Having it all

I just hate disagreeing with Gloria Steinem. I mean, I agree with everything she says about having it all. Except.... connecting it with eating disorders.I grew up in an environment of an exciting social movement that taught children to value themselves for actions and not appearance and with an appreciation for diversity of appearance and action: in other words a college town in the 70s amidst feminists and civil rights activists. Too little of that has translated to the mainstream, and much has been reversed.

I'm watching the eating disorders world re-discover and re-ignite that social movement but it often seems to be unaware that we've been through this before. Sadder still, too many in the eating disorder world are being distracted by these revelations into thinking that they are the cause of eating disorders - leaving me in the bizarre position of seeming to be against messages that I do believe in.

We do need to reclaim the gains earned by feminists and social activists, period. Treating women and treating our bodies as commodities and value judgments is wrong and damaging.


  1. I know just what you mean Laura! My cynical mind tells me that a lot of it is about making money and our commercial culture. There are so many products out there to make you look younger, thinner, or maybe just the same as everyone else but different than you really look. And these styles have to change every 2 days so people can keep making money. And heck, while I am on a roll, why does EVERYONE need hair dye? And there are advertisements to go with these product that saturate our world and have subtle effects on everyone, whether they like it or not. It's hard to embrace diversity and our natural appearance if no one can make any money off it!

  2. Agreed!

    Maybe Steinem needs to sell something - put corporate backing behind it - marketing, buzz - give it planned obsolescence so we have to keep on buying it. Oh, and make us need it out of fear and greed...


    My hair "stylist" tries to sell me new products every time: dye job, skin treatments, pluck this, enhance that... If only there were a profit in enhancing my wrinkles, playing up my grey, looking my age...

  3. I couldn't work the link - unfortunately... But if this is about 'looking good' then I have decided that sometime in the future I shall dye my hair pink. I have always fancied the idea of having pink hair. If I wasn't allergic to make-up I might go for the 'parrot look'.. But sadly I am VERY allergic to eye make up.

    I had a 'go' at the Daily Mail (again) today for an article on 'bingo wings' and women 'suffering' from them. Maybe it's unrelated to what you're talking about (since I couldn't read GS's article) but our society talks about normal ageing processes as if they're a disease we suffer from. And apparently we also 'suffer' because we are so saddening by the fact that our arms 'flop', and that they don't look like Michelle Obama's arms..

  4. Cathy

    I would LOVE to see you with pink hair!

    I think that part of the maturing process is to learn that you can't "have it all", despite the pictures and fluff that we are bombarded with every day in the media. I am dreading Boxing Day when all the adverts on the TV will be about diets and exercise and the papers will be full of "celebrities" on holiday in the Carribean so that the already grim month of January, turns into a self-flagellation fest.

    However, speaking as the mother of two teenage girls, I am deeply saddened by the constant exhortations to be clever, thinner, have better eyebrows, smoother legs, fuller lips etc that they are subject to and I spend a lot of time showing videos of airbrushing and explaining that, in the real world, nobody looks like that all the time.

    I am trying to learn to embrace my grey hair and wrinkles and the fact that, when I rub my moisturiser in, I bear more than a passing resemblance to a Shar Pei dog!

    But I really don't think that any of the above has anything to do with the arrival of anorexia in our house.

  5. Charlotte, I agree there's a big difference between today's pressures on kids to be 'everything' and AN. All kids would have AN otherwise, but they don't. I also think that kids are sexualised too early nowadays too. But again, the link to AN is uncertain. And what's this with the eyebrow tattoos?

    I would like to try shocking pink hair... I had my nose pierced on impulse (like a piggywig in 'the owl and the pussycat) in 1995 while I was killing time in London and it looked quite cool until my nose went manky...


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