We hear a lot about an obesity epidemic. But here’s what I think is the real epidemic — body dissatisfaction and the unhealthy methods employed to change our bodies into something they were never meant to be.
So I was thrilled to be a judge for this year’s Body Image Awards, which are given each year to recognize those who are making a difference in this area. Who are leading the way to the real “new you” — one who takes care of herself as best she can in the moment. Because moments add up to how we live.
This year’s winners:
- Israels wins the Redefining Beauty award for its new law (!) “Law for Limiting Weight in the Modeling Industry.” It requires models to present their employers with a doctor’s current certificate showing they meet a minimum BMI—18.5 for adults. Ads with digitally reduced images must be clearly marked in a prominent place as manipulated to make them appear thinner.
- 14-year-old Julia Bluhm of Waterville, Maine launched a crusade against airbrushed images in Seventeen magazine and wins the award for Promoting a Realistic Body Image. Launching a petition that garnered over 80,000 signatures and leading a demonstration at Seventeen’s corporate offices, Julia caused Seventeen editor Jan Shoket to issue a new policy statement that the magazine “never has, never will” digitally alter the body or face shapes of its models. The entire staff signed an 8-point Body Peace Treaty, she said, promising not to alter natural shapes and include only images of “real girls and models who are healthy.” As a result, other young activists are taking on Teen Vogue in an online petition. Note: The pledge does not include advertising, so it’s unclear if the many pages filled with ads will be affected.
- Psychologist Deb Burgard, PhD, is honored with the Weight Stigma Awareness award for her many years of leadership in increasing awareness of weight stigma. The co-author of Great Shape: The First Fitness Guide for Large Women, published in 1988, Burgard speaks and writes frequently on the topic of weight stigma and the need for size-acceptance. For large persons, Burgard advises, “You have to strengthen your ‘emotional immune system’ to withstand the culture’s nasty messages about femaleness and fatness and failure—and work to change the culture—and there is joy even in this.”
Congratulations to this year’s winners! If you know anyone who deserves a Body Image award during Healthy Weight Week, be sure to nominate her/him/it. Nominations will officially be called for next fall, but it’s never too soon to start thinking.
Who would you nominate?