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Louis C.K.’s “Fat Girl” Scene Strikes a Cord with Women Everywhere

Last week, I was on Good Morning America to talk about Louis C.K.’s now famous “Fat Girl” scene in which actress Sarah Baker, gives a unique and honest perspective about being “a fat-girl in her 30s living in New York City.” And while some still complained that the scene was far from perfect, others found it “absolutely magnificent.”  Vanessa, the character played by Baker, simply put her opinions out there, without sadness or apology, and said what was on her mind.

GMA_mayphoto_800_400_cropWhy did it strike such a nerve?

In short; when we are used to seeing fantasy, photoshop and fabrication of the truth, a little raw honesty goes a long, long way.  The character of Vanessa is vivacious, smart, interesting and beautiful and she tells Louis without any self pity, be honest with me, be honest with yourself and realize by saying “you’re not fat,” you discount me, you refuse to see me and you join the legions of others who stereotype because of my weight.  Being “fat” doesn’t take away a person’s gifts and strengths.  Being plus-size and amazing are not mutually exclusive.  Can’t she just be who she is and still be loved and celebrated?

What does this segment tell men?

This 7 minute segment tells men to (1) break the bond between the term fat and the ugly stereotypes that are unfairly associated with it, (2) hang up your hang ups and be with the person who you like and who brings out the best in you and (3) realize that the problem of stereotyping women is not just a woman problem, it’s everyone’s problem—don’t be another of society’s lemmings, be part of the solution.

What’s one thing we can take from this scene?

People aren’t seeing themselves reflected in the media and this is warping our concept of what is normal. I think society needs to see and hear from someone who so obviously breaks the stereotype, that everyone is worthy of being loved, everyone of us brings something important to the table and “fat” and “thin” are simply descriptors of body types not of worth or character.

Brief aside: I really enjoyed doing this segment on Good Morning America.  And an extra perk?  I met theJimParsonsBBT enormously talented Jim Parsons that day who was also there.  Bonus!  Or should I say, Bazinga!

Now back to Louis C.K.  What did you think of the segment?

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Are you part of the fat-talkin’ club? 7 Tips to Address the Problem with Friends

Are you a member of the Fat-Talkin’ Club?  There are chapters…worldwide.

It’s Fat Talk Free Week and, like every year, we are being challenged to drop the fat talk between friends.  This can be a tall order for many.  Why? Because fat-talking has become a habit and a bona fide, integrated component of many friendship circles.  Is it part of yours?

Let’s see.

Do you hear things like:

“You’re so skinny!

“I wish I had your legs!”

“I’m such a whale…pig…heifer…elephant…”

“I can’t believe I ate that.”

“I’m so fat…”

when you are with one or more of your friends?  Then you may be a card-carrying member of the Fat Talkin’ Club.

So what can you do about it?

  1. Bring it up: This is the time to be assertive.  If you feel awkward, blame it on Fat Talk Free week.  You are welcome to blame it on me too! Discuss what you see happening and how it can be detrimental to the people you care about most.
  2. Challenge yourselves: Can you stop the fat talk for the week?  It would Read more

Fighting Weight Obsession: Good Girls Don’t Get Fat Revisited

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It’s been a year since the launch of Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls & How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It. The book, based on 10 years of my own research, was born out of my dissertation at Tufts University and morphed into over 200 interviews of girls and women around the US who told me their personal story about weight, body image, struggles and triumphs. The video was born out of the book and was launched on October 5, 2010.

As I just spoke to a room full of Girl Scout leaders for the Power of Popular conference this past Sunday on this topic, I had to wonder, are things getting better or worse?

Well, perhaps it’s a bit of both.  I still talk to girls and women on a weekly basis who are struggling to accept themselves as they are.  Sometimes it’s more formal, like in a speaking setting or in a coaching session. Other times, it’s very casual– reiterating that the body bully within, as I call it, it alive, well, and sabotaging the well being of our girls. In fact, I just walked into a store on Saturday to get some moisturizer for my face when one of the young women who worked there started talking about hating her body, feeling fat, and not being happy…with herself…because of it.

And that’s representative. It still is true that the majority of girls and women wish Read more

Compliment Shutdown: Why Can’t a Woman Take a Compliment?

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Do you participate in Compliment Shutdown?

Lob: “I love your dress!”

Shutdown: “Oh, it’s got a hole in the seam and it only cost 12 bucks.  It’s really a piece of garbage.”

Lob: “Your hair looks great!”

Shutdown: “Gosh I haven’t washed it in days.  It’s such a mess I don’t know what to do with it.”

Lob: “Your presentation to the board was amazing.”

Shutdown: “Really? I flubbed on every other word and I looked like such an idiot.”

We’ve all heard the dialogue before.  Perhaps we have even participated in it.  Compliment wars.  This is when someone gives us a compliment and we shoot it down, claiming that it’s not true, that really quite the opposite is apparent, and reveal our perceived weaknesses and unseemly unworthiness.

Today I appeared with Kathie Lee, Hoda, and Leslie Goldman on The Today Show to talk about why women and girls have such a hard time taking compliments.

What’s going on here?

When I speak to audiences of women and girls (and this is also explained in my book, Good Girls Don’t Get Fat) I talk about 2 main reasons that women and girls have trouble taking compliments.  First, many of us have this body bully inside that tell us we’re not pretty enough, not thin enough, not good enough, and not worthy of the compliment- and the perfect standard and media messages only help us to feed into this behavior.

Second, even if we agree that the compliment is accurate, young girls are Read more

Where is the Line Between High Fashion & High Risk? 10 Year Old Vogue Model, Thylane Loubry Blondeau

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By now you probably have heard of the controversy over Thylane Loubry Blondeau, a 10 year old model who recently “graced” the pages of Vogue Paris. An absolutely beautiful girl, made up to look much older, to sell clothes to adult women.  Make sense?

As a parent of a girl & a child dev specialist, I’m continually disturbed by the images put out there by the fashion industry—and it is an industry—in the pursuit of being “fashion forward” or edgy.  We cannot go after edgy (if that is indeed what this is) in exchange for common sense.  A continual stream of images such as these is not healthy for the girls in the photos or the girls who may choose to emulate them. Read more

Combating Those Thoughts: The Ones We Wish Went Away When We Decided to Recover from Our Eating Disorders

Do all disordered thoughts end when you decide that you no longer want to succumb to the weight of Eating Disorders?  Rebecca Tishman, our resident teen blogger who has detailed her recovery for over a year now here at DrRobynSilverman.com, admits a hard truth: She still struggles but thankfully, she’s stronger than her eating disorder.  By publicly exposing the truth about her not-so-perfect recovery road, she sheds light in the eyes of ED and diminishes it’s power.  Good for you, Rebecca.  We’re rooting for you.

Let me just come clean. It’s taken me awhile to come up with what I would write next. In one of my latest articles for Dr. Robyn I wrote about being far along in my recovery and seeing how being fully recovered could be an attainable goal. Well how could I top that? I couldn’t very well admit after that article that I’m having a hard time…could I?

I thought not. But over the past week or so I’ve realized that’s just what I should be telling people. We all need to know that recovery is not a smooth path but rather a fluid thing with ups and downs. Some days are good; some days are not so good; some days are mixtures. But it’s all a learning experience.

By hiding the fact that my old behaviors and thoughts have been peeking out recently, I’m not fooling anyone but myself. By refusing to admit my struggle, I’m letting ED take control again. I want the public to know that these thoughts don’t just go away, never to resurface again; but, rather, it’s possible that they will be there forever, and it’s what you do to counter them that matters. When I was in inpatient treatment we used a technique called “reframing” to turn a negative thought or behavior into a positive one.

Some of the thoughts ED has been bringing up recently go something like this: Read more

Fat Talking Tots: Body Image & Fat Hatred in Preschoolers & Young Children

The aversion toward chubbiness has been shown to begin at a very young age. According to research conducted in 2009 by the University of Central Florida and reported in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, nearly half of three- to- six year old girls worry about being fat.” — Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls & How to Help Them Thrive Despite It. (page 10)

YOUNG CHILDREN’S BODY IMAGE, FEAR OF FAT, & FAT HATRED

As it’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, we’ve been spending a lot of time talking about body image, fear of fat, eating disorders, and disordered eating.  Most of this conversation has been devoted to teens and older. But what about the young children? How are they affected by this pervasive message that “fat is bad?”

In my book, Good Girls Don’t Get Fat, I cover the unbelievable reality that “Fear of fat” and “fat hatred” has been shown to begin at a very young age. While there isn’t a great deal of research out there on very young children, body image and weight, studies have shown that negative attitudes towards children who are considered “overweight” and “fat” in general have been detected in children as young as preschool-age children.

Here’s some study results in a nutshell.

  • Thin means you’re nice and fat means you’re mean: One study showed that when children ages 3-5 years old were shown photos of different body types, 4 and 5 year old children consistently labeled the “chubby” figure as “mean” and the thin figure as “nice.” While the aversion for chubbiness was stronger in children ages four and five, preschool-aged children regardless of age ascribed more negative attributes to the “chubby” figure than to the “thin” figure.
  • Thin means I want to play with you and fat means I don’t want you as a friend: These preschool children have also shown a preference for the “thin” figures as friends and playmates. THESE FINDINGS WERE THE SAME WHETHER THE CHILD TAKING PART IN THE STUDY WAS CONSIDERED “THIN,” “NORMAL,” OR “OVERWEIGHT.” In fact, sometimes the aversion was pronounced in the children who were considered overweight.
  • Thin means I like you, fat means I don’t, and fat means “I don’t want to look like you at all:” Children as young as five years old show a clear dislike for those who are considered “fat” in accordance with cultural values. In a series of studies by my advisor at Tufts, they showed children different sized figures. The researchers found that of the 46 children in the sample, 86% of subjects expressed an aversion towards the chubby figures in the photographs shown to them during the course of their interviews. Most of the girls chose the photo of the “fat figure” as the “girl they would not like to look like at all.” They also found that those girls who Read more

Recover(ed) or at least a bit closer: Teen Blogger Rebecca’s Two-Year Anniversary of Starting Treatment for Her Eating Disorder

Eating Disorders. The Recovery process is a hard road and the length of struggle varies depending on the person. Many wouldn’t dispute that there is no silver bullet.  What may be controversial is my colleague, Jenni Schaefer’s concept that one can indeed recover fully from an Eating Disorder. But more and more, those who have previously suffered from eating disorders have accepted full recovery as a possibility– where an eating disorder is no longer “given a seat at the table” and the person who once succumbed to dangerous and unhealthy eating practices and poor body image no longer allows that ugly Gremlin to be in charge.  Our teen blogger is currently celebrating the 2 year anniversary of her recovery journey and she is most certainly heading towards what she feels is full recovery.  Congratulations, Rebecca. Here is where she is now:

Recover(ed) or at least a bit closer: On My Two-Year Anniversary of Starting Treatment for My Eating Disorder

By: Rebecca Tishman

Recovered. Well, maybe not quite but I’m definitely getting there.

Today, is my two-year anniversary of going to inpatient treatment. Thinking back to two years ago is frightening and brings a wave of emotions. The picture was bleak: Barely able to stand. Unable to keep up with friendships. Blacking out multiple times a day. Shivering even under layers upon layers of clothes. Yelling at my parents no matter what they said or did. Afraid of every food except for two. Angry at absolutely everything.

No glamorization here. I absolutely hate my eating disorder and wouldn’t want to go back to it even though it takes an excruciating amount of work to stay in recovery. It’s a daily battle but I’m willing to keep fighting it if it means one day my eating disorder will be gone for good. One day it will just be ME, living in an amazing and healthy body able to do anything I want.

Intuitive Eating. I thought I would never engage in that. When I was in treatment and people mentioned intuitive eating and gave us books to read about it I thought to myself “What the hell? Intuitive Eating doesn’t exist; I’m just going to go back to my eating disorder as soon as I leave this place anyway.” Well after two years on a very, very rigid meal plan, with certain exchanges to meet at every meal of the day, and another year or two before that on other meal plans, I am finally off of all meal plans! Boy does it feel amazing. I eat what I want, when I want, and don’t engage in ED behaviors. This past weekend with a friend of mine I was able to make macaroni and cheese and make an amazingly scrumptious blueberry and raspberry oat loaf. I remember just two years ago when I was forbidden by doctors and family members to cook anything! My how things have changed. I’m forcing them to change.

I’m actually listening to my body—a voice I blocked out for so long. I refuse to be my eating disorder any longer or adhere to the rules my eating disorder establishes. I am tuning in to my healthy body’s messages and relying on hunger cues. It’s bizarre and frightening to feel hunger, thirst, fullness, etc; all things that I turned off for many, many years.

Until recently, I confused hunger cues and thirst cues, unable to tell whether I needed to hydrate myself or eat something. It’s bizarre to not understand what is happening within your own body. Trust me. But now that I’m refusing to relapse, even though it would be so easy to just give up and go back to that life I described earlier (because it sounded so appealing, right?) I’m learning what hunger feels like and I eat when I feel those feelings inside. I stop when I’m full or have had enough.

If I don’t like what I took a bite of, I get something else. When I was following my meal plan, I didn’t listen to whether I liked the food or not, I ate what my meal plan told me to eat regardless of how it tasted. Not anymore. I’ve discovered I like a lot of food, there’s a lot I don’t like too. I’m rediscovering myself everyday—like a rebirth- and opening myself to new options.

I no longer load up my plate thinking;

  • “What am I supposed to eat?”
  • “How many starches do I need?”
  • “Is this enough fat?”
  • “Does this count as a protein?”
  • “If I skip something now, do I have to make it up later?”
  • “What if I’m overeating?”
  • “What if I’m under-eating?”

Instead I think;

  • “What am I hungry for?”
  • “How hungry am I?”
  • “ What do I want to eat?”
  • “What tastes good?”
  • “What do I remember liking the last time I tried it?”

That’s an inner dialogue I’ve enjoyed having over the past few weeks and I look forward to having for many more days and years to come.

I couldn’t be more excited to honor my two-year anniversary. I’m thrilled that I’ve made it this long in recovery. Though I’ve had moments, days, even weeks, where I was somewhat uncommitted to recovery and on the verge of a relapse, I’m still here in recovery and loving it. As my therapist put it on my birthday, my two-year anniversary this year is more of my birthday and the truth is, she’s right. This year I am two years old and I have a whole life ahead of me. All it takes is my commitment and I, for one, have no plans to waiver.

Recover(ed)…here I come.

Many congrats to our fabulous teen blogger, Rebecca Tishman.  Please take a moment to react her Rebecca’s article here or on Facebook. No doubt she would love to hear from you.

Other articles by Rebecca:

Vegetarianism and Eating Disorders

Speaking out against Fat Talk

Summer Renaissance: Body Image Rebirth

Fast Food: The New F Word

Are Schools Helping Students Down the Road of Eating Disorders?

A Dad’s Perspective: Most Recent Review For Good Girls Don’t Get Fat

As a father to a 20-month-old girl, this just may be the most important book I’ve read since becoming a parent. Do something special for the girls in your life and read this book. — Chris Singer, Book Dads, reviewing Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls & How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It
Thank you, Book Dads (Chris Singer), for an outstanding review of Good Girls Don’t Get Fat– A Dad’s Perspective (on body image and girls)
A Dad’s Point of View on “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat” By Book Dads 5.0 out of 5 stars
How Weight Obsession Is Messing Up Our Girls and How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It (Paperback)

I think the title of Dr. Robyn Silverman’s book (Good Girls Don’t Get Fat) really says it all. We’ve trained our girls to think they are bad or less of a person if they are fat. Whether it’s through magazines, television, the internet or ironically, the people who are supposed to love these girls the most (parents, siblings, “friends,” and teachers – yes teachers!!), girls are beginning to worry about their weight at younger and younger ages. While talk radio programs air news stories weekly extolling the dangers of obesity (which is, of course, also an important health issue), Dr. Silverman sees countless girls in her practice with only minor weight problems or none at all. However, these girls have convinced themselves they are fat and therefore “bad.”

The book provides excellent information of how aspects of a young girl’s life can send her the message of to be thin is to be happy, healthy, loved. The author takes the discussion from the “inside out” starting with what a girl thinks about her weight in her own head and continuing to cover how the various relationships in her life can exacerbate the issues. Including how powerful words can be in these various relationships (mother, father, step-parents if applicable, other family members, teachers and other adults).

Dr. Silverman uses a lot of tools, tips and worksheets throughout the book and are an excellent supplement to the information. Readers get examples of weight issues that may arise with girls and can read “Say What” boxes to give guidance on “what not to say” and “what to say” — (dads take note of that please). “Overheard” boxes appear throughout the chapters as well which share (read the whole review on Book Dads here: http://ow.ly/3sYEi)

Again, many thanks to Chris Singer of Book Dads! I would love to hear what you all thought was the most helpful part of Good Girls Don’t Get Fat and what articles and tips would help you in the future.  After all, 2011 is going to be a fantastic year…so let’s plan for positive body image, confident girls, and dreams fulfilled!

Dr. Robyn Silverman on The Today Show Talking about Body Image & Her New Book!

Dr. Robyn sat down with Meredith Vieira on The Today Show to talk about body image, her book Good Girls Don’t Get Fat, and the alarming trends of low body esteem in girls. A recent poll shows that 95 percent of girls between the ages of 16 and 21 want to change their bodies in some way. Even in young girls, low self esteem, disordered eating, and dieting have become more commonplace. Working on behalf of girls and women, Dr. Robyn Silverman is speaking across the country to help them identify their assets, bolster their body image and learn to thrive in a world that values thinness at all costs.

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