside the often (but not always) sound nutritional policies that it disseminates. New mothers are keen to get it right for their babies. Let's help them to get it right for themselves and reverse their own, often unseen, eating difficulties.

And Sir Liam, about that taboo word obesity. I'm not so sure that you're right on why it rubs people up the wrong way. It could just be that calling obesity a disease rather than a description of size, castigating rather than understanding people's complex relationship to food and patronising them with oversimplified slogans about “energy in, energy out”, makes the kind of changes that you would like to see in our attitude towards weight seem unappetising.

So please, Sir Liam, can I talk to you about implementing some programmes that stand a good chance of addressing the eating problems that beset so many - and that are contributing to the epidemic in the next generation.

As Erasmus told us nearly 500 years ago “young bodies are like tender plants, which grow and become hardened into whatever shape you've trained them”. He wasn't wrong where it comes to food. So let's train people to relish it rather than fear or laud it.

Yours in frustration and hope, Susie Orbach

Susie Orbach is author of Fat is a Feminist Issue and Bodies, to be published by Profile in January



On the Increase... Plastic Surgery Below the Belt

plastic surgery women

David Papas / Uppercut Images / Getty

Article by Laura Fitzpatrick Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008

Appalled at the popularity of so-called designer vaginas, a grass-roots organization called the New View Campaign staged its first-ever protest on Monday outside New York City's Manhattan Center for Vaginal Surgery. Two dozen women — ranging in age from teenagers to, ahem, sexagenarians — handed out index cards and held up orange poster boards with the message "No Two Alike," while two members of the group donned giant cloth vulva costumes. New View, which was created in 2000 in response to the introduction of Viagra, is trying to fight what it calls "the medicalization of sex," the idea that there is a physical right and wrong when it comes to all things sexual. Says the group's leader Leonore Tiefer, a sexologist and psychologist at New York University: "Promoting a very narrow definition of what women's genitals ought to look like — even for those women who don't want surgery, it harms them." (See the Top 10 Medical Missteps.)

The number of women getting genital cosmetic surgery is still relatively small, with as few as 1,000 women in the U.S. going under the knife each year and 800 in the U.K. But the pace is accelerating: in the U.S., the number of women getting these procedures, which often cost upwards of $5,000 at clinics from Texas to Kansas to California, increased 20% from 2005 to 2006. In the U.K., the number of surgeries more than doubled between 2002 and 2007. And for the first time, a U.S. medical textbook on women's reproductive health to be published in 2009 will include a chapter devoted entirely to female genital plastic surgery. The media have been doing their part to get the word out too. Post-op patients regularly extol their newly improved sex lives in women's magazines. Dr. Robert Rey, star of E!'s Dr. 90210, is big on vaginoplasty, and this fall NBC's Lipstick Jungle featured an episode about G-spot enhancement (via collagen injection).

To read the rest of the article go to,8599,1859937,00.html



Wonderful 'Stop Fat Talk' viral

More information on this video and the week it promotes can be found here:

Tri Delta press release



Eat Your Heart Out

Eat Your Heart Out exposes the food industry's devastating effect on people's lives. "It is a brilliant expose of the food industry and its nefarious practices which treat workers like modern days slaves while the few big  companies manipulate what's available to eat. Felicity really shows the links between mercantile capitalism and global capitalism and the ways in which our current economic and trading relationships are turning ever more countries into food dependent states.


A fashion designer’s take on the body debate

Image and text: Elise Slater, AnyBody member

As a fashion designer and member of the lovely AnyBody group I was asked to speak at the annual BEAT conference on the topic ‘Has fashion got it’s house in order’ and I thought I would share my ideas on this topic with all the AnyBody devotees out there. The talk was in response to the results of the London Model Health Inquiry, we’d love to hear your views on the topic also…..

'Being a fashion designer I obviously love fashion, but I do not believe it needs to be deadly or detrimental to women to be great. And I most certainly do not believe that developing an eating disorder and body hatred should be a normal rite of passage for a teenager the way it seems to be becoming.'

At no other time in history has fashion’s ideal been so narrow and restricting, with identi-kit ultra-thin models being the global ideal. And this isn’t the fault of the models, it is the fault of the designers who are demanding these anorexically-thin figures.

The most ridiculous aspect of the fashion industry at present is that bodies are being cut to fit the fashions, whereas it should be the cloth that is cut to fit the body.

The invention of standardised sizing is much to blame – the idea that the body comes in a range of incremental sizes that everyone should slot into was and is ridiculous.

In the age of couture garments were made to fit each model personally. Now the clothes are made, and then the models found to fit them – thus requiring a standardised body – something which doesn’t exist. So it isn’t the models fault that they need to starve and binge to fit the clothes – the problem is that the designer isn’t designing for a woman, but a human coathanger.

No other industry is so un-economical, producing increasingly tiny sizes and ideals while the sizes in the population continue to increase. You only have to see how most women feel when exiting a change room – despressed that their body doesn’t fit the clothes, rather than blaming the clothes for being ill-fitting – to see fashions serious effect on our psyche.

And the change can start with the fashion industry – if designers increase their sample size, then catwalk models will look healthier, fashion magazines that use these sample garments will be forced to use larger models, and the ripple effect will continue to the advertising industry and eventaully to the impressionable minds of women.

The recommendations of the ‘Model Inquiry’ are a good beginning, but they are still only ‘recommendations’ and require funding and continued public pressure to make them a reality.

Part of the solution is to make designers realise the massive impact they have on women’s sense of self, and that portraying unrealistic and unhealthy messages has a catastrophic effect. Fashion functions by being discriminatory and elitist, but truly great fashion should be amazing without relying on body fascism to elevate it to the lofty heights of cool.

The solution is many-fold – it includes media literacy education at schools – something the Dove real beauty campaign has started, it includes making changes to sample sizes at fashion schools and increasing the rights and treatments of our models, who are as much victims of the fashion industry as the rest of us. It includes putting pressure on designers to meet the challenge of designing for women in all their diversity.

People will get used to seeing bigger and healthy models the same way fashion can convince us to embrace high waists on the catwalk after seasons of hipsters – our eyes and minds will adjust.

We. As women need to realise these ideals are only in place to make us spend through insecurity. We need to reject these negative images found throughout magazines and teach children how to analyse and decipher these messages.

We need to see that these ideals limit and restrict us, they are designed to preoccupy us so that we cannot focus on the larger issues. And it is within our power to reject these ideals and talk back to the fashion and media worlds.

So while the changes require hard work and perseverence, when the next generation grow up to love and not loathe their bodies it will all be worth it.

C. Elise Slater 2008


The BFC breaks it's promise ahead of London Fashion Week

Image: AnyBody protesting at LFW feb 2007 - hoping to make a change

We at AnyBody were as shocked as all of you when we opened the paper on our way to work yesterday and saw that for all of our campaigning and all the promises from the BFC to clean up the London model scene - one of their biggest promises - that to have health checks for all models - is to be scrapped - and to think we thought they were dedicated to the cause!  In a true sign of the times the BFC said that they do not have the power to introduce such a change - and that this power lies with the big brands - so it looks like we may have to re-focus our efforts -  Marks & Spencer and Topshop beware!

'London Fashion Week scraps plans to ban underweight models' - 13th August 2008 -  By Anna Davis and Rashid Razaq

Plans to ban unhealthily thin catwalk models from London Fashion Week have been dropped after other leading cities failed to sign up to the proposals.

Compulsory health checks for underweight models have been abandoned in the face of massive opposition from the fashion industry.

The measures were aimed at deterring the use of size zero models - equivalent to a British size four - but an inquiry concluded they were unworkable.

Health experts criticised the move, saying it sent the message to models that their health did not matter.

The planned

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