Saturday, 1 June 2013


The other week, I ran out to get COMPANY magazine before spending an hour on the train to go eat cake and spend some time with family. Along with the magazine, I bought a big bar of white chocolate and a coffee to keep me company. It was all peachy, until I found myself in the presence of three young ladies. They were about Sixteen/Seventeen, and had just got on the train, all giddy and excited for having finished college for the day. Everything was fine, until they got onto the subject of food. For the purposes of this text I am calling them L1, L2 and L3, just so I don’t confuse myself in the process.

L1 asked L2, with a cereal bar in hand, “Did you want a little bit? I’ve already eaten way too much today. I had a sandwich and an apple earlier.” L2 replied, “God no, I’ve already had a packet of crisps today. I’m trying to cut down.” L3 said, “Oh same, too many calories!” L1, equally as horrified with herself said, “This has 90 calories!” as she examined the back of the cereal bar packet. They then went on to explain that this was pretty much all they had eaten all day, each replying with, “Oh same” at the very mention of watching their weight.

I know It’s very tame and may not seem like that bit of a deal, but I have never calorie counted in my life and to see these girls, no older than 17, discussing their eating habits as if they have broken the law, it just made me feel a bit sad.

During this conversation between these three ladies, I was reading an article that pretty much summed up the problem I have getting my head around, and that angered me so much, I’ve had to leave it a couple of weeks to get  a balanced opinion, but I’m still not happy.  The article was about a young woman who will do anything to remain skinny, titled “This Is Skinny Club.”

Being skinny is not the dilemma here, I have no quarms about anyone's shape, size or style. The reason why this made me so angry was the way in which it was written and the impact it can have. The girl (calling herself ANON or Anonymous) began with an anecdote on how her best friend baked her an amazing cake for her Birthday, covered in cream cheese frosting and little iced carrots, and how she lied to her friend, said that she was feeling rough and would eat it later, only to take it home and freeze so that she wouldn't eat it and to keep herself from temptation. She then explains that she spends most Saturday mornings baking cakes to give to her friends, so that she can lie and say that she has already eaten lots of them already, just so that they don’t “nag” her about not eating anything. But it gets worse. She pulls out an old quote from Kate Moss; “Nothing tastes better than being thin,” and would deny herself food she actually would like to eat, in order to stay skinny. She gives us details of her daily work outs, where she spends every moment she can, exercising to keep off the fat. (This includes boxing, Pilates, lifting weights, and running. She does squats while she brushes her teeth, crunches as she waits for the kettle to boil and as she watches TV, endless planks). She compares herself to celebrities who are renowned for their size 0 shape, and then believes this is all acceptable because she can “rock a crop top,” and in the process, glamorising her actions to convince us that this is OK.

In defence to this story, It is great to hear that a young woman can feel confident in her body and be brave enough to express her view and lifestyle. When you read the article, you are able to argue that she exercises and still eats healthy food, which is a great and positive attribute to remember. However, at one point she does admit that she may be addicted to the process of being ‘skinny’, and this is taken very lightly, expressed more as a joke than an actual realisation. It becomes clear that the confidence she flaunts is painfully false and potentially very dangerous. There is a bigger issue here; for this woman, the skinnier she is, the happier she becomes, and that is not healthy. At the end of the day, this girl is not happy with her natural shape or size to go through extremes such as this to maintain her idea of a healthy figure. Plus she is lying to her closest friends and family, believing that they are ‘nagging,’ when really, they just care about her. 

I’m not angry at this girl, I'm angry at the way in which this was published. The magazine asks the reader whether they found it offensive or refreshingly honest, in hope to submit our opinions on the website. While it was an article that touched upon issues I had not read before in a commercial women’s magazine, I did not find it refreshing and I did not find it honest. Offensive is too strong a word, but disappointed is definitely one that comes to mind. COMPANY has been a magazine that has gone from strength to strength in the last 2 years. It’s been up to date and current. Showing more and more individual style and street style, it’s represented a healthy balance of fashion, health and beauty awareness, while reminding their readers to be creative and think bigger than what is on their pages, supporting new talent from music, the blogging world, art, crafts and fashion culture. But when I read this article, It just felt like one giant step back. This magazine has a huge influence on myself, and I know from close friends and people I admire from afar, that they feel the same. An article such as this one can be damaging, It is very difficult to explain the why this article can be so influential, but all you have to do is follow this link;, and you can see the hundreds of other women and men who believe that this wasn't the best move.

Its the glamorising of an idea that this process of becoming skinny no matter what the means is OK, and can be achieved if you too 'put in the effort'. At no point is their an alternative view. This girl has persuaded herself this is the only way to be happy, and has no other opinions on the matter. For all we know, this girl may have a psychological illness or an eating disorder, and giving her this platform without at least someone asking if this is OK, could make it ten times worse. Lets just hope next month they bring out a more calculated and well balanced view.

If you want to read the article its in the June issue of COMPANY.

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