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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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Heavy choices: Would you put your 7 year old on a diet?

This morning I was on the set up for a segment on Dara-Lynn Weiss- the mother who was made famous for publicly putting her daughter, age 7, on a diet. Her daughter’s doctor had told Dara-Lynn that her daughter was obese and was immediately put on a strict diet of limited foods and counting calories.

What would you do in the same situation? It’s a difficult choice. Clearly the doctor was concerned about the child’s health and we are all too familiar with the psychological repercussions of children, dieting and weight stereotyping.

Every parent wants their children to grow up healthy and happy. So it’s not surprising that when a parent hears their children’s weight is compromising their health, that they jump into action . But parents need to tread lightly here. Whatever you say to your children about weight and diet will provide the template for how those children will regard weight and diet for the rest of their lives. Will they see food as a delicious way to gain energy and health or will they view food as the enemy?

There are so many messages that tell children that they are not good enough the way that they are— we don’t want to convey a value judgment when it comes to food and weight, but rather, teach our children that when we eat in healthy ways, we gain the energy we need to live our best life. I believe we can change a child’s relationship with food without putting a child on a “diet” – do you?

Take a look at the segment. What do YOU think? If you were this mother, would you choose the same path or would you do something different?

Dr. Robyn on The Today Show: Vintage Ads Say Thin was Not Always In

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRGdNH8qKpg]

These days, the word “fat” comes with a lot of baggage.  Studies tell us that fat is continually associated with unflattering words like lazy, ugly, blameworthy, gross, and unpopular.  But it wasn’t always that way.  If you look at some of the vintage ads, thin was definitely NOT always in.

“Enjoy life!” “Put on 5 pounds of flesh!” “Left out because you’re too skinny?” Vintage ads paint the picture that full-figured women were the beauty standard of their era.

Over the last 100 years the celebrated standard of body beauty in advertising has morphed from one that was more voluptuous (signifying vitality, wealth, and happiness) to one that is thin (signifying, sometimes erroneously, health, perfection and self control). In the early part of the 20th century actresses and models demonstrated the voluptuous trend—prompting beauty products and subsequent advertising to address the desire to put ON weight. Things changed dramatically in the 60s with the introduction of Twiggy, in the 80s with the fitness craze (think Jane Fonda), the 90s with the introduction of the waif, and now, we still receive messages (and the studies reflect this), that to be thin is to be beautiful, sexy, controlled, successful and good. Beauty products and advertising has followed suit.

These days it seems that people say the word “fat” like they are spitting it out on a plate.  This can be really confusing and upsetting for young girls who are going through puberty—a time when it’s very normal and natural to gain an average of 25 pounds! As a young girl or women is gaining weight, many look at it as “getting fat.” It’s common that people bemoan ‘I feel fat” or call themselves ugly names like “whale,,” “pig,” or “heifer.”

What would it have been like to live at a time when people thought it was more beautiful to be buxom that thin? Or is the pressure the same whether it’s to be thin or to gain weight in order to fit in?

It seems like a lot more women would have fit the ideal standard if we weren’t told that we all needed to be impossibly thin to be considered attractive. But then, naturally thin women would have been left out to the definition of beauty.

At the end of the day, it still comes down to marketing. As long as there has been women’s beauty products and advertising, there have been (and there will be) messages that tell girls and women that they are not good enough, not beautiful enough, and not worthy enough unless they buy these products…and use them.

How do you think it would impact YOU and the women in your life if their was pressure to gain weight rather than lose it?

 

 

 

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

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?

Dr. Robyn’s Latest Radio Interview on Body Image and Body Bullies

Dr Robyn Silverman, body image expert, author of Good Girls Don't Get Fat (weight obsession)I spoke with Maggie McKay of KFWB in Los Angeles today about my book, Good Girls Don’t Get Fat and how girls can be terrible body bullies to themselves and others.  We chatted about fat talk, the body bully within, assets, and what we can do to help our girls embrace their strengths rather than focus on their looks and their flaws. Body image affects so many girls and it’s time we do all work together to do something about it. Here’s the short interview.

Three More Great Reviews of Good Girls Don’t Get Fat

Today’s Reviews of Good Girls Don’t get Fat: How Weight Obsession Is Messing Up Our Girls & How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr Robyn Silverman is transforming what we teach our girls is beauty, October 26, 2010
This review is from: Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession Is Messing Up Our Girls and How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It (Paperback)

Good Girl’s Don’t Get Fat is a tremendous edition to any parenting book library. The view of beauty is taughtGGDGF Cover (hi res) not innate. Who is teaching our daughters about true beauty – you will be surprised. Dr Robyn Silverman has been a guest on my show The Coffee Klatch and speaks beautifully about the struggles our girls face. Theses struggles are not just in our teens, it starts early, very early and Dr Silverman has taken great time and care to document the lives of hundreds of girls and their battles with weight and their self impression of beauty. Good Girls Don’t Get Fat is an eye opener for parents…(read more…)

(2) On: It’s My Genre Blog

Are you a girl?
Are you the parent, grandparent, friend, teacher or caregiver of a girl?
Do you know any girls? Read more

Latest Reviews of Good Girls Don’t Get Fat

GGDGF Cover (hi res)This book is absolutely amazing, and I strongly recommend it to everyone. One of the things I admire most about Good Girls Don’t Get Fat is that it doesn’t just talk about how bad things are, it gives concrete suggestions for improvement! That’s what we need. The book is available in any format you can imagine. Pick it up. It’s an easy read, and wonderful. –Cynthia Armistead

I’m so grateful that Dr. Robyn put this book together, I’m grateful for her hard work and dedication, I’m grateful for her determination to help girls feel better about themselves. So to all my girlfriends out there…the women I know who have daughters, I want you to know that this book, Good Girls Don’t Get Fat, is approved by me! It’s a great book and it will help you to know what to say to your girls, how to empower…and it will help you to know that you can say; ‘Dang, you’re good looking!’ no matter what the size is of that label. Go get this book!” –Sara Cook

I’ve been so honored with great reviews of my body image book;  Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls and How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It. I would love to hear what you think too!

Here are two wonderful reviews that came in today!

The first is from GoodReads.com:

10/23 Cynthia Armistead gave 5 stars to: Good Girls Don’t Get Fat by Robyn Silverman
recommended for: everybody; status: Read in October, 2010

This book is absolutely amazing, and I strongly recommend it to everyone. Yes, I said everyone. If you are a human being who is reading this post/review, you Read more

New Study Says Weight Teasing Has Profound Effects On Preteens and Teens


relational aggression and mean girl bullying

We know that bullying and relational aggression can strip children of their dignity, self esteem, and desire to go to school.  Having focused on appearance-based discrimination in my own research and in preparation for writing Good Girls Don’t Get Fat, I quickly realized that what I termed “body bashing” or “body bullying” can be particularly insidious as it plays on a major insecurity in many preteens and teens.

So it isn’t surprising yet still sad that a new study in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology suggests that teasing about weight can have profound effects on how young people perceive their bodies. Read more

Monday Rant: Girl’s School Tell Her She’s Overweight and Now She Won’t Eat. UGH!

DrRobynSilverman_verysmweb……………… I know it’s only Monday morning but I’m pissed. I mean, isn’t this what we’ve been saying all along? There are so many things wrong with this situation I’m wondering where to start. My mind is reeling and I’m praying that this won’t happen to another young girl—but it will.  And having a daughter, let me just say right now, it better not be mine or I’m going to really have to chew someone’s ear off, Mike Tyson style.

blog_KatieOwenKatie Owen,  an 11 year old in Essex, UK, got a BMI report card (something I truly hate—and I talk about why more extensively in my book, Good Girls Don’t Get Fat due out October 1), from Barking & Dagenham NHS, that told her she was “overweight.” How did she react?

She burst into tears.

She immediately started to starve herself.

She called herself “too fat.”

Yup. The girl in the picture. So, yeah, I’m pissed.

Because here is a beautiful girl. With aspirations. Who now believes she is unworthy of nourishment. Whose beauty is obscured by a careless calculation. How careless, you might ask?

Get this.

  • She’s 110 pounds.
  • 5 feet tall.
  • BMI is 21.5.

That’s would be completely normal by adult standards.  But not by children’s standards.

Annoyed yet? How about this…

She received the results from the National Child Measurement Scheme that she had “increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer as her body mass index (BMI) was outside recommended guidelines…

by ONE per cent”

Yup. One per cent.

I guess you can say that she fell on the “wrong side” of the scheme. I know. Ugh.

It’s all based on means.  And 11 year olds are just not as tall, solid or filled out as Katie.

Looking at growth charts,  you would notice that an average 11 year old (denoted by the 50% mark) is about 4 inches shorter and 25 pounds lighter than Katie. You know 11 year Read more