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    How The Anorexic Ideal hurts women of my generation, a guest post by Jordan

    December 28th, 2010 by Rose Rosetree

    Kelly Clarkson, Not skinny enough for Self Magazine

    Recently we’ve been exploring pressures on women and performers for extreme thinness, what I call “The Anorexic Ideal.”

    Basically, I’ve had it with doing Skilled Empath Merges and aura readings on celebrities whose chakra databanks scream “Feed me.” For years, I’ve told myself, “When energetic literacy is widespread, social pressure will go the other way. People will be considered ‘attractive’ at a size compatible with comfort and health.”

    In December, three women were brought to my attention within one week.

    • A friend told me about Kathy Griffin’s comment about starvation being her “diet secret.”
    •  Then I was sent Marianne Williamson’s photo while promoting her diet book, a research link for the Enlightenment Life List.
    • Then Kate Middleton’s engagement portraits came out, showing extreme thinness yet again, and Blog-Buddy Elaine did a fabulous guest post with Skilled Empath Merge.

    Nobody was talking about the skinny elephant in the room. So a few blog posts were generated. Now Jordan has written eloquently on this topic.

    So take it away, Jordan, one of our Blog-Buddies who can speak for a generation that has grown up with cosmetic surgery as “makeup,” computers as “friends,” and The Anorexic Ideal as an aspiration for ambitious young women. Primrose had discussed the idea, in her Comment #1,  that anorexia is like other addictions. And that’s when Jordan began the comments I have transposed here as a Guest Post.

    Anorexia, The Addiction that Society Praises

    Primrose, I get what you’re saying and agree with you on many points. 

    But I think mainstream anorexia is a different in that not many people are saying that there’s anything wrong with it.  It’s less of an escape and more of a means than other compulsions/addictions.

    It can be a bit like overachieving in high school.  Pushing yourself to the limits to get ahead.  How do you get ahead?  What’s valued? 

    Perfect grades and perfect bodies, supposedly.   Many women can “be successful” by making themselves really thin with huge boobs and no wrinkles.  At least it’s a way to get SOME attention.

    In high school I actually wished I was anorexic… i.e., had that enviable ability to starve myself, to totally ignore the screams of my body.  I know I said it aloud a few times and my girlfriends just agreed.  They said the same thing to me when they were feeling bad about themselves.  It was a normal desire, at least among the girls I hung out with.

    But it was never socially desirable to be addicted to porn or alcohol or gambling.  Those other addictions and compulsions were, and are, framed in a completely different way from extreme thinness.  Worry about another girl who’s “not eating enough” or “might be anorexic” was usually more jealousy than worry.  It’s a competition.

    How sexy is The Anorexic Ideal?

    There’s also the really sad feeling that you are completely unacceptable and a total disappointment to a man if you do not fit the ideal.  Like he’s being really nice to actually be with you the way you are. 

    For how many you see every day in the media, you would think the world is absolutely flooded with beautifully bland bimbos and you are the only sadly human looking one in the world. 

    It’s having an enormous impact on the impact women have on society. 

    • The most prominent women are the ones who can starve themselves. 
    •  The rich and famous and admired are that way for being desirable to men.  
    • And if they’re not, they must have totally neglected that part of their lives in order to achieve anything else. 

    Pressured by The Anorexic Ideal

    Why would little girls rather be like Kim Kardashian than Hilary Clinton? Is it because Kim Kardashian looks like she just has fun all the time, and Hilary’s “all serious”? 

    (And everyone “knows” that men just want women who are 100% fun, down for anything, and would never give anyone a hard time). 

    Plus, growing up, that’s scary.  “Let’s just stay young forever!”

    I don’t mean to say all girls around my age (I’m 22) have felt the pressures as acutely as I did/do, or that my feelings can be generalized…

    But, really, most girls my age don’t have enough insight to realize that a string of crash diets and an extreme gym regimen might not be the most holistic solution to their weight obsession.

    So, Rose, I’m really glad you’re bringing some awareness to this yuckiness.  It’s obviously an issue that has emotional resonance for me!! 

    And my admiration goes out to anyone trying to raise a healthy teenage these days, as it cannot be easy!  And even more admiration to the teenagers, as I am so-so-so glad that’s over!

    When human bodies aren’t “good enough”

    Primrose offered Comment 4 with a link to a cover from Girlpower Magazine: “Thought you might like this link about retouching. Lots of pressure to be perfect.”

    Jordan continued:

    Kelly Clarkson, not Photoshopped

    Here’s an awesome article about the insane reply of “Self” magazine editor to criticisms of an airbrushed Kelly Clarkson cover photo.  The comments are pretty entertaining too. [Photo here supplied by Rose and Google. This shows the singer in the flesh, all her flesh.]

    “Self Editors Explain Covers Aren’t Supposed To Look Realistic

    and my favorite bit on The Daily Show in a long time, from feminist comedian Kristen Schaal.

    [Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

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    21 Comments on “How The Anorexic Ideal hurts women of my generation, a guest post by Jordan”

    1
    Anne said:

    This Christmas I was shocked when my sister-in-law walked in the room. I’ve always known this woman to have issues with food and eating but never have I seen her this gaunt and emaciated looking.

    I gasped and said, “You’re so thin!”

    She said “No” and ran out of the room.

    Though I know this isn’t really the spot for advice and guidance, I’m wondering if I have any power to possibly help her. I feel like celebraties are sick themselves, and thus don’t get that they are horrible influences on even grown women in our society.

    December 29th, 2010 at 12:12 am
    2
    Elaine Warfield said:

    Good post Jordan. I recall when I was your age or a bit younger, I was trying to keep my weight down, even though I was 125 lbs. on a 5’4″ frame.

    For some reason I felt I needed to stay slimmer.

    That was way before all the “Hollywood ideal body types” you see now blasted everywhere.

    I’m going back in time to the early 70′s or so. I think also at the time I was influenced by family and others my age in high school/college.

    It really makes you wonder about body image and where the whole notion of an “ideal” body image sprang from, even back in the 70′s.

    December 29th, 2010 at 1:44 pm
    3
    Primrose said:

    Here’s a link for anyone worrying about eating disorders.

    http://www.anorexicsandbulimicsanonymousaba.com/DO_YOU_HAVE_AN_EATING_DISORDER.pdf

    December 29th, 2010 at 3:50 pm
    4
    Renee said:

    The sad thing is that the “Weight equals beauty and desirability” far from ends after you’re a teenager.

    The problem is that it only becomes more difficult after having kids and slowing metabolisms to maintain the “ideal.”

    Then there is the choice (that Courtney Cox has talked about) of whether you want your face to look more attractive with a little more weight or your body to be thin and your face gaunt. Guess which one Courtney chose, yep she’d rather be skinny than pretty.

    Psychologically this belief, that we need to be thin to be of any worth, is so deep-seated that if I feel thin I feel happier. And I know this is true of many of my friends if not all of them.

    It literally affects your wellbeing and happiness in your day to day life, meaning it impacts all your relationships, your job, your ability to parent etc.

    Because if you’re depressed, or just in a funk because you feel fat, you can’t be the REAL you — the wonderful you that has nothing to do with your weight.

    It’s so important to shine light on this, and also to stop ourselves from judging others around weight issues, so that we can impact the collective consciousness and finally end this albatross around women’s necks.

    December 29th, 2010 at 6:17 pm
    5

    Thanks, everyone for your comments so far at this post. ANNE, your heartfelt Comment #1 springboards me into a whole new post, rather than simply a comment in response, so expect to read that one pretty soon.

    December 29th, 2010 at 7:11 pm
    6
    Jody said:

    It’s weird, in the West “Thin is in” and successful.

    In the East, a rounded body usually symbolises wealth and success (because it means that the individual can afford to buy food).

    I was very thin as a child, teen and right through in to adulthood (I am able to keep my weight on better now, and I think it has something to do with Rose’s help in cutting some of my major cords of attachment because my anxiety levels are slowly going down).

    I was teased at school, and it was horrible to get sick because any bit of extra weight would drop off and I’d feel very weak, emaciated and miserable.

    To me, the ultra-thin ideal is just a scary place to reach.

    And I wonder do the people aiming for this ideal know that the human brain is made of around 60% fat??? We need good fat!

    December 30th, 2010 at 1:18 am
    7
    primrose said:

    There are other forms of anorexia that are less well known but are equally debilitating. There’s a wonderful book by Patrick Carnes “Sexual Anorexia” that is very helpful for anyone suffering from the pain of that addiction.

    I don’t disagree that anorexia to do with weight, eating etc isn’t an important issue to discuss, I think it is, but I think it’s so important to understand that it’s part of a spectrum of dysfunctional behaviours.

    Recovering anorectics often get to a point where they say “it’s not about the food/weight” and it isn’t. Addicts and anorectics share a need to protect themselves from the unbearable emotional pain they are in. And they do that by obsessing about their particular compulsive behaviour.

    I think there is a way that people who are anorectic and haven’t dealt with it yet see pressure to be thin everywhere. They are obsessed with it so they assume everyone else is. It’s like an alcoholic trying to stop drinking, suddenly every advert on tv is for whisky, everyone invites him for a drink, everyone has a party and talks about having one too many. Really, the rest of the world isn’t alcoholic. And I think that’s true for anorexia as well.

    December 30th, 2010 at 7:43 am
    8
    Renee said:

    Just a comment about anorexia.

    I worked on an eating disorder floor at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. (I’m an RN) What I saw and experienced with hospitalized anorexics was so much more than dieting to stay super thin and look good.

    There are all kinds of deep-seated emotional issues that are symptoms of mental illness and quite serious.

    I can spot a true anorexic a mile away after working with them and they look very different from just an extremely thin person.

    Granted there a degrees to everything, but a true anorexic is really quite sick and would have most likely manifested there illness in some other extreme way if the thin thing hadn’t triggered that particular response.

    January 2nd, 2011 at 3:53 am
    9

    RENEE, thank you for this feedback. I wonder if people who would be hospitalized for anorexia are the end of a continuum of people who eat less than their bodies need.

    When I write about “The Anorexic Ideal,” of course I am not talking about people so weak that they cannot walk, or facing life-or-death consequences of self-starvation. I think this is true for all the conversation on this topic we have been having here at this blog.

    Remember how Kathy Griffin wrote that her “diet secret” was being really hungry constantly? That is what I consider pursuing “The Anorexic Ideal.”

    Attempts to look good, or simply being naturally very, very thin — I’m in no position to “diagnose” what would clinically be called “a true anorexic.”

    Instead, I’m just an observer of humanity, doing what I can to use Deeper Perception to make sense out of this world, seeking more balance for living here.

    Just today, I met with a client, Gladys, who has full energetic literacy. Gladys has a friend, Josephine, who recently lost a great deal of weight. Josephine was excited and proud. Gladys’ emotions were more mixed, because doing a bit of aura reading, she heard Josephine’s body screaming, “Feed me.”

    Only Josephine can decide when she is at a really desirable weight for herself. Yet I wouldn’t be surprised if she gains a bit of weight, listening deeply to her body, and then accuses herself for having a “weak will.”

    Very complex!

    January 2nd, 2011 at 3:58 pm
    10
    Primrose said:

    “When I write about “The Anorexic Ideal,” of course I am not talking about people so weak that they cannot walk, or facing life-or-death consequences of self-starvation.”

    This is confusing to me, because when I see something written about anorexia, I take it literally. Perhaps that’s because I understand the word in the context of recovery. Drug addict means someone addicted to drugs, anorectic means a person starving himself/herself.

    If you wrote a piece about “The Alcoholic Ideal” I would assume you meant people genuinely addicted to alcohol.

    January 2nd, 2011 at 4:15 pm
    11
    Heather Crawford said:

    Rose,

    On that note, is it possible to heal STUFF within my aura related to this topic?

    As someone who has suffered from anorexia as well as bulimia in the past, it is something I still struggle emotionally with every single day. Although I have come a long way and no longer starve myself (or purge for that matter), I still put my self value on whether or not I feel ‘skinny’ enough to be accepted, socially.

    I suspect that the greatest form of healing for this type of STUFF would be Regression Therapy. However, since that is not possible for me right now would some form of Aura Healing but worth while too?

    January 2nd, 2011 at 6:04 pm
    12

    Well, PRIMMIE, to me “The Anorexic Ideal” means valuing extreme thinness as a symbol of success, attractiveness, coolness, etc. As in “The thinner the better.” Or calling Kathy Griffin’s severely thin frame a “smokin’ hot bikini bod.”

    Back in Hemmingway’s day, there was “The Alcoholic Ideal.” For a writer, it meant “The sign of a truly great writer is to get as drunk as possible as often as possible.”

    Many people who wanted to write may have pursued that ideal. It doesn’t lead to great writing, necessarily. Those who pursued “The Alcoholic Ideal” may have become alcoholics or not.

    Similarly, the problem with “The Anorexic Ideal” is the many people, including JORDAN back in the day, who felt diminished unless they could starve themselves “adequately.”

    Writer Tom Wolfe, in The Bonfire of the Vanities, referred to trophy wives being “starved to near-perfection.” That is “The Anorexic Ideal.”

    January 2nd, 2011 at 7:27 pm
    13

    HEATHER, very practical question in your Comment 11. Actually, my approach with one particular client at a time would be individualized…

    And I’ll also remind you and others that I am not a licensed mental health practitioner. In your case you don’t have a severe, active eating disorder (given what you wrote). Anyone who did would need to consult a qualified mental health practitioner and/or doctor.

    My work is for the “worried well,” you know, someone like you.

    But for most clients I would ideally start with some phone sessions and move forward one session at a time, facilitating permanent removal of STUFF, as with cutting cords of attachment, one per session, to move you forward as a more secure, balanced person.

    Depending on your situation, it’s true that Energy Release Regression Therapy might be helpful as well. Removing frozen blocks in this form of past-life regression therapy can be helpful as well.

    So thanks for asking. Hopes this helps.

    January 2nd, 2011 at 7:42 pm
    14
    Heather Crawford said:

    Very helpful response, Rose :) Thank You!

    I must also echo Rose’s sentiments about seeking a licensed mental health practitioners help with this type of disorder. I have sought that type of help in the past. It was extremely benefitical to me and helped save my life and health!

    Another item to add to my list of STUFF to work on ;)

    January 2nd, 2011 at 8:27 pm
    15
    primrose said:

    Thanks for clarifying Rose. I think this discussion had confused me all along because I have taken “The Anorectic Ideal” literally. Perhaps it would be better for me to think of what you are writing about as something like “The Beauty Ideal”.

    Then it makes more sense to me, because I think that the societal ideal body is not really anorectic. The “ideal” body has full breasts and a shapely bottom. That shape is naturally impossible for an anorectic as the body wastes away.

    Of course, now people can have surgery to achieve that look. That interests me because part of being an anorectic is the annihilation of being an adult woman. It is a rejection of sexuality and femininity.

    The anorectic often hides in a controlled pre-sexual version of herself. How extraordinary then that she can now add on the impression of being a woman by having surgery.

    January 3rd, 2011 at 6:56 am
    16
    primrose said:

    Perhaps “The Beauty Ideal” is not a good phrase either, because there’s nothing actually beautiful about harming the body to achieve some crazy idea of perfection.

    I think this isn’t simply about being slim, it’s also about being young, fertile and perfectly symmetrical (an evolutionary “tell” that a person is genetically healthy) That’s when society deems a woman to be at her peak. Perhaps as a species we are primed to find that kind of woman especially important because she has a very good chance of creating healthy children.

    So it interests me that currently, a woman who might be starving herself and therefore making herself infertile could become the ideal.

    January 3rd, 2011 at 7:30 am
    17
    Carol said:

    Primrose, confusion over what, exactly, to call this is understandable. As I said in a former post on this subject, our ideal of beautiful, for women, as a societal agreement, has changed pretty dramatically over the years.

    Look at women’s fashions over the centuries – before cosmetic surgery they attained that ideal butt with wire and petticoats.

    To achieve the small waist they wore corsets so tight that they often fainted (hence, the fainting couches).

    Actually, my gynecologist told me once that the “ideal” woman for carrying babies is the very large boned, more husky bodied woman, so that blows the ideal of society’s view following any sort of procreation ideal in fact.

    So, we need to figure out what the premise is for any definition of “beautiful.”

    One theory just popped into my mind. Men may feel threatened by women’s power so women, wanting to be seen as nonthreatening, have adopted the ideal of appearing as frail as possible so as to incite a protective instinct in the man.

    Just a thought. But, as good a theory as any at this point.

    January 11th, 2011 at 1:25 pm
    18
    primrose said:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/articles/emotions/lonelyhearts.shtml

    Quite interesting article on what people find attractive.

    January 11th, 2011 at 7:02 pm
    19
    Carol said:

    This is an interesting article, Primrose. However, it doesn’t really say what is considered attractive about women to men beyond smooth skin, glossy hair and facial symmetry.

    The scientist who wrote the article did a lot of conjecturing about the data from his studies and it was just that, conjecture.

    We all assume that men want to spread their seed as far and wide as possible and that it is all about the biological survival of the species, but that completely ignores our spiritual side and psychological/social evolution. I think it is much more complicated than what he is proposing in this article.

    January 11th, 2011 at 11:52 pm
    20
    Colleen said:

    I would say that I was “anorexic” in the 1980′s, before, during, and after my divorce — which is not altogether uncommon. My weight got as low as 88-90 lbs on a 5-ft 5-inch height.

    I am definitely not built straight and lean either!

    It had nothing to do with food. I had allowed my ex-husband a great deal of control over me. My weight was something I could control, though I might not have admitted it at the time.

    The other nurses complemented me on my thinness until they saw me in the locker room with a concave stomach!

    When I was in the nurse practitioner program and we were palpating for each other’s livers, the instructor gasped as she could see the tip of mine as I was lying on the table.

    I have also known quite a number of bulimic nurses. I am more to the fuller figure side now! I want to loose weight again, but never like that!

    February 2nd, 2011 at 11:24 am
    21
    Carol said:

    I just read this study and thought others might be interested. Here is the link.

    http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/573150/?sc=dwhn

    It shows the direct link between time spent on Facebook and watching TV media concerned with body image stuff and the occurrence of eating disorders in teenagers.

    It also shows that the level of self-empowerment has the most to do with whether a girl has an eating disorder or not. Just what Colleen is saying in her Comment #20.

    February 7th, 2011 at 3:40 pm
     
     

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