Eating disorders and the role of body pressure and image are a hard topic to talk about for much of the population. Frank discussions are key to breaking the almost taboo-like culture we have surrounding these issues; and what better way to do this than to hold a debate at the Nuffield theatre, broadcast on the web live, to over 100 people?
There is definitely more pressure on women than men in regards to body image, but the pressure is increasing on men.SarahBody Gossip Founder
When I took my seat in the audience I knew that the discussions would be frenetic, the eclectic mix of panellists assured me of that. Two members, Nick and Sarah, were from groups that dealt with male eating disorders and body image respectively, while Rhiannon was the president of the Feminist Society and Becci a committee member of the Health and Beauty Society.
There were many questions asked once the camera started rolling. The sizable audience seemed to reflect that these issues are important to many people. It seems eating disorder awareness week spiked these levels further, with many of the people I spoke to conceding they rarely – if ever – go to debates like this.
Compliments are not dangerous, I feel we have become a culture that expects them, but are afraid to give them!BecciThird Year BA English Student and Committee member for the Health and Beauty Society
Questions that are possibly on the mind of many members of the student body were aired. My favourite and perhaps most thought provoking one had to be the most obvious; are women subject to more body pressure than men? All four of the panellists agreed this was certainly the case, yet it was argued that the pressure on men is increasing. Perhaps the image of the waxed metrosexual David Beckham is to blame? Or maybe the social stigma attached to men talking about their body image?
Another contentious issue that eating disorder awareness week addressed was the changing concept of the ‘ideal’ body. You only have to go back to the 1950’s to see sex symbols such as Marilyn Monroe, whose bodies were a lot more voluptuous than today’s top models like Kate Moss. I think the main message being put out is that heavier women should never be vilified for their weight, and that the overuse of aesthetic enhancements such as photo-shopping needs to be curbed in order to project a more feasible model for women to aspire to if they so wish.
You only have to go back to the 1950’s to see sex symbols such as Marilyn Monroe, whose bodies were a lot more voluptuous than today’s top models like Kate Moss.
The debate’s hottest topic was definitely the role of the media accounting for increased body pressure and eating disorders. Around Highfield campus, I met many students who pointed out the focus is really only on certain disorders such as anorexia. This point was well received at the debate, with several audience members also pointing out that it is unfair to pin this all on the media, as the public buy this in droves for the shock value, and so we are to blame to an extent.
The campaign also aims to highlight the plight of male sufferers, who account for over 11% of total reported cases.
Furthermore, as the panelists and students running the Eating Disorder Awareness Week told me, it’s not just women who get eating disorders. The campaign also aims to highlight the plight of male sufferers, who account for over 11% of total reported cases.
The debate, I feel, was a success; and if the large number of audience members is anything to go on, it seems that the openness of the eating disorder awareness week has raised subjects many Southampton students feel passionately about. I feel many came out with not only new perceptions on eating disorders and body image, but also felt more aware of the plight of those affected.