Lads’ mags are responsible for my eating disorder, says Hannah Whittaker
I don’t understand why it is only recently that I have become aware of all the things I need to be in order to survive this shallow patriarchal society.
I was a happy adolescent teen whose life was not corrupted by obsessing over self image and the image of others. Sure, I wore make up and I still do. How many teenage girls don’t? But I never thought any less of myself without it nor did I fully know why I wore makeup anyway.
Of course there were a few phases in early high school when I was vain enough to feel that I absolutely had to wear the stuff, but that was just puberty – or was it?
If I ever went out with friends, I always liked to make an effort by spending extra time on my makeup and wearing my nicest clothes, not because I felt I was in competition with anyone, or so I thought, I just simply liked to be well presented whenever I went out in public. But what did it mean to be “well presented”?
I was fortunate enough not to be the kind of person who spent most of her time wishing she looked like the most ‘beautiful’ cover girl, I had better things to do with my time. Like laughing, being irresponsible, getting nagged at. All the things that are generally involved with being 14/15. I was way to busy having a great life than spending it worrying about what makes a woman ‘fit’ in the eyes of a man and I wouldn’t start thinking about this until I turn 16.
When I turned 16, I got myself a boyfriend and it was during our first few weeks together that he said some things that opened a door in my mind that should have always stayed closed. These things were only small and it sometimes makes me feel stupid to think that I reacted so badly to something so insignificant. These small things were simply just a few comments about some famous women, but I can remember every single thing, word for word. I remember them well because things that hurt seem to stay with me.
I became obsessed my body and with the bodies of glamour models, many of which I found on MySpace – and it’s also pretty hard to avoid them in the newsagents.
MySpace allows you to build a profile of yourself and chat to people all across the world. A lot of people use it as DIY celebrity and popularity tool. In my opinion these experiences I had with my own profile are not something I would encourage for younger people or anybody for that matter. Simply because it gets you hooked with things that quite honestly don’t matter.
Any opportunity I had, I would go on the internet and look at these women; it was almost as if I wanted to upset myself. I also became very possessive over my boyfriend. He told me his password to his MySpace account and I would check it everyday. If he had a girl on there who I didn’t like I would simply click and delete. Easy!
I was now one of those girls who wished to look like a cover model, I was everything I said I’d never be. The worst thing was, even though I was completely aware that I had nothing to be ashamed of I still felt ugly whenever I saw a lads’ mag. It is just a simple fact that most men, and a lot of women, believe that the airbrushed body of an FHM model is the ‘perfect’ body.
“What’s wrong with me?” and “I don’t look like her!” I would constantly think to myself.
People say that the media can influence a person’s mind and how right they are, but not only did it influence my mind but my body too. I realised that men’s magazines only ever promoted one body type, which was that of a skinny waist and large breasts. I thought maybe if I lost weight around my waist then my boobs would look bigger.
Things start off quite small. Eating less or eating and then dancing so I could work it off. It wasn’t until a few weeks into this that I thought of a quicker and faster way to lose weight around my waist.
I sit at the table with my family and eat the food that had been given to me by my mother, I then walk up stairs to the bathroom, I grab a toothbrush and stand over the toilet. It hurts at first, but the more I do it the more I get used to it. I drop to seven stone but still my breasts appear the same size as they did when I was 8.5 stone.
I pinpoint two girls in particularly from the glamour industry going by the names of Lucy Pinder and Michelle Marsh. These girls are two of the most highly paid glamour models in the UK and an example of the body image lads’ mags promote. Even now a week hasn’t gone by where I havent spotted at least one of them on the shelf. If ever anyone could make me feel at my lowest it would be Lucy and Michelle.
It seems to me that these magazines are feeding lies to everyone who lays their eyes upon them. It teaches men that if a women doesn’t look like this then she doesn’t look right, and it teaches women such as myself that they’re ugly and imperfect when really there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them.
I’m browsing the internet one evening, looking at the two ‘perfect’ women, when some thing catches my eye: “Airbrushing: The truth”. I click and read the article that states how magazine models all possess the same “imperfections” as the rest of us and how airbrushing is a tool designed to cover these blemishes such as cellulite, spots, uneven breasts and the size of the waist.
She’s not real, she’s a lie.
She has stretch marks, she has cellulite, she hasn’t got the waist that she has on Nuts and Zoo.
She isn’t ‘perfect’, she is regular.
- Do they even realise the significant effect they had on me and probably to other young women across the country?
- Do they know how many countless times my meals were eaten only to be thrown up again, just so I could attempt to look like an unintelligent sex object?
- Do they know that they are representing women in such a way which states that women are nothing but tits, ass and thighs, and that if a women doesn’t resemble this kind of image, she doesn’t even deserve a second glance?
I realise now why it is I wore make-up at such an early age and it hurts to think I was so bothered about what a boy’s opinion of my looks were.
At the end of the day I know now that while Lucy and Michelle pose naked and airbrushed on the top shelf and while I continue to be an everyday student, they don’t have the respect, they don’t have the awareness and they don’t have dignity. I do!
Can anyone honestly say that a woman who does this for a living can be taken seriously or can be intelligent: despite the fact some of them might be intelligent, no-one will think that. Respect is lost!