Tag Archive for body image

2010 National Eating Disorders Association Conference, Oct. 8-10

Nuture your mind and heart this year…
To register, click HERE.

Date: Monday, October 11, 2010
Location: Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge

Sponsored and hosted by University Medical Center at Princton

Featured speakers: Walter Kaye, MD; Kate Tchanturia, PhD; and Janet Treasure, PhD, FRCP, FRCPsych

8:00am – 9:00am Registration and continental breakfast
9:00am – 4:00pm Learning Day workshops and luncheon

Cost: $125

For more information on this conference visit !

PARADIGM SHIFT NYC Presents: BODY TYPED Short Films On Perfection – Screening & Discussion featuring JESSE EPSTEIN, Sundance award-winning Filmmaker


BODY TYPED short films on perfection
Screening & Discussion Featuring

JESSE EPSTEIN, Sundance award-winning Filmmaker

part of The Tank’s “Liberal Arts Summer School” series

BODY TYPED is a series of short films that use humor to raise serious concerns about the marketplace of commercial illusion and unrealizable standards of physical perfection.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18th at 6:30 pm
Just outside the Feminist District

The Tank- 354 West 45th Street (between 8th & 9th Ave.)

Subway: A,C,E to 42nd Street/Times Square

Cost: $12 students/ pre-paid, $15 at door

Facebook invite: http://bit.ly/cofvXX

When Dee-Dee the barber learns about the art of photo-retouching, he may never look at his “wall of beauty” the same way again.
Short Subject Jury Award, 2004 Sundance Film Festival

A dancer’s hilarious story about his prominent nose and the effect if has on his career.
Best Short Film, 2007 Newport International Film Festival

A look at mannequins, religion, and perfection.
SXSW, Full Frame, True/False, National PBS Broadcast on POV

This project is being executive produced by Judith Helfand, Wendy Ettinger, Julie Parker Benello
Produced in association with Chicken & Egg Pictures and The Fledgling Fund

Jesse grew up in Boston, Mass. She received an MA in documentary film from NYU. Jesse was recently selected for “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine. She distributes films through New Day Films, and edits the Shooting People daily bulletin.


Legendary Women, Inc
Manhattan Young Democrats
New York Women in Film and Television
NOW NYS Young Feminist Task Force
Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Soapbox Inc.
The Women’s Mosaic
The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership
Trixie Films
Women’s Caucus for Art
Women’s Media Center
Women’s Sexuality Empowerment Apprenticeship

Photography by Amy Mittens: amittensphoto@gmail.com

Join as a supporting organization
Subject Line: 8/18 Partner
Email: JWeis@paradigmshiftnyc.com

Time Out NY’s CRITICS’ PICK!!  Paradigm Shift’s 8th honor!

Sex Work, Human Rights, & Feminism Series Part 1: Musings of a nude model on sex work, feminism and empowerment

This series of posts from the community is in preparation for Paradigm Shift’s next event, “Sex Work and Human Rights: Feminist Advocacy Strategies” A panel discussion and screening on TUES, March 30th, 7pm, NYC. We want to hear your stories! View call for submissions- deadline 3/28-

by Ami

Nights and weekends I work as a nude model. I work with artists of all genres; photography is the easiest and pays the best. I love it. I love to model because I like having a part of my day naked and shared that doesn’t involve sexual penetration or bathing. I feel empowered in my body because I know that it is mine if I am choosing to sell it. It’s mine and I decide who pays to see it to, how much I sell it for, and I make my own schedule.

I also know that I’m good at modeling, and I like getting better. It’s a skill to build on with each experience.

When I model I have a moment of quiet from the incessant body questions and insecurities I have the rest of my day. It doesn’t matter how I feel about my body, it’s open and available as it is. I use it instead of critiquing it. And no matter how I am feeling about my physicality, whether it’s a “fat day”, a “sexy day”, a “curvy day” or a “puny day” I get the same range of responses. It reminds me that my head-trips on body image are solely in my mind.

During the day I work as a writer at a prestigious international institution. I interview diplomats and promote myself as a thought leader. I write about women’s issues, and work for the promotion of women’s empowerment. But I’m entry level so I’m not paid. I have written on sex work from an intellectual public health perspective. I like to publish on sex work because I hate reading most articles in the mainstream press on sex work. I try to use language and tell stories to give people a more nuanced view of the trade. I have worked as an ally for sex workers in the United States and Senegal, so I bring these hands on experiences to my writing.

I worked on an article about sex work during the World Cup in South Africa, which my editor had many qualms about. She did not like my inclusion of a quote about the potential for economic opportunity through sex work during the event. She worried that I was not problematizing the fact that women can be economically forced into sex work. She was stuck on a victimized view of sex workers. And eventually she said that really it was part of her discomfort with the broader trend in society that women make more and get ahead more easily by using their sexuality, femininity and sensuality than by using their intellect.

Well. I thought. Then perhaps you should pay me so I can sustain myself through my intellect, not through my body. She had no idea why this was such a personal issue for me, and I couldn’t tell her without risking stigma. It really just isn’t something I can talk about to day-life people.

It’s funny because I sell my body to pay my rent, and I let powerful men take me on dates so I can eat something besides eggs and rice. The latter activity is much more socially accepted, but I struggle with it more than nude modeling. I don’t mind having mindless sex with men in exchange for drinks, dinners, plays, movies, parties. But I prefer the direct transfer of money so I can shop for what I want, go where I want and socialize how I want, on my own time, with or without a date.

Transactional sex and nude modeling are complicated. I don’t know how I would behave differently if I had a steady income from my day job. I probably wouldn’t model, because it’s tiring to work fifteen-hour days. But I think people need to know that sometimes body transactions are fun and healthy. It’s definitely useful. And while I engage in the struggle to promote women’s empowerment internationally, I have no qualms about my own economic activities. I work and someday maybe I won’t. For now I am exploiting the cultural system of sexualizing women. The system is not exploiting me.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week Series Part 3: Eating in the Grey: Living in the Space between Healthy and Disorder

In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week Feb. 21-27, 2010 Paradigm Shift is seeking blog, graphic art, and video submissions related to eating disorder recovery. Please let us know how you would like to be credited (by name or anonymous)- deadline, Friday March 5th.

Email submissions to: blog@paradigmshiftnyc.com

by Jennifer Potter

I have never been diagnosed with anorexia or hospitalized for bulimia. Whenever eating disorders are discussed these extreme illnesses are at the forefront. I do, however, struggle every day due to my horrible relationship with food and my body. The Mayo Clinic defines eating disorders as, “a group of serious conditions in which you’re so preoccupied with food and weight that you can often focus on little else.” Extreme cases of eating disorders manifest as the diagnosable mental illnesses anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. This is not to say that if you do not have one of those illnesses you do not have some kind of preoccupation with food and weight. While there is no medical term for people who do not have a healthy relationship with food, these people are affected by the same biological, emotional, and societal issues that can lead to anorexia or bulimia.

There are many people living in the grey area between a healthy relationship with their bodies and the food they eat, and those struggling with disorders.  For me it’s an endless cycle of eating and beating myself up.  Each day I say today I will be “good”.  I usually start out strong with yogurt and oatmeal.  As the day progresses the temptation gets harder to deal with.  There always seems to be “bad” food everywhere.  Whether in the form of cookies someone brought to work to share or going for a quick drink with friends which results in chicken wings and nachos on the table.  Just one can’t hurt right? Don’t starve yourself or deny yourself of food.  That’s no way to live and not a healthy diet.  So I eat.  On the subway ride home my mind starts going.  Why did I eat all those wings? Why couldn’t I resist half that chocolate bar? I’m never going to reach my fitness goals and never going to have the body I want.  I then resolve to try again tomorrow.  Each time I look at myself in the mirror I feel disgusted by my inability to only eat “good” foods.  On days I manage to do that, I feel like I shouldn’t have eaten so much of it.

One fundamental problem with the concept of “good” versus “bad” food is that it sets me up for a mental beating later.  I’ve already labeled what I’m eating as “bad” and therefore should be punished for not being strong enough to resist eating it. This seems to be a commonly overheard conversation: “Should I be “good” and get salad or “bad” and get that cheese burger I really want?”  So how can this mentality be combated? The first step is to stop labeling everything I eat as “good” or “bad”.  Yes, there are horribly unhealthy foods out there, such as deep-fried pizza, but a healthy diet includes having a bit of chocolate in my daily routine without beating myself up for it later. In this sense knowledge is power.  The more you know about food and what daily requirements your body needs ,the easier it is to be “good” all day even while incorporating supposedly “bad” food.

The problem is that this knowledge is not easily derived for every individual. Everyone’s bodies are unique and the healthy caloric intake of food varies based on age, gender, height, weight, daily physical activity. Even internet research can only go so far. With personal nutritionists beyond of the economic reach of so many, myself included, we are left with few options but our own research and hope we’re doing it right.  This leaves too much room for error for many. Also the results of improved diet and exercise can take months to make a noticeable difference.  This is not very conducive to a culture of instant gratification and “Lose 5 pounds in 5 days” weight loss products.  The simplest solution becomes “I just won’t eat.!” More accessibility to complete and accurate nutritional information will help people in the grey gain a better understanding of foods and develop a healthy relationship with what they eat.

Besides my unhealthy relationship with food, I find that I exhibit the same kind of mental anguish over my body’s appearance. Every time I look in the mirror, change my clothes or take a shower I feel more and more frustrated by what I see.  In the last six months I have made improvements.  I’ve gone to the gym two to three times a week and am starting to see muscles develop.  This is not enough to quiet the voice in my head.  No matter how much weight I lose or how toned my arms look I’m never satisfied.  If one aspect of my appearance is acceptable I immediately find something wrong with another body part. At the gym I can never do enough.  Similar to my behavior with food, no matter how hard I workout I still punish myself afterward for not doing more. So why do I feel this way?  I am aware that there are improvements and if nothing else I am healthier for working up a sweat and getting blood flowing a few times a week.  Why am I not satisfied with the effort I put in and the results I have seen?

A large part of my body hate comes from constant bombardment of media and social ideals of unrealistic body expectations.  The media’s influence is considered so substantial that libraries of books, articles, and documentaries have been created to explain exactly how and why it’s damaging.  Most recently in the UK The Royal College of Psychiatrists’ (RCPsychs’) Eating Disorders Section called for the media to portray images of more diverse body shapes to help people feel positive about their bodies. Not having to stare at so called “perfect” bodies at every turn would be helpful, however the issue is not strictly external.  There is an internal struggle with perfection that would be there with or without the external images.  Low self-esteem, perfectionism, and impulsive behaviors are all linked to eating disorders. While media standards can be misleading and dangerous, our own personal standards can be damaging as well.

There is nothing inherently wrong with having lofty expectations for yourself.  The desire to do better and be better is important for people to push themselves and not be content with whatever their current situation is. It is far too easy for this perfectionist drive to become self-destructive. Physical appearance is an easy marker for perfection and ability to exhibit control.  By being “thin” I am seen to demonstrate self-control by going to the gym and by not overindulging in food. There is a negative connotation associated with people who are not super thin and their perceived lack of control.  The only reason they aren’t perfect, according to this outlook, is because they are too lazy. This is a very harmful attitude. In order to demonstrate we are not lazy we must be perfect in every aspect. Since such perfection is not attainable we are never comfortable in our own skin. For every goal I meet, a new one takes its place. The biggest obstacle in creating a positive relationship with my body and the food I eat is my mindset.  I must learn to forgive myself and be comfortable with my flaws.

Despite my acknowledgment that I do in fact have a very unhealthy attitude towards food and my body, I continue to struggle every day.  It is important to remember that eating disorders can affect everyone regardless of age, gender, or size, and the struggles come in all different sorts.  I will continue to look for ways to overcome my destructive behavior and hope to one day really and truly feel comfortable in my own skin.


Mayo Clinic Website:


Medical News Today:


Martin, Courtney E. Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body. Berkley Group, 2008.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week Series Part 2: a piece on anorexia by Gabrielle Pope

In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week Feb. 21-27, 2010 Paradigm Shift is seeking blog, graphic art, and video submissions related to eating disorder recovery. Please let us know how you would like to be credited (by name or anonymous)- deadline, Friday March 5th.

Email submissions to: blog@paradigmshiftnyc.com

by Gabrielle Pope from Vancouver, Canada

Eating Disorder Awareness Week. I always feel a pull to submit, to voice, to contribute. But the hushed silence I held strong to while suffering, while recovering, while seeking identity separate from the disorder, still makes me hesitate to give my story a voice.

But then, silence due to shame was the most dangerous setback in fighting my illness. I was deep into anorexia and ready for hospitalization by the time those close to me became fully aware of my diagnosis. Fear of judgments, appearing superficial, lacking intelligence, immaturity, and (mostly) selfishness saw me fiercely secretive. When purging forced its way into my disordered habits, I was even more guarded. I saw what I was doing as obtusely pathetic and disgusting.

Well, I’m alive and healthy.

At 21, Anorexia at last completely took over my life, after several years claiming my happiness while my intellect fought for logic. As in many stories you’ve heard, I lost a lot of weight, enough to threaten my life and weaken my heart. Doctors gave my parents a bleak prognosis. My parents and I sought out a cure, and found something resembling one, or at least thought we did, in a not entirely legal private operation that could offer much more than any government-funded program. Even at my sickest, I was certain. I wanted to heal completely, not “cope”. As hard as it may be to understand, I wasn’t consciously concerned with looking right, being thin. I was so incredibly absorbed in self-loathing that I wanted to be as small and unrecognizable as possible.

As they say and as I hesitate to admit, I got worse, far worse, before I got better. A part of me resisted treatment so vehemently that I took pills, rode in ambulances, swore off life, made foolish financial decisions and hopped from hospital to hospital. I wanted to stop causing so much pain and suffering, financial hardship. I wanted to disappear. I hated, still hate, the overly dramatic sentiment I felt daily: I wished I’d never been born. Why couldn’t I undo that?

It’s so much deeper than physical insecurity it’s painful to try to explain, because it’s never made much sense, even to me. Sure, it may start with insecurities. Certainly, I stared at myself in the mirror in ballet and saw my body grow in what looked like a grotesque way. Certainly, despite my rational mind screaming otherwise, I’d compare myself to those around me, and despite my weight—normal or severely underweight—I’d feel that something was fundamentally wrong with my person, that I could never survive this world. And because of those seemingly superficial thoughts, I didn’t feel like I deserved the gift of living.

I remember just before Christmas one year at my sickest, shivering in my parents garage with jutting bones and sunken cheeks, sucking on a cigarette and cursing the fact that I’d been let out of the psych ward, a safe haven, days before in order to be with my family for the holidays. My family were, and are, nothing but tremendously loving and giving people, the best parents and siblings one could ask for, furthering the assumption of some health-care providers and counselors that privileged eating disorder patients are frivolous brats. I wanted to suck the cigarette’s cancer into my lungs, let it kill me right away. It couldn’t take long. I was already starving to death.

If you’re cringing with skepticism, so am I. It’s so surreal now that it took nearly dying to finally rebuild my psyche to the point where I could do something for myself; go for a walk, draw a picture, read a book, eat a muffin—without feeling nearly suicidal and unbearably not worthy. I learned valuable lessons from yoga, and experienced utter compassion from one or two key unconditionally committed counselors (unfortunately, something rarely available to eating disorder sufferers), as well as the occasionally infuriating and eventually life-changing support of my family.

I was lucky. I am lucky. I am so very fortunate, however I have to tell you that recovering from an eating disorder was the hardest thing I could possibly imagine. Despite my desire to be incredibly positive about future prognoses for sufferers, the fact remains; few sufferers fully recover. Many die. Many ‘cope’. Everyone is frustrated. Medical professionals, sufferers, family members, treatment-providers, the general public, those who protest the objectification and impossible standards expected of women and men in the public eye.

But I did get better. And I was one of those cases—I was as sick as I could have been. Today I am grateful for life. Today, with effort, I seek to ignore all the body-negative images women are faced with. I try to focus on my studies, intellect and spirituality, but I’m not immune to wanting to feel beautiful. Beautiful was defined and reinforced for so many years by such a negative mindset that I have to work hard to check myself in the face of everyday experience. But it is worth it, and I am more fortunate than I can explain.

I’d venture to say that nowadays, everyone will know someone suffering with an eating disorder. Likely that person will feel there is little chance they will fully recover, or they will act as though they don’t want to, don’t deserve to. But it is possible, and it is up to all of us to save lives by believing that a disease can be reversed, a mindset can be changed, an extreme sensitivity can be directed elsewhere, to a more positive place. Sufferers of eating disorders will likely all share a lifelong ultra-sensitivity, but that can be transformed in a sick, suicidal shell of a person to a strong, empathetic and responsive individual looking to help anyone who needs it.

My goal is not to explain where eating disorders come from, nor suggest a surefire treatment. Unfortunately, neither has been thoroughly defined. But I do know that change is possible, and that if you or someone you know is suffering, the most immediate way to fight is belief: for sufferers, your life can change. You don’t always have to feel this way. For friends/family, your loved one is dealing with a deep psychological issue, but it’s not one that can’t be addressed and reversed. Be compassionate, be firm, be there.

The shame needs to be the first to go. There is so much hope, so much mercy.

TV audience needed: ABC’s Nightline- Body Image




Is it Okay to be Fat? “Nightline” tackles this question and other delicate questions related to dieting and obesity and how it relates to health in a “Face Off” to air Monday, February 22. This will be the program’s fifth “Face-Off,” a series launched two years ago that is a debate style format where hot topics get discussed among prominent voices in their field.

The “Face-Off” is scheduled to take place Friday, February 5th at The Cooper Union’s historic Great Hall in New York City. Crystal Renn, model and author of “Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves” and Marianne Kirby, co-author of “Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere” will face-off against MeMe Roth, president of National Action Against Obesity and Kim Bensen, author of “Finally Thin.” Renn and Kirby advocate against constant dieting and contend that you don’t have to be thin to be healthy while Roth and Bensen advocate against an obese America and believe in the importance of a responsible diet.

The “Face Off” will be moderated by co-anchor Cynthia McFadden and held at The Cooper Union’s Great Hall in New York City on Friday, February 5th at 4:00pmET.   For more on the story visit:http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/fat-question-debated-nightline-face-off/story?id=9718202

What:                         “Nightline Face-Off – Is It Okay to be Fat?”

Who:                           Crystal Renn, model and author of “Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition, and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves” and Marianne Kirby, author of “Lessons from the “Fat-O-Sphere”, MeMe Roth, President, National Action Against Obesity and  Kim Bensen, author of “Finally Thin”


Friday, February 5, 2010 4:00pm-5:30pm ET


The Cooper Union’s Great Hall, The Foundation Building
7 East 7th Street (btw 3rd and 4th Aves) New York City

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