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March 13, 2007

Body Image Speaker

On Monday March 12, 2007, Ellen Adamini, the Beta Eta Chapter president, cancelled the weekly chapter meeting and required all girls to attend a Body Image Speaker. The event was sponsored by the University of Michigan Panhellenic Association and held at Rackham Auditorium. The speaker was Leslie Goldman who is a health and medical writer for the American Medical Association. Leslie wrote the book The Locker Room Diaries which provides influential, often comical, descriptions of fitness center locker room conversations between women, along with great advice about how to feel great about your body - the way it is.

Leslie began her speech with a very personal story of her own body image issues which began at a young age. She always observed beautiful, skinny girls with big boobs and platinum blonde hair getting all of the attention from the guys. She felt she would never measure up, and one day while flipping through a magazine, she came across a picture of the gorgeous Cindy Crawford which listed her weight at 120 pounds. Leslie thought 120 was the magical number, and she began an extreme diet with intense hour-long runs every day. She lost 5 pounds in the first week, and the weight kept coming off until Leslie reached that magical number. But she didn't look like Cindy Crawford, she looked unhealthy and still felt fat. That was when her family finally told her she couldn't go back to college until she got help. With help from her family, friends, and anti-depression medicine, Leslie turned her life around. Now she wants to help other college girls with distorted body images gain a sense of confidence and happiness about their individual, unique, beautiful bodies.

Leslie told more stories of poor body image, including tales of three-year olds on diets, and girls with envious double d's wishing they had smaller boobs. It seems like no woman is ever completely happy with her body, and this is what Leslie wishes to fix. In the most interesting part of her speech, Leslie showed before and afters of digitally reconstructed modeling pictures. In the original photographs, the models are beautiful, skinny, and completely natural. But according to the modeling business, these models are not good enough for the American media. They need to be touched up. The photographs are digitally remastered, eliminating wrinkles, hiding freckles, changing hair and eye color, rotating belly buttons, carving out wastes and thighs, and basically changing the model into a whole other, unnatural person. What is so sad is that teenage girls worship these models, not knowing how unnatural they really are in the pictures. No wonder we can never measure up.

Leslie's speech was captivating and influential. She made me realize how horrible it is to cut yourself down for our bodily "flaws". Our differences make us who we are, and women have so much more going for them then having a perfect body - we have families, our intelligence, and our future. For once, women need to leave the scale behind and focus more on health and happiness.

For more information on health and body image please visit Body Image and Self Esteem.

Posted by shillaik at March 13, 2007 10:43 AM

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