Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Deconstructing Self


If you haven't seen Sandy Szwarc's cogent analysis of the much-touted Self magazine eating disorders survey, get thyself over here right away and read it. Sandy's done a brilliant job at unpacking some of the most subtly disturbing elements of this "report" on women and disordered eating and on how it's been received. The cognitive disconnect she highlights refers not just to this particular study and the reactions to it but the disconnect we all experience of living in a society where food and eating and what we look like are bound up with so many judgments and with our most essential feelings about ourselves.

Food for thought indeed.

8 comments:

e. said...

I find it interesting that, in the same magazine with a concerned survey of eating disorders, the main article (or one of them) features advice on "peeling off the pounds".

IrishUp said...

Can we get a sexy article on "Disordered Research Designs and how to Misrepresent Findings?"

kpod said...

We should all go take the poll to skew their data toward healthy eating habits!

Harriet said...

Great idea, kpod. Irishup, I nominate you to write that one!

littlem said...

From Sandy's analysis -

Self says: “Recognizing what’s normal and what’s dangerous is the first step all women can take in developing a more positive body image and healthier approach to food.”

I say:
What's dangerous - reading Self magazine.
What's normal - ceasing to read Self magazine.

Is anyone else feeling ... fatigued ... by just being hammered on by the ads and shout tags on the covers all the time??

It's enough to make you want to just bury yourself in Balzac - in the original French - and just say the *&^%$& with the rest of it.

Katy said...

Geez, I guess I now have to go tell my (quite intelligent and sane, so I thought, but apparently I was wrong) nutritionist that when she's told me it's not a big deal to sometimes have a cookie or a handful of french fries just because I feel like it, she's actually been advocating that I embrace food addiction as a replacement for my current ED. Crap.

And yeah. I just don't buy the idea that Self readers who are willing to take the time to sit down and fill out a test about eating habits are representative of the overall population.

Nonetheless, our culture is f*cked up.

Erica said...

These types of "women's" magazine's thrive on our insecurities, not in an attempt to help women, but solely to sell products. they are glorified ads for all of their real customers -- businesses that try to get women to hate themselves. If Self really wanted to help women analyze the issues that are important to them, they would go out of business.

littlem said...

I read something about the fact that even the editorial pages in the "women's" magazines -- certainly in the fashion magazines -- are skewed to plug the advertisers.

Not only that, but it's specified in the contracts that the advertisers negotiate with the magazines that it has to be like that, otherwise the companies will not grant the mag the ad pages.

I'll see if I can find the original article. It might have been something Steinem wrote about attempting to get Ms. off the ground.