I have been thinking about the article Marie Claire article, The Hunger Diaries, all day, wondering what I could possibly say and why it is that I find myself caring quite so much about the points the article made. As a body image and healthy living blogger, I find the claims made by Katie Drummond interesting, but not surprising. As a person, the debate makes me very anxious, paralyzed as if introducing an opinion in either direction will kill this little blog with an onslaught of negativity.
Instead of politicizing this issue or talking about the claims made in a broad “healthy living blogger” kind of way, the story I want to relate to you is the connection between the “big six” and my disordered eating.
This is not intended to be inflammatory, but it is honest.
When I was a kid, I was fat. I grew up hating my body from before I had adequate language to describe that hatred. And I was desperate to do anything that would save me, save me from myself, save me from my fat. I hung on every word that the thin girls said. I watched what they ate. I watched how the moved. I wrote things down. I studied their movements closely, comparing it to my own and devising plans to bridge the gap – all in the prayers that some day, some how, I would be skinny too.
I read books about people who lost weight. I immersed myself in before and after stories. I researched diets, thought about work out regimes. I took every diet pill that I could get my hands on.
It is not that I was a bad eater either; I was raised very healthy. I grew up knowing all of the advice that the nutritionists spout and healthy living blogger abide by. I ate avocados and spinach and hummus and brown rice. I was also very active – I played on every sport team and practiced every afternoon.
The problems were that I had lost touch with my body’s natural hunger cues somewhere along the way, and that I hated my body. My actions were spurned by desperation and fear, as well as an extreme longing to fit in.
The long story short is – I am predisposed to these emotions. I am a recovering compulsive eater. I am recovering from a life time of mistrust, abuse of control, and parental restriction and shame. I am recovering from sexual trauma, very closely connected with my life-long inability to seek positive attention instead of negative.
I am recovering. I am fragile. But I find my strength in these challenges. Now, they allow me to help others. Now, I am able to work through these issues, because I love myself and I know that I am worth it.
When I came to blogging, I loved all of the girls that this article talks about. I subscribed to their blogs, reading every one of their posts. I plunged head first into the healthy living blogger community, feeling at home in so many ways – but also at odds in many others. These blogs were very difficult for me to read objectively, because it wasn’t long before I found myself gazing on longingly the way that I used to gaze at the popular girls at school, wondering how it was possible that they were SO pretty, SO skinny, SO loved by everyone. Before long, my thought patterns mimicked old behavior, I wanted to emulate their blogs, their meals, their workouts. I judged my body against theirs. I felt badly when I found myself fat and awkward in comparison.
But remember – I am predisposed to these emotions. Do I think that these blogs create disordered eating? No. But I do believe that there are trap-doors surrounding them for girls like me to fall in. Girls like me that are predisposed to falling down and getting locked there, secured by their insecurity. However, I do not hold them responsible for my predispositions. Do I think these bloggers have eating disorders themselves? I do not think that is something for us to say. While these six bloggers make their lives, their eating habits, their workouts public – I am very aware that your blog, your brand, and your public persona represent only a very small percentage of your life. As a reader of these blogs, I do not believe that an accurate depiction of them has been set forth by this article. They are not perfect, but none of us are. Instead the article seems to target them, tearing them down for their success, instead of discussing the ways in which we, as a community, helped these girls up onto pedestals or promoting fair and honest conversation on the topic.
Should they know better? I do believe that bloggers are role models, but that said, I expect honesty and little else. [I love this post from MizFit about bloggers as role models, as well as the amazing comments that it accumulated.] I do not allow others to form my opinion, and thus, it matters very little what these girls say on their blogs. I find that the pleasure of reading blogs matters very little in actual information received. Instead, I tend to read the blogs of people that I grow to like as people, but I do not regard them as experts. As bloggers we do have a responsibility to our readers to present ourselves honestly, but as readers we have to pay attention too. Blogs are just like any other media outlet, to be enjoyed but not emulated or idolized.
We have to find a way to dig deep, and make decisions that honor our own personal trajectories, bodies, and lives. We have to be vigilant about the messages that we are receiving about our bodies and how they make us feel. We are not passive receivers of information, we have the ability to think for ourselves, and that is the position that I would like to endorse here.
Some other points of view and responses:
- Voice in Recovery, Top 10 Things the Marie Claire Issue Has Taught Me
- Fitarella, Marie Claire Article – Let’s Talk About It
- Health for the Whole Self, My Reaction to the Marie Claire Article
- Honoring Health, The Now Famous Marie Claire Article
- Nourishing The Soul, NTS Response to the Marie Claire Article
- Lisa Johnson Fitness, Marie-Claire Controversy: Fitness Bloggers and Body Image
- the sweetest things, do healthy living blogs promote eating disorders?
- Side of Sneakers, Attack of the Hunger Diaries
I would love to know what you think.