Search AnyBody:

AnyBody Articles:

Please note that this website was selected for preservation by the British Library ( The contents of the site (but not external links) will be archived regularly. This is to ensure that "scholarly, cultural and scientific resources" will not be lost to future generations. If you wish your contribution to this website to be excluded from the archived version please write to

Entries in Susie Orbach (2)


EATING: Encouraging Intuition not Obsession

Something we have realised with our Ditching Dieting Campaign is that ditching something you've always done, even if it's something that may not be working, is scary. So what to do instead? How to trust yourself around food without a 'plan'? Without a points structure? Meal replacements? Special recipes? We're led to believe that there's no way of doing it on our own, and enormous profits are made off the back of this common myth.

If you are moving around, living your life and listening to your own desires - eating when you are hungry, stopping when you are full, eating precisely what you need and want in that moment – then you should not feel your health threatened by being in the ‘obese’ box on a flawed BMI chart. However, this kind of intuitive eating becomes harder and harder under the onslaught of methods to make money from your body. The diet industry claims to offer comfort, support and solutions to make your world a happier, healthier place and it's completely understandable that many, many people choose to diet when in the thrall of anxiety about their bodies, something that is exacerbated by imagery in the media, gossip magazines and online news outlets that dissect bodies (women's especially) routinely as entertainment.

To help people who are dieting and are sick of it, or have given up and are not sure where to turn or for those considering dieting, we have made a free Intuitive Eating booklet to download (see below). It's based on Susie Orbach's book On Eating and gives you basic pointers to understand intuitive eating and how it might work for you. The whole book is great but it isn't practical to use discretely, so this guide has been designed (with instructions) so it can be made into a booklet or small cards, sized to fit into a credit card slot in a wallet.

Intuitive eating isn't easy and takes time, but it works for many as a way to be free of anxiety around food and to have healthy responses to all 'hungers' as we often mistake other feelings, such as boredom or loneliness for actual hunger, and food cannot alleviate such feelings for long.

Perhaps this approach might seem scary to try alone, so maybe do it with others, as one of the best things about diet groups is the mutual support people get from other members. This doesn't have to cost you a penny either: you could meet with friends to discuss how you are getting on, the breakthroughs and pitfalls, just like a regular diet meeting except you can banish the scales!

Last but not least: there are common misconceptions around the concept of eating whatever you want or are hungry for in relation to this kind of diet-free approach, and in the context of public health and the 'obesity crisis' some have criticised it as irresponsible to encourage people who are classified as "morbidly obese" to eat what they 'want'. Intuitive eating is not a free pass to stuff yourself with as much junk food as possible, or in other words, binge. Rather, it is about developing a new relationship with food and your body,

This misconception is rooted in the fact that there are no forbidden foods while practicing intuitive eating, so in the initial stages, some people’s bodies may ask for more of those “bad” foods they had previously categorized as off limits. With time and practice, those “bad” foods lose their power, so that a chocolate bar and a carrot stick ultimately can have equal appeal. Intuitive eating is about distinguishing between hungers and discovering what your body really needs by tuning into the messages we get naturally.

Learn more about our Ditching Dieting campaign and how to become part of the movement.

Download the Intuitive Eating Guide HERE.


Mini Intuitive Eating Guide


Susie Orbach Speaks at the UN Commission on the Status of Women

UN Commission on the Status of Women 2012 Image © UK Home OfficeOn February 29, 2012 Susie Orbach, convenor of AnyBody/UK Endangered Bodies delivered the following speech at the event "Body Image in the Media: Using Education to Challenge Stereotypes" during the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York City.

© Susie Orbach 2012

I’m very pleased to be speaking here today on this historic occasion.

It has been customary for the west to bemoan and critique the appalling forms of violence practiced against girls and women in the rest of the world – FGM, rape as a tactic of war, forced marriage.

In this focus what has been overlooked have been the vicious body practices that girls and women have come to take on themselves in the west in the mistaken belief that they are doing good for themselves.

 These include:

  • Self-starvation and the often bulimic response--compulsive eating and vomiting.
  • The surgical transformation of breasts, legs, stomachs, cheek bones to conform to the latest beauty ideal
  • The use of diet and pharmaceutical products to suppress appetite
  • The botoxing of 5 year olds

The west congratulates itself on its distance from Eastern practices of foot binding which constrained and limited women. It fails to see the links between toe operations carried out now to enable women to fit into the latest 4 inch high heels.

The west smugly criticises FGM while sanctioning labiaplasty and the remaking of the genital lips which has become a growth area for cosmetic surgeons.

The west makes appeals about famine victims in the southern hemisphere but has failed to notice the voluntarily insane food practices that exist in their own countries.

The west hasn’t noticed that these are forms of violence and constraint for women. And they haven’t noticed for three important reasons.

The first is that the idea of beauty has been democratised – extended to all. The second is that simultaneously, the ideal of what beauty is has narrowed.

Beauty is no longer seen as intrinsic to the individual. Instead the individual is judged on how well she can shape herself to today’s aesthetic which is tall, white, blonde, long haired and big breasted.

The imperative of beauty traverses class and age. From 5 to 80, girls and women learn they need to look at themselves from the outside whatever they are doing to make sure they look good. This demand can produce severe anguish, self-alienation, eating problems, body distortions and disturbing mental health issues.

The third reason is connected to the other two in significant ways. It is the engine which feeds the tyrannical hold that beauty exercises on girls and women’s energies, dollars and sense of self. It relates to those industries which grow rich on creating body distress and body hatred in girls and women.

These industries look like they are benevolent and helpful. In fact they are quite the opposite.

The beauty companies, the fashion houses, the diet companies, the food conglomerates who also of course own the diet companies, the exercise and fitness industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the cosmetic surgery industry combine together, perhaps not purposefully or conspiratorially, to create a climate in which girls and women come to feel that their bodies are not ok. They do this through the promotion of celebrity culture, through advertising on every possible outlet from billboards to magazines to our electronic screens, through the funding of media outlets which can only exist because of their economic support.

Taking on any one of these industries is difficult and will pose the same kind of challenges as taking on tobacco who also portrayed themselves as health giving and benevolent. The profits of WW’s for example were up 25.3% in 2011[1]. We are talking big money. We are talking about a company whose product needs to fail in order for it to keep selling. If dieting worked you would only have to do it once. There would be no repeat customers.

As immoral and unethical as the activities of these companies are in and of themselves, the economics of growth as we currently conceive it depends upon their extending their markets. L’Oreal’s growth rate in China is 26%. They achieve this not by marketing their lipsticks and hair products to Chinese women per se but by marketing the western body as the body to have to Chinese women. They and the other beauty, fashion, media companies promote the western body to the new economies as a way of finding a place to belong in the maelstrom and confusion of modernity.

Alongside the disseminating of western ideals of beauty to Asia, Africa and South America, is the export of the consequences of these ideals: body hatred and body anxiety. This is the emotional fallout from the endeavours of these industries and the basis on which they make their extraordinary and obscene profits.

This is a not an easy target to attack. These industries are not small and their damage is great. They are mining bodies as though they were a commodity like coal or gold.  Women’s bodies all over the world are being designated as profit centres.  

As the western ideal becomes plastered over the globe we bear witness to the loss of indigenous bodies. This is a new frontier of colonialism. Mad eating is normalised. Western style bodies are revered and local bodies are swallowed up as fast as demise of local languages. We must stop it. And now.

Thank you.






[1] Weight Watchers International, Inc. (WTW) Q4 2011 Earnings Call February 14, 2012 5:00 PM ET