You should go and Love Yourself

Why This Matters | Kendra Schultz | April 14, 2016

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This week, Amy Schumer once again made headlines. But this time, it was not for co-producing, co-writing and starring in an Emmy-nominated comedy series, writing and starring in a Golden Globe-nominated film, or starring in an HBO comedy special, all of which she has done. Instead, the media is concerned with something that has nothing to do with her achievements- it was for headlines about her weight.

On the heels of British model’s Iskra Lawrence’s big f** you on Instagram to anyone that’s called her fat for, how dare she, ~eating potato chips~, Amy Schumer has once more brought to national attention the pervasive danger in telling women that anything above a size 6 is considered ‘plus size.’

Here’s the gist: Glamour released a Special Edition magazine this month called ‘Chic at Any Size,’ and featured Schumer’s name on the front cover (with Melissa McCarthy, Adele, and Ashley Graham) as ‘Women who inspire us.’ In response, Schumer wrote on InstagramI think there’s nothing wrong with being plus size. Beautiful healthy women. Plus size is considered size 16 in America. I go between a size 6 and an 8. @glamourmag put me in their plus size only issue without asking or letting me know and it doesn’t feel right to me. Young girls seeing my body type thinking that is plus size? What are your thoughts? Mine are not cool glamour not glamourous.”

Amy is totally justified in her outrage that the media circulates unfair and inaccurate ideals of weight and beauty for women (and men for that matter). What constitutes “plus size” varies, but it is typically considered a size 14 and above depending on the retailer, so to propagate the idea that being a size 6-8 is associated with being plus size is a pervasive standard to set for women everywhere.

But nobody seems to be asking, how come we need magazines to have a ‘plus size’ issue in the first place?

Glamour magazine’s ‘plus-sized’ issue is aimed for women size 12 and up, but isn’t it more of a travesty that women who weigh more are relegated to seeing women that reflect their size and beauty to one month out of the year? This perpetuates the idea that only small women are beautiful- or even normal– and that everyone else must be a ‘special edition.’ Further, it fuels a scarier reality that consumes the lives of girls and women of all ages.

With such egregiously inaccurate ideals of beauty at the forefront of the media, it should be no surprise men and women resort to dangerous methods of attaining such standards, and one manifestation of that is eating disorders and disordered eating. Eating disorders are a pervasive problem both nationally, and right here on campus, and it’s starting young. 40-60% of elementary school aged girls (ages 6-12) expressed concern about their weight or becoming too fat. Girls that have yet to go through puberty and fully develop are worried already about their weight. 

Most people can recognize the symptoms of the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia, but the categorization of food-person relationships is much more complex than that. There are four types of eating disorders: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. However, just because someone does not have a classifiable eating disorder does not mean that they have a healthy and safe relationship with food. There is a difference between eating disorders and disordered eating, and disordered eating is still both mentally and physically dangerous.

Here are some signs and symptoms of disordered eating:

  • Binging and/or purging (through excessive exercise, laxatives, or self-induced vomiting)
  • Self-worth or self-esteem based highly or even exclusively on body shape and weight
  • A disturbance in the way one experiences their body i.e. a person who falls in a healthy weight range, but continues to feel that they are overweight
  • Excessive or rigid exercise routine
  • Anxiety about certain foods or food groups
  • Obsessive calorie counting
  • A rigid approach to eating, such as only eating certain foods, inflexible meal times, refusal to eat in restaurants or outside of one’s own home

At Duke, none of us are immune to the immense pressure to succeed academically, athletically, and beyond, and our physical appearance is no exception. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, disordered eating, or self-esteem, consider talking to someone at CAPS, DukeReach, or the Women’s Center. You can also see a nutritionist for free (okay so technically you’re paying $60,000 a year for it, but just pretend) in either Wilson or Brodie Gyms. This is a great resource that many people don’t know about. The nutritionist can help you determine whether or not your eating patterns are healthy, and if you are concerned about losing weight, it’s a great way to learn how to do so healthily with the guidance of a professional. People of all shapes and sizes are beautiful- and that includes, you, me, and Amy Schumer- and it’s about time that the media stops telling us otherwise.

Here are some great student resources to discuss eating and body issues:

-Duke CAPS : To make an appointment call 919-660-1000 or stop by the office in 214 Page Building
-Duke Reach: 919-681-2455 or email them at dukereach@duke.edu
-Peer For You- a student group where you can anonymously submit your concerns and receive support from your peers www.peerforyou.org   
-For general nutritional resources, visit https://studentaffairs.duke.edu/studenthealth/nutrition/nutrition-resources-information
-To make an appointment with the nutritionist, you can log into www.dukemychart.org and schedule it with student health