“I shouldn’t have eaten that burger. I can feel it already on my stomach.”
“She looks great in those jeans. Why can’t I be as thin as her?”
“I’d be happier if I could only be skinnier.”
Last week, Australia’s Cosmopolitan Magazine joined forces with the Butterfly Foundation (a charity dedicated to issues surrounding eating disorders and body image) to launch a month-long “Fat Talk Free” campaign.
The campaign is meant to encourage readers to “denounce Fat Talk as destructive, unhealthy and a complete waste of energy.”
The “Fat Talk Free” campaign was inspired by Tri Delta’s “Fat Talk Free Week” and the body image program Reflections.
According to them, “Fat Talk describes all of the statements made in everyday conversation that reinforce the thin ideal and contribute to women’s dissatisfaction with their bodies.”
I think this is a great idea, and a very worthy campaign. I have long been frustrated by my friends or family members engaging in Fat Talk almost as a natural reflex, a destructive defense against the feelings of low self-worth they feel from society’s portrayal of the ideal body.
However, I’m unable to reconcile this worthy cause with Cosmo’s own perpetration of Fat Talk-inducing images and ideas.
Through airbrushing photos of thin women in skimpy clothing, and featuring vacuous articles about beauty products and clothes, Cosmo contributes to Fat Talk at the same time it speaks out against it.
Cosmo says that Fat Talk “reinforces the false idea that our value as a human being is based on how we look.”
But Cosmo, doesn’t your magazine reinforce this false idea?
I want to believe that Cosmo will take this issue to heart, and really think about their role in the instigation of Fat Talk. But will they?
What do you think? Will Cosmo change their portrayal of women’s bodies to make saying no to Fat Talk easier?
I think this is a great message and I would love to see women’s magazines embrace these ideas- but sadly, I think most of the time it is completely undermined by the rest of the content in the magazine. Magazine like Cosmo just reinforce the notion that women’s roles are to be sexy and please men, under the guise of promoting being a happy, confident woman. I don’t expect this will ever change- each page is a reminder of how we don’t “measure up” as women.
I’ve heard similar stories before about different women’s magazines. Cosmo is at least taking it a step further than just including a single “accept yourself for who you really are!” article in one issue, but the level of hypocrisy is still ridiculous. It makes me like these magazines even less.
On a side note, how can Cosmo keep generating thousands of sex tips a year? There has to be some recycling of material.
Cosmo will do whatever it can to sell magazines. This includes throwing in the occasional article or headline that denounces the thin ideal, to trick readers into thinking they care, and ultimately buy the magazine. If Cosmo was really concerned about fat talk and the harm it does to women (and men) everywhere, they would totally rework their magazine.
Perhaps someone at Cosmo took advantage of the opportunity to use such a wide-reaching magazine to spread a positive message. Do magazines like Cosmo continue to perpetuate the thin ideal through articles, images, and advertising? Sure. But so do magazines like Glamor, and you placed that magazine in your gallery of winners. I think we need to see this as a positive step. It takes time to see serious change when it comes to social justice issues, but I see this as forward movement. Perhaps by encouraging this instead of having such an attidute of scrutiny and skepticism, we can positively reinforce magazines when they do make small steps.
Reminds me of when Hapers Bazaar put “plus size model” Kate Dillon in their pages about 10 years ago to promote healthy body image. Good on them, but I find it interesting that it was the only time they did it (as I can recall), and that she had a prior career gracing the pages of HB as a size 6! Hmmmm…
I think we could all realize that it is at least a step in the right direction. I don’t know why it is expected that a magazine can’t have ANY contradictory ideas. It has to be on a side. But you know what also has tons and tons of mixed messages within their text? This site called About Face. Did you ever think about that one?