Day Five (II): Men are welcome here

I love my blog design, the petals and the colours. I really never thought I was a “girly girl” (I hope that term isn’t politically incorrect) until I went into Cath Kidston in search of an iPhone cover. When I mentioned to the shop assistant that I thought the bright pink, flowery one I’d chosen was too girly, he pointed out that all the ones I’d picked up were extremely pink and flowery and maybe I was a girly girl after all. It looks like I must have become one without me even noticing.

That said, this blog is definitely not designed exclusively for women. I’m writing from my heart and I can only write about what I know but I want to say, before we go much further, that men are most definitely welcome here too. I know a number of men who struggle with negative body image and eating disorders – bulimia, anorexia and compulsive overeating. These are by no means issues that are exclusive to women and low self-esteem is a universal problem. According to Beat, the UK Eating Disorders Association, 15 percent of the 1.15 million eating disorder sufferers in the UK today are men. Other estimates put the figure as high as 25 percent.

So I wanted to highlight here the brilliantly named organisation Men Get Eating Disorders Too (MGEDT), the first national charity dedicated to raising awareness and supporting the needs of men with eating disorders. MGEDT notes that statistics on men are likely to be underestimated because of the difficulties men face in getting help. Fortunately, awareness is growing and MGEDT will be hosting its first major event on May 19th in Brighton, a free conference for professionals from all sectors who are interested in its work. Nick Watts is a trustee for MGEDT and an eating disorders, mental health and body image campaigner. You can read Nick’s musings on his blog or follow him on Twitter @nickinoxford. 

While on the topic of imminent events, the New York version of the Endangered Species women summit that was held in London on March 4th takes place this Friday and Saturday. You can check out the programme and list of speakers on their website. The site also features a video of psychotherapist Susie Orbach, author of Fat is a Feminist Issue, opening the London summit. The events – timed to coincide with International Women’s Day last week – aim to promote a diversity of body, shape and size in fashion and the media and to give women the right to enjoy their bodies exactly as they are.

On that note, a word about airbrushing. I’m not sure if anyone clicked on the link to the dress I bought from Diva Catwalk for my 40th birthday party on Saturday. Do we think the blonde lady modelling it has been airbrushed? I asked the shop assistant at Diva if the model was wearing the same sized dress I was buying and she said she was. To my untrained eye, it seems she’s either been airbrushed or someone is stood behind her pulling the dress in very tight! Here’s me in the same dress at my 40th on Saturday night.

Airbrushing is a huge topic right now and a recurring theme at the Endangered Species summits. Some campaigners are in favour of compulsory labelling on airbrushed photographs but UK Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said at the London event that regulation in Britain was not on the cards right now because of the cost to businesses. There’s lots to say on the issue of airbrushing so I’ll have to come back to it another time when I’ve done more research, but check out this photography project by Wendy Hicks in the meantime. Wendy photographed members of the public as though they were fashion adverts and then digitally manipulated the images to create body shapes so thin that they could not exist (the head bigger than the waist, for example) and are consequently impossible to emulate. Through the project, called Fashioning Aspirations, Wendy argues that airbrushed images in the media breed body insecurity in the men and women who view them. Many say these images contribute to eating disorders, although the reasons of disordered eating are complex and varied.

And finally, having realised I was getting a little bit addicted to blogging, I googled “bloggers anonymous” for a laugh. And what do you know, I came across a Bloggers Anonymous site. The blurb says: “You are not alone. Millions of people struggle with blogging. For some it’s cost them their health – for others, their families. Bloggers Anonymous is here for people like you – who want to stop but can’t. We can help.” Now, I thought this was all very tongue-in-cheek until I read one of the posts under anonymous stories. Leah wrote: “I have been known to leave a funny conversation mid-swing to go blog a portion of it”. Surely not, I thought, until I remembered I was watching Little Women on DVD yesterday and felt like I wanted to take notes to include some of the phrases in my blog later. Oh dear. Fortunately, I’m heading to the hills of Wales tomorrow and will only be able to send small posts. Phew. Is that a sigh of relief I hear from my readers also?

About Katherine Baldwin

I am a writer, coach, midlife mentor, motivational speaker and the author of How to Fall in Love - A 10-Step Journey to the Heart. I specialise in coaching women and men to have healthy relationships with themselves so that they can form healthy and loving romantic relationships and lead authentic, fulfilling lives. I coach 1:1, lead workshops and host retreats.
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